Mourning

After writing my post earlier I left some voicemails with handy men, my friend M said he will pay for it so I can get my bed. I am tired, more so now but as I felt like I was going to scream and couldn’t find peace in my heart I needed to move. I felt pulled, and so remembering I had a ramp decided to risk the scooter breaking down leaving me out in the world. I took my cellphone, my keys, and left the cat at home. I went the way of the pulling sensation, and wound up outside of a beautiful temple. This Buddhist temple is just a block from my apartment. I sat outside and looked at the Lotus blossoms and butterflies, and realized, I belonged. I find that Buddhism has helped me keep calm and not give in to the darkness that pain makes so tempting. Buddhism is not a religion but a path and a way of living, as I was taught. It is compatible with my beliefs.

I sat outside for a half an hour before I decided to go in, and the Abott himself greeted me. He asked me why my heart ached and we talked. I had secretly hoped he would give me permission to continue my relationship with my mother but, “The poison of the heart can poison the soul. Such a pain as you endure was preventable. The poison of the heart will spread. You must remember that your heart is yours.” It wasn’t a way of saying to reject her but a reminder that it is my life and I must come first. Something I knew all along.

I was asked to please come again, as often as I wish, and to bring the cat next time. I ventured out and found the peace that I couldn’t quite grasp. I charged the scooter again while we talked, and decided to risk Walmart. Walmart is a half an hour with these batteries and once there I had to park and charge again. I had another encouter with englightenment. A world war two veteran saw my unique chair and decided to ask if I knew how to get one. I could see his pain, he proudly told me he forgot how old he was and we laughed a bit. I gave him guidance on how to get his wheelchair, as for any of us to admit we need the help of a chair is hard. He told me I reminded him of someone he met long ago in the war. My face, my eyes, but he commented that she had red hair. I didn’t tell him my natural hair is red, and felt a longing for it again. This is twice that I have longed for my hair back at the vibrancy of it’s nature. The black lets me feel safe and I know I look beautiful either way. It is merely difficult. She was a nurse, and he was injured. She was injured as well but hid it so she could continue to serve, her time with him was spent building a trust and she taught him to understand that the enemy wasn’t seeing us as we saw ourselves. It was an interesting story, frightening in some ways but he found comfort in me, and I in him.

I did some shopping, I got a copy of the key to the gate so that my caregiver can actually get in (oops) and a pair of padlocks for my gate. My batteries held so I looked in a few stores and found many things I need, so I took pictures of them with their prices. I bought the nail trimmer that I desperately had to get William, and found two jacket style harnesses one pink and one black on clearance. I sprang for both, and they rang up even cheaper than they were marked. I also got a bit of halloween decore, a little sign that was three dollars and made my entire day. “Wicked Wanda’s Witch Shoppe.” It’s green and a light orange. I named the stuffed witch I got at the dollar store Wanda and she is also green and orange. It’s too perfect to deny. So far this is also my most expensive decoration!

I feel good, if sore. The side walk only has two in accessible areas, one on each side of the road between the shopping center with a grocery store that carries gluten free food, three discount stores, and has everything I could need or want accessibly. I even found the curtains I want for the price I can afford.

I did notice a difference in this neighborhood, normally when I go out I feel invisible and in danger. This time drivers made sure that I knew they were there, and that they saw me. One man stopped when the scooter almost died on the way home and asked if I was alright, since it was going so darned slow. He watched me to the gate of the complex so that I could get home. Normally I wouldn’t want that but I cut it close because I had to backtrack for the gatekeys. Oh I also got some gummy bears. I just needed a small treat and my entire day became such.

Thank you all for supporting me, it gives me strength I cannot find with in myself. I may fear, I may mourn, but I will never surrender. This neighborhood seems very much handicapped friendly, as I found special access points for wheelchairs in areas where it may be more dangerous for a chair to be in the street or normal foot traffic. I’ve never even heard of these things! I dreamed of them. I know better ways around some of the rough spots for next time, though I will wait until the scooter is repaired, I shouldn’t have pushed it. It was stupid, and a mistake. I also feel way better for it. It seems doing what I want is a rarity, and that must change.

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The Cliche of Anger

I am tired, in massive pain, and yet I still am riding on the waves of fulfillment. I worked an entire week straight. I am taking a few more days to get back to my standard however, and reminded myself why I do not work in a traditional manner. I would have been fired today for being unable to wear standard clothing for one, and my attitude for another. Every action I take, every interaction I am bogged down by references to the past, lessons, and reminders. I hear my mother’s voice most clearly, and that is not something I welcome. I want to be an individual not the product of my family.

I wasn’t going to post until tomorrow but I was reading a few pages over at Womanist Musings. The proprietor of Womanist Musings has recently outed herself as being amid the disabled. She is beginning to run into the challenges of being suddenly unwelcome, invisible, and at times hated for merely existing. Today one of the commenters told her that she should start a civil rights movement, ignoring the fact that the disabled community has been pulling for equal rights for as long as other civil rights movements have been in effect. Before we go on, I want to remind you my dear reader that every single civil rights movement hasn’t ended, and that the fight for equality is on going no matter what your ism is. This reader seemed to think that a few protests fix everything.

This ignores the protests in New York, the individuals who do sacrifice their energy and at times sanity to try and force businesses to comply with the laws, and it ignores the fact that there are those who came before you and I. This is an erasure of our history. I responded with snideness and sarcasm, ignoring for the few moments it took to suggest a hacksaw so she could remove her legs as “easily” as I can get off of my scooter, the voice of my mother. “All disabled people are angry, they think they have rights.” I am aware that it is the events of today that shape the memories that seem to nitpick at us. Before I was disabled my sexuality was most often the harbinger of a Mommy Memory. “Bisexuals are selfish, they just want to have sex with as many people as possible.” Every time I went to flirt with a woman or a man, I heard something like that.

The myth of anger is just that, a myth. It erases the happy moments with friends and family, it erases the moments where competent and open minded people realize that everyone has rights. The myth of anger is often used to subjugate. Stop being angry, so that I can continue to oppress you. That is what I hear. The expectation that an entire group of people must never feel one emotion is ridiculous yet this is foisted on women of color, the disabled, homosexuals, and countless other oppressed groups, all to control us. Anger is forbidden.

Many times when I am smiling, I am told, “This inaccessible area will be fixed soon, we swear!” The tone is always frantic, that hint of “Oh god she will be mad that we haven’t done this yet.” It doesn’t matter that I am smiling and just nod and say, “Great, thanks for letting me know.” The fear of my anger, which is some how more toxic than their anger or fear is there. I still don’t understand it, but, I see this often. The times when I am angry, I am also not heard. It’s enough for me to want to go back to trying to be Super Cripple, but, I won’t do that.

My anger is valid. Your anger is valid. Anger is not a reason to oppress, discriminate, or subjugate. Anger is not an excuse to not build the ramp in an accessible manner, and anger is not an excuse to try to “just get rid of” someone. I am tired today, and I am trying to seem reasonable. My mind is far from reasonable. I am in truth alone, and am having a small tantrum every time I need to get up to move. My fiance forgot to feed the cats, which merited an hour of sitting there whining about how I wasn’t sure if I could do it, I can’t bend, and their bowls are on the floor.

It wasn’t anger that had me make a really big mess trying to feed them either. That was love. They were hungry so I fed them, without bending. (Sorry honey, but the kitties have to eat too!) It won’t be anger that I let him know he forgot either, but amusement. Every emotion that I have is not anger. The lessons that our parents teach us, may shape what we see but it is the choice that I made in my first experience with disability as an adult that showed me otherwise. I chose to not see anger.

It’s really that simple. Demeaning an entire group of people does cause anger. If you fear our anger so much, stop discriminating. If you come near me right this second and discriminate I will show you anger, but I won’t run you down with my scooter. That’d hurt me too, and you just aren’t worth my time or pain.

To my friends, allies, and fellow disabled persons, don’t forget that every moment that we are alive is the revolution for our people. Every time we are seen out of our homes, with our assistance equipment, service animals, and even having issues, this is our revolution. VIVA LA REVOLUCION! Free my people!

Beyond the Search Words

I normally name my posts before I type them out, it helps me to retain focus. Instead, I am unable to hammer out a decent title, or one free of curse words anyway. I decided, in my insomnia fit, to peruse the offerings of the internet with a few search words. Disabled and handicapped being the top two. I wanted to see what came up. I am not linking any of the blogs I found, because beyond what is already in my blogroll or private reading list (waiting for me to put it in the blogroll) disgusts me.

Ignoring the posts about disabled porn, ignoring the jokes at the expense of handicapped people I came across what appeared to be a journal of a trip by a handicapped woman. A cold and a broken leg are difficult but not disabilities, are they? The cold isn’t a disability but reasonably the leg could be a temporary disability. Not only does it effect your daily function but even after the bone heals there can be lingering damage. I still had a visceral reaction to the writing, and not in a good way.

I understand disability, and the challenges inherent in trying to maneuver in spaces that are cramped, dealing with prejudice, but writing an entire blog about how you broke your leg and that instantly makes you the most disabled person in the world is really not something I can get behind. Yes, I admit that the writer’s pain is important. However, so is their dignity.

It took me a long time to find out how to blog, because of that very thing. I did not understand the point of blogging, I did not understand that it could be done with Dignity. It was the need for dignity that lead me to posting that very first time, and each time it is the basis for my editing, rejection of some of the writing and my attempts to be open minded.

I strive for personal dignity and I work hard to not strip away the dignity of others. Reading about how cruel the world is for those with an obviously broken leg, the desire for pity instead of dignity frustrated me. So I moved on, another person was complaining about handicapped parking, and how rude it is for people who are handicapped to use it. I read about this one a lot, it sneaks up in most blogs at some point. The concept that a safe spot, with enough room to move a ramp out, your chair, and easier access to a building is beyond some people.

Moving on again, I had to do some deep breathing, refusing to let myself post cutting words to try and make them see. Attacking people, no matter how much I disagree with them is not something I want to do. That would lack grace on my part and could remove their dignity. Then, I found another post laying out another problem people seem to have with handicapped parking.

Did you know that “all handicapped drivers park crookedly, blocking me out of my car when I park near those damned cripples”? Not only is this a blanket statement making it a stereotype but, I often have to have our van pulled out, because there is rarely handicapped parking, and the cars by able bodied people are often parked just as poorly. I am not a driver, so I am not aware of how hard it is to parallel park, but with the monster chair that does not turn I cannot do it in a conference room. I perceive this act as massively difficult.

I am often tempted by magnetic signs that say “Please do not block access to this door, a ramp is contained inside and access is needed for my wheelchair”. I do not because of the local culture. It might qualify as a subculture, and yet it is dominant in my daily life. The culture towards the disabled springs from a lot of superstition and the very poor education available.

I know that the education offered to the American Children fails more and more annually, yet if you are slightly different or have any challenges you are shoved into a room and no one wants to see you. No one teaches you. I am primarily self educated, except for the teachers who actually cared enough to break into my world.

Being aware of this, and what was taught about disability in school, I know that they fear me. the ubiquitous they, in this case means the average New Mexican. The little that was taught about disability in my schooling included first, that disabled people could never function in society unless they were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, though we were taught he contracted Polio after his presidency. This is a fallacy, as I know now. Then, we were taught too, that no disabled person ever did anything of historical value. Disabled people are just evil. The contradiction in FDR’s existence never seemed to make a difference.

The superstitions continue, one of the local superstitions states that if a pregnant woman sees a horror or a disabled person, her child will be disfigured in the womb. This means if you are pregnant and stare too long at a person in a chair or even a person with a broken leg, you kill your baby. A lot of the pregnant women out here are teenagers, and a lot of the pregnant women teens and adults drink and smoke. yet the blame falls to the disabled.

The more I read tonight the more frustrated I grow. I did stop, but only to protect myself from festering rage. A cold is not a disability. Illness does not mean disability. A broken leg is a physical injury but injury does not always mean disability. Depending on the rate you heal, you might need a placard, temporarily, but that does not mean you quantifiable understand what it is to be truly disabled. Your pain is valid, do not use it to invalidate mine.

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