Flame On! (Trigger and Mushiness warning)

Last night I had a meltdown. I haven’t lost control of my emotions or had no logical response in a very long time. A decade? Maybe more. Last night, my nightmares came true. This happens rather often, I presume it is because my fears are actually reasonable. The place I live had a fire. My home was on fire. I am still shaking as a result, but my mind is clear.

A man i had never seen before came to my home, pounded on the door, and told me there was fire and to get out. I turned and grabbed Sprite, and we went outside. My panic was instant. Where do I go? Is it close enough I can go? How far can I make it? Where is the fire? I had no answers, and no shoes. Sprite had no harness or leash and nestled on my shoulders to balance me. This is how I get things done in the house, so this wasn’t out of the norm.

I moved for the office, while calling the apartment manager. I could hear the fire engines coming, someone else had called in. I did consider it but, I had to work on the presumption that my being notified to get out meant they were coming. It was the lat bit of logic I had for a while. I made it rather far, I used the fence and held myself up creeping along. I was the only one outside when the fire went from small to OH MAH FRIGGING GODS THERE IS A GIANT FIRE OH GOD.

I saw it, in a washing machine in the laundry room. There are apartments all around this room, of course. The door was closed, the fire department had to smash it to get into it. They weren’t there yet though, and as the flames went Fwoosh and started eating the building, not just the laundry, I began to cry. The tears were wet, and painful because of my allergy to water. My reaction ranges from full body pain (minimal( to blisters. It was just pain. I back tracked away from the flames and was stuck. I couldn’t be sure home was safe, a sensation that made my panic worse, and I couldn’t get people to answer. I stopped calling folks because I was having trouble breathing. Athsma + Smoke * tears= Cough cough cough.

This is when things get interesting. My neighbors all respect me, every time there is a need they perceive this is shown. There is a strong sense of community with in the hallowed complex. There is also a fear of outsiders, but if you pay rent you are automatically accepted. As people arrived, I did my best to retain the little shred of calm that I thought I had, it was not there. I still suggested that they wake up the manager, it was about eight at night. A lot of people go to bed around then.

The fire department stayed near the fire, and I stayed on the fence. Literally. I watched as they quickly contained the fire, then got it out. The flames were no longer visible by the time we got the manager up. The fire department was more than efficient. In movies and TV they are never that quick and to the point. I know that is to play out the drama but, it really doesn’t credit the fire fighters.

Sprite only tried to escape once, and it was the moment I wanted to. It’s natural to go away from fire. When the fire doubled in size in that split second, she started to bolt. Started. She stopped herself. I want to give her an award, a medal, a treat, and a golden kitty bed that she would never ever use because she was quiet, composed, and she did her job when the other service animals in the complex could not.

A part of my melt down was the pain level I was facing. Standing for more than thirty seconds has me on the edge of my pain tolerance. Past that and we’re entering territory where my systems stop functioning bodily. Circulation cuts down enough that I was blue again. My hands are still a bit oddly colored, it will take time for my body to catch up to itself. The second issue is breathing. The injury to my back spasms and it can paralyze my diaphragm. This is scary when I am not facing fire.

A secondary part was the sounds. Fire is loud, the fire department HAS to be loud. Sirens alone make me want to scream and cry. Even the far away ones. There was banging, hissing, shattering, smashing wooshing sounds. There was also a high level of fear, and fear can be contagious.

My neighbors supported me, for a few moments literally, and then once we could go inside I had help so that if I fell it wasn’t as bad. Then, for the next few hours until the fire department went away, I was checked on by every single person who could do so. Further more, the person alerting people to fire was making certain to tell the people who would be slowest to get out first. It was an act that put him in potential danger and was unselfish even if my not knowing him scared me.

There are rumors of arson today, but I am hoping for either an electrical cause or a cigarette butt left smouldering. a lot of people smoke here, and an electrical issue means that no one purposefully set the building on fire. I don’t want to suspect my neighbors of wickedness, when every single one of them is wonderful. I like them all. Not everyone here gets along with one another but I can talk to every single one of them.

Everyone in my complex has a form of disability, from mobility on to cognitive challenges. Everyone has a different way of speaking and yet everyone here is supportive. I know if I need help, I can ask. I can just scream out for it really, and they will come to my aid. I am left to think on the times when danger came hunting me, and danger did not find me because of my neighbors.

I am safe here, the fire is out and it’s ashes are quickly being covered in snow. I admit I want to see the destruction. I admit my fear of fire is not less but a bit greater. I did not have dreams last night. I was so tired, as I hadn’t slept for a day, that it was beyond me. I am aware that Sprite has not left my side since. She even held it until I was upright this morning, then bolted for the litterbox only to check and see I was following. The cut on my hand (I think it is from the fence, and so did the police) is a little infected but with my immune system that’s fairly normal. If it didn’t get a little pussy I’d worry. It’s not as bad as I expected and my costco gallon of peroxide (it was two bucks!) will get plenty of use.

Sprite and I are fine, no one was hurt. No one lost their shelter or home. I faced my horrid nightmares in reality. Facing fear sucks.

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!

Speeches

I have promised a catalogue of my speeches. So far these are the files I have gotten uploaded to Youtube.The youtube account name is TextualFury. I know some of the videos are flawed, okay all of them are. Feel free to comment here or on youtube if you have any input.


This speech is titled “What is a Service Animal?” At the end of the speech a copy of both the Federal and State law was handed out, with my business card as I could not explain the entire law with in even three hours. You can see me stand, you can see Sprite the service cat in action too.

This is a speech that is meant to explain my wheelchair. It is called “Thirty Seconds.” The goal of this speech was to work on my gestures, something that I find more challenging since breaking my back. I had to work through a lot of pain to even write the speech. The physical portion wasn’t painful during this rendition, though developing each motion was.

This is the same speech as before with some rewrites. I am trying to focus it into an inspiration with a call to action just to think, to help others, and to hope. This is a better angle but the sound is out of sync.

Here is my Person giving an extemporaneous speech that is meant to last between one to two minutes. Now you know my secret, he’s talented, eloquent, and adorable.This is posted with Permission.

His question was, “What was your favorite TV show during your childhood?” His answer for those who cannot view the video, was MacGuyver. I am planning to transcribe the other videos, though this will take time and I have no idea if I will get to it soon at all.

One final video. This is just the beauty of the local campus. Soft, beautiful birdsong and bright green ivy. This was filmed after the second version of the Thirty Seconds speech and Paul’s tabletopics. It was just too beautiful to not film.

Kitty Retiree

I judged a Toastmaster’s competition today and did so without Sprite at my side once again. My beloved Service cat has aged, she has begun to fall ill too often to work, and now is a retiree. As of this morning I no longer have a working service animal. Not outside of the house anyway. Sprite will still travel with me if I will be going somewhere over night, but beyond that? I do not feel confident in her ability to perform or to stay healthy. Despite my happy day this is still a moment of sorrow.

She is six years old, and with her history she has worked long for her life. She came from starvation and ill health, therefore I cannot fault her for her body quitting. She was upset I left her this morning, and there were consequences, but there were still good points too. It turned out a service dog who doesn’t behave at all around cats was at the contest today. Sprite’s at least partial retirement saved us from a fiasco.

What does this mean for me now? Well, it means I need to find out if there are any dogs I am not allergic to, I need to consider a horse though I do not think a horse will be compatible with my life style, and I need to start saving up cash so that I can feed another animal. Sprite will no longer need her monthly payments though I think I will continue them, so that she has the benefit of consistency. Perhaps I am wrong and with a bit of extended rest she will resume working. I still need to persue another avenue.

Does anyone have a service poodle? I know I am not allergic to purebred poodles. I had one once upon a time, and depsite his behavior issues I could pet him and brush him all day long, without any problems. No rashes, no boils, and given that the Hidradenitis Supprativa has it’s own sets of issues the last thing I need are more sores and skin problems. I will begin my quest for a service poodle, though this could take years. I feel fear, I feel sorrow, but I am happy for Sprite and William. They will get to play and pounce daily. Sprite also can protect my socks.

That is William’s latest fetish, he has stolen my socks! My Person caught him in the act this morning, and described the act as cartoonish, cute, but ultimately detrimental to my ability to own socks. Sprite can take care of him, she won’t be lonely, and that is important too.

This is my first loss of a service animal, but I am thankfully able to keep her around as a pet. My heart aches, yet she is alive. That is reason enough to celebrate. I do know I cannot handle training my own service animal at this point in time. I am too weak physically to cope with a dog if they misbehave, I cannot afford to introduce another cat into the house at this time as the two we have are bonded and the other cat would cause mayhem.

The ecosystem of my household is balanced, My Person does what he is needed to, we also share our love and intimacy in ways that are unique to each of us, the interactions and feeding schedule with the animals has it’s own balance, as do our activities out of the home. The balance must shift, but, to add stress to the lives of my animals adds stress to me. A dog will be stress yet a cat moreso.

My one regret with sprite retiring is selfish. I regret that she cannot be with me to tell me when my body is going to fail. I regret that she cannot remind me to take my medication, she is my caregiver. I must adapt, yet I feel that same fear that I felt when I started training her. What do I do now? How do I grow? How do I continue living?

I do not have the exact answers but this is another learning point. I have no choice but to go forward. I choose life over stagnancy. I will adapt. I will find a way to thrive, i will find a way to live. Sprite will have a longer life if I respect her medial needs, and I cannot be cruel to her. I love her too much to force her to risk her safety.

Sharing the Dream

I have a dream. It started small, with the idea of teaching other women with disabilities how to get their doctor to adapt to their needs, to make certain that they have proper medical care and it grew. A part of this is the rumor that in California there are accessible facilities for medical care. This access should be for all women and men with disabilities as well as those who are aging. A second portion is a discussion I recently spent two weeks taking part in. The third part is my own experience and the frustration that is omnipresent with my current medical needs.

I am sharing this dream with you for two reasons. The first is that I want your input. I am not an expert on all disabilities and I want to make this dream a reality. The other is that this will be my platform when I make my run for Ms Wheelchair USA. So, here it is, my dream.

I want to create not just an accessible doctor’s office but an accessible facility that has several purposes. First and foremost I want an accessible mammogram, one where you do not have to call, beg, and push to get access but where it is expected that you will need access. This will be furthered by a program to teach you how to adapt to your bodily changes and limitations while being able to fulfill the self exam for breast health. If you cannot adapt, either due to paralysis or other limitations then I want to offer the option of having a doctor or nurse perform your exam for you. Breast cancer risk does not magically vanish the minute you are suddenly disabled. It often goes up!

This goes further, I want accessible exam tables and facilities to offer every woman regardless of function and mobility a pap smear. I have an annual cancer scare, something tries to trick us into thinking it is cancer yearly. This year’s cancer scare surrounds my pap and it’s abnormal results and other tests that scream, “You might have cancer!” I am more worried about the high table, embarrassing lack of hospital gowns that actually fit, and my physical issues hampering the test than the actual possibility of cancer. I am loathing the idea of half climbing half being shoved up on that table, half naked and without any chance at privacy because I need help at times to even move my hips. There are accessible tables. Other forms of accesibility will be needed. I want to hear from any persons of short stature, what are the needs you face in the doctor’s office that are not being met? Even the most accessible table for a tall person will fail you, so please tell me what you need so that you are not excluded from my dream.

I want accessible facilities for rape victims with either severe injuries due to the actual rape or a previous disability. Writing these words has me panting with fear, but, how many women could be protected with evidence that is not obtained? There is enough of a violation with in rape itself, but being violated and treated like you do not matter after is a crime as well. This alone could be my platform focus, this alone could impact the lives of countless women. Accessible rape kit access with proper training for those taking the kit is a must. this is the part of my dream that is frightening, this is the part of my dream that feels the most out of reach. I must reach this goal however, for every victim and survivor that exists now or may exist.

I also want a center for adaptation. The Center for Adaptation would include a kitchen, a bathroom, and other areas that the once-abled take for granted. I still have not managed to cook a meal without harming myself in years, but a place where I had the safety to learn without being in danger of literally killing myself would help. This adaptation center must include potential assistive devices so that before the money is spent by the individual they know if the device will work. I wasted so much money on items that I cannot even use. Everyone does. Most persons with disabilities or freshly disabled persons have a very limited income, therefore this is a key component to creating universal access. Imagine learning how to cook around your limited energy, ability, and strength? Imagine learning how to clean again, and imagine too learning other things such as crafts, or finding ways to adapt so that you can create art? Dream with me and see it, a place of learning for all levels of ability.

Not just learning but socialization. I want people of all ability levels to commune together. There need to be varying support groups, socialization groups, and even a place to coordinate activities for the single individual and the couples. There needs to be a safe place to discuss sex with in ability, there needs to be a safe place where intersetion occurs. If you are gay, bisexual, a lesbian, or a transgendered person with a disability you deserve this just as much as someone who does not overlap two subgroups with in the realm of minority. The able bodied need to be welcomed here too, so that they can learn, assist, and so that there is a lack of segregation.

There needs too, to be a place to work with Service Animals. This facet will have to have answers to questions about the legalities of service animals in the given area, certification challenges, and training suggestions. Although it will not be a place to get a service dog, there needs to be a place where safe support can be found easily. Safe support that can come and help you advocate, safe support that teaches you to self advocate, and safe support for the process of accepting your animal partner.

Less medicalization of life needs to happen, and the focus on that aspect is a place to find good fashion, perhaps this could even become the funding source for my facility. The fashion needs to be adaptable to the wheelchair users needs, most likely this will require custom tailoring. The clothing needs to be affordable but also fashionable. Persons who have disabilities cover all age groups and the institutionalization of clothing is unacceptable. The clothing must also be in a broad range of sizes. Just as wheelchairs need to fit everyone from the small child up to the very large adults, the clothing must as well. Giving a place to access good, quality, stylish clothing for men and women with varying abilities will be a huge part of this, simply out of my own desires. I desire affordable clothing that works with my ability. I do not want to trip over skirts that are too long, I do not want to have my sleeves caught in my wheels if I use a manual chair, and I am presuming this is a universal frustration.

There need to be classes as well to train those with degenerative conditions to adapt, or those with compound disabilities to adapt. Perhaps the adaptation center is a new spin on the idea of an accessible home to learn in, yet, the focus on this portion includes teaching skills you might not have. What brought this to mind is my own degeneration. I lost my ability to walk and my sight is endangered. What adaptation can I have if I cannot see to drive my chair? I must learn and there needs to be a safe place for this. There needs to be a place where it is safe to feel the fear, the hope, and a place where there is hope. There is too little hope for the disabled demographic in this world.

A part of preventative care is dentistry, though I have yet to find a dentist who can work with my limitations. There needs to be a facility for dental care. I have a cavity I cannot get tended due to my combination of allergies and inability to bend backwards in their chairs. This cannot be. This is discrimination, yet to stamp out discrimination there needs to be action. If the facility cannot have a dentist, then it needs to have an office where accessible vision and dental care is listed, where referrals can be given, and it needs to be a place where there is acceptance that every body has a different need.

Disaster Safety is also a concern. During the disasters that hit the world, such as Hurricane Katrina, the disabled are often left behind. Their families may stay so that their loved ones do not die alone, and therefore these devalued people are murdered. It is murder to leave someone behind because it might be hard to deal with their wheelchair. A part of this facility needs to house a program that teaches people how to advocate, adapt, and prepare for emergencies. This program also needs to teach FEMA and other rescue organizations how to rescue the disabled. We are people, we deserve life, and being abandoned because of a wheelchair or cognitive disability is murder. It can be helped, it can be changed.

A lot of the focus here is on prevention and adaptation. My focus is not to cure disability, to wipe it out. That is impossible and I have gained from my own limitations. I cannot imagine a world without Autism as being beautiful, for without it I would not exist. Therefore the focus needs to be on preventative medicine, there needs to be a focus with in the facility on adaptive medicine, and there needs to be a focus on demedicalizing the bodies that have limitations. There needs to be a personalization of existence. I exist beyond my disabilities, though they are a part of me. We need to foster acceptance of self, of difference, and we need to offer a safe harbor for all people with all abilities to commune.

A lot of people are unable to work, are fighting for government assistance, and are dying without durable medical equipment. I want to offer rentals, loaners, and at times even the purchase of needed medical equipment such as CPAP machines, wheelchairs, and walkers. These are just examples. There would be a qualification process, and yet the freedom I felt that first time I sat in a manual chair and had more than three hours of coherent function haunts me. I have nightmares of being trapped without my chair now, I have nightmares that others feel that same terror. Those nightmares are realities. This program could use older equipment that was donated, purchased equipment, and could perhaps eventually include low interest/zero interest loans with minimal payments to allow people to obtain equipment. This could help those with a copay and a minuscule income to make ends meet. This could help someone who is choosing between homelessness and a wheelchair to get the chair and keep their home.

A second facet on employment is access to workforce training. There are already facilities yet at times access is denied based on a lack of visible potential, so, I want to coordinate with them to try and educate and prepare those who want to work but are being told they aren’t worth the training. An entire segment of this facility needs to be coordination with existing organizations to get people what they need, to get people connected with the programs that exist. A lot of people who ask me for help do so because they cannot find programs that fit their needs, even when they exist. A hub in the network could make their impact broader, while in a way delegating some of my dream over to their offices. I know one facility cannot possibly do it all.

This is my dream, this is also why I was so quiet this past week. I was dreaming, trying to put into a coherent idea what is needed. This facility will need funding but the insured can be charged. I do not see this as a fee free environment but money should not cause a person to not be able to participate. If a person can pay, or if their insurance can allow coverage then they should pay. Much of what is offered should be covered under Medicaid/Medicare and other insurances without issue. The rest could be funded via donations and grants. I have no idea what I would call this facility yet, but, that is not the most important focus at this time. Branding must come after a plan for action is laid out.

Share the dream. Share what you see as a need. Please feel free to pass links to this post around, I want to offer a taste of freedom to a set of people that anyone can join, to the only equal opportunity minority. If we band together, we can change the world and create universal access. This plan is flawed, this dream is imperfect yet it is merely a start.

Summer and the Service Animal

I think it is technically Spring, though I keep waking up to 90 degree heat outside. This has had me worried about how to protect Sprite during the summer, and this concern is likely universal.

Depending on where you live the heat can top 120 degrees in summer. Humans and animals all suffer exposure, heatstroke, and often die. This is not a fate I want for my service animal, she is my partner after all. So, I started looking into those neat cooling beds that you can have them rest on. I looked at covers for her feet, cage coolers that could possibly sit inside the van, and realized just how expensive this is.

She does have a cooling collar, but she hates it. It is uncomfortable. She takes it off. She still likes to wear dresses, so they have to be thinner, and covers for her feet don’t work. She’s a cat. The ultimate solution to this worry came today via Freecycle. I love freecycling, and I hadn’t really considered the Cool beds but one was offered and after a bit of googling, it turns out this is the perfect solution for her. The bed will be used daily, and it didn’t cost me anything.

What can you do for a service dog to protect them?

Unlike Sprite you cannot pick up your dog, unless they are small, and this means they will be walking on blistering hot asphalt or concrete. I would have them sized for shoes, they make them after all. Invest in a few pairs of dog socks, and protect their feet. You wouldn’t go barefoot, so neither should they. I would save some cash by getting multiseasonal shoes. This way you can protect them in Winter too.

You can also get a mesh service dog vest, if you use one. This will give them greater airflow. Some dog breeds also have sweat issues, where they do not self regulate their temperatures well. I would carry a mysting spray bottle with me, to cool them down periodically.

Don’t forget that no matter the breed your service animal needs constant access to water. You can carry or have them carry a collapsing bowl, water bottles and call it good. Sprite uses the Pet Top nozzle on her bottles, and in summer she can down over a gallon. This means of course that your large dog breeds will need more.

You will likely be using sunblock, and there are some sunblocks that are safe for your pets/service animals. I haven’t found one that works for me and Sprite yet but, we are hunting. All animals need sun protection, but especially those with pale skin.

What about their eyes? Doggles, a dog/cat/most animal sunglasses set work great. Sprite wears them. She didn’t like them at first but, being able to see when I was cringing away from the light and it’s horrible brightness? She began to like them.

I still recommend cooling collars as well. Sprite may not like hers, but, on the hottest days she will give in, just to save herself. On those days we usually wait until the evening before going out. Don’t forget that some regions are prone to sudden cold snaps once the sun is down, and after a day of high heat this can feel more extreme to your partner. I carry a back up rain coat and a back up heavier weight coat for Sprite.

There is no such thing as traveling lightly with a service animal. Don’t forget too, that you need just as much forethought before going out this summer. You need to drink extra water, you need to protect yourself from overheating, especially if temperature makes your disability worse.

So, happy Spring!

She Wore a White Beret

Sprite adores the French Language. I think it is beautiful but my service cat understands French. I am not sure where she picked this up, but the first two years of her life are just hers and hers alone. Today, at Walmart, we met the most fascinating woman.

When I am old enough to be Elderly I want to be just like her. She has eight cats, speaks five languages, and respected the etiquette of Service Animal interactions, at least until Sprite forced her to pet her via a well placed headbutt. She still asked permission.

Being exhausted, a bit mentally foggy and heading into Walmart usually leads to calamity. Last time I felt this bad and did my shopping I was nearly assaulted for existing, because I get more bull headed in this mode. I am less forgiving, because it takes time to forgive, to ignore the slights, and to not let myself punch annoying people. I still manage, but I am ten times less likely to be patient and calmly explain why they cannot pet my cat, why they cannot touch me, and the fact that I am an intelligent human being.

A cart with a single bag of cat food blocked my path, and I said, “Excuse me.” She turned around, and I saw that this woman had the sweetest face. Her eyes were bright, gleaming with intelligence and years of experience, she held her back straight and smiled. Her smile grew as she saw Sprite. Moving her cart she commented to me, “What a lovely cat.”

I managed as always to not mumble, “I know. She lives with me.” Instead I smiled and said, “Thank you.” Then went to grab a few cans of cat food. She continued, “Is she a service animal?” I paused and said, “Yes.” She turned to another stranger and said, “See, you did hear a cat and i was right.” I felt a bit of guilt then, for I had been less welcoming, though I was trying to just do my shopping and go home. The man huffed, “Cats ain’t ever gonna be service animals.” His jarringly bad grammar made me wince and I said, “According to the law, any animal that can be trained and is not a threat to public safety, while meeting other specific requirements can be a service animal.”

He stalked away, a third stranger laughing, “Wow, Where can I read more.” My frustration was gone. I was shocked, first by the fact that this woman had stopped a stranger from complaining, stating the truth that my animal was likely a service cat, and that they should just leave well enough alone. Then by a request for information. I shared the sheet I have with me at all times explaining the law, and he wrote down a few of the website addresses I have in the first post, about how to Self Advocate.

I had already dealt with a manager who was also accepting of her. Entering the store, I had run into not one but two employees who chose to discriminate. Despite my state of mind and limited ability, everything was going well because I was being treated like a person.

We began to converse then, this beautiful woman and I. She said something I did not understand and Sprite perked, “Oh, forgive me I forgot to speak English.” I apologized for not knowing French, and she laughed. “That is a first. I am used to Americans, especially women, insisting I speak their language. I hear so often how horrible the French are, how we are rude, for expecting people in France to speak French.” I replied, “Well, we expect people to speak English here, and many discriminate on language alone in this country.” She chuckled again, her laugh is so smooth that it was like wrapping my ears in silk. “Very true. You are very open minded, you must not have gone to College.”

This confused me a moment and I blurted out, “Well, I dropped out when I broke my back.” She clucked her tongue, “You should make a better story out of that, you went adventuring and merely have gone to the college of Life.” We traded stories, then, she asked me how I trained my cat. I told her the truth, the same way I used to train my dogs. I rewarded her for good behavior, I punished her for the bad by not petting her and saying no. “She is very rare, her eyes are showing more intelligence than I have ever seen in such a small creature.” She paused then asked, “Do you have provisions for her, should you die?”

Refreshing, to be asked that. Most people run away from the conversation of death. As I wrote about before, I am supposedly going to die before September. I refuse of course, but Death is always looming over me, shadowing me on. “Yes, I have a series of plans, all numbered and written out incase one should fail.” She was relieved, her expressive body revealing that. “Good, so few think beyond their lives. You are rare too.” I shook my head, “No, I merely have lived.” I gave her my phone number, after we discussed a myriad of other things. I wanted to stay in that moment forever, but an alarm went off and I had to go. We will stay in contact.

She was so striking, not out of a physical beauty alone but also because of her genuine and open nature. She showed me an aspect of life I desire, and although my brain is still clouded over and my body demands rest it stood out, sparkling before me. She wore a white beret, a cream sweater, and tan pants. She glowed like a snowflake. Her blue eyes were a bit cloudy with age, but her mind was so sharp and she was open to sharing so much. I suddenly want to go to France.

She also took the time to converse with Sprite, treating her as an equal, and feeling joy as Sprite obviously understood her. They chattered at one another, and Sprite leaned up just before we left placing a kiss on her lips. After we parted ways Sprite made sure I did not feel neglected, though I felt the same warmth and love she seemed to. She rubbed all over me, purring and delighting in our shopping trip.

I even let myself have a treat, I bought a butterfly hair clip. No more lamenting my choice of a hair brush or nothing, I am going to have some panache, and a dose of style when I give my speech tomorrow.

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