Walmart

I had a strangeness at Walmart today. It was a myriad of experiences with a temporary worker, who challenges my brain function in a negative way. Otherwise she is a good carer. She asks questions we just are not quite compatible as my brain cannot function around her constant babble. First I learned that you can in fact make them go get more gluten free things, and while I waited for someone to do that I noticed the symbol of a purple heart on a hat. I turned to do my habitual thanking and spoke with the man for a moment. He was surprised and then smiled at me and said he had not expected thanks and it has been seventy years just about since he enlisted, to fight Hitler. He was proud of his service and he is in fact proud of what the people of this country have become, over all. Not our politicians but I have yet to meet even a politician who likes politicians. It was a surreal moment as I realized that he fought in a war so long ago that I only know one person who was alive then. His happiness with my gratidude and the smile were well worth my nervousness in pointing out I saw it. The purple-heart meaning he was injured meant it was more important that I thank him.

In my shopping I always cross paths with strange characters or people who just jump out at me visually. A woman in a beautiful sparkling sweater with a Hajib looked over the meats at the same moment. I complimented her sweater, her daughter translated and I thanked her daughter for that. They were surprised by this. I thought that this post would only entail at that moment my little moment of wonder at our aging warriors, as my brain tumbled over my wanting to share that I met a real hero. I was almost finished with my shopping, hunting down an elusive cheese (which I never did find) when the woman and her daughter returned and flagged me and my tempcarer down. They were in a panic because her ride home had vanished, they had only EBT and they were stranded. They needed help and this is where the Government housed them, as refugees from the Iraq war.

I had no expectation of this adventure and my tempcarer was surprised when I stopped to help them. They asked for a ride home which was impossible and a terrifying concept to me not because I am such a quarrelsome creature or my allergies but because this is something they have done before. So we made calls. We tried every option before calling of all places the Mormons that had given them their book. I even had to call the police. I felt terrible doing this. Then the girl mentioned her mother has qualified for a carer. I wrote down resources, and then we had to finish our shopping.

I felt guilt I could not help them and their relief that I helped was amazing. The gratitude. I talked to them both a while and they wanted to hug me, which I could not do for them but in the end they got a ride. Still it made me wonder how they got here, how they will adapt. What resources do people have. I literally just got home and am writing this and I do not know, but I wonder. I find it a horrifying thing they have no transport and I cannot imagine the fear they feel. What it must take to leave your entire culture behind. I found them brave, and yet desperate. It is their desperation that leaves me hoping I meet them again.

Walmart is always an adventure for me, I get overloaded between false alarm fire alarms, the people and shopping and yet this was more an adventure than the norm. I did get a bit of an allergic reaction but it was worth stopping my day to help people. My tempcarer is rushing right now to put all the things I got away. No toys even, I just stocked up on food. I feel a strange sorrow that I cannot do more, that I cannot know them more intimately but it is not an option at this time. So I will wonder and I can hope that we meet again. I gave them resources they did not know, and I see a young girl with many burdens and I wonder who she will become.

Normally I expect to bring home food, not questions about the shape of the universe and the scheme of things. Quite the load of shopping today!

Diagnosis! Gotta Catch’em all!

I am in an emotional upheaval. I found out today that Block Insurance does not have any non Walmart Eye doctors. All of the numbers they gave me were between disconnected or offices without actual vision care professionals. I also was told to choose between Walmart and Eye Masters which is the Walmart of eye care. Would you go to Walmart for diagnosis and treatment of anything medical? I won’t. I want options. I want to see a doctor I trust, not Mr. Walmart Doctor.

I spent several hours on hold, trying to get an appointment. My right eye has an existing hole in the retinae, but no one wants to treat it. Now that hole has some little friends. I can see them, the spots grow and most of my vision is gone in that eye. I can barely see my monitor, and am defendant on the Windows built in Magnifier to see. I no longer read paper, I can’t see it. I no longer watch TV. I listen to it. I did reach the point of yelling on the phone.

The conversations were comically inept. “Thank you for Calling Block Vision, what can I do for you today?” “Yes, I am calling to try and find a provider. I …” Interrupting me, “Did you use the automated system?” “Yes, and the numbers were either invalid or the offices wanted to charge me despite my qualifying for zero copay. I also am not comfortable with Walmart for my eyecare needs. I have some advanced care issues.” I made a mistake. I admitted I need more than they want to offer.

“Spell your name.” I did. “You can’t spell your name like that.” Since it is my name and has been for a long time, I would not know how to spell my legal name. My last name is the issue of course, not the first. I spell it again, and get the same response. I am done. I want to make this person cry, I want to rain fire down upon them. Instead I take a deep breath. “Could you please transfer me to someone else?” I did not ask for a supervisor yet. “If you cannot calm down I am goin to hang up on you.” “I am calm, I just asked for you to transfer me to someone else, I do not think we are communicating well.”

She hung up. I kept getting the same person too, and after six calls I let go. I was already in tears so I screamed. I cussed. I told her exactly how good she was at her job, and since they claim to record these conversations, I hoped her bosses listened in and fired her. Not my best move, but, being treated like crap gets to me. The last thing I want is to be blind, unable to move, and unable to hear. I am being told that all that I and anyone else who is on Medicaid (mostly children) deserve is WALMART?!

Walmart screws up everything. I want a real doctor. Not some brainless person who barely managed to graduate. I want someone I can put my faith in. Wouldn’t a real doctor be hired somewhere else? I am not saying that every doctor gets the cushy jobs but I want access to the doctor of my choice or at least a variety. I do not want to be told I am insane for desiring trust with my medical professionals. I do not want to be told I have to pay out of pocket because I am low income and have other medical issues. I want medical care.

I want to see. I miss being able to see the faces of my friends clearly. I miss being able to see far enough to give safe directions. I do not drive but, shouldn’t I be able to see the end of the hood? A van doesn’t have a very long hood. I also want to do more than push and push to try and get proper care. I am so tired. I am tired of having to advocate. I have been advocating for people and fighting my entire life. I have always been the caregiver. I want someone else to do it.

This doesn’t work however. I can’t just stop advocating. I can’t because I do not know how. I instead took the time to calm down enough to call the Governor. I left him a voicemail along the lines of this, “Governor Richardson, I am a voter who encourages others to vote, “I always start out with the secret threat that if you do not help me I will not vote for you. “I have been trying to find an eye care provider.I recieve SSI benefits and am on Medicaid via the COOLTS program. You have influence here, the program has farmed out their providership for vision care to Block Vision. Block Vision is only allowing a selection from Walmart and Eyemasters doctors, I cannot get an appointment with them and my vision is degenerating. I need your help to fight for your constituents.” I left my number, and I know I should have been calmer but my voice likely gives away my frustration and the fact that I have been crying for the last few hours.

I cannot see. I am thankfully able to type with my eyes closed but there are errors. What if I wait too long to see someone and wind up unable to save my sight? I am not faithful in the system. Right now I am afraid I will be deaf, blind, immobile, dealing with the Autism, and autoimmune. I have one of every type of disability, it seems. I am losing hope today.

If I want to pay for my eye care out of pocket, I can manage that how? They want more money than I get a month. Why are we choosing between Rent, Medicine, or Dental/Eyecare? Why is it you can eat but not see. Oh wait, I can’t afford food. I am a celiac. Silly me. Bread is at least seven dollars. I don’t buy bread. I don’t buy anything beyond just enough meat to survive. I am HUNGRY but there are no food programs that can accommodate my allergies. I am greedy to want that right? I am greedy to want someone to help me. I am greedy to want a break from advocacy. Right?

No matter how many other advocates there are, I feel alone. I feel as if there is no where to turn. I have to do this alone. I have to do this by myself. Who can I ask for help? What would they suggest that I have not done? I am all alone, as every advocate is at some level. There is only so much you can have someone else do for you.

It isn’t hopeless. I am after the jobs of the employees who hurt me today. That means someone else can be hired if they are fired for their incompetence. This might seem cruel, but, isn’t it just as cruel to mock someone for wanting medical care? It is just as cruel to treat someone like garbage because they are disabled. I have HUMAN rights. I have CIVIL rights. You want to mess with me? Go ahead. I bite.

Edit and End Notes:
I do not care what your God or Bible says about being alone either. I have been preached at, as if somehow my choice to not pray every time some idiot steps on my civil rights is my fault for being a non believer. I do not believe religion has much bearing on the affairs of the state. So, yes, this is a snarly article, and yes I admit I messed up by yelling and plan to keep fighting but leave your god out of my life. I haven’t needed your god to chance things for myself before, I will not need YOUR god now. Thanks for respecting my religion.

It is not religion that is shared when you ask an opinion or vent to me. I offer ideas. I do not expect you to worship me, my gods, nor is this the same as pointing out that I surely would feel better with YOUR God receiving my prayers. Seriously, are your gods somehow starving to death or something? I know plenty of people in those religions who are. So keep religion out of it. You won’t find my religious identity posted clearly anywhere.

Beauty

I am tired of the stereotype of beauty. I grew up being told that a girl should like men who look like Brad Pitt. I like women with soft lush curves, big and strong ones too. Many would consider my past conquests masculine, or overly thin, or fat. No one type fits what I like. I too have “strange” preferences for the men I have dated and these too tend towards those with meat on their bones, they have body hair, they are dark skinned, fair skinned, or really just alive.

Most of them, but not all, are tall. With either sex I tend to reach out for the taller people, though tall has changed in meaning since the wheelchair entered my life. I can’t look up at my baby brother without hurting my neck. He sits down for me, and still towers above. He is about seven feet tall. I love height because my family is full of tall people, except my own biological father. I associate height with safety. What does this mean about the other standards of beauty? Are we all programmed to like certain things?

Yes!

A huge part of my persecution in this life has been based on facets of my physical appearance. I have red hair, very pale skin that burns the instant sun touches it, soft full lips, and I have always had curves. My smallest size is a fourteen. I was barely eating to maintain that. My body needs meat on it. I am simply a curvaceous woman. I do have an ample bosom as well, and all of these things have been picked at.

I grew up being told I should be blonde. Blonde meant perfection. I hardly find blondes attractive as a result. I am aware that most of my siblings and my own mother are all blonde, and this factors in too. I think Blue Eyes are the best, though any shade is lovely to me. Blue eyes were mocked, because they are pale. Being a minority as a white person is very rare in any part of the world, the patriarchal structure still dominates and is usually white, even in countries where white is the minority. I have always been told my pale skin makes me wealthy. Whiteness in my state is a status symbol.

In India women who are by nature in the darker end of the spectrum are considered harder to marry off, they have less value based on something as simple as their genetic make up. The lighter you are, the more respect you can gain. This is White Privilege. It has defaced an entire culture, this love of all things white has poisoned us. You see whiteness in media, dominantly with able bodied super muscular WHITE men. You see their blonde perfection everywhere. I think back to the Nazi Propaganda studies group I was a member of in High School, and that is what I see. Reflections of past propaganda, continued, accepted, and fully realized.

Curly hair is considered disheveled. Girls with curly hair wake up at odd hours to iron their hair out. I think it is lovely, and my standard of beauty includes the use of a curling iron to add curls to my hair. This is rare, the era of the Super Perm died out at the end of the Eighties, except for a few hold outs.

I am told I must wear make up to seem presentable. I do, at times like to wear make up but I do it when it feels good. Usually I will also hide some of my facial scars under make up, if I cannot shake my feelings of Paranoia. I do not allow myself to wear make up on days when my self worth is being questioned, or when my confidence would hinge only on sultry red lips.

As I write this I am watching a movie that has what I consider the equivalent of Black Face. Sophia Loren is the Millionairess, Peter Sellers is the Indian Doctor who teaches her how to be more than a spoiled snob. This movie is full of propaganda that is anti woman, anti persons of color. I was enjoying it until I realized the fallacy that a white man is playing an Indian, with hardly any alteration of skin color and a very cliched accent.

I also note that the famed figure of Sophia Lauren seems to be aided via a corset. I might be wrong, but the extremes to her figure seem to need assistance. It doesn’t feel natural to me, though it does fit the “standard of beauty”. Her hair is lightened a bit, and of course she is always shown in posh and polished appeal during this film.

I do not think Brad Pitt is handsome. I think he is mediocre. This is all about looks, not his acting. I will not malign someone for having a career. I will however state that I do not understand the requirement to find him attractive. If you want to know who I find attractive in Hollywood, you will have to dig deep. There are few people that strike me as gorgeous or stunning, especially since we have entered the Anorexia Age of Hollyweird. Health is beautiful. That inner glow of self acceptance can make anyone gorgeous.

Since my blossoming into awareness about privilege I have seen more beauty in the world. This side effect shocked me. I like to compliment people when I find them attractive, and I have had the urge to tell the entire world how beautiful it is. The beauty I see is nothing like what is in the Movies or on Television. I live in a world of diversity. The people I see daily are of mixed race, from other countries, and their voices alone are a rhythmic song.

I am not beautiful by the overly BMI oriented modern sensibilities. I never will be. I’d have to break my bones, cut my body apart, inject myself with dye, and lose my sense of self. (This statement does not mean that those who naturally fit this standard are not beautiful, it is merely a rejection of the expectation to alter myself to be just like them) I reject the need to starve myself to fit a rare body type. I reject the fashion industry’s expectation that “fat” women do not like Fashion. I LOVE clothes shopping, and am discovering that I could easily spend a million dollars on cute shoes. These are cliches about womanhood, and yet you will find I only have four pairs of shoes, two for winter, two for summer. My clothing is all rather sensible, black, and boring.

I am pigeon holed by my lack of thinness. I am trapped by the need for others to stigmatize those who are not identical to them. I am not a Stepford Cripple, I am not anything but a person. I am flesh, I am bone, and I have soul. You are beautiful. My friend who is an immigrant is beautiful. I love listening to her voice, the way that she sings while she speaks entrances me. My friend who is the son of immigrants is beautiful. He cannot see that because his world is full of hatred, hatred of the Other.

I discuss privilege with my friends. It is an unavoidable conversation now. Eventually it is addressed either by discussion of politics, feminism, or simply the venting of frustration. I no longer hide my beliefs, to survive until the next day. I am free to speak them. Most of the time these conversations hold a similar impact, someone learns something. We all do really. My friends are all shapes and sizes. I have friends who are thin, blonde, and blue eyed. I have friends who are extraordinarily fat, but give hugs that are so soft. I have friends of every shape, size, mental capacity, and ability. My friends are all beautiful. You are beautiful.

Stop stigmatizing people for not being clones. Clones are scary, according to the media pundits and science fiction. Every time the word cloning is mentioned on TV it is with the hush of fear. Disability also has that hush of fear. Stop being afraid. Fear stops you from living life. This doesn’t mean you should ignore some fears, such as the fear of hunger or the fear of a snake bite. Stop fearing things that are different. If you do not understand something, educate yourself. Don’t fear it. Don’t shun it.

This includes fine art, not so fine art, but most especially people. Children are people. Women are people. I see often abuse launched at those who are different. I experience it every time I go out. I was reminded however, of the power of kindness and decorum.

I write often about the importance of gentle resistance, passive resistance, and not striking back. I admit I fail this way at times but, every so often I am given the reminder I need, the proof that I am right. I had transferred out of my chair at Sam’s Club, into the van and rolled down the window. Beside me a harried mother of two beautiful children, her disabled mother, and a cart of groceries struggled. I watched in silence, until they were about to leave, calling out to the woman that her mother had forgotten her cane.

Her son looked up as she thanked me, glad to not have to spend another twenty five dollars on a cane, and said, “Mommy, that’s the lady from the Walmart with the kitty!” His mother paused and said, “She was on TV too.” We talked then, and I complimented her for handling the stress. I could see she was frazzled, and I let her kids talk to Sprite while she settled them in. No petting of course, but, I told her how beautiful her family is. Three words. “You have a beautiful family.” Okay, five. I never was good with numbers.

She froze, looked at her kids, and then smiled. “I wish everyone could see that.” The thing I have not mentioned is this. Her children are Triracial. They are of Asian, African, and Caucasian Descent. I wanted to take them home with me, their sweetness gave me a rare pang of desire for Motherhood. It went away before we were out of the parking lot, but not the reminder that everything you do has a lasting impression. Every word, Every laugh, Every shout, every time you teach someone something. There is impact.

What draws me to people is never what they look like. It is instead their personality, the joy they have for life, and sometimes the hope that I can grow up to be like them. I may never grow up. I am always surprised when I realize for a moment I am not a child anymore. It fades, but, that too reminds me to be innocent.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not what media tells us it should be. Beauty is merely in the existence of life. Flowers, Puppies, kittens, children, lovers. All beautiful. Be you a Homosexual, Transgendered, A person of non Caucasian ethnicity, red haired, blonde haired, black haired, green haired, or even a strange shade of orange. You are beautiful.

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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