The last time I flew from Rhode Island to home a Stewardess greeted me and advised me that she sees the airline hadn't done their due diligence and asked me a few short questions in regards to reality orientation such as: what was the day? who was the current President and what was my name. I answered all the questions to her satifaction except for my name. How is that possible you ask? I had booked the ticket under my FULL NAME and neglected to give my middle name -- so after a few moments the matter was settled.
I would wager that I run into at least a dozen such incidences of idiocy on any given day. Thankfully having a disability you get to see first hard someone's true nature and deal wit it and just move on. For instance, the man that came up to my friend and I while we out having coffee. Apparently, G-d had spoken to him and he would like to pray for us to better / well / healed / whole.
In my best preacher voice I told him that my G-d... OUR G-d is EVERYWHERE Sir and he spoke to me your Prayer on high and we can pray about ANYTHING you like Sir (preferably that I win the next mega-ball ticket, right?) except the Prayer that's on your heart today.
My G-d, OUR G-d... wants ME to tell YOU that I AM FINE exactly the way that I am Sir. This is who I am and how My G-d, OUR G-d means for me to be... So, if there's ANYTHING else Sir you wish to Pray about at all?
I am for it! G-d is all for it... In fact, He'd like me to Pray away the Pity and Sadness that you have deep in your heart for us Sir because we are just FINE with the way G-d has made us...
Have a nice day.
His response: So, then you don't want my Prayer?!!
My reply: No, thank-you, but I will Pray to heal the pity + sadness from your heart Sir. (to which at this point he gave us both a very defeated + confused thank you and left)
Whether it is a by the book Stewardess or a Bible-thumping soul who feels to view me out and about is to color his eyes with thoughts of his own mortality each and every day I make a promise to myself to be who I am unabashedly. I live my life with love and compassion for those around me and yet, despite all the wacky, crazy, outrageous events that happen to me day to day I could never imagine another life or a tamed and passive me. Thank G-d for that! No one should settle for being anything other 100% their authentic self -- that's a promise.
Pleace explain to me what constitutes a viable threat in our society? At the height of Sept. 11th I and my belongings were labeled with a dark orange tag that read: "Terrorist Alert." I should mention that amongst my luggage was a sports wheelchair and yes, it too was so tagged. All out of fear -- in my case, the fear stemmed from the fact that I had an air pump under my wheelchair for my tires. I offered to stand and was told that if I was truly disabled "...either I can stand or I don't stand." "...either I can walk or I can't walk."
Shortly there after, I was strip searched and tagged. While I was made to feel humilated it was all out of fear of the one with the most authority as she had deemed me to fit the profile for posing a threat. That's your tax dollars at work. Years later, I am left with a funny story to tell of one of many plane trips to come.
What about youth like Trayvon Martin? An un-armed youth whose life was brutally taken. He doesn't get the luxary of looking back at the idiocy of the officer who thought he fit the profile for posing a threat and laughing it off with friends and family. He doesn't get to say so many things... Trayvon never gets the answer to the question of "why?" He never gets to grow-up, become so many positive things that only our youth can dream of. Again, your tax dollars at work... don't you feel safer knowing you have been proctected from the true undisirables -- the disabled & young un-armed children.
Hush, sleep easy now. The streets are safe now. This is the message we are sending our children anyone different from you deserves to be singled out as of course they must have been posing a threat.
I've lost a lot of beautiful people in my life as they've chosen to just vanish. I've always wondered why some folks stick around while others are so eager to join the vanishing act. There's all kinds of ways to be here and gone in an instant.
There are the walking dead -- slowing going through the motions and yet feeling no connection to anyone, feeling as though as bad as life is now is as good as it ever will be so try to deviate from the norm. There are the reclusives -- retreating into themselves fearing ever hurt real or imagined even from themselves. There are the fight and flighters so afraid of being affronted and written off that they either never let anyone in to truly know them or let in all the wrong folks since what's the point they are doomed to be hurt again.
Sure, I've thought of what it would be like to vanish into thin air, but there are far too many people I love and respect -- (myself included!) I love so many things like: a child's laughter, the smell outside right after it rains and how green the world seems to be, reading poetry, my family of friends and a great belly laugh.
I am still the one on the inside who listens to music from her twenties and animation from her youth. I am still the the one who finds wonder in every new adventure and finds every day to be a new adventure. I am still the one who sees the sunrise and sunset as some beautiful painting yet to be captured. I have not vanished -- I am still here.
I am still the one who trips when nothing's there. I choke on water. Somedays the world is so much bigger then I can even dream... but always I'm there. I'm still there -- I haven't vanished. There's far too much beauty in this world to just vanish into thin air. Life catches up to people and sometimes drags them down and if you are full of hurt and feel you are about to break don't give in and vanish.
Whenever you feel a piece of yourself start to disappear remember you are so beautiful, so irreplaceable, even when you cannot feel the love that surrounds you... know no one can ever replace YOU and to someone YOU mean the world. So, why vanish?
Uprooting, learning to plant where you grow... strike that and reverse it. Growing where you are planted. What will become of this your brand new colony. Everything so fresh and new for the first time. If only we could maintain our child's sense of wonder a man says to me, the other day, the world would be a better place. I find myself wondering will I gravitate towards the lights of my newly found tribe or declare myself a sovergn entity?
Passing through the towns on my road to Bliss -- I think things, strangs things... are these the sweet and sleepy little towns where Stephen King finds his muse? Will I click here? Is this a place where I can truly be myself and be loved for who I am? And most importantly will I feel safe? Passing through the bright blue doors some of my fears are quickly abated. Smiling faces are there to greet me. Young and old these are definately people full of promise.
Everyone greets me with thier name and apartment number and a standing off to help out or have me over for a homecooked meal once I arrive and settle in. They describe their Bliss as "excellent!" and remind me that true Bliss is what you make of it. Everyone seems jovial as I step out under the clear blue Connecticut winter sky. It begins to snow as I'm walked across the campus to my new apartment. Along the way, an adorable snow white cat with black spots was rolling around in and purring at the snow.
Empty inside save for the maintanence workers, my new place smelled strongly of new paint and glue as they worked to clean and place all new appliances to suit my needs. Being the first to arrive, I had a choice of a room overlooking the deck or the trail. I chose the trail view over the view of the deck. The trail reminds me a little of a very long time ago when my Mom put an ad in the paper after I graduated H.S. saying: "the road is yours, go for it!" Everyone was foolish enough to think she bought me a car even though I don't drive. Gotta love parental metaphors... the trail reminds me of the camp I went to as a kid and every camp I worked when I grew-up -- including all the trails I've swept.
A trail is all about new discovery. In this case, I am discoverying my bliss. Where it may lead me to is anybody's guess. Things will be rough at first and there are a few roadblocks in my way right now, then I am reminded what a woman said to me the other day, how it takes a special person not to iet thier no become my no.
Moving forward pushing back memories of the past and packing only the baggage I can continue to weigh upon my shoulders, my heart and my mind. Packing the past away to move forward isn't so easy. I speak in stories and live in memories, I just need to unpack the bad times and leave them behind. I'm sure they'll tug at my heartstrings to stay since they'll feel abandonned as they've always just been with me no matter where i've lived -- even when there was no room for thier negativity, I made space for them. This time I am saying a very heartbreaking goodbye to my baggage this time there's no room, no time for them to filter through my thoughts.
Leaving it all behind doesn't mean I haven't learned from the negativity that has been my comfort for far too long. In its place silence where nagging doubts have been a part of my daily battle. joy will replace mere existance. Laughter and love will fill my heart where before my heart's only song was the beat beat beat of apathy where compassion was longing. It will be much easier to demolish my home of doubt than to build anew...
Fear will try and taunt me at every new turn trying to sell me my baggage, "it's warm & it's all you've known." "it's comfortable." "why change now?" and "what if..." And, everytime I want to give in someone will remind me to just breathe. In that small breath I'll close my eyes and catch a glimpse of my 'ole self. a young woman in a muddy powerchair covered with with laughing and smiling kids. I dropped kicked their baggage and why is it so acceptable for me? -- It's not.
It's all just one breath at a time.
Just remember to breathe.
I finally made it to Ct. at five in the morning Despite the first night's inhuman cold and slick ice... I am always happy to be out here. I feel as though I am borrowing happy. Maybe it goes back to the fake it before you make rule which I so hate the cliche of and yet I sit here before you borrowing a sense of happiness. Soaking up other people's pride -- finding love in it all. I always do. Whether I'm here or there.
When you see two people who truly are right for one another it makes your mind veer to your something new... your next beautiful step wherever that might take you. True love is intoxicating, the best kind of drug there is second only to a great belly laugh. It just makes you wanna test drive love, life and laughter and say "I wonder how that would look on me?" That's the beauty of true love it has the ability to change for the better everyone it touches and make no mistake its effect is far-reaching and long lasting. It makes you lose your breath in the sight of it and desire your new you.
Your new "You" built upon somethings old from the best your past had to teach you. Something new in the sense of daring desire you can feel quaking at the the tips of your fingertips and toes to dive into new experiences with wild abbandon. Something borrowed in the beauty of the lovely starry eyed gaze you see in all that share the connection of the deepest, truest, love... and yes, even something blue you will learn by then to forgive but not forget it has built you, shaped you, made you stronger.
Welcome to your new you.
No, I don't have plans to move to New York not yet... not that I know of, but 'ya know the kind of person that assumes that because you are from well, let's say New York that you would know thier cousin Jo? Well, I'm not that kinda person either, however; I am positive I drive my friends crazy because after visiting an area I'll hone in on the weirdest thing... like stoops versus porches or single spaced homes versus row houses or some wild accent (think shopping cart versus buggy) and say, "oh my god, this is what living is really like. I knew it all along..." and I can't wait to share my new found knowledge with my family & friends.
Of course taking one example of anything good or bad or just plain weird and applying it to everyone never really works. Case in point, buggy -vs.- cart. A young man came up to me in Tennesse and asked if I would like a buggy. I had no I dea what he was talking about I thought it was a derogotry term for wheelchair and I told him no thank you Son I have my own. He repeated the phrase cheerfully again and I asked him if he meant a shopping cart and then proceeded to say, "Say it with they are called shopping carts..." (said very slowly) As I tried to wheel past him he asked me again to which I called my very southern Stepfather to speak to the young man almost like an alien translator and after five seconds on the cell he blushed, said thank-you Ma'am and walked away.
The first time I ever went to Conneticut I adored the accent there and wondered why my friend's wife didn't have the same accent. Apparently my entire trip I kept running into folks from New Hampshire and I thought that was the way everyone spoke out there... that and I thought th lobster would taste like chicken. Why? Well, because everyone always says oh I tried a new dish it wasn't so bad it tasted just like chicken. Let me forwarn you, the lobster... tastes like lobster.
The first time I ever visited New York I made the mistake of bumping into a guy with my wheelchair now that he would have forgiven, but my going up to him to apologize he thought was an attempt to rob him. I did get to do one thing there with my friends I've always wanted to do... crossing the street the cabbie gave me ample time, but I doubled back and banged my fist on his his hood and yelled: "HEY, I'M WALKIN' HERE!" Of course his respose was confused and he cursed me out, but I always wanted to do that just once and now -- I can say I have.
So, it's more like ah you're from the Midwest -- do you know me? On second thought...
Theses are my resolutions for the 2012 New Year in full color... to be myself, to speak freely, to feel deeply and to love unconditionally & stop being so weight obessesed, I'll eat what I like. So there you have it my dreams for this year are simply to reclaim a forgetten, lost part of myself.
I won't be hitting the gym and then losing my interest as usual. I won't act, dress, say or do the things I feel best to fit in because for so very long I have been stowing my true self away in the process and I hate it.
I will not guard myself so tightly against love that is impossible to discover... or to recieve. There are so many kinds of love in the world and to protect myself I've shut myself out of experieriencing any of it fully -- without conditions. Nomore! If I get hurt at least I know I was capable of feeling the true depth of that emotion and being all the stronger for surviving and then again... who says love of any kind has to be so bad?
I resolve to tell you who I am when you see me on the street. I won't pretend to be a trumped up version of exactally who you'd love to meet. So the opportunity that we would clash in a debate is high, but I love to debate and have the uptmost respect for those who can hang in there for what to the naked eye seems to be only an arguement. When maybe infact I am testing you... seeing just how far you can go and still stick around. It really is an aquired art form if you ask me.
I guess that is what's missing in me some can call it the fight, the spirit, the soul or the essence, but that kind of tell-it-like-it-is-candor meshed with compassion and love that's me -- truly me. When I am in a situation where I don't think someone would take me the right way I slowly feel myself start to conform to those around me where the chief concern is last night's football stat's and the glory days are those at the local high school. It has become an issue of survival to attempt to blend in when I still at least had a little shine left, but nomore!
This is what I resolve...
Normally, I would post every day, at least I try to, but please forgive the momentary derail. Normally, I would bring you my impassioned view, my hook, if you will. It's the way I see the same events shaping the world today, but please forgive the derail. Normally, I'm more on track but all I can think about is this...What's next?
People are "Occupying" so many parts of the U.S. and the world that the reason(s) behind it all have become hopelessly lost. I caught a glimpse of my alma-mater occupying as well. I felt so saddened my heart could break. It wasn't that I wanted to camp out in tent city with them as I'm sure a part of me will always feel that way. To what end does walking around with signs declaring we are disfranchisemed do, say, for the actual disfranchised ?
Tomorrow, the real disfranchised will wake-up still feeling as marginalized as ever, some choosing to drown that feeling in the classic addictions: sex, drugs, alcohol or just simply delusions that the life they do not wish to lead and never found to be acceptable is just rosey now. They will remain broke as ever, given horrible living scenarios to choose from: homeless, residential living environments, section eight apartment units or living with a guardian or parent.
I had to stop and sit with this notion is all the world as Jem sings, "Do you see what I see? Why do we live like this? Is it because it's true That ignorance is bliss?"
I should clarify that this conversation first came about when a good friend of mine and I were discussing what makes some folks with disabilities make the conscience choice to live where, with whom and how we do. She lives in a campus styled idendent living center because she believes she needs that level of care and her choice respects her family's wants as well. I live in a section-eight apartment (my nose crinkles as I tell you this)... I made my choice when I had to have painful foot surgery after falling down icy stairs.
The similaries and differences I see between where we are on the track and where the "occupy movement" are do mirror one another . For one we are united in the belief that the lives we live have fallen short in some way from our hopes & dreams and yet we are unitfed on a direction of change. The occupy movement is also without clear purpose and unified leadership.
Secondly, no one wants to talk about it, everyone is circumventing the truth. For many qualified, educated, talented disabled citzens the glass ceiling is exhausting to shatter as many job interviewers of able-bodies meet us with the refrain "Oh, excuse me are you applying for services?" No one can prepare you for that kind of fight. You claw way in tooth & nail and work harder than necessary because there's always that something to prove, if only life ran on merit.
Will the disabled citzens marching now feel any differently when they learn that moreso than greed they must start to band together and having the conversation about ignorance and how to deal... Will they march knowing what so many of us know or will they forever live in the bubble in won't happen to me?
Then there are the elderly aides cases are on the rise in nursing care, whose talking to our elderly about sex? I once had to stay in a nursing home after the earlier mentioned foot surgery and a naked man with dementia wanted my bed and I couldn't walk. It took an hour before anyone answered the call button. He was tackled and restrained, but I can only imagine that aside from the usual ill-gotten care like bedsores there could be made a case a rape in nursing care.
Are the homeless marching for any of the popular social causes or are they in the way as the streets are their home... Can you imagine how many homeless, hungry people the marchers, the tent cities could feed? Have they offered?
So many colleges are taking part in something that they have not yet experienced. It made me sick when I read the forgive student loan debt sign held by a member of my alma-mater, they didn't even even look old enough to graduate. Please students go back to class! You are so far from being disenfranchised, I know you are young and felt and wanted to belong.
Then BAM there was "occupation." You, students, are so entitled please stop complaing. Please feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, work at a shelter or be a nurse or doctor or social worker... promote change, but please stop "occupying" -- you DON'T speak for me.
Stop the train, I wanna get off.
I'd love to