Day 219: 30 Days of Blogging

Ice cream scoop filled with liquid to ease sco...

Ice cream scoop filled with liquid to ease scooping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its the end of the month. I can’t believe I managed to post every day. Since it is only takes 21 days to establish a habit I hope it bodes well for the rest of my writing. I’m glad I did iv even though sometimes it has felt like scraping the bottom of my brain with an ice cream scoop. Onward to next month!

Day 218: Relationships And What I’ve Learned

What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?

What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People who say relationships are easy probably haven’t been in a serious one yet. Every day there is conscious choice to continue. I am currently several states away from both of the people I care about and to say the separation is awful is a massive understatement. Love is beautiful and complicated. One of the things it took me a long time to learn is that sometimes the Princess has to work through some of her problems alone before her sweetheart (s) show up. I think that in order for relationships to work all parties must be comfortable with themselves before anyone else can be.

 

I admit that it has taken me quite a long time to get there. I do not mean that you have to like yourself all the time. Mostly you should know how to be honest with yourself even when it means acknowledging qualities in yourself that you would rather ignore. Somewhere I read a quote that says something to the effect of “love doesn’t show you a perfect person it allows you to see an imperfect person perfectly”. My girl has an Irish temper which drives me nuts sometimes. My man has patience 2 miles wide even people I would have given up on. He is also a self admitted ideogame junkie so sometimes creativity is necessary to get his attention. In

 

All of that aside they are the best thing that has ever happened to my life. This distance thing sucks but it is only a temporary condition. They used to think that the heart-wrenching I had gone through was pointless and only served to make me miserable but I realize now that everything that happened before this happened so this could work. I know myself better now and I communicate much easier than I used to though I am by no means perfect at it. I have learned the hard way that it is not a good thing to assume that your significant other can make your mind.

 

I don’t give relationship advice much mostly because I am unqualified to but the one piece of advice I will continue to offer if anyone asks is to communicate. If something bothers you tell the other person don’t keep it bottled up, if you do it will come back to bite you in the end. My man’s saying is “if I don’t know if it’s broke I can’t fix it”.

Day 217:Things I Wish I’d Known in College

Caregiver

Caregiver (Photo credit: Bosquet)

When your caregiver in college says that no one else will take care of you except her do you like your sister has been telling you for months, fire her. It will save you a ton of issues later. When Janet Norman tells you there is no safety plan for disabled students in case of fire other then to inform the firefighters where you are when they get there do not yell. Get a lawyer. When the math teacher gives you hell because your caregiver wasn’t there to get you up in time to get to class in a rental chair do not cry. When the math tutor disabled student services set up for you doesn’t show file a complaint call Nathan, he’s probably better at it anyway. Tell him not to go kayaking that weekend. When he comes back tell him to go see a doctor.

 

When the math teacher who is been giving you hell all semester tells you (loud enough for the whole class to hear) that you failed just like she knew you would, do not cry tell her to go hell and then when she brings you in front of the Dean of your college tell him the hell she put you through. When you find out that one of your previous teachers informed a current teacher that you are a slacker do not cry. Go to the head of department and file a complaint against her for slander. Somewhere before the end of your argumentative writing class thank Prof. Brown for his younger and patience. Later apologized to Dr. Peterson because you could not give him your best effort. Tell The social work teacher you see in the elevator every week that her smile that her smile and bright clothing always make your day better. When Janet Norman to you that you cannot have a service dog in training on campus with you, get a lawyer. When she says awful things about your mother get a lawyer. You are an adult run the only way they can make you feel smaller and if you let them

Day 216: Can I Really Do This?

Tray with a scene of cutting the Gordian Knot.

Tray with a scene of cutting the Gordian Knot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

This is what it feels like to stand along the edge of a cliff. That was the thought that ran through my head when a conference room full of adults with medical degrees turned to look at me, waiting for my answer. It has been decided after two weeks of evaluation that I was indeed a candidate for an experimental surgery which, if everything went well could make it possible for me to do things I wasn’t able to before. However the doctors couldn’t say exactly how much of a difference it would make other than saying that in their professional opinion the potential benefits outweighed the risks. Because it was surgery on the spinal cord itself there was the risk that I might end up worse off than I was now, though the doctors couldn’t define what “worse” might entail anymore than they could “better”. The surgery was never performed on anyone older than 14 so if it was going to be done and had to be this year. The doctors looked to my parents and my parents, reasoning that I would have to deal with the consequences good or bad, long after they were dead, looked at me.

I sat. I thought. I deliberately imagined the worst possible scenario I can think of, could I live without my voice and my hearing if things went badly?  I imagined being trapped inside my own head and felt my gut twist into a Gordian Knot and my toes literally curl in my  sneakers. I silently admitted to myself that if that were to happen I would probably see a mental health professional in order to cope, at least at first. refuse to even contemplate seriously any idea of what a best case scenario might be because even if the operation were successful chances are it would fall short of my hopes and I didn’t want to be disappointed. They were still looking at me. Nothing ventured nothing gained right? With a mental shout of “cannonball!” I jumped, and heard myself say “let’s do it.” The rest is history.

Day 215 : How I Spent Black Friday Weekend

Usually when I think of poetry as performance art it conjures up images of the Beatnik movement and I cringe away in fear. Recently I was introduced to Taylor Mali through on a WordPress blog and my preconceptions were completely thrown out the window. Taylor is a former high school teacher turned performance arts poet and teachers advocate. I have watched all of his YouTube videos that I can find and in the process explored a little deeper into the Poetry Slam movement and found some more awesome writers. This particular style of poetry is not pretty in the classic sense. It is gritty, blind, and as far removed from a Shakespearean sonnet as it is possible to be. This is not to say that the poems aren’t beautiful but it is a beauty grounded in reality.

Some of the poems like Mali’s “On Girls Lending Pens” had me giggling through most of it because I remember similar scenes from high school.“Unsolicited Advice to Adolescent Girls with Crooked Teeth and Pink Hair” (by Jeanann Verlee) however had me, caught somewhere between cheers, laughter, and sympathetic sobbing all the way through. Despite this I think I’m trying to memorize it, exactly why I am not sure. Her poem “40 Love Letters” is somewhat lighter in tone but I now feel as though I would probably ask her at least 40 questions if I ever got the chance, such as “what in the world did Ethan ask or suggest that led to such a flat, emphatic no?

After scouring YouTube for videos of poetry read in this style I can only come to one conclusion it is a good thing that I do not have aspirations to become a poet, if I wrote poetry every day for the next 50 years it would never hold a candle to some of the works I have seen over the weekend.

Do NOT LISTEN TO WITH SMALL CHILDREN PRESENT (I wouldn’t anyway)

Also not with kids present

Taylor Mali’s silliness

Day 213 : I Am A Teacher

Green Play-doh with can and accessory toy (Pla...

Green Play-doh with can and accessory toy (Play-doh is a trademark of Hasbro). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though I have never taught in a public, private, or charter school I consider myself a teacher. I teach a tiny piece of Biology every time in a retail store or a restaurant asks me, “what’s wrong with you?” My answer varies slightly depending on the age of the child but is usually something to the effect of “my brain and my legs don’t communicate well and, it’s like talking to someone who has a funny accent, they don’t always understand each other so sometimes my links do what I ask and sometimes they don’t.” I sometimes end up gently criticizing the parent for discouraging the child from asking me that question, if they don’t ask how will they ever know?

 

I have taught people how to bow and curtsy and in the process imparted a little History. I started teaching English As a Second Language almost by accident when a Turkish friend of mine asked me to help him improve his English and I have even though I still don’t think it is nearly as bad as he thinks it is. I have taught children to weave and adults to dye. I helped my math note taker with her Business Law class. I have raised my voice when others would prefer I kept silent. I have spoken up rather than allow myself to be condescended to. I swear when others would whisper and whisper when others might swear. If you see me do either do not assume I am inarticulate. I call it like I see it no matter who you are, school board official, telemarketer, police officer or random neighborhood resident it doesn’t matter. You have been warned, ignorance is not a viable excuse.

 

You ask me what I take a cure for this condition, I have, the answer is not a simple yes or no. Yes, assuming I could afford any treatment that comes along I would take it but not for the sake of being “normal”. Normal is a societal construct and therefore its meaning is fluid. Any treatments would be divine to lesson the physical stress of my loved ones. I have also been asked if I regret being born the way I am. I am sad that I have never ran to hug any member of my family or been able to jump into the arms of a significant other. It means that I will probably not be the one to teach my children to ride a bike. It will not be the me who teaches them to drive a car or write in cursive..

 

I will teach them; double Dutch jump rope, at least have to turn the ropes without tangling with them. I will teach them the military phonetic alphabet and the languages I know. If they are inclined to learn cooking I will teach them drop biscuits, twice baked potato casserole and chocolate chip cookies. I will introduce them to Play-Doh and sidewalk chalk and checkers. I will show them how to blow soap bubbles.

 

You ask me if I regret being born this way. I regret it a little less every day because even though I have no academic degree in education I have been, am and will be a teacher and my disability gives me a unique perspective. It is annoying to knock things over and spill things, I really wish my handwriting was legible all the time and personal hygiene would be a lot easier to manage. That being said if I had the opportunity to go back and be born as an able-bodied child I wouldn’t take it. For all of its frustrations and annoyances I believe I am a better person for my past and my unique experiences.

Day 212: Things That Aren’t Stated in the Employment Contracts of Public Schools

English: A roll of silver, Scotch brand duct tape.

English: A roll of silver, Scotch brand duct tape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was in high school one of my very best friends was the head of the maintenance department. I am pretty sure that nowhere in his employment contract was there a clause stating that he would be asked to function as an impromptu wheelchair mechanic as needed but in spite of that he did so cheerfully. The repairs were never major, just replacing nuts and bolts when they fell out in the middle of the day and minor adjustments because he always had a full set of Allen wrenches handy, and if all else failed there was always the standby of duct tape to get me through the school day.

I had to catch the bus at 6:45 in the morning, breakfast was not nearly as important as sleep. I did my best to have change for the soda machine so I could stay awake during math class. If I didn’t have any Ray could usually find some. For one of my birthdays he and the ladies who worked in the cafeteria bought me a watch (so I didn’t have to keep asking for the time) and put it around a can of Dr. Pepper. I still have the watch.

When I was in school I thought graduation would never come, now it feels like I blinked and there it was. I won’t say that I was sorry to leave because I wasn’t but the intervening years have lent me some perspective and I realize that, as awful as I thought high school was, it could have been much worse. The ceremony was held on the football field and because of my chair I didn’t have to walk all the way down there from the cafeteria I just went straight there. While I was waiting for everyone to get there a man in a suit walked up. I had to look twice to recognize Ray, who I was used to seeing in jeans or overalls. Saturday was his day off but he had come to see graduate and say goodbye. That was definitely not in the employment contract.

Day 211: A Dog Lover’a Thanksgiving

AKC Meet the Breeds 2012

AKC Meet the Breeds 2012 (Photo credit: http://petsadviser.com)

Football may be a Thanksgiving tradition for a lot of people but it’s not mine. The National Dog Show comes on after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and that is where you will find This year I had to get a little creative since we no longer have traditional TV access. We don’t have cable and because of where we live the local channels are not much more than snow and static so it was an adventure. I’m glad to say that I got to see both the parade and the dog show. I freely admit to being an armchair judge and I think I’m getting pretty good at it. The thing to remember is that the dog is not being judged against the other dogs to the ring, but on how closely they resemble the American Kennel Club‘s breed standard.

 

I’m actually enough of a dog geek that I bought the AKC Dog Book which has all the standards and history of the recognized grades, well most of them, the edition I have is about two years out of date. The National Dog Show Best in Show was a Wirehaired Fox Terrier, personally I disagree with the judge. Before anybody says anything, yes I have a Golden Retriever, the Golden from the Sporting Group didn’t make it to the last ring and he shouldn’t have soul I’m not just saying that because “my dog” didn’t win.

 

As well as resembling the breed standard there should be an extra spark, it should be obvious that the dog itself wants to win. If you don’t believe me that a show dog knows when it has won I disagree. Several years ago a 13 inch beagle named Uno won Best in Show and when it was announced that he and his handler had won he started to howl and the audience actually joined in. For me The Wirehaired Fox Terrier did not have that spark even though she was pretty technically correct, but that’s just my opinion.

 

Thanksgiving food is still not finished yet but for me the best part of all of it has already happened. I have said it many times, but I really don’t know what I would do without Gideon.. He is bright, cheerful, and happy. I have yet to see anything phase him and he is never been anything other than polite and friendly to strangers. I truthfully think that my New Year’s resolution is going to be too strives to be more like my dog.

Day 210: Illegal Gardens and Thanksgiving

Vegetables

Vegetables (Photo credit: Professor Bop)

There was a time in history when nearly every home had a vegetable garden. There was no such thing as convenience stores or supermarkets and people would travel for days to sell and buy goods at what, in today’s terms is essentially a Farmer’s Market. Modern day society however seems to frown on enthusiastic gardeners. There have been several instances recently of people who have chosen to use their front yard as a garden I instead of planting more conventional ground cover, i.e. grass. Just recently a man living in an Orlando suburb petitioned the city or the right to keep his vegetable garden, which covers the whole of his front yard, intact after they informed him it was a violation of city codes and told him to dig it up. 200+ signatures later the city of Orlando has decided to let the man keep his vegetables and is instead reconsidering their landscaping codes.

I live in a small town (we do not even has a proper post office) and the land on which my family lives is still zoned to keep livestock (with the exception of chickens and pigs) and a garden if we wish to plant one, which we have done on and off for several years. I have always known that a grocery store is only an intermediate step and that in the case of pork, chicken, beef etc. it once walked on two legs or four and may have even had a name. I was shocked to realize that some people of my generation have no idea that their food comes from a farm and that he did not just magically appear on the shelf or in the freezer case of their local grocery store.

We currently raise sheep and I have watched my mother butcher several, and even eaten some which we raised from birth. I know I had reached some kind of landmark in my growing up when I knowingly ate an animal I had given a name to and was not completely grossed out.

There are 6 billion people in the world plus or minus and the world’s professional farmers cannot feed us all, there are far too few of them as farming is no longer considered much of a profession by most people. I am not calling for the return of old-style traditional family farms so much as I help that more people will find within themselves the courage to be more self-reliant. This is a very rough guess but I think that even if the only thing a person could do is grow a portion of their own fruits and vegetables they would see an eventual drop in their grocery bill.

I have many issues with my parents but I will always thank them for explaining to me from the time I was small that food did not just appear by magic in the store, and unless I wished to become a vegetarian (which they would’ve supported had I chosen to), some animal somewhere would at some point die so that I could eat. At every meal I give thanks to the plants and animals whose existences ended so that mine might continue. I strive every day to put the energy that has been granted to me to some good use, even if it is nothing more than making a single person smile. Thanksgiving in the US is this week and this year has not been the easiest on my family. In spite of that we are still together, still making progress. Life and love is hard work and anyone who says different is probably selling something. You wake up every day with the choice to keep going through the mire of obstacles currently in your way, or you can choose to give up.

I have struggled my entire life with that choice and then just now beginning to see the light which I have been chasing. I won’t give up, not now. This year I am especially thankful to all the people who picked me up and dusted me off when I had emotionally fallen on my face. I have done that a lot in my lifetime and if these people had not been there I’m not sure where I’d be writing this moment but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am. I am not entirely happy with my living arrangements at this moment, but the times are changing and the important thing is that I’m happy with the biggest changes which name that I will never fear being alone again. In comparison to that everything else is small potatoes and will work itself out in due time.