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Day 275:The Shading of Disabiliy on the Painting of My Life

Handicapped
Handicapped (Photo credit: Anas Qtiesh)

I am disabled. Over the years I have called myself many things cripple, gimp, and spaz as well as physically challenged, physically disabled and mobility impaired. I find it amusing how many people(specifically able-bodied people) cringe if they hear me use one of the less than politically correct terms. Quite frankly I don’t particularly care which term someone uses as much as I care what tone of voice that was said in. Believe it or not even the more whitewashed terms can come across as a dirty slur with the right inflection. A friend of mine recently wrote that a friend of hers had caused her to consider how her disability might actually indeed define her and that got me to thinking as well. Some forms of “person first speech” don’t bother me. Person with a disability and wheelchair (insert relevant aid here) user don’t bother me at all. It’s when people start using things like “happens to have” that I think it’s just getting silly. Trust me my disability is not something as arbitrary as a wardrobe choice or the pictures that hang in my apartment. It’s an integral part of my identity whether I like it or not. That being said it’s not the end all and be all of my existence. I am someone’s daughter and sister, someone significant other, a writer. I would be all those things even if I want in a wheelchair every day of my life. Does using a wheelchair make my life different than it otherwise might have been? Of course it does. When shopping I choose to spend my money in stores and restaurants that are easily accessible and accommodating of the fact that most of the time I have a service animal with me. If it is difficult for me to navigate through your store with my chair or you give me hassle about my dog chances are very good that will be the last time my cash will become part of your revenue stream.

Does it influence my writing? The short answer is yes and the long answer explains why. People look for others like them to use the frame of reference for what society expects of them and how they can be expected to be treated by others. I was about eight years old when I first noticed that there weren’t many people with disabilities on television, in books, movies or glossy paper magazine ads. So I began a search and I discovered something very sad. When they are is a disabled character in a story he or she is often blind or deaf. It seems as though people in media bring the  most attention to those portions of the disabled populace least likely to remind people of their disability. Yes a blind person can use a cane to navigate and a deaf or hard of hearing person may use hearing aids but for the most part their “otherness’ is a lot less in your face then Cerebral Palsy or a Spinal Cord Injury might be.When I pointed out this imbalance to my mother she said, “You’re right.So when you write your stories write the characters others don’t.”

     Does my disability have any bearing on my favorite color or my favorite food? Nope not even a little. My music taste would be the same. Does my disability define me?  Yes, but so do lots of other things. Humans are complex complicated who, for all the wonderful things that we can do only use one tenth of our brain capacity. Letting one word define me seems as silly as the fact that we actually use less than half of the space in our brain to exist.if I am a painting my disability is my nuanced shading

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Day 274: In Praise of Pen and Paper(From Someone Who Can’t Use Them)

Cassowarys Victorian Modern Cursive
Cassowarys Victorian Modern Cursive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My handwriting sucks. Let me rephrase: my printing sucks. What most people consider handwriting, that is to say cursive handwriting, is beyond my physical capabilities . I can list on one hand the number of people who can read my print and depending on the day and how tight my hands are that list may or may not  include my parents.In twenty eight years of living as a disabled person I’ve come a long way on the road to self acceptance but my lack of consistently legible penmanship is still a frustration.  My family (the women particularly) collect stories, our stories and the stories of others. We are believers in passing down history via oral tradition and the written word. Particularly when telling the stories of others I am a detail fiend. I try not to leave things out or over embellish. This is where having decent handwriting would help. Most people can can grab a pen or pencil and scratch an idea onto a napkin, a Post It note or even a matchbook if that’s what they can reach. Not me. For one thing there are days when I can’t even hold a pen or pencil, much less write with one. My handwriting is so hit or miss that there are days that if i  actually wrote wrote something down, left it and came back, there is a very good chance I won’t be able to read it even though it’s my writing.

     i have several electronic means  of writing , all of which I’m grateful foe, and most of which I use regularly. I can’t help feeling as though my disability has cheated me out of one of the most basic aspects of writing, I can’t enjoy the ink flowing from pen to paper. For me that process is agonizingly slow and often physically painful if I try to write more than just two or three shorter sentences at a time.
     I know that in the digital age lots of people feel that writing with pen and paper is obsolete. I wonder if you’d still feel that way if  a computer or other electronic device was the only means you had to communicate your written words?
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Day 273: Presidents, Pennies, Paper Hearts and Pop Icons, It’s Time for The Wednesday Hodgepodge

The Wednesday Hodgepodge  is a weekly meme hosted by From This Side of the Pond.

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1.What makes love last?
Remembering details…I’m  not  talking about dates necessarily although remembering anniversaries etc. are important to lots of people I’m talking about remembering how your significant other likes their coffee/tea, their favorite snack etc. And laughter, there is no such thing as too much laughter.
2. The Beatles made their US debut fifty years ago this week. Are you a fan? If so, what’s your favorite Beatles tune? Yes I am The Beatles song Richard Dreyfus  sings for his son in Mr. Holland’s Opus, I can never remember the name of it.3. Valentine’s Day-your thoughts? Do you celebrate in any way? Do anything special for the people you love? Expect anything special from the people who love you?
I think Valentines has become overly commercial and couples centric,there is nothing wrong with being in a relationship but its fine to be single too. My father used to buy a single red rose each for my sister and I as well as my mom for a dollar at a gas station for Valentines day(yes, they were real roses). I  think Valentines Day would be better if society put less emphasis on romantic love and focus on the  other forms of love. I think February 14th is the perfect day for random acts of kindness.
4. Steak or burger…you have to choose. Now that that’s settled, how do you like it?
Steak, medium, with stuffed mushroom caps, caramelized onions and melted cheese
5. The Hodgepodge lands on the birthdate (February 12th) of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America. Lincoln is quoted as saying, ‘Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test his character give him power.‘  Do you agree? Why or why not? Power does show us the best or worst in people and I think the reason for is that power opens opportunities  for a person that they may not have had otherwise.6. Honest Abe’s image is featured on the US penny (1 cent coin) so I’m wondering…what do you do with your pennies (or your country’s equivalent)?  It’s been suggested the US stop making the penny, and two bills have been introduced proposing just that, but neither were approved. What say you?
I would like to get a five gallon bucket and fill it with pennies and when its full send the money to UNICEF. Repeat.  I’m not really sure what good eliminating one cent pieces would accomplish.
7.  Do you think pop culture deserves serious study?
Yes because pop culture has a direct impact on us. If you don’t believe me look at how slang evokes.
8. The snow has finally turned us loose (for now) Perhaps Spring really is coming..Shirley Temple you will be missed. You may be the reason my sister started dancing.
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Day 272: Another Monday Another Quiz

This Monday meme is brought to you by the nice folks over at Acting Balanced.

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1. February 10th is Clean Out Your Computer Day!  It’s is a day to logically review, and delete old files and programs.  Will you be taking part?
 
I probably  should but realistically I probably won’t.
2. February is also National Grapefruit Month – are you a grapefruit lover?  Recipes?
I do like grapefruit but only the Ruby variety which has had orange trees grafted onto  it to make it extra sweet.
 
3. Are you watching the Olympics?  What events hold your interest or are you just ignoring the whole thing?
I don’t think the Olympic Games has caused this much controversy since it was hosted by Germany in 1936. I would like to watch it at least the figure skating  and bobsledding  (what can I say I’m still a sucker for the Jamaicans team) but I’m not sure where to stream it on the Internet because we don’t have cable in the house.
4. Valentine’s Day is Friday – are you planning to celebrate?
I’m not sure because we are short on cash but then again I sometimes think that particular holiday has been overly commercialized anyhow.
 
 What’s Happened Since Last Week: The Paralympicsn in Sochi will happen two weeks after the closing ceremonies of the Winter  Games. The Paralympics is the Olympics for physically disabled athletes and most of the countries who  participate, including   (in spite of a long list of terrible social practices) Russia and Iran televise it. The US doesn’t. Disabled athletes work just as hard as their able-bodied counterparts to achieve a spot on their respective team however  the US Paralympic team will not travel to Russia in the knowledge that millions of people are cheering for them at home from their  couches. In fact I’m willing to bet that the large majority of Americans have no idea that the Paralympics exists at all. This is the link to the petition I started on Change..org in the hopes of getting the Paralympics televised in the  United States. When it reaches 1000 signatures I will send it to the programming directors of CBS, NBC, and any other major television network I can think of and I will continue to do so until someone listens, will you  sign?
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Day 271 Winter is Coming: Disability, Tv and a Petetion

Cover of "A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ic...
Cover via Amazon

Winter is coming. Actually winter is here and the Winter Olympics opens tomorrow, the Game of Thrones quote was just too good not to use. I am a big fan of both the books and the HBO series and anybody who has heard my opinions on the lack of representation the disabled receive in books, movies, and television can probably guess at one of my biggest reasons. 1 billion people worldwide have some form of disability,that’s 15% of the world’s population. We are the world’s largest minority.  In spite of  this fact I can count on both the hands the number of disabled people I’ve seen on television my entire life and we’re not even  going to mention the times I’ve seen a person with a physical disability in a magazine ad, that’s really depressing.  When I was little (preschool age)  the only disabled person I remember seeing on  tv was the deaf lady Linda who was the librarian on Sesame Street, I watched Star Trek : Thor Next Generation later and found  Geordie Laforge, to this day I love Levar Burton extra for that role. That being Now thanks to Glee there is Artie Abrams, who has a spinal cord injury and Becky Jackson who has Downs Syndrome.  Television still has a lot of ground to cover neither Levar Burton nor Kevin Mchale (the actor who plays Artie() are disabled. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the actress playing Becky Jackson really has Downs.

     I was surprised because even though disabled characters are becoming less rare  the chances that they are being played by a non disabled person are better than average..Thus the fact that the actor who plays Tyrion Lannister also has dwarfism like the character he portrays is something to cheer about.
      What does any of this rambling have to do with the Winter Olympics you might ask? The answer is…it doesn’t.  It has to do with the Paralympics the Olympics far less known and therefore less publicized sibling. The Paralympics is the Olympics for the physically disabled athlete. It is held in the same city as thr Summer and Winter Winter Olympics, athletes still come from around the globe to participate, in fact aside from modifications of some of the sports for disability ( the hockey players play on sleds rather than skates for example) there are only two major differences from the Olympics.1) The Paralympics is held two weeks after the Olympics 2) THE US DOES NOT TELEVISE IT! When every other participating country, including Iran does( I’m not kidding Iran with all the social backwardness it has beat us on this) televise it but we don’t, that’s just wrong. It’s not even on ESPN I looked. I have started a petition to cover the Paralympics and when I get at least 1,000 names I’m sending it to the programming directors of CBS, NBC and any other major television network.  Gandhi said, “Be the change you seek in the world. Here I am.
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Day 270: A Somewhat Musical Monday Quiz About Me

I found a new blog hop to participate in its the Monday Quiz About Me and it is hosted over at Acting  Balanced.
MondayQuiz
1. Happy February!  It’s Canned Food Month… who knew?  Do you can your own foods? Do you eat canned foods?
I have never  canned food before  myself though I would definitely be interested in learning how. Yes, I do eat canned foods, corned beef hash, one of my favorite things to eat comes in a can. I also like asparagus spears and canned peaches. Oranges should never be subjected to a can in my opinion.
2. February 3rd is also the day the music died – Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and theBig Bopper died in a plane crash in 1959. – what other great musicians would you like to honor today?
One of my mother’s favorite songs is American Pie which was written as a   farewell of sorts to them. I can’t think of any current artists that my generation listens to  whose music I would miss if they died.  I’m not sure exactly what that says about today’s musician. Personally I will be sad if anybody from Jethro Tull dies especially  Ian Anderson, the only rock ‘n roll flute player I’ve ever  known of.
3. Do you listen  to the radio?  Internet radio?
I listen to Internet radio far more often than traditional radio nowadays, partially because we do not currently have a radio in the house. 
4. Both Wiarton Willie (Canada) and Puxotawny Phil (US) saw their shadows and predict six more weeks of winter – do you agree?I am not at all surprised about the verdict. Colorado weather lately has left me absolutely no doubt  the probability of six weeks of winter, it has no intention of letting up yet.
What’s Happened Since Last Post: An annoying side effect of having asthma is that you may be more vulnerable to things like bronchitis, which is why I have been sleeping on the couch propped up by pillows for the last several days now because laying flat in a bed makes it difficult to breathe which in darn near makes getting good sleep darn near impossible as well. The bright side of this is that the couch is next to the door leading out to our balcony and if I’m awake I get a very pretty sunrise view, which currently looks like a winter postcard.I did not watch the Super Bowl though I heard that the Broncos were flattened. Do you have a small upside to being sick like this view from my balcony?
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Day 269: The Power Ranger Effect: the Good Message Behind Bad Writing

Tommy "the Green Ranger" Oliver
Tommy “the Green Ranger” Oliver (Photo credit: Courtarro)

As a kid I remember watching Power Rangers. Yes, I did. Don’t judge me. Yes it was cheesy and in my opinion the storylines for the current incarnations are completely awful and  stretched ridiculously thin. This is not to say that the original series wasn’t formulaic and predictable it was a monster of the week show and anybody who has seen more than five episodes of any incarnation knows this. What I remember most is not any specific character or plot point but the fact that during the commercial breaks or right after an episode the characters from the show did clips on things like  nonviolent conflict resolution, advice on how to deal with bullies etc. Also even though  the show centered around martial arts they were always very careful to reinforce the idea that  martial arts  is   supposed to be used in defense only and knowing them did not give you the right to go pick fights just to show off. I believe (though I could be mistaken) Power Rangers was the first show to do anything like that and I can tell you from personal experience that it didn’t have a lasting impact. Plus it was always fun  to tease mom because she had a thing for the Green Ranger. I’ve not seen any of the currently running series but I’m pretty sure some version of it will still be running when I have kids and monster of the week cheesy plot lines or not the show did attempt to send positive messages to the kids who watched therefore if somewhere down the line my kid (s) becomes enamored with them  that’s fine by me, there are far worse things they could like.

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