It is the Christmas season and if you live in the States you have probably seen at least one toys for tots donation box and attendant Marine in dress uniform. This is what they do at Christmas. They stand every bit as solid beside the little box as if they were guarding a United States Embassy on foreign soil except they will actually converse with you in this case. Toys for Tots was founded in 1947 by Maj. Bill Hendricks United States Marine Corps Retired in Los Angeles California, 5000 toys were collected that year, the first with a handmade doll. In 1948 United States Marine Corps officially adopted the program and made it a community action project.the Marines you see every Christmas are usually Reservists or Retired.
Someone saw this man, a 60-year-old retired Marine standing in the rain outside a Medina, Ohio Walmart this weekend collecting donations. She bought him a cup of coffee and talk to him and discovered that he wasn’t standing in the rain out of showmanship or stoicism, he was standing in the rain because the new manager would not let him inside.
I don’t know what her issue is whether she disagrees with our current use of the military, or whether she has a personal problem with this man. I know that it’s December, it’s cold and he’s a human being who has done more for others in his life than a lot of us have.it’s Chri stmas shelves your paltry petty disagreements and/or opinions and act like a decent human being. I encourage everybody to call or e-mail the Walmart corporate office and complain that this woman’s behavior is unacceptable.
There have been some really good posts on the front page of WordPress that got me considering my motivations for writing. I write Blades of Truth, my current Fiction Friday Harry Potter fan fiction serial for fun because I really enjoy Harry’s world and will use any excuse to visit it. However it and my more serious work in progress (and by serious I mean hopefully one day have its own cover art and be in bookstores and libraries with my name on it) share a commonality. In both works the main character is disabled. The lack of disabled people in all forms of the media has been a soapbox for me for a long time. Whether we realize it or not we look to people similar to ourselves in our own culture to tell us how that culture expects us to behave. For many many years when disabled kids and young people look to their culture to find examples of themselves there weren’t any or at the very least very few.
The message that conveyed to me growing up was go way, disappear, you have no voice, no value, no story worth telling. That’s a really hard thing, to realize that society views you that way for no other reason than an accident of birth or circumstance that you cannot control. I learned that lesson well before I was 12 years old. When I was in high school I read a story a three-page story for my sophomore English class that my teacher, upon returning to me, that I should expand into a book. It wasn’t anywhere close to what she thought of as her preferred type of leisure reading but if it were published she would buy it in a heartbeat she told me.
Originally the female lead wasn’t in a wheelchair at all. I had considered making her disabled but decided against it because I was afraid that by putting the lead character in a chair I would hurt the manuscript’s chances of being picked up by a publisher. This decision nagged at me for years until I asked someone else’s opinion and they said that if I didn’t like the way current media undervalued and ignored the disabled I should force them to take notice and write characters who were. It might mean that the story got twice as many rejections as it would otherwise but when it finally found a publisher those people would want to tell the same story I did and I wouldn’t feel like a sellout to myself.
Today I saw this and this on the WordPress Discover page (apparently Freshly Pressed got a makeover). I realized that in hesitating to make the main character disabled I had been fundamentally altering my story in an effort to make it more palatable to those who would eventually pass judgment on it. I had originally made her able bodied to avoid questions like “is this a book about disability”. No it’s an action adventure urban fantasy romance similar to several books Mercedes Lackey has written. Yes her disability will affect how the action plays out and certain things will happen to her that probably wouldn’t happen if she were not disabled but it is not now and never was meant to be a book “about” disability.
My intention for this book is to prove that everyone can have adventure in their lives. Then it is possible for someone in a wheelchair since birth to do more than sit on the sidelines. She can be the kick ass heroine just as often as her able-bodied next-door neighbor. To the publishers who I will one day get rejections from because you are too afraid that the story won’t be long received because of her, that’s fine. Not everyone can be brave all the time. You’ll kick yourself later though for not taking the risk because it really is an awesome story.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. In my house growing up Thanksgiving was always a time to be grateful and pause to consider the good things no matter how difficult the year leading up to it had been. This year that’s really really hard for me. This year I have basically had my life, turned upside down and shaken and now I have to rearrange the pieces back into some semblance of the order they were in before. To be honest I resent that, for the first time in a long time I was truly happy, I truly felt like I had a home.I’ve spent the last several months feeling cheated and bullied by life in general. Yesterday I saw this.
You can’t change the past. All you can do is use the present to hopefully shape the future. So thank you to everybody close to home and far away who has stuck with me through all of this crazy. If the level of difficulty is proportional to the level of awesome that’s coming it’s going to be off the damn charts.
You are four years old when your grandmother gives you a name for this thing that makes you different. Cerebral Palsy. As you get older you remember certain things from that day, the white coral wind chimes she brought back from the mission trip to the Philippines, the bookshelf sized carvings of the heads on Easter Island. These are the things you remember from that conversation, and as you get older you try to remember if you had any inkling that that phrase would have so much impact on your life. 25 years later you’re still not sure.
You are 21 exactly when you realize that your aunt and uncle have spent your entire life not knowing exactly why you’re in a wheelchair. You find this out because their daughters, the eldest who almost shares your birthday except that she is exactly one year younger than you today and her sisters have gone out with your sister and left you at the house, just like you knew they would. Your aunt and uncle didn’t see them leave and so when they realize they are gone they ask you why you didn’t go too, I mean, it’s just as much your birthday after all. You tell you tried and the girls didn’t listen They are mad, angrier then you’ve ever seen either of them and that is the best birthday present ever. The conversation that ensues reveals that somehow they missed the memo that your condition had a name. For 20 years the reason why you can’t walk, can’t dress yourself, have difficulty feeding yourself… Was a complete mystery to them, and they loved you anyway, without need of explanation or label. For your 21st birthday your aunt and uncle gave you the gift of true unconditional love.
You are nine years old when you meet the boy who will break your heart for the first time. The two of you are as inseparable as it is possible to be when he is a year older than you and not in the same class. Which is actually quite a lot of the time since you both have physical and speech therapy during the school day. You overhear a fragment of conversation between your parents and his when they come to dinner and he stops eating to feed you the peas you have been chasing on your plate. Something about being glad the two of you are not high school age yet.
You are ten , two weeks shy of eleven when you move away. He cry every day for two weeks. Then once a month for the next six then at least twice a year for the next four years. When you’re 18 you find his name on one of those reconnect with your old classmate websites. You beg your mom to pay the subscription fee so you can message him . He remembers you, sort of. It isn’t until several weeks later reading his LiveJournal that you realize he is gay. There is still an indent in bathroom wall from where you punched it.
You are 16 when a boy who might be in love with you tells you you’re beautiful. You are 22 when a man who probably shouldn’t tells you the same thing. You believe the man but not the boy who said it when you were 16. Why?
You are 27 when your best friend dies. You both knew it was coming . You said all the hard stuff. When you find out he’s dead you are still violently sick . You don’t sing at all for almost 3 years.
You are nine when you decide that you believe in capital punishment. A family friend has been murdered along with 15 other people by a fellow soldier who has a tendency to drink to the point of blackouts. When you find out the details from reading them in the paper you scream and cry until your throat is raw. You plot the murder of this man. Your mother take you serious enough that she insists you see the school guidance counselor, who doesn’t take you seriously at all. She calls your mom when you tell her that you consider your death acceptable collateral damage as long as you took the guy with you . Your mom tells her that this is the first and only time she’s been glad to disabled because he might actually do it. Later when she tells you that the counselor called you decide that it’s time to play along before the guidance counselor had you put in straitjacket.
You are 30 when you realize that love is a lot harder than it looks from the outside. Love is picking your battles and being willing to fight every single last one of theirs with them whether or not they ask you. Love is patient, but a patience that is at times not at all saint like. Patience can be a struggle but it is the willingness to undertake that struggle that is one of the hallmarks of love
Disclaimer: Harry and his world aren’t mine, Pheya and I just visit.
Professor Lupin visits Pheya and her parents to explain about Magic and Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Chapter 2: The Musings of an Unlikely Goddess
She who lays the Blades for those who Walk is often she who is least
expected. She too must walk the Blades before the test is through.
Pheya Stuart looked at the visitor speculatively. The representative the school had sent was polite and friendly, if a little careworn and frayed feeling. He had introduced himself as Remus Lupin, she had thought that was an odd name, but then Hephaeta wasn’t exactly a normal name either. Chalk that one up to her father’s obsession with Greek mythology and artifacts. This is the kind of name you get stuck with if your dad was an archeologist. At least if she’d been a boy her name could’ve been Ansel, her mother’s name of choice because she was a photographer.
Her attention and her vision snapped into focus at the word epilepsy… “The school thought it might help if they sent someone who had similar difficulties. I have epilepsy, you see.” That explained a lot, like why the school would send its History of Magic Professor, (somewhere in the conversation it had been mentioned that the previous Professor had retired to enjoy his, did he actually say after life?) instead of the Deputy Head or somebody like that. She still wasn’t convinced, though. How a girl who is so obviously Muggle born, (she was shocked at how easily those words sprang to mind) could ever fit in, I don’t know. Her parents were smiling broadly, though, so she did her best to mask her misgivings.
The momentary flash of indecision and uncertainty was, however, very apparent to Remus, who’d spent a great deal of his life reading between the lines of body language and expressions for signs of fear or mistrust, and worst of all, any hint that they knew the reason for his monthly illnesses. After tea, while her parents were putting away the dishes, Remus asked, “Pheya, do you like chocolate?” Pheya blinked. Exactly how had that topic come up? At her slightly hesitant nod he said, “So do I. If your parents agree, I could come back tomorrow and take you to a wonderful place I know for ice cream.” Her smile widened a little a little as Remus left to consult with her parents. When he returned and told her to be ready at two o’clock the next afternoon, the smile she gave him could have eclipsed the sun. As Remus left the house that day, he knew how a father must feel. He would give anything to see her smile like that at him.
Pheya stared at the closed door for a long time. Magic was real. There was a school that taught you how to use things like wands and crystal balls. She had always known that these things really existed, but until now, had no proof. As if that wasn’t enough she’d been accepted into this wonderful place. She really was special, and not just in the way people would say when they were lamely trying to be friendly or make her feel better. She clutched at this single ray of truth. But, the little voice inside her whispered, what if they don’t like you? She quickly squashed the thought. The residue of unease it left in its wake wasn’t as easily ignored.
So the Ambassadors X song Renegades has been haunting me for weeks, every time I’ve turned around it’s playing. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to get up and move, even me, who has rarely made dancing in a wheelchair look cool or even coordinated, unlike some people I know. It’s the song you go to the concert to sing at the top of your lungs even though you will have no voice for the next three days. Yesterday I decided to check Youtube to see if there was a music video because I was going to reference it in a “yes we can change the world damn it” type post. I found the official video. Cheered and cried all the way through. Their renegades? Disabled people. A blind person doing Olympic style weightlifting. A blind person skateboarding. A person with one arm boxing. People with no legs or arms wrestling. Growing up disabled, society expects us to live quiet lives. The people in the video are doing anything but and the band thought it was important to show that. So if anybody connected with thw band sees this, thank you. You had a fan anyway because the song rocks but the video takes the cake. It is my new theme song.
This is the second post I’ve seen on Freshly Pressed about poppies and Remembrance Day in two days time. I am not in any way shape form or fashion a resident of Britain or any other part of the United Kingdom but something has been percolating in my brain since the first post. I agree that the Poppy Police need to shut up and sit down because nobody has any right to tell anyone else how to mourn and remember the dead. I also agree that poppies are being taken out of the context they were originally meant to have but here’s my question… What’s so bad about wanting to grow up to be a soldier? I have family members who were “oversexed, overpaid, and over here”, from both sides of my family in both World Wars. Both of my parents are veterans. My sister and I were taught to view military service as a contemporary form of knighthood. Knights defend those who cannot defend themselves, they stand in the breach between civilians and great despair and hold the line and say “you shall not harm these people and if necessary I will perish to protect them”.I am the last person to advocate war but soldiers also build bridges, schools, hospitals. They dig wells so that villages can have clean water to drink. Make sure that the leaders of nations do not enter into war lightly, which I agree, seems to be happening far more often lately, but do not cringe if your child comes to you and says, “I want to be a soldier when I grow up.” There are far worse things to be then a Knight.