Better Days

So, my blog blew up yesterday. It always seems to do that when I talk about things that get me riled up or impassioned.

Let’s be real, having a disability isn’t exactly bad, but it certainly isn’t good either. Some days, everything that has piled up over a month (or more), come spilling out like an active volcano.

Several people told me yesterday that they thought the woman meant well. You, can have the best intentions, and still be unacceptable. If the same thing happened to you, you wouldn’t have taken it sitting down, so tell me why I should. Just because it’s a common issue doesn’t mean anyone should “just accept it.” Narratives will never change that way.

You should be mad too. Going outside yesterday’s incident, I have addressed accessibility issues in letters, on the news, and even working with a Diversity and Inclusion group. I can’t even look in the comments section, because I’ve been called a “whiny snowflake” — and even worse.

As I said in harsher terms yesterday, some form of disability is coming for everyone. You might not be prepared for it, but we can soften the blow by working together towards change.

What can you do? Try to look outside of your personal bubble. If you’re not sure about something, ask or do some research. Assuming and accepting can land you in a hole. I’m even working on that myself.

Special thanks to my friends, who make the hard days easier, and the good days better.

Talking Bout Your Inspiration

As I sit here, I’m struggling with feelings of nausea as well as feeling personally violated.

I went out for lunch with my mom and her partner today. About halfway through lunch, a woman approached our table and commended my mom for the difficult task of taking me to lunch ‘because you don’t see that every day’. My mom told the woman that I was well educated, and that this was a normal thing to do. To be honest, she shouldn’t have had to.

The woman then approached me, and began stroking my arm – telling me how wonderfully I was doing, despite not knowing me at all. There is no faster way to lose an appetite.

I am still so frustrated with the experience because it doesn’t play out the same way every time, but the whole premise is far too common.

I would like to say that whether we are friends or strangers, I am not here to serve as your inspiration. I really don’t care if seeing me try to navigate a grocery store reminded you that you totally should join hot yoga. That last part doesn’t make any sense? Believe me, I know.

I’m living in a world that isn’t made for me, because it’s predominantly able-bodied. I’m not trying to be rude, but you’re next. You could become disabled at any point in your life, and I can tell you right now, you’re not prepared for it.

This might sound like a very angry rant, but I’m growing tired of repeating myself. It’s not inspiring that the Government is making cuts to education and ODSP alike. It’s not inspiring that the City of London finds it acceptable that I’m trapped inside all winter. It’s not inspiring that I went to lunch with my mom.

It won’t be inspiring when it’s your life, too. 

In A Decade

I’ve been reflecting on my accomplishments over 10 years. I’ve done so many things that one might consider “against the odds.” I graduated college, I was the first person in my family to graduate from university. I remember wanting to be in school for as long as I could, because I thought it was protection against the world assuming that my disability made me stupid — I thought it was a sure fire way to not be like my parents.

A decade later, I know you can’t escape either of those things entirely. You’re always going to have a trait from a parent, and you’re not always going to like it.

Thankfully, it didn’t take me a whole decade to realize that education isn’t everything. I’ve honestly learned the most about myself outside of school. I hate that I still feel like I have to prove myself in some degree, but at least now I know when to pick my battles.

The decade brought my first job, my second job, pain, loss, awareness of mental health issues, and a fun but thankless hobby — comedy. The good news is that all of the aforementioned things make great material

I don’t think I’m going to revamp myself in the coming years. I mean, it’s not like I can just get up and start walking, anyway. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the last 10 years, it’s that we can do better. So, I’ll spend this year writing the things that need to be said, fighting battles that need to be won: and teaching lessons with laughter. I’m not chasing after anyone either, so be ready to keep up, or get left in my dust…

As Big As A Chair

I’ve never really been comfortable with my body. If you really want to know, sometimes I feel like Jabba The Hut in the scene where Leia is chained up. I’m not as bad as I could be, but my chair has never really helped matters, My chair is a junkyard ship, transporting me around a world that wasn’t made for me..

I do appreciate stores like Torrid, but the cost of feeling good in clothes eventually adds up. Even when I feel good in clothes, it’s hard not to notice the extra baggage that is my chair.

I’m aware that there a fashion designers that are starting to build clothing around disabilities, but I don’t have that kind of money to splurge on myself — if I did, I’d rather spend it on my cats.

We have come a long way from certain views of body image and flaws, but we have an even longer journey to take. I look forward to the day plus size clothes aren’t ugly or overpriced. Sometimes the clothes are so ugly, it feels like a not so subtle guilt trips. I hope that one day, all these body-positive movements actually mean more than money and brand recognition.

A Little More Than Basic

A lot of people either love pumpkin spice season, or love to shame others about it. I am on the “love” team. My reason is not really basic either, and I’m going to share it. It was the last day of high school, and I was saying goodbye to everyone favourite teacher I could find. I came into my Film teacher’s classroom on his lunch break. In the midst of thanking him for being a great teacher, I stumbled into an emotional meltdown about how I could never make it through college, because it would eat me alive and I had no previous example to follow. He sat and listened, and let me awkwardly sob into a Quizno’s napkin.

He jot down his number on a spare napkin and told me to reach out when I was settled in my college transition. He was probably happy to see me leave the room.

Eventually, I did reach out. We decided to meet at Starbucks, and that’s how a monster was born. I confessed that I hadn’t been before, and didn’t know what to get…

Try the Pumpkin Spice Latte

My was going through his own transition after just having his first child, and yet, he brought his little family to a Starbucks. He made sure I was okay.

That small gesture got me through what I thought were big and trying moments in college. When the time comes every year, I run to the nearest store. If only for a moment, I’m reminded of that comforting visit in the time that my life felt like utter chaos. Things aren’t always as “basic” as they appear.

Blogtober

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve seen a lot of people share art because of inktober. I’ve been feeling jealous because I don’t have any drawing skills.

I realized that writing is also artistic, so I’ve decided that I’m going to blog about something for everyday in October. I guess this little notice will have to count as day 1 — considering how late it is already. If you have any topics you would like me to touch on, please let me know!

Pushing The Wrong Buttons – A Collection of Thoughts On Accessibility

I’ve seen many debates in news articles, and even on my Facebook timeline about accessibility issues. I think that discussion is a good thing, because it provides different prospectives.

However, I have been been sitting on something that happened for a while. I feel like I need to share my feelings about it in more detail — not as an attack, just a semi-educated opinion.

A few weeks ago, an able-bodied acquaintance made a blanket statement, that if you weren’t disabled, you shouldn’t be using the automatic buttons. Of course, people had several arguments for both sides. Again, this is not an attack. I myself have been caught in a similar argument about who should use wheelchair ramps. Even as someone with a disability, it’s easy to get caught up in your own perspective as the only lense to see things.

I will say the same thing I commented on the post: I really don’t mind who uses the button as long as you wait your turn and don’t get in the way of me using it.

There’s something l have learned after being on the wrong — not fully informed side of an argument. Accessibility measurements may have originally been intended for one group, but ultimately can help a larger one. That’s the right direction, and something I actively try to remember when I get impassioned.

I’m not writing this to discourage conversation, or to say that able-bodied people shouldn’t have an opinion on disability issues. I just wish that people would get behind the right things. I’ve had to pick battles for my entire life. While there are a certain number of people who are misusing accessibility buttons, there bigger fish to fry.

I write to the city yearly about its lack of snow clearing in the winter. The comment section is riddled with things telling me stay inside, or that I should be used to Canadian winters by now. Never mind the fact that I spend 4-5 months essentially trapped in my house.

I get a little bit of anxiety every time I accidentally forget my metal straws — in case I get the offhand comment that I’m “killing the turtles.” I don’t want to kill anybody — I just want to work together towards something that’s accessible for everyone.

I drank out of the newly designed Starbucks lid the other day. As someone with mild Cerebral Palsy, I still struggled to drink. I sounded like a kid slurping soup. By the end of the ordeal, the cup looked crushed by the Hulk.

We are headed in the right direction, but it would go a lot smoother if people actually supported the right causes.