Out Of My Element

23 days of being stuck inside has started to take its toll. I can just imagine that it will be much longer, too. I’ve always considered myself to be a weird cross between a social butterfly and a hermit, but nothing could have prepared me this.

As a kid, the thought of staying home and playing video games all day was the ultimate dream. Now, I know is only so much you can play before it gets stale. I somehow muster up enough energy to play Animal Crossing every day, and I’m more established in my virtual town, than real life. On the upside, I’ve been able to connect with various family members thanks to Mario Kart online.

I miss Starbucks. I’m saving a good deal of money by not dropping $5 on a drink several times a month, no arguing that. However, writing inspiration strikes more frequently with a latte, a warm molasses cookie, and the sounds of people around you. I frequently visit the North London Indigo with the Starbucks inside, and always end up with several new books, too.

I’ve been feeling incredibly vulnerable. I have followed isolation rules, maybe a bit on the extreme side, but I’d rather overdo things than not. There’s a chance that despite my best efforts, a helper could bring the virus in. I know they will do everything they can not to, but it’s still an unsettling feeling. Similarly, when I have to ask for help with groceries, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m sending a friend out to their doom, just because I needed something.

At a time like this, I know have found out that I have a great many people in my corner, and I am sincerely thankful. However, I have never wished more strongly than now, that I could take care of myself.

The cats want me to leave…

The Little Things — Good & Bad

So, it’s Cerebral Palsy Awareness month. Believe or not, I’m not going to call out any ignorant old woman today! That said, there is still some stuff on the brain that needs to get out.

The Bad

it’s hard not to think that my body hates me these days. I got my 2nd foot injury in two years . I’ve never had any otherwise, and that’s a major stroke of luck when your disability can be a factor in a multitude of other ailments and incidents. It feels like as I’m getting older, I’m running out of such luck. I guess I’d better buckle up for the ride I never asked go on. I did catch this thing earlier than my first problem though, so that’s a plus.

Number two on the list — oh boy! New viruses are scary. I know I’m probably one of the first to go, if things get worse. I’ve always known. I’m a little on edge, but I’m not going to let myself panic until I see my stepmom, (a RN) panic. I’ve been trying really hard to avoid media coverage, because it’s fear based right now. I wish I could say that I’ve been avoiding the comment sections, People seem to take a lot of comfort in pointing out that elderly, sick, and disabled are the first on the proverbial chopping block. While there is inescapable truth to that, it’s more than a little unsettling to be constantly reminded of it. It almost makes me feel less human in a way.

The Good

Yes there is some good here. First, if I’m not always supported in life, at least I know my boobs will be. You did read that right. I went shopping for a bra that was comfortable to wear sitting down. I found my proper size, and spent the afternoon with my best friend. Thankfully she made sure the whole process was easier than putting IKEA furniture together. I just have to wait for my order to come in.

HUGE SHOUTOUT to my friends who have been knowingly and unknowingly supportive and inclusive by inviting them over, or inviting me to events they know I can go to. I’m going to my first ever stag and doe on Saturday with a smorgasbord of good pals, AND I AM SO EXCITED I CAN GO! Considering a great many times I’ve had to remind people that inviting me to a place with stairs, and telling me about the stairs last minute, is crappy even if accidental — this is a major improvement. It helps me feel valued as a friend, and a person.

This month, and all the time, it’s important to keep an open mind and an open heart. Keep a cool head, watch your words, and wash your hands.

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.

Toronto “Toots”

I haven’t had much time to think about my old job lately. I think that’s a good thing, because in the end, it was a stressful and sad point in my life. However, before I go even farther Into the “new job” life, I want to give the proper spotlight to the two coworkers that never got a proper goodbye — Bri and Brett.

I didn’t see them very often because they worked from Diply’s Toronto office, but they each left their own unique impression on my heart.

Brett has the quirkiest sense of humour I’ve ever seen. Every time he posts a meme, or anything, really; I either laugh hysterically or stare in confusion, willing myself to try and understand it. He’s the only guy I’ve never minded sliding into my DM’s, because he always shared funny things based on my own humour, or praised puns and fitting phrases within my articles.

Brett is also the current holder of “the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me” title. He had the best Christmas present made for me.

I’ll let this speak for itself.

Last thought on dear Brett: I love him more than the lobster Mac and cheese I had at his welcome lunch — that’s a lot!

Now, it’s Bri’s turn.Where to start with Bri? Well… she has a laugh that could get herself immediately kicked out of a library. However, in that laugh is also a pure joy and love for life that I’m certain no one else has. When I first met Bri I could sense a quiet confidence that I still aspire to have. She has a blog presence that I could only dream of, and I’ve seen her tackle issues that are important to her with the perfect combination of ferocity and grace. I have even participated in one of her blog projects, and the experience was very refreshing.

Bri also has so much confidence in her fashion and beauty choices; it’s enviable. She’s the only person I’ve actually felt like copying a look from. I did, and I didn’t pull it off as flawlessly. I’ve never told Bri, but just knowing her has pushed me way out of my comfort zone. She is one of the reasons I pick something different from the clothing rack, and her honesty in her writing has encouraged me to express myself without fear.

I’m sorry I never got to say goodbye, but I think this covers everything.