Sunday, May 18, 2008

Apologies and an explanation.

Hi, all,
I am deeply sorry that I have not posted in months. It was not my plan at all, but, like all English Grad students, when the semester went on: I had too much writing for any three people; so, my blog was low on my priority list between the pile of books to read, phrases to discover, and brilliance to create(ha), and students to tutor. I am happy to report that the semester went well and I am only still working on an incomplete class paper that's due at the end of May. But with the onset of summer, and my semi-relaxed self, and some helpful friends--I will truly rejoice when this work is turned in. Still, blogging is such a cathartic process for me. And, cohesively, as I write this, I'm perched on my cousin KT's bed with Jesse McCartney blasting. In short, I celebrated graduation with some close friends, and had a blast, but sitting here, giggling over guys as I read and they clean or give the illusion of doing so--summer has started. Which means you'll be hearing a lot more from me! In tribute to the tween moment I seem to be having, I do have to say that Jesse's Leavin' could be worse.... :)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Reporting from Spring Break: the place of unconditional love.

I have lots of disability observations I'll get too, but first, wanted to write a post about the one place I do find unconditional love and understanding: my family, specifically, my little cousins. I say little, one's 13, 14, and the youngest is 8(they're growing up so fast; I never understood what that meant till now). But they've taught me so much and every time I'm with them, it's both a reality check(they make me forget whatever is bothering me) and a lesson in hope(they believe, no matter what, that good things happen to those that deserve it). This last lesson is something I struggle with, having seen people go through things they don't deserve, but they still believe in so much. And their optimism is refreshing. But they've also taught me the following lessons, in no particular order: that its who I am, and not my disability, that they see and love(and they assure me everyone else does too); I'm happy to say their very tolerant and feminist, and their defense of me in public can be heartwarming, their outrage reminds me that fairness(to live, to love, to be who you are and have equality) is key when you're young, something we forget too often as we get older. Which is why I also believe that we could achieve world peace through rock, paper, scissors, my answer whenever there's a disagreement about who goes first or rides shotgun. I've also learned that their understanding about my need to sit up front is a BIG deal, one tolerated and understood through love.  They help me with my shoes and clothes with no questions, an easy rhythm that comes only from knowing each other our entire lives. They have a peanut "protocol" and never, ever, make me feel guilty for my food allergies, something that seems to haunt me. They argue over who pushes my wheelchair, see my scooter as a fun toy, not a problem, and tell their friends to shut up if we're with anyone else and they feel the need to comment. They've taught me, most of all, that love isn't something you can give all too often, its something you have to show. You have to be there when it's important to them, at birthdays, or at Christmas, remembering the game or lipstick they told you they wanted 6 months ago. This final lesson is something I always try and remember--that showing someone you love them, through thoughtfulness, is the greatest gift you can give someone you love. And though they probably never read this: I'm going to dedicate it to them and their good hearts. I miss ya'll more than you can ever imagine. Love you too. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Relationships: Having "the talk"

For anyone, relationships are a rocky road to navigate. We're human, and so we make mistakes and too often hurt the people we love. Tonight, I was talking with a friend (and lovely co-worker) about "the talk" I have to have with guys, sometimes before dating, and always, always, before things get serious physically. I explained to her what my "talk" might sound like (things will be different, here's why, etc) and she said: "you sound like a sex-ed teacher." This comment made me laugh, but it also made me think about how things have changed, stayed the same, and how many paths I've forged for myself. First off, I used to have "the talk" about disability with all friends, and many people walked away from me. I had "the talk"
with teachers, some of whom were refreshingly supportive and one who stands out in my mind because, even though I was in her honors Spanish course for fun, she called me a retard. This is another post in and of itself, but in order to maintain my intelligence, all too often I was and am forced to be juxtaposed or juxtaposed myself against the mentally disabled. Until we develop a language with which to talk about disability, this question of "belonging" will haunt us all. But I digress.
Today, I could not be happier. I have a supportive, loving group of friends that's there to understand, listen, and be there when I need them for anything from typing to laundry to flashcard making. One friend even realized cutting up my own steak out is an issue (thanks e). All of these are things I cannot do on my own. So, the heartbreak of my childhood, something I thought I would never escape, is gone. But in its place is the world of meeting someone special (and I truly believe he's out there). Having had one serious relationship in my life: I know someone can see past your disability into your soul and still find you attractive. But as weird as it sounds, I need someone who finds my disability attractive. Put another way: I need someone that understands that my disability is a part of me; thus, not ignoring it, but loving me anyway, it is not giving me the love I want or need. I want someone who sees my disability as one of my many quirks, like my obsessive need for coke, pointed effort to say 'i love you' to people when I mean it, being argumentative and passionate about my beliefs, and loving (needing) to debate said issues. I can't help but be compassionate to everyone; and often, this leads to what my friends call a "motherly quality." I take care of others, I hope, just as much as they do me.
Then, there's the talk I have now, about how things are different in the bedroom when your disabled. And I hope my partner will see this as an adventure and not freakery. Actually, I won't settle for anyone who doesn't. But my openness also brings into strong relief the reality that, as someone in special ed at a young age--sex ed was not even an issue remotely thought about. Disabled people were and still are not seen as sexual beings. Thankfully, I was blessed with a hippie-like, non-judgmental mother who provided all the education I needed and then some, at times. Without this, I doubt I would be as well adjusted as I am. I and other disabled women constantly search for something, together, that we find beautiful.
Though normally (I hate the word here, but it fits, in an ironic way) insecure, my mother taught me that my difference is not who I am, but a part of who I am, and that difference is what makes the world beautiful, and me unique. So, while "the talk" will always make me nervous with someone new--there's also this beautiful hope that they'll surprise me and a deeper talk beyond the basics will not be necessary, nor will "talking" be the reason they decide to move on.

JUST AS A CLOSING STATEMENT: A disabled person having sex is considered illegal, under sodomy laws. And while one might think, oh, well, that'll never go to trial--it has. A husband committed a crime by deciding to surprise his beautiful, disabled wife with a weekend at a resort.

And, a report on yesterday: After writing this, I got a wake-up call. Someone new to our university(in a position of power, persay) thought that I was unable to do my job as a writing tutor because of my disability. I have created a world of understanding it seems, but once in awhile, I am jolted into reality where slowing typing skills(though I type 60 wpm with one hand) means a slow brain. now, if that isnt something to think about for you and I--I don't know what is.

Why Mirrors?

I feel a need to explain my title, my prose, and the picture I posted. I think for most women, at least a lot of women, the mirror is something to be avoided. And I'm not narracissitic any more than most. But I look at the mirror as a place for reformation. Where most women see flaws, I see reassurance. I am told so often who I am, what I am, what composes me. But then I look in the mirror and I don't see a disabled woman, I see myself. And this is both profound and simple at the same time(for me--it's just profoundly simple). I am able to remind myself, "hey, no matter what so and so said--there you are." That gives me peace, solace, and often this need to make people see in other disabled people what I see in myself; hence, my activism.

Here, I will gab about perceptions, projects, and sometimes, just my day to day life(which is pretty boring). But in the process, I hope to provoke thought and maybe change a few minds. Maybe this can be both a diary and a platform. I hope so. Thanks for reading. I'll be consistent once I get the hang of all of this. Any suggestions on topics??

My title.

Looking in the Mirror/Mirrors
They say/ to truly know who you are/you must confront the mirror
The problem/is that the mirror is opinionated/ when it’s in someone else’s eyes.
Perception is nothing but a house of mirrors/distortions of the truth/that isolate.
I look in the mirror and see eyes that have faced a battle/the quiet war of prejudice.
They see the grey/no it’s true/I didn’t sleep.
I look in the mirror and see kind, effective hands that hug, soothe, and write words of wisdom.
They see claws of anger/no it’s true/my hands are tired.
I look in the mirror and see a body that worn the armor of skin well and each bruise is just another battle scar.
They see only weakness/no it’s true/ I did fall yesterday.
I look in the mirror and see the smile of a survivor, a fighter
They see my apologies, my words of explanation/no it’s true/I did miss the meeting.
Where they see tragedy/I see triumph
Where they see exhaustion/I see dedication
Where they see anger/I see righteousness
Where they see bruises/I see strength
Where they see weakness/I see me.