September 15, 2010 at 10:19 AM (Able Bodied Antics, Assumptions, Autobiography, Cerebral Palsy, Comittment, Disability, Ex Love Interests From Hell, Impairment) (, , , )

This one will be controversial, I’m sure.  And mean, and not showing either of the female participants in their best light.  But…

Why did it matter to me so much?  It did.  And not just on the basic relationship level.  Always, always, why did I feel I had so much to prove among the able regarding my personal life, my romantic relationship?  A lot of folk at the time advised me I was putting too much emphasis on it.

I was.  I’m such a damn cavewoman about these things. It actually became something of a game sometimes,  an old school catfight if an “other woman,’ showed up.  But what I wonder is why I was…

A bit of a prologue is needed, from the time before I was really ‘dating’ my future spouse.

1980 or so.

He  met her at a church function.  She was completely able-bodied, and his disability was fairly invisible. At that time, or shortly thereafter they began to date and it got serious rather quickly. One of those couples that, when they are together, make it seem as though they are the only two people in a room.  (My late husband, when he emotionally committed, did so fast.)  At some point down the line a ring was exchanged and they got engaged.  She was either already in, or joined the military shortly thereafter.  He had begged his brother-in-law to drive him to her place of deployment to say farewell after a leave, and the brother-in-law, while grousing a bit, did so.

After coming home, he realized she had left a gym bag of hers in his closet.

I don’t know how he came to read her letters…whether he was then in the habit of going through other people;s  things routinely (Something I didn’t permit in our home.  Each of us had to ask permission before handling the other’s stuff), or when he picked it up, was the bag open etc.

Doesn’t matter.  What did matter at the time was what he found.

It wasn’t just the shock of realizing she was also very seriously involved with someone else, someone near the deployment she was going back to.

There were particular paragraphs that noted with some scorn, that she had some guy back in the States who thought she was in love with him…very sarcastic in tone, he said, as if the two of them were laughing, via letter, about it.  I often wonder, if unconsciously, she left it there on purpose, to be rid of him.

His mother, a very religious lady described his reaction to this as ‘possessed.’   According to him, he wept. Shouted. Sank into a serious depression.  He did not leave the house for days. Truly devastated.  And, appropriate to be so overset after such a betrayal.

When she returned from that deployment, still well before I knew him,  he advised that there  was some trouble getting the ring back, I don’t remember now if he did or didn’t…but there was some sort of highbrow kitchen accessory still in  a box in his mother’s kitchen in 1985, and she often lamented about what the heck to do with it, since neither he nor she gave a darn about it.  (A child of the Depression though, she just couldn’t bring herself to throw anything away.)

Christmas, 1985

We were dating by that time, and he was working in one of those seasonal holiday shops in the nearest mall.  I was visiting my dad and my dad’s  latest girlfriend.  She happened to live in the same suburb as my guy did.

As my cousin told it to me, here’s what went down.

The ex girlfriend found out where he was working through some mutual friends, and showed up, all interested in getting interesting, very hey, baby what’s up.  As if the weird painful breakup had never occurred.  My cousin and her husband happened to be there, visiting.   My husband excused himself from the kiosk for a moment and proceeded to flee to a restroom and get physically sick…from just seeing her.

My cousin politely but pointedly mentioned that he was in a relationship with me.

She did not know me, and apparently did not care, she intended to go after him anyway.

He returned fairly quickly, advised her he wanted no part of her.  She apparently advised him that she intended to show up in church that Sunday in the company of  these mutual friends…He finished out his shift, shaky on his feet.  He called my dad’s condo, and I got on the phone.

“Hey I know we were supposed to go out to dinner and a movie, but can you just come over?”  He sounded so shook up, I wondered what was going on but said, sure.

We had the house to ourselves, and got comfortable and he calmed down and explained.

He needed hugs and reassurance that night, and got them.  He wanted to make sure I was with him at church, because he advised he didn’t know  if he could handle it.

I wanted to make d@mn sure I was at church too, because gossip ruled in that place, and also because I wanted to make certain she knew where I stood, and what I was willing to do to handle   that archaic “hold on to my man,” thing. (It just irks me to no end that I thought of it in those terms, but I did, and there’s no sugarcoating it.)

I got so insecure, inside my head that weekend.  If he really did want her, how could I compete with that?  Not just able, but military…I was so sad.  I thought, “Well, it’s been good, but here’s the able chick sweeping in.  He’s shook now, but she’ll pester and pester and she’s probably better looking, and they have a history, and she can do more things, and doesn’t limp around and doesn’t have a lazy eye like I do…”  All of the old, “Not good enough,” stuff came up.

After all I have three great male friends, all because,  couldn’t get them interested romantically due to, at least in part, my disabilities…they let me down gently, but they did, and left me feeling inadequate (although they are friends to this day, and I’m now so pleased with that.)

I never actually saw her face till the end of service. By prearrangement we were in the last pew.

She walked in, in uniform, back straight, and didn’t even turn to look at anyone.  Brown curly hair past the shoulder.  A sturdy person.  She sat in the front pew with the folk she was staying with.  I had my best dress on, something that I fit into for only about two weeks.  A periwinkle blue dress with an old-fashioned bodice top.

He had a death grip on my hand and sat through most of the service with head bowed.

He often made scenes and I could see he was mightily suppressing his urge to do so.

The service ended.  “Here we go,” I thought.  Here’s where I have to prove to her in about thirty seconds that she never even had the wisp of a chance with him.” Me, the gimp, facing down a military person. She turned.  And happened to look straight at me.  My impairment was much less obvious standing in a pew from that distance.  I stared her down like murder.  Her brows raised.

And then I smiled.  Wolfish and obvious. the look up and down,  slow starting, “Oh, you don’t impress me at all,” smile.

She looked for a moment like she thought of making an introduction…but when she left the church she simply rapidly walked past on the outside, my side of the pew, without another glance or word.

We heard one last thing about her, that she had later married and had a little girl.

Objectively I thank her for her military service, as I do all vets I meet.  But that’s where it ends.

Why did I *need* to win that battle so much? I still don’t know.  But I won it.

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Blogging Against Disablism 2010: Assumption as Discrimination

April 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM (Able Bodied Antics, BADD) (, , , , )

For the record, this is mostly sarcasm and snark.  I don’t believe any of these assertions, but some of the able do.

Are you tired of it?  I know I’m tired of it.

The temporarily able-bodied and their uninformed attitudes and decisions regarding us.

There are so many.

We never travel of course, so small and large businesses  carp and complain when they have to make buildings accessible “Well I never see any disabled people in here, so why should I have to pay to alter my space?

We never need to live with our caregivers, so the one person limit on accessible apartments makes perfect sense, institutionalizing  a unique kind of housing discrimination under US law.

We can never hear (or comprehend in some other way) what the able people in the same room with us say  or decide about what we need to live with as few barriers as possible.  Don’t worry. We’ll never express an opinion, either, that’s impossible too.

We never have the intellect to question discriminatory practices in medicine, building, hiring or leisure time choices.

People literally don’t see us sometimes, and prattle on while the failure to see us, the social discrimination is sometimes the most painful of all.

Or, the converse…they feel entitled to get all up in our business, where they would *never* be so discourteous with an able-bodied person.

We never have spouses, or partners or children.  We’re undesirable.  We never deserve intimacy, and us raising children? well that is unconscionable and needs to be stopped right away.

If we have creative talent it is often infantilized rather than taken seriously.  Discrimination by disrespecting or stifling artistic expression.

And the most sinister kind of discrimination.  Attempts by ignorant and dangerous people to control us because they can, to think nothing of depriving us of liberty, the pursuit of happiness and even sometimes life itself.  Abuse by authority. Captivity. Physical, mental or emotional harm.   By impersonal strangers. By so called friends.  By family.  Inappropriate institutionalization.  Subtle pressure to embrace soi-disant euthanasia. ( Unfortunately,  in the midst of a broader strange societal push toward rewarding willful ignorance about everything imaginable by a certain segment of those in power here in the US, it has made this worst kind of discrimination more frequent and easier to get away with. )

There’s hope against this though.  Embrace real able bodied allies. Praise and celebrate them in a very public way, as an object lesson,  a kind of “No, actually *this* is how to support us.”

And anybody with disabilities in the public eye either physically or virtually, via blogs,  and the newest internet addictions, Facebook or Twitter…has often been another type of honest public face about what we need and deserve…

On a personal note, to illustrate this, my household has been going through a crisis of late and we’ve called on real able bodied allies to help in various ways…and they’ve come through in amazing ways. So thanks to them all.

Here’s hoping a more informed able population keeps pushing towards less and less discrimination by assumption.

Published a bit early to make the May1 UK deadline at Goldfish’s place

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Some able person is always flapping

March 28, 2007 at 7:34 PM (Able Bodied Antics) ()

their jaw that people with disabilities are [insert negative word here].

They imply that we’d get further in life if we weren’t such [insert slur here]

Well, there are these fifteen hundred or so things that happen to us that may be seen as *tiny* individually, but then they have a cumulative effect of ” Oh hell no, I’m not going to be quiet about [fifteen hundred little ways the able world, intentionally or not, hands down the disrespect.]

Don’t worry. I’m not going to list them all.

Just the two that were freshly apparent tonight.

Went to a chain restaurant that specializes in various Asian types of food which I love, since it fits my rather narrow “What I can eat without becoming ill,” parameters…


Did you know that if you are in a wheelchair, you can’t possibly be the one paying for dinner? Waiter automatically assumed the check would be paid by the more “able” looking person at the table. To be fair, he gave good service…it’s just that automatic assumption that makes me *want* to be neurotic and difficut and tap him on the belt and say, “Yes, amazingly enough I can pay for dinner…!”


If the regular chairs are mashed together like one of those insanely difficult obstacle courses on “Survivor,” it stands to reason that when the chair gets wheeled out, someone’s going to have to move…Kudo’s to a young lady who did just that with a smile and no complaint, and a hiss to the rest of about 13 diners that did move, but with noticeable grimaces on their faces.

I’ve got more, but it will have to wait

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A wonderful post about assumption

January 25, 2007 at 8:44 PM (Able Bodied Antics, Assumptions, On Being Fat) (, )

Is here., and made me think about my own frames about communication and realized that I need to broaden my perception of how communication happens and what constitutes facile communication…and, it also jogged my memory the assumptions folks can make about my impairments.

1. “I know bunches of people with CP who drive…you should drive [Subtext: “She doesn’t want to drive and she really could and she won’t because she’s lazy and likes having people run her around.]

Um no. My depth perception and lack of much clear peripheral vision in the right eye are “off” enough for me to have no sense of lenghth of the vehicle or be in danger of anyone who wanted to come up on my right. My reflexes are further shot since the chemo…just no.

I live in the freakin’ Rockies…with some of the best scenic driving around in the other three quarters of the year…do you think that if I *could* drive through Rocky Mountain National Park, that I wouldn’t *beg* for that license?

Wake UP!

2. “You’re smart, so you’re not really disabled…why are you asking for all this help?”

Smart gets you 50 cents and a cup of coffee at Denny’s. If the physical plant of an entertainment venue, a job, a school, a rec facility, a church etc etc…is not wheelchair accessible, or is only minimally so…I have to go collaborate immediately with those in charge to work to find an acceptable solution. *That’s not whining!* It’s necessary.

3. “I could never live like that.” [Subtext: I don’t want to, no one should so let’s minimize the validity of that life, that particular experience]

It’s amazing what you find you can do, because you must do it. So don’t tell me the strategies I use to live my life are “impossible.” It’s your imagination that has limits on it, placed there by fear

4. “I don’t understand how you can possibly [insert activity here].”

And, I don’t have time to explain how I can possibly [insert activity here.]

And the most annoying assumption of all. Running through some abled’s strangers heads, never really spoken:

“Simply because you are 1. Disabled and 2. Fat, that means the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the things you like, the workarounds you do, your dating life, your recreational habits, your spirituality, your relationships with friends or family…are all open for me the abled to poke my nose in *and pontificate* about things that are….(wait for it)…actually none of my business, personal things I would *never* offer an opinon or judgement about to an able and /or thin person.”

The only thing right about *that* of course is that how any one individual with impairments or any group of people handle their impairments is, very very often: None of an able stranger’s business.

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Clueless in Seattle II or the Dumb*** Comments Edition

November 11, 2006 at 10:37 AM (Able Bodied Antics, Public Transportation)

I can’t help it… that column from yesterday was buggy enough in itself, but then there were some comments:

Here’s something that’s undebatable: You’re heartless. Are you one of the people that yelled “Jump!” to that woman on the I-5 bridge a few years back?

Please don’t let the softhearted among you decide that it’s the “kindness of strangers” that should grant us the great boon of bus rides: There’s only one answer: Suck it up, it’s the law.

Then there’s the commenter below who believes it’s required of us that we all take the slow bus to work (Perhaps he took the short bus to school?)

Actually, I think I side with restricting wheelchairs to non-express buses. It’s already going to take you longer to get anywhere in a wheelchair, no need to drag everyone else down as well. Whether it’s politically feasible, and whether it would other less-fair instances of discrimination are issues I’m not prepared to handle, though.


Then we have Answer man, who tells us:

I’m not sure I could go along with banning the disabled from express buses, but I hope that disabled folks would think twice about planning their travel on an express route when they know the loading/unloading process is going to negate much of the “express” benefit of the route for their fellow riders. It’s really just about being considerate, and the ADA doesn’t relieve disabled folks of the burden of being considerate of how accommodating their needs may impact others.
On a separate but related note, I’d be all for Metro eliminating 50% or more of its bus stops in residential neighborhoods to create more of a hub-like, express-like experience for riders (fewer stops, longer walks to/from the bus stop). The time saved in travel, not to mention the lessened impact of buses re-entering traffic on busy streets, would more than make up for having to walk two or three blocks to catch the bus, rather than the typical one-stop-every-two-blocks configuration we see today. Of course, some disabled or elderly folks will cry foul, and in King County government, that’ll be the end of the discussion…

Arrogant and ignorant as well, how marvelous. If bus stops are more than a quarter of a mile from each other you discourage and or prevent those elderly and impaired still on their feet but tenuously so, from taking the bus it could also be difficult for those pushing a manual chair…it’s tough for some to walk ten feet let alone 1320…

Then there’s the “why can’t they just all take paratransit?” argument: (With an answer my republican friends will love )

Erica, I share your frustration on a regular basis. The lift on the bus ruins my day every time. The newer hybrid buses have a better lift system than the older actual lifts, they just lower a ramp. Much faster. The solution is to move the hybrids with the ramps to the express routes, which can avoid wire snags as well, saving even more time. The other solution could be that handicapped people who want express service on express route should be required to use the Access system, which gives people door-to-door service. They call, get picked up, and everyone is happy. I wish I could use the Access system, considering how much we all pay for it.

Here’s some panacea for your uninformed crap:

Putting lifts on the regular busses saves the government money, number one, because if that weren’t done, the number of riders requesting paratransit would be huge compaired to the already large number of present riders, and buying more of that sort of transport and handling the high turnover of paratransit drivers….More major bucks that the country would have to spend… Number two related to that…requirements for paratranist now mean that only the most impaired can use it…if your cognitive or physical impairments don’t preclude you from riding a lift equipped bus, you aren’t permitted on paratransit. And if you have a job, paratransit is not feasible for your morning trip in, because they cannot ever be ontime, just the nature of the beast. not just most of the time like standard buses.

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