The Black Dress

September 24, 2006 at 4:05 PM (Assumptions, disabled women, Uncategorized) (, , )

It was Halloween. I was late teens early twenties, and somehow, someone “borrowed” a vintage dress from the theatre department…black, taffeta, floor length v-neck.

Everyone did costumes.

I loved it. The way it moved, the way it hung, the way it sounded…if a rustle could be sophisticated it had it.

I went to the dance. It was a silly, awkward but hilarious good time…but I didn’t dance the whole thing…midway through I chose the wallflower seat.

Someone unknown came and sat beside me, sounding oddly talkative for a place where the music blasted, and smelling of various intoxicants.

Then, I realized without a whisper of motion from me, his arm was around the back of my neck, to the opposing shoulder…an unwelcome snake. I thought, if I got up and danced he’d sheer off.

I did, and he didn’t. He watched…from different angles…from far away…from closer in…

friends tried to run interference for me (and the fact that they were in costume didn’t help…Mimes ordinarily can’t project “tough”)…

I didn’t want this…person (I don’t like calling him a person)…creature to ruin the night. I moved all around the party space, but it was no use.

So, I just left. In a hurry. Fled on four feet. On Canadian crutches equiped at the time with snow blades up above the tip level, that could be twisted down to grip the ice during winter…”running” in black taffeta on Hallowe’en night.

He followed…I got some distance from the dance was out in the square, and when he got close I took my left crutch, leaned as much of my body weight on it as possible and slammed it onto the top of his left foot.

I must have hit *something* since he made a weird shriek and peeled off and away.

I did not go home. I was shaking. I ended up in the music building at one of the practice rooms…hammered out more than a few dissonant chords of this and that…

The security guard came at eleven…he didn’t say anything, and I pushed past him and out the doors, and “ran” again, fast, to home, the dorm…that houseful of women.

I don’t fit that dress, that profile now…

Because of both my impairment and the thing that makes me way less than saintly, my sugar jones…I had such a brief time to be the “correct” weight…to be pretty…

*Why,* if those of us with impairments have fewer ways or less time, to be percieved as “pretty” by the able world….

*Why* do they wreck it? Why are we even *more* the ones with *vulnerable* tatooed on our forehead for the creeps to target?

If we’re only going to have four *hours* a year to be a knockout, damnit…Let it happen!

Let us be charismatic and compelling and *safe* at the same time.

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New definitions

November 23, 2005 at 8:29 PM (Institutionalization) (, )

Katrina and Rita have (at least temporarily) forced the national eye to gaze at poverty, elder care, thousands of dispossessed people, and to consider seriously actual eradication of one of our oldest and proudest cities, New Orleans.

People with disabilities have had thought provoking discussions about just how and where we must be present in emergency and disaster planning going forward…

Unfortunately, in a quote from the link above, the disabled, infirm and elderly now have a new label that has actually been spoken aloud:

Hilary Styron is the director of the Emergency Preparedness Initiative. She writes:
“When I talk to emergency managers, as recently as last weekend, in Orlando, I was told that this population is acceptable “loss and collateral damage.” I asked a major in the army national guard how his mother was doing in the nursing home. Oh, she’s just fine. Congratulations, you just killed her because she’s an acceptable loss. This has happened for too long.”

I am “acceptable loss and collateral damage,” during a disaster or attack.

Better get that will dusted off….

Write up your beneficiary lists, and hide ’em in triplicate…so that your heirs won’t be troubled with identifying themselves.

Identifying you? ah, well, all part of that collateral damage thing.

Our parents, grandparents, and ill or disabled friends, associates, or family members *should not be given the same label as war casualties*

My maternal grandfather would have gotten into quite a tizzy if he thought that during his last months of life in the nursing home where he admired his fellow residents and watched tv and listened to good music, a label of “acceptable loss and collateral damage” would have been attached to him.

The language of the conflicts in the Middle East has now bled right into the middle of our community.

Better make sure your affairs are in order, ’cause if that earthquake or flood hits, or terrorist cells take a special liking to your neighborhood, well, we as first responders are letting you know that you’ll be the first collateral damage that’s crossed off our list.

Oh, *he!! no!*

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Four walls

August 31, 2005 at 4:59 PM (Katrina) (, )

I imagine people around the country are finding good things about their homes, much more so than this time last week.

I have four walls, painted a uniform white, four rooms that I share, nothing of interest on the walls, partially due to prior lazines and partially due to my new limitations.

I have power. And drinkable water. Internet access and TV. Food when necessary. I look out and see my lawn, well watered, but essenitally dry.

I see the buses go past my place (now if only my scooter would fit on one.)

I love my four walls I really do.

I cannot imagine the disconnect, the dislocation felt by the survivors.

I hope the government response arrives in the Gulf cost area soon, to slow the casualty count and aid in reconstructing levees, and rebuilding neighborhoods.

The trapped feeling they must have in the Superdome. Thank God they’re moving those folks.

The danger of those who said, to hell with the rules and took up arms.

And that count of the lost which won’t be known until later.

And the population that concerns me the most. How many of the disabled got out, or got to a shelter? And how many will be counted among the lost?

If our people didn’t escape, does that make the planners bad people?

We *have* to be a line item in every government produced document with ‘Evacuation’ written at the top.

How will a government, a society commit to rescuing a population that is sometimes socially invisible? I don’t know. But they’d better darn well start, going forward.

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Accessible housing

August 8, 2005 at 2:06 PM (Uncategorized) ()

I’m wondering if anyone else has first 1. Found an accessible apartment, then 2. realized that the environment either inside the building or the neighborhood around it could not be characterized as “safe?”

When I moved in to my present building I recognized that drug deals were going on in the parking lot during evenings on the weekends, but shrugged it off because it seemed to be limited to times when I was inside…I was glad when an accesible unit opened on the second floor rather than the first…

Even though I had to make my first police report when my car was egged. (definitely aimed for my car, targeted that car and no one elses.)

Then last night my roomate saw two people wearing “Fugitive Recovery Unit” jackets knocking on a door two doors down from me.

Since I’ve become an “Official Disabled Person,” moving to a regular unit in some other building is out…

Just another thing to be angry about. Trading accessiblility for safety is no fair trade.

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….And perhaps the most important

June 16, 2005 at 3:00 PM (Uncategorized) ()

reason for those in the disabled community to have access to well trained,honest PCA’s. Another of the many horror stories about what happens when we are forced to give over care of ourselves to others. What makes this particularly appalling is that being a family member made no difference at all.

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