So here I am at my half century mark. Fiftieth birthday.
Firstly. I wasn’t supposed to be here at all, because I nearly didn’t make it. Three different times.
Once, when I was born with what would later be called cerebral palsy. Premature, and dropped to two pounds eleven ounces before I began thriving.
Twice because my life choices exposed me to some inherently lethal risk (which, thankfully I avoided.)
And thrice: Hodgkin’s lymphoma which I survived.
So, it’s very cool to have gotten here.
Fifty Fifty as a phrase means a lot of things.. Split. Half and Half
That may mirror the country’s divide, my ambivalence about a few factors and people in my life…or the time before and after my marriage, a real dividing line in my capabilities and emotional stability.
But I don’t think so.
I’m still trying to talk to friends and associates who are struggling. To offer advice. And also stories. I figure it’s a positive I can still put out there.
And rediscovering some cool things here at this point.
Peace and quiet.
Closer communication with friends and family.
A couple of communities of people that seem to be ok with me as I am, not as who-they-wish-I-would-have-been.
Some annoying physical/emotional stuff that I’m working with (new, not old) is made easier to handle because I have this space to live in, this hidden away place
And singing again… That’s been unbelievably good.
It’s not much by the rest of the world’s standards.
But I judge my value differently than the rest of the world might.
In discussion about disability, the issue of inherent value just by being here comes up again and again. And it’s put into a little sharper forcus when you turn fifty.
Like one of my favorite Star Trek captains once said, there’s more of your life behind you than in front of you at this point.
So, I guess I say enjoy what’s good, take stock of it. Notice it. The decade of my fifties is going to be about noticing the good stuff in each conversation, in each day.
So, I partied last weekend, exercised my right to vote today (too new to the precinct to have gotten a mail in ballot so I rolled next door [literally] to my polling place and voted.
Peeps, ain’t it a great feeling to cast a ballot? Right, left, independent we get to do that in this country…USA USA)
And the weather today? Along with the single slice of key lime pie that I just ate… Indian summer awesome.
I’ve just had another longtime acquaintance diss my political and religious choices.
Sorry for the rehash, but I’ve just got to lay it out one last time so people get it.
We now live in a society where corporations are people, according to the Citizens United decision.
If they are people, they aren’t the kind I’d invite to dinner.
Republican, Tea Party, Independent, Liberal, Progressive friends/family listen the heck up because I’m tired, tired tired of laying this out in gory personal detail for you.
I cannot trust any big corporation ever again. If someone else wants to, or believes they must because it’s in the Constitution that they have to love big corporations or they are a traitor to the Great God Capitalism…then go ahead.
I cannot trust any big corporation ever again because in the 24 months from summer 1982 through summer 1984 corporate decisions were made that allegedly caused the death of my HIV positive hemophilliac husband. He was a difficult man.
[for the record I’ve recently found out through medical research and checking his record that it’s extremely likely that the degree of his legendary temper was caused, in part, by HIV related brain lesions. Changes the picture yet again. I just wish I would have known more about the lesion thing early on. ]
I loved him. He loved me. He told me I was beautiful every day. And meant it. The disability, the weight, were unimportant to him. He married me when he could have married an able girl.
He was the *only* man to stand up to my father in my name, to tell him to go to hell.
We had that chemistry thing. That was why we made the WTF decision to marry in the first place even knowing the ‘risk group’ he was in. (doesn’t ‘ risk group’ sound damn antiquated now?) We finished each other’s sentences. We played a lot.
And allegedly because of a decision meant to help the ‘bottom line’ by a number of big pharmaceutical companies to not retool and make the production of a life sustaning medicine safer as early as they could have…he’s not here anymore. It killed him by inches and he was fcukin’ brave about it…especially at the end. No human being should have to go through that and so many still do.
I. cannot. trust.any.big.corporation.
Another reason not to trust them that affected me quite personally.
Rick Scott, the current governor of Florida, was making big money in the eighties/nineties running a company that was busy defrauding Medicare.
My boss at the time thought that that company Columbia HCA, ought to be allowed to merge with his company in a Kaiser Permanente type mix. He wanted to change to a for profit company.
Well, long story short, that boss got fired for pursuing that, and my company was uncertain, unsettled and in transition for awhile.
This was one of the factors in my (looking back) unwise decision to relocate westward. It spooked me. I got afraid the company would vanish.
So, there is just no way I can support a party that supports big corporations.
Can’t do it. Will. Not. Do. it.
I can abstain from discussing politics offline. I’ve done that and will continue to. I love my family, they love me, and we do have bunches more to discuss than politics, and we don’t want to become estranged. So we make an effort.
Why did I go there at all?
Well, a purely pragmatic need for a support system became clear. In 2008/2009 I discovered a great nearby church that happened to be Catholic.
My decision was, “I’ll go, get quiet, meet some people, listen to the music…get a bit of help when I need it.” It’s five minutes away from my house. (I was still in Denver at the time.)
And then, God showed up. It was annoying really. I hadn’t had the best relationship with God. God got ditched in ’93 and I had no plans to actually reconnect.
“What in the heck are you doing here? You’re supposed to know everything, so you know I’m just here for regular reasons…not really looking for you. So leave me be!”
Too late. It was and is a profound experience. Uniquely personal. And that’s it.
Has this religion, have all religions made huge mistakes? Heck yes. Are there specific parts of the theology that really make me nuts? Heck yes. Am I going to use my brain to work out my day to day practice in a way that doesn’t make me nuts? Absolutely. I’m no mindless sheep.
Do I have to answer to friends/family/nosy-ass strangers for the mistakes or the parts of the theology that make me nuts?
And again, I think it’s the rudest thing in the world to go door to door for Deity. Won’t be doing that.
Have I turned into the Church Lady?
So to summarize.
Not supporting a particular political party because they support big corporations that *will do harm* financially or physically if let off their leashes does not mean I’m going to hell.
Being Roman Catholic does not mean I’m going to hell. Or Heaven either. It gives me no superiority or inferiority. It’s just one of my choices.
Good grief. Democracy and religious freedom. Ever heard of them?
PS. And by the way. Just by the fcuk way. It’s “Democratic Party.” not “Democrat,” party. Give us our full list of syllables, even if we are “animals,” threatening to “destroy the country.”
Thank you, Bush the first for signing it. (See? When confronted with the facts, I can play nice…)
Thank you Tom Harkin and all legislators that voted for it.
Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to keep my first health insurance job, or get the others…thus literally saving my husband’s and my ‘financial’ lives, at a time when that was vital.
Without it’s indirect influence I would not have visited accessible theaters, both film and live, accessible libraries, museums, church sanctuaries…some had to get accessible because of this law and some saw the writing on the wall and did it themselves.
But, 20 years later I still I live in an apartment complex that has still denied me a bar in the bathroom. Previous buildings also denied it.
(here’s hoping I get a positive answer from apartment buildings already set up that way.)
And Rand Paul? I wonder…if you ever became a wheelchair user thru accident or illness, would you quietly agree to work on the first floor of a building without an elevator or quietly listen to a play in the theater lobby?
I. Think. Not.
If I was in the room with you now, wherever you are, I’d tell you in no uncertain terms to shut your lousy face about the ADA (Except I’d use curse words. And be unrepentant about them.)
And Mr. Jeb Bush? You may be the GOP Dauphin and all that, but I’d imagine your father is a bit peeved at you for supporting a guy who spits on something your father signed.
Crossposted @ Street Prophets.
Twenty years ago, I was a reluctant evangelical Baptist, married to a Baptist preacher. (I loved the guy, so I had to be there and actually walk that walk, not fake it, to support his decision and position even though the doctrine made me profoundly uncomfortable…no offense to people who are, I just wasn’t.)
When he passed in ’93, I ditched religion. For a good long while…
I converted to Roman Catholicism in 2009.
I didn’t intend to…it began as a very practical journey…
I’ve lived in the Mountain West for many years, and made very few social connections…I realized I would need some sort of “support system” to stay afloat, so to speak….I wanted an accessible building, didn’t want to necessarily ‘member up’ because at that time I was unsure about God and myself…Were we talking? Did I have any connection? I doubted it, and didn’t even really want to pursue it.
But I had real trouble finding an accessible church building with doctrine that I agreed with. So I shrugged and figured accessibility had to trump doctrine in my life now.
I first went to an accessible Charismatic megachurch.
…and was told that obviously my renewed faith couldn’t be as strong as it needed to be or I’d have been healed by now. Needless to say, I fled. Looking back I feel it may have even been rather Dominonist, so, I was pleased to be gone.
There are lovely, lovely downtown churches with good social justice leanings…but no parking…and the ramps are sometimes not enough…or slightly misaligned (one pulled a wheel off my chair….) Small churches that are actually too minimalist in doctrine for me personally…
In the south suburbs I found a beautiful and wholly accessible Catholic Church sanctuary. (I’m learning about self denial because I sing well, and the choir loft is completely inaccessible). The sanctuary made me get quiet when I got in…I suffer with anxiety, and it just…began to calm down when I sat in that sanctuary. I investigated, worked the nine months of learning the Catholic theology…because I like learning, and found three pieces of doctrine that still make me nuts. But the rest…I began to have a spiritual journey almost in spite of myself. “You’re here to meet and commune with God,” I said to myself, “…not to condemn the humans in the pews or to blindly commend the priesthood.” And so, I met with God, and mystery…and rediscovered faith…and decided to convert.
In my opinion, I’ve lost nothing of the profound commitment I have to activism, nothing of my left-of-McCain political stance.
What really makes me angry is many friends and family conservatives and liberals alike (!) in my former mainline Protestant traditions…who were appalled at my conversion, (I sincerely did not expect their reaction) began to lecture me on the Church’s many flaws, as if I was stupid, and not someone with a Master’s degree, holding me personally accountable for every word from the Vatican, every deplorable action ever committed by a priest, and the doctrines that I groove on, as well as the ones that make me nuts.
There’s even been discussion of me “living a lie.”
I’ve had it. Just had it. Apparently reconnecting with one’s higher power is now a sin.
Don’t misunderstand. I completely get opposing viewpoints and people’s reasons for leaving. I just don’t get why people get all up in my case about my staying. It makes it difficult, and right now…I’ve got all the difficult I can manage.
It’s actually not about the present financial and physical limits I find myself in.
Or, any ‘drama queen’ tendencies. [I want to smack people that call me that. If I was a drama queen I’d have a palace. And I don’t]
More and more able bodied people I’m close to are made uncomfortable by my history…
But it’s my history that’s the answer.
No one could have predicted all the stuff that happened.
But, I really believe my life was never meant to be easy…for people that know me, they know that goes back to the beginning.
It wasn’t going to be simple. Or safe. Or predictable.
And why are people surprised that some of it is self inflicted?
Every single human on the planet has to deal with self-inflicted trouble sometimes…to go along with any and all things that are *not.*
Nobody’s perfect folks. Not even you.