Thursday, December 25, 2008

X marks the Day!

It's here at last, Xmas Day! The most X-citing day of the year. Yes, there are the gifts and the relatives, and the contemplation of all I didn't get done (stack of cards addressed but never sent, as usual? Check!) But the really thrilling part is what comes next: Putting it all away!


Oh, you think I'm joking, don't you? Well, you are so wrong. See, I grew up with a tradition that the house must be clean come January 1st. Tree and decorations taken down, things replaced by new gifts packed and taken to the thrift store or tossed if too ratty, the general mess of the holidays cleaned up and the household ready to start in on the new year's troubles with as few of the old year's as possible. And I only have 5 days to do it in! And on the sixth day, I make a nice simple dinner of corn bread, greens, and black-eyed peas. And that is my favorite holiday dinner of all. 

I finished all the wrapping and deciding who gets what on Christmas Eve (except for my daughter and son-in-law, I can't generally remember what I got for who), and started the process of putting all the papers and tissues and bows away, and attacked the Room of Doom where such things as gifts waiting for wrapping and projects hoping to be completed lie in wait, strewn on every flat surface, and on some surfaces which are not quite flat but allow for artful balancing. The Room of Doom is much less doomful now, having transferred the doom to my knees and feet since I foolishly did my sorting without wearing shoes. Which means without orthotics. Which means I will be paying for my oversight for quite a while.   But no rest for my weary soles! There is more cleaning to be done in the early morning before the day's festivities begin. And then there is breakfast to cook.

Just knowing that the new year is coming, I am feeling much perkier. I might even get some cards in the mail.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Open Letter to Obama

President-Elect Obama,

I was among the millions stirred by your victory speech the night of November 4, heartened by your call for the contributions of every American, including the "disabled and the not disabled." I was so excited that I immediately blogged about it.

Since then, I've been thinking about your invitation. It wasn't specific, which is entirely appropriate since you have no way of knowing what each individual may be able to bring to the table. What can I do, what special insight might I have? More generally, what can disabled people offer a country that often thinks of disabled folks as nothing more than an unfortunate expense? Now, since your bizarre and inappropriate selection of Rick Warren to give the prayer at your inauguration, I have a better idea of what we can bring: a sense of what inclusion actually means.

I have been disappointed in the Democratic Party for several years now. Back in 2004, at my county convention, I put forth a proposal to support the strengthening of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the wake of the Supreme Courts undermining of that important civil rights legislation. All the time, I hear "oh, no one is against the disabled." Well, you'd have had a hard time proving it that day, as person after person, with increasing vehemenence denounced any such bill. And what justification did they give? To a person, they each stated that they were against "special rights."

"Special rights." What are special rights? Apparently, (here I'm judging from the comments made by fellow Democrats) the right to a fair chance at employment, the right to housing, the right to visit the homes of friends, the right to access public buildings and businesses. There is a further context, the right to the body, the right to sexuality, the right to marry. The tradition of denying people with disability reproductive rights is not just a sorry history painfully recorded as a warning to the present. Instead, it is an ever-present reality. As the Ashley X case made clear, public support for even the violation of body integrity is widespread, with sexuality being considered a burden for the disabled rather than a natural function. While law has changed to permit marriages for people with intellectual disabilities, social sentiment has little budged, and practice continues to deny people with disabilities full rights to control over personal sexuality.

What other group in the United States currently faces similar restrictions against their sexuality, their employment, their right to housing? Who else is told that access to the same rights as everyone is "special rights"? That would be everyone considered homosexual, the group you have chosen to single out as expendable in your choice of Rick Warren to offer an inaugural prayer. Rick Warren, who actively campaigned for California's Prop. 8, and who embraces only "ex-gays." This is a wholly unnecessary slap in the face to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. And it is an insult to those of us who are straight and count among our friends and family non-heterosexuals. We have seen their pain, their isolation, their hardship, and see how the inherent difficulties of being a member of a minority group are magnified by legal discrimination. Rick Warren wants to continue to make life as difficult as possible for non-straight people, justifying his discrimination with "love the sinner, hate the sin," and calling for non-straight people to change rather than society to change. This is as preposterous a stand as demanding that people with disabilities stop being disabled before being included in society. And, yes, people do make that argument,that people with disabilities aren't being excluded, that it is the disability at fault rather than society, and once we get "cured," we'll be welcome. Such an invitation to fellowship rings hollow whomever you are.

You can't distance yourself from Warren's small minded hatred. You didn't need to have a prayer offered at all, and as a supporter of the separation of church and state, I'd argue that you shouldn't be having one at an official government event. But you obviously want to make some kind of public statement, to present a particular type of image, by having a prayer said for you. And thus, your choice of Rick Warren has indeed made a statement. It is a statement that your support for civil rights for disenfranchised minorities doesn't run any deeper than campaign rhetoric. 

Your public distancing of yourself from gay and lesbian supporters isn't the only rejection going on right now, either. In the name of "security," the inaugural welcome of those of us with disabilities has also been rescinded. No chairs at the parade route, insist security officials. What about walkers, canes, wheelchairs? The latest I read is that security is still "thinking" about that. Thinking about it? Thinking about clearly violating the ADA? Sadly, it won't be the first time, since "homeland security" has been allowed to trump civil rights at every turn.

So, I am telling you now, as a person with disabilities, that what you need to do, what you need to make uppermost in your priorities as president, is embrace full civil rights for us all, not just those who already hold positions of power and privilege in our nation. You remember us, right? If you don't, then all your beautiful words about hope and change are meaningless. Full civil rights undergirds everything we in the disability community have been campaigning for. To live in communities, in our own homes, rather than warehoused in nursing homes and institutions. To be employed based on what we can do, rather than idled based on fears of what we can't do. To have mature sexual relationships, to have children or not depending on our own decisions, to have the right to adopt, to marry and form families. These are not "special rights" of only privileged groups. These are among the rights of all Americans. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Help some cat in Japan

Via Elizabeth, I learned of the Japan Cat Project, a trap/spay/return program to reduce the feral cat population. You'd think the land of Hello! Kitty wouldn't have any unwanted cats, but you'd be wrong. If you find you are short of a gift for a cat-lover, why not make a donation in their name? I'm sure they'd rather have that than whatever it is you were going to pick up at Walgreen's. Face it, you don't even know what you were going to get them at Walgreen's.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No "good death"

I have been absolutely sickened by the news coming out of Britain. It's just horrible. My daughter and I have started avoiding British news and programming because of the euthanasia drive. I know we shouldn't, that we should actively confront this monster on the global scale, but there is so much bigotry, so little understanding of disability--where to start? How to get it through people's heads? It's a kind of terrorism directed at the disabled, I think. More of us have been openly identifying as disabled who in the past would have denied it and tried to hide it. We've experienced relief in doing so, and found solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are unable to disguise their differences at all. And here the bullying able-bodied world wants to shame everyone again, to clear their days of any interaction with openly disabled people. It will be those with learning disabilities and neurological problems and bad joints pretending that they don't need any accomodations, so they can keep their jobs. It will be those in wheelchairs, in braces, those who are deaf or blind, cloistered behind drawn curtains so no one has to have visual reminder of disability. And those already largely housebound pressured to submit to the ultimate exclusion, euthanasia. And once it is a common place to kill those who require nursing care, the next level of social "burden" will be targeted. None of us are safe in a culture where the answer to weakness is death.

Pro-euthanasia advocates insist that they would never pressure anyone into committing suicide. But they lie. Their language, as William Peace shows,  reveals how they routinely devalue and disparage the lives of people with disabilities.  Daniel James's parents are excellent examples, saying that their paralyzed son, along with disabled people in general, are "second class citizens." Since when is the solution to a problem of second class citizenship euthanasia? I'll tell you when! The Indian Wars! Oh, those poor Indians, losing their land and culture. Let's kill them off toot-sweet and put them out of our misery. It's a veritable final solution to the issue, one might say as one goose-stepped along. 

Euthanasia advocates also purposely muddy the waters, appealing to people's wish to resolve the suffering of loved ones who are truly dying in distress in order to get assisted suicide legalized. Thus British television viewers were given the opportunity to witness a disabled man said to be at the end of his life kill himself at a Swiss clinic while talk still swirls about Daniel James, who was not terminal. Disability does not mean dying, but if the euthanasia advocates get their way, it will soon.


Damn. It's cold. I know, I know. It gets cold every winter. But every winter, I take the dip in temperature as a personal affront. People, it sleeted on me on the way home last night. I had to stand outside in the sleet and hail when I got home, covering the plants as best I could, hoping that they don't all just shrivel up and die.  Poor, poor plants. I'm a bad plant mommy.

And, apparently, my cover is completely blown. I blame the norther. Its howling winds and freezing temperatures, combined with Hell Week at work, seem to have left me actually looking as bad as I feel. OK, maybe it was the cervical collar. Or the knee brace. Or me having to take a lie-down on the back office floor because back went out. Or the ashen look on my face ams I fought down nausea and headache most of the evening. Maybe the boss is right and I am falling more often.

If only I could get someone to reduce my left shoulder before my left hand gets anymore numb. But, sad. I'd usually ask my housemate but he's actually sick right now, and I'm completely what passes for healthy in my gene pool. And in many ways, I feel better tonight than I have in several days. I don't know if this is because the front is actually here now instead of coming in, or if I'm feeling some low-grade giddiness antecedant to headache. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Just another boring week

I know, I know. You are wondering what I've been doing all week. Well, it's just been so exciting.

Monday: Fell down in front of people at work.

Tuesday: Fell down in front of people at work.

Wednesday: Avoided falling down. Started wheezing.

Thursday: Cedar (mountain juniper) season began in earnest. I took an Allegra at noon. My nose kept running. I took Sudafed. My nose kept running. Except for when it was sneezing. I work with the public, mind you. I called the doctor's office to beg an appointment. How about Monday? Ha! I'd be lucky to last so long. OK, squeeze in for Friday morning? Perfect.

I get home at 9:30 PM, my nose still running. I took Claritin. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to layer antihistimines, but I do, because antihistimines are easy to get but steroids always require a prescription.

Friday: I'm so tired, between the allergies and antihistimines that I can hardly stand. I get to the doctor's. I wasn't trying to go for the death warmed over look, but I suppose the chest rattle makes it convincing. Steroids! Fresh new inhaler and sinus spray, ridiculously expensive but I no longer have to contemplate telling my supervisor that I will be taking sick leave during our most hectic time of the semester.

Saturday: Now it's just the regular pain of my left leg feeling like it is rotting and my hands being stood on by elephants. And the falling in public.










C.P.? They have got to be kidding. She was so disabled by C.P. that she could not walk, but she somehow managed to build a scare crow in the corn field and make regular visits to talk to it? That's one unusually accessible corn field. And how's she fitting back into her braces? Last I knew, metal doesn't have particularly elastic qualities. I know, I'm just nitpicking on an issue that most viewers won't catch at all, but still, sheesh.

It does look like Daphne's belief that Arthur Petrelli had given her her powers was just a lie he had told her to control her. Maybe she and her dad are both particularly gullible, and she never had C.P. but rather one of hundreds of other possible mobility conditions that her lazy-ass small town doctor couldn't be bothered to read up on. OK, that's my fanwank, and I'm sticking to it.