Really good ideas and information here!
I forgot to post here that my essay “Move Like You’re From Thra, My People” about disability and The Dark Crystal has gone live at the kickstarter for Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction!
Last night, I was in a Fringe play, and my character was a disabled woman who has figured out how to monetize pity and guilt by going on a motivational speaking tour circuit. (It’s fun! You should see it if you’re in town.)
This morning, I was at a coffee shop with a very young and charming gentleman who was chatting with the woman in lineahead of us.
The lady assumed that I was Connor’s mom, and he straightened her out on that with enormous detail. We chatted a bit. Little boys excited about scones are delightful. She is from Galway; I have been there. We all like scones and hash browns. Tea is good.
Because I knew that I would be carrying things in both hands, I hadn’t brought my crutches. Because I was standing in line, I didn’t move as we spoke.
She left with her stuff and Connor and I got ours and I lurched with him out of the coffee shop.
He asked me to move my wheelchair from one side of the seat to the other so he wouldn’t have to get in on the busy side of the street, because he is smart AF.
I proceeded to do this.
That’s when I saw the lady who likes scones and hash browns, sitting at an outside table, staring at me with that Very Special Expression.
“You’re amazing!” she said. “Good on you!”
I took a deep, cleansing breath. “Thank you,” I said.
“No, I really mean it— you’re astounding!” she said.
I took another deep breath. “Thank. You,” I said through clenched teeth.
So she started talking to Connor. “Isn’t she wonderful? So full of life and love and verve!”
Connor looked at her blankly, and then looked at me like: “What is this weird lady going on and on about?”
I smiled widely.
“Have a good day!” I said to the woman, staggering to my door and trying to get in without leaping over it and punching her.
“I really mean it!” she said. “You are AMAZING! Good on you! Good on you!”
I could not bring myself to thank her again.
“That lady talked funny,” said Connor as I pulled out into traffic, and I don’t think he was talking about her accent.
These sorts of scenes set me off for hours afterward, and I NEVER know how to respond. When you’re disabled, the micro or macro-aggressions are often SO well-meant. Responding to them with anything but brusqueness comes across as assholedry of the highest order. She’s probably sipping her tea, imagining she made the day of some poor crippled lady by complimenting her.
But I am shaking and furious and right now feel just as helpless as she clearly thinks I am.
I prefer the assholes who demand with hostility: “What makes YOU deserve that handicapped placard?” Or who try to Jesus at me. Those ones are so much easier to deal with.
This is my second open letter to Seward Co-op’s board, HR, and managers regarding unionization efforts at Seward, and your by-the-book union bashing.
After my first letter, Sean sent me an email all about how cooperative they were being with the union. Look! He said. Look how great we are being!
This letter was clearly a lie.
You continue to have ‘disciplinary meetings’ with one of the major organizers.
I see you. I know what you are doing. This is a classic intimidation technique, and an attempt to not only silence her, but cow others into submission and fear.
I am beyond disgusted. Stop this NOW. Everyone can see you. We can all see what you are doing. This is NOT what the co-op movement is all about.
You should all be ashamed of yourselves. You are on the wrong side of history. Stop. NOW.
Most extremely sincerely,
Member # 31XXX
Today, walking downtown, I approached a man sitting on a windowsill, holding a cane.
We locked eyes and exchanged the Crip Nod. We know what it’s like to have people look away from you on the street.
“How are you TODAY?” he asked.
“TODAY is good,” I said. “How’s it going TODAY?”
No one else would have heard the emphasis I provided. Just us. We know some days are better than others.
A few blocks further down, I was stopped at a light waiting for it to change when a beautiful young woman with a sleek, close hair cut stood next to me.
“Happy Pride!” she said.
I looked down. I was wearing no rainbows, no ‘GAY AF’ shirt, no Secret Queer Army pin. She just knew.
I lit up. “Happy Pride!” I said.
All the way to my errand, I was grinning.
Thanks for seeing me, random strangers. I hope you felt seen, too.
Dear Board, Manager Sean Doyle, and HR Director Liz Wozniak,
Here is what white privilege looks like, even if you don’t have a lot of money and have other stuff stacked against you:
I saw a couple cops at Chipotle a few days ago. I was very very very tired from moving and painting and moving again and moving again, and so my usual wary look whenever I see cops probably looked much more hostile.
The cops immediately changed their order to go, followed me and my boys out of the place, and begin to follow me. They followed very closely, and waited until I put on my signal each time I turned to put on their signal. They wanted me to see that they were following me. I raced through my mind whether I’d paid my tabs, weather my very hungry breath might be confused for alcohol on my breath, if when I got pulled over Arie would flip out, I wondered if they were running my plates and made sure through my head that there is nothing they would find, which of course there wasn’t. I kept my hands at 10 and 2. I came to a very very very full and complete stop at all stop signs, and I waited for a while before I started when the lights would change. I was so so careful.
After they had seen me nervously checking my rearview mirror over and over and met my eyes multiple times, I guess they figured that they had taught me not to glare at cops, and they turned and went their way.
At no point during any of this did I have even a MOMENT of fear for my life.