My mom, Anna, was part of a writing contest at community college. Same district my best friend and I eventually attended. Her writing teacher had encouraged her to enter the contest. My father, Ron, discouraged her at first, said he was afraid she would fail and be disappointed.
Anna got mad and told him that she let him risk his life going to the mountains because it was important to him, so he had better support her in her desire to take part in this writing contest. And that she was a big girl and could handle losing.
Ron became her biggest supporter as a writer, as well as a trusted proofreader. They worked on her entry, a short story, together. Ron did most of the test-reading and provided valuable feedback. My mother entered and won the contest. The money was just enough to buy a nice locally handmade turquoise ring. She wore it to remember the contest, to remember she was a published writer now, to remember what the whole experience meant to her.
When I was a child, I lost another handmade ring from the same store. I looked everywhere and never found it. As an adult, I found it online through a pawn shop on eBay. I wore that ring to remind me of my mother since I am bad at staying in contact with everyone, including close friends and family. I did not tell my mother about the ring, but that same week she sent me her turquoise ring and told me the story behind it.
It turned out she wanted me to have it because she saw my name everywhere now and wanted to remind me that we are both published writers and have that in common. And she wanted to remind me of what it took for her to get there, I think.
So jewelry can mean a lot of things. And reminding me of people and ideas that matter to me is one of them. I wear this ring to honor and remember my connection to my birth-mother Anna at all times. And the fact that we are both writers, that’s part of the connection.
Hopefully the captions on those photos will do the trick. This is just some pictures of me with the white cane that came today.
I’m already discovering that it helps me use my vision in ways I couldn’t have imagined: When I’m feeling ahead for obstacles, that means I can look around me. Normally looking around me is a big source of falls. If this continues, this is huge. But I knew it was the right idea… I’m actually probably a little unbearable to people around me with the level of excitement at being able to get around better, now that I’m not scared of this. It feels like one more way of being me again, and not someone everyone else wants to make me into. If this is how I function best, I’m not going to knock it and I’m not going to run from it anymore.
Some of the words used in this post are really ugly. That’s because they’re the really ugly words that I heard. I’m not gonna sugarcoat this. But if you can’t deal with reading the r-word in either of its common forms, or hear “psychotic” or “blind” used as insults rather than descriptions, you might want to skip this.
The story here, the reason it’s on Storytelling Sunday, is because each of these quotes forms one little piece of a long story that’ll be familiar to way too many disabled people. And while I’d like the story to stand on its own, I’d just like to comment that I don’t think lesser of any group targeted by such speech. And I don’t even necessarily think lesser of the people creating this speech — it’s very destructive, but it happened a long time ago to a bunch of people I’m leaving anonymous on purpose because who knows how they’ve changed since then or why each one said what they said.
These things were said in all manner of tones. Some people seemed to be trying to be affectionate. Others were aiming to insult and harm and bully. Others were just confused or curious. But all of this has an effect on you when you hear it day in, day out, every day, in one form or another. Especially when it’s coming from loved ones and people who are supposed to be loved ones.
I’ve asked about the blind part. Apparently it’s about a bunch of things: I stand too stiffly. I don’t make the normal eye movements and look straight ahead too much. (This is just called “staring” and apparently makes me stand out.) I don’t respond normally to visual information. (I am low-vision, guys…) I wear dark glasses in low light. I don’t always move my head or eyeballs in ways that would indicate noticing things visually. I could go on. Apparently I have many things that make me “look blind”.
But hearing these things so much made me think there was something wrong or shameful about being low-vision.
And, well, as I said, the story told by the above quotes most likely speaks for itself when any disabled person who’s heard similar reads it. I just want to make sure people know, my problem here is not “OMG I’m being compared to people I think are inferior,” it’s “OMG I’m being compared to people the speaker thinks is inferior, and being thought inferior myself, but I wouldn’t be inferior whether or not these things were accurate descriptions.
Right now I’m talking about blindness, but blindness is just one of the things that was repeatedly called to my attention as a sign I was Doing Something Wrong, or rather Being Something Wrong (you know you’re being accused of Being Something Wrong when the local kids use your full name as a cuss word growing up). Which — no — doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense, but ableism rarely does.
But it does get inside of you, telling you these things do make you inferior (whether they exist or not barely matters). And I’ve been ridiculously afraid of being low-vision for way too long. Time to change what’s inside my head, time not to let this crap into my brain anymore. You don’t haveto accept every idea handed to you, something that was news to me when I learned it rather late.
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay
Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace
Wednesday's child is merry and glad
Thursday's child is sour and sad
Friday's child is loving and giving
And Saturday's child must work for its living.
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is sour and grum,
Thursday's child has welcome home,
Friday's child is free in giving,
Saturday's child works hard for his living.
And the child that is born on Christmas Day
Is great, and good, and fair, and gay
Monday's child is fair of face.
Tuesday's child is full of grace.
Wednesday's child is loving and giving.
Thursday's child works hard for a living.
Friday's child is full of woe.
Saturday's child has far to go.
But the child that is born on the sabbath day
Is brave and bonny, and good and gay.
Fair of face
red and spotty
full of grace
won’t use the potty
full of woe
loving and giving
sour and grum
merry and glad
won’t go to bed
has far to go
has welcome home
is sour and sad
will not be fed
loving and giving
full of woe
free in giving
breaks all his toys
works hard for a living
has far to go
must work for its living
makes an awful noise.
bonny and blithe and good and gay
blithe and winsome and happy and gay
great and good and fair and gay
brave and bonny and good and gay
is a pain in the neck like the rest, okay?
For my blogging topics, this is the perfect kind of thing. There are many versions of this rhyme, so many possibilities for most of the days. And each topic could be a lot of different things. “Fair of face” could turn into a discussion of beauty, or a discussion of racism and colorism, or a discussion of albinism, or any of a number of other things, depending on what was going on that day. LGBTQ issues could be tied to the word ‘gay’ even though it’s clearly used here to mean ‘happy’. (And Sunday’s Child could be used as a discussion of LGBTQ issues or a discussion of happiness or a lot of other things.)
Anyway, there’s so many versions of this that I’ll probably be adding onto it as I hear more of them. For now, though, these are what I’ve got, and any of them could be a number of different blogging topics.
And I have to say I love that the luckiest kid always gets called ‘gay’. I know that’s not the meaning of gay they were going for, but I love it anyway. And any meaning of any of these words is fair game for my purposes, which are to organize the way I blog for a number of important reasons. I can’t explain them all but I do have reasons.