Posted in family, Sunday - dimanche - domingo - söndag - Sonntag

Short Sunday: Things I Learned from Anna

Memory aids can take the form of jewelry.

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.

Posted in Days of the Week, Sunday - dimanche - domingo - söndag - Sonntag, Topic Themes

My Cane Came Today! (Storytelling Sunday)

Mel holding up a white cane to a mirror and taking a selfie.
Mel taking a selfie holding a cane up to a public bathroom mirror.
Mel’s cane as seen from above hir walker, sliding along the floor.
Mel’s cane as seen from above hir walker, slightly different position, sliding along the floor.
Mel’s cane as seen from above hir walker, slightly different position, feeling along the floor.

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.

Storyteling Sunday, written on red text, on a striped yellow/green/black/white/cyan background.
Storytelling Sunday.
Posted in disability rights, quotes, Sunday - dimanche - domingo - söndag - Sonntag

The Things I’ve Heard About My Eyes and Brain… (Storytelling Sunday)

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.

Storyteling Sunday, written on red text, on a striped yellow/green/black/white/cyan background.
Storytelling Sunday.

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.

You look BLIND.

close family members

What, are you a RETARD or something?

other kids

You look PSYCHOTIC.

close family members

You look RETARDED.

close family members

Do you have a HEARING PROBLEM or something?

lots of people

What are you BLIND?

lots of people

People think you’re BLIND.

close family members

People think you’re RETARDED or something.

close family members

People think you’re PSYCHOTIC.

close family members

You TARD.

close family members

You’re HALF A BUBBLE OFF PLUMB.

close family members, therapist

You’re A FEW SANDWICHES SHORT OF A PICNIC.

close family members

You’re a FEW FRIES SHORT OF A HAPPY MEAL.

close family members

You DON’T HAVE ALL YOUR OARS IN THE WATER.

close family members

You’re a little bit TETCHED.

close family members

Oh don’t worry, we’re all a little SLOW in this family!

close family member regarding family reunion

It’s only after living with you for six months that I can see the degree of your VISUAL IMPAIRMENT.

close family member

You look STUCK-ON STUPID.

kid

You sure you’re not BLIND?

practically everyone

You CAN’T SEE can you?

practically everyone

Hey look at that BLIND [guy/lady]!

Lots of strangers

You know ‘gifted’ is just what they tell RETARDS they are so we don’t have to tell them they’re RETARDED…

lots of kids

You just seem like a SPECIAL ED KINDA GAL…

A hairdresser who’d asked whether my school was a ‘special school’ (it was).

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 have to accept every idea handed to you, something that was news to me when I learned it rather late.

Posted in Blogging about blogging, Days of the Week, Friday / vendredi / viernes / fredag / Frietag, Monday / lundi / lunes / måndag / Monntag, Saturday / samedi / sábado / lördag / Sonnabend or Samstag, Sunday - dimanche - domingo - söndag - Sonntag, Thursday / jeudi / jueves / torsdag / Donnerstag, Topic Themes, Tuesday / mardi / martes / tisdag / Dienstag, Uncategorized, Wednesday / mercredi / miércoles / onsdag / Mittwoch

Monday’s Child rhymes.

Monday’s child is fair of face.

Tuesday’s child is full of grace.

Wednesday’s child is full of woe.

Thursday’s child has far to go.

Friday’s child is loving and giving.

Saturday’s child works hard for a living.

Sunday's Child

But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Other variants:

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.

Monday’s Child:

  • Fair of face
  • red and spotty

Tuesday’s child:

  • full of grace
  • won’t use the potty

Wednesday’s child:

  • full of woe
  • loving and giving
  • sour and grum
  • merry and glad
  • won’t go to bed

Thursday’s child

  • has far to go
  • has welcome home
  • is sour and sad
  • will not be fed

Friday’s child:

  • loving and giving
  • full of woe
  • free in giving
  • breaks all his toys

Saturday’s child:

  • works hard for a living
  • has far to go
  • must work for its living
  • makes an awful noise.
Sunday's Child

Sunday’s Child:

  • 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.