Monday, June 26, 2017

Alienization

Joe and I did something that we never thought we'd do yesterday. We went shopping for a basketball. There are hoops outside the front of our house that are there for community use and we thought that maybe the girls would like to use them, therefore, the ball. We went into a store that sold them and faced a wall, a mighty wall, of basketballs. The first ones we picked up cost a fortune, I didn't know what to expect price wise but wow.

Finally we found a ball that was inside our price range and just as we picked it up a clerk came over to help. He spoke to Joe asking if he could help. Joe shook his head, we'd made the decision after all, and I spoke up. "We want this ball just to shoot hoops out the front of our place, is this the kind of ball that does that?" He looked at me oddly and I said, "Well there are so many balls here of so many prices, I wanted to know if this one had the 'neighbourhood hoops' feature." 

He nodded and said,"YOU want a basketball?"

I looked at him, he was young. I don't expect that kind of stuff from someone so young. He looked like he was in high school. Don't disabled kids go to high school, don't they play ball?" I don't know the answer to that question in his case. But even if they didn't isn't he aware, even slightly, of wheelchair sports. But maybe he didn't mean the wheelchair, maybe he meant my weight. I don't know but even if he did, why wouldn't a fat person want to throw a ball, is he thinking that it would get in the way of eating a cake or something. Any fat person knows that there is virtually nothing that can't be done while eating a snack. Shit.

"YOU want a basketball?"

It's another instance where I became 'alienized' by someone. Made so different from humanity that any hint of humanity is shocking. But there I was being fully human in front of him and there he was looking like he would have a story to tell that no one would ever believe.

Yeah, I want a basketball, how freaking freaky is that?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Again and Again (A Pride Day Post)

Image result for rainbow flag in a fist
Image description: a graphic design of a fist with the fingers being different colours of the rainbow. (I don't know who owns this art, if it's use here is unacceptable, please let me know and I will take it down.)


I met a man

At a dinner party.

Who got very quiet

When I answered his question.

What do you do for a living? he asked.

I told him, with pride, what I did

"I am a behaviour therapist," I said.

"Oh," was all he said

before he left the table.

The host got up

and followed his friend

out of the room.

He came back and asked

"What did you say to him?"

I told him about

our brief conversation.

"Oh, no!" he said,

"Oh, no!"

His friend

had been

involuntarily

admitted

to a

psychiatric

facility

for

behavioural

conversion

therapy.

It involved

using

shocks

for

punishment

at

any

sign

of

arousal

to

pictures

of

men.

They

put

a

gauge

around

his

penis

and

showed

him

male

images

and

shocked

him

and

shocked

him

and

shocked

him

if his body

responded.

Again

and again

they

burned

his

flesh.

He was left

scarred

body

and

mind

by

people who do

what I do.

That I wouldn't

didn't matter.

All that mattered

was that

someone had.

He left

the party.

The seat

beside

me

stayed

vacant.

I sat

silenced

unit it was time

to go.

That

man

one

day,

when I

ran

into him

at a

parade,

told

me

it

took

years

but

that

pride

had

begun

to

heal

his

wounds.

But,

he told me,

sometimes

when

he

makes

love

to

his

husband,

he

can

smell

the

light

scent

of

the

flesh

on

his

arm

being

burnt

by

one

shock

after

another.

I wouldn't ever

do that.

But it's been

done.

And

ultimately

that's

all that

matters.

Take

warning

those

who

wield

and

misuse

power.

Pride

will,

one day,

bring

you

down.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Late Flight Miracle

We boarded the plane, got in our seats, and watched take off time come and go. Every 10 or 15 minutes there would be an announcement that the flight would take off in 10 or 15 minutes. About an hour and 20 minutes later, they announced that the "small mechanical problem" was fixed and the paperwork just needed to be signed off. Finally, we were in the air.

Joe and I were lucky because we were flying home and Toronto was where we got off. Many, many, other people on the plane weren't so lucky, they were flying through Toronto and needed to make connections. The length of delay meant that there would be tight connections at best and missed at worst.

I never watch television or movies on the plane, I have a book and that's movie enough for me. What I watch is the map that's provided as one of the video options. All it does is show the progress of the flight and give information as to arrival time and altitude and temperature outside but the best thing is watching the little plane slowly make it's way across the screen following a flight path marked out by a green line.

As the plane got closer, the atmosphere on the plane grew tense. Around me people who had been watching movies flipped over to the map as well. We all watched the approach to Toronto and the time passing. Whispered conversations were being held by couples and by parents and children. There was a sigh of relief when the plane touched down.

About five minutes before landing, there was a passenger announcement. We were told the gate we were arriving at and the gates of soon to be departing flights to varying places, all of which were destinations for those who had connecting flights. Pens quickly wrote down the gate numbers and a diversity of Gods began to hear fervent prayers.

As we pulled to the gate, there came another announcement. this one was quite solemn in tone. Everyone picked up on the seriousness in the tone of voice. It asked for those passengers for whom Toronto was their final destination to please stay on the plane for a few minutes and leave the aisles free for those who had connections. It was explained to us that the pilot had made up some of the lost time in flight and that if we gave people the opportunity almost all of the passengers with connections would make their flights.

I could hear in the voice a tiredness. I understood this. I've been on planes before when this request was made and virtually no one complied. People got off in the same way that they always do, as soon as they could. I am used to waiting to get off a plane and I'm always surprised at how quickly it empties. It's not a long wait. It's a small thing to do.

Some passengers were so anxious to get off that they were getting up and getting luggage as we were pulling into the gate. They were told firmly to sit down until the plane stopped moving. Their anxiety was understandable. Seconds before the door opened the appeal was made again, if we were getting off in Toronto, wait just a few minutes for those travelling on.

And people did. I turned to see the aisle full of people running, actually running, down it towards the door and people standing, waiting, some calling out "Good Luck!" to their fellow passengers who  zipped past them. I'd never seen this before. I'd never seen a whole plane, filled to the brim, let those who needed fast exit have fast exit.

Just a moment of time.

Just an exercise of patience.

And a touch of restraint.

Can communicate who we are in powerful ways.

We, collectively, had the opportunity to allow people to move on in their journeys, to make it home to spouses and kids, to make up lost time. We, collectively, could demonstrate the power of valuing another's time and another's needs.And, we did.

It's a small moment but it will be a big memory.

As we always get off last, I saw the Toronto bound passengers faces as they disembarked. Everyone was surprised by everyone else, everyone seemed surprised that this had happened and that they were part of it. We are all now going to be part of everyone else's story.

And it's a good story.

Friday, June 23, 2017

2X 3 Things

Three things:

1) Ignorance is not bliss

2) Ignorance is never an excuse.

3) Ignorance is almost never the problem.

Recently there was an incident in Canada, that I will not link to, where a woman went on a racist rant at a walk in clinic wanting a white doctor who spoke English. Thankfully there were people there that stood up to her, which always gives me hope, but the video of the event and her outburst was everywhere for a while. I was appalled at the time but became even more so when I heard the discussion about her behaviour.

The general consensus was that she was "ignorant." People talked about her as if she was in desperate need of some kind of sensitivity training or diversity training or anger management training.

Because, of course, white people aren't ever racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or ableist, or disphobic, or prejudiced in any way. We are just a little misguided. We just need a glass of juice, a cookie, and a 20 minute class and we're back to being good, well behaved white folk. "Poor dear," we seem to say as we acknowledge that what she did was racist and then we explain that while her behaviour might be considered racist, she certainly isn't, "she's just ignorant and needs some in class time with a teacher and a power point presentation."

I'm tired of ignorance getting the blame for blatant prejudice and bigotry.

Call a bigot a bigot.

Call our prejudice where prejudice exists.

Explaining way someone's behaviour brings into question your own behaviour. Why do you have a need for this to be 'ignorance' and 'poor dear' behaviour?

Remember when teens were coming to the gay area of Toronto and throwing slushies into the faces of people they tagged as members of the lgbtq+ community? The result of all the television discussion was that these teens need training.

No one needs training to know that you don't throw slushies into the face of strangers.

No.

One.

It was blatant prejudice and those teens were wilfully and purposely homophobic.

That woman was wilfully and purposely racist.

Get it.

GET IT?

Accountability begins with naming the problem. It is entirely possible that a woman who yells and complains in a racist manner is simply and maybe even irredeemably racist. It is entirely possible that she believed that everyone else felt like her but was afraid to say it. It is entirely possible that she meant ever racist thing that she said. And if it's possible then that possibility needs to be discussed. We need to own racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia and ableism and disphobia and all the other forms of prejudice, we need to recognize that these exist independently from ignorance or a need for training. That these things are even resistant to cookies and classes.

She was racist therefore she is racist. Isn't that an easy step.

Isn't then the question how do we deal with racism or how do we prevent racism or how do we support her victims? Yes, she had victims. Not one word has been said about the impact of her words on the doctors and nurses who were there, on the people of colour all over the country who watched that video, the kids of the people of colour who asked their parents questions about what happened.

That racist woman hurt people and that's not okay and what needs to happen next? For her, for her victims, what needs to happen next?

Three points:

1) racism is a deeply embedded attitude it is not ignorance

2) bigotry needs to be called out for what it is

3) giving excuses to prejudice reveals even deeper prejudice

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fog Rukkers

Related image
Image description: A coffee hut, made of barn board and a bit of paint sits on the beach in Campbell River with a mixed bunch of tables and chairs.

I spotted Fog Rukkers coffee shop on our first drive through Campbell River on the way to see my father in the hospital. I made a mental note of it wanting to go in for a cup of tea and hopefully to sit at the ocean side of the hut and wonder at the view. But then, we got busy. With family visits and gallons of tea consumed all over town with various branches of the Hingsburger or Jobes families (Joe and I met in high school here so both families are here) we just never got there.

On our last full day in CR I told Joe that I really wanted to make it there if we could. We got in touch with Shannon, our niece and she was more than game to go with us. Was it wheelchair accessible? Didn't know. Were we going to make it wheelchair accessible if it wasn't? If we could, we would. We pulled up and took a good look. With some manoeuvring we got me out and on the bicycle path. The as they parked, I rolled up and onto the front patio. Was there a patio at the back? Yes. There was no way I could go around the hut because it was too rocky. So it had to be through.

The door was too narrow when one was opened, we then unlocked it's partner and swung both open and I was through. The concrete was uneven, it was difficult to push and go in the direction I wanted to go, the wheels and the tilt kept suggesting a different course, but we made it through to the back patio and took a table.

I haven't sat on a beach, anywhere, since becoming a wheelchair user. I gloried in it. We chatted and we laughed and we marvelled at the beauty of the world. It was beyond nice. I felt myself relax. It had been a race out here to see Dad while he was in the hospital, and he was doing so much better and we had had a really good visit and now was time to just let go of the tension.

Driving away I thought to myself that this place and this moment was now going to be my new 'happy place' when I need to take a breath.

Sometimes that's all we need.

A breath.

Of fresh ocean air.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Picture of My House

Just before leaving on this trip, I mentioned to Ruby, who is now 10 years old, that my father was in the hospital. She stopped and looked at me, "Why didn't you tell me?" she asked. I told her that she knew he had been in before and he had to go back. "You should have told me," she said again and then began rushing around looking for paper, for pens, for anything that could put colour on paper. Now this was happening in our new apartment and all there were were boxes upon boxes upon boxes. Soon both Joe and I became distracted with the move and didn't notice Ruby in the kitchen working away.

A half an hour or so later she comes out with a piece of crumpled yellow paper, all she could find, and on it she had drawn a picture of our new home with Joe and I, her mom, her sister and herself out front. She wrote a note to Jerry. This 10 year old was writing a 93 year old and addressing the note as if he's her best friend. She said in the note that Joe and I had just moved and she wanted him to see our new house so that he, Jerry, would know we are all okay. She thought he might be worried.

We carefully packed the paper away to bring to dad in the hospital here in town where we are now. Dad had heard about Ruby and Sadie of course because they are a big part of our lives and we talk about them. Dad has never questioned the fact that the girls are like family to us and has treated them in our lives with the interest that they deserve. So when I told him about Ruby scolding me about not telling her about him being in the hospital and about not having the stuff she needed to make a drawing, then I handed over her drawing.

Ruby's writing at 10, she prefers cursive to printing, is better than mine. He lay in his bed while reading the note, his face brightening at the boldness of her determination that she could call him Jerry as if they were friends. It was a nice moment, he loved the picture and he asked for it to be put up where he could see it. It's there now, a note from a child who never met the man who is my father, a note telling him that he didn't have to worry that we were all okay. A note that said, "though we haven't met, I love you because you are Dave's dad."

Before he asked for it to be put up he said, "She's quite the little girl isn't she?"

And she is.

It only take a moment of thoughtfulness to make someone feel cared for and loved.

Ruby took that moment.

I need to do that more often, I've got papers, I've got pencil crayons, I've got time, though I pretend I don't. I just need a little more of what Ruby's got ... the will to do something for someone else even if it seems there's nothing I can do.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What I'm Doing Today

Guess what I'm doing today?

I'm doing a webinar.

Guess why I'm excited about it?

Glad you asked.

Today I'm part of a webinar about an article which was published in the International Journal for Direct Support Professionals, it was about pride, and about the LGBTQ+ community and about how that intersects with the community of people with intellectual disabilities. I am one of the co-authors of this article. The article itself felt good to write, it's been a long time since I published on the issue, and we live, here, in very different times. When I published the first time, I believe it was the first journal article suggesting that people who were LGBT+ and who had a disability had a right to receive service that was respectful of their sexuality. I lost a lot of work because of that article.

This time we are talking about PRIDE and sexual diversity and, again, the need for people who provide service to be aware of their actions and their attitudes. And because of a partnership with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals and Handsthefamilyhelpnetwork.ca we do monthly webinars on the topics raised in the newsletter.

I am thrilled to be speaking to people who, most probably, have a lot of influence and power in the lives of the people we serve. I hope that what we do today will further the rights of people with intellectual disabilities to be fully human and for their hearts to be fully free. How great is that?

If you want to sign up, it's easy ...

Let's Talk: Speaking OUT: Understanding Sexuality and Diversity in LGBTQ+ Individuals with Developmental Disabilities on Jun 20, 2017 2:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2490233691429208321

Hope some of you drop by.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Silly O'clock AM

We were up early for the flight. It was complicated figuring out how to do get me to the airport, then Joe back to park the car and then on the shuttle back to meet me where I would be waiting. The complication was of course, timing. So we were up at silly o'clock and down in the lobby leaving shortly thereafter. Joe loaded the car as I was pushing over to it.

It was dark.

It was early morning.

There was no one around.

I didn't feel particularly unsafe because it's a hotel parking lot, and we were in disabled parking, near the door. Joe passed me on his way back with the cart and I was pulling up beside the car. It was a slight incline and the pavement was rough so it took a bit of strength to get up to the passenger side door.

Just before I got there, I felt a shadow fall over me, cast by the streetlight a ways away. I knew it wasn't Joe, I turned to see a man approaching me, his hands out as if to grab ...

... now in other circumstances I would have immediately thought that he was going to grab the handles on the back of the chair to "assist me" but it was early, it was dark, it was deserted.

I panicked.

I didn't scream but I startled away from him, throwing myself hard and wrenching my back in the process. He saw me do this and then realized what was going on in my head and he said, "I was just going to help you." He seemed angry now and paused. I just stared at him. He turned and stomped away.

He scared me.

Really scared me.

He reminded me of how vulnerable I am.

Yes it was early and dark and deserted but I have a right to feel safe when it's early and it's dark and it's deserted. He had no right to intrude upon me in any way. I was pushing myself. I was alone. It was clear that if I'd needed help I would have had it with me.

Joe came back and saw the fellow walking angrily away from the car.

"Oh, no," he said.

"Indeed," I said.

It took me until we landed to tell him what had happened. I'd been sorely shaken and I was left physically sore from the encounter.

Mr. "Just trying to help" acted as if I'd hurt his feelings, he'll never know the damage he did to me and I suspect he wouldn't get it.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dads Plain and Simple

Getting ready right now to head to the airport for a quick flight to B.C. for a visit with family. Will see my Dad for the first time, on Father's Day since I left home at 16. Should have written a blog last night but was busy with so many things associated with moving and travelling, mostly packing and unpacking.

So, just a quick Happy Father's Day.

You will note that I'm not going to separate out Father's of kids with disabilities for a 'very special' Father's Day. Loving your kid doesn't make you special, being loved by them does. Any kid. Any where. Any dad. That's the way it works.

There is no hyphenated parenting.

Special needs Dads, I heard that yesterday and thought, what on earth might a man need in relationship to his child that makes him special? I hate the term 'special needs.'

Adoptive Dads, so why is that information necessary, what makes it matter and if it does, take Dad out of the title.

Substitute Dads, what even is that?

So happy (no hyphen) Father's Day.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Sheep in Sheep's Clothing

Photo will be described in the body of the text of this post.
Sadie proudly pulled out of her school bag the gifts she had made for her dad on Father's Day. There were a lot of them. She quietly sorted them out so that she could display them properly. I got a chance to see the gifts and, as always, I was quite moved by them. She put so much effort into hers. At the end, she looked at one last gift, sitting on the side table where she'd sorted them all out. After some thought she brought it over. It was a picture of a sheep. A one eyed sheep. It had the words Jesus Love's Us Always and Jesus is always in our hearts. She explained to me that when she made it, she had glued on two eyes.

She became a little upset when this happened, she said, and almost threw the artwork out. I asked her why she didn't. I know Sadie and she is very serious about her work and wants it to be just right. I was curious as to her reasoning.

"Well," she explained, "It's okay for a sheep to have one eye. It's still a sheep. It would be fair to throw a sheep away or hurt a sheep just because it had only one eye, would it?" I agreed that it wouldn't.

I asked her if Jesus would love a sheep just with one eye, or would the sheep have to have two eyes to be loved.

That I was told, was a silly question.

And she refused to answer it.

Because it was silly.

It should be a silly question shouldn't it? The answer is obvious to a seven year old girl. We are loved, perfect or not, and we are worthy of being kept and loved. We should expect kindness, different or not, and we are worthy enough to be seen has a gift. We should not be thrown away, two eyes or one, and we are worthy of welcome and belonging.

People will say, I know, that children can be wise, and of course they are. But worries me that is that the wisdom of children is seen as more cute than wise. What worries me is that we listen and smile at the words rather than being moved into action by the words.

Sadie's view of the value of everyone is a direct challenge to all of us, who find her words wise, to demonstrate that every day.

Every. Day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

In

We've moved.

Joe has spent the day with the movers. I've spent the day at the office. I'd get in the way, not because I have a disability but because I get stressed in these situations and that can make me difficult to be around. Joe wasn't at all disappointed that I decided to come to work.

He's on his way down to pick me up.

It's taken much longer than they anticipated or gave us an estimate for. I can feel the dollars falling out of our wallets. We'll face that bill when we get it.

All day I've been calling to check in. Because distance and distraction isn't enough of a barrier to stop me from being an annoyance to the process.

So I'll get to a place with movers still piling in stuff.

Boxes will be strewn everywhere.

But, I'll roll in to my new home.

It was weird leaving our old place. I was terrified that I might fall in the bathroom just one last time and relieved that I didn't.

I rolled down the hallway realizing that the past was now behind me and the future now before me.

Our life in a new place began, for me, the first time I realized today that I was going to be going north, not south, to get home.

Different roads.

I will sleep with my head to the south instead of my head to the west. I wonder if that will matter.

Accessibility waits for me.

I'm excited but I'm scared, we were so happy where we were.

This is why moving is so unsettling, I know how the past worked out, I don't know the future will.

I was told today that this is the stuff that keeps you young.

I'd prefer potion in a jar.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What I'm Proud Of ...

"I respect your work regarding disability as many do, but I find when you post about your sexuality that I am quite uncomfortable. I'm not homophobic but it seems out of place on your Facebook page or on your Blog both of which deal mostly with issues affecting people with disabilities or, like myself, parents of someone with a disability. What I don't understand is why there is a need for the public display of pride in one's sexuality. You often write about boundaries, aren't you contradicting yourself when it comes to pride? By the way have you noticed that your posts regarding you being homosexual get fewer comments and shares than your posts regarding disabilities, I think that might tell you that many feel the way I do."

Nice way to kick start the morning.

Yes, I have noticed a distinct difference in response to posts about my life as a gay man and posts regarding my life as a disabled man or as a disability professional. So what? I'm not sure it means what is being stated here. Both my blog Of Battered Aspect and my Facebook page have specifically courted readers from the disability community and of course posts about other issues would get less of a response. So, no biggie and, more importantly, no message.

Why Pride?

I get this question a lot about gay pride and disability pride. Why? What does it achieve? Well, I'm going to write about Gay Pride here and I think you'll easily be able to extrapolate to disability pride as well.

Pride isn't about my sex life. Don't you get that?? My desire to love and have sex with another of my gender is the source of my oppression, surviving that oppression is the source of my pride.

Let me tell you, surviving is exactly the right word because many don't. Many kids are thrown out of their homes by parents whose promise of unconditional love vanishes upon learning their child loves in ways not approved by faith or by tradition or by deeply held prejudice. Many teens commit suicide because they can't endure another day of bullying, another day of hiding, another day of lying. There are no words to describe what happens, inside when, as a teen I heard the words you used, about me, in my presence. The fact that you didn't know I was gay mattered not, what mattered was it showed me who you were and how you felt. I internalized those words, 'fag,' 'pansy,' 'sissy,' 'gearbox' 'queer' 'fairy' and when you weren't there to call me names, I was. I learned from you how to throw these rocks at myself. Whenever I saw a man that I was attracted to I hurt myself. Inside I was bloodied by the words you taught me to call myself. The postmaster of my town was gay. They tortured him. His house was routinely vandalized. He was spoken to with contempt while he simply was carrying out the functions of his job. The fact that he went on, quietly living his life, was one of the few things that gave me hope. His pride never wavered, but mine did. I attempted suicide when I was 15 and fell in love a year later with the man I still love now.

I survived.

I survived the messages of disapproval of my nature.

I survived the messages of condemnation for how my heart worked. (Rather than celebration for the fact it worked at all.)

I survived you, and those like the woman who wrote me the letter.

I survived and I want to dance in the street to flaunt the fact that, though you tried, your hate didn't kill me.

I am not proud of the fact that I love a man named Joe. Why would I be proud of that? He's probably the easiest person I know to love. He's just naturally a good guy. I also am not proud that Joe loves me. This would mean that I believed that Joe's love of me is extraordinary because I'm disabled and I'm not traditionally considered attractive. But you know what, that doesn't matter, what matters is that I think there are things about me that are lovable. So, my pride isn't about that. My pride is that our love and our relationship survived.

Let me tell you surviving is exactly the right word because many relationships and many loves didn't. Yep, your oppression killed love. your oppression took away from a world that desperately needs more hearts to be filled to the brim with adoration for another. When a heart is full of love, there is no room left for hate. Joe and I got together in Grade 12 and back then no one could know. The secret was so deep that we couldn't even effectively talk about who were were and how we felt to each other let alone anyone else. We pretended friendship. We pretended not to care. We pretended that our hearts beat to straight time. And it nearly tore us apart. Over and over and over again we endured losses. Friends, discovering and friends leaving. Family discovering and family leaving. Landlords guessing and apartments denied. So much betrayal. So many lies. But, we endured. We're celebrating our 48th anniversary on the 29th of this month.

We survived.

We survived a life lived in the shadows of your discomfort and your disapproval.

We survived the constant insistence that gay men couldn't form relationships, that we were too promiscuous to form a home with another.

We survived, those of you who still see our relationship as worth less than your own.

We survived.

And if we want to hold hands as we parade down the street, and if we want to have a little kiss in full view of you and those like you, who could blame us?

But I am proud of my sexuality. I am proud of the community that formed around sexuality and gender and the multiple and intersection ways that these interact with each other and with the other identities we carry in our lives. I understand that my disability sometimes feels unwelcome in parts of the LGBT+ community. I understand that though we are all different and that we have the experience of difference we haven't conquered the baggage that comes with that. Understanding our own difference does not mean that we are more likely to understand the difference of another.

Racism, and sexism and homophobia and transphobia and ableism and disphobia exist in my community. But even with deep divisions and even with distrust and even with hurt, we move forward to change the world. We move forward towards a day when kids who are different don't die early deaths, stabbed in the heart with the ice pick of prejudice. We move forward towards a day when people can walk safely down the street and that we can predict with some surety that when we leave our homes, we will come back to them. We move forward to a time when being able to go for a pee doesn't require meetings and policies and, for heaven's sake, training. We move forward.

I am proud of what my sexuality has brought me. I am proud of the gifts that lay hidden under layers of hatred, and I'm proud of those who struggled in the years before I was born and the years before I came to the realization of difference for hiding amongst the rubble the message that I am part of the history of a people who have a tradition of surviving and a history of loving anyway.

We are community and we have survived repression.

We are a community always under attack.

We are a community where young gay men are thrown off rooftops and young transexual people of colour are murdered in the street.

We are a community that survives and continues on and loves anyway.

This is cause to dance down the street. This is cause to flaunt our bodies, our loves, our selves in any way we want. When you could no longer put is in actual cages, you attempted to put us in emotional cages and we broke out.

We are free.

We survived.

And we love anyway.

So we dance, prance and roll down the street and make our visibility our statement.

And for the record, I don't care how many people 'like' this post. I don't care how often it's shared. Why? Because that's what you think matters. What I think matters is that this post exists because I survived and I am loved and I am freaking proud of who I am.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sitting Outside as Rebellion

I was sitting outside. The weather had just crossed from warm to hot. I was waiting for Joe to bring the car. I wasn't doing anything more that watching people go by and soaking in the heat. I was loving it, remember we Canadians can wait a long time for summer. A man was coming my way, I saw 'the look.'

I wonder if other disabled people notice it as well. It's a look that says, "I'm going to intrude into your life, even knowing I am a stranger to you, because you need me.: At lease when I see it I can prepare for what's coming.He got close to me, not weirdly close, just conversation close and he, this man a year or two older than me, "You need to go in to where there is air conditioning. It's too hot to sit where you are." I told him that I was good where I was, he said,"Well at least move into the shade." I told him that I was enjoying the sun. He actually threw his hands up in frustration as if he'd just spoken to a disrespectful child who wouldn't do what he was told.

I'm 64 and, I have no illusions about this, I look 64. Yet people still feel compelled to parent me. People still feel it's their right and their role and their responsibility to act as parent towards me as if I've never actually grown up.

While I'm used to it, it bothers me every time. I think it's because, in that situation I often forget the dynamics, intrusive stranger/me, and retreat to parental concern/me. I explain what I want, I hold my ground but I forget they have no right to tell me where I can and cannot sit on any particular day.

This innate need to parent the disabled that some people have, I wonder if it sometimes creeps into care. I wonder if staff start seeing those they support as those they parent. Yikes. That's a mistake.

I wonder if parents of kids with disabilities are able to transition to parents of adults with disabilities.

I know you know that I have the assertion skills to deal with these instances which many with intellectual disabilities don't. But do you know how it chips away, slowly over time, at my sense of self as a fully adult man? Maybe because the damage can't be seen, like if he'd punched me with his fist. But he did punch me, with his assumptions and stereotypes, and though I never bruised physically doesn't mean no damage was done.

Prejudice and assumption hurts, when done by a stranger.

Imagine how it feels when done by someone who says they love you or someone who says that their job is to support you.

Just.

Imagine.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

WFPD

I'd known her since she was a teen. She'd been referred for her 'rebellious nature.' Well no behaviour program in the world can ethically try to eliminate someone's nature. And when 'rebellion' is an appropriate developmental step, eliminating it simply stunts growth. I'd had all these thoughts in my mind when I want for my first meeting with mom. It took a lot of listening to a very frustrated mother. Her child was disobedient and moody, she was bucking authority and talking back. She missed her daughter the smiling happy child that loved her and listened to her. That child, a kid with Down Syndrome, had hit her teens and thrown every 'forever happy' stereotype, that's tucked behind that extra gene, in the garbage.

After she vented, I took a risk, I said, "I'm afraid your child's primary diagnosis is no longer Down Syndrome, she is now, and I'm sorry to say this, a teenager." She laughed and after a moment said, "Yeah this is what all my friends with teenagers are talking about, I just didn't expect," and here she stopped herself, "that my daughter would get there too." It was a moment of realization. So I did come, and we worked on coping strategies and teaching her daughter skills that teens need in order to be safe.

I tell you this because I ran into teen turned young woman a few days ago. She had bright pink hair and a nose ring. I almost didn't recognize her but when she stopped to look at me, recognizing me without remembering me, it all came flooding back. I called her name and said mine and she walked over laughing. She asked me why I was in a wheelchair now and then I told her that I loved her hair, it could not be more pink, it was the pinnacle of pink. She said, and I'm quoting here, "Yeah, fucking awesome isn't it?"

I was taken aback. Now before going further here's full disclosure, I am not surprised or startled when the f-bomb is dropped into a conversation. It is so frequent in conversation that it's punch has lost a bit of strength. But I was taken aback because I don't often hear people with intellectual disabilities, who aren't 'having behaviours' as people like to say, just use it calmly as part of a conversation.

She watched my reaction, smiling, then she said, "I'm an adult, I get to pick my words."

I agreed that she was.

Afterwards I thought that what she had said was interesting. "I get to pick my words." It's a statement of some power and complete autonomy. That's what free people do.

Yes.

That's it.

That's what free people do.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Can't

It struck me immediately.

I was cleaning the sink and cabinet in the bathroom. An ordinary task, but I was enjoying it. The area needed cleaning and it was one of those times when you can see, immediately, the effect of your work. Suddenly it hit me. I haven't done something like this for 10 years. Earlier I had put stuff in the freezer in the kitchen. I hadn't done that for 10 years either. It felt amazing.

We were, of course, in the new accessible apartment and getting it ready for the move this week. I had been hesitant to go up with Joe on Sunday because, what could I do? In our present apartment I can't get into the kitchen, save for a small corner of the counter. I can't get my wheelchair into the bathroom so I have to stand at the door, and wall walk carefully, in. No sink cleaning possible there.

It was a clear demonstration to me about how ability is sometimes determined by the environment. My apartment now makes it impossible for me to do simple tasks. Now the word 'can't' enters into the vocabulary, and since people's attention span can be quite short when talking about barriers to accessibility, it slowly stops being a 'can't' with an explanation and just becomes 'can't'. I at least had had the experience, before disability, of doing these things and therefore knew I could. Others, not so lucky may think 'can't' means 'can't' no explanation sought.

I then wondered about what happens when the barriers aren't physical. What about when people and their attitudes, are the barrier? What about people with intellectual disabilities who 'can't' cook a mean because they aren't allowed the experience, do they know that their 'can't' is a qualified one? What about disabled people who are placed in transfer chairs for the convenience of staff? I once heard a staff with a person in a transfer chair respond to the question why the woman in the chair wasn't in a manual chair. The answer? "We don't want her wandering off, she has a tendency to want to roll around and visit people, we could never find her." Judging by the look of defeat on the elderly woman's face, it seemed that she had come to think that she just 'can't' do it any more.

Now I'm no pie in the sky, 'everyone can do it' kind of person. Hell no! I don't like the 'if I can do it you can do it,' kind of presentation that is so tediously common. Phrases like ''Can't isn't a word in my vocabulary.' Well, it's in mine. There are things I can't do, of course there are, I'm good with that (though sometimes it may really frustrate me).

But 'can't' isn't always 'can't'.

Is it?


Sunday, June 11, 2017

We Always Are

We were waiting behind a young mom with two children. The elevator was slow and poorly placed for waiting. Not a lot of people can fit in that area. Besides Joe, Ruby and I, there was a mother, a pram and a walking toddler. When the elevator came she indicated that we could go ahead, we all insisted that she had been there first. She went in with thanks. Yes, she was a woman of colour, but that wasn't relevant to the story. In fact, there is, as of yet, no story. People being kind to people isn't made more dramatically better because the races of the people in the story are different.

Then, the man standing near the window started talking to us, white to white, about how rude a culture she, and those like her, come from. Now, she had offered for us to go first, she had been perfectly pleasant, but he focused on the fact that, get this, the next person in line got on next. I despised that he thought to bring us in to that kind of causal and intentional racism. Ruby was looking at him and then us, it was like she knew that something would happen.

I took a breath, to calm down and to steady my voice, and said, "I don't think that's true, I find rude people in every culture, true, but mostly I meet wonderful and friendly people everywhere." He looked up, startled that his racist assumption had been disagreed with. He started mumbling about her 'culture of rudeness' and I then asked him to stop. Joe and I can deal with his bigotry but we don't want Ruby hearing it. The world needs to be a safe place to grow up with an inclusive soul. It isn't, so that's our job to make it so.

We got on the elevator and talked about what the man had said. We talked about how it was wrong and how, when it is safe to, it's important to speak up and say that you don't think that way.

Being disabled has taught me that the enemy has many names, homophobia, sexism, racism, transphobia, ableism, but they spring from the same foul water - bigotry. And if we're gonna win, we need to speak up even when we are not the target. Because, you realize, we, in the most inclusive sense of we, always are.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Much, Much, More

She was little

She saw me and smiled

She pointed to me

Her little finger traced a circle in the air

Eyes seeing the wheel of my chair

Now she stops.

And looks

Really looks at me

At my chair

She is in the smallest

and tiniest

wheelchair I have ever seen

It is pink

She pulls at her mother's dress

Mother is busy at the check out

and brushes her hand away

I slow down

I see her seeing me

I see her fascination

Someone who rolls

Like she rolls

Mother turns as I go by

Tiny hands reach towards me

Wanting me to stop

She's not done

Seeing me

Mother apologizes 

Pulls her chair back

She can't reach me any more

I say that its okay

That it's nice to meet 

Such a lovely

Member of my community

What community is that? I am asked

The disability community, I answer

There is no such thing

Mother says

She is not her disability

She is much, much more

I say

Because I must

She has a disability 

And her community

Will help make her

Much, much, more

Friday, June 09, 2017

TRAINING?????

Can we talk about training?

A class, no matter how well done the PowerPoint, no matter how the rules of adult education are followed, no matter how many role plays or how many good evaluations you get, is not the appropriate solution to every human problem. We've come to a point in our society where 'training' is the automatic knee jerk solution whenever someone, in a position of power, mistreats someone in a position of vulnerability. It's like we truly want to believe that those in a position of trust are people imbued with a kind of special compassion and deep concern for others and therefore would never, ever have to deal with their own racism, sexism, homophobia or ableism. And because of that, when they do, we believe that these people simply need a few hours in a classroom, a few verses of Kumbaya, and some time in a sharing circle, and they are back to being shining examples of, in this case, Toronto's finest.

Let me clarify two things:

Of course I believe that the police, along with others of societies helpers, need training to deal with people in various minority groups. Of course. In their job of policing, for example, if they come upon a person with an intellectual disability who has been a victim of, or someone who has engaged in, crime they need to know what to do. They need to learn about plain language, and they need to know even how to introduce themselves to the person, at that point in crisis. I have trained police officers in several jurisdictions about responding to people with disabilities who have been victimized. Yes, I get it, there are specific skills that are needed for policing people with intellectual disabilities or people with mental health issues. Of course.

But, let me also clarify, that's not what we're talking about here. For those who didn't read yesterdays blog, we are talking about an incident when two police officers were speaking disrespectfully, from an place of ableist prejudice, about a woman with Down Syndrome. Referring to her as half a person and as disfigured, let's not go through the entire list. This isn't what I was speaking about when I was speaking about training. This isn't a 'policing situation of high stress dealing with either a victim or criminal with an intellectual disability'. This simply isn't that. This is police officers, thinking they couldn't be heard belittling another human being.

Almost every person I've spoken at any length about this incident has suggested that the officers, and it's usually said like this 'just need some training.'

TRAINING?

Let's look at what they did, in a situation where there were no calls for specific skills in dealing with someone with a disability, skills that could be learned in training. They spoke of her in disparaging ways and thought it was funny. I do a lot of staff training, in supporting people with disabilities with problematic behaviours, or with people who need to develop self esteem, or with people who have a right to be sexual. All these topics are those which staff require extra skill. I have never been asked to do a training for people with disabilities on how not to belittle and disparage those in your care.

There is a danger in believing that training is necessary for civil and civilized behaviour to be given to someone in a minority group.

The message is that these people are so exceptionally different, so far from our understanding of what is human, that it's understandable that you would treat them with disrespect and speak of them in hurtful and harmful ways. The belief that speaking of someone as half human comes from a place of ignorance rather than prejudice, is really, really, dangerous.

"Why did you call her 'half a human'?

 "Well, I haven't yet been trained."

"Oh, of course, well lets set that up shall we?"

I am a disabled, fat, gay man, I am different on many levels, I don't believe that clerks, who deal with me, need training to see me as human and therefore treat me with civility. I don't believe I AM THE PROBLEM that is solved by YOUR EDUCATION.

Children of 3 know that name calling is wrong. That's what happened here - not policing gone wrong.

What does the curriculum look like?

1) They are human.

Okay, sign here.

So we are speaking of two officers who spoke about a person with a disability using words parented by disgust and prejudice, and even referenced that they had now a code word for all disabled people they would work with thereafter. Even they saw this as an act in the present and an act that would happen in the future to others. This was, in my ears as a disabled person, a clear indication of how they would respond to any disabled citizen that crossed their path. This. Is. Bigotry.

So what needs to be done?

Consequences.

There needs to be consequences.

Consequences that show the disabled community that this kind of bigoted behaviour evidenced towards us is not acceptable and IS TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

It's not fixed by a chat between the Chief and the woman who had been targeted, though that was necessary. When the police do not make a public statement apologizing for and speaking out against ableist language, when they don't give an indication that they know what that is, we start to feel a uncomfortable and even fearful. When we don't see consequences for the officers who on a calm evening, in a situation where no extra skill was necessary, chose to mock and purposely use language intended to hurt, language that arises from a bigoted heart, we worry that we are next.

What do we need?

Apology.

Consequences.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

An Open Question For The Chief

A few days ago news broke in the city of Toronto about two police officers, having stopped a car which contained three people, two of those were mother and daughter. The daughter had Down Syndrome. The police were caught on their own devises speaking of the woman with Down Syndrome as 'disfigured,' a 'half person' and they decided a code word for people like her would be 'artistic.' They thought this very funny.

I've been asked many times about my reaction to this after it was reported. I need to say that I'm surprised if anyone is surprised. Negative language about disabled people is rampant. Name-calling and belittling is a fairly common experience. I was more surprised at the 'outrage' expressed by everyone. Why? Because I find that this behaviour, if we are referring specifically about the language they used, isn't a 'police issue,' bigotry towards people with disabilities is pandemic in its scope. I experience it on a near daily basis, so do others that I know.

In small bucolic towns, nestled in rural countrysides, I have done bullying and teasing workshops for people with intellectual disabilities. In those workshops they speak of the kinds of social violence that they experience: staring; name calling; pointing, laughing, shoving, theft, threats. Their experience of daily brutality has been disbelieved every time I report it, with the group's permission, to the organizers of the event. Every. Time. "Not here," and "not us."

My first reaction was not surprise.

My second reaction was to the apology given by the chief of police. He did not apologize to the disability community. He went and spent two hours sitting with the woman who was the target of the venom and her family. He apologized there. And well he should have. Afterwards he would allow no pictures of the event, he said because he didn't want this to be a photo-op, I wonder if he just didn't want an official record of him having to humble himself to apologize to a woman with Down Syndrome.

What was missing?

Where is the apology to people with intellectual disabilities? Where is the apology to all people with disabilities in the city of Toronto? Where is the full and public denouncement of this behaviour? This happened primarily, I understand, to the woman at the centre of this. But to think that it didn't also happen to every person with a disability, intellectual or otherwise, that it didn't happen to every family member or every caregiver of a person with a disability is insulting.

The police and people with disabilities also have a rocky history. We have also a need to develop dialogue and trust with an organization that says it's here to protect and serve ... yet we know that all organizations that set out to protect and serve people with disabilities will, unless the agency intentionally works to stop it, inevitably foster abuse and disrespect.

I see no intention here. I hear no words of apology. I hear nothing. It's as people with a disability as a community is yet to be recognized and respected. It's as if we don't matter when it comes to public discourse or public apology.

Well, we do exist.

And we were hurt.

All of us who face this as a daily basis and all of us who want to believe that the police would take crimes against us seriously, we were hurt. We were made to feel more alone. We were made to feel that those charged to protect and serve are those we have to fear and avoid.

I teach abuse prevention training and responding to bullying training for people with disabilities. In those I have always taught people to seek out the police if they are fearful of danger or if they want to report abuse.

Should I continue?

Is that a safe thing to do?

This is the question I ask the Toronto's Chief of Police.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Scott and the Explanation

I was sitting next to Scott, a fellow wheelchair user who I know lives in an accessible apartment, and talking about our move to Newmarket. I was explaining to him about having been on the wait list here in Toronto for 10 years for an accessible one to become available and how we decided to take the one in Newmarket because it was becoming increasingly dangerous for me, and for Joe, in the apartment here. I fell a couple days ago in the bathroom and though that time I wasn't hurt badly, who knows about next time.

Then I was describing the kitchen, and the accessible feature, and the bathroom, and the accessible features, and the hallways and the doors and the flat entrance, and the ramp down to the ground in the back yard. All the while Scot is looking at me with a bemused look on his face. I suddenly realized why. He's a wheelchair user, he KNOWS what an accessible apartment looks like and the adaptions made. I stopped and started to laugh. He joined in.

I'm so used to explaining to people what an accessible apartment is that it has become habit. Most people really have no idea that accessibility includes the kitchen and the bathroom, and the hallways and the doorways. Most people have no idea that inaccessibility isn't just about 'getting in' but about 'what you can do' once you are in. There are lots of stores I can get into but because of displays and furniture placement, I can't actually shop inside.

So, poor Scott, he had to listen to what he already knew. But though he teased me about explaining accessibility to him, it was nice to be able to talk to someone who knew it, who got it, and who understood why it was important. No explanation necessary.

Being there talking to him was like being able to relax and take a breath. No explanations necessary. Either about the accessible apartment. Or about the wait lists for them. Or about what moving means. Because of that, we changed the subject and started talking about a couple of the cute guys nearby.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Drip, Drip, Drip

She was mean. She went on a racist rant. She represented the worst of Canadian society, a side that we don't like to show to the world. Yes, racists and bigots live here too. We aren't all the warm, wonderful, welcoming types that is the stereotype. We love this image. In fact for our 150th birthday a Canadian company has a line of products that have the word 'nice' followed by a little maple leaf. Yeah, watch this video, we aren't so nice. You will note I'm not linking to the video. I do this on purpose. I don't want to promote hatred, even promotion through curiosity, and therefore will not spread it.

Here's the thing about this woman that leads to this post being written. She was on a scooter, she's a woman with a disability. Now this is a fact about her. It has nothing to do with her behaviour. Even so, I know that, you know that, others stubbornly refuse to learn that fact. So in the comment section her disability came up a fair few times. I'm pleased to say it wasn't the theme of the comments but it did appear.

What was interesting to me was how those making the comments responded to the incident. There were three ways that appeared most frequently. I'd like to look at each of them:

1) "She's disabled, she should know better." This is a hard one for me because in my heart, if not my mind, I so agree with this. If you have experienced prejudice how can you practice prejudice? But, let's think about that assumption. If a child went to school and the teacher, prejudice, had 'the experience of bigotry' on every lesson plan, what do you think the learning outcome would be? For me, 'compassion for others' isn't my immediate response. We place a burden on those who experience prejudice because of difference or disability. We expect them to use psychological alchemy to turn hurt into gold. People who experience the constant drip, drip, drip, of prejudice have enough to deal with in just coping. To demand that they be better people because of it is a bit rich. Yeah, she should know better, but so should every other person on the plant. Children at the age of three know that name calling and rude behaviour is wrong. It's a lesson learned young that doesn't stick through to adulthood.

2) "At least those women (the people she was being racist towards) are working. They are paying to feed her and her fat ass." The assumption here is that all people with disabilities are on benefits and that people with disabilities are never taxpayers. The assumption, too, is that contribution to society is ONLY done through work and the paying of taxes. What's odd here is that these comment makers are decrying prejudice while practicing prejudice. They are showing what they think of disabled people. They are showing the assumptions made of heavier people. This kind of commentary frightens me. It shows that the idea that we are 'use-less eaters' as that noted model of disability compassion, Hitler remarked, is still around. I know that they say, whoever 'they' are, that as soon as you evoke Hitler, you've lost the argument. Please understand that I'm not suggesting, in any way, that those who made these comments have anything to do with Nazism, I'm suggesting that that hateful idea about disability is dangerous and it's been used before by tyrants to justify our deaths.

3) "That poor woman with a disability must be lashing out because of the deep hurt from not being able to walk." I looked away from my computer screen and keyboard to ensure that, if I projectile vomited I wouldn't muck up the electronics. I hate this so much. Life with a disability is such a drudgery, such a meaningless wander, such a dreadful pain ... oh, stop it. Yes disability isn't the easiest journey. When you are denied access, when you are assumed helpless, when you experience the daily drip, drip, drip of prejudice, it's not fun. But the state of being disabled isn't for me, and isn't for a number of people, a thing that we would wish away. We are who we are made, we are who we become, we simply are. I know that's not where everyone is, I understand that. But this assumption is that we are all people who bear the daily pain of wheeling rather than walking and it hurts us to the core. I call BS!

One final thing I'd like to say. I always find it odd that when an article appears about someone bullying another person, or someone acting in an overtly racist manner, the comments are all in support of the victim, and they all decry bullying, and then they set out to attack, in every means possible, the perpetrator, even if that means becoming ableist, or racist, or sexist, or homophobic. Odd. And that I don't understand.

Monday, June 05, 2017

The Wrong Bear

When you are different, and constantly treated as such, you need a fair bit of tolerance in order to live a life where you aren't shouting constantly at people. I don't shout at people often, I confront people from time to time, but I usually don't shout. I don't know why when shopping on Saturday, I lost it on a guy. I'd been having a nice day, enjoying being out, and I was in a really good mood. But, he pushed my button, hard and I just blew up.

I was waiting in line, directly behind him. I already figured he was a bit of a jerk because he was treating the woman behind the counter with disrespect and in the patronizing way he spoke to her. She was a woman with English as a second language and she was working hard to understand what he needed and to serve him properly. When the deal was done, she moved to the cash register. He decided he wanted to follow her and, oops, there I was. I was reaching down to pull myself back and out of his way, when he said to the clerk, "It's in my way." Now I believe he was saying 'it' about my wheelchair and not about me, but I don't know that for sure.

Well, I had at it. I told him that he had not right to speak to me that way and that I had every bit of right to the space I was in. I told him that just because I had a disability didn't mean that I was a piece of furniture that needed to be shoved out of the way. I told him that I resented both his disrespect and his obvious prejudice against me. "It's called ableism, you know," I said.

During my loud tirade against this man's treatment, I had noticed a woman with a disability crossing the other side of the kiosk that I was at. She rolled around and came to a stop, where I was confronting him. I was nearly done, but she waiting, as if in line, where she was.

When I came to a stop, he who had been, 'sorry, sorry, sorry,' throughout what I was saying. Sorry's that are used to silence are the weapon of those who don't want to listen. I had talked over them. He said, when I'd stopped, "I should have said 'Excuse me," and he smiled trying to show that he was just a good guy who'd made a mistake. I said, "Yeah, but you didn't did you. You knew how to handle this with people you think are your equal, but you didn't. What does that tell me?"

The clerk was back with his change and he took a powder, he was gone. I looked over to the woman with a disability and asked, "Am I in you way here?" She said, "No," and rolled on.

I don't know what she saw. I don't know how she saw this interaction. Did she see me as a jerk causing a scene? Did she see me as someone fighting against the presumption that disabled people are 'less than.' Remember she hadn't seen it start, hadn't heard what was said. I don't know.

I joined Joe after I'd made my purchase and said, "Sorry, you have to wait through so many of those." He said that the guy had treated me so disrespectfully that he had thought to himself, "That guy does not know who he's talking to." I laughed. "I guess he poked the wrong bear."

And indeed, he had.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

What I'm Going to Pack

When we first moved here 10 years ago, it was summer like it is now. We found an outdoor patio, with only two or three tables, where we could sit and have tea and watch crowds of people go by. It was a unique little place and we felt, then when we discovered it, that this would be a place that we'd come often. We saw ourselves sitting in the sun, drinking out tea, mine hot, Joe's iced, and chatting. As we moved in, we went there often, we loved it every time. The sun, the tea, the ever changing scenery, and of course the company we kept with each other made it a special place that we knew we would enjoy often.

Then, we were moved in. Those tea breaks became rarer.

Then, the busyness of life took hold of us. They ended almost entirely.

What with work and with travel and with all the things that needed doing, there just wasn't time to get over there. There wasn't time to stop, breathe, talk and ponder together. Every weekend there was stuff to get done. Time flowed by.

Yesterday was a rare one. It was warm and sunny. We set out, purposely to go over there, grab a table if there was one and have our teas. We had a stop to make on the way and just as we got there I noticed that the power meter on my scooter was down bar.We did what we needed to do and headed back home. I kept my eye on the meter and saw it flick between one and two bars. I told Joe that I really wanted to go and that we should give it a try.

On the way there, close enough that we could see an empty table, the scooter died. No panic, we've been here before. I shut it off, waited about 5 minutes, and turned it back on. The scooter, after taking a breath, had found a bit more power. We got home and were waiting for the elevator. I told Joe how disappointed I was, it was a lovely day, I wanted tea, and I wanted to sit on the patio. Then, "Joe is there a plug on the wall anywhere in the lobby?" There was.

Joe went up and got the charger. He came back down and plugged the scooter in. We talked and decided that Joe would run across the street to get some stuff we needed for dinner and then after taking back to the apartment, we'd head out. I knew it was only about a 10 minute charge, but it wasn't far to go.

We got there, got a table and I saw that there were two bars left. I had the power to get home. Joe grabbed the tea, we sat and chatted and pondered. I remembered back to when we moved in, and how we took breaks here, and how much I felt like this was our place, that this was something we'd do. But. We didn't. We were both caught up in a life where there was only time to be busy.

Now we are moving out. Again we were back there having tea. Again we were really enjoying ourselves. Again we were wondering why we never made time for this. Why did we let ourselves get so busy that there wasn't time for taking time? I don't know.

We've already planned, actually planned, to go there again tomorrow. We'll sit and talk about the move and our new life in our new place. We'll talk about what's going on with the move but more importantly we'll talk about what's going on in our lives.

Maybe, and I hope this is true, we'll wonder why it's so easy to be drawn away from quiet time together, out of our house, out of our routine, to just talk.

Our lives are often stressful.

Isn't that a universal experience of being an adult?

Moments like these push the stress aside.

I want more of these.

I look forward to being done with the move. I intend on packing the realization that intentional pauses in the day, intentional time taken for each other, intentional moments to reflect together matter.

I know I'll pack that, in with all our other stuff.

What I'm worried about, is remembering to unpack it when we get there.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Shift

I thought my life was busy before!

We are moving in 13 days. There is so much to be done, we have too much stuff that we only become aware we have when we are moving. We spend more time making lists than either of us are used to. We have pages and pages and pages of lists. This morning we got up really early so that Joe could drop me off on the way to work and make it up to meet the painters in plenty of time.

Yep, we have painters and we have movers. We are 64 year old men, both with disabilities, both who know exactly what we can and cannot do. Younger people can do what we can't, why not let them? So what's left is the packing, the organizing, the changing of everything. Addresses, cable and Internet, mail, driver's licenses - yikes.

Part of our task, is to slowly separate ourselves from living where we love to live. That was made a bit easier when I took a pretty serious fall in the bathroom. My shoulders and side still hurt a lot. It was instantly clear why we needed to uproot ourselves and get into an accessible space. But, then, even with that, we are having spasms of anxiety about life now and life after and how we will adapt.
It's normal I suppose.

I told Joe that one of the things that I think about is the fact that we have an accessible back porch/deck and there is a ramp down to the grass in the back yard. I picture that ramp. That ramp says something to me: "You are welcome here. We planned for you. We intended for you to be here."

Architecture can speak, did you know that?

It can forbid entrance.

It can welcome in.

It's time to feel welcome in our own home.