Monday, February 22, 2010

Determining Borders



I lay claim to ...

MY ANGER: I have a right to anger. I have a right to indignation. As a person with a disability, I am allowed more than the single emotion of gratitude. I have seen people with intellectual disabilities forced into and then drugged out of anger. I have seen people with disabilities punished for legitimate emotion, penalized for authentic reactions, 'programmed' for natural responses. I tire of the stereotype - of the happy cripple, the grinning face of Down Syndrome, the cheery 'pluck' that inspires the world. I wish to raise my voice in angry dissent. I will to the use of anger in my armoury of protest. I believe that we, as disabled people have not discovered the power of anger. It's time.

I lay claim to ...

MY RIGHT TO CHOOSE MY OWN BATTLES: I get several emails a week from readers who suggest stories and ideas for me to write about. I appreciate each and every one of them. I actually follow up on maybe two or three a month. Most who write are clear in that they are saying 'if you'd like - here's something you might want to write about'. Some, when I don't, hammer at me like I've let down the side, like it's my job to write what they want for them. Others attack me for the things that I do write about, belittling things that piss me off but don't push their buttons. This is my life, these are my battles, this blog and these 'fights' take up a fair bit of energy. I give what I can. I cannot manufacture passion. I cannot pretend to caring. If it's there, it's there. Sorry.

I lay claim to ...

MY LIFE AS I LIVE IT: I will not stop writing about Joe, or about Mike, Marissa, Ruby and Sadie. I will not confine my blogs to issues solely about disability. I will not limit my gaze to only one aspect of my life. I do try to maintain a consistent focus on disability and a consistent voice on issues around life as a person with a disability. I begin this blog to explore, for me, the world as a disabled person. I still do this. I still want to do this. But I do not want to sanitize my blog of anything personal so that my life doesn't offend those who disapprove of how I live my disabled life. I wonder at how people with intellectual disabilities and how they manage to survive in systems that would determine how they live and how they love and how they express themselves. I marvel at all the ways that people with limited ways of learning, manage how to figure out how to press their own fingerprints into their own souls. I marvel at the fact that every individual person manages, despite degree of disability to find unique way's to rebellion.

I lay claim to ...

MY OWN VOICE: I once worked for someone who tried to control my voice. Who tried to use force and authority to marshal my words into regimented thought. I once worked for someone who failed in the act of control. It is my voice. My voice represents me. Sometimes my voice resonates with others. Sometimes my voice is alone and apart. My voice does not speak for anyone else. My voice is not that 'of disabled people' 'of gay people' of 'people who eat vegetables'. My voice is simply and uniquely my own. I lay claim to the right to that voice, the opinions it expresses, the words it uses to express them. I lay claim to the right to be outrageous, the right to be conservative, the right to anger and to inspire. I will not give up the 'f' word but I hereby rescind words that damage others. I give up racist, sexist, homophobic and disphobic language. This isn't a limitation that limits, this is a limitation that frees. It frees me from patterns of thought that lead to stereotype and prejudice. It frees me from thinking of people as 'other'. It frees me to be creative in how I use words. My words, said in my voice. This I claim.

I lay claim to ...

MY LEISURE: Though I am disabled 24/8 (there are eight days in the disabled week ... the eighth day is made up from the extra three hours and forty two minutes it takes every day to dress, undress, shower, toilet, shave, put socks on, transfer in and out of chairs. We are meek us disabled folk, we put our extra day into the existing week, don't want to inconvenience you all) I claim time to simply 'be'. Not 'be' disabled. No, just to be Dave. To do Dave stuff. To surf the net. To lay down and read for several hours. To go to the movies. To gossip on the phone. To call someone just to see if I can make them laugh. To waste time. I don't, can't and won't be 'on' all the time.

I lay claim to ...

MY SENSE OF HUMOUR: I think sometimes some stuff is just plain funny. I don't think that disability means that there is a shadow over my life. Some stuff is just funny. Sitting down in a cold wheelchair and having your ass freeze to the frame is funny. Seeing a disabled guy get distracted by a pair of large breasts and drive into a wall, is really funny. I think that Family Guy is funny and that Down Syndrome girl is radically funny. I don't apologize for my humour. I don't care if everyone gets it. My humour has been called, coarse, inappropriate, and self loathing. To that I say .... how do you spell the fart sound that two year olds make and then laugh and laugh and laugh ..

I lay claim to ...

MUCH MORE BUT THIS IS ENOUGH OF A START ...

and you, what do you lay claim to ...

13 comments:

almandite said...

Thank you. I need to print this out and hang it up where I can see it and remember and not be ashamed all the time.

Anonymous said...

YES!!!!

I love all of the different things you write about - I especially love when you write about Joe and Ruby and the rest of your family. As someone who was abused and neglected by my 'family' since I was a small child, since I was dx-ed with CP at age 2, and has given up on ever having a real family, struggling just to breathe through that pain, reading about the family you have found after a similar childhood gives me joy.

And YESSSS! to anger, we have EARNED it!

Kristin said...

Awesome post Dave! I love that you address all aspects of your life. It reminds the world that people with disabilities are people first and that their disabilities are just a part of that.

I think it is important for EVERYONE to lay claim to who they are.

And, btw, I love your sense of humor!

MoonDog said...

I want to ask an honest question, are you glad to have your chair? because without it you would be stuck at home? it is your legs? Im sure anyone would RATHER have legs but if its chair or nothing are you glad for the chair? I ask this because I heard on the radio a story and the father was aghast and thought the newborns future grim because she MIGHT need to use a wheelchair someday. I as a walker think that is absurd. but I got to thinking that maybe the person in the chair might think differently. so tell me how you feel. enlighten me.

brilliantmindbrokenbody said...

Whatever you may want to say about your voice, there is a little more I want to add - your voice is HUMAN! It is intelligent, sensitive, and a pleasure to read.

I'm a long-time lurker, but as I write a blog that has some similarities to yours, I figured it was about time I commented! I'm a female disabled law student partnered with a service dog, so I write about disability, feminism, my goofball of a dog, and generally about my life.

And Moondog, if you're reading other people's comments...not everyone would rather have legs. We would rather not have the prejudice that makes wheels, walkers, service dogs, crutches, and canes 'less' instead of different.

Eileen said...

I believe the best way to express my opinion on this topic is to quote a country song. "Hell yeah!"

Mandassassin said...

I think the sound you're looking for is 'pbbbbbbbbbt!!"

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,
I read often (because I enjoy your writing) and I comment infrequently and in no way would I want to see your blog change to cater to someone else's view. Often I agree with your view, sometimes I do not BUT I will defend to the death your right to write whatever you wish.
Cheryl

Moose said...

I'm preserving that 8th day thing forever.

Except -- YOU GET TO PUT ON SOCKS! You rat bastidge! I am so jealous I am going to EAT MY CANE! And, no, it's not made of candy!

(there's a serious dose of :-P here)

lisa said...

I lay claim to enjoying your blog, in all of it's many aspects.

Lisa

Lori said...

Cheers to you Dave! You never need to apologize for anything you put in your blog. Hello, it is YOUR blog! We are just the readers, the lucky readers I might add. I enjoy your candid views (whether I agree or not). Your words about Joe are some of the most beautiful I have ever read. I go back and read them from time to time because you phrase things so eloquently. My favorite -- "he is the beginning and end of my journey". There is nothing more perfectly stated than that. Pure love.

Thank you for blogging every day, my day is definitely better because of it.

OhWheely . . said...

Yeah me too.

Your blog is YOUR BLOG whether I agree or disagree is irrelevent. It is always interesting, never boring and often thought-inspiring.
Three cheers for Dave's blog.

PS I lay claim to my own independence. Offer to help if you like but don't just presume I won't bite (figuratively).

Anonymous said...

Visiting a blog is like being invited into someone's living room. It's rude to criticise the host's taste, even if there's nothing wrong with a friendly suggestion or a comment that furthers the conversation.

By all means, carry on - not that you need anybody's permission. And thanks for opening the door.