Friday, August 31, 2018

Here We Go

We travel today.

That means, hotels and rental cars airports and long flights.

That also means a long litany of worries and stresses that come, not from travel, but from being a disabled traveler. There is so much trust involved. That the car will be the kind of car we ordered, not an upgrade, not a downgrade. That the room will be the kind we ordered, the kind I can poo in. That the support at the airport will be what we need, what we notified them about. Trust.

I don't think companies understand that this is all about disabled travelers feeling vulnerable and having to paying for accommodations with dollars and with trust. I don't think they understand that's why there is so much emotion involved when something planned for, arranged and agreed upon isn't on offer.

Anger based on broken trust may, for me, burn the brightest.

Yet, I go into the day to do what needs to be done.

To hold up my end of the bargain.

I just hope there's someone at the other end.

Here we go.

Headed to a touchdown in England.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Little Boy Is Dead

A nine year old boy came out to his mother.

She loved him anyway.

A nine year old boy comes out at school.

They tease him brutally.

For four days.

Horribly hurt and frightened, he kills himself.

This just happened.

We went to see a play, a musical, wherein in an opening scene the male cast members come on stage shirtless wearing only a towel.

(a little boy is dead)

We are in a very small theater watching a shoestring production. Most, but not all, of the audience are gay men. A group of four handsome, fit, well dressed gay men took the very front seats. We, preferring to sit a bit further back, had selected seats about three rows in.

(a little boy is dead)

There was a bar at the back of the room where people could buy drinks before the show or during intermission. Joe had bought a beer from a bartender who was, clearly, a very kind man. He was one of those people who seem to bring grace and calm and peace with them where ever they go. I had asked him if he'd seen the show and he said that he had only seen it in rehearsals. I remembered, then, that this was actually opening night.

(a little boy is dead)

The first of the men entered the stage, shirtless, wearing a towel. The interval between entry and starting was only seconds, so in that interval, just before he sings the first note which will bring the others out onto the stage, a laugh bursts out from two of the men in the front of the room. They are seated next to each other and they are pointing to the man on stage, the one just entered, the one just about to perform, and they laughed again.

(a little boy is dead)

The man on stage, shirtless, had a fairly typical male body. He was not fat, he was not thin. But he was also not lean, not cut. The two men obviously felt that his body, displayed on stage, was a thing to be mocked. So they did.

(a little boy is dead)

The performers face goes bright red. He knows what's happened. It's opening night, the first time facing an audience, and he has a long road ahead of him to get through the show. He opens his mouth to sing and for a few seconds I didn't think he was going to make it. But his voice found itself, he found his footing and then he started the song and was then joined on stage by the others and the show went on.

(a little boy is dead)

I notice though that he never looked at the audience again. His eyes were on the guy in the bar at the back of the room.  The man who's kindness was obvious. He found a safe place for his eyes to rest. He made it through the show brilliantly.

(a little boy is dead)

There is outcry.

About a 9 year old boy who kills himself.

A 9 year old boy who identified as gay.

There is outcry.

About bullying.

About purposeful hurt.

There is outcry.


People feel moved to tell their stories. Stories about the complex entanglement that exists between difference and pain, between vulnerability and social violence, between speaking the truth and being killed for it.


We all longed for safety as children.

Safety from cruelty.


Why do we, then, so easily, hurt others?

Why do we, who should know better, do worse?


A little boy is dead.


And we want change from others.


But are not moved to change ourselves.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My Microphone

Date Night 3

I was pushing up the ramp at the front of the hotel when one of the valets noticed me and headed towards me. Seconds after he launched himself in my direction he was saying, "I'll help you there sir." I said "No" and the perpetual conversation started he didn't mind, I did. Joe usually protects me from these incidents by walking behind me and blocking people's access to the handles on the back of my chair but he had gone into the hotel to get change to tip the various people who you tip when at hotels.

I was nearly at the top of the ramp when the valet arrives, then, a voice. "He said, No!" I glanced over and saw that a man with an intellectual disability who was cleaning the front area of the hotel by using a long stick to pick up garbage and cigarette butts, his eyes were on the valet. His eyes meant business. The valet stopped. Then he nodded and apologized to me and left me to finish my way up the ramp.

When I turned to thank the fellow who spoke up for me, he had returned to his work and though he didn't speak to me, he did give me a brief nod. He'd heard the thanks, but he was at work. Perhaps he'd been taught not to speak with the guests. And he hadn't. He'd spoken to a fellow employee.

But he spoke to that employee with power. He knew what he wanted to say, and he said it. It was he who gave the instruction and he who was listened to. He'd seen the problem, recognized it for what it was, and added his voice to mine. He simply restated what I had said, he didn't add in anything new. He was my microphone, not my voice.

As I came through the door I was met by a woman who explained to me that she was the job coach for the fellow outside. Then she apologized for his behaviour.

She apologized for him.

He didn't do anything wrong.

What he did was exactly right.

But I got the sense that he'd overstepped his authority, that he was supposed to be silent and unseen, that he should let others handle things. Coaching someone into submission. Well, that turned into a lively discussion. She was surprised at my passion when speaking of what he did and why it was important to me, a guest at the hotel, that he did what he did. People with disabilities should not be trained to be cowed into complete submission and silence. Speaking up for self, for others, when needed is not only a skill but one that is entwined with courage and conviction. Things to be fostered not eliminated.

"You were going to speak to him about this weren't you?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

"Then say 'Thank you' from me. Then leave it alone."

And that's what I hope she did.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Journey Home

date night 2

She walked away swearing, calling us names, and we continued chatting. Growing up gay, living with or around disability makes coping with anger at our public presence a necessity. Our conversation was coming to an end, all caught up again, and we were about to part and then something happened.

But first, some background.

When we first met he we were both a bit shocked at his nickname. He used it in reference to himself, everyone else used it when speaking of or to him. Having had nicknames growing up, the kind that I did not choose for myself, makes me very wary of words formed for the purpose of hurt. In our very first conversation with him I offended him by asking for his name. He glared at me and said that we went by this nickname and that's what we were to call him.

We did.

We didn't like it.

But we did.

People choose how they identify and what they wish to be called.

They don't need my approval.

One day he told us how he got the nickname. A small and relatively frail child in school, he was, in his words, "a natural target for bullies," and they focused on his size and his demeanor and came up with a nickname meant to humiliate. It stuck. He was called that name for the whole of junior and senior years in high school. He graduated, left the small town he lived in, and moved to a big city. He introduced himself to people in his social circle by his high school nickname.

"It's ugly, but it has no more power over me," was his explanation.

Two years into knowing him, we found out his birth name. The name given to him by the mother he loved, very separate and distinct from the name given to him by bullies who used hate to pick a name. Even after learning his name, we never used it. We were requested not to, we honoured the request.

So, we were about to part. He was telling us about something that happened recently and he said, "And  I said to myself, 'his pre-bully name' ..."

We had never heard him refer to himself by his name. We had only heard him speak of himself by using the name given to him at the hands of someone who hurt him, physically and emotionally. The impact of what he said showed on our faces.

"Turned out it was my own name that needed to be reclaimed," he said. "Turned out that being beaten up and bullied as a child wasn't my fault." He wiped a tear away from his eye and said that the had to go.

As I pushed away I could hear his walker scraping along the sidewalk on his journey home. It has been a long walk, but I think he's finally going to make it home.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

the reminder

Date night.

Joe and I planned that he would pick me up after work, we'd check into a hotel downtown, then we'd go to dinner and a play. The play we wanted to see was only playing, its whole run, for two night. It started at 8 in the evening. We go to matinees. Only. We decided that since we'd be doing something in the evening we'd call this adventure a 'date night' to distinguish it from our typical 'date late afternoons'. 

Each of us kept waiting for the other to say, 'Ya know, it's pretty late, the theatre won't get out until nearly 10, we will be halfway to pumpkins then.' But we didn't, we were both determined and by the time we arrived at the hotel we were ready to go.

After check in, we decided to go check out a book store slash coffee shop that had open a bit ago that we'd never been to before and were curious about. I was determined to use this as a chance to practice my outdoor pushing, Joe knowing that just walked beside me and kept an eye out for 'let-me-helper' flying at me from every direction.

We were near a street corner, on a wide sidewalk when we saw a man we hadn't seen in years. He uses a walker, he's much older than we are, and time had not been his friend. He'd been gay during a time of great persecution and he'd been hurt to the point of permanent emotional damage. He managed every day to simply get by and he used whatever strategies he could to survive inside himself.

We were a little surprised to see him.

We were amazed he was still alive.

But, in fact he looked good. He came to a stop with his walker and I came to a stop using my chair. There was room for one person to walk by us on the sidewalk if they so chose. But non disabled people often cannot see that space. They cannot even imagine that the can use that space. But it is there.

A woman and her dog came along and stood behind our friend as we chatted. The street we were on is really residential and, even in Toronto, is a quiet street. She clearly wanted us to stop talking and move along. When we didn't she became really, really, really, angry.

Please don't tell me that a woman's anger is an insignificant thing, please don't tell me that I should not be intimidated by a woman's anger and a woman's capacity to misuse force. I feel my vulnerability often in this situation. It's a disability thing. I can't run. I can't escape. I'm naturally lowered and an easy target. She scared me.

I spoke to her.

"What are you so angry about, there's lots of room to pass."

That got her moving. Towards me and the space beside me. She let off invective about us 'fags' and 'cripples' and 'sidewalks' and 'space.' The dog who paused for a second to sniff at the wheel of my chair was yanked away from me with a sharp command.

She was angry.

In a world where there is so much to be angry about. Where, if she chose to, she could sit with me while I off loaded a series of aggravants that she could choose from.

She was angry.

I feared violence.

All because we three used public space. Walkers and walkers and chairs together, using public space on a sunny day in the summer. How dare we?

We dare, simply because, the community belongs to us.

I don't even say 'too.'

Because our ownership isn't an add on.

We continued our conversation, each of us now knowing, how choosing to live life fully is still an act of resistance. None of us needed the reminder, but none of ignored it either.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Face Between The Seats

We had all arranged ourselves for our flight to Halifax and were settling in. It was a small plane with a two and two configuration and as there were 5 of us Joe ended up sitting on the aisle with someone else and the girls had their choice of seats in the row behind. Sadie chose to sit next to me by the window and was as exited as one would both expect and hope for when we took off.

About an hour into the flight Sadie announced that she needed to go to the bathroom. I told her that I get up only once on a plane, to get off, so she'd have to crawl over me to get out. She thought this was funny and I ended up being a playground obstacle that she scrambled over, giggling the whole time. This motion and the unusual entry of Sadie into the aisle was noticed by a girl in the seat behind, a girl of about Sadie's age.

Sadie came back and it was a dive into the seat next to me that got her there. Sometimes disability is just plain a fun thing. She occupied herself chatting with me, watching a show on the screen in front of her and looking out the window. Amazingly, sometimes she managed all three. 

Landing brought more excitement. We were here, the vacation, or as Sadie said it, "Vacay" was about to begin. I get off last because I wait for the chair, and an empty plane so I'm not on display as I get out of my seat. Sadie was just set to scramble over me again when the face of the girl behind came between the seats, and set about watching. Clearly eager to see how Sadie managed getting over me.

Sadie saw this. Long ago Sadie expressed to me how much she hates it when people stare at us. She doesn't like it for me. But she hates it for her. She doesn't understand the need of it. She doesn't like how it makes her feel. For her it's one of the downsides of being in my life. It happens all the time.

Even though it happens all the time, this was pretty blatant and this was Sadie's peer. I watched to see how she'd handle it. Sadie turned to the girl with a look that would scare Medusa. It's simply said, "STOP!" in a way that communicated that there was no other option. Sadie's eyes never left the girl's eyes. She watched here watching us. 

Then the girls head slowly pulled back. And then, was gone.

As if nothing happened, Sadie was up and giggling and leaping over me into the aisle. She joined her the others as they deplaned and I waited for my chair, and privacy.

It's been interesting to see that the girls, who have a choice, make that choice. They could easily decide that they don't want to be around me much when were are out. That has always been an option. They could simply walk with Joe, or when we are with other family, walk with them. Sadie could have chosen to sit someone else, there were other choices. But they didn't make that choice. They chose instead, each of them, to develop their own strategies for dealing with the stares, the looks of disapproval, the needless cruel commentary that is part of being in relationship to someone like me.

It thrilled me that Sadie clearly saw that I wasn't the problem.

I wasn't the problem.

I need to say it again, for me.

I wasn't the problem 

And that I was worth being around in spite of all the rest of it.

Love takes many forms. For those of us who are different. This is one of them.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

I'll Start With Apology: I'm Sorry

I'm about to come out, and I'm afraid that some of you will be utterly disappointed in me. But I feel I need to be honest about something.

I want to be a good member of the disability community. I want to use my voice and whatever power I have to make change. I feel moved and motivated to speak out when I see, or hear, or come into contact with disphobia and ableism. I have written hundreds of emails and letters and I have signed petitions that have come my way. That's just personally, when working on the road giving lectures I use the opportunity to speak of disability identity and disability pride, all the time.

(I am trying to establish my credentials here.)

I believe what most of us believe.

#disability say the word

#access for everyone

#disability pride

#give disability actors a chance

Um, it's the last one that I want to speak about. I do believe that actors with disabilities should get the opportunity to play disabled characters in television shows and movies. I do believe that there are characters written where someone from any minority could play and not change the script - so hire disabled.

I have a friend that patently refuses to watch any movie or show that has a non-disabled actor playing a disabled role. He is so adamant about this that he has admitted he thinks less of activists that "would put their money down, and thereby finance, entertainment that discriminates in hiring and disrespects an entire community." I get it, I agree with it. He's right. (Except about the 'thinking less of' part - which seems a bit judgmental.)

But sometimes I thirst.

Really thirst.

To watch something that has a main character with a disability. I want to be able to identify. If a story comes along with a richly written character with a disability who is an active participant in his own life, a character that is necessary to the plot, a character who has layers and who's attitude toward their disability is as complex as mine is to me, I want to watch it.

There aren't many.

But I'm watching a television series right now. One of the primary characters is a wheelchair user, and he meets all the criteria for being a dynamic, proud, guy with a 'piss on pity' attitude. Yes, the actor playing him is non-disabled. But when watching the series I identify with the character and the actor behind him is kinda meaningless to me. I'm seeing storytelling that captures disability and the disability experience. And now, Season Two, there's another disabled character just introduced. A very different guy, a very different attitude, but, again, with drive and purpose that both includes and does not include his disability. I'm in entertainment heaven.

I'm watching in the closet.

Neither actor has a disability.

I tell myself that I'm watching the result of the writing, not the casting. These two characters are written with the same care and respect as all the other primary characters. The show doesn't shy away from diversity, with the slight exception of LGBT issues, although there is an episode with a bisexual character.

I'm one show away from the end of season 2. I already know because I looked it up in a panic, there will be another season. I rejoiced at the news because it meant I get to see more of these characters, who I care about, and that stories with disabled people in vital roles are being told, and maybe that will lead to people thinking that disabled characters can be heroes and villains and help carry a shows story line, then maybe, just maybe there should be more characters with disabilities and more thought given to the casting. Maybe.

But 'maybe' or not.

Sometimes I thirst.

To see disability storytelling.

And sometimes that thirst has me compromising.

I'm out!

I know this will deeply disappoint some of you, but I don't want to pretend to be someone I'm not.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


(photo credit: Theo Wargo/Getty for Tribeca Film Festival)
Photo described in text.
I was reading an article about the death of Aretha Franklin, a woman whose music I have enjoyed over the years. Like many of her fans, I was deeply saddened by her death. The photo which headlined the article was beautiful. It was a picture of Ms Franklin with her arms wide open, singing her heart out, she looked joyous. The microphone was in one of her outstretched hands, this is a woman who's voice could reach the back of a concert hall without assistance. I thought, when looking at it, that it was the perfect picture for the author to use as a send off. I could easily imagine angel's wings behind her and heaven waiting above her.

Foolishly, I went to the comments.

The article was only recently published on-line so there was only one comment. Hold on, while I go and clip it and bring it over for you to see:

Damn those are some bingo wings.

I sat there stunned. I am constantly surprised at the casual cruelty that exists. I am astonished that I am expected to find this remark funny. Once I understood what was being said, my hands flew off the keyboard as if I was afraid that I would catch the cruelty virus through contact in any way with those words. They are there anonymously. They are the first comment.

I admit to not knowing what was meant by the comment. I wondered what 'bingo wings' meant. And then, I knew, I didn't have to go back and review the pictures, I knew that there would be one that would have occasioned this remark.

But that's wrong isn't it.

The picture didn't cause the remark.

I never thought the picture was anything but magnificant.

It's easy to blame the picture.

But it holds no blame.

The person making the comment is solely responsible for what was said. Of a talented woman. Of a woman who gave to her community. Of a woman with massive talent. Of a woman, just passed away.

There is shame here.

But not hers.


The shame rests in fingers that type words that are meant to demean another. That are meant to scorn those who live in the real world, in real bodies, doing real things. There was nothing virtual about Aretha Franklin. She was as real as real could get.

And that exactly why we loved her.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I'm Sorry

I was going quickly.

When on my own, in my new chair, I can go much quicker than a walking pace. Because of the construction of the chair, I do this without breaking a sweat. I enjoy the speed of the chair and the power of my arms. It's so freeing.

I was pushing towards a vendor in a relatively deserted hall. Between me and my path a woman with a walker pulled up to a seat. I saw her. I was enough distance away for her to decide to step either right or left to get to the seat she had chosen. She chose to step in such a way that I would have to make a minor adjustment in direction to avoid being near enough to collide or near enough to scare her as I whizzed by.

Nothing happened.

Nothing happened.

I didn't run into her.

I didn't scare her.

I doubt she much noticed me.

But someone did.

I continued on and then saw a woman waving me down. I slowed the chair and angled over to her. She said, with much disapproval, "You've got to be careful with that thing, it's not a toy."

And I am so sorry, dear readers, I didn't take the opportunity to educate.

She had entered willfully into my day. She had pulled me over to admonish me. Like disabled people need parents at every  moment of every day. I was stunned.

And, again, dear readers, I didn't take the time to explain to her that I was careful, that I had seen the woman with the walker and that I made sure she was safe at all times.

Whether or not a chair can be or should be a toy is not up to her or to anyone but me. It's my chair, it's my time, it operates at my will. I do not need people to tut tut about me using the chair in any way that I want as long as I am always in full control.

Finally, dear readers, I didn't dig down into my bag of compassion and understanding for the deep need that non-disabled people have for commentary and intrusion into the lives of those who consider disability permission to interfere and interrupt.


I said, "I didn't fucking run into her did I" ... "Well? Did I?"

And I rolled off.

Dear readers, I desperately do not feel the need to apologize for what I said and how I said it.

Sorry for not being sorry.

I sometimes am simply and completely human.

(And frankly, sometimes I enjoy that.)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Present, Past and a Couple of Chairs

On holidays, I try to turn off the outrage button that rests somewhere inside my chest. I just want to let some things slide and just deal with the situation and get on with it. I don't want to always have to report it, write letters about it, or even post about it. A place says it's accessible and then we find that the attempts at accessibility are laughable so we figure out a way around it ... do it ... let go of it. At one place Joe was muttering about accessibility and I asked him if we could just deal and enjoy. I left my warrior clothes at home.

But that's a wearing stance to take I discover. And it broke in me last night. I went down to get a table for a group. I was taken to a table that had two more chairs than we needed. I was in place and then those two chairs were being dragged away, one by one, I asked her not to do that. I said the chairs were fine where they were. I was told I needed space. I said that I had enough space. Then it was a series of 'really, I don't mind' and 'I'm just wanting to make you comfortable' and 'it's okay it's my job' in my responses to 'NO, PLEASE DON'T' and 'REALLY, DON'T'. She never heard me and when she was done, I sat at a table with this huge gap on either side of me. The rest of the chairs bunched across from me.

Like there was no way in the world that someone would want to sit next to me.

When Joe came down I was almost in tears. I explained and Joe's face hardened and then he began rearranging the chairs so that each chair had a bit of space around it and people could, if they chose, sit next to me.

When they arrived, they did. I was not an island alone across the table.

I tried really, really, hard just to let it go for a week. But I discovered that some of my outrage is based on just plain hurt. Why is my voice not important enough to hear? Why do others assume they know what I need better than I do myself? How can I be so obviously present and so obviously immaterial at the same time?

Why can't people imagine that someone would want to sit next to me?

Insecure children become insecure adults a lot of the time. I remember as a child when no one wanted to sit next to me. Past hurts can become present hurts. Too much goes on inside each of us for anyone else to understand.

That is, unless, they listen.

But to be heard, one needs a voice that is valued.

When the hostess, who had hauled the chairs away, came by later when we were all eating and laughing, she looked at our table, like something was wrong.

Because she couldn't see what was right.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Getting To Done

Sometimes my mind makes odd connections.

We were sitting on the boardwalk watching people go by. It was a beautiful hot and sunny day but our seats were in the shade and we looked out onto and over the Halifax harbour. People strolled by and we chatted about everything but work, we had realized that the time had come to set that aside for awhile.

Not far from where we sat was a ice cream parlour and many of those walking by had cones or cups that they were enjoying as they walked. Three young girls, maybe very late teens, came  by with a very spritely and beautifuly black dog. They took a seat at the edge of the boardwalk and it was only then that we saw someone had purchased a cup of ice cream for the dog.

They set it down and the dog immediately, upon given permission, went for the treat. He tilted the cup on its side and placed it between his two front legs, holding it firmly, and then licked with rapid fire speed. One of the young women noticed this and reached over and took the edge of the cup and set it upright. The dog stopped, looked at her, and then took tentative licks into the upright cup.

Soon, though, he had it back in his position and was racing to get the sweet from the bowl into the belly. Again it was noticed and again, the bowl was turned upright. This happened three times before the ice cream was finished, and each time the dog looked at the woman who turned the bowl upright with curiosity.

"Don't you realize I'm a dog? Don't you realize I do things the way dogs do things? Don't you realize there is no doggies social etiquette that states ice cream cups must be eaten in upright position? Don't you realize that it's harder for me to eat in a manner that doesn't suit me? Don't you realize that you don't need to control everything and have everything your way?" The dog finally got to done, he turned around with the bowl out of reach and held it between his two front legs and licked until every bit of it was gone.

Now, obviously the dog loved having the ice cream and it was lovely of his mistress to buy him one. He was thought about, cared about, and given the same treat as everyone else. That's lovely.

But, I thought, because I couldn't help it. That this was a metaphor for so much in my life right now. So often people with disabilities are expected to do things the way their staff thing things need to be done. Too often the staff worry, not about the end product, but on the process for getting done. People with disabilities interrupted from doing things the way they want to do it because it deviates from how staff do it. "Don't you realize I have a disability and do things differently than you do?" "Can't you try letting me get to done in my own way?"

I read in the paper about immigrants and their way of doing things, their way of seeing things, and people upset and outright challenged by it. Like they somehow are losing control over the 'way things are done'.  Why is it necessary for difference to challenge rather than enrich? "Don't you realize that I may have a different definition of done?"

I sense an increasing disacceptance of me as a gay man and of the relationship that Joe and I have. Everyone else sees a burst of pride and feel a movement forward. But I am not alone in fearing that there are now other voices getting louder protesting our way of living. I fear that hatred is weaponizing disapproval and I see the results in report after report after report of people within the LGBT community being targeted with violence. Our way of doing things and seeing things is simply too different. There are those who don't even want us to make it to 'done'.

Canadian history is shamed by it's need for Native Canadian kids to be forced to do things the way the invading forces wanted it to be done. Like the narrative on how we get to 'done' had shifted under their feet when we pulled the land from under them? Families torn apart, children damaged and traumatized. We hide our history under a veneer of politeness. We cared too much about eradicating difference that we ended up attempting to eradicate a people.

The girls finished, picked up the dogs cup, and wandered off. They probably thought they'd had a nice ice cream break. They probably had no idea that my mind was making connection after connection while their dog simply tried to eat his ice cream in a way that suited him. He did get to done, he did get to finish his way, but he had to turn away, turn his back on those who tried to insist that bowls are always upright. He had to protect himself and make himself alone.

The dog had left happy, perhaps because he'd just had ice cream or perhaps because he got to finish it his way. Maybe both. But, here's the thing, it didn't matter that he held the bowl between his legs.

What mattered was that people cared about it.

So, just don't care.

We're all just trying to get to done.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Some Do

Joe and I had checked out the ramp down to a floating bridge that connected one part of the harbour from another. At the top, after consideration, I felt that it was doable. It was steep but I had Joe for help. What I couldn't see was at the bottom, maybe three or four feet from the end, the steep slope tilted and became steeper. When we got there, I panicked. I felt out of control and I was terrified. 

Joe helped me turn the chair around to go down backwards, something made difficult by the steep slope we were on and by the narrow ramp. I lost control of my breath. I was truly and deeply frightened. It didn't help that when turning I saw that people were waiting to go both up and down the ramp and we impeded access both ways. So they took the opportunity to watch as we struggled. 

I felt on display.

I get that people do that. 

I get that it isn't always hostile.

But I wish they'd get that, at that moment, their watching made it more difficult.

There's always one, isn't there?

A woman said to her family, "Let's turn and watch the seals, give this man some privacy." I couldn't see what she did because of the flurry of activity, the beating of my heart and the adrenaline pumping through my veins. But I did see, when I turned, a whole family. A mom, some children, a dad, and two elderly grandparents, all turned away from me. All giving me the moment I needed.

Those are the people I choose to remember. Even though I understand that very few people would get what I needed in that moment, I need to notice that some do.

Some do.

And that gives me more comfort than you can possibly imagine.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Chocolate Canada

Yesterday I heard two people talking about immigration, they were against it. They feared the people and they feared for the economy and they feared for their safety.

Yesterday I saw a meme about immigration. People really angry at the direction that Canada has taken. We are losing our culture. Claims that someone somewhere wants to ban bacon. Seriously.

Yesterday I bought these chocolates. I was intrigued by the packaging and placement. It was in a section of local, Canadian made products and it said, "A Syrian family tradition" on the box.

I picked it up.

On the front was a picture of chocolates, the name of the company, Peace by CHOCOLATE, company establishment date, 1986 and the slogan 'ONE PEACE WON'T HURT.' On the back was the story of the company. "For more than 20 years we shipped our specialty treats all over the Middle Easst. Like much of our homeland, the Halal chocolate factory was destroyed in a bombing that forced our family to leave everything behind and flee. With the support of our new Canadian community in Antigonish and the people of Nova Scotia, we have rebuilt our chocolate company and are once again doing the work that we love."

I opened the box.

I don't eat sugar anymore but I was with people who were eager to try the chocolates in the box. The declared it either, 'excellent,' 'really good,' or 'fabulous.' It's a good product.

So a family flees for their safety. Comes to Canada and creates jobs, pays taxes and makes a contribution to our life as a country and as a people.

Where's the meme for that?

Where's the talk about that?

People seem to want to disbelieve their own eyes, the evidence that immigration builds Canada. That contributions are made to our culture.

There are those that would tear at the fabric of Canada.

And call themselves patriots.

I love my Country. I worry for its future, not because of immigration but because of the entitlement of those who consider themselves, falsely, as 'true, original, Canadians.' Those that deny their status as children of immigrants who decry immigration.

A family.

Fleeing terror.

Now creating Peace, piece by piece.

Friday, August 03, 2018

What's Up

My life has been a little out of control over the past several months. What with work here in Toronto and the travel I've been doing, there has been little in the way of down time. I found all the work exciting and the lecturing satisfying, but there's been little time for other projects. Friends will attest that it feels like I 'ghosted' them. (Frankly that's a brand new word for me.)

Something wonderful happened a few months ago. I was approached by a publishing company about developing a book for them and I accepted immediately. I was so excited, it's something I really want to write. But I've had to push that back over and over again because of what was happening with the rest of my time.

I have decided that not only do I want to write it, I REALLY WANT TO WRITE IT. And so I've begun. Got a good start. The editor is awesome and really helpful. So, I'm going to put my attention there and see if I can focus time and energy on the project. Did I say, that I REALLY WANT TO DO THIS? And that I'm honoured to have been asked.

So, what this means is that for the next little while my blog will be updated less frequently. I like to write in the mornings and the blog takes up more time than you might imagine. I will still update the blog but it won't be daily as it has been for years.

I am starting an adventure.

And, no, not telling you the topic or the company, that's all for later.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Why Did The Disabled Person Cross the Street?

Sometimes I just need to expect cooperation.

There's no time to ask for it.

I have to trust that people will see a situation and adapt.

Disabled people are good at adapting, living with disability means a lifetime of adapting, it's a skill, an important skill. But, I find, sometimes that those without disabilities have a really tough time with it.

I was rolling, backwards, across College Street. It was near noon, I had to go backwards because of the streetcar tracks. The big wheels go over first the small wheels follow happily along. My chair can not do it in the reverse. So, I go backwards.

Now, I would think that people would understand there is a reason that I'm going backwards, on a busy intersection. I would think that they would get that I wouldn't do it the hard way, looking over my shoulder while steering, if I could do it the easy way, looking forward. Maybe even one or two would get that what they thought was the easy ways, was in fact, maybe not.

I expected the flow of pedestrians would simply have flowed around me, non-disabled people being able to step sideways after all. And they did, for the most part. But also, for the most part, not happy about it. All I wanted was to cross the street. That's all. I didn't want a running commentary about my selfishness.

Then when the street was crossed I need to get up the curb cut, which is now full of people. I have to ask, several times, for people to let me pass. My ass is sitting in my chair on a busy street because I can't get people to move. Polite asking turns louder and more assertive. I am now, I am reliably informed by those in attendance, an 'asshole' one even called me entitled. Shit! Entitled to use a curb cut to get to the sidewalk, how low do you have to be down the social ladder if THAT'S entitled?

Would it have been easier to just have Joe pull be backwards?


And no.

In the moment it would have been easier, but in the long run, it would make me feel that I couldn't go out or cross a street without 'supervision' or 'assistance.' He did walk along side me and give me hints as to whether to go 'passenger' or 'driver'. I don't know right and left, but I do know sides of a car. He could have gone east or west and I'd have been fine, but he's not great with that kind of positioning.

But I made it across.

I made it up and down the cut curbs.

The physical barrier.

I've adapted.

But, I have to use calming strategies to keep myself at peace.

Why did the disabled person cross the street? Just to piss you off.