in which we talk about letters and access

A few things for this cold and rainy Tuesday; I’m trying to wrap up my day quickly, so that I can hop in the shower and head out to a meditation that some friends are running, so please pardon any mess. It’s been busy here, and I have a lot that I want to share, but I’m going to try and limit this to a few key things.

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LetterMo starts again in February; I’ll be sending out a piece of mail every day that the USPS is working! I’m told that handwritten letters to legislators are either incredibly effective or a complete waste of time, but I think that if I’m going to be writing almost daily, I might as well include them in the fun of it all. Still, that leaves me plenty of room for pen pals, so if anyone is interested in letters, tiny abstract paintings, postcards, all the weird ephemera I send people, awesome! Please drop me a line or, even better, leave your address in my Postable address book! Every time I do this, I seem to pick up one permanent pen pal; it’s a really fun experience.

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“False neutrality is propaganda.”

I spent Saturday at my local sister Women’s March with a friend. I’ve heard a lot from my disabled friends about these events both before and afterwards; there were concerns about accessibility, and I agree, it was a problem. In the smaller rally I attended, which drew a later estimated crowd of approximately 10,000 people, there were three outdoor toilets, for example, one of which was hypothetically disability-friendly, although it still couldn’t accommodate any electric chair or scooter I’m aware of, and it wasn’t at all clear if people could use indoor facilities. Before any jackhole gets to it: yes, there were folks present who needed those bathrooms. I met a woman in a motorized chair while I was waiting in the queue, and while she did figure something out eventually, nobody should be that uncomfortable for that long while they’re engaging their civil right to assemble— especially when we’ve all made plans to do so, know what I’m saying here?

When you’re disabled, you get used to doing certain things that able-bodied people might think of as uncomfortable, distasteful, embarrassing, or even dehumanizing— things like talking to complete strangers about how you can’t use this toilet because of the kind of body that you have. That’s the life you are living, because that’s the world you live in, and that is not easy or fun. The world is full of able-bodied people who don’t always see the things that the disabled need, and I don’t expect able-bodied people to predict our needs, but here’s the thing: we are very frequently quite busy telling them before any problem presents itself.

Overall, though, it was a positive experience. Exhausting, emotional, uplifting, invigorating. Seeing that many people motivated to turn up and turn it out gave me hope. I hope at least a third of them keep showing up. And to those friends who wanted to participate but couldn’t show up in person because your bodies wouldn’t allow it and are beating themselves up over it now— agh. I’ve been hearing some really sad stuff from my friends who are in a similar spot, and seeing some crap online lately, too, from folks who don’t know better.

I can tell you that you’re no good for the fight if you spend your time kicking your own ass, though, which is something I’m learning the hard way; pick your battles. I’d rather have my friends feeling good enough to write and call and get all that good shit done, rather than marching just one time. I mean, in a perfect world, I wish you’d been there, too, and I have been the person sitting at home, too- that part sucks and I commiserate wholeheartedly, unquestioningly- but you’re 100% not the slacker jerk that I’ve been hearing you are in your notes, posts, and calls. At all. Also, big damn hugs. (And for real, un-follow that asshole on Facebook who says that’s who you are.)

I desperately need to sign off and get myself together for the evening. Before I go: think about that LetterMo thing, friends. It isn’t a huge commitment- a postcard, a note, a drawing, you name it! Tell me you aren’t sick and tired of knowing what will be in the mailbox every day. I love having an ongoing set of correspondences, even as sporadic as I am with it; knowing that it won’t always be the same set of bills, magazines, subscription boxes, and flyers makes the mail a bit like a birthday every week.

 

  One thought on “in which we talk about letters and access

  1. January 24, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    I have been so grateful to our organizers for the access they provided. I drove a half hour to the nearest bus rally point, and those organizers arranged front & aisle seating for me on the bus, provided me with the names and cell phone numbers of bus leaders and bus drivers, arranged a separate closer drop-off from the bus, and gave me the name and number of a woman who was going to be just sitting nearby in her warm car in case I needed to leave early. The main organizers spoke with me by phone ahead of time, arranged reserved seating for all of us with disabilities in front of the speakers (chairs with our names on them, poster board with names blocking areas for wheelchair and scooter users), placed outdoor heaters on both sides of the disabled access area–which was also in front of a warming tent with coffee and such, hired two ASL interpreters (in that cold there’s only so long one can stand with her gloves off, they switched off), made arrangements inside the Capitol building for those who needed to retreat inside to thaw or to use bathrooms that weren’t the hired porta-potties, and had a low-stimulus room inside that was used by a Downs Syndrome woman who had been seated near me when it all became too much–it had a window facing the crowd if she wanted to see, but had heavy curtains to block everything if she preferred not to. Volunteers giving directions were easy to find, and everyone was open to suggestions or requests. I love living here, but honestly I had not expected the attention or care that they gave to accessibility. It’s not…typical for the area.

    • February 3, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that!! I can’t believe you had heaters, though. That’s amazing. We lucked into a gorgeous day, right in the middle of a block of brutal cold- I’d been worried about the weather leading up to the event, and then in the days right after, it got nasty again. I’m looking forward to some of the other events coming up- with even more time to prepare, and with spring coming, my hopes are high!

  2. January 26, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    I saw the LetterMo thing on another blog this morning and I’m super excited to take part this year. The way things are going lately, small things that bring a little bit of joy (or satisfaction…or at least a sense of accomplishment?) are probably even more important to include in our daily routines. If we give ALL our free time and brain power over to thinking about how everything around us is burning, we’re a lot more likely to burn with it. Which is not to say it’s not worth fighting, of course…but social media makes it way too easy to lose ourselves in every new crisis as it comes along.

    • February 3, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      I know what you mean. I’m trying to stay informed without drowning and it’s a delicate balance. Forward movement and conservation of efforts, plus scheduled rest, it’s the best I can do right now. This year is starting out with an even bigger bang than I’d expected, though, that’s for sure, and I’d already expected a hell of a lot.

    • February 6, 2017 at 11:00 am

      I always find that LetterMo gives my current pen pal/ correspondences a second wind, and I seem to pick up one or two new ones every year, which I love. And anything that brings in an element of comfort or goodness right now is a plus for me- we need that, even the silly stuff. I don’t want to take away from the important stuff, but it’s way too easy to also feel like we are drowning, too.

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