A Writer’s Responsibility

There are those who say that one should “write what you know.” And how far does that get you? What can I be said to “know”? I can write the experience of a white, middle class girl in America and that’s about it. So I have not heeded that advice. I’ve needed to have male characters, so obviously that’s not writing what I know. However, I’ve pushed the envelope farther than that. I’ve written from the point of view of Indians (and I do have extensive experience with Indian culture in my every day life) and, obviously, I’ve written from the point of view of people who have physical disabilities that I do not have. I think that I do it well. Others might feel, though, that I don’t have the right to...

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Devotee and Non-Disabled Partner

There are many devotees in relationships with partners who are not disabled (and farther down I’ll be talking about the different ways this happens). Does that make them no longer devotees? Not at all. This can be a tricky concept, because I know I had trouble with it when applied to a situation with some parallels to this one: bisexuality. I have a friend who is bisexual and she is now married to a man. It was difficult at first for me to understand that her picking a man didn’t mean that she had chosen to be straight and that her bi-ness was now gone or even effectively gone. She is bisexual and she always will be.  I only started to understand that when I looked at my own situation. I’ve dated both disabled and non-disabled men. A fairly even...

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People Don’t Care

People Don’t Care

Some days I feel like I’m pushing a huge boulder up a hill and it’s never going to make it to the top.  I guess you have to watch for small victories. The other day I was sitting at work when I overheard a coworker telling a new person about computer systems he’s been reading about that allow brain waves to be recorded. The technology is being developed partly as a new way to move wheelchairs, to replace the sip and puff style. Coworker: “…So paraplegics can use it.” I stop typing and frown. What?! Given the pride associated with being able to use a manual chair and then add the expense that this technology will no doubt cost and I can’t imagine a para using it.  I call over, “I think you mean quadriplegics.”...

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We Are All Disabled

We Are All Disabled

If you have a visible disability in the southern U.S., you are likely to be approached by a well-meaning Christian about how 1) Jesus can heal you, 2) they themselves can heal you by laying on hands in the Lord’s name, or 3) if you pray more, Jesus would heal you. Whenever I see this happen, I am always really tempted to turn it on the person.  Of course, no one is saying it to me, so it’s really none of my business (and when has that ever stopped me?!) But if I were the person being told this, I’d say, “And if you prayed to Jesus more, he would cure you of….” There’s always something. Obesity. Near-sightedness. Bad teeth. Baldness. Acne. What, I wonder, makes the person think that they are in a position to say they are...

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Can You Spot the Difference?

Can You Spot the Difference?

It’s really strange to me that the general population does not seem to be aware that there are different kinds of wheelchairs. Not just that there’s a difference between manual and power, but that some are ugly. My mom told me one day about seeing a man using a wheelchair at the ashram.  I said, “Was it a sexy wheelchair?”  She looked at me blankly, then said she had no idea.  Most people don’t seem to think of wheelchairs as sexy or not sexy.  Yet, if I ask a paraplegic friend a question like that, he or she knows *exactly* what I’m talking about. I was watching a TV show I just discovered called Lie To Me.  They had one episode where there’s a character who uses a wheelchair.  He’s introduced during a wheelchair...

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Disability: Excuse or Explanation?

This is a fundamental question in my own life. When faced with something that is challenging because of my autism, do I accept that it is not worth the trouble to do it or do I force myself through my difficulties to do it anyway? Partly, of course, it depends what it is.  But what is my default? Before I knew that I had Asperger’s, I worked very hard to keep up with my peers.  I pushed myself to do things out of my comfort zone.  My strong desire was to stay quietly at home, to not stretch, to not engage in the world.  I was all about self-improvement, though, and I saw others going out to make their fortune, as they used to say in adventure books.  I moved out of my parents’ house, out of the State, and forced myself to live independently. I’m...

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