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Sara...

  • ...is a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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Contact

  • E-mail me at:

    sara at saraarts dot com

    Make sure the subject line of your correspondence is clear and specific. I do not open e-mails from strangers unless I can tell in advance that I want to read them.

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  • I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Good reads, grownups only

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Comments

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Sally

This, for me, is a wonderful example of writing to tease something apart in order for it to be understood. And you have combed all the tangle of your Town's and the Art Establishment's conscious and unconscious disablism. You should now get it published in your town !! That maybe would bring out all the other people with impairments that, I think you said, are invisible.
But then you would probably never ever be employed again !! Or able to appear publicly !!
Great post, thank you.

Sokari

A beautiful post - your task takes courage but from the way you have thought this through and no doubt it is only the beginning I am sure you will find some of the answers you seek - we all need to take and experience these journeys - the journeys of other people - like your journey. much appreciated.

Queen Mother

Excellent writing. Your tongue must be permanently affixed to your cheek.

Sara

Sally, I would have to live here a lot longer before I felt comfortable doing that. I've lived in this town only two years, in New England only 12. You know in Lord of the Rings how the Ents take a day and half a night to say "good morning" to each other? Well, becoming a local in New England in some places can be like that. The history I've given may not be complete or accurate; heck, I just found out that the building does in fact have a working elevator. It may take me years to get the whole picture and the whole story. So I think I've resolved to look for it a little harder, to be more visible, and to speak up more when I get the opportunity. We'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, I have to decide who I am. It's actually become an issue for getting state benefits: do I identify myself as disabled or not? Am I disabled? Even if my putative disability doesn't prevent me from working at any field that would interest me, should I say I am anyway just to make disabled people more evident to people funding and making decisions about these programs? Thus does the personal become political. I just stare at these forms not knowing what to do.

Sokari, thank you for your kind words. And I agree with what you said about needed to share our experiences, our journeys. It's one of the reasons I'm such a big fan of your blog. It lets me in on journeys I might not otherwise even know existed, from so many perspectives I could never have imagined on my own, and I am grateful for that.

Queen Mother, no, not permanently affixed. Sometimes I have to move it to make room for the foot in my mouth.

Cheers, everyone!

Amorette

I love this entry too, because it's just so very true. I've seen so much of this behavior.

In my very own (I'm not going to call it "beloved") city, I've been locked in a struggle with our Post Office for several years.

Government building, right? Therefore, there's nothing unreasonable in expecting they could make just a few concessions for those of us who can't sprint up narrow little stairs and struggle with the outward-opening doors into their lobby.

When I go up stairs, I feel I'm making a spectacle of myself. It's a very steep flight of uncommonly narrow treads, edged with a handrail that's too wide, flat and polished to get a hand around. I have to walk sideways and hold on with both hands; I'm sure it looks ridiculous, like I should have a few sherpas hauling gear behind me. But I'm just trying to get to a point where I feel safe...especially when, for me, a fall means right back to a wheelchair, or worse (do not pass go, do not collect $200).

At the top of this ridiculous flight of stairs, there is an equally narrow and equally ridiculous landing. This means that once you've struggled your way to the top, there's no chance to rest or even to prepare yourself for the people coming out of the lobby, blasting through the outward-opening doors and potentially knocking you right back to square one.

It's bad enough in good weather with only an envelope in your hand. I'm sure you can imagine what it's like in icy weather when you're trying to carry a package.

Feeling as if I was being very reasonable, I asked several different postal employees about access for disabled people. Their answer was always the same: if I wanted to get in, I would have to go through a process.

1)Go alllll the way around the building to the back door. No, can't park there,that's where the mail trucks go. You have to park in the customer lot and (walk?) there. This is a big post office, and that's quite a (walk?). Especially in inclement weather.

2)Scale the steep mail-cart ramp. This ramp is much steeper than wheelchair ramps.

3) Stand at the back door and ring the bell.

4) Wait until someone is free to escort you through the sorting facility, down the hallway of business offices and around the corner to the lobby.

5) Do whatever you came to the post office to do.

6) Tell the window clerk that you need someone to escort you back to the back door.

7) Wait until someone becomes available.

8) Walk through the lobby, around the corner, down the hall of business offices, through the sorting facility and back out the back door.

9) Get down the mail-cart ramp without falling (always harder down than up, for me).

10) Go alllll the way back around the building to the area where you were allowed to park.

This "process" struck me as more than a little insane. I went all the way to the Postmaster, where he gave me the insanity-consistent final word:

They don't have to make the building handicap-accessible because a local historical landmark law supersedes any ADA-related laws. The building is a "landmark" and they won't...nay, "can't"...alter that crumbling beauty for the likes of me.

I'd never heard of anything like that before. In what sort of parallel dimension does this make sense? How is a Government building getting around providing disabled access due to a local landmark law?

The kicker of it was, he didn't seem to care. He'd adopted that whole "battle mode" persona, where he was in the right and simply dealing with a Problem. It didn't do wonders for my self-esteem.

To cope, I avoid the Post Office whenever possible. I do as much as I can with the "Click N Ship" and home pickup.

Regarding being tagged as "disabled"...you don't have to think of it as disabled. Think of it however you want. Think of it like this: you're so damn good the Powers that Be had to give the rest of the world a running start.

And yes, I wince each and every time someone asks me, "Oh, got a stiff neck?" It's a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario...if you just laugh and play it down, it compromises you...but if you bring up "cancer" and it makes them feel bad for asking, that makes you the bad guy.

You're probably better off without that job anyway.

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