Dear Mr. Urban,

Let me preface everything that follows by saying that on the main, my life is fairly ordinary. I pay bills and watch too much TV and read too few books, and I keep my mind busy by writing silly stories no one reads. Most of the time, I like my life, and while I can't say I wouldn't change it, I can say that I wouldn't give it up. It's mine, for better or worse.

I have moderate spastic quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. That means I move through the world with a set of wheels under my ass and possess all the grace of a drunken marmoset on an ice floe. I list and lean and flop, and I couldn't stand up if my life depended on it. Heaven knows I tried when I was younger, prodded on by desperate parents in denial and enterprising doctors with visions of miracles in their heads. But it simply wasn't meant to be, and never mind the surgeries and the therapies and the well-meant prayers. I can't say I've made peace with it; there are days I still rail and seethe and argue with God, but I've learned to live with it.

It also means there are days when I don't want to do this anymore, don't want to wake up and fight my body just to make it out of bed and to the bathroom. I don't want to be stared at or prayed over or used as an object lesson in How Much Worse It Could Be. I don't want to be ignored by cashiers and waiters and other people at the grocery store who pretend not to see me, or given dirty looks because I'm slow. I don't want to hear the ticket taker at the movies surreptitiously whispering to my partner that they admire him for taking me out in public. I don't want to be told I should be grateful for my blessings by people who merrily proceed to metaphorically piss in my face with their head-patting condescension, or that the hardships in my life don't matter because I was put here by God to punish my parents and make them better people. I don't want to eat dirt and be told not to mind the taste because it's the best the likes of me deserves.

On these days--and there are ever-increasing numbers of them as I grow older; it's easier to believe the best of people when you are sixteen and filled with the optimism of the future than it is when you are thirty-six and twenty years into the realization that the wheelchair is forever--it's so very tempting to give up, to simply get into bed one night and not get out again. If I quit, then this can be over. No more exhaustion or loneliness or shame, no more wasted energy or disappointment, no more hurt, no more living with the knowledge that I don't belong. I could just stop, and even if there were nothing at the end of the dark, it would be better than this.

So I want to thank you for John Kennex. I know it was a role that required personal sacrifice for you, but I'm glad you took it. I needed him. I know he wasn't a perfect analogue for my disability, but he was disabled, and he was there for the world to see, not as an object of pity or a walking educational tool for rubbernecking clods with more curiosity than tact or a karma totem for people who needed to feel better about themselves, but as a man just trying to get by. He was grumpy and angry and confused. He was everything I've ever felt about being disabled, about being so very different. He was also smart and driven and decent under all the curmudgeonly pissiness. He was real. He was human, allowed to be flawed in more ways than his missing leg, and I can't tell you how much it meant to see him there, living his fictional life on the screen. I will miss him, but I will be forever grateful for the brief time I had him. He helped me keep my head above water, helped me make the decision to keep putting my wobbly feet on the floor every morning and trying to see the good in the world.

I'd also like to thank you for Bones McCoy. I know DeForrest Kelley lived in his skin first, and I will always adore him, but your Bones reminds me of a dedicated orthopedic surgeon I had as a child who tried so very hard to make my limitations easier to bear, and who never forgot that I was a scared little girl in a very scary, painful situation. He went on to head a children's hospital, and I went on to high school and university, where I met my partner. He didn't "cure" me, but he made my life better, and whenever I see your Bones, I catch a glimpse of him.

So thank you. Thank you for wearing their skins for a while. Thank you for the long hours and the time away from your family. It would be melodramatic to claim you saved my life, but you've certainly made it better, brighter, and more bearable on the bad days, and there are no words to express my gratitude for that.

I hope to tell you this myself one day at a con. If our paths should cross, please be patient with my palsied hands and fumbling mouth. If they never do, then I wish you well and look forward to your future projects and hope that all the blessings you have unknowingly given to the world are returned tenfold.


Shannon Lowe

P.S. That surfing video you posted to Youtube never fails to cheer me up.

Apparently, being a gimp still sucks ass in 2254. Seriously, all that awesome medical tech, and that's what they come up with? The design is utterly impractical. The armrests are flared out so far that it would be hard for him to push himself. The edges would chafe and cut into his arms. The wheel placement is too close to the chassis for that configuration. The footplate appears fixed, which means he'd have to step over it to get in or out. It's a fall hazard. And the push bar looks too low. There's no cushioning and no brakes. Hit a steep descent, and the oh-so-dignified admiral be fucked. Like a goddamn bottle rocket. Who designed this bucket, and was it done by subpar welders? It looks like something from Saw: Steampunk Edition.

Shame on you, lazy Star Trek prop designers.
One thousand two hundred and forty-two words today.

But remember, disabled people, you matter!.

I'd rather look at this than ponder that, to be honest, and while I'm aware that the bulge in his tights is probably a cup, I'm going to pretend otherwise.
Florida County to Close All Bathrooms at Polling Stations on Election Day.

Why? Because rather than ensuring their public restrooms meet minimum ADA codes for accessibility, they'd prohibit anyone from being able to exercise a basic human need. If only those whiny cripples weren't so demanding, trying to exercise their Constitutional rights while maintaining their dignity. Now, no one can pee. That'll solve it, and it certainly won't subject disabled people to more hardship, humiliation, and contempt.

Am I, a disabled woman who has been routinely discriminated against, ridiculed, feared as a terrifying, uncomfortable Other, and isolated in all facets of life, but especially in dating and friendship, supposed to sympathize Stahl for the plight of perfection? Go fuck yourself, AH writers. Forgive me if I do not weep for someone who will never get a disease or die of anything but old age unless she's killed in the line of duty. I don't give a spastic rat's ass about how hard it is to be a gorgeous, healthy genius.

Now, if they had taken the tack that Stahl resented her parents for being unwilling to accept who she might have been had they left her to chance, I'd've been all over it, but nope. Just a whole infodump of how perfect she is.

I loved the rest of the episode, though. The case was solid and well-paced, and everyone, including the perpetrator, was sympathetic. I can't help but wonder if things might've turned out had John said he'd never been loved instead. I think the thought crossed his mind, but in the end, such an admission was too painful.

And poor John. He made his move too late and was left floundering and alone. We're supposed to be loved, indeed.
Six hundred and nineteen words today, and I'm sure I'll add to that total as the day goes on.

Replace the bewigged behemoth with Richard Kruspe or Karl Urban, and this would be my default mode of transportation.
One thousand two hundred and seventy-one words today. I decided to fiddle with my Priest drawerfic.

One of my biggest problems with the disability rights movement and social justice as a whole is the idea that equality and representation should be perfect and immediate. In a perfect world, they should be, but this world is far from perfect, and so to carp on society's often clumsy, imperfect, and sometimes disastrous attempts at inclusion is counterproductive.

No, the Guinness commercial with the able friends playing wheelchair basketball with their disabled buddy wasn't perfect, and the end at the bar did carry a whiff of cookie-scented condescension when paired with the self-congratulatory voiceover, but it was also an attempt to foster inclusion and normalize relationships between the able and the disabled. It was glurgy, but at least acknowledged the existence of disabled people. If it had been better received, they might have gone on to produce better commercials down the road. The rare and awkward might have become commonplace and seamless.

But when self-styled disability rights advocates react like this, any hope for progress is lost, because no money-grubbing corporation in its right mind is going to risk stirring a self-righteous uproar and alienating customers, even temporarily. So rather than feature more disabled people, ads will feature fewer. Well, done, advocates. Yay for progess.

It chaps the ass to have to express gratitude for even the meanest measure of progress. It's demeaning and exhausting. But screaming and stropping haven't gotten us any closer to inclusion in twenty years, so maybe it's time for a different tack. Maybe instead of responding to these cack-handed efforts with frothing rage and a hearty, "Fuck YOU!", which is oh-so-satisfying in the moment, we should take and deep breath and say, "That's great. Have you thought about X?" Because you can't scream down the walls about isolation, segregation, and exclusion, and then throw a strop that an ad dares to depict able friends including their disabled friend in a group activity. Either you want to be integrated into able society, or you want to stay in your insulated, grab-bar-infested bubble and daydream of the magical gimp utopia that will spring into being with no effort on your part.

An inclusive society is going to take time, and effort on both sides. There are going to be blunders and frustrations and bouts of jackassery on both sides. Shitting on a dumb Guinness commercial isn't striking a blow for great justice or raising awareness; it's venting your spleen because it feels good to be angry, to have a target for your justifiable rage at this unfair, inaccessible world. It's a necessary outlet if you want to keep your sanity. What it isn't is social justice, and it is a mistake to confuse the two.

And why are so many disability advocates such shrill, blinkered people with grossly-inflated senses of self-importance?

Bonus bloviating and self-aggrandizing puffery: Feel the Hot Wind Blow.
Three hundred and forty-four words today.

The next time fandom starts patting its back and bleating about the importance of inclusivity, I'm pointing it to this post in the Almost HumanTV comm. When it comes down to it, fandom is just as shallow as all the fangirls they are so quick to dismiss and condemn. Fandom is in it for the porn and the pretty, and it should just own up to it instead of insisting that everything it produces is for Great Justice. Most of the folks writing Kennex/Dorian aren't doing it to advance LGBTQI rights; they're doing it because the thought of Michael Ealy drilling Karl Urban like a prospective oil well makes their panties tingle. The fucking end.

Did I expect a long, nuanced discussion? No. I'm not a fool. But I did hope for a few comments suggesting possible alternative adaptations. It's the future, after all, and it's hardly as though I were shoehorning disability issues into a universe ill-suited to their inclusion. The lead is an amputee, for Christ's sake.

Talking gimp tech isn't as sexy as writing about hot people bumping uglies and macho heterosexual dudes with issues falling for their male android partners and angsting about it, but fuck you, fandom, for talking so very big and delivering so very little.
One thousand three hundred and seventy-one words today.

Yes, ONTD and the rest of the able world, it's so funny that deaf people were tacitly excluded from Nelson Mandela's memorial service because the interpreter "hired" for the event was a fraud who had no idea what he was doing. Oh, so funny that deaf people were denied the chance to hear their world leaders speak because no one could be assed to perform a routine check to be sure the guy was certified in Sign. Ha, ha, ha.

I don't have a dog in this fight per se, but as a disabled person, I'm so fucking tired of able folks twisting themselves into knots to explain why its totally okay to find it funny that the interpreter was a fraud who stood onstage and flapped his hands like an asshole and made sure that the deaf and hard-of-hearing in attendance had no idea what was being said. "Hahaha, I'm not laughing at the deaf people, but OMG, can you imagine all those dignitaries having no clue that he was up there spewing nonsense?" "Heehee, can you imagine how confused the deaf people were? LOL."

And when people, including members of the Deaf community, point out that that's it's not so fucking funny when you're the one left out, the Internet as a whole morphs into a sea of butthurt Randy Marshes. "I wasn't laughing at the deaf people, I was just thinking of the oblivious politicians and the absurdity of the situation, GAH."

So what? You're still an asswipe for laughing at the fact that people were excluded and marginalized at an event designed for unity and inclusion. You're still oblivious, bigoted assholes with gross, dismissive attitudes. "Sure, it sucked for the deaf people, but them's the breaks when you're deaf, and besides, it was entertaining to me."

Fuck the lot of you. Disabled folks of all stripes hear "Shut up and buck up; sure, you're excluded, but you've got to learn to take one for the team and stop being so selfish all the time." It's fucking patronizing and exhausting, and if you want to know the truth, I've been taking one for the team since I was three years old and have yet to see any dividends for my sacrifice. I bet I'm not the only one. So I hope the Deaf community mobilizes and rains a sea of shit on the assholes who half-assed it on the search for an interpreter, because being a loud, aggressive asshole is the only way anything changes in this crude, selfish world.

Oh, and it turns out that the fraudulent interpreter is a schizophrenic who has been charged with rape, murder, and breaking and entering in the past but been deemed unfit for trial. So, of course now it's suddenly not funny, and everyone is clutching their pearls and howling about how close he was to President Obama(because of course he's the only world leader who might attract the attention of a creeper, don't you know?). Well, maybe if someone had given more of a damn about proper access for the deaf and disabled, the background check might have been more thorough.

Fucking assbags.
Two thousand and fifty-nine words since last update.

Deaf Woman Harassed on Internet After Filing Complaint Over ADA Violation at Theater.

There is no winning, it seems. According to the moronic commenters(don't miss those, by the way; their nonsensical logic would make Spock cry.), even though the theater was in clear and admitted violation of the law, Ms. Dowd is still wrong and shameful for complaining because she should pull herself up by her bootstraps until she does the noble thing and chokes on them take responsibility for her disability and stop expecting everyone else to accommodate her. Never mind that she did take responsibility by asking for equipment to which she was legally entitled and which was required to be on hand. My favorite is the imbecile erudite philosopher who compared profound deafness to low thyroid and poor vision correctable with contacts. This font of wisdom tells us that "just because something is the law doesn't make it right."

All right, then, you blinkered asshole. You should remember that when an angry deaf person punches you in the mouth for being an obtuse jerk. After all, it might be the law that you can't just punch someone for being a dumbass, but sometimes, you just have to. For convenience and immense, nigh-orgasmic personal satisfaction the greater good, of course.

Garbage like this is why I need not to be ashamed of writing fic where the limpy chick gets the hot cop/grumpy doctor/damaged amputee cop/emotionally-constipated Judge. The real world is determined that if you aren't physically-perfect, then you deserve not so much as the meanest pleasure from this life.
Five hundred and fifty-seven words today.

To the surprise of absolutely no disabled people anywhere..

In fairness to Amtrak, while the station in Atlanta wasn't perfectly accessible, the staff were lovely and did everything in their power to make my trip as painless and smooth as possible.

ETA: But not everything is horrible. Bless you, vigilant mailman.

I understand that sometimes you just can't do the grinding work of a PCA anymore, but what kind of sadistic jerkass just leaves a paralyzed stroke victim in their recliner and bails without telling anyone?
If Only All Doctors Had the Integrity of Bones McCoy.

This surprises me not at all. God bless the doctor for jerking a knot in that nurse's tail.
One thousand and five words today.

There's nothing grossly unethical about this. At all.

Disabled folks know for whose convenience and happiness this really was, and it certainly wasn't the boy's.

I need a shower and a stiff drink.
One thousand and seventy-three words today. I'm currently wallowing happily about in the minor details of Small Mercies VIII. Modern fic readers seem to eschew any fic that doesn't get from A to B in the shortest possible time, or so it seems to me from listening to them piss and moan ad nauseam on FFA, but I can't refrain from filling in every nook and cranny of the character I'm exploring. It's too much fun, and since most readers see clicking the kudos button on AO3 or scribbling, "I like this." into a comment box as an onerous burden and an unreasonable demand on their precious time, I can't be assed to care what they like. If I should be writing purely for the love of it, then I'm going to write what I love.

The McCoy fic presents a stickier wicket, if only because it's not strictly ethical for him to be boning his patients. I could handwave it since the good captain and his first officer are boning subordinates, but I'm ashamed to confess another problem: I don't think people would read a fic featuring gimpy sex.

When I was younger and more idealistic, I never worried whether or not people would buy a disabled/able pairing because hey, this is fandom. If they can believe Squid/Hagrid or castle/Dumbles or Sheppard/McKay, then surely they can go with hot cop/gimpy professor woman or hot doctor/gimpy refugee. Liebe is fuer alle da, right?


For all its claims to subversiveness, fandom is more squeamish than it cares to admit when it comes to disability and sex. Xenomorph/android is utterly valid and acceptable. Hot dude/disabled, disfigured, or fat person? Not so much. In fact, ew. Get the ugly out of the pretty, and do you really expect them to believe that Hottie X would stoop to that? Atypical, disabled bodies are gross and often need extra time to get down to the dirty, and who wants hopeful realism in their fap material?

I can't change their minds or their preferences, so I'm just going to have to bull through it and see how the story turns out in the end.
One thousand and four words today.

God job, you entitled assbags. Now disabled people who genuinely need help and accommodation won't get it. Today, you have made the world a better place. You want to bet that the douchebags so gleefully exploiting a policy meant to make life at waist-level suck a little less are the same jackasses who piss and moan about welfare queens and lazy, "entitled" tax leeches?
laguera25: Dug from UP! (Default)
( Sep. 10th, 2013 10:23 pm)
No luck with the dentist hunt, though not for want of effort. After getting the go-ahead from the bean counter, I got in touch with snazzy dentist. Turns out he's never actually dealt with a physically-disabled client before and offers neither nitrous nor pre-appointment sedation. Well, he's not the dentist for me, then. It's a bummer, but hardly surprising. For all that many disabled folks often need greater dental support than the average able patient, few dentists are equipped to deal with wheelchairs, walkers, and people who have trouble holding their mouths open or their heads still. Their offices are seldom accessible, and even if they are, their treatment rooms aren't. Roomie or one of my parents has had to lift me from my chair, heave me into the room, and arrange me in the dental chair.

Whereupon the hygienist proceeds to lecture me for not going to the dentist more often. Gee, I wonder why that might be? Do any of your able patients need to have an out-of-body experience before getting treatment? Unless and until the rest of you have to leave your legs in the waiting room, shut up.

So, back to the drawing board.
Neighbors Threaten to Sue Family Over Handicap Ramp

You want to bet the complaining neighbors would describe themselves as "nice" people? Because telling a disabled child that she should just stay inside forever rather than affect property values is just what nice people do. It's stories like this that makes me want to say fuck it and get my selfish asshole on. It's clear that able folks don't give two wet shits about people like me, so why should I waste my limited energy worrying about them? God knows I'm tired of squeezing myself into the smallest space of a given area for fear of inconveniencing them. Next time I go to the grocery store, I'm going to sit in the middle of the aisle just like they do with their carts and booger-mining children, and I'm going to look at the precut fruit for as long as I damn well please, and if they don't like it, they can just sit and spin. I'm tired of being conscientious to a fault, only to receive absolutely zero courtesy in turn.
More of that fabled special treatment for cripples that able folks are so pissy about.

Yep, just look at us, lording over others and wanting so much more than the clear equality we so patently enjoy.

I just hope Lufthansa isn't so barbaric when I get my Berlin on.
Two thousand and sixty-five words since last update. Contrary to my previous optimism, BaBR II is not done, though not for want of trying. It just keeps going.

Starbucks Employees Discriminate Against Deaf Customers

But we disabled folks just need to change our outlooks. People can't discriminate against you if you don't let them. Good Christ. In the grand hierarchy of gimpdom, deafness is among the easier disabilities to accommodate. Generally, there is no remodeling, building recon, or furniture rearrangement involved, and when it comes to general commerce, all you need is patience and mayhap a pen and paper. But I guess asking people not to be crass jackasses is expecting too much for poor able folks who have it so hard with all those uppity cripples demanding not to be ridiculed or used as convenient teaching tools.

Do disabled folks sometimes see ill or cruel intent where there is none? Sure. But when you routinely get kicked in the face when you least expect it, you develop a flinch. And frankly, our suspicions are correct more often than anyone wants to admit. Why else would perfect strangers approach me on the street to say, "I couldn't do it. I'd kill myself if I had to live like that." My own mother has said this to me when she was in her cups. If persecution and bigotry were all in our heads and gimp life was an idyllic, free-ride utopia as all the embittered able folks insist whenever they hear about us getting the "perk" of reserved seating at concerts(seats which are only reserved until three days before the show and can then be sold to anyone, mind you)or special transit options to get us from A to B(if A or be is either the grocery store or the doctor, that is. Also, your pickup and retrieval windows can vary by two hours either way. Oh, and all appointments must be scheduled twenty-four hours in advance and can be canceled by the transit company without notice.), then no one would feel compelled to impart to me this ugly nugget of revelatory wisdom.

You wouldn't want to live this way, you say? Well, neither do I, but I don't have a choice. Please keep your awkward epiphany to yourselves and stop making disabled lives harder and more painful than they already are.
I just watched the trailer for Almost Human. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEee! Karl Urban on my TV. And he plays an emotionally-damaged cripple. Okay, so he's not an OG gimp, and he's working the old "I'm resentful of my gimpiness and the assistive technology it requires" self-loathing angle, but still. It's a portrayal of disability on television. And he's not going to be a pity prop for everyone's else's angst catharsis. It's a start, and I'll take what I can get.

I do wonder why the disability advocates howling about Blair Underwood's casting in Ironside aren't chewing on Karl Urban's ass for playing an amputee and thereby "stealing" a job from a "deserving" disabled actor.


laguera25: Dug from UP! (Default)


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