Accessibility Fairy

I wrote this post last week. I don’t feel so positive about things right now, but I’m willing to acknowledge that I felt this way last week and many other times. See my last post for a more current report on how I feel right now.

From last week:

My favorite wintertime activity is smashing ice that obstructs the curb ramps of sidewalks near my home. I like to think of myself as an accessibility fairy. In a perfect world, there would be no use for an accessibility fairy. All the sidewalks and curb ramps would be cleared for maximum accessibility. But that’s just never going to happen.

I can report properties where snow has not been cleared, but that doesn’t feel like enough. I want more than a dispersal of cautionary form letters. I want as many people as possible to be able to safely navigate my neighborhood. I want people to be able to get their wheelchairs from one bus stop to another. I want people to be able to push a stroller around without having to lift it all the time.

I can’t fix everything, so I focus on removing the obstructions that remain when people think they’ve cleared it well enough. The places where the sidewalk meets the street are a definite legal gray area. One side of the curb line is the responsibility of the property owner, one side is the responsibility of the city. But it’s hard to say which side the ice mound is on until you smash through it. In reality, though, the ice mound is usually on the street side since the plow drivers try not to destroy the curbs. The city isn’t going to do anything about the icy snow banks at the bottom of all the curb ramps. The plowing has a lot of room for improvement, and I’ve learned that pedestrian improvements are usually at the end of the public wish list.

Crossing the street as a pedestrian can be very scary sometimes. Most motorists don’t know the crosswalk law, and many motorists in my neighborhood show a wanton disregard for the safety of pedestrians. I like to clean up the curb ramp areas so pedestrians can have an easier time getting in and out of the street while aggressive, entitled motorists are careening about.

I wish all the sidewalks were fully accessible all the time. If more people cared, we could get a lot closer to that. I just do my best to make my little corner of the world a little better for some people.

I’m Tired

I’m tired of being an activist. I want to make the world a better place, but a lot of people are heavily invested in the opposite. I’m tired of entitlement. I’m tired of violent motorists. I’m tired of ableism. I’m tired of sexism and transphobia. I’m tired of living in a culture that calls me disposable. I’m tired of waking up every day. Sometimes I just want to go to sleep forever.

Tech Support

I backdated yesterday’s post to the time when I first tried to publish it. I didn’t actually get it online until after 10 this morning. My internet connection did this fascinating thing last night where it stopped being able to locate my blog website here. I could still view all the other websites I wanted to. I could view this one on my phone, but that’s pretty inconvenient.

I ran around doing nerd stuff for a while. I ruled out everything I could fix on my own. I’ve learned that if I can’t figure it out, tech support probably won’t be able to help me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a better option. I spent the next two or three hours chatting online with tech support. (I like that modern technological trends have accidentally made more things accessible to deaf people.) In that time, the friendly tech support person determined that they could not help me.

Someone is supposed to call me back in the next day or two, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to hear the person who calls. The odds are not in my favor. In any case, I should practice my butch voice so they take me seriously. Looks like I’ll be accessing my blog from my phone for a while.

Following Through

I have a lot of trouble finishing all the projects I start. I have very many interests and I’m easily distractable. And since I turned 30 (I’m 35 now), time seems to pass a lot faster than it used to. I’m in the middle of reading three different books. I have half a dozen partially finished blog posts. I routinely forget to push the start button on the coffee pot and the rice maker. I have a habit of wandering off after cutting only a few of my fingernails. I want to get better at focusing well enough to finish some of the overwhelming projects. I feel like one way to accomplish this is to break the big projects into smaller tasks. I am starting my year by writing a blog post that is ten sentences long.

Solo Week

In just over a day, Elysa will be leaving for a week-long island vacation with her extended family at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. I will be staying home, doing bachelor things like eating dinner over the sink and going days without putting on pants. It’s been over eight and a half years since Elysa and I have spent more than a couple days apart. While I’m really not looking forward to this, I think I’m prepared to make the best of it. My goals for the week include the following: take my meds as directed, go to bed at night, eat food every day, be extra careful to avoid frostbite if I play outside, feed cats and scoop potty boxes as needed, empty mailbox on mail days, try to heal my scabby ear canals, and make a dent in my mending pile. I also hope to post about my progress to my blog here while pretending that I’m not just shouting into the void.

Physics

One time when I was riding in the car with Elysa, I saw some construction cranes.
I said, “Cranes make me think of physics.”
Elysa replied, “Everything makes you think of physics.” She was right.
Now when I see cranes, it makes me think of how everythinig makes me think of physics.

Possible Side Effects

For fun or something, I decided to put the side effects lists from all my prescribed mediciations into one big fun list. Here it is: high blood pressure, chest pain, shortness of breath, bleeding, low blood sodium, low white blood cell count, diabetes, high cholesterol, low blood sugar, seizures, dizziness, headache, shakiness, confusion, hallucinations, strange dreams, trouble sleeping, nervousness, anxiety, tiredness, insomnia, eye problems, ringing in ears, dry mouth, nose or throat irritation, drooling, trouble swallowing, abdominal pain, upset stomach, vomiting, constipation, gas, loss of appetite, weight gain, excessive sweating, reduced sexual ability, tardive dyskinesia, serotonin syndrome, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis.

Socially Acceptable

Things I wish were less socially acceptable than they seem to be:

  • Driving around with an unsecured pile of lumber balanced on top of your van
  • Throwing a greasy wrapper on the ground in front of a seeing eye dog
  • Asking a stranger what their genitals look like
  • Killing someone with your car
  • Blowing cigarette smoke in someone’s face as they enter a building
  • Touching someone without their permission
  • Leaving a pile of trash in front of your house for several months at a time

Things I wish were more socially acceptable than they seem to be:

  • Requesting disability accommodations
  • Wearing a breathing mask
  • Stopping for a stop sign
  • Asking someone to stop touching you
  • Cleaning up litter from the ground
  • Declining a plastic bag

Family Resemblance

My first winter using public transportation, I found myself to be consistently unprepared for how much my nose ran when I was outside in the cold air. I was broke, so I would often grab some extra toilet paper for my nose when I used a public bathroom. Most of the tp I took was the standard institutional 2-ply that the U of M used. Then one day, I found that the alumni center on campus had way better toilet paper. It was some quilted stuff that was actually soft.

That evening, I felt compelled to tell my friends about my exciting discovery. I tried to explain how different the toilet papers were, but words can only do so much. Then I realized I had a few squares of each left in my coat pocket, so I passed those around for everyone to compare. While I was waiting for my samples to make their way around the group, I tried to describe the worst toilet paper I’d encountered in a public bathroom. It was narrow, thin, and slightly abrasive. And, as I was thrilled to discover, I had a sample of that with me too. I passed that around and had a giggle about my unusualness. I think most people don’t have toilet paper show and tell with their friends.

I talked to my mom on the phone a couple days later and told her about my strange Ande moment. She told me that while it surely was an unusual thing I had done, it was just another example of my uncanny resemblance to my grandmother, who had returned from a trip to Europe with a similar array of toilet paper samples many years before.

Turtle Crossing

In late spring of 2001, while I was driving my usual route home, I saw a turtle trying to cross the highway. I thought about stopping to help, but I didn’t really feel like making that effort. A few hours later, when I drove back in the other direction, I saw the remains of the turtle who had not made it across. It broke my heart, and I felt terrible for ignoring my impulse to help the poor thing.

A week or two after that, I saw another turtle crossing the highway on my way to the community college. This time, I pulled over and carried the turtle the rest of the way across. Feeling extremely satisfied, I decided to start leaving extra time for my morning drive to school, in case any other turtles needed saving. There was a lot of turtle traffic on that highway, so small rescue operations became a regular thing for me.

There wasn’t a ton of automobile traffic on that road, so I never had to wait long to cross safely. I liked it when people drove by while I was working. I know I was a sight to see. Back then, I wore black clothes and black makeup and assorted chains and spiked things. If camera phones and social media had existed, I could have become internet famous: “Goth teen consoles turtle while directing traffic.”

Most of my clients were painted turtles or red eared sliders. I would walk up to one, they’d impersonate a rock, and I’d move the one-pound “rock” to a safe location. One day, though, I saw a turtle in trouble that was at least ten times bigger than any of the others I’d helped, and this one had more threatening features. When I got closer, the turtle stretched out their neck toward me, opened their mouth, and let out a frantic but exhausted sounding hiss. I knew this wouldn’t be a simple “move the rock” rescue, so I launched into a motivational speech. I didn’t know what else to do with a snapping turtle.

I remember standing in the middle of the road, gesturing emphatically while attempting to verbally persuade my shelled friend to finish crossing while it was safe. Whenever a vehicle drove by, the turtle would hiss at it threatenly. Unlike the other turtles, the snapper stopped crossing and took on a defensive response. Most of the turtles crossed slowly but surely. I wondered how long this one had been standing in the middle of the road, trying to intimidate the vehicles rather than walk away from them.

I went to my car and frantically dug for something that could help. My combination snow brush and ice scraper was the longest thing I had, so I decided to go with that. I figured I could nudge the frightened critter toward the ditch without risking the loss of any of my digits. So I went behind the turtle and gave them an encouraging little poke. Instead of moving forward though, the turtle turned around and hissed at me.

I figured I might have more luck getting the turtle to come after me than trying to push them in front of me. I waved my ice scraper in their face. Instead of walking toward me, the turtle shot their neck out and bit down on the plastic end of my tool. This impressively aggressive gesture made me extra glad I had kept my hands at a safe distance. I pulled my ice scraper and dragged the turtle about a yard before they let go. After a few more pokes, the turtle was chasing me through the ditch. The internet would have loved that video too.