Since I love to read and since I have tons of books downloaded onto the Voice Dream Reader app, I’m going to attempt to do more pleasure reading in the coming days than I’ve done lately. All of the books I’ve downloaded onto the Voice Dream Reader app are from Bookshare. And quite frankly, Bookshare is honestly my preferred source for books nowadays. The reason for this, is because Bookshare has tons of book categories; hell, I even got the books for my American Sign Language 101 class on Bookshare. But so far, as for available book resources for people who are blind, I’d highly recommend Bookshare. And since I’m thinking about it, a close second would be iBooks. Third, I’d have to say Audible. These are just my preferences; I’m sure other folks who are blind have different preferences than I do.
But anyway, a book I’m reading right now is called Dyke Life; it’s a book that details different parts of women’s experiences regarding their sexuality, their coming out process, their family of origin’s support or lack thereof regarding their relative’s sexuality and lots more. And something I noticed pretty early on in reading the book, was that this book has given me insight into how truly difficult women’s journeys surrounding their sexuality can be, most especially when their family of origin rejects that part of their identity. This resonated with me, I guess because I’ve been my own worst critic, not to menntion, I’ve downplayed the fact I’ve always known that I’m attracted to women. Like, one example that’s given in this book called Dyke Life that speaks on how traumatic women’s situations can be, is that women suppress their same-sex feelings, fantasies ETC and date men. I did exactly that, even including having sex with men. But before I’d read that particular thing in this book, I was unnecessarily cruel towards myself because I felt alone in this particular struggle. But I’m glad I decided to download and read this book, as I think it’s important for me to learn to be kind to myself, just as I would be to another person. But it’s easier said then done, though.
I recently made it all the way through Timecrest two; I’ve been playing said game from Timecrest one ever since the game’s developers released a new design for Timecrest earlier this month. And in doing some reflection of how I’ve gone through this game in the past, to how I’ve gone through it recently, it’s been interesting. Because I remember that when I very first started playing this game, I’d make choices that were how I’d probably do things in real life, if this were the life of Chelsea as it really was. But then, the more comfortable I became with the layout of Timecrest, the more relaxed I became, in terms of making different choices within the game. Because I eventually got to a point where I thought to myself “the developers of this game have taken their time to create a story with rich detail, so why should I as a game player not go as wild as I can with regards to the choices I make within the game?” But that was the thing: I had to literally give myself that permission to play the game as it was meant to be played. And then once I’d realized that I didn’t have to be so literal or even that I didn’t necessarily have to be kind in this game, I became unstoppable!! But now that I’ve reached what is the actual end of Timecrest two, I don’t know if I’m going to play the game again or not. Like, I don’t know how much longer it’ll be before Timecrest three is released…so between now and then, who knows what I’ll decide to do.
Michelle and Barack Obama have created a show on Netflix that’s called Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. And this show is one that I’ve been excited about seeing for some time. So, the show goes through how even several decades ago, the world as a whole was not built with people with disabilities in mind. And also in this Netflix original show, people with disabilities share their stories about how they’ve had to come together as a people, in order to demand for the world to see them, to see us, as the equals that we are. There were people in this show who were wheelchair users, people who had Cerebral Palsy, people who were deaf and so on. But to be honest, this Netflix original show won’t go down as being one of my favorite ones. I say this because there was just something about it that rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, I understand that part of the reason behind why terms like “handicapped” and “crippled” were used, was because those very terms were correct ways to address folks with disabilities at one point in time…at least, that held true until people with disabilities spoke up and let the world know that they, that we, actually wanted to choose for ourselves what terms best identify us as people with disabilities. But even so, hearing words like “handicapped” and “crippled” still didn’t sit well with me. But then again, there’s another part of me that also acknowledges the truth that there are folks in the world today who are disabled, who prefer to describe themselves as “crippled.” And in having the perspective that I do, I have no desire to take anyone’s agency away from them, even though they may use different identifiers for themselves, than I do for myself.
But along similar lines, I’ve written here in my blog before, about how when both sides of my biological family used the term “gay” to describe anyone who was not heterosexual, it felt personal to me. And so, combine them acting that way, with the times that I did outwardly communicate to them that I was not straight…and you’ll hopefully understand why I’ve hated myself for most of my life. But then something in me shifted, once I’d left Texas for good. And what happened during that shift in my life, was that I decided to use the term “gay” to describe myself, as a way for me to change how I thought about that term as a whole. And when I’d made that shift mentally…and then as I’d started smiling whenever I’d use the term “gay” to describe myself, I felt like this new shift had become second-nature to me, very quickly at that. And so, TBH, my life has felt much freer, since I’ve shifted the way I think about the term “gay” as a whole. And that’s important to write about here because this shift has become a huge part of what’s become a powerful re-write of my story.
In a recent episode of Multiamory that I listened to, the show’s hosts discussed how we can all ensure that we take the best possible care of ourselves and others that we can. And one of the things that stood out to me in this episode, was the suggestion that people in romantic relationships of any kind talk with one another about how their biological family raised them to think and act in situations surrounding people’s health. And the Multiamory hosts having this particular discussion made me reflect on how both sides of my biological family operated when it came to my health/the health of other loved ones. So with regards to my biological mom’s actions when I was sick, she pretty much avoided me, with the exception of when I’d ask for her to get me food or drinks. But then when it came to both sides of my grandparents, all of those folks were great at making me feel loved and cared for whenever I was sick.
But then when it came to the issue of me doing chores, my biological mom rarely made me do anything at all. And so, her operating that way has really stuck with me throughout my life, in a difficult way. And what I mean by saying that, is that not only did I not learn to be responsible like many adults do learn and should learn…but I also didn’t act any differently when it came to the romantic relationships I was in, at any given time. In fact, in my last romantic relationship, my then-boyfriend and I had discussions about this sort of thing. Because there came a time when I realized that something was making my then-boyfriend frustratted or upset…and so, upon having that realization, I opened up a discussion between us. And what the two of us ended up learning from each other, was that we were raised totally differently. So for me, given what I’ve said above regarding my biological family not letting me be responsible for chores, this transferred over into my romantic relationships: I would never just help my partners with things around the house…and until this last relationship that I was in, I never even asked my partners how they felt about that particular thing. I mean, to be fair, I’ve only had a few serious relationships where I’ve visited the people I was with for a week or more at a time. And then on top of that, those serious relationships of mine were pretty spread out from each other…so it was easy for me to not give this issue much thought. But as I said above, the last romantic relationship I was in, was the first real time I’d had an actual discussion with anyone about my part in doing chores.
And so, the thing that my then-boyfriend and I discussed together, was the ways in which our biological families differed from one another. And the main point that I brought up, was to say that both sides of my biological family raised me to not do chores, unless someone flat out asked me for help with something. But prior to me encouraging my then-boyfriend to have an open discussion with me about this, he was just stewing inwardly…and I had no idea why. Like, I could tell that there was something that was bothering him, but that was the extent of my knowledge. So that being said, when he and I actually openly talked about this, he learned that I was not trying to be unhelpful or lazy…but that both sides of my biological family literally taught me to never help do chores of my own accord. And I know that that probably sounds hard to imagine to some folks, and it was even hard for my then-boyfriend to understand. But I let him know that I wanted to talk about this so that I could figure out how to then fix it. Because the thing was, it was important to me to care for him in the ways that felt caring and loving to him; but the thing was, I couldn’t become a better person/partner until we had a serious discussion about what that looked like for each of us. And what ended up happening, was that my then-boyfriend found out that when he used his words and told me “it would be helpful if you would do the dishes,” I would take care of that task no problem. I also explained to him that communication was important because otherwise, people could easily get into situations with their partners where one person starts to feel resentful towards the other person…just as happened with him and I. So needless to say, I definitely didn’t want this to be a continued problem between us, or in my future with anyone else.
But then, another thing I thought of along these lines, was the fact that when I was a student at the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB) I shared an apartment with another female who was also a student at the center. And in that particular situation, where I knew from the get-go that I was at least partially responsible for keeping the apartment clean/neat-looking, I followed those rules, no problem. Because in that specific situation, part of what I did to prepare for becoming an LCB student, was to research exactly the kinds of things that being a student there would teach me. And the main thing that was my biggest demon at that time, was having to undo years and years of incorrect behaviors…and TBH, that’s something that I’m pretty sure I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life in different ways. Because unfortunately, there’ are just some things about repeated abuse and repeated trauma, that I don’t think folks can ever get over completely. But that being said, that’s one reason why I’ve learned the importance of me being open about what I’ve endured/how I’m constantly working to undo anything I discover about myself that’s unhelpful. Creating this blog in fact, was one avenue that I thought would be great for my overall health as well…and not only that, but the things I have to say will hopefully help others, even if it’s just in a small way.
In the latest episode of Love Someone with Delilah, the guest Delilah has, is the singer Jewel. And listening to this interview with Jewel really took me back. Because one of the very first cassette tapes I’d listened to, was Jewel’s album called “Pieces of You.” I played the hell out of that cassette tape and I could sing nearly all of its songs. And so, this interview Jewel did with Delilah is actually going to be a two-part interview which leaves me plenty of time to listen to Jewel’s music and reflect some more on how listening to her music really helped me, in my traumatic childhood.
Monday I wrote the following FB post which reads:
Today’s win: being able to navigate a website independently to purchase some merchandise for myself. But before I get to the good part, I have to give a short background to you all. Last night while scrolling through FB, I read a post where one of my friends talked about the fact that Elizabeth Warren’s campaign merchandise store would be closed soon. So thanks to that reminder, I checked out Elizabeth Warren’s merch store for myself. And the reason this is a win, is because Elizabeth Warren’s website had typed up image descriptions for each of her items in the merch store; literally, for every, single, item, that’s, there!! Whereas, when I’ve bought other merchandise in the past, I’ve had to have a sighted friend make the purchases for me because otherwise, I would have no idea what I would be getting, because I can’t see. So, when I kept reading some of my blind friends’ FB posts saying that Elizabeth Warren’s merch store was accessible to people who use screen reading software to navigate the internet/word processing ETC, I knew I had to support this cause. And I did: I’ve just ordered my Elizabeth Warren Braille buttons and my Elizabeth Warren “Debate Champion” shirt.
Now, I want to make it known for those of you who don’t already know, Elizabeth Warren has been the only one who thought about blind people during her campaign. She not only thought about us as blind people, but she combined action with her thoughts and she was even outspoken about the fact that those of us with disabilities exist and that we have just as much right to be heard as anyone else does. She created buttons with Braille on them…again, because she cares about us as the fellow human beings that we are. So it will be repeated once more: every, single, product, in her merchandise store had image descriptions. So when you say “I know you’re sad about her being out, Chelsea,” know that I’m not just sad. I feel like Elizabeth Warren sees my humanity/other disabled people’s humanities in a way that our world typically does not…because she took the time to make her shit accessible!! I don’t know of anyone else who has done this…but I love this woman so, so, so, so much. And I’m grateful that I’m living in a time where she exists as well.
Now, I hope some of you have a better understanding of why I ask you to describe your photos/videos. I do it, not to be a pain in your ass…but because I even as a blind person, want to be a part of your world. I want to feel like I can share in your life happenings…but when I hear the word “photo” and then my speech output software says ‘no text available,’ that makes me sad. And when you put tons of hashtags that are not capitalized on any form of social media, I can’t understand what those are either, unless I scroll character by character. That’s why, when I use hashtags, I always capitalize them. If they aren’t capatalized, that’s how you know I’m having someone post on Instagram or Facebook for me. But please, from your friend (me), please try to do better. I don’t expect perfection. Even a little more inclusive posts would brighten my day/life, truly.
Also that same day, I sent an email to the Financial Aid Department of my school; I needed to ask them how things should be handled to rectify my situation, given the order for this entire state to stay home. And the next morning, yesterday in fact, someone responded to the email I’d sent. The person told me that I could email the required documents to them directly or to the main email address for this specific department. But the thing is, I still have to physically go to pick up that documentation from my doctor; because said documentation is supposed to be attached to the paperwork that the Financial Aid Department had given me whenever I visited them earlier in the month. So hopefully I can figure out a time to have my caretaker or someone else take me to my neurosurgeon’s office soon, as it’ll be much easier to explain what I need them to write in-person. Because I’ve gone through hell before, at times that I’ve needed people to fax things to doctors…and it’s been incredibly stressful to not have any idea whether the medical staff even did what I needed them to do or not. So I intend to bypass that crap, this time around. But that being said, it’s such a fucking hassle!! Nothing in my life can ever be easy. Ugh.
Another infuriating thing that happened yesterday, was that I received an email from Elizabeth Warren’s merchandise store. In this email from them, I was informed that given the majority of the world’s order to stay home, said merchandise team couldn’t fulfill people’s orders. So it’s frustrating that I’m back in this limbo position. Because if you’ve read my blog at least since last fall, I was in a similar situation with Christina Aguilera’s merchandise store, at that time. And in that situation, I flat out didn’t receive all of the bundle that was supposed to be released with a 20-year anniversary release of Christina Aguilera’s self-titled album. And I kept hoping and hoping that the digital release of said album would eventually get into the public’s hands. But long story short, there came a time when I just realized that that was not going to happen. And so, I’m bringing that up now, when I’m in a similar situation with Elizabeth Warren’s merchandise team…because I’m worried that I’m not actually going to receive any of the items I’d recently ordered that were part of Elizabeth Warren’s campaign. And it would totally suck if that exact same thing does happen.