Assorted book, TV show and podcast thoughts

I just finished reading a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. This book is buy a man named Mark Manson and this time reading it for me was the second time doing so. The main message that I’ve taken away from this book this time around, is that human beings figuring out what they truly care about in life…and then living their lives with those values in mind, is how to live well. I totally agree with that truth; it’s something that’s helped me keep my own core values in mind, both as they currently are and as they evolve. I love the way Mark Manson’s blunt approach demonstrates to his readers that he means exactly what he says. If you’ve read my blog for long enough, you know that I too, value straightforwardness, over trying to use pretty-sounding language that causes what you’re saying to lose its urgency and meaning ETC. Hell, I used to use such confusing language myself; but within these last three years, I’ve really decided to change that part of myself. Because quite frankly, what I was doing was essentially helping myself break my own heart…because I cared too damn much about how others saw me. Whereas now, the only thing that’s important to me, is living my truth, every second of every day; and I know that doing that will definitely piss off people. But I also know that the right people, the folks who are my tribe, will love this about me because they’ll know that I love this about me.

But that being said, something about this book that I found incredibly frustrating, was that the book was mainly written for people who ascribe to America’s traditional hetero-normative culture. And along with that, the author of this book talked shit about people who have casual sex and non-monogamous sex. Like, on one hand, he talked about how he’d had such relationships himself…but how now that he’s in a monogamous marriage, casual sex became among the things that he now hates. This rubs me the wrong way because I don’t think it’s respectable for people to negatively judge something that’s different from how they live, especially when they used to do said thing themselves. Look, I get that Mark Manson is probably happy in his monogamous marriage; that’s great!! But instead of saying something in this book like “I’m happy in my marriage but I don’t judge folks who live differently than I do,” he chose to be an asshole/exactly like the kinda people he’d continually claim to despise throughout this book.

Yet another thing in the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck that stood out as problematic to me, was Mark Manson’s belief that human beings are not worthy or special in any way. I take that way of thinking as being ironic, being how in this very book, he encourages people, several times at that, to care about things and to care about fellow human beings. I personally believe that each individual in the world has things to teach others, whether those teachings are good or bad. I also believe that us creating a legacy for ourselves and others, that will live on even after we’re dead, is a good use of one’s time. Mark Manson seems to suggest that all of these things are pointless. And that is ironic because he fucking wrote a book in which he gives people advice on the best way he thinks fellow humans ought to live their lives.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately, is how in the book entitled More Than Two, the book’s authors kept coming back to something that I think is important to remember and discuss: the fact that in being polyamorous, we who are poly could get to a point where we unintentionally objectify human beings that we are or will be in relationships with. Hell, I do remember writing about this sort of thing on my blog before, just not in these exact words; because I do remember a time not too long ago in my own life when I realized that I was trying to build a person in certain ways…but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was headed right towards acting like most of my family of origin had acted towards me. And almost immediately, that particular realization stopped me in my tracks: because I didn’t and don’t want to live like those people do. But ultimately, I brought this up in relation to the book More Than Two because I love the way that the book’s authors articulated this concept of the importance of not treating people like objects. It’s really a great reminder and one that I definitely needed! Because until I re-read that particular book/listened to tons of Multiamory episodes, I didn’t think about how me trying to custom-build the kind of people I wanted to be in romantic relationships with, was actually harmful. But I’m glad that I had this wake-up call nonetheless.

More Than Two’s authors also stress to their book readers that we ought to move away from thinking in terms of staying in relationships that are not adding to our happiness…and start thinking in terms of allowing all of our relationships to evolve into whatever it is that they are all meant to evolve into. I honestly loved this part of this book because it was validating in terms of acknowledging the fact that this adjustment wouldn’t be easy for folks to make…but it would likely be worthwhile. I love that these authors acknowledge that this is an option that is available to people, besides just monogamy.

In a recent episode of Multiamory, Jase, Emily and Dedeker talked about how living with romantic partners can sometimes become like living with our parents. I was filled with excitement when I heard VoiceOver on my phone read out that they were opening up this specific can of worms. Because this is something that I’ve thought about quite a bit myself; in fact, it’s one reason why I will likely never live with any of my romantic partners. Not only do I love my alone time and my own space, but I also love that that space was and is something that I totally create myself. Because oftentimes, when I’ve shared living spaces with partners of mine, I’ve not only felt like their moms…but I was often expected to do things that were and are physically hard for me to do. And as I’ve said before, in literally all of my past relationships with people, romantic or otherwise, I didn’t know that I had the right to speak up for myself. So I just let a lot of shit slide, that I could’ve actually spoken up about, if I’d known that speaking up was actually possible. But upon reflecting on this now, I realize that this view I had, was given to me by my fucking family of origin.

I feel like nearly all of my unhealthy responses/behaviors exist because I’ve had such bad examples as role models. I mean, I know for a fact that many folks in my family of origin see marriage as a trap/as something that is not meant for anyone to enjoy. I also know for a fact that many women in my family of origin believe that men as a whole would not be able to function, if it weren’t for those women mothering them. I know for a fact that many women in my family of origin blame other people for their problems; I know this because I’ve seen these people do that, more times than I can count. I know for a fact that numerous women in my family of origin believe that they are always right, simply because they are Christians. And so, I knew that I’d have fun writing about this particular episode of Multiamory…because family of origin bullshit is something I have plenty of stories about. LOL.

But backing up a bit, I want to say that something else that rubs me the wrong way about living with romantic partners, is the way that people think of couples. Like, whenever I’ve lived with folks in that particular context, people who’d see my partners and I, would assume that neither of us is an individual any more, because we’re in a romantic relationship with each other. And hell, I myself have even been guilty of subconsciously allowing myself to believe that as being the truth. But nowadays, I find such assumptions annoying and toxic as fuck. No one should ever lose themselves, whether they are married, pregnant or otherwise in relationships with people.

I want to go back for a second to talk about how through my family of origin, I was made to believe that literally all men were incapable of doing things for themselves. I vividly remember many of the women in my bio family constantly reminding the men in their lives how to be adults…and honestly, I never thought to question that particular thing until I became an adult myself. And so, what I started thinking about, was how the men behaved when these women would treat them this way. And right away, I realized that the men in their lives probably felt helpless and frustrated. But for the longest time, I didn’t know how to go about changing myself so that I wouldn’t fall into this same trap. And sadly though, I mostly stopped treating men this way in the last romantic relationship I was in. It was incredibly difficult to change this within myself…but I knew that I didn’t want to treat men in a toxic manner, just because I saw my family of origin do so for years.

In a recent episode of the Invisibilia podcast, the host of the show told a story about a man in another country who had become popular…but in the worst possible way. What I mean by that, is that he was one of many targets made by big companies. So this man received thousands upon thousands of emails, text messages and phone calls a day. He’d also had complete strangers showing up at his house on a regular basis. It was insane; but it turned out that this harassment that this man dealt with for years and years was still going on even earlier this year. But thankfully, people in power started doing what they could to help make this harassment stop. But honestly, it was interesting to me because the constant evolution of technology continues to make this sort of thing easily accessible to people who want to do bad things. And that’s something about the world that I hate with a passion.

But that being said, hearing this particular story on the Invisibilia podcast, made me think about a couple times in my own life where I became extremely paranoid. One of those times happened at the church I recently talked about having Bible study with. In fact, I believe that the reason this happened, was because of the elderly lady who didn’t respect my wishes to keep most of my contact information private. And so, what happened was that a month or so after I’d met one of the newest members in this group, I received a call from a police department. Now, I knew even then, that policemen don’t just randomly call strangers. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it was that I’d done for them to call me. So when I called the policeman back, I let him tell me what was going on. And it turned out that one of the women in this Bible study group I was a part of, the woman who was the most recent new group member, in fact, had apparently been stalking me. I was told by the policeman that this woman had gotten all of my information from the roster that had been passed around within the group. And honestly, I knew that something like this was totally possible; that was why I’d said to the group that I only wanted them to have my email address. Because honestly, I’d gotten a horrible feeling about the group’s newest member when I’d met her. But even so, I never expected any police department to call me.

But anyway, going back to the story of the phone call I’d gotten from a policeman: when I was asked by him if I knew this lady’s last name, I said that I didn’t. And so, it was at that point that he told me that she’d claimed I’d helped her steal a car. The policeman then assured me that he’d already looked into who I was. So he knew that I’m blind, he knew that I was a poor person and he knew that I received help from the Blind Services department in San Antonio. He told me all of these things specifically, as I didn’t say much to him, other than giving him my name and saying I was returning his call. And then once he’d given me the information I’d hoped he’d discovered, he let me know that he just wanted to call me because he thought I deserved to know the lengths to which this creepy woman had gone to try and hurt my reputation. And even though this conversation with him was scary, I did my best to not let that fear show itself. I remained paranoid until I finally moved out of that apartment though, because of this lady but also because of my family of origin.

Speaking of my family of origin, many of these people were another reason for my paranoia at this same apartment. And so, what happened with these folks likely happened because my Oma (grandma in German), Oma’s friends or my Aunt Loretta told the bad folks where I lived. Because at that time, my Aunt Loretta and Oma visited me regularly. Sometimes the two of them would come to my apartment together, other times I’d go to one of their houses and yet other times one of them would come to my apartment. But back then I didn’t understand that my bio mom was still a relative of theirs, even though she was abusive to me. The only thing I knew, was that somehow my bio mom and other family members who I didn’t want to have that sensitive information, did have that information. And unfortunately, I also didn’t understand back then that I didn’t have to keep toxic people in my life, even if the toxic people in question were related to me by blood. So I didn’t stand up for myself and once my unwanted family members started showing up at my apartment, I was miserable there. My PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, became what felt like the worst it’s ever been. And even more unfortunately, I remained miserable and paranoid until January 31st 2018: my last day in that apartment…and my nearly 7th year in said apartment. It was definitely no way to live.

A show that my caretaker recently told me about, is called The Society; and I binge-watched the entire season of the show in just a few days. The reason it took me a few days to watch it though, rather than just a couple days to do so, is because this show’s contents are heavy…and because I feel everything so deeply as an empath, I needed to take breaks from watching this show. Hell, I often need to take breaks from watching most things, for this particular reason. LOL.

But now, I’ll go into what The Society is about: it’s about a group of high school children who are mysteriously taken to a place that looks exactly like the town they came from. But in this place that they’d been taken to, there are no adults there at all. And so, the children have to work together to figure out how they’re going to survive. But being that they are teenagers already dealing with hardships, they all experience additional ups and downs with each other…and the fact that they have to figure out how to create this new world for themselves, only compounds their wide range of feelings. So needless to say, I’m ready for season two of The Society to be released. But I’m not sure when that’s going to happen.

What my dream home would be like…

In thinking about what kinda design I’d like my dream home to have, I’ll start by saying that money isn’t an issue here. I’m just writing this post for fun and not-so-secretly hoping that someone who could actually make this happen reads this blog post. I know that’s a longshot, though. But at the same time, I do also know that there are people in the world who want to help people meet their needs…so one of them could be pointed to this post of mine.
But anyway, given that money isn’t an issue here, I’d like to have a small one-bedroom house all to myself. I’d love for my house’s entryway to have a stair-free flat-ground into and out of the house. I wouldn’t mind if at most, there is a small lip in the threshold of the doorway that my wheelchair could easily move on or off of. And then, as folks who are sighted walk into my house, they’d see a huge picture kinda high up on the wall of a train. This picture would take up a lot of wall space. But below that picture though, folks would see a huge picture of a horse. This picture too, would take up a lot of wall space. And then right as folks would turn the corner that goes into the living room area, they’d see a medium-sized waterfall. And in case this is unclear to anyone, trains, horses and waterfalls are three things that I’ve always loved.

In my living room area, there would be no pictures on any of the walls, as I’d want folks who visit me to fully absorb the audio sounds within this room…and allow themselves to totally relax and enjoy these experiences. But I do envision having a BlueTooth surround sound system, like the ones that movie theaters have. But my surround sound system would be different, in that I’d also want said system to be voice-activated for literally everything from its setup, to resetting itself if need be, to adding new BlueTooth devices to it. This surround sound system would have the capability to have an unlimited number of BlueTooth devices connected to it at any time. This amazing system would have its own built-in virtual assistant named Farty McFaddin, similar to, but better than Alexa or Siri combined. One thing that imaginary Farty McFaddin would be able to do that neither Alexa or Siri currently does, is that it would tell me how much battery is left on whichever of my BlueTooth devices I want to check the status of at any given time. This system would also make a sound that would let me know when any of my connected devices are about to die. These settings could be brought up by me saying “Alexa, Siri or Farty McFaddin, open my customizable settings.” And any of those virtual assistants would be able to walk me through changing whichever settings that I want to change. In addition, this system would have a charging dock on it for my phone; and it would make a different sound to let me know when the device finishes charging. But also, Farty McFaddin could call a service like Life Alert, if I ever fell down or somehow got seriously hurt at home…and I needed immediate medical attention or the police’s help.

So for example, I could say “Farty McFaddin, call for help.” And from that point, my virtual assistant could ask me “would you like to call from this particular BlueTooth device that you are currently using, or from your phone?” Then using only my voice, I could speak aloud which device I wanted it to use. But also, if I was in a situation where I needed to call for help because someone was actively hurting me, I could say “Farty McFaddin, buy me a cookie” or some other random phrase. And Farty McFaddin would know that that particular phrase is code for “get me help but do it silently,” as I’m unable to answer any questions right now. And if that were to really happen in this dream house of mine, I’d probably have to deal with the police showing up as well as the paramedics showing up. But I’d rather have too many people arrive than none at all.

I’d also put a bad-ass stereo system in the living room area of my house, as I’m quite an audio nerd. But just as a reminder, this particular room in my house would be designed for folks to unwind and enjoy these experiences. And even though I’m talking about an entirely different system now, the same exact specks that I’ve mentioned above will apply here. However I’ll put all of the specks here again. That way, people can easily get the full context.
So this stereo system of mine would be voice-activated for literally everything from its setup, to resetting itself if need be, to adding new BlueTooth devices to it. This system would have the capability to have an unlimited number of BlueTooth devices connected to it at any time. It would have its own built-in virtual assistant named Farty McFaddin similar to, but better than Alexa or Siri combined. One thing that imaginary Farty McFaddin would be able to do that neither Alexa or Siri currently does, is that it would tell me how much battery is left on whichever of my BlueTooth devices I want to check the status of at any given time. This system would also make a sound to let me know when any connected devices are about to die. These settings could be brought up by me saying “Alexa, Siri or Farty McFaddin, open my customizable settings.” And any of those virtual assistants would be able to walk me through changing whichever settings that I want to change. In addition, this stereo system would have a charging dock on it for my phone; and it would make a different sound to let me know when the device finishes charging. But also, Farty McFaddin could call a service like Life Alert, if I ever fell down or somehow got seriously hurt at home…and I needed immediate medical attention or the police’s help.

I’d also love to have a spacious bathroom that my wheelchair could comfortably fit in and move around in. And also in this spacious bathroom, I’d like to have a walk-in shower with railings all around the shower area, with a foldable seat that’s attached to one of the shower walls. That way, I’d have the freedom to choose when I want to stand up/when I want to sit down. Having a spacious bathroom would also give me plenty of room to take my leg braces off before I shower…and plenty of room to put them back on once I’m out of the shower. In the bathroom, I’d also have a huge BlueTooth speaker. And said speaker would have the same exact specks as the items have that I’ve prreviously mentioned. This BlueTooth speaker of mine would be voice-activated for literally everything from its setup, to resetting itself if need be, to adding new BlueTooth devices to it. This BlueTooth speaker would have the capability to have an unlimited number of BlueTooth devices connected to it at any time. It would have its own built-in virtual assistant similar to, but better than Alexa or Siri combined. One thing that this imaginary virtual assistant would be able to do that neither Alexa or Siri currently does, is that it would tell me how much battery is left on whichever of my BlueTooth devices I want to check the status of at any given time. This BlueTooth speaker would also make a sound to let me know when any connected devices are about to die. These settings could be brought up by me saying “Alexa, Siri or Farty McFaddin, open my customizable settings.” And any of those virtual assistants would be able to walk me through changing whichever settings that I want to change. In addition, this system would have a charging dock on it for my phone; and it would make a different sound to let me know when the device finishes charging. But also, this speaker system could call a service like Life Alert, if I ever fell down or somehow got seriously hurt at home…and I needed immediate medical attention or the police’s help.

In addition to the things that I’ve already mentioned about this imaginary but lovely dream of a house for myself, I’d have accessories throughout the house that are connected via BlueTooth to my Amazon Echo Dot as well as to my phone. These particular accessories would allow me to say “Alexa, turn off the lights in the entire house.” Having the ability to do this would come in handy for me, most especially because whenever I’d have guests over at this imaginary house, most likely those guests would be sighted…and I know that sighted people always turn on all the lights that are available to them. So once sighted folks have left my house, being able to quickly use my voice to make sure that all of the lights are turned off, the windows and blinds are closed and the shades are pulled down for privacy, would truly be awesome.

But something else that these accessories could do for me, would be that they could allow me to control my home thermostat and my home heater, using only my voice. So I could say “Alexa, what is the current temperature in my house?” And Alexa could speak aloud the answer to that question. Or my phone could tell me the answer to that question, by popping up a notification on my phone that VoiceOver would speak aloud to me. Alexa or my phone could then ask me “would you like to change the house’s temperature?” And I could use my voice and say yes or no to that question. And if I do want to change my house’s temperature at any time, after hearing my “yes,” Alexa or my phone could ask what I want to change the temperature to…and then whichever device I was using at the time could change the temperature to whatever I want it to be. But in addition to that, using the home app that Apple has already created, I could control the thermostat and the heater at my house…even if I’m away from home. I could also say “Alexa, make sure that the front door is locked” which would allow me to work smarter rather than harder.

If I ever wanted to cook myself a little something, I could have a robot in my kitchen that would do the physical labor of the cooking process for me, such as transferring things from the stovetop into the oven…and even transferring things from the oven to a flat surface like a counter. There would only be one button on this robot, and this button would be to wake the machine up. There would be a small toggle switch on this robot that would have three settings: it could be pushed all the way to the left, it could be pushed to its middle setting and it could be pushed all the way to the right: its last setting. The setting on the far left could be for kitchen-related things, the middle setting could turn the robot completely off…and when pushed all the way to the right, the robot’s last setting could signify that I want the robot to read print mail aloud to me. But before I go any further, I want to also say that the countertops in my kitchen would be lower than normal. That way, I could comfortably sit in my wheelchair and have the freedom to choose when and how long I want to stand. But also, the stove, the oven, the dishwasher, the microwave and the toaster, would all be voice activated. All of these items would also speak aloud to me though, in terms of walking me through each of their assorted settings and making me aware of what options are available if say, I want to use particular settings on specific devices all of the time. For example, I know that I like my toast to be a bit crunchy; so I’d probably set my toaster’s default settings to ensure that that preference of mine happens by default, unless it’s changed by someone. I also know that when using a microwave, I’d want my microwave to speak aloud its assorted options, as I’m using its touchscreen. So like, the microwave could say “popcorn” to let me know that the button I’ve pressed is the one that pops popcorn. And the same thing would apply to the defrost button: I’d hear my microwave say “defrost” and I’d know that that action is what my microwave is doing right then. But in addition to these things, I’d also have an ice maker and a water filter that could be refilled when needed, by this robot I’ve been talking about.

And just like every other gadget in my house, this robot that I’ve talked about in the above paragraphs, would mostly be voice activated…for everything from setting the machine up, to resetting the device if need be, and letting me know when its battery needs to be recharged. But if this particular technology works as it would work in my mind’s eye, this robot would put itself on its charger every single time it’s finished helping me with whatever it is that I need it to do at any given time. Like, as soon as I’d say “Robot, read the piece of mail that I’m holding,” it would do so easily, having no trouble deciphering the print…even if it was hand-written print that was on the mail. And so, once the robot had read my mail aloud to me, it would ask “is there anything else I can help you with?” And if I answered “no” to that question, the robot would say “OK, I’m going to sleep,” and then move itself right to its charger, until the next time when I’d push its wake-up button.

In my laundry room, I’d have a washer and dryer that are both voice activated…for everything from setting each of the appliances up, to resetting each of the appliances if need be. This washer and dryer combination of mine would automatically have its default setting set to voicing aloud what’s on the screen of each machine. The dryer in particular would monitor the lent holder. A voice would speak aloud when it was time for me to dump the lent holder’s contents into a trash can, saving me from having to bend over and check the lent holder for myself. This washer and dryer combination would have a thermometer on its inside that would tell me if the clothes in each machine were not all the way done, if the clothes were too wet or if either machine wasn’t working as it should be.

Weird dreams, thoughts on disability, school, world happenings and more

There are a lot of fucked up things happening in the world right now but as I’ve said here before, I’m not looking at social media unless people tag me in things or tell me to look up something specific. But that being said, I do want to acknowledge that I never thought I’d live in a world that’s so broken, from the United States President, to the Republican party and its supporters. But we do live in such a world unfortunately…and the only way I’ve found to best take care of myself, is through writing about other things, through thinking about other things. But I’m acknowledging this now, as I don’t want to give the idea to anyone that I’m unaware of the collective heartbreaks that are currently happening, or that I don’t care about the horrible things we’re currently facing worldwide. I do care about these things deeply…and I hope that somehow, some way, the world as a whole does see a productive way to end this fiasco sooner rather than later.

But interestingly, my caretaker recently asked me why I thought people have been protesting/destroying businesses lately. And I told him that I think these things are being done because taking these specific actions are likely the only way that people feel they’ll be listened to by the world at large. I made it clear to him that I don’t think that the ways in which they’re getting their message across are necessarily healthy for anyone. Look, I’m all for people protesting/doing what they feel is needed, to hopefully solve a problem that’s gotten out of hand. Hell, I myself have even protested in public, several times in my life. But the reason I’m against these sorts of actions as things stand in the world right now, is because Covid19 is still very much with us. And so, even though what’s been in the news as of late, is strictly about the protests/murders of African-Americans, that does not mean that Covid19 has disappeared. No one knows when we as a world will be recovered from Covid19, or if we even will recover from it. But I personally choose to take the high road and have hope that all of the world’s current insanity will only be a distant and unpleasant memory for us, at some point.

Something else that I haven’t written about lately, is the ever-changing positions that the college I attend, has gone through in terms of whether anyone will be allowed on campus in the near future. And I get it, things change rapidly because more hiccups happen in the world, possibly more things give people with power reasons to slow down that they might not have predicted at first. But for me, no matter what the college I attend ultimately decides to do in the near future, I’m going to follow the advice of my medical team. And for me, that course of action is non-negotiable: because in my past, I’ve tried to live as someone who could make myself not give into my serious health issues putting me in a hospital at any given time. I’m ashamed to say that I drank the harmful societal Kool aid: this belief that said serious health conditions would only get in the way of me living my life if I let them do so. It didn’t help that I had toxic people in my life who mirrored that same way of thinking. But thankfully, I’ve realized, mostly through my own experiences, that that simply isn’t the way things work. Or put another way, my serious health conditions I have, will be with me for the rest of my life…whether I like that or not. And the only thing about that truth that I can control, is regularly keeping up with my medical appointments and then keeping my medical team aware of everything I’m going through. And even though it somewhat pains me to have been given such tough circumstances in life, I’m no longer willing to lie to myself and act like that is not actually true for me. I don’t have to like all of my truth, to accept that ugly things are as much a part of my truth as good things are a part of it.

Speaking of things that I haven’t written about here in awhile, the idea I’ve had about having a custom-made walking cane for myself has had some new developments happen. Mainly, the person I’d originally asked to create this cane for me, has had to put their woodwork creations on hold for an unknown amount of time. So upon finding this bit of news out, I went through the entire message thread between this person and I; that way, I could save all of the information I’d need about this custom walking cane creation that I envision for myself. And once I’d saved that info to my phone, I sent a message to the friend of mine who’d helped me pick out the Britney Spears outfit that I’d purchased late last year. In the message I’d sent this friend, I asked them if they’d be interested in helping me search for a company or individual that could make this dream of mine come true. My friend said that they’d be happy to help me and then gave me the website and name of a company to contact. This friend of mine also spent some time looking for a design that would allow me to scream my LGBTQ love to the entire world; but this friend told me that finding a rainbow design to fit this purpose/walking cane was actually proving to be much harder than they’d thought it would be. So I emailed this business that my friend had given me the contact information for, told this business that I’m blind and asked if they’d be OK with me sharing my idea for the walking cane and potentially asking them other visually-related things. They responded saying that would be fine but TBH, I’m pretty nervous about what their answer might be, given what my friend had said about not being able to find LGBT-pride designs that were made for other people’s walking canes.

The phrase “different abilities” disgusts me!!! I’m disabled, not “differently abled” or any other fluffy jargon that many sighted people often use to make themselves feel better about the existence of people with disabilities. I know I’ve blogged about this hatred of mine pretty recently, and I know that it was when I was reading the book entitled When God Rescripts Your Life. But I think this sort of thing cannot be said too much; because the majority of the world still treats us as disabled folks like aliens. The majority of the world still desexualizes me as a disabled person. There are even folks in the world who are so ashamed to call me disabled, that they’ll use phrases like “you have special powers” because that phrase likely makes them feel better about their interactions with me. And so to me, such phrases totally erase my identity, similarly to the way someone might tell a person of color “I don’t see your color,” erasing their entire identity…just like that. So if you’re someone who wants to do better, please do. If you aren’t sure what you could do to become better, ask me; I’ll happily have as in-depth a discussion about it as you would like us to.

I had a recent dream that I was back at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). In this dream, TSBVI was exactly how I remembered it, when I was a student there. But also, in this dream, I had eyesight…and that part of this dream will be meaningful a bit later on. So at first, I was in the cafeteria hanging out with some friends; but then I rolled myself to the big gym, where the occupational therapy/physical therapy department was located. But as I was on my way to the big gym, I heard a familiar voice. But when I said hi to the person as they walked right by me, it was as if they didn’t even know that I was there. But then when I’d finally gotten to the big gym, I could tell right away that there was a piece of paper covering the little window in the door of the OT/PT department; and I wanted to know what it was. But I woke up before I could get the answer to that question. Weird dream, I know.

I had another weird dream recently that I woke up from feeling dazed. But also, even though I was awake after the dream had happened, I was still like, unable to register that I’d just had a weird dream that was scary…but that even so, this dream wasn’t reality. But anyway, what I remember of the dream, was that I was at an unknown place with at least two strangers. And these strangers both knew that I was an atheist. And each of them felt like it was their duty to convince me why I should believe in God. I also remember the three of us having a conversation about the fact that all I wanted to do was to go to my grandma’s house…and these women both saying that they wouldn’t allow me to go back to my grandma’s house, unless I told them I believed in God. And it was as if they’d paralyzed me; but then I awoke from the dream…and that was the end of that weirdness.

I recently wrote a short status on Facebook that I’m going to expand on here. What I wrote reads:
A powerful insight of a sentence that sums me up perfectly is: Death informs how I live my life!! And what I mean by this, is that thinking daily about the deaths of people I deeply care about, has a huge affect on how I live my life/how I move through the world. But also, the fact that I think of my own eventual death on a daily basis, informs how I live my life/how I move through the world. Because thinking about these things intentionally and consciously, helps me be mindful of how I treat people; because ultimately, what I want to leave behind for the world when I die, is that I was someone who stood up for things I thought were right. I want to leave behind that I was someone who frequently reflected on her life and strived to be the best version of myself that I could be. I want people to be inspired by the fact I didn’t take any shit from anyone, no matter who it was that we’d be talking about.

One of my Facebook friends recently wrote something that resonated with me; more specifically, this person’s writing was about the harmfulness of the American flag and of white people from the south demonizing people of color or other folks who are in minority groups. The response I wrote to this writing of theirs, with some expansion, reads:
As a Texas born-and-raised girl myself, I very much identify with everything you’ve said here. What your writing made me think of in my own life, was how much internalized homophobia I had for 30 of my 32 years of life. I was put through conversion therapy, physically and verbally abused by multiple people, you name it. I even remember being encouraged by elderly women at church in Texas to go to specific people within this church, to have those people tell me how I could stop talking shit about the woman who gave birth to me. It was awful. But honestly, what you’ve written is powerful. It absolutely needed to be said. I’m proud that you’ve taken a stand for what you believe in and I’m proud to call you someone I love dearly. I really do hope that your words encourage white people to examine everything that they’ve ever been taught about the American flag and about equal rights for minority groups of any sort. Because being that I myself lived in the south for most of my life just as you did, I can say that it was hard as fuck for me to decide to question what I’d always been told by my family of origin. But then there honestly came a point in my life where it became physically and emotionally painful for me not to tell my truth…and so, I figured out what was important to me and then changed my life accordingly. I’ve loved my life ever since, even in the moments that have been traumatic/otherwise tough.

Within the last week or so, I’ve discovered that iHeartRadio has custom-made stations for different decades. Two of my favorite decades to listen to on this streaming service are the 90s and the 2000s. I listen to both of these stations using my Amazon Echo Dot AKA Alexa. And it seems like each of these stations is constantly adding more music and during this worldwide stuck-at-home time we’re in right now, I truly look forward to listening to the music that these stations each have to offer. It truly is the little things that matter most!!

My caretaker recently told me about a show on Netflix called The Order; he knows that I usually love things that are about magic/other fantasy-oriented shows. But The Order is not a show I’m into; not even a little bit. What it’s about though, is a school called Bellgrave that’s magic; and there’s like, a secret society within this college that’s trying to get to the bottom of why students at said college keep randomly dying. And that storyline seems like it would make for a great show…but the show is disturbingly weird. There’s this monster made out of clay that some of the show’s characters figure out has probably been tasked with killing certain people attending this particular college. But I couldn’t even make it through the second episode of The Order, as it was just too weird and horribly disturbing to me.

I’ve finally gotten my caretaker interested in watching Once Upon a Time; I’ve also been watching said show for the second time around, as my recent blog entries have shown. But interestingly, there have been times when either me or my caretaker gets ahead of the other one in the show; but both of us really want to talk about the show as things happen in it. However I’ve stopped watching Once Upon a Time right now, as my caretaker wants to try to catch up to where I’ve stopped in the show. He’s still on season three of Once Upon a Time and I’m a few episodes away from the end of season four, if my memory serves correctly.

I recently finished watching season five of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. This season of the show was the final one which is bittersweet, as far as I’m concerned. But what this series is about, is a town that’s taken over by a bad villain. And the princesses who live in said town have to work together to figure out how to get rid of the villain for good. One of the princesses who lives in this town though, only discovers that she’s a warrior by accident: she’s trying to figure out how to use the sword that she has, as well as how to just be the kid that she is. But her using that sword is ultimately what leads her to discover that she has everything within her, to become this warrier princess that literally saves the entire town from this evil character known as Horde Prime. As a kid, she’s known as Adora; but when she transforms into a warrier princess, she’s known as She-Ra. And there are times throughout this series that Adora feels like she’s lost She-Ra completely…but yet other times in the show where she seems to feel empowered and ready to act however she needs to, to save her town from the evil that’s present throughout the entire show. And honestly, this show is one of my favorite shows that’s on Netflix because truthfully, She-Ra/Adora, both remind me a lot of myself. Adora is someone I can relate to because she’s trying to find herself which is hard enough to do as it is. But then, when you combine that with fighting an evil villain, that compounds the situation that much more. She-Ra reminds me of myself during the times in my life where I’m ready to fight whomever or whatever, tries to get in the way of the things I want to do to make my life fulfilling and happy. And believe me, there are plenty of people who want to attempt to steal someone’s shine, especially when the shine-stealers feel like other people’s shines are brighter than their own. But also, She-Ra the warrior princess reminds me of myself in terms of the fact that when I feel I’m right about something, I don’t back down…no matter how much push-back I may receive from others about my self-expression.

In a recent episode of Hidden Brain, the host of the show walks us as the listeners through a story about an African-American man being fatally shot by a police officer; but the situation with this man started with him unexpectedly getting out of the car that he was driving. And once he’d gotten out of the vehicle, it was discovered that someone had called the cops on him. But not only did one police car arrive to this scene; there were multiple police cars on the scene as time went by. The first police officer who’d showed up on the scene though, was the one who’d fatally shot this African-American man. And later on, it turned out that this man was not carrying any weapons on his person nor in his vehicle, even though the police seemed to think he’d likely shoot them. And so, as this Hidden Brain episode goes on, we learn that this episode’s focus is on racism/how black people are thought of within American culture as a whole.

The next thing in this episode of Hidden Brain that stood out to me, was that a college student had really been paying attention to the fact that African-American folks were treated awfully by police officers. And this guy was in college back in the 90s when this sort of thing didn’t happen in the world with the frequency that it happens in our world now. But anyway, this college student decided to create a video game where players of said game were given specific instructions to shoot people within the game that they felt were threatening to them. So like, as players would play the game, people would pop up on the game screen holding different objects. Sometimes a black man would be holding a gun, other times a white man would be holding a cell phone; and yet other times, a black man would be holding a water bottle. The game was created this way because this college kid wanted to test whether people unknowingly thought of black folks as being threatening. And more often than not, players of the game viewed black people as threats…and so they shot black folks a lot faster than they shot white ones. But in addition to this game having been created, there were visual studies that were done, with the intention of measuring biases that people were most likely not even aware they had. And interestingly, what was found with many of these studies, was that people not even being aware they had racial bias, didn’t necessarily mean that those people would allow such biases to cloud their judgment in their actual lives.

American Sign Language 101: Triumph of the Spirit, book report

In reading the book Triumph of the Spirit, I felt angry until nearly the end of the book. Although I am a hearing person, I’m also blind and have cerebral palsy. I believe that me having these disabilities gives me insights into this story that non-disabled folks may not have. I also believe I have a unique perspective on this story because I typically steer clear of reading books about people with disabilities (PWDs). Because I feel like it’s enough for me to deal with having multiple disabilities on its own, that when I read books, articles ETC, I want to read tthings that allow me to escape from my lived reality. If I’m going to use my brain to think about things, I want to think about almost anything but disabilities. But given that reading Triumph of the Spirit was a requirement for the American Sign Language course I was taking, and given how I’d come to thoroughly enjoy this class, I was actually excited to read about this person’s perspective on being a Deaf person in a world that’s structured with hearing people in mind. But honestly, I felt surprised to learn that while Deaf folks and blind folks have different disabilities, we each share the common goals of wanting the world to treat us as equals. Blind folks and Deaf folks both want to be given the same opportunities that non-disabled folks receive by default. Blind and Deaf folks want to be seen as people who have dreams of having a family, being in leadership positions where they can demonstrate their skill level and ultimately help society understand that one’s disability doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

In Triumph of the Spirit, the author Angel M Ramos openly says something along the lines of “the problem is not that Deaf people cannot hear; the problem is that hearing people don’t listen.” And within the blind community, we have a similar saying about blindness. We say something like “blindness is not a tragedy; what is problematic, are the misconceptions non-disabled people have about blind people.” Another example of the similarities between blind and Deaf people that I discovered when reading Triumph of the Spirit, is that both of these minority groups have had to fight to be seen for who they are, literally from the very beginning of their existence. There are two nationwide organizations made up of blind people and those organizations share very similar goals about how blind people should be viewed by non-disabled people. But as Angel Ramos said holds true for some folks who are deaf, everyone’s journey is different. And what I took that to mean about deaf people, was that some folks who cannot hear grow up never having learned American Sign Language…while other Deaf folks have figured out how to integrate themselves into the hearing world. And still, yet other people who are unable to hear, choose not to be a part of the Deaf community at all. Well, so too, do we have similar ways of thinking within the blind community. Some people who are legally blind, don’t like to use the B-word “blind” to describe themselves. People who believe this way ssay “I’m not blind; I have some usable eyesight.” But then there are other folks like myself who used to think in that way…but due to our life experiences, have shifted our perspectives. And then, in-between these two extremes, there are numerous variations of how blind or visually impaired people prefer to move through the world, just as I learned was true for deaf and Deaf folks, in reading Triumph of the Spirit.

Another similarity between the blind and Deaf community, is that both nationwide blindness organizations understand that part of advocating for the rights of People with Disabilities, means that we as PWDs will piss people off from time-to-time. And some of us, myself included, embrace that part of speaking out. Confrontation can still be uncomfortable for me sometimes…but as long as I’m heard, it doesn’t bother me that some folks think I’m a loud-mouth. Because even in Triumph of the Spirit, Angel Ramos constantly shows the readers how Deaf people went through something quite similar to what I’ve just described happens in the blind community. And each time Angel Ramos or other Deaf folks stood up for their rights, they seemed to come back the next time even more fired up. Each time hearing people and in some cases, other Deaf people, tried to silence these folks, Deaf people and many of their hearing allies would come together, armed with more information that would ultimately lead them to victory.

So all of this being said, reading Triumph of the Spirit was quite refreshing for me. Because as I’ve said above, I was skeptical about this book going into it…because I thought to myself “oh brother, this book is probably going to be filled with someone who’s bitter about being disabled” and that isn’t ever my thing. But fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised to find Triumph of the Spirit a fun book to read. Yes I was angry throughout reading it; but also, I was rooting for the Deaf community and waiting for the moment where their mission of wanting to have a Deaf President Now would happen. I cried tears of joy as well as anger…but mostly, I feel inspired by this book. I have a bit more understanding of why it’s such a big deal to people in the Deaf community that they have a Deaf president at Gallaudet University, whether they are hearing or Deaf. I identify with the anger that Deaf people have felt and will continue to feel, until we achieve equal rights for everyone, no matter our disability. But for me, what makes Triumph of the Spirit a book that I’ll encourage everyone to read, is the fact that every human being shares similar dreams, desires and feelings as one another. And this is true, even if we’re unfamiliar with how people with disabilities live their lives.

My polyamory journey so far, and why polyamory is part of my identity

As I may have said on my blog before, I’ve been thinking about the concept of polyamory for literally all of my adult life. In fact, the exact moment in time where this first happened, was when I was a student at the Louisiana Center for the Blind (LCB) from fall 2007, to summer 2008. Like, once I started coming to a new understanding, that I have the agency to create the life for myself that I want to live, my whole world opened up. And so that being said, one of the things that I first started examining, happened to be the way I thought about relationships. Because to me, it seemed natural to admit that I love multiple people, in multiple ways. And honestly, I didn’t need to see or know of folks who shared this point of view of mine, to feel validated or like openly living this way was OK to do. But while I’d started thinking about the different ways in which relationships could develop, I still had a ton of internalized stigma to work through. Because let’s face it, society constantly told me that there was only one way to do relationships: monogamy. And in addition to the internalized stigma about polyamory that I’ve dealt with for years, I also didn’t really believe that I’d be able to live as an openly polyamorous person myself. So, internalized stigma, combined with the fear I felt for so long about being different in this way, kept a strong hold on me. So for years, I’ve continued to date monogamously. But the last romantic relationship that I was in, I had multiple conversations with my then-boyfriend about the fact I’d prefer to have more than one romantic partner. I even thought that because I had conviction about this truth of mine, my then partner would understand exactly where I was coming from and be on board with this immediately. And I have no earthly idea what made me think that that’s how things would turn out, other than to say that I unreasonably expected my then partner to do something that he wouldn’t even be comfortable doing. But the good thing that’s come out of him and I having those difficult conversations with each other, is that I’m no longer willing to settle for things that I don’t truly want to have in my life. In fact, part of me becoming more comfortable with this part of my truth, has been to gain a positive self-worth. The hard work of me making that a new reality for myself, is literally the entire thing that’s brought me to where I am now: ready to live as an openly polyamorous person. And so, even though there are times when I have fleeting thoughts about monogamy actually being the right path for me, deep down, I know that that’s just my brain trying to process exactly what this choice to have non-traditional relationships will mean for my life over all. And personally, I only see one major downside to this life choice of mine: the fact that I’ll likely deal with more relationship breakups than I dealt with when I outwardly lived as a monogamous person.

And now, here are the reasons why I’m finally choosing to live unapolygetically; I got that term from the Multiamory podcast, by the way 🙂
For one thing, I don’t necessarily think that we human beings were born to be monogamous–monogamy can and does work for some folks, but I’m not one of those people. But also, polyamory is a great way to use any and all resources that are available to us; and by resources, I mean that each person in our lives has different things to offer us–one person may share a particular kinda kink with us, another person may love sharing their art with me in a way that’s accessible to me as a blind person…while yet someone else may love to go on nature walks with me. And I could go on and on and on, in terms of thinking of the benefits of polyamory from my perspective; perhaps I’ll save that for a future blog post, though. Anyway, my point here is that literally every single person that we interact with (regardless of where we physically are) has the ability to help us grow as individuals, in unexpected and life-enhancing ways. In addition to these things that I’ve already mentioned though, it makes sense for me to build a community of people around me, my tribe if you will, who loves one another/helps one another through the good and the bad times in our lives. This particular thing has become even sexier to me as I’ve gained a ton of serious health issues…and my choice to use the word “sexier” here was totally intentional. Because I think of the fact that for so long, I didn’t have a reliable family to love and who I could love in return. And while I’ve developed the skills that a survivor of any sort needs in their figurative toolbox, that doesn’t take the place of creating a community called “Team Chelsea.” Because as a monogamous person, when I’d think of my potential partners’ not being sexually active when one of my serious health issues flares up, that would hurt my soul. Like, the thought that their sexual needs wouldn’t be met for an unknown amount of time, filled me with a deep sadness and dread. I at least wanted them to know that they could have the freedom to be sexual with others. But literally every sexual partner I’ve had, whether we were romantically involved with each other or not, seemed offended that I’d so casually tell them that it was OK with me if they had sex with others, even though the sex they could have with me was temporarily non-existent. But for me, outwardly accepting that we as human beings do find other human beings attractive and that we even lust after others, even when we’re already in romantic relationships with someone, that is true love. Because in my opinion, love truly is limitless!!

Thoughts on some Netflix shows, consent and other important issues

In my Facebook memories, a couple of the posts I’d written about consent and boundaries have come up recently. And so, I thought that I’d talk about those things now, as I don’t think that they can ever be talked about too much. And not just that, but consent and boundary setting/boundary enforcing, are all things that can be difficult for many folks to follow through with (including me).

Throughout my life, I’ve gone to church quite a bit; but there are a few specific experiences of my church-going that stand out for being so awful that just thinking about them literally makes me cringe. And one such experience, happened last year when I was in Las Vegas visiting some of my chosen family. I’d gone to church with these people because I was in Vegas to spend time with them; and sometimes, I care more about being around people I enjoy hanging out with, than I care about what it is that we’re actually doing together. But there came a point in this particular church service where visitors who were there for the first time, were asked to stand up so that they could be seen by everyone who was present. I had no desire to participate in that activity, for many reasons, one of which was because the environment as well as the people in it, felt fake as fuck to me. So I stood up for myself and told the people I was with that I wasn’t going to stand up to be recognized by people who knew nothing about me and who would likely classify me as being deranged if they knew how I’ve chosen to live my life. But even though I stood up for myself when it was uncomfortable to do so, I still totally hated being in this particular environment, most especially because the weirdness was not over for me, not even after the experience that I’ve just mentioned here.

The next thing that these weirdos forced upon me, was unwanted touch. I vividly remember the people I was with, telling me that people at this church were going to come up to me and hug me. I made it clear to those I was with that I didn’t welcome that kinda interaction from strangers, but this unwanted physical touch happened anyway. And so, how I responded to said unwelcomed touching, was that I sat totally still in my wheelchair, with both of my arms at my sides. I didn’t touch those people, nor did I say anything at all to them. But I’m pretty sure that they could see on my face that I wasn’t into this forced interaction with them. Because I vividly remember that my face felt totally scrunched up, I was recoiling and my entire body was tense.

But as if both of these things were not enough to make me feel deflated for the rest of that day, here is something else that was awful about this particular experience: the sermon for that day talked about how monogamy was the only valid relationship style in the world, homosexuality was wrong…and so was pre-marital sex. And as someone who myself is a gay, polyamorous woman who has been sexually active with people since my early 20s, hearing such a judgmental attitude really deeply pained me. Said attitude pained me because it didn’t seem to occur to any of these folks that consent was something that they should even practice. And I’m sure part of their reason for just being reactive like this, was because no one has ever called them out on their horrible behavior. But also, I’ve never even felt safe to have conversations with the people I know who were there, about why I find this sort of thing problematic. And that’s unfortunate, as those who care about me can’t do anything to help change things that they aren’t even given a chance to think differently about. But in writing about this particular experience now, I’m hopeful that in the future, I’ll feel at least somewhat comfortable verbally sticking to any boundaries that I set with others…and also, that I’ll be prepared to make a scene if need be, if people are trying to force unwanted touch or another form of unwanted interaction onto me.

One of my Facebook friends posed a question on their personal Facebook page. The question they posed was: what advice would you give your 20-year-old self? My answer, with expansion because this is my blog, reads:
Life can be fucking scary…live it to the fullest, anyway. Do things because your entire heart is into them, not because you feel pressured by others to have a certain kinda image. You’ll never be good enough for some people, and you just have to let that be OK. Love you, even when it hurts to do so, no matter how uncomfortable you may sometimes be/get. Because honestly, when it comes down to it, you’ll ultimately have yourself as your one ride-or-die. And while there will be a tribe of people around you that you call “Team Chelsea,” you will be the one woman who literally and figuratively sees yourself through the good, the bad and the ugly events in your life. Treasure that, above all else.

I recently finished reading The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love. And in case anyone missed who this book’s authors are the first time I wrote about this book, the authors’ names are Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton. And as I’ve said on my blog before, I truly love this book; I found its contents to be easy to understand. There were chapters within the book but then within each chapter, there were small sections of text which I think the authors probably meant as additional insights or points that either of them had or wanted to make. I love how this book talked in-depth about healthy and unhealthy ways to conduct relationships with others, to their being environments where people can safely explore their sexuality and the different kinda relationships that people can develop with one another. All in all, I’d definitely recommend this book to other folks; and I can’t wait to read the next edition of the book, in another decade or so.

In the latest Multiamory episode, the hosts Jase, Dedeker and Emily talk with each other about conflict; they’ve done other episodes on this show about conflict, fighting or disagreements, but personally, I don’t believe that this particular issue can be discussed ad nauseam. Because honestly, the way I’ve been taught to think about conflict by my family of origin, is quite unhealthy. What I mean by that, is that for most of my life, I’ve thought of people fighting as being horrible. It was literally a black and white view for me: people only fought or disagreed with each other because they were bad people or they flat out didn’t fucking know how to be in relationships with other individuals. But since I’ve been learning and growing into an individual myself, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this very subject matter. And so, the way I interpret disagreements or fighting now, is that they are both part of the experience of being a human being…but fights and disagreements can certainly get out of control and become unhealthy, especially if everyone involved doesn’t stay mindful of how their body and emotions are doing throughout said disagreement/argument. But people learning and then using good communication with each other, makes it possible for fighting and disagreeing to be an opportunity for growth for each individual and as a couple.

In an episode of LGBTQ&A, the host Jeffrey Masters talks with Mary Lambert. And for those who don’t know who Mary Lambert is, she was featured on the song entitled “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. And so given that she was a guest on this particular podcast, I looked into her own music. And honestly, her solo songs were a fucking letdown. To me, her voice is just OK. I occasionally like some of her spoken-word material, as her voice seems to be much more emotive when she’s speaking about something she’s passionate about. So ultimately, I prefer to love her as a feature on the song “Same Love.” That song has relevant lyrics, along with great instrumentation and vocals. It’s incredibly powerful and definitely personally gave me hope for a better future. Like, even though it hasn’t always been clear to me that I’d leave the Bible-belt state I lived in for most of my life, and then relocate to a liberal-leaning state, listening to “Same Love” was always comforting. And TBH, it still is comforting; and I think that it always will be comforting for me. But that being said, the song hits my soul differently, now that I’m out and proud as a gay woman.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Brain, the host Shankar Vedantam essentially does a part two of the previous week’s show on philosophy and morality. But for this week’s show, one story that was told, was about a man who’d decided to give one of his kidneys to a total stranger. And interestingly, Shankar Vedantam also talks with this guy’s girlfriend…and she had a very different perspective on him having a kidney removed for someone he’d never met. His girlfriend grew up learning that folks in one’s immediate vicinity or community as a whole, were most important; I grew up learning this very thing myself. And so personally, my moral compass, along with the fact that I’m poor, leads me to focusing on my immediate and surrounding community. But much like how I was bothered by Peter Singer’s views on morality, I was bothered by the guy in this story’s moral views too. And what bothered me about this man’s morality, was the fact that he claimed that it’s rational to not only give some of your income to, say, other countries…but he also believes that killing innocent people is sometimes the “right” thing to do. Peter Singer believes the same things as the guy who this story is about…and that belief, and anyone who has said belief, infuriates me to my core. Because such views are what I’d call extreme.

Another story in this episode of Hidden Brain, is about someone in an emergency room who was in the ER to get treatment for one of their hands that was hurt by a glass bowl breaking as they were washing it. And the ER doctor treated this lady just fine…but then someone who this woman knew, recognized who she was: a college professor at a well-known college. And once the ER doctor who’d been treating her, verified that information, this lady was then taken elsewhere and prioritized at a much higher level than she had been treated in the ER that same night. And so, what this story was meant to highlight, was the way in which our society prioritizes some folks over other folks, all the time. And honestly, this is something that I have a lot of feelings about, especially as someone who has disabilities and multiple serious chronic ilnesses.

So, the very first thing that comes to mind for me, is how in the United States of America at least, society often gives priority to disabled folks. Sometimes people with disabilities (PWDs) are allowed to go to the front of lines, sometimes PWDs don’t have to stand in lines at all; and yet other times, PWDs get priority registration at the college campuses they attend. All of these things are available to us as PWDs; therefore in my opinion, these things cannot be thought of as being discriminatory towards us. For example, as a wheelchair user myself, I appreciate that the college I attend has a system in place where the Dean of the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) can sign a piece of paper that allows me to get my food first or not have to wait in a long line when I need to talk with the Financial Aid Department, Cashier’s Office or the Admissions and Records Department. Because me having this pass allows whomever is with me at any given time to show said pass…and get whatever I need to, taken care of quickly. But also, what makes this sort of thing OK in my opinion, is the fact that disabled people aren’t asking to have something extra that able-bodied folks don’t already have. And so, when I think of how one of the main ideas in this particular episode of Hidden Brain is probably meant to challenge us intellectually, I agree that it’s something to think about on a much wider scale than we likely already do. But realistically, I think that a world without PWDs having access to certain things as disabled people, might create an unnecessarily harder world for us as disabled folks, to live in. But not just that, but able-bodied people have no right whatsoever, to decide for PWDs what should or shouldn’t be given to us, period!!

I recently watched the Netflix documentary entitled Becoming; this documentary is based off of the book of the same name, that was written by Michelle Obama (the former First Lady in the White House). This documentary shows Mrs. Obama sharing with viewers about what her family life was like, as well as what life was like for her on her book tour and in the White House. This documentary also showed other women telling their stories to Mrs. Obama which I was very moved by. I felt like whomever edited this documentary did a great job. Watching it also made me reminisce about 2008, when Mr. Obama was campaigning for himself to win the Presidency, and then when he ultimately became President that same year. And watching the Becoming documentary took my mind back to how I felt as a disabled person then, about Mr. Obama becoming President: the main feeling that he gave me then, was hope. I had hope that things would be better for people with disabilities, PWDs, than they’d been in the past. I had hope that the United States of America having its first black President would truly allow the world to create the forward-thinking change I thought it should have: gay people being able to marry each other, and relationships other than monogamy being put on an equal playing field as monogamy. And thankfully, at least one of those things happened while Mr. Obama was President. But in addition to these things, the Obama Family as a whole seemed genuine and like they deeply cared about the American people as their people. I love that I had the pleasure to live when this particular historical event happened. It’s definitely something that I’ll remember fondly.

In the latest season of the Netflix show entitled 13 Reasons Why, we the viewers are put through all kinds of difficult emotions, from happiness, to sadness, to love. But that being said, it’s the last episode of the show that’s hardest for me to watch. I say that because some very traumatic things happen to some of the show’s characters…and even though 13 Reasons Why is just a show, the subject matter that it primarily deals with (suicide) is a very real thing in the world that we, that I, live in today. And TBH, this last episode of season four of 13 Reasons Why, made me do some necessary reflection of my own. But also, this last season of this show really worked hard to get the very real truth about suicide in the world, heard in a way that I think will resonate with many people, for years to come.

But before I go any further, I’ll write what the show 13 Reasons Why was about. Because while suicide was the show’s main focus, the series also showed the ups and downs of high school life…which I felt was done accurately to how things actually were for me in high school. But the thing was, throughout these high school kids’ journey at Liberty High, these kids were constantly there for one another. Many of these kids did some fucked up things to each other that changed everyone’s lives forever. Several of these kids died, and the hardest death for me to watch, was definitely the character Justin’s death; because the show displayed moments of him getting deathly ill, people who were close to him having a hard time with this awful news and then Justin’s eventual death. But the way these things were carried out in the show, in such graphic detail at that, had me crying for quite some time. I cry easily though, what can I say. But even so, I think it’s important to go into even more detail about the actual show, to help people understand why this show was worth watching.

So, the show started with a Liberty High School girl named Hannah Baker telling her personal story about suicide. And then a bit later one of Hannah’s schoolmates named Clay Jensen mysteriously receives a package at his house which turns out to be tapes that Hannah Baker had recorded before she’d committed suicide. There were 13 tapes, just like this show’s name indicates that there are 13 reasons why; and on these 13 tapes, Hannah Baker has chosen 13 people who also go to Liberty High, who she feels have wronged her in ways that she’d never recover from. Clay Jensen and Justin are both on those tapes that she’d recorded for people at Liberty High; hell, most of the Liberty High students who were her schoolmates, were on those tapes in some way, shape or form. And so, throughout this entire series, each of these Liberty High kids do the best they can, with the information and knowledge they have at any given time, to get to the bottom of how to fix this awful situation that everyone has found themselves in. All of the Liberty High Kids listen to the tapes that Hannah Baker had left behind for them. All of these kids went back and forth with one another as they’d listened to the tapes, trying, I assume, to see if any of them came to different conclusions about each tape’s contents. Yet what continued to happen, was that every single one of the Liberty High kids stayed at one another’s throats…literally until the last episode of season four, where we the viewers learn that Justin’s health issues are much worse than they’d been in previous episodes of the show. Because that drastic change in Justin, really woke the Liberty High kids up. And so, we see scenes of Justin being on a ventilator, Justin’s friends and family watching him in that situation and then lastly, we watch as Justin’s family and friends spend their last moments with Justin…where the people who were most important to him made sure to tell him how they felt about what a difference he’d created in their lives. But 13 Reasons Why actually ends with Clay Jensen giving an empowering speech for the Liberty High students’ high school graduation. I’m glad that the show ended that way; because I was worried that it would end on the sad note of Justin dying/Justin’s close friends and family missing him terribly.

More thoughts on Once Upon a Time, a new podcast discovery and more reflections

I recently discovered a podcast that I’ve heard of before, but have just now looked into. The podcast is called LGBTQ&A; and in one episode of this show, its host Jeffrey Masters talks with a woman named Robyn (who was close friends with Whitney Houston, a well-known pop star). In this interview, Robyn talks about why she’s decided to share her story, including of course, that Whitney Houston was special to her. It was interesting to me to hear Robyn discuss how news reporters and other folks involved with some form of entertainment media, seemed to only see in Whitney Houston whatever it was that they’d wanted to see in her. She (Robyn) explains that neither she nor Whitney Houston used any sort of relationship discriptors for themselves, as the two of them (Whitney Houston and Robyn) knew within themselves what they shared together…and that was good enough for each of them as individuals.

And TBH, I could really find myself relating to what Robyn was saying throughout this interview, in terms of people wanting to put her into boxes because she was so close to Whitney Houston for decades. The part of this interview that I found myself relating to the most, was how Robyn did seem to struggle within herself about the depth of feelings that she’d felt for Whitney Houston. And I remembered within myself how for years, I struggled within myself, trying to figure out how I identified sexually. Those were quite confusing times for me, not to mention scary times…because even the idea that I could potentially label myself as gay in the wide world at some point down the road, was so foreign to my brain. Because I didn’t know whether I even knew anyone within the LGBTQ community, not to mention, my family of origin helped fuel my internalized homophobia on a daily basis.

And in fact, when Robyn specifically talks about how Whitney Houston showed her (Robyn) a Bible one day, saying that she and Robyn could no longer have a sexual relationship with each other, I felt the sting in her (Robyn’s) voice when she’d said those words to the person interviewing her. But at the same time, I also empathized with where Whitney Houston may have been coming from, especially given that most people in her (Whitney’s) family of origin, were probably deeply religious. But then again, my heart hurt to hear and think about this particular situation between Robyn and Whitney Houston, as it saddened me to know that the two of them felt like they couldn’t love one another proudly and openly.

But upon remembering this insane part of my journey now, I’m having compassion for myself. Because while I’m not a famous person like Whitney Houston was, I figured out that online, I could be honest about the things that I was struggling with internally. And in doing so, I received tons of support from folks, along with tons of hatred from other folks. I was made fun of by people because my sexuality was ever-changing, and online, I was always open about that fact. And so, in summary, listening to this interview of Robyn talking about her story with Whitney Houston made me feel comfort: to know that even famous people go through hardships like the one I’ve been talking about, felt like a sense of togetherness. It helped me see Whitney Houston’s humanity, even though I wasn’t even aware that she didn’t seem like a fellow human being to me, prior to listening to this interview with someone who was close to her for many years.

In another episode of the LGBTQ&A podcast, Jeffrey Masters talks with someone who used to work for Fred Rogers. And honestly, as soon as I heard VoiceOver on my iPhone announce that part of the summary for this episode, I knew that I’d love listening to it. Because I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ TV show; but that being said, given that this podcast is LGBTQ-themed, I was excited to hear how this particular theme related to Fred Rogers. But I didn’t expect to hear that this person who’d worked for Fred Rogers, had had conversations with him (Mister Rogers) about this man’s openly discussing his sexuality, not being a straight man. But being that this man who was being interviewed for this podcast felt that outing himself would cause Mister Rogers a lot of pain, he chose to stay quiet about who he knew himself to be. He made it clear to Jeffrey Masters though, that Mister Rogers himself wasn’t homophobic. Mister Rogers was truly a kind and loving man…but this man seemed to believe that other folks would not be kind or loving towards Fred Rogers, if they knew that he openly embraced folks in the LGBTQ community. It truly was unfortunate that things had to be that way…but even so, I’m happy that this man was finally able to come forward and share his story with the world.

In yet another episode of LGBTQ&A, Jeffrey Masters (the host of this show) talks with Andrew Gurza (who’s the host of the podcast entitled Disability After Dark). And something that Andrew Gurza talks about as a guest on this particular podcast, is how even we as disabled people can be ableist. And one example of this being true for myself, is actually internalized ableism: sometimes whenever I’m somewhere that isn’t the house I currently live in, I’ll hesitate to ask people around me where a cup is that I’m going to be drinking out of. I know that probably seems silly to some folks–I’ve been totally blind now for over a decade…but I still find myself encountering internalized ableism. Like, there’s something in my brain that sends me the message of “if I ask people where the cup is that I’m going to be drinking out of, that’s something I should be ashamed of doing…and especially because whomever I’m around then will somehow punish me for it.” But I’m totally fucking blind!! It makes perfect sense that I won’t always know where the cups are that I’ll be using. Because there are so many variables to this sort of situation; are there tons of items on the table I’m sitting at? Is the table I’m sitting at small or large? Are there other people currently sitting at the table? And I think of these sorts of things because I have to, honestly. Because sometimes someone will place a cup on my left side but a few inches away from my plate. But other times someone will place a cup a few inches in front of my plate…and I won’t catch the sound that the cup made when it’s been put down. So, I’m pretty sure that this internalized ableism of mine comes from the ways in which my family of origin treated me/taught me to move through the world, as someone who, in their eyes, was not a whole person.

Another personal example of my own internalized ableism, is regarding my journey through life walking. And yes, I actually mean the physical act of walking, that many folks probably take for granted. Because for me, walking has always been a huge struggle. Like, I was born with Cerebral Palsy and I’ve never been able to walk with ease, even though people might have perceived I have done so. But internalized ableism comes into the picture because walking is a lot harder for me to do nowadays. And not only does that particular reality make me sad, but it frustrates me to think of how society as a whole is so fixated on seeing people with disabilities walk…even though many of those able-bodied people know that walking is difficult for us.

And in fact, I’ve been through things where able-bodied folks have encouraged me to walk; they’d take away my white cane as well as my support cane and then ask me to walk by trusting the verbal directions that they’d give me. And the thing was, I could’ve spoken up about how uncomfortable that particular thing made me. I could’ve challenged those people’s ableist attitudes and told them to fuck off. But in those moments where this actually was happening, I just quietly complied. But inwardly, I did feel like this attitude was incredibly ableist, not to mention toxic…and I hated every second of it. But my idea of what my confrontation with able-bodied people who’d force me to walk would be like, was probably much scarier than the reality of me being honest might have actually played out. But the last thing I’d ever wanted to do, was to cause a scene…so there was that. But also, I cared about how people saw me and I didn’t want to be seen as being rude or a bitch, just because I stood up for myself. Whereas nowadays, I’d hope that I’d be able to speak my truth as it really is, even if I’m in an uncomfortable situation.

But that being said, internalized ableism comes into this picture, as me missing the times when walking wasn’t so noticeably painful for me. And the thing is, intellectually, I know that there’s nothing to be ashamed about. As a human being, my body constantly changes, right along with other parts of me. And these changes happen all the time, literally. But there’s something internally where I feel in a sense like I was a better/more worthy person because I did what I could to pass as normal. Like, I’d say that I felt obligated to walk, no matter what level of pain I felt, because not walking meant that I was somehow defective. And so, even now as I’m writing this, there’s a part of me that’s thinking that maybe there will come a day or a time when I could feel comfortable walking again…even if just for a little while. But that’s just it: if I do walk again, it’s going to be on my terms and my terms only. I’m not going to allow myself to be an object for others to gawk at, just because they figuratively get their rocks off, in seeing me walk. Because for the most part, walking feels like an incredible hardship of mine.

But anyway, I say all of this to encourage able-bodied people to think before you speak. If you’re thinking of asking a physically disabled wheelchair user to get up and walk for you, sit, I mean actually sit with yourself for a few minutes…and ponder why it is that you want to inflict this kinda pressure on someone. Because that’s exactly what it is that you’re doing: you’re pressuring someone to fit into a particular mold. And for what? So that you can feel better about yourself? So that you can tell people “look, today, I made a disabled person get out of their comfort zone and walk…all because I feel like that’s what makes them more human to me.” Now, of course, people wouldn’t necessarily say that last part of the quote that I’ve written. But they may as well say that entire quote of mine. Because the truth is, disabled people don’t exist to make able-bodied people feel good about themselves. We as disabled people don’t exist to make people fixate on the “who has it worse” olympics. We, like you able-bodied people, exist because two people did a physical thing together that created us. But much like how most able-bodied people want to quietly live their lives, I as a disabled person often want to do the same with regards to my life. But yet this belief that society has that my disabilities make me less human than other folks, acts as a barrier…in my life and in the lives of others who interact with me. And so, please, able-bodied folks, please stop dehumanizing people who look different than you do. Please think before you speak, especially if you’re about to play a round of the “who has it worse” olympics. Because human beings have far more in common with able-bodied people, than most able-bodied people probably think we do. So please, trust in that truth!!

Another thing that Andrew Gurza talks openly about on the LGBTQ&A podcast, is how disabled people are not often seen by society at large as sexual human beings. I’m glad he decided to talk about that truth, because it’s important that those of us who are disabled and sex-positive folks, make society aware of the sexual part of our lives. Now, to clarify, I’m not suggesting that we go into graphic detail with people about the ways we have or like sex to happen. There is such a thing as privacy for ourselves, but also for our partners that we’re with at any given time. And in fact, that’s one reason why I rarely, if ever, talk about things that happen in romantic relationships that I’m actually in. I only talk about things if I’m given permission to by my partners or I wait until a later date when I’ve gained perspective on things. Because even though society would say that I’m someone who can’t maintain romantic partnerships with others, I wouldn’t agree with that assessment. Because I’ve learned things literally from every single romantic relationship I’ve been in; and even though all of my romantic relationships have ended, I don’t have any ill will towards any of my past partners. I don’t communicate with any of them, unless I happen to run into them in public…but that doesn’t have to mean that I hate their guts. It simply means that we were people who wanted very different things for our lives…and that those differences were so different from each other that we just naturally fell apart. That sort of thing happens a lot in life, to most people, I think.

In another episode of LGBTQ&A, Jeffrey Masters talks with Fran Tirado (who used to host the podcast entitled the Outcast). Hearing Fran’s voice made me smile, and I realized how much I’ve genuinely missed hearing it. He’s very animated, like I am; but I could really relate to what he said in this podcast about growing up gay in a Christian-centric home. Because that very situation was mine as well; I was forced to go to church on a regular basis…which I was sure was a punishment for what a horrible person I was. And then on top of that, people at whichever churches I’d gone to, told me that homosexuality was wrong. People in whichever churches I’d gone to, felt like their treatment of me was fake. Like, I could internally tell that I rarely could make actual connections with people at churches or at church-related events. And this might sound kinda weird, but I felt so isolated and alone in church-related or church-specific gatherings. I felt like I was misunderstood, not to mention shunned, for who I was. And on top of that, the abuse I regularly dealt with at the hands of my family of origin, didn’t help my self-worth. But thankfully, I don’t feel like I have to play pretend in any way, any more.

Something in Once Upon a Time that stood out to me, is the fact that Bell (from Beauty and the Beast) gets to a point where she can’t take any more of Mr. Gold’s/Rumpelstiltskin’s vengeful ways. But unfortunately for her, she’d already married this buffoon known as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold. And even though she’d exiled him from Storybrooke through using the dagger to control him, I knew that the problems he’d created were far from over. And sure enough, it turns out that Rumpelstiltskin and Regina/the Evil Queen, are both working with Ursula, Maleficent and Cruella de Ville (or Cruella for short) because all of those villains are seeking their happy endings. And each of these villains is willing to go to any lengths they have to, like stealing Pinocchio from his (Pinocchio’s father Gepetto’s shop) turning Pinocchio into August and then trying to force August to give them (all of the evil villains) the information they want about the fairytale book’s author(s).

But I want to go back to the very beginning of Once Upon a Time for a bit because I want to talk about how the show first started. So even before Henry went to Boston to find Emma (his birth mom) his teacher in school was named Mary Margaret. And Mary Margaret had given Henry a book of fairytales to read, as she’d felt that he could really use the book’s contents to help him see the world in a beautiful way. And so, as this show goes on, we the viewers eventually see that Henry wholeheartedly believes that Mary Margret is actually Snow White. And that belief of his is correct: Mary Margret is, in fact, Snow White. And so, a huge part of the first season of Once Upon a Time, is Henry trying to convince Mary Margret, David AKA Prince Charming and other residents of Storybrooke, of their true nature. But no one believes what Henry tells them, for quite some time.

One of the things that we the viewers find out in season four of Once Upon a Time, is that Mary Margret and David AKA Prince Charming, think that the two of them (Mary Margret and David) make Maleficent’s baby disappear from Storybrooke. The reason that Mary Margret and David think this, is because Mary Margret and Maleficent were pregnant at the same time as one another. And also at that time, Mary Margret and David are told by an elderly man that their unborn baby has the potential to become extremely dark. And this elderly man tells Mary Margret and David that this darkness could be done away with if the two of them (Mary Margret and David) knew of another source to transfer said darkness to. And so, as it turns out, Maleficent’s baby is the source that Mary Margret’s and David’s baby Emma, is transferred to. But the thing is, when this elderly man gives Mary Margret and David the news that the Charming Child will possess the ability to become dark, the man intentionally doesn’t tell the Charming Family that Maleficent’s child will be sent to a realm other than Storybrooke. Mary Margret and David end up discovering that that’s what happens, through this child being whisked away as soon as the old man has finished telling Mary Margret and David what they think is good news: their child most likely won’t become someone who’s dark. But the saddest part of this whole thing, is that ever since Maleficent, Cruella and Ursula have come to Storybrooke, Mary Margret and David have told lie upon lie to Emma, not wanting her (Emma) to know what the two of them (David and Mary Margret) did to Maleficent’s child. But the more that Mary Margret and David lie to their daughter Emma, the deeper that they (Mary Margret and David) get into making up mor lies…until there comes a time when Emma confronts them about the recent lies that they’d started telling her.

There’s something I forgot to say about the survey that I’d recently filled out for school: the fact that people having the necessary tools to ensure their success in school, is not the entire picture for everyone continuing to pursue their education. What I mean by that, is that it’s rare for people to consider that some folks may have far more complicated situations than people can prepare for on a large scale like a community college, for example. I mean, I know I explained this well in the survey questions I’d responded to; but in thinking a bit more about this huge shitty situation, I feel like this point I made cannot be over-stated.

Assorted thoughts on Once Upon a Time, and taking a survey for school

As I’ve said in other blog entries, I’m writing about things in the show Once Upon a Time that have strong effects on me as I’m watching the show for the second time around. But I’m not necessarily putting the topics in chronological order, as that would take entirely too much effort. And quite frankly, it can be hard enough for me to write things down about the show as it is, and as I remember them. But that being said, I’m keeping good enough track of things and characters within the stories that I do my best to only write up to wherever I’ve currently stopped in the show. And so, without further ado, enjoy my writings on literally my favorite show EVER!!

Something in Once Upon a Time that I want to write about here, is the story of Pinocchio; well, the twists of this story within Once Upon a Time. And so within this particular story, a fairy turns Pinocchio into an actual boy, after he’d been made from wood by his father. But because Pinocchio didn’t stop his habit of lying, even though he’d told the fairy he would, he ended up nearly returning back to wood in the end. But the twists that Once Upon a Time tells about Pinocchio, were that if Pinocchio made Emma believe in the fairytales of Storybrooke, he could become an actual boy again…for the rest of his life. But in the end, Henry was the one who was able to actually make Emma believe in these stories.

But how Henry ultimately did this, was by biting into a poisonous apple that his mom Regina meant for his other mom, Emma, to bite into. But anyway, the reason that Henry bites into the poisonous apple himself, is because he knows that that particular gesture is the only one that will make Emma realize that she’s meant to save the town of Storybrooke. But all that being said, this entire scene is hard for me to watch, mostly because I feel sad seeing Henry in the hospital…and knowing that Emma’s not believing in these fairytales, was what put him at the hospital in the first place. But also, the moment where Emma realizes that she has what’s called “light magic,” is super emotional for me. This particular thing happens when Emma is visiting Henry in the hospital; she’s reading him part of the book of fairytales that he (Henry) has been trying to get her to believe in. And then, Emma unexpectedly figures out that her having love for Henry is what will break this curse that Henry is under. And so, once she realizes that, and then once she tearfully says outloud that she loves Henry, he (Henry) awakens and is back to being himself again.

But going back to the actor who plays grown-up Pinocchio for a bit, this particular actor also plays the character named August in Once Upon a Time. And as this show goes on, we the viewers find out that August goes to the town of Storybrooke because he (august) is the one who’s been tasked with informing Emma that she’s this town’s savior. But as I’ve said in the previous paragraph, August is unsuccessful at that particular thing. But as the show continues, we the viewers see August interacting with Henry, and if we really think about things between Henry and August, it may occur to us that there’s more to this part of the story. And in fact, this is exactly what happens: at one point in the show, Henry and Regina are talking to each other…and Henry explains to Regina that he knows that August is a writer/that August had edited this book of fairytales that this show is based off of. And so, from that point on, Regina and Henry work together to get to the bottom of how these stories can be rewritten.

Something else in Once Upon a Time that I want to write about, is that throughout this show, we the viewers see Regina/the Evil Queen morph from one character into other characters. In fact, there’s even at least one more character that Regina/the Evil Queen morphs into in Once Upon a Time…but I don’t want to talk about that character until I see said other character(s) in the show which happens much later on, if my memory serves correctly. So for now, I want to focus specifically on how there are times in this series when Regina seems like she might actually stop being the Evil Queen. And what gets her thinking that this change might actually be possible for her to follow through with, is the fact that Henry wants her to be a better person. So we the viewers see flashbacks of when the Evil Queen ruled the land, as well as current times, and even past times, when Regina was not the Evil Queen yet…or she was still a child. But as much as I too, would love to see her become a good person, I can tell through and through that that literally isn’t something she’s capable of being. And that makes it heartbreaking to me, to repeatedly watch how Henry interacts with Regina/the Evil Queen…and how he (Henry) is forced to constantly change his actions and reactions based on whatever Regina/the Evil Queen does or doesn’t do.

Another thing in Once Upon a Time that stands out to me, is that in addition to there being fairytale characters in this show, there are also Disney characters in the show. And in fact, one of the evil characters ends up being Peter Pan. We the viewers eventually learn that Peter Pan also happens to be Rumpelstiltskin’s father. And I’d say that that particular reveal in the show is huge, mostly because Rumpelstiltskin, Henry and others’ actions and reactions, are prompted by Peter Pan himself. So for example, Peter Pan takes Henry to Neverland, by making his (Peter Pan’s) shadow take Henry from whichever house he (Henry) is at, at the time this particular thing takes place. And so, that’s why Emma, her mom and dad who are Snow White and Prince Charming along with other characters, devise a plan to get Henry back to Storybrooke.

Another example of how these characters’ actions and reactions dictate what happens in the show, is that Rumpelstiltskin’s powerfulness leads him to communicate with a being that can predict what happens in the future. And so, as it turns out, when Rumpelstiltskin goes to Neverland on the false pretense of wanting to retrieve Henry, he (Rumpelstiltskin) actually plans to kill Henry…because the being who’d told him (Rumpelstiltskin) that Henry will cause Rumpelstiltskin damage that cannot be repaired, was telling the truth. But fortunately, Henry didn’t die when he was in Neverland. But what Henry did endure while he was in Neverland, was Peter Pan’s continuous taunting. Like, Peter Pan would act like he was being friendly towards Henry, only to fill Henry’s head with falsehoods, like that Henry’s family doesn’t actually care about him. In fact, Peter Pan puts things of this nature into Emma’s head as well, as his (Peter Pan’s) objective is to turn Henry, Emma and their entire family against each other.

In addition to playing Rumpelstiltskin, this particular actor plays other evil characters, according to whichever realm he’s in at any given time. So sometimes he’s Rumpelstiltskin, other times he’s the Dark One and yet other times he’s Mr. Gold. And in all of these different realms that each of these characters are a part of, whichever evil being is in the forefront, the one thing that remains consistent, is that this actor plays evil characters. That being said, it can kinda get confusing to keep up with which character he is when, as there are so many flashbacks of all of these characters throughout this show. But I think that it’s important for me to mention these differences, as the show goes on, so that readers of my blog aren’t confused.

In Once Upon a Time, there are two sisters; one of their names is Elsa and the other one’s name is Anna. One of these sisters has magical power that she doesn’t know how to control; but something interesting about this part of the storyline, is that these sisters find an aunt that they were not even aware they had. But it turns out that this aunt of theirs is evil; she (the evil Aunt Ingrid) does whatever she can to try to turn the town of Storybrooke against one another. And honestly, for awhile, we the viewers do think that Ingrid might actually kill Emma and those she (Emma) loves. In fact, Ingrid does manage to create a curse on the town of Storybrooke, in the hopes that all of Storybrooke’s residents (not including Emma, Ingrid and Ingrid’s niece who has special powers) will die. Because Ingrid’s ultimate objective, is for herself, Emma and the niece of Ingrid’s with special powers to all live in unity with one another. But fortunately as the savior, Emma makes sure that that doesn’t happen, by watching Ingrid kill herself. But as much as I’d like to say that Ingrid’s death was the end of that particular story, sadly, that isn’t the case.

But before I talk about other things in Once Upon a Time that have an affect on me the second time that I’m watching said show, I want to write some more about the time that Ingrid had in Storybrooke. Because at first, we the viewers become familiar with her as the Snow Queen; but then as the show goes on, we learn that there’s a ton more to Ingrid’s story than we’re initially lead to believe. Like, there’s a point in Once Upon a Time when Ingrid appears as the Snow Queen and immediately recognizes Emma. After having hearing Ingrid say Emma’s name, someone asks Emma if she knows this mysterious person. But at the time, Emma has no idea who Ingrid actually is. And we the viewers don’t even find out until later on, that Ingrid had told a young child Emma that she (Ingrid) would become Emma’s real family. But another evil thing that Ingrid does while she’s in Storybrooke, is that she tries to convince Emma that she (Emma) could potentially become dark. This bit of knowledge seems to be something that Emma doesn’t want to acknowledge about herself; but the more that she (Emma) interacts with Ingrid, Emma begins to experience darkness within herself. And said darkness becomes so harsh, that Emma isolates herself from everyone in Storybrooke so that she can’t hurt anyone. And then, just as I’ve said in the previous paragraph, there are dark moments in the show’s future, that are brought on by Ingrid’s trying to convince Emma that she (Emma) is truly an awful person.

in the scenes with Ingrid in Once Upon a Time, as we the viewers are watching this complicated mystery unfold, we the viewers are constantly watching Ingrid battle with at least one of her nieces. I say “at least one of her nieces” because the one who has extreme magical powers is eventually put into an object that can contain her evil. I’m pretty sure that that’s what happens; though, I can’t say with certainty, as there’s not much of a dialogue that tells us for sure. There’s probably visual cues, though. Sucks to be blind in this instance, I guess!! LOL.

So, I’m not someone who’s typically into love stories; at least, not in the fairytale kinda sense. But that being said, there are a few couples in Once Upon a Time that I find myself smiling over. One of those couples is Emma and Neil. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with these two folks though, Neil is Emma’s first love that we see in the show. We the viewers first see Neil and Emma together in the context of Neil trying to get away with stealing expensive watches; and then, the next time we see Neil and Emma in a scene together again, is when it’s discovered that Neil is Rumpelstiltskin’s son. And from that point on, assorted things happen to Emma and Neil, both when they’re around each other, as well as when they are with others/by themselves, that keep the two of them apart romantically. But yet, another couple in this show that gets my attention in a good way, is Emma and Captain Hook. And the thing is, as I’ve just indicated, Neil and Emma were lovely together. But even so, there’s just something mildly intriguing about the way Emma and Hook interact with each other. In fact, the way that Emma tries to keep herself from having romantic feelings for Hook, reminds me a lot of the times in my own life that I’ve been that way. And even though I wanted to appear like I didn’t want romantic relationships with others, and even though Emma does the same exact thing in Once Upon a Time, both Emma and I do actually want romantic relationships of ours to work out. But for me, and I’d venture to guess that this is true for Emma too, we think that our lives will be easier if we don’t allow ourselves to get into romantic entanglements with people.

I’ve been forgetting that the college I attend has wanted its students to complete a survey. But thankfully, I finally remembered that it may actually make a difference, if I’m honest in this survey about what a hellish experience this online-learning has been for me. Here is what I wrote, with some modifications made for clarification purposes. I wrote:
I’m totally blind and I’m immune-compromised. For me, this means that the only realistic way for me to participate in school, is for all assignments to be written text that’s done through Canvas or through another source that is accessible with screen reading software. These times are especially hard on me, as even for this spring semester, I had to request an excused withdrawl from my class…as I knew there was no way I could pass the class, given my tricky situation.

In another question on this survey, I added:
As I said earlier in this survey, I’m totally blind; I also am immune-compromised. Both of these things create a huge barrier for me in terms of me being able to participate in school. I have internet access and I have multiple technology-related tools that allow me to be successful in school most of the time…but because I’m both blind and immune-compromised, this Covid19 predicament has and does put me at a very real disadvantage in terms of me furthering my education. You can have all the technological tools in the world, and you can have reliable internet access, both of which I do have…but none of that matters, when you factor into the equation that I’m totally blind and immune-compromised.

The last question on this survey that I answered, was one that asked how I would potentially enroll in classes this upcoming fall semester. The response I wrote to this question reads:
Having all class assignments done using Canvas, PowerPoints/Microsoft Word text documents. That would be the only way that given my personal situation, I would be able to participate in school for the fall 2020 semester.

Once Upon a Time thoughts, podcast and other thoughts, a helpful resource and assorted reflections

In late December of last year, one of my Facebook friends that I know personally, told me about a resource for people with disabilities to find housing that meets their mobility needs or other varrying needs that they may have. And I didn’t write about this resource then because I wanted some time to go by, to see if I’d have any luck finding housing that would meet my own mobility needs through this particular resource. But what’s encouraged me to write about this resource now, is that the listing I’d written when I’d first heard of this resource, had expired within the past few days. But unfortunately, I didn’t get an email notification about that having happened; I just happened to log into the Dwellability website to review my email notification settings. And that’s when I found out that the listing I’d created had expired; so I took the necessary step to reopen said listing and after that had been done, I set a reminder on my phone to remind me the day that my listing expires again. In addition to that though, I also emailed the people who came up with this service, to make this suggestion to them directly, for there to be an email notification for folks reminding us when our listing will be expiring…that way, we can resubmit the listing if need be. So hopefully, they’ll implement my suggestion.
But in case any of the folks who read my blog want to check this resource out for themselves, Dwellability’s website can be found at
https://www.dwellability.com

I have an app on my phone that’s called NFB Newsline–this app is made by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and it allows people to browse through different magazines or newspapers throughout the world. But I log into said app so rarely, that I honestly forget that I even have access to it; but I’ve been a Newsline subscriber since attending my very first National Federation of the Blind conference back in 2006. Some of the adults who’d also attended this particular conference, as well as some adults who worked at the National Federation of the Blind, suggested I become a Newsline user. And so, being young and easily-pressured back then, I did exactly that: and so, it’s been over a decade now that I’ve been a Newsline subscriber. And pretty recently, I was asked to think about just how long I’d been involved with Newsline, how I’d gotten connected with Newsline and how I felt about said program over all. And I answered those questions honestly, saying that it’s easy for me to forget that I even have Newsline because the mobile phone app for said service is kinda clunky. I also mentioned the fact that I’d love to start using Newsline on a more frequent basis…but that in order for that to happen, the app would need to be completely redesigned in a much more user-friendly way. Because while I myself am a tech-savvy person, many people are not as tech-savvy as I am…and those people would likely find Newsline difficult to use. That being said, I’m not sure if anyone in charge of Newsline will heed my feedback/the feedback of others…but time will tell. I sure hope that they do, though, as the idea of why Newsline exists, really is wonderful. And also, given that these questions I’d answered were on a survey, at least I can anticipate that my words will be read by someone.

I have some final thoughts about Jaci Velasquez’s book entitled When God Rescripts Your Life. Mainly, I want to say that given what a huge fan I am of Jaci Velasquez’s, I’m glad I read this book. But that being said, I’d say that the book would likely only be an interesting read to folks who are familiar with much of her story (music-wise and personal life-wise. Because as far as I’m concerned, it wouldn’t necessarily make sense for others to read this book, as they might become lost, if they don’t understand the things that Jaci Velasquez talks about in its pages. Maybe other people feel differently than me, though.

But that being said, there is actually something else about this book that’s worth talking about: the fact that Jaci Velasquez talks about her battle with chronic pain. And what bothers me about this particular part of her story, is the fact that Jaci seems so resistant to use medication to help her have less chronic pain. This bothers me because I too, used to feel exactly as Jaci Velasquez did: that no matter what I go through, I’d never ever ever take medication. For one thing, I felt taking medication was not a valid answer because medication was simply a mask for something that could be fixed with the right doctor or the right holistic treatment plans. But then, as I gained more life experiences, those life experiences lead my thinking on this issue to completely shift. I can remember exactly what caused the shift to happen and when exactly it occurred: it was October 2016. I’d literally gotten the Systemic Scleroderma diagnosis the day before my birthday that year. My medical team had finally found a medication that lessened my chronic pain considerably. And so, it was then that I learned that sometimes, in order to be able to fully function, we have to do things that we never thought we would. And so, in reading about Jaci Velasquez’s chronic pain story and how she’s chosen to deal with that situation herself, I can honestly say that I get where she’s at…and even why she’s made this choice for herself. I just know that for me and my specific situation, I choose what will allow me to live a fully functional life, over the alternative of not taking pain medication and being so sick that I can literally not function at all.

Something else about Jaci Velasquez’s book When God Rescripts Your Life, that it’s important to me to highlight, is the way in which Jaci attributed the loving relationship her children have with one another to God…not to her two real, living human children on earth. This particular thing bothers me because it makes no sense. Instead of giving her two boys the credit they deserve, for loving each other and helping one another through life, she puts that truth on an invisible sky daddy. How fucking arrogant she is for that perspective; people really should be given the credit that is theirs, for creating and maintaining healthy, lasting relationships with others. Because life is fucking hard, no matter who you are or what you believe in. No one that’s alive, gets out of this thing called life alive. Eternal life is a concept that was most likely created by people who found it easier to deal with life, if they didn’t think of death as being a permanent thing. But when a logical, non-religious person actually sits with the truth that this life is the only one we have, and when said logical, non-religious person therefore allows their eventual death to inform how they live every day, there is true comfort in that…for me. Why? Because I know that I’m fully responsible for the life I live, how I make people feel and how I continually grow into a greater, fuller powerful self. That is fucking sexy!! Wouldn’t you agree? Nope. That’s fine–I don’t need you to. I know that that’s my truth…and I’m sticking to it!! But this is exactly why it bothers me that Jaci Velasquez takes the credit away from her sons: because each of them makes a choice every single day, to love each other and teach each other about what they each know about life.

Something else that I want to talk about regarding Jaci Velasquez’s book though, is how she herself narrates the book. Honestly I’ve always loved her speaking voice, whether I’d hear it at an actual concert of hers that I was at or a concert or interview that I was watching on YouTube…or through listening to bonus content on some of her physical albums…and now, through listening to her read this book of hers. She’s soft-spoken, for the most part. But her voice just sounds really calm and super animated, over all. Like, her speaking voice just naturally seems to know how to emphasize words/phrases when…and that makes things quite entertaining to listen to…at least in my opinion.

Another book I’m currently reading, is called The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love. This book is written by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton; it’s literally the first book I ever read about alternative relationship styles to monogamy. But even though I’ve read this book before, I don’t remember specific things about it. But perhaps that’s because I mentally blocked its contents out, as I honestly never thought that I’d actually be fortunate enough to live in that truth myself. But as I’m reading The Ethical Slut now, I’m remembering that one reason I loved this book so much, was because it addresses sex a lot. Whereas the book I just read called More Than Two, that book focused mostly on the non-sexual ways in which we human beings interact with one another, romantically and otherwise. And just like the introduction in More Than Two said would likely happen for readers, one of these styles, a more sexual one verses a sex-negative one, would resonate with folks better than the other one. And in fact, that’s exactly why I wanted to read these particular books back-to-back; I wanted to be able to accurately compare the two when they were both fresh on my mind. And so, I’d definitely say that I’m far enough into the Ethical Slut to accurately compare these two books.

All that being said, I think it’s important for me to talk about my personal journey where non-monogamy is concerned. Because while I’ve known for years that I’m not monogamous, I continued to live as a monnogamous person, hoping that each romantic relationship I’d get into with someone, would be the one that would last forever. But each time I did this, I’d experience the same exact results. And in fact, it wasn’t until the last romantic relationship I was in, that I finally decided to live non-monogamously. Because after my then-boyfriend and I’d had several conversations with each other about the fact that I wanted to add more romantic love to my life, and after he’d continually told me that as long as we were together, he expected that I’d only have sex with him, I knew that I had to end our relationship. That was literally the last thing I wanted to do, but deep down, I knew that this decision was what would be best for the both of us. Because when it came down to it, we both wanted totally different things out of life. That didn’t have to mean that either of us was a bad person, even though the world at large would likely think that that’s exactly what it meant. But ever since then, I’ve moved forward in my life with the intention of ethically being non-monogamous. But I want to talk about how even though making this decision was difficult for me to make at first, and even though it took me years before I felt safe and ready to make this decision for myself, my soul somehow knew my truth all along. And also, I kept remembering Dossie Easton’s and Janet Hardy’s book The Ethical Slut…and reminding myself that I was not alone in these feelings or in this worldview of mine. And that frequent reminder to myself honestly empowered me so much and ultimately lead me to live out my truth. And it’s interesting to reflect on this though, as a huge part of why I didn’t want to live openly as non-monogamous for so long, was because I had no positive self-worth. But gaining a positive self-worth, has been what’s freed me to ask for what I both need, and want, in my life. And whether or not I actually get what I ask for, I can at least feel great, knowing that I was vulnerable…and gave someone the option of helping contribute to my happiness.

In the latest Multiamory episode, Jase, Dedeker and Emily talk about compassion (both in terms of extending compassion to ourselves, as well as extending compassion to other folks). And honestly, one of the first things that comes up for me about this very subject matter, is the fact that ever since I’d filled out the form to request an excused withdrawl form from school for this semester, I’ve experienced waves of compassion about that. And what I mean by that, is that sometimes it’s been hard for me to extend compassion towards myself about the way this situation will likely turn out. So for example, one of the first times I looked at what my grade was in said class, I saw that it was a passing grade. But then as time went on and my professor graded more assignments that I’d done and input zeros for the assignments that I was unable to complete, my grade became one that wasn’t a passing grade any longer. When I first saw that change, I was super disappointed. But I reminded myself that I wasn’t alone in this predicament…and that helped me feel better in that moment. But then a bit later on, I started to feel down about the fact I most likely wouldn’t pass this class. And while it was difficult for me to extend some understanding/compassion towards myself, I did so: because I’m trying to change this particular thing in myself for the better. Because sadly, it’s easy as hell for me to be a heartless bitch to myself in terms of not extending compassion towards myself when things don’t go the way I’d hoped for them to. As much as it pains me to admit that truth about myself, doing so is a huge step forward towards me being who I know myself to be…and who I want to be. Extending compassion towards myself would also be a healthier outlook to have, as it’s important to me to tackle the parts about myself that I know I could become better at.

Another example of when it’s been hard for me to extend compassion towards myself, was five years ago when I was in the hospital about to have emergency brain surgery. As I’ve written about on my blog before, I’d asked my bio mom to come visit me then because I desperately wanted her to love and care for me, the way I thought a real mother would/should care for their child. And also as I’ve written about on my blog before, my visit with her didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped it would. But ultimately I worked through my issues about my bio mom and this particular traumatic event in fall 2017, as this event didn’t upset me any less, even though it had happened just a couple years prior to fall 2017. The work I did surrounding this particular event and on learning to reshape my entire view of how I looked at myself though, was what ultimately lead me to leave Texas for good. But all of that hard work I’d done, still left me feeling like something was missing from my life that I needed to work through. And upon reflecting on this now, I’m self-aware enough to know that what was missing, was that it was hard as fuck for me to give myself compassion for all of the trauma I’d faced on this part of my journey, related to me having a visit with my bio mom when I was about to have emergency brain surgery in spring 2015.

An example of a time in which I had trouble extending compassion to other human beings, was throughout the time I’d maintained relationships with my maternal grandma and my favorite aunt on that side of the family. What was so hard for me to have commpassion towards them about, was how they each maintained their relationships with my bio mom. I couldn’t understand why on earth they’d want to keep in regular contact with my bio mom, especially knowing how shitty she (my bio mom) had treated me throughout my life. It was even harder for me to extend compassion to these two people I loved so much, because I didn’t directly ask them about why they kept in contact with my bio mom on a regular basis. And in fact, it wasn’t until years later that I came to understand, through my own personal experiences, that the reason my maternal grandma and my favorite aunt on that side of the family stuck it out with my bio mom, was because she (my bio mom) was their relative too. And also, my deeper understanding of the complexity of this situation, helped me grasp that the two good people I’m talking about, could love me as well as love their relative who’d done bad things to me. Like, this was not a black and white kinda issue, even though at one time a huge part of me wished it were.

In the latest episode of Hidden Brain, the show’s host Shankar Vedantam talks with Peter Singer (who is someone that thinks deeply about people being ethical). But that being said, when many people hear the name Peter Singer, they don’t necessarily feel happy about who he is. In fact, I’m one of those folks who cringes when I hear his name/when I think about what he stands for in the world. But, for those who ar unfamiliar with Peter Singer, he’s someone that thinks that certain lives are more valuable than other lives. In fact, one of the things he says, even within this Hidden Brain episode, is that in his opinion, it’s justifiable to let disabled babies/disabled human beings die…because they, we, (again in his opinion) have a lesser quality of life than non-disabled folks do. How the fuck does he even get to continue spewing such venom?!?!?! Another thing he said in this episode of Hidden Brain, was that it’s justifiable to kill one innocent person, if doing so saves multiple other people’s lives. And he says that it’s logical to have this particular mind-set. But to me, all thinking this way does, is help illustrate what a monster of a human being he actually is. But something else that listening to him talk brought up for me, was that I thought that maybe like me, Peter Singer actively strives to be different. Maybe like me, Peter Singer is carving out his own space in the world, the exact way that he wants to. And because of these possibilities, whether or not I agree with the things that he espouses, I can at least say that he is confident in being a non-conformist…no matter what kinda shit he gets from society. And TBH, I can relate to that way of living one’s life, as I too, enjoy being a non-conformist…no matter what kinda shit I get from society.

In the latest episode of the This American Life podcast, its host Ira Glass tells one story through this entire episode. It’s a story about a woman who lives for solving criminal cases that most legal professionals themselves cannot even solve. And then unexpectedly, the main woman who this story is about, learns that a close relative of hers has been missing for some time. And so, throughout listening to this story, we as the listeners are taken through a wide range of emotions. But the main lady named Lissa, that this story is about, doesn’t give up when it comes to searching for her missing family member. And the thing is, Lissa doesn’t search for people for a living–searching for people is literally just something that she enjoys doing. But unfortunately, this story didn’t end with Lissa’s relative being alive. This relative of hers had actually been murdered by people who’d robbed her and then stolen drugs off of her. It was really sad, TBH.

Something in the show Once Upon a Time that I think is worth writing about, is how the Wicked Witch from Oz comes into the main story about Henry and the Evil Queen who is also his (Henry’s) mom. So Zelena (the Wicked Witch) is Regina’s half sister…but Regina hadn’t known about this half sister of hers until Rumpelstiltskin told her (Regina). And so, once Regina learns this devastating bit of news, she unites with lots of people who are within Storybrooke (the town where fairytale characters are all lost and afraid). And eventually, Regina, Emma and others within Storybrooke come to figure out that Zelena is doing what she can to prepare a curse…because she (Zelena) wants to try to shift time. Beecause ultimately, she (Zelena) doesn’t want any of the good people who are currently in Storybrooke, to put an end to her first. And she knows that Emma (who is Henry’s birth mom) has the tools within her, to defeat Zelena once and for all.

This morning I wrote the following post on Facebook that reads:
I’m limiting my social media presence on purpose–I wasn’t going to write about it but I’ve decided to do so. I’m not speaking on things right now because I collectively feel everything that’s going on in the world. I personally feel sad and heartbroken about everything that folks are going through. I’m deeply disturbed by the fact that the media largely focuses on only one thing at a time…and that many people probably have entirely forgotten about Covid19 because of the louder heartbreaks that have come up. Yet, nothing has changed on the Covid19 front. There is still no vaccine or other treatment for Covid…and the college I attend says they are planning to slowly start opening up campus to everyone soon. I believe this choice is the wrong one to make, and my medical team wholeheartedly agrees with me. There is no way that a treatment vaccine for Covid can be created so quickly…so even if the college campus I go to does open back up this year, I’m staying put, as long as my medical team tells me to. School can wait; I value my life more than I value putting myself on campus just cuz people want the money they’d get from having me physically there. All that to say, if anyone wants to stay in touch with me, I check Facebook Messenger regularly. If you want me to know something about your life/something else that you post on social media, please tag me, as I’m not going to go through people’s actual posts. Lastly, black lives matter!! My heart breaks for you and with you. White supremacy needs to die like, yesterday.

Assorted music, podcast and book thoughts and childfree musings

In the Facebook group entitled Amazing Childfree Singles, someone posted a topic asking what people’s likes and dislikes were, when it comes to potential romantic partners they may have. What I wrote in response to said thread reads:
I love: directness, both in terms of being direct myself and receiving directness from others. Dealbreakers: republicans; if folks are deeply religious and want me to be too; folks who conform to society/who never question anything; racists/homophobes…and also, anyone who doesn’t accept my truth: that my family of origin is toxic AF, so much so that I’ve been full no-contact with them for a few years now. I put this particular one on my deal-breakers list, as some people judge and have judged me harshly for this…rather than seeing me as the cycle breaker that I am.

When Lady Gaga (a well known pop star) came out with her new album on Friday, I got myself hyped up about it by first listening to an interview that she’d done with someone on Apple Music prior to this album release. And in this interview, Lady Gaga talked about why she’d taken so long to release new music, after the release of her last album called “Joanne.” This part of the conversation was interesting to me, as I was not a fan of this particular album of hers; like, I really felt like she wasn’t herself, in terms of the way that the album “Joanne” sounded, vocally and instrumentation-wise. So when I heard her say in this particular Apple Music interview, that she’d recorded her album “Joanne” because she’d desperately wanted to heal trauma that her family had gone through, I had so much love and compassion for her. I kinda even felt like it was a dick move for me to have judged this album so harshly, now that I’d actually heard about why she’d created it in the first place.

But anyway, going back to this interview she’d done on Apple Music, I had such fun listening to this ear-gasm. The person who’d interviewed her seemed like they were genuinely having a great time–this interview was definitely the most authentic interview I’ve ever heard. I’m serious!! And so, as Lady Gaga and this interviewer talked about the release of her latest album entitled “Chromatica,” there were several times throughout said interview that nearly brought me to tears. For one thing, I really allowed my entire body to relax while listening to this interview; and I relaxed so deeply that I just naturally thought of how my favorite Aunt Loretta was such a huge Lady Gaga fan. I thought how she (my favorite aunt) would be so excited to hear this particular interview…and then to listen to this album. But the thing was, at the time when I’d thought these things, I hadn’t actually listened to Lady Gaga’s new album “Chromatica” myself yet. I could also relate to the things that she (Lady Gaga) was saying in this interview though, regarding how she became good at blocking out unpleasant things about herself, rather than dealing directly with them. I could relate to the parts in this interview when she talked about feeling like she was being pulled in different directions, not really knowing where to turn. I honestly didn’t realize, before listening to this interview though, that a lot of how Lady Gaga has experienced the world, is similar to the way I’ve experienced the world…thanks, trauma!! I’m definitely a “little monster” (what Lady Gaga calls her stans).

Also on Friday, I received an email from the college I attend. This email informed students about the options that are available to us, in terms of how we’d finish out this particular semester, given how Covid19 hit the US hard. The email stated that students would only be able to act on the available options by clicking on a link and fill out a form that day. But otherwise, students would have an entire year to petition the powers that be, to allow them to submit an excused withdrawl request for this particular semester or a pass/fail request for said semester. So I took some time to think about what my best option would be and it didn’t take me long to come up with what I knew was the right answer: fill out the form to have an excused withdrawl from American Sign Language one. But unfortunately for me, the form was acting weird with VoiceOver. Like, usually VoiceOver is great about saying “edit field, first name” or something along those lines…but not this time. So I ended up having to have my caretaker fill out the form separately and I then emailed it to my school as an attachment. There was apparently nowhere on the form itself that had a “submit” button, nor was there an email address given about who to submit this request to. I just knew that Admissions and Records was the department who’d sent this email to me–at least that email was sent from an email address that people actually check. That made this whole thing a tad bit easier. It was still a hassle over all, though!! Lack of accessibility really is a frequent pain in my ass.

Yesterday I wrote a status update on Facebook about how I’m feeling about this situation. And what I’ve written reads as follows:
So yesterday, students at the college I attend were given a couple different options of ways that if we needed to, we could request an excused semester, due to Covid19. And so, I requested an Excused Withdrawl, EW, for ASL one. Making that decision hurt my heart…but I’m trying to remind myself that this is an opportunity for me to redefine what success looks like in my life. And redefining success is something I already do regularly…but it feels larger, when it concerns school. I’m telling myself that I don’t need to see a letter grade to know that I worked my ass off in this class. And I don’t: because at the end of the day, I gained knowledge that I’ll happily allow to regularly carry me through my life over all now. I’ve gained friends and strengths that I never knew would be possible. But also, I gained more love for myself, especially considering that physically, my entire left wrist/arm caused me horrible pain. Sharp pain that would nearly bring tears to my eyes…and I have a high pain tolerance. But anyway, I’m not posting this status for others to pat me on the back–I’m logging this here so that Future Chelsea can be reminded of her greatness…and of her willingness to always challenge herself and the status quo.

Another thing that happened on Friday, was that I received my new shoes. The shoes are blue and they have a much nicer material than my old shoes do. I’m just surprised how fast they got to my house–they were only shipped to me on Tuesday. As I was switching the new shoes from the old ones though, I was telling my caretaker about how one of my favorite smells is the smell of new shoes…and also, how I love the smell of shoe stores.

In a recent episode of This American Life, the show’s host Ira Glass starts the show off by telling a story about a family that’s both literally and figuratively in a place that most of us would hate being put in. What I mean by that, is that the man in this family is a doctor that’s well-respected where he works and lives; but he’s in the United States as a guest, I would say, as he’s on a waiting list to receive his green card. And because he isn’t currently here in the US legally, he isn’t allowed to travel outside of his current city and state. And complicating this situation even more, is the fact that he has two young children and a wife to take into consideration if/when he decides what his next course of action will be. And the sad thing is, people that he knows, who of course know that he’s a well-respected doctor, don’t seem to understand the risk that he’d be taking by leaving his current location. And it’s interesting to me that the government would most likely penalize this doctor, simply for choosing to do the right thing of going elsewhere to help with this particular crisis the world is going through…all because he isn’t currently in the United States legally. That shit hurts my heart sooooo bad!!

In the next story Ira Glass tells in this episode of This American Life, a few young siblings meet a random stranger when they’re staying in a hotel with their other family members. It’s the youngest kids in this family who this weird situation happens to, though; and what happens, is that a stranger ends up in these children’s hotel room. Like, the woman essentially breaks into their hotel room; and right away, the kids realize that something isn’t right about this person. And so, the oldest child does her best to stay calm and tries to read the situation accurately, in the hopes that she could make this woman leave the room for good. And eventually, when she does make that happen, the lady then screams at the top of her lungs. And then when this young girl and her siblings tell this story to one of their parents, their parent is pissed. And as this woman (the oldest of the siblings) tells this story to Ira Glass, she explains that within the last few years, she’d asked her parents what they’d found out about that stranger from years ago. And her parents tell her that they’d discovered that this woman had come from a mental hospital, the very night that she’d broken into the hotel room that she (the oldest sibling) and her younger siblings were in. But it’s interesting to me that this older sibling says that this particular event wasn’t traumatic for her. Because personally, the entire time I was listening to this story, I kept thinking how fucking creeped out I was about this whole thing with this stranger. It seemed like something that only happens in movies!! I’m pretty sure that if something like that happened to me, I’d find it traumatic.

In the next segment of this podcast, an actor reads a play-like portion of someone’s memoir. The reason I say that this reading is play-like, is because what was used for this part of this podcast was actually recreated specifically for the radio format. And so, the way this play-like piece read, was quite similar to the text-based adventure game I love playing called Timecrest. But this play-like piece was about a heavy topic: being in an abusive relationship and then physically going through the assorted options of how the person being abused could best handle the situation. But interestingly, we as the listeners never find out what happens to the characters in this story. I feel kinda weird about that, just because I love hearing things have endings…even if those endings have to be ones that I create in my own head.

In the next segment of this podcast, a story is told about a family that’s quarantined together. And the main part of this story, is that this family were germophobes, I’d say…and how even with that truth, one of them still caught a sickness. Thankfully, it wasn’t the Corona Virus; but this story did illustrate how when disaster is going to strike in one’s life, no amount of prior or current preparation will prevent that disaster from happening. Hell, I’ve learned that this is true, from my own life experiences; like, when I’d tried to convince myself that I could make myself into a healthy person, simply by eating right, exercising enough and ensuring that I was getting good sleep as much as possible. But as much as I’ve fought mwith my body throughout my life, I ultimately learned that listening to my body is literally the best thing I could ever do for myself.

The last story in this episode, was about how in the country Israel, a cab driver happened to be driving a passenger somewhere. This passenger of the cabby’s though, had two horrible situations that were going on in his life then that were both awful–the guy’s wife had had a miscarriage and his dad had tongue cancer that doctors weren’t sure he’d recover from. And for the most part, the cab driver was complaining to tthis passenger of his about how his (the cab driver’s) life was so hard. The driver repeatedly told his passenger that he’d never gotten into an accident before…and then just a few minutes later, this very driver and passenger got in a car accident. But what I found most puzzling about this story, was that as the commotion from the accident was happening, the passenger in the cab took a phone call and lied to his father (who was on the phone) about what had just happened. That just blew my fucking mind.

Occasionally Audible.com gives me a credit to get a free trial of said service. And taking advantage of this particular thing has been something I’ve enjoyed for several years now. And one book I’ve recently been listening to via Audible, is a book by Jaci Velasquez (who is one of my favorite Christian music artists). Jaci Velasquez’s book is called When God Rescripts Your Life: Seeing Value, Beauty and Purpose When Life Is Interrupted. And in the second chapter of said book, she uses the phrase “differently abled” instead of using the word “disabled” to describe that one of her children is disabled. This phrasing of hers gets under my fucking skin because disabilities are a fact of life for some folks. Disabilities aren’t things to be ashamed of, and just because there are people who feel/say otherwise, that doesn’t make that harmful belief true. And so, I’m frustrated that no one on Jaci Velasquez’s team caught this huge error. It wouldn’t have been hard for folks on her team, or even Jaci herself, to reach out to disabled people on social media, to listen to us identify ourselves as disabled…and to then use the same wording that we’ve used. Because sometimes it’s OK to follow people’s lead; this is a situation where being a follower is the best possible course of action that one could take.

Another thing in Jaci’s book that gets under my skin nearly right away, is the way in which she discusses having dreams for her children and then freaks the fuck out when things don’t go like she’d wanted them to. Quite frankly, that sort of thing happens to all of us at some point in our lives–God has nothing to do with it. I have no problem admitting that before I knew that I actually had several chronic health conditions that could become life-threatening at any time, I said that I’d likely kill myself if I ever got even one such diagnosis. But then once I actually did get diagnosed with several chronic health conditions that could become life-threatening, I didn’t want to end my life. I mean, I knew that my life would end up looking a lot differently than I’d thought it would…but different did not mean “an actual death sentence” for me. I was growing into more of a warrior than I’d been previously…but ultimately I’d come to understand that these unanticipated roadblocks I’d experienced, would help shape the woman I’d continue to become. This sort of cycle, if you will, is not a God thing; it’s literally part of the human experience for everyone.

But truthfully, when I first heard Jaci Velasquez say in this book of hers that she’d spent time literally planning how her first child’s life would look, that rubbed me the wrong way. Because I felt like she was saying that she didn’t actually intend to leave room for her child to grow into whomever they wanted to be…and that’s wrong on so many levels. What makes it wrong though, is not the fact that she has those dreams…but that she seems to feel like a failure when things in her life go differently than she’d wanted them to. But again, this particular thing happens to us all in life, whether we believe in a higher power other than ourselves or not. And yes, life really does change in ways that suck; sometimes we do find ourselves grieving…and that’s a healthy part of the healing process that we all have to get through, one way or another. But when I heard Jaci Velasquez say, for example, that she wanted her sons to marry a woman, that hit me hard as well. I mean, I know that many Christians think that same-sex relationships are immoral…but Christians who believe that way, are actually the immoral ones. I say this because it doesn’t make sense for people to claim that they are loving individuals…yet in that same breath, they say that certain minority groups are somehow not deserving of love. Homophobia is fucking stupid–I’m just glad that I don’t have internalized homophobia anymore.

Something else that surprises me about this book of Jaci Velasquez’s, is hearing her say that she ended up marrying the guy who was unsupportive of her being in a secular movie in the early 2000s. Because I’d always known that this marriage of hers was her second marriage, and that she’d even had children with her current husband Nick Gonzalez (who happens to be the lead singer of a Christian music group called Salvador). I’d known these things because years ago, I regularly kept up with Jaci Velasquez’s music, her tour dates ETC. I’d definitely say that I’m a stan of hers. But given that I hadn’t kept up with the fact she’d planned to release this book, I was surprised to find out in reading said book that Nick Gonzalez seemed quite possessive of how Jaci lived her life. He kept stalking her, I’d say…even when she’d made it known to him that she wasn’t interested in him romantically. But honestly, this truth fits very well, I think, with the way that Christianity forces people to believe that if things are not Christian-centric, that means they are automatically not good. I respect that this is Jaci Velasquez’s story being told, but that doesn’t mean that I share her values or that I agree with what she’s saying. But fuck, I’m still in disbelief that she married someone who wouldn’t support the new experiences she’d wanted to allow herself to have, nor would he (Nick Gonzalez) leave Jaci Velasquez alone, in terms of pursuing her romantically. This whole situation has toxic written, no, splattered all over it!! Nowadays if someone tried to mold me into something that wasn’t me in any way, shape or form, I’d cut them out of my life without hesitation. Hell, I’ve cut people out of my life for that very reason, within these last few years. And I can’t ever imagine going back to having them in my life, especially not as I continually figure out how to live in my truth more fully.

Yet another thing that surprised me about Jaci Velasquez’s book When God Rescripts Your Life, was that she said something along the lines of “my first marriage was accidental.” Ummmm, there literally is no such thing as getting married “accidentally.” Perhaps her first marriage was something that she’d rushed into; but I feel like in Jaci saying that her first marriage was not a conscious choice she’d made, she’s not accepting responsibility for this choice of hers. And I can empathize with the fact that she’d been going through a ton in her personal life and publicly; and given that she was so busy then, she probably didn’t have any time to confide in anyone about the very real and oh-so-present turmoil she’d been experiencing. She had a similar disposition as me, in fact: she thought that if she just pretended that things weren’t so bad, that that way of thinking would make those things go away. But instead, what ended up happening, was that awful things in Jaci’s life kept piling up on her. And ultimately what slowed her down for a time, was that she had vocal chord surgery done, Due to how much she’d used and/or strained her singing voice. This was something I’d never known about Jaci Velasquez, until reading this book of hers. And honestly, I was surprised to read it, as I’d been under the impression that Jaci knew how to use her singing voice effectively. Like, I’ve watched lots of her TV show appearances, YouTube concerts and in-person concerts of hers that I’ve been to…and I couldn’t ever tell that she was straining her voice.

But before I go on to discussing other things, I want to write about Jaci Velasquez’s choice back in the early 2000s, to be an actress in a secular movie. I want to write about this, as it did have an affect on my life–mainly, I was happy to see Jaci Velasquez’s potential at crossing over into the mainstream world. I say her “potential” because I’d honestly thought that that’s what would happen. At least, I’ll admit that I wanted to see Jaci cross over from the Christian music world into the secular world. I often thought about what it would be like to hear her sing mainstream songs…and so, when I heard that she’d be starring in a movie called Chasing Papi, I was beside myself with excitement. I didn’t understand, and still don’t understand, why there were folks who were outraged about Jaci Velasquez having made this decision. I mean, I understand that part of what many Christians believe, is that people should not have sex before marriage and also that they should not even kiss anyone on the lips until they’re married. And so, given that Chasing Papi was a movie about a man who was romantically into three women at once, I knew that many Christians couldn’t believe that Jaci Velasquez would even star in this kinda movie. But personally, I loved the movie!! In fact, I’m pretty sure that I still have said movie on a DVD somewhere around here.

I’m also reading a book called FREQUENCY; this book is by an author named Penney Peirce. And this book is about how as we go through life, many of us are not even conscious of the fact that there are stages that we all go through. So for example, when we don’t know how to deal with life well, that can make things in our lives chaotic. One personal example in my own life, is how for years, I acted tough. I talked openly about how I didn’t want or need to have romantic relationships with others–I was fiercely independent…but to a fault. What I mean in saying that, is that I thought I was living the correct way. Little did I know, people actually saw through my bullshit; and the more I displayed that tough exterior, the clearer folks saw that I was actually deeply hurt. And so, this book FREQUENCY talks about how human beings not being in touch with who they really are has a profound impact on their lives. And it’s interesting to hear things framed that way, as this book is making me think about things in a different way than I ever have before.