Saturday, October 06, 2007

Treat me like the leaves

I've taken up the bad habit of using song lyrics as post titles. I used to do this on my old journal, sometimes I even made posts of nothing but lyrics to songs I was listening to. I go to write, and then I hear the words to the music in the background and all of a sudden I can't think of anything different than what I'm hearing. Music has always been about words for me anyway. I'm very strange like that.

Realized earlier today that when searching for pictures of crows on which to base my tattoo design, I had never searched for pictures of ravens. The two look rather alike, you would think that there would be a fair number of appropriate pictures. However, I found nothing new in the way of birds. I did find this picture, though, which I quite liked.

I'm not interested in a full shoulder tattoo, especially not one that goes up the neck and would be half hidden, half revealed with every single shirt I have. The tentative plan at this point is for the crow to go on my right shoulder. But I don't know. I probably won't even get it for quite a long time, both for monetary reasons and because tattoos should be thought about, anticipated before you actually get them. You should have an engagement period, so to speak.

So I don't want to get a tattoo like this one here. It's terribly pretty, though. I think the delicateness of the lines mean that it will hold up over time better than big blocky pictures do. There's less to smear, and even if it does get a bit less distinct it will still be wonderful art. It seems to suggest that I could consider something more elaborate than a freestanding bird in flight, something more detailed and nuanced than a black cutout figure. I don't know if elaborate is my style... but it's pretty.

In the course of browsing through disability themed blogs, and other blogs that are just written by people with disabilities, I've come across the term disablism (or ableism) quite frequently. The best explanation of the movement I have is this essay by a former "Jerry's Kid" poster child; the idea is that seeing people with disabilities as inherently unable to do things is foolish because if society approached the problem differently, for example spending money on accomodations instead of pure medical research, the lives of people with disabilities would be much better in the present, instead of in some possible future. Also part of this movement is the idea that many of the modern treatments of disability are marginalizing of persons with disabilities in a way akin to racism.

I've found myself having mixed reactions to this paradigm. On the one hand, I can see how it would be really important for someone who is essentially able to do many things with a little bit of help, but who is prevented because of an outward appearance of disability. If you could go to the theater and have a great time if only they would put in a lift to get you to the second floor, it must be maddeningly frustrating to have simple mechanical things thwart your plans. On the other hand, it scares me that someday there might be an atmosphere that expects everyone to be able to do everything in a 'disability friendly' building. I don't use a wheelchair, there would be no benefit from it, but that doesn't mean that I'm able to get around freely. My problems stem from pain and fatigue that are almost totally unpreventable. I can't imagine accomodations that could be put in place anywhere I'm interested in going that would make any difference at all.

So maybe this is selfish- certainly this is selfish- but I kind of think that a focus on mainstreaming disability would be harmful for me personally. If there is the expectation that disabled people can work if you just redesign the workplace, it would be even harder to explain that there are many days it takes me an hour to get out of bed, that doing anything at all on a consistent basis is liable to cause pain because it's the fact of repetition that gets me, that I function on the level of a dyslexic with ADD, insomnia, depression and narcolepsy most of the time, that there are all these things that can't be designed around that prevent me from working. I already have a hard time convincing people that I'm in physical distress; I don't look it; the expectation that I should be able to do 'mainstream' things no matter what disability I have would make my life infinitely harder.

It would be nice, though, if there wasn't a social stigma associated with being unable to work, or go out shopping or partying, or even being unable to keep one's house properly. If I can't convince myself that being unable to do these things isn't a moral failure, though, I don't see how there's any hope of convincing people who don't have to deal with this on a regular basis. Maybe if our society was completely changed, so that there was less importance placed on work and money as the measure of a person's value, so that individualism was less important and community was more important, so that there was an expectation that everyone at some point would need the help of the people around them so help should be freely asked for and freely given. Some of this reminds me of Echidne of the Snakes' posts on how modern feminism requires the involvement of men in the domestic realm, in that if this has any chance of working out, it requires that the current culture be torn down and started again from the beginning.

I'm realizing that most of my prescriptions for the problems I write about boil down to the same thing: burn it all down and start over.

I suspect that this may say something about me that isn't all that flattering.

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