Year In Pictures

Yesterday, the New York Times had a section called “year in pictures.”  At first I was disappointed because each week I always look forward to reading the editorials.  However, I spent time looking at every photograph and realized how many painful events occur across the world every day.

I saw pictures such as a 15 year old girl holding her brother as she shared a tent with 11 other relatives after an explosion in Aleppo, Syria had partially blinded her. I saw the anguished look on bystanders faces as they watched two men being executed in Iran and as Egyptians mourned the death of a protester.  One photo was of visitors standing in the rain in what is called the “rain room” in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.  Another picture was of a boy dangling from a power line over the Ganges River in India.

The picture that impacted me the most, however, was of a man a holding a woman when they were both found dead in the rubble of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh after the building collapsed.  I was going to include a photograph I took of the newspaper picture here since I was unable to get a copy of it online.  However, my background in music has helped me be sensitive to copyright issues so I decided not to include it although my description does not do it justice.

When I saw it, I was reminded how easy my life has been.  That couple had died trying to earn a few dollars toward a better life.  They looked so young.  Seeing that picture reminded me that I still have a lot to experience and offer the world.  It certainly isn’t fair that we got our perspective lives.  I could have been born in Bangladesh having to work in a substandard factory for little wages.   Instead, I am a middle-aged woman in the United States who has a brain injury.  I have hopes for this New Year that begins on Wednesday and lies in front of me.

Sparky and me singing.
Sparky and me singing.

Plus I have a dog who likes to sing with me.  Perhaps now is a good time for us to practice!

Disability Difficulties

I had surgery on my thumb on December 2 in Charlotte, NC.  At first I had to wear a fairly big cast which meant I couldn’t use my left arm at all.  Two weeks later, they put on the purple cast which is the perfect color for Advent. This picture was taken at choir practice last night.IMG_20131218_181536_550

Not having use of this hand has reminded me again how annoying it is to live with a physical disability.  I wasn’t able to take a shower or wash my hair by myself.  I had to make sure Michael had loosened the tops on any bottles I might need to open since my left hand wasn’t strong enough to open them.  I don’t send out many Christmas cards which is a good thing since addressing them is a painfully slow process using my left hand.

After returning home from the Disability Institute in July, I’ve been a bit uninterested in the disability movement.  It was so neat to be there for my experiences as a person with a disability were valued and this felt good.  Here at home, it is different and I haven’t been able to get energized around the issue. However, this experience with my hand reignited my interest.

For example last night at choir practice, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold the music like everyone else so I made arrangements to have a music stand.   Plus the anthem for Sunday is in a book which I can’t hold so I had to copy it and figure out how to put it together.  This sounds like a small thing but it isn’t.  I’m not able to use the black folder like everyone else so I’ve rigged up a system of using black poster board so that it looks like everyone else’s. I’m not very good with measuring things and putting them together so I cut the pages all different sizes.  It’s a mess but it worked last night.  I’ve asked Michael to help me straighten it out for Sunday morning.

I have no idea how much time I’ve already put into making the anthem look like everyone else’s. We’re singing many anthems on Christmas Eve and it’s going to take me a while to put them together. I really don’t want to do it but it makes some folks uncomfortable in the choir if I don’t use a black folder.

This points to a much larger issue in the disability community: – the time we put in to be like the rest of the world.  It’s a much bigger issue for folks with physical disabilities because often it involves just getting into the room. The event might be on the second floor and there is no elevator.  We in the disability community do not want special favors or special recognition.  We just want to participate which sometimes is difficult for us to do.