Occupy Wall Street


First, I want to say that I still am unable to respond to comments in the comment section. I really appreciated the comment yesterday since sometimes I wonder if my writing affects anyone. As I said before, I may switch to WordPress (although I’ve been putting it off because learning another system is hard for me) because commenting is much easier there than on Blogspot. I really want folks to share their stories in this section because folks with brain injuries need to talk to each other. For the time being if you want a response, feel free to contact me directly at puffer61@gmail.com If you feel comfortable leaving your email on your comment you can do that as well.

The picture on the left is why I am involved in this movement. I understand that many in the movement are not religious and that’s okay. I actually like this because sometimes church folks can be a pain. (Sorry to people who go to church!) I’m drawn to this movement because there are so many things that occupiers believe which are a part of Jesus’ teachings.

Many of the things I want to do with the movement really hit on my TBI weaknesses. I’ve made the decision to do these things and then take the consequences. Fortunately I choose things where I can handle the consequences which normally means dealing with the stress before and spending some time alone to recuperate and “rest my brain” afterwards.

I have written about this before but the occupy movement is full of challenging things for me. For example a proposal was on the Asheville City Council’s agenda this past Tuesday that would no longer allow the current camp site in front of City Hall. I think we focus too much on camping to the determent of our other activities but I do believe camping serves the purpose of keeping these issues in front of people. When I walked my dog that morning, I thought of a statement I could make at the meeting.

One of the reasons I wanted to speak was because I’m middle aged and look different from the other protesters portrayed in the media. I don”t believe my differences are better in the least but I think we need to draw more folks like me. Making a statement at a meeting hits all my weaknesses however. My stress level comes into play since I can’t take nearly the amount of pressure I could take before my injury. I do like to speak so I try and determine if the stress is worth it. It means taking some time afterwards to “rest my brain” and being very nervous before. I always allow much time to prepare a short speech. I never do it the day of but in this situation, if I wanted to speak, I had to prepare comments that morning.

I worked out a ride to the meeting. We were at the end of the agenda so I had to sit through the other presentations. This was a lot of stimulation for me. I made a point to sit in the front since blocking out background noise is hard. I like politics and I enjoyed watching the council members. However, I could feel my brain becoming overloaded so I put in my ear plugs to block out the sound. It felt a bit silly sitting in the third row wearing my ear plugs but I’ve learned to try not to care what people think.

There was a motion to send it to a committee and we were allowed to speak to this motion. It’s funny but I liked what I had written. (It was a little like a short sermon) and I was disappointed to not say it especially after dealing with all my challenges. I don’t think on my feet well but I decided to oppose the motion but saying part of my little speech. A television news camera man was there and a clip of my speech played on the news. Several folks who saw it and aren’t involved in the movement, said they support the movement and hope it grows.

I’m glad I spoke and I may have to say the rest of my little speech in January when it comes before council again. I’ll have to work on another opening because the one I had was great and I already said it. Ah well. I’ll decide if speaking is worth dealing with all my brain injury challenges when we get closer to the date.

General Assembly


Posted on the left is a picture that a friend from Circle of Mercy sent out. The Occupation has folks with different beliefs about a higher power but I thought it expressed my own beliefs well.

I’m writing a lot about the Wall Street protests this month because they are on my mind. Here in Asheville, there is a general assembly (ga) meeting every night downtown. It’s at 7 PM and getting there is difficult since I don’t see well in the dark. (This is result of the TBI) However, on the weekends they are in the afternoon so I can get downtown then. This past Saturday, I went to Pritchard Park for the meeting at 3 PM. Downtown Asheville is only about 15 minutes away but I can never remember exactly how to get there. I usually use my GPS but a parking garage doesn’t have a direct address so I used written ones. The problem was my directions were wrong.

I couldn’t find one parking deck but I did find the smaller one. Finding my car when I return is always a challenge so I looked for a sign telling me which floor I had parked. I saw no sign but I realized I was one floor above ground level. After exiting the garage, I didn’t know how to get to the park. Fortunately this town is small so I figured asking for directions would be easy. Asheville is a tourist town and I asked three people who couldn’t help me since they were visitors. Finally I asked a police officer who gave me the correct directions. I wrote them down so I could look at them when I returned home.

I’m glad I attended. I sat in the front so I wouldn’t be distracted by the crowd. I managed to focus on what the speakers were saying despite the noise of traffic driving by and music on the street corner across the street. I think ga’s are more streamlined now because this one was only 1 1/2 hours. I took a notebook and wrote down people’s names so I would remember them later. There are a couple of different facebook groups and I like to try and put names and faces together when I can.

Going back, I didn’t have any trouble finding the parking garage but I did have difficulty finding the car. My notes about its location were a bit haphazard and I had to hunt for it. I put bumper stickers on the car so I can recognize it when it’s parked in a lot. This has helped me numerous times. After finding my car, I then used my GPS to get home.

I haven’t written anything about the meeting but I wanted to express how difficult it is for me to get to places. Once I’m there I have to deal with all the challenges involved in attending the event. I don”t want to complain but sometimes this does get on my nerves. I want to be involved in things but I’ve learned to set limits and try to be involved in the ways I can. The challenge for me is to not feel guilty. I try and remember this is who I am now and I do what I can.

International Day of Action


Sunday was the day when all cities involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement came together and had some sort of action. Here in Asheville, there was a rally in Pritchard Park with music and speakers at 2 PM. The picture above is of that rally. Following the rally was the general assembly followed by picketing. Lorettas’s Kitchen has been providing meals every day but I’m not sure they did this on Saturday. There was plenty of donated food, however and it was a great day.

The Asheville Citizen Times did a story on the occupation Sunday. http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20111016/NEWS/310160066/Occupy-Asheville-protesters-explain-why-they-re-here?odyssey=tabtopnewstextFrontpage This movement doesn’t have any leaders and it”s been hard for people to pin down exactly what the demands are. When I attended the General Assembly, we broke up into working groups and I sat in on a group trying to come up with specific demands. A proposal will come before the General Assembly which will then decide by consensus whether to support this proposal.

I support this movement 100% but it is not a good project for someone with a brain injury to be involved in. Due to my frontal lobe injuries, I need structure and organizing anything is very difficult for me. This movement has no structure and is figuring things out as it goes along. Yesterday I was fortunate to sit next to a couple of folks involved in the organizing process and listened in on their conversation. They mentioned many of the things I’ve been concerned about. I was impressed with their thoughts and it gave me hope that this movement is going somewhere. I don’t need to step up for there are others willing and able to do this.

Let me mention a couple of my challenges. I’ve mentioned cognitive overload before and it was really a problem for me during the meetings. So much goes on and I have to “rest my brain.” Toward the end of the rally I knew that I needed to go somewhere, put in my ear plugs and sit quietly for a few minutes. The problem was, we were at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville so there really was no place for me to go. I ended up walking to the back of the park and finding a place by a wall and under a tree. I put in my ear plugs and sat down on the ground next to the wall. The ear plugs didn’t block all the sound but it was enough. When I heard the meeting was about to begin, I joined it again.

It is difficult for me to focus and to pay attention in these types of environments. I have discovered the best way for me to focus is to sit near the front. I’ve gone to two other partial general assemblies and I sat in the back. This caused problems because I kept hearing people talking around me and I could not focus. This time I decided I would sit right in the front. I found a place for the rally but when I left to “rest my brain” for a few minutes, I had to find another place in front. I felt a little uncomfortable moving to the front like I did, but I knew it was the only way I would be able to focus on the conversation.

I wish I could remember names! I watched Sunday’s meeting last night on the live stream and one of the organizers said something about homeless folks and I had some resources to share. I didn’t know his name so I spent a good part of today sending emails to the facebook group. I finally reached someone by messaging on facebook. I don’t even know if my resources would do any good but at least I got them to the right place. I’m going to start a file with a list of the names of different people from the group. There is a facebook page with 3000+ members and I’m forever getting confused as to who is who.

I plan to set limits as I do with other things that are difficult for me. I won’t be able to attend many general assemblies but I will attend the ones I can. I plan to read the information on the web site and listen to the live stream. I really support this and I want to be involved in any way I can.

If you are a brain injury survivor, are there things that are difficult for you to do yet you still try to do them? Is it hard for you to accept this fact? Do you find compensatory strategies to do those things? See above right for commenting instructions. I’m still not able to respond to your comments here do to technical difficulties but feel free to contact me directly at Puffer61@gmail.com if you’d like a response.

Occupy Wall Street


Several weeks ago, a group of protesters camped out at a park by Wall Street to protest how 1% of the population makes many of the financial rules for the other 99%. One day last week, 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn bridge. I’ll write more about this movement later but it has grown across the country. The following video has become part of the many videos and programs being produced around this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB7PwcC9qzw&feature=player_embedded&noredirect=1 I think he made this back in August before the protests began which is really amazing.

A protest has sprung up here in Asheville but it’s been very difficult for me to be involved. General Assemblies are held every night downtown and since I don’t drive at night, getting there has been difficult. Plus my brain shuts off after about two hours in a meeting and sometimes these meetings go longer. I’ve only attended two meetings in Pritchard park and I’ve had a hard time focusing due to all the outside noise. The organizational structure is a consensus model with no leaders. This means meetings can be long with much time spent trying to come to consensus.

Tomorrow is set aside for all groups to meet in their respective cities and come together in solidarity. The movement is still very new and organizational things are not yet in place. This means communication has been a problem. It took me most of the day to finally figure out what is happening. I think I’m going to go with someone which will be great. My spatial orientation issues make driving and walking to different destinations downtown a real challenge. This is an exciting movement and I want to be part of it however I am able.