The Best of Disability Blogs and Banter
In 2003, three months after I started culinary school, someone threw a fork into my plans (who uses wrenches in cooking?). I broke my neck in a diving accident leaving me a C5-6 quadriplegic and full time wheelchair user. Yeah, yeah. It’s sad and all, but this isn’t a pity party … this is about food! You want mopey, sad gimp stuff? This isn’t the blog for you. But there are tons of whiners out there on the net who love the “you can do it! We’re here for you!” Not here, unless you’re talking about a fig and goat cheese tart. The only pity I’ll take is when a recipe is unsuccessful and the ingredients cost a lot! I knew after losing fine motor and ability to stand I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the things cooking requires. So what do I do to satiate my culinary urges? Teach my hubby and caregivers how to cook! They often joke they are my hands and my mom calls me the brains of the operation. Now, I’ve decided to start a food blog. My goals for this blog are to inspire you to cook; especially if you don’t know how to. Step by step, you’ll be making amazing meals like my husband whose cooking repertoire used to consist of boxed pasta, chicken breast, and Italian flavored diced tomatoes in a sauté pan.
I’m sure when he reads this he’ll say, “Hey! You liked that dish!” Yes honey I did, but you have come so far!
— Gina Campbell, www.culinaryquad.com
NPR Unfit to Write About Disability
There’s a piece by Chana Joffee-Walt on NPR’s website entitled “Unfit for Work: the Startling Rise of Disability in America.” Driven by anecdote rather than cultural analysis, her thesis is simple: the number of unemployed Americans receiving disability benefits has skyrocketed over the past 20 years. She intimates without fully declaring it, that there’s a vast social “scam” taking place — in the absence of good middle class jobs, and following the “end Welfare as we know it” enterprise, poor people simply decline into aches and pains, thereby getting themselves declared unfit for work. Alas, Joffee-Walt hasn’t done her homework.
Disability is entirely economic and has been so since the move to industrial models of labor. Those who cannot work in the factory were labeled “disabled” and that model of human economic utility largely continues to this day. Reasonable accommodations are the solution for workers whose physical capacities decline but as any seasoned person with a disability who has managed to remain in the workforce knows, obtaining accommodations is often so difficult, so humiliating, so Kafka-esque, most people give up.
Another way to say this is that a nation that believes in work is also a nation that believes in accommodations. Joffee-Walt misses this dynamic and ongoing dialectic and fails to illuminate the true nature of disability and joblessness.
— Steve Kuusito, www.planet-of-the-blind.com
Living With a Disability? Embrace Your Rebellion
Defiance is different for every person, in every battle, against every demon. Defiance is hanging your head to the applause you don’t want to hear and approaching the podium to speak. It’s twirling the drumstick despite the carpal tunnel bandage around your wrist and pounding the snare. For me, it’s moving in the world when it tries to swerve and blur around me. It’s plowing into it head on. It’s being a caretaker of humanity when, theoretically, they should be caring for me.
But part of that is expecting more of ourselves than the world expects. Getting up and going out is not rebelling against your impairment. Reaching out to another, making yourself — the inaccessible — accessible, finding humor in what you face, that is defying.
So whatever your rebellion is … embrace it. Channel it into your credo, your mantra, your hakuna matata. No revolution began without a leader of defiance.
— Shea Megale, www.themobilityresource.com; www.sheamegale.weebly.com