Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Today is a good day.

Today is my birthday; it's really nothing special. I turn 24 at 4:41 PM this afternoon. I only know that because my parents argue about it every year, and every year they're both wrong. I'm the only one who remembers, that, my birth weight, and that fact that I was born on Mother's Day of 1982 are really all the memories I have of my birth, and they are, of course, facts that I came to learn long after the event.

I woke up to my wife being very sweet. You see, even though she is pregnant, she let me sleep in and kept the puppy out of my hair for an extra half an hour this morning. As I left with puppy Siku to go on our morning walk, I noticed a note on my gloves, there were about a half dozen or so spread different places in the house and in my work folder this morning. She is a very sweet woman, very sweet indeed. Siku (our Siberian Husky puppy) even seemed to understand today was significant too, not too much fuss and howl during the walk this morning (he's in training, he does not like corrections).
I got to take a shower, and even though my Hawaiian shirt is missing a button and I was unable to wear it, I am still comfortable in what I ended up wearing, and I like it enough to keep it in the closet so that's that.

My dad called me this morning on my way to work. He is the second person to wish me a Happy Birthday. I decided I want to trade jobs with him today; he gets to go to a 3M plant and burn things in a 2,000-degree oven. He's testing fire retardants today. He loves being a building inspector more than he ever liked being a working blue collar stiff. I am happy that he called me this morning. My dad is a really cool guy.

Now I sit here at my desk, my office looking like Times Square on New Year's Eve, and I am happy. My 'crew' as I call my group of female co-workers (I am the only male among us as of yet) was kind enough to decorate my office while I was at the first OB appointment that my wife and I had for our unborn child. So while I was listening to a heartbeat that sounded like an old steam engine (It was really quite beautiful) they were throwing confetti, balloons, and crepe paper around my office. They also stole one of my 'signatures' and posted a huge list of odd/fun facts about the year and date of my birth. Useless knowledge such as this is something that is usually saved for me to acquire and spread around on a rainy or boring day, and they've used it against me! Ain't life grand?

Two of my co-workers will be unable to attend my 'office birthday lunch' later this week, and have offered to take me out for lunch today. We're going to go get Chinese food. This is special for me because my wife doesn't like it much, and therefore, we do not usually have Chinesey things in our home. (See, good day for me!)

I only know that my evening will consist of spending time with our kids and my wife. That there will be cake, Which my very loving wife made right out of the box for me. That is huge for her, and I am very, very happy with it. She even let me eat the extra frosting, am I a dork, or what? But I don't care and I don't have to today.

I say every year that it's no big deal and just another day, and you know what, it's still working, every year that I say that, I end up seeing that it is a big deal and that people really do care for me. So I'm sticking with what works, at least if I'm right, I can only be mad at myself that way, right?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Disablism: Fact or Fiction?

I've only recently become familiar with this term, in fact, until yesterday, I'd never heard it. Perhaps that says something about the predominantly white state that I live in. What bother's me further though, is that even though I'm only 23-years-old, in the past 6 years I've already made a career of working with people who have mental, cognitive, and physical disabilities. If anyone should've heard this word by now I feel like I should have at least been eavesdropping.

I do see that this is a problem, and I've always seen that it's a problem. In some ways, everyone partakes in disablism, much in the same way that most of us white folks take advantage of racism, but rarely do we notice or discuss that it's being done. In fact, it took me a sociology class focused on inequalities before I truly recognized how screwed up we is with this discrimination thing.

Many of us actively practice racism, sexism, and disablism in our everyday lives and never even notices it.

Think about it, when was the last time that you stared at a black or African-American person standing across the street while in an unfamiliar town and worried about what might happen, or thought that, based on the way they were dressed, they obviously aren't doing enough for themselves?

And in kind, have you never done a double take at a well-endowed woman in a low cut top? Or perhaps a long legged beauty in a short skirt? What about a tall dark and handsome man in a freshly pressed suit? Or that hunky football player at the mall? See, this might start an argument, but women do participate in some of these things too, although when it comes to sexism, men do seem to take the cake, don't we? Too bad.

It works the same way with disability rights, you see a person in a wheelchair and you stare, even if only for a brief moment, and you never think to actually speak to the person, you just make your glances. Trust me, they notice. That guy at McDonald's who was throwing a fit because he didn't get the super size on his value meal, he noticed that you were smirking, smiling, laughing, staring, glaring, and all unapologetically and without understanding.

The greeter at the local department store, the one who's always staring at the floor, he's just looking for you to say "hi" back to him. He doesn't need you to hear his life story, it's not a bar or a bistro, and you haven't asked, just say "hi" and take his flyer. Then he can feel the purpose in his job that you get to feel in yours.

You may still be telling yourself that I'm a nut, that this stuff just doesn't happen, but can I just simply ask why you honestly believe that in 6 years of working with this community I've never seen any of this? Or furthermore, why I'd just make it up?

If you want more info on how disablism is not only grabbing our country, but not being recognized, check out this link: http://www.raggededgemagazine.com/departments/closerlook/000947.html