Monday, March 30, 2009

Random March

Cindy B. posted a comment on the word post earlier this week - by the way, did I misplace all my punctuation in that? Here're the periods I forgot ........ - and it's perfection if you're a word geek. Save the Words. Heaven.

There's a study showing that sex as we know it – and fertilization – occurred much earlier than previously thought. In fossilized fish, no less. Before becoming fossilized, one assumes.

Portia de Rossi apologizes for marrying Ellen.

Looking for a new career? Are you neat and slightly anal-retentive? Check this one out. Sent to me by DavidG, who also sent me proof that the CN Tower is the 12th Cylon. And if anyone as much as thinks of muttering about anything that happened in all of Season 4 (I’m a season behind), I will… erm… will… avenge myself! That’s it, avenging. So don’t say anything. Please? (I know... I'm so scary) And this one. I don't know what to say. Utterly speechless.

From LynnM, a new take on crayon art.

From Trevor, Canadian Sex Acts, as mentioned on How I Met Your Mother. Take the time to check out all of 'em.

It’s a wonderful world. All together now: awwwwwww...

S/he’ll say anything you want. Seriously absorbing. Warning: you may lose a few days to playing with that.

And lastly, dogs. Mary sent me the clip of Bailey playing dead and extreme sheepherding. And then there's Bizkit the sleepwalking dog. No matter how many times I play that, I keep laughing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Milk

Just the other day, I was bitching to a friend about the dearth of good movies these days. Movies that are about something other than mindless explosions - okay, so a good explosion or two can be quite satisfying, depending on your mood, but you know what I mean. Movies where the script, the acting, the direction and the cinematography all come together and create something that is engrossing, transforming and more than the sum of its parts.

Milk is one such movie.

I knew the broad strokes of the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to major office in California and I knew he was assassinated for it. The movie doesn't leave that as a surprise, starting with archival footage of the announcement of the shooting of Milk and the mayor of San Francisco. As the opening credits roll, it also shows archival footage of gay men being rounded up by police, very effectively setting the time and prejudice against which the story plays out. The movie cuts back and forth between Harvey Milk sitting at his kitchen table, recording his story to be played in case of his death by assassination - can you imagine how that must feel? - and telling that story from his position to leave New York go to San Francisco with his lover Scotty, starting a business, running for office several times until he was finally elected, showing the politics, the prejudice and the way Milk worked within the system to create change.

The script, written by Dustin Lance Black, is excellent, very much deserving of winning the Oscar(such a great speech), seamlessly weaving back and forth in time, achieving that wonderful state of dialogue sounding so natural that you forget it's scripted and just lose yourself in the lives on the screen. Gus van Sant directs brilliantly, the cinematography is wonderful, capturing those 70s hues, framing actors within sweeping architectural scenes, conveying the place and history of this important story. And then there’s the acting, which is uniformly wonderful (James Franco is going to be doing great things) but in continuing my reviews of Oscar winners, I need to talk about Sean Penn. Except maybe I don't quite have the words to talk about how incredible his performance was. Penn specializes in playing characters wound so tight they’re on the verge of imploding, his intensity practically reaching out through the screen and grabbing you by the throat, but his portrayal of Harvey Milk is completely different. He's changed everything, from the cadence of his voice to his body language and plays Milk with a loose, smiling playfulness, fully inhabiting his character to the point that I forgot I was watching Sean Penn, instead being drawn into Milk’s open emotions, be they joy, sorrow or anger, not an implosion in sight. Eminently worthy of his Oscar.

I love this movie not just for its excellence in storytelling, but for making me think. It made me wonder (again) what it is about people who are different, people who are Other that is so threatening. And I wonder especially what it is about homosexuality that gets people so riled up. In the movie, there is an interview with Milk after his win where the reporter asks whether this means that The Gays are taking over - a question so stupid that I cringed, my toes curled all the way up under my heel - and you can hear the capitals and the thing is, that attitude is still out there, isn't it? I never understood why it was anyone's business who I sleep with (providing that my choice is a consenting adult), I never understood why people’s choice of sexual partner could possibly harm someone else, why it would prompt proposed legislation like the Briggs initiative. I don't understand why someone's sexual orientation is so frightening that they would have to be beaten up or killed and I don't understand why when the Supreme Court of California makes a decision that banning same-sex marriage violates the Constitution, the matter can be taken to a vote and the public can decide that it doesn't. Except maybe people still worry that The Gays are taking over...

The movie also made me wonder why it is that people who represent change must be dealt with violently. Why is it that people who become leaders of a movement, people like Harvey Milk or Martin Luther King Jr. are assassinated? Why is it that granting someone else the same rights as the rest of society makes people believe it takes away their rights? Why do people get so unreasonable about this?

And I could go on, but I leave you with this last thought. I'm going to buy this movie. Not just for the storytelling, not just for the questions it asks and for the thinking it prompts, but because it is a really good primer on how to create a grassroots movement. In telling the story between Milk's arrival in San Francisco and his growth into becoming a force for change, this movie brilliantly shows how to create a movement composed of ordinary people, how to make alliances, some of them very unexpected, how to work within the system to make the world a better place. And that's quite the accomplishment for a movie.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Beginner’s Guide to RA: Back to School

More fodder for the reference area on HealthCentral:

"When your RA starts to affect your ability to do your job, it can be terrifying, persuading you that your ability to lead a "normal" life is close to over. It doesn't have to be. Retraining and education can help you find a new career, a new life."

The rest of the psot is here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Geeking Out with New Words

I've had the kind of week that usually only happens during Mercury retrograde - not that I would necessarily admit to a strong belief in astrology, but when a pattern happens often enough, the accumulated evidence will eventually impact my position and shift it a little, because if it didn't, I would have to abandon the scientific indoctrination I got in school and embrace similarly ludicrous positions, such as the Earth being flat or global warming not existing and where was I again? Oh yes... my week.

A week that has included people in management positions on in various agencies and organizations involved in my life deciding to annoy me to the point of requiring communication in written form. Communication which may have been irate to the point of possibly burning a hole in the recipients’ respective monitors and I am not ashamed at all of admitting that I enjoyed the exercise (and the subsequent apology). A week involving my wheelchair yet again acting as if it was possessed, doing things that I had not told it to do and doing them at great speed to such a point that I am now considering giving my wheelchair a name, more specifically calling it Regan and waiting for the subsequent spewing of pea soup. A week in which the attempted repair not only sucked up an afternoon of valuable work time for no reason, as the replacement part had not been tested in the shop and did not work, but in which the position my chair was placed (arse – the chair’s and therefore mine, as well - significanly off the ground) also re-injured my already re-injured elbow, meaning that I ended up working while under the influence of A LOT of codeine and have decided not to check resulting work output, not so much out of fear that it's terrible, but worried that it may be better than what I normally do and I don't even want to think about the implications of that possibility. A week which included far too little sleep, much too much pain, Mojo going off her feed and being sick to the point where she got rushed to the vet's (where she still sits grumpily in a cage, no doubt expressing her general displeasure with great frequency and volume) and the pièce de résistance, my kitchen light fixture suddenly malfunctioning to such an extent that it seemed prudent to call in a (very expensive) emergency electrician.

See what I mean? There is no way it's not Mercury retrograde. Or maybe it's that I'm back to being the cat toy of the universe. Either way, I am so done and would very much request a balancing positive act. Winning the lottery would be nice. Just a suggestion.

And it was Saturday evening when the electrician is doing mysterious electrician things to my light fixture and switch that I heard a completely delicious geeky term. For some time, this particular fixture has been problematic in that the bulbs get sort of stuck and are hard to dislodge when they burn out. Having wanted to ask somebody in an expert position miscellaneous electrical questions for some time, I took advantage of the captive audience - hey, at that price, I'm getting my money's worth - and among other things, asked why that was. To which he replied "coefficient of linear expansion". Which I promptly had to write down, because that is a ridiculously wonderful term and while I was writing it down, I was busy beating down my inner geek girl who’d instantly developed a bit of a crush on the electrician, telling her that it was inappropriate to swoon over someone just because they said lovely exotic words and strung them together in a supremely geeky phrase. I only vaguely remember the explanation of the term - something about things expanding and contracting at different rates - and suspect that I may forget that entirely down the road. I'm pretty sure, though, that I’ll always remember coefficient of linear expansion. It gets me all tingly...

And it gets better. I decided to spend yesterday doing a bit of catching up on blogs that have remained on my list of things to do, yet have been continually bumped for a few weeks due to rather intense requirements of the kind that results in a paycheque. It was quite lovely spending a few quiet hours on a Sunday – which apparently was National Goof-Off Day - reading about other people's lives and thoughts, laughing, pondering, admiring photos of landscapes, flowers miscellaneous structures and knitwear and one of those blogs was Quinn’s (who I've mentioned before and whose writing I absolutely adore and she even has a book coming out, which will make me very happy, especially if it comes out in audio book, as well. Yes, that was a hint). In her last post, she spoke of the impact of the recession/depression is having on marriages and it is a sad thing that this has to happen, but I guess not surprising, as they say most fights about how to raise the kids and money. And giving the topic, I feel sort of bad about geeking out about a particular term within that post, but I'm going to do so anyway. Because one of the reasons I love Quinn's writing is how she plays with language, in this case how she used an economic term to describe an interpersonal event. Inflection point. How marvelous.

Learning wonderful new words was a bit of a balm. I’d still like that lottery win, though.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Weighty Thoughts

I've just returned a pair of size 8 pants because I couldn't pull them up past my hips.

This is a very new experience to me. In the past, I've hovered around size 4 or 6 (with temporary excursions into size 8 the two times I quit smoking) and aside from the myriad variations of what constitutes women's sizes - aforementioned size 8 pants stopped exactly at the same point on my hips that my size 6 jeans do - I'm finding that my body has changed. The last two years of being on Humira has not only rendered my blood work normal, but also added weight to my body, changing its shape, likely helped along a bit by middle-age spread.

And you know what? I welcome it. Because in the summer of 2006, I looked like this


Photo by Janne/TinkMama

Which is why for several years, there were no photos of me on this blog.

I've always tended towards the slender and muscles atrophied from decades of non-use contributed to that, but when I started Enbrel, the weight started melting off me. Even after I figured out that I needed to eat for two - me and the Enbrel - what I ate only kept me going, but didn't add weight. Most women, even the very thin ones, usually have a bit of bellyfat, because that's the way we’re built, but I didn't. My skin was loose, the kind of loose that normally means you're anorexic, yet I ate like a teenage boy. Although Enbrel suppressed my RA, I just didn't feel healthy and once I made the switch to Humira and started gaining weight again, I started feeling better, too. I no longer have to eat like a teenage boy - I eat the way I always have, every 3-4 hours, but less than I did before - the weight is staying and I love my rounder body. My curves are back - hell, I have new curves - my hipbones are no longer so sharp they could impale someone (not that I’m currently having the opportunity to test that assertion, but theoretically, y’unnerstand) and I feel more solid. Less fragile. Healthier. As long as I can fit in my wheelchair - because I don't have $20K it would take to buy a bigger one - I don't care about the bit of pudge factor.

I also don't care about the cellulite, I don't care that I'm having trouble figuring out what size pants I am now or that many stores apparently don't have a size to fit me because they cater exclusively to anorexic giraffes, I don't care that when I look down, I have more stomach to look at than I’ve ever had before and I don't care that I am probably 100lbs for the first time in my life. And I may never care again. In fact, two years after I started retaining what I ate, I’m still so thrilled that I’m giddy with it. Having had no body fat at all will do that to you. Put things in perspective.

I know women who hate their body and several of them have the kind of looks other women dream about. I have a friend who was thoroughly depressed and when I asked why, she told me she'd gained 3.8 pounds. It used to be that women held themselves up to the impossible "ideal" of models who tend to be something like 25% underweight for their height, but these days, we don't just look at models, we look at female movie and TV stars, who have gone through a period of several years of being so thin, you can count their ribs and their arms look like twigs. Marcia Cross from Desperate Housewives has been quoted as saying "they pay me not to eat" and when the remake of 90210 started, there was a bit of an uproar about how thin the girls were and all of a sudden, an article appeared quoting the producers saying how concerned they were, except who hired them? Who required them to be that thin in order to get the job in the first place? And I read somewhere the girls in grade 3 want to lose weight because they grow up with pervasive images that to be a woman = dieting as they see the women around them endlessly watch what they eat and express guilt if they nibble on a piece of chocolate.

And aside from railing against women being required yet again to modify themselves in one particular way or another, it makes me wonder what we could do if we weren't obsessed about losing 5lbs? What would happen if you take all the time women put into finding nothing but flaws with their physique, counting calories (and decimal points of weight gain), feeling guilty about not maintaining a weight that's less than what their body requires to be healthy and energetic and spend it doing something that mattered? Like reading a book, laughing with a friend, playing with the kids, painting a mural on the side of the house and kicking arse at work. For instance.

I've been aware of this issue in a fairly theoretical sense for a long time - what woman hasn’t? - but it wasn't until I got dangerously thin and no matter what I did, I couldn't gain weight, felt it on my own body that I got my head on straight. If you look in the mirror and see only flaws, you come to hate your body. And your body is you, so you hate yourself. This obsession with being thin is not just unhealthy, not just making women more tired than they have to be (because not getting enough fuel makes you tired), it breeds self-hatred. And I look at the little girls I know and want more than anything to teach them to love themselves, regardless of their shape.

And now if you'll excuse me, there's a cookie calling my name.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mistaken Identity

It’s Friday afternoon and I'm on my way home from running errands, basking in the sunshine that can feel warm if you’re out of the wind. Spring is coming, but I can still see my breath.

I turn the corner onto my street and notice two police cars. Idly, I wonder what's happening – there’s two of ‘em and one’s parked slightly askew as if the driver was in a hurry and that usually means something’s happening. However, they're down at the end of the building by the cleaner’s, so I assume it's got nothing to do with the residential tenants of the building and motor on. Get into the lobby, have a chat with a tenant, we go up the elevator, he gets off on his floor, I get off on mine, back out of the elevator and turn, preparing to open the door of my apartment.

And stop. And gawk at the four strapping police officers standing in a semicircle in front of my door.

"Can I help you?" I ask, adding a nervous joke, "I didn't do anything, I swear" (why are you always compelled to say that in front of cops?).

They look at me with bemused expressions and one of them asks if I know Jamaal somethingorother.

"No," I say, "I don't think so, but I'm sort of bad with names..." They exchange meaningful looks.

Then inform me they were given the wrong address and depart. Leaving me laughing and with my jaw on the floor, wondering what that was about.

It's official: I look innocent.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Predictably Unpredictable

My new HealthCentral post is up:

"The other day, someone asked me why I couldn't seem to learn to work within my limits, despite knowing that doing too much inevitably leads to needing to sit still for several days healing. For once I didn't joke, but honestly told them it was because of the dread."

The rest is here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Calling In Miscommunicated

The snooze alarm had been going off for half an hour before it finally penetrated my brain enough to make me wonder what time it was. I peered blearily at the alarm clock with one eye, an act which suddenly made both eyes open wide so fast I may have sprained an eyelid. It was half an hour after my attendant usually comes to get me up and when I called the staff lounge to inquire what happened, I was passed on to the manager, who told me that "there had been a miscommunication" which meant that "a shift hadn't been filled" and notifying me that I would be getting up just in time to arrive at my desk around noon. Several hours later than I normally do.

Just. Fabulous.

Living with a disability that requires the participation of others to get through your day is a finely tuned and precariously balanced machine. Hospital personnel can decide that today, you don't get to use your wheelchair, parallel transit can go on strike and decide that you don't get to go anywhere. And deciding to not fix a screw-up in scheduling staff can result in you languishing in bed, twitching madly and building up quite the appetite (and need to go to the washroom) while they fit you in somewhere else. Hours after your regular morning booking.

This is one of the factors that contribute to the concept called Disability Time, meaning that everything takes way longer to accomplish than it does for able-bodied people. This is also one of the factors why unemployment is rife in the disabled community (yes, I'll be ranting about that again). First, you have to persuade somebody to hire you - something that's a challenge at the best of times, what with barriers to education preventing people with disabilities from getting a proper high school diploma (because the barriers start early), which blocks access to higher education and if you spend too long thinking about that particular systemic discrimination, it makes you foam at the mouth a little. After that, you need to persuade somebody to give your job so you can get experience and start building your resume, but even if you're qualified, there is that step by the front door and once inside the door, without legislation mandating that a workforce is representative of the community, you're pretty much out of luck. Every step of the way, more people are siphoned off and by the time a tiny little percentage manages to get a job, then we can't get to work because some idiot decided to not fill a shift.

When the machine works, it works pretty well and people like me are out there, doing our thing, just like the rest of you. The extra time and effort it takes to do that doesn't show and that's the way it's supposed to be. But all it takes is one little hiccup and the whole house of cards collapses, my day, my life hijacked by someone else's agenda.

I'm lucky that my work is at my desk in my bedroom - and I spent much of the time while waiting for an attendant pondering the irony of so near, yet so far - and doesn't require WheelTrans to get to. Because if I had the kind of job that needs to be done outside of my home, I would've missed my ride and therefore missed work. I'm also lucky that my job is flexible so that whatever I didn’t get to yesterday, I can make up for today and tomorrow, because if it wasn't, I would've missed work. Not because I was sick, not because I had an ill dependent, not because I was on vacation. Because I couldn't get out of bed. Yet another reason why they estimate that un/under employment rates of people with disabilities is somewhere around 85%.

One thing did brighten my day significantly. When I went to get the mail, there was a package among the boring bills and flyers. A while back, when I whined about my hands being cold and having difficulty using my computer while wearing mittens, Karin volunteered to make me a little something for that and lo and behold, inside the package, there they were. Perfect wrist warmers from the softest, most beautiful hand-dyed (by her) perfect colour (which is a deeper red than what shows up in this picture – taking pictures of your own hand is a tad complicated and apparently affects the colour). Just in time for winter returning today. Thanks Karin!

I love knitters.


Monday, March 09, 2009

You Know Spring is Coming When…

Your neighbour gets the first bulb and flower catalogue of the year.

Shoestores are putting flip-flops in the window.

Each day features a sneezing fit of at least 10 sneezes in a row.

The windows are not frozen for a whole week.

Denmark and Victoria report snowdrops and crocuses.

Daytime Savings starts (although I still think it’s ridiculous to do this before the official first day of spring) and you know you'll spend the next week being bleary-eyed, missing that extra hour.

Some days, handknit socks are too warm.

There are tulips in the stores.

Birds twitter deliriously (so far, only observed once, but it was there!).

You start wondering if you’ll be able to fit into your summer clothes.

It’s too warm to snow, so instead of getting 30cm of snow, there’s all day rain of biblical proportions.

It’s still light outside when I make dinner.

Please add your own (for those coming out of summer, add whatever you like). Maybe if we try hard enough, it’ll come sooner?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Barcelone - Passion & Ponderings

I've started on my quest to watch Oscar nominated movies - yes, after the bald, naked guy has been handed out, I move slowly, but I do get there - and started with Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I'm a big fan of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem (and to be honest, I also like to drool at the latter) and I used to be very fond of Woody Allen films, although not so much in recent years, but more on that in a bit.

Two American women travel to Barcelona to spend two months there, one is engaged, intellectual and rather uptight, the other is a "free spirit" with all that this implies (and neither appear to be much beyond a ‘type’). They meet exotic painter (another one-dimensional character), he sleeps with one, then shacks up with the other, eventually joined by his exotic, hotblooded and slightlypsychotic ex-wife (and there's one more) and if you’ve watched a couple of Woody Allen films, you know what happens next. And that's my problem with this movie. I feel like I’ve watched most of it before. As lots of Woody Allen films, the movie is an exploration of the dichotomy between thoughts and feelings, intellect versus emotion, commitment versus passion and that's not a bad thing to explore. I just hated the way he did it.

Feelings and passion are represented by Barcelona, by the lush and heated countryside filmed in such a way that you can almost hear the cicadas and by the city itself with its breathtaking architecture, celebrating the exuberant sensuality of Gaudi (lovely photos here). How can you not forget about structure and living in your head surrounded by all this? Except Allen keeps preventing us from truly connecting emotionally to the dilemma and the experience by inserting layer after layer of distancing techniques. The soundtrack is a jaunty ditty often inappropriate to the action, the script - so tight, it squeaks - has characters speaking in an stilted and intellectual manner in which no one (except possibly Woody Allen) speaks, to such an extent that it's almost impossible not to superimpose a skinny, nerdy guy with glasses on all of them. And then there's the narrator, the narrator who’s supposed to connect the story - and who despite not being Woody Allen, sounds exactly like him - and who proceeds to ruin the moment every time you get even slightly sucked into the story by the beautiful cinematography and the mostly excellent acting that elevates one-dimensional characters types to almost fully fleshed-out individuals. I don't mind a narrator at times, but it can be a tortured device and this one is. Frequently completely unnecessary, it verges on a textbook case of why writers are taught the maxim "show, don't tell". I kept thinking of Clint Eastwood, another older legend who is still exploring the same themes he was 20 years ago, except he makes it new, interesting and absorbing, whereas Woody Allen seems increasingly caught in some sort of self-congratulatory, self-absorbed, masturbatory loop.

So why did I watch? Penelope Cruz won an Oscar for her role in the film and 48 minutes into the (97min) movie, we’re finally rewarded for our patience when she appears on screen and runs away with it. All of a sudden, the movie comes alive. Well, mostly. Not entirely, but she pulls this turgid, tortured thing into what it could have been, should have been and despite everything, I would recommend this movie solely to watch her and to a slightly lesser extent, Cruz and Bardem sparking off each other. The rest don't matter.

It should be said that the movie made me think, or to be more specific, it made me want to write an impassioned diatribe to the director about getting his head out of his arse and said arse off the therapist’s couch, but it did make me think and in that respect, I guess it's art of a sort. And what I was thinking about was this dichotomy, this contrast between thoughts and feelings, intellect and emotion and I wondered why artists keep coming back to this as if they were mutually exclusive, whether it’s not some antiquated leftover from the Middle Ages when they invented the idea of romantic love in an age where marriage and commitment were arranged. I wondered about the need to intellectualize feelings, to explain and analyze emotion, trying to bring reason into something that doesn't come from your mind and whether discussing feelings too much might not kill them. And I wondered why Allen and many others juxtapose commitment and passion as choices, as if commitment comes solely from the head and love exclusively from the heart, as if you have to give up one to get the other and I wonder why it’s so often assumed you can't have both.

Your thoughts?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Freaks

I love the way kids react to my wheelchair. They're fascinated, checking out the knobs, buttons and repeatedly coming back to the one thing that is verboten due to risk of injury: my joystick. They'll ask a quick question or two about why I'm in the chair and why I can't walk and we get on with other things, the chair never mentioned again. That is, if we are given the opportunity by parents, who will rush over and pull the child away, shushing wildly, apologizing again and again for their offspring's inquisitiveness and in one fell swoop, teach the kid that I am Different, Strange and Uncomfortable. I usually engage in educational mini lecture #380b, explaining that it's perfectly okay for kids to ask questions and no, it's no bother at all, but by then, it's too late. The freak suggestion is already there.

Kids don't have problems with disability. Adults do.

One of the BBC shows for children is co-hosted by Cerrie Burnell, a woman who was born with one hand. The BBC has received several formal complaints about how this woman scares the children. How it is not suitable for her to be on a children's show. One particularly bright light has banned the show in his home to prevent his daughter from having nightmares and even better, some commented that hiring Burnell is motivated purely by having to fill an employment quota – because, I guess, us cripples will never be qualified to do anything - and why, oh why, must the BBC inflict all this nasty diversity upon the audience?

"No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or improper person to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places in this city, or shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view, under a penalty of not less than one dollar nor more than fifty dollars for each offense."
-
Chicago Municipal Code, sec. 36034, repealed 1974

In the past, the only real employment of people with disabilities was the freak shows, where we were displayed to give the paying populace a shuddering thrill when they gazed upon the deformities, the twisted bodies, the not-quite-human. But they wanted us to stay there, at the freak show, not living among real people and if there wasn't a freak show o be found, they put us away in institutions, for the betterment of all.

And then, in the 70s, deinstitutionalization happened and the freaks came to live in the community and almost 40 years later, we're still weird. But these days, instead of gaping - although there are some who do that - people teach their children to avert their eyes, to not look at deformities and assistive devices, to not ask uncomfortable questions, to not interact with the freak.

It's why the laws are there. Laws that mandate the inclusion of people with disabilities in society, in employment, because without the laws, we wouldn't be hired. Without the laws, we wouldn’t be living in the community. We come with problems, with requirements for ramps, accessible bathrooms, attendant care and different ways of doing the job. We question the necessity of the way it's always been done, make you change the way you do things and people don't like that. Those laws mean that you have to look at us, because we're right there in front of you, in the grocery store, at the bank, in the office and on TV. Not much and mostly in places that are government funded and therefore mandated to follow the law - whereas for many other, it’s optional - but this mandated presence, inclusion supported by law means that regular folk can’t avoid the exposure. And after a while, exposure breeds acceptance and eventually, we will no longer be freaks, but neighbours and maybe someday, people who quietly take initiative to be inclusive won’t be such a delightful surprise.

Until that happens, try not to freak out when your kid’s talking to me.