Year of Pleasures: Seeing Atti’s Future

At 8 years old, Atti is starting to cross over from the little kid phase to the big kid phase. And with that comes all the development that starts to freak parents out. All the development that will eventually wind up in independent adulthood, but right now is just kind of scary. And for a kid with significant motor disabilities, it’s even scarier. While many parents are worried about what dating might look like for their kids in a few years, parents of kids with disabilities worry if their kids will even have friendships, let alone dates. I worry that as his body continues to grow that I’ll be able to meet the demands of caretaking. I worry about his struggles in school and what that might mean for his future. If he’ll be able to live independently, be hired at a job, study at college. I know Atti is capable of everyone of those things, but I worry if the world will let him in to try.

Lately I’ve come across a couple of exceptional pieces of media that have rendered me crying in the fetal position, not out of fear, but out of gratitude I could barely contain.

I stumbled across the documentary Becoming Bulletproof while I was flipping through my cable channels and I watched the whole thing with Atticus, despite there being some frank sexuality talk that he might have been too young for. But then again, maybe not.

The documentary is a behind the scenes story of a group of actors making a movie. Only most of the actors have disabilities. You watch as the able bodied crew is constantly surprised at the abilities of the actors – making interesting choices, playing to their strengths, falling in love with someone else on set, having dreams for their futures. You see the intense emotional cost of having to live in a world that doesn’t see you as human. And how that emotional cost actually exacerbates the limitations of the disabilities these people have. You see disabled adults actually expressing adult emotions and experiences in a way that is NEVER done in media.

One of the actors is a man named AJ who has cerebral palsy and I kept stopping the movie to make sure Atti was paying attention to someone on the screen that was just like him. Someone just like him who always had this secret dream of being an actor, but knew he couldn’t make it happen on his own in his current circumstances. But at this camp, a camp for actors with disabilities to go to and make one movie a summer, he could. And you watch him overcome his physical limitations, overcome his hard won insecurities, and deliver a performance. You see how much it means to him to contribute, to have people depend on him, to live his dreams. And I sobbed and I sobbed and then I found him on twitter so I could fall at his feet in gratitude that I had this movie to use to mentor my son through his own limitations and insecurities.

I want every single person who loves Atticus to find this movie and watch it.

I’ve been a fan of Zach Anner’s since I saw him on Oprah Winfrey’s reality show where she was giving away an OWN television show. He was funny and charming and above the usual reality show squabbles because he was really trying to do something more than just be on a reality show. He has an awesome Youtube channel and has just published his first book If At Birth You Don’t Succeed.

Zach also has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around, just like Atti, just like AJ. He is funny and winning and vulnerable and in both his Youtube videos and his book he discusses his disability with humor and charm. No self pity, but also no apologies. A lot of the book revolves around his romantic life which I found to be so wonderful. It was full of relatable humor – everyone knows what it’s like to be clueless and fumbling while longing for love – but also really examined the barriers the world puts up for anyone who doesn’t function in the one particular way that most often occurs. He jokes about all the times a curb keeps him from shopping, how his wheelchair breaking down causes no end of problems, how his eyes make reading and school challenging, and all the times he had to find a work around for those barriers or give up. And with his ingenuity and humor he found enough work arounds to accomplish more than most people.

Watch this movie. Read this book. Think what your life would be like if you had different barriers in your life, but the same brain in your head. How it feels to be denied opportunity. And then help me make the world bigger for Atticus.

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Year of Pleasures: Feminist T-Shirts

Fourth Wave Tshirts

My friend Noelle launched a T-shirt company last year and I’ve become obsessed with it. Like, the first T-shirt I bought because I’m a supportive friend and the design was awesome. Every single other T-shirt I bought for me. (And I literally own every T-shirt they’ve made. It’s the only thing I wear these days.)

Fourth Wave Apparel was founded by feminists for feminists, to celebrate the achievements and gorgeous vintage style of the women’s movement. They take great care with their sourcing and the results are amazing t-shirts that drape instead of cling and are so soft that I literally get stopped by strangers to pet my shirt. I went into a crunchy granola type store wearing my Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society shirt and I nearly got tackled to the ground. I am not at all exaggerating when I tell you that a crowd gathered around me to know all the details of this fabulous shirt. Even Atti’s teachers and doctors comment on them. I wear these shirts and I’m the most popular girl on the block.

(I’m still a supportive friend, but other than that I have no affiliation with this company and am not getting paid. I just really really believe in this product and it brings me a whole lot of pleasure.)

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Year of Pleasures – A Day at the Nursery

Nursery

When I buy plants it’s usually while I’m doing something else. I’ll pick up a little something while I’m buying nails at the hardware store. Or I’ll buy some herb seedlings along with my groceries. I haven’t been to an honest to goodness nursery since I don’t even know when. But with my friends coming in to town I wanted to do the backyard up and I had an Atticus that needed to be entertained, so I consulted yelp and went to a nearby nursery. Holy cow was it amazing. I could have spent forever there. There were butterflies and hummingbirds all over the place, so used to people that they’d fly right up to you and hover in your face. I took my time picking out primroses and ranunculus while Atti zoomed up and down the aisles and searched for the perfect red flower to take home for his contribution.

I think I found a new happy place. If they served food there I might never leave.

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Year of Pleasures – Love Note

Love Note

Atti has a lot of trouble with fine motor skills. Those darn fingers of his won’t listen to do much more than follow the pointer finger around. So a lot of the therapy he does involves art so he can practice working with little pieces and give those other fingers a job. He’s still obsessed with the alphabet, so his OT gives him a lot of foam stickers to work with – it’s something he cares enough about to keep at while he’s frustrated trying to get the backing off the sticky part.

I visited him the other day and his OT helped him cut out a heart shape with special scissors, then asked what they should spell. I admit, this was my suggestion, but Atti got all excited and spelled it out himself. He was so proud of what he made he could have busted wide open, and so was I.

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Year of Pleasures: Unlikely Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

I have a compost heap off to the side of the house, and since gardening and any kind of yard maitenance has been an absolute zero on my priority list, I never get over there.

So imagine my surprise when I finally found myself in that corner of the yard and found tomatoes growing out of the compost heap. Last years rotten tomatoes must have gone to seed and here in November I’m getting fresh grown tomatoes. It just feels symbolic.

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Year of Pleasures: Donut Love

Donut Love

 

Bear teaches Early Morning Seminary, which is like Sunday School for teenagers, but it’s every morning before school. He starts class at 6 am, goes to the gym, then work, home in time for food, plans the next days lesson, and then falls asleep on the couch while watching television. On top of everything else we’ve been dealing with, it’s been a pretty major sacrifice, but he loves it. And I have spent my years getting to hang out with the teenagers and have my fun, it’s only fair he gets a turn.

Every Friday he brings donuts for his students. And every Friday he makes sure that he saves me a sugared donut, since that’s the only kind I like. (Don’t worry, I’ve talked to him about sugar on my keyboard, but it’s still a pretty adorable visual I woke up to.)

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Year of Pleasures: Miss Fisher Mysteries

Miss Fisher's Mysteries

While I’ve been coping with all my body’s craziness over here, exacerbated by periods of high emotion and the colds my generous germy son keeps giving me, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to be still. Which is always a major battle for me, no matter how bad I feel. A major help has been discovering Miss Fisher’s Mysteries. I cannot stop watching this show.

Phryne Fisher (pronounced FRY-nee) is a modern woman of Australia in the 20’s. She drinks, listens to jazz music, and wears skirts that show her kneecaps. And because of her experiences losing a sister at a young age and serving in the war, she’s also unafraid to tackle the most heinous crimes.

This show is adorable and wonderful and makes me so happy, and also makes me want to wear cloches everywhere I go. The first season is available on Netflix Instant Streaming, but the second season isn’t available in the US yet.

And that’s when I made my next great discovery. Acorn.tv. You sign up there and get a free 30 days to watch all the British television you can stand. After the 30 days it’s $5 a month but at the rate I’m going through episodes I won’t need it.

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Year of Pleasures: Art

3 Birds
I had to go back and look through my archives to make sure I hadn’t posted these before. It seems like such a ridiculous oversight. This triptych hangs over my desk and is what I look at all day long as I’m typing away. My talented friend Melissa Mayhew created these for me based on an idea I’ve had forever and ever. These are a symbol reminding me to be courageous in how I fight for good in the world.

Brain
An owl is a symbol of wisdom

Heart
A lovebird is a symbol of love

Voice
And a songbird is a symbol of song

All together these birds remind me that God gave me a brain and a heart and a voice and he expects me to use them. Once upon a time another friend of mine (a hugo award winning friend) did a rendition of these for me that one day, when I get the guts, I’ll tattoo on my back. I don’t even remember when I thought of these birds, but anytime someone tells me I’m doing something God would not approve of and that I should just get back in line, I think of these birds. And I keep on going.

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Year of Pleasures: Tide Pods

Tide Pods
I know because this is such a naked recommendation this might seem like a commercial, but I promise, nobody is paying me or has even asked me to say this: Tide Pods may have changed my life.

I saw the commercials and it seemed like such a trivial thing – using a pod instead of measuring – that I rolled my eyes at one new thing to try and get us folks excited about laundry detergent, and how lazy our society is that we can’t use a measuring cup and how the kids today won’t get off my lawn. But then it was on sale and I figured, eh, why not, and I fell in love.

No measuring means no more drippy soap containers in my cabinet, crusting all over everything. It means never having to search for a measuring cup because I ran it through the wash and lost it in the dryer. No more using too much soap because I can’t stop pouring in time and it overflows all over me and the clothes I’m wearing.

It is a trivial thing, but it means there is one stupid chore in this stupid grown up life that I no longer have to dread.

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Year of Pleasures: Creative Friends

Galentines Cards
My friend Elisabeth got a bunch of our friends together to do a Galentine’s Card exchange, and the results have been trickling in all week. These friends are all connected by enjoying the Maximum Fun universe. Most of us have met through MaxFunCon or hang out on the forums and over twitter, and they are just a relentlessly awesome group of folks.

Galentines Display
If I ever doubted their awesomeness, this Galentine’s exchange would have fixed that right up. Hilarious, beautiful, talented, these cards are amazing. And now have a place of honor on my desk. They’re exactly the antidote I need for internet meanness.

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