A Complex Day In Montreal

DSC01271Yesterday, we went to Montreal, a marvelous, if notoriously inaccessible, city for the day. We had planned to be in a workshop focused on using puppetry for working with businesses. Montreal is about two hours from here, so we were up early, aiming to leave by 6 o’clock. We finally made it out of the house about 6:30. The drive up was uneventful, and traffic in the city was delightfully negligible.

Usually we can find our way around Montreal with relative ease; yesterday, perhaps because we were already feeling a bit crunched for time, we were unable to find the workshop site. Even using a map, our destination proved illusive; we found ourselves driving around in circles, passing old haunts, and running into newly one-way streets and, this being the season, construction. Continue reading

Kaite O’Reilly Writes Disability

Winter_EveningHere is a profound piece of writing from Kaite O’Reilly. In a blog post entitled, Answering back and returning the gaze: Alternative Dramaturgies, she speaks of her work playwrighting disability:

How do we ‘write’ disability? Is it in the aesthetic, the narratives, the content, the form, or the bodies of the performers? This paper seeks to introduce ‘alternative dramaturgies, informed by a Deaf and disability perspective’, exploring some of the dramaturgical developments I have initiated as a playwright working within disability arts and Deaf culture since 1987. Alternative? To the mainstream, hearing, non-disabled perspective, and by ‘alternative dramaturgies’ I mean the processes, structures, content and form which reinvent, subvert or critique ‘traditional’ or ’conventional’ representations, narratives, and dramatic structures in performance

Guest Blogger: Naomi Baltuck

I am honored to introduce our guest blogger, Naomi Baltuck. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and a marvelous story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.


A Gift to be Shared…
by Naomi Baltuck, © 2002

For every story that a storyteller gives voice to, be it folktale, literary, or historical, there is an untold story running just beneath the surface.
My mother, Aunt Loena, and Grandma Rhea would sit at the kitchen table and drink coffee, telling stories of our family hardships, courtships, scandals, jokes, and joys. They were passing down our history. Their stories were chosen carefully, I realize now, to impart values, wisdom, and warnings. Of a cousin who never married because of her dictatorial mother, my own mother began, “You can get too tangled up in an apron string…” Mom concluded another story, “You’ll find you have something in common with everyone you meet, even if it’s only that your feet hurt.” Continue reading

Disability Stories: Resistance, Resilience, and Community

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2014

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day! As always, a huge thank you to The Goldfish and Stephen who organize this yearly event!

Disablism is an academic Gimp term covering all concepts, ideologies, and practices of discrimination against people of Disability. It reflects the painfully common belief that the abled body should be the model for what is normal, and the many narratives and practices that seek to assure the abilist model remains dominant. Its companion, the able-bodied gaze, is a stealthy and powerful ally in the effort to marginalize persons who happen to be differently bodied and abled. Continue reading

Kaite O’Reilly on Disability

Fog-BuddhaThis blog post and accompanying video is marvelous. Kaite O’Reilly is a playwrite, author, and dramaturg. She is also disabled. In this video she discusses many of the core issues facing disabled persons in general, and particularly in the arts. Her discussions of Normative culture and the disability civil rights movement in the UK, and her critique of the Normative gaze in arts theory and criticism are peerless. As an artist who identifies as disabled, and whose work reflects disability experience, I was moved deeply.

Kaite writes:

Framing the atypical body.

Last year I was at Tanzkongress in Dusseldorf, giving a paper entitled ‘Border Control: Framing the atypical body.’ It was largely in response to Jerome Bel’s ‘Disabled Theater’, which I had seen at HAU in Berlin in 2012, and which angered me owing to its manipulation and framing of the actors with intellectual impairments who perform in this piece.

As someone who identifies as disabled and as a disability artist, I was frustrated by what I perceived as the lens of ‘normalcy’ through which we were invited to view the atypical body in this, and other so-called experimental or radical pieces. This talk was my response to that….

Read more and find link to her video.


Polio Over Coffee

Coffee -at -BarrioThis morning I spent 45 minutes or so in our local bakery. That, of course, generated a journal post.

The other day I was speaking with the Polio Psychologist at Spaulding Rehab. As we were chatting she asked how it was to find myself aging more rapidly than my friends, and for this to have been of rather sudden onset. I considered this question as I sat in the bakery, surrounded by people much younger than myself, one of whom was clearly temporarily disabled. (The psychologist insists, rightly enough, that everyone who is not disabled is “temporarily able.” Continue reading

Sofa Journeys

Winter-EveningThis winter’s ice and cold, along with some Post-Polio and other health issues, have kept me pretty much at home except for work. The majority of my journeys have been through books read on the sofa, where I’ve been curled up in an electric blanket.

Recently the psychologist at the Polio clinic suggested I read Breath, by Martha Mason. This is a memoir written by a woman who at age twelve contracted Bulbar Polio; she spent the rest of her life in the iron lung, dying in 2009. She is believed to hold the record for most years spent in the iron lung, 61. Her story puts my own Polio experience into perspective; although I spent a week or so in the iron lung, I am unlikely to have to return to it (a fear I share with many of those who used the iron lung). Continue reading

Life At the Interstices

Museum of Science, BostonLast week’s post now seems lifetimes ago. The past week has been occupied by an outpatient surgery, and as my surgeon predicted, I have been slow to recover. The surgery lasted about an hour and the effects of the anesthesia and trauma will likely last a couple of weeks. This is day five and the fog remains thick, although it lifts periodically. I have a couple of more surgeries coming up as both wrists need carpel tunnel repair due to overuse, the classic Polio challenge. Luckily they require only regional anesthetic so the recovery should be considerably easier. Continue reading

Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage, Underhill, VT Fall has come to Vermont. Having the weekend largely to myself, yesterday I drove up to Eden to see foliage. The reason I drove north was Autumn color generally moves north to south, and from high elevation to low. Here in the big valley the color is spotty at best, although the trees that have changed are often vibrant.

My preferred way of leaf-peeping is on foot, but that mode of transportation has become more difficult for me, so I drove. The problem with driving is one misses a lot. After all, a primary task of driving is watching the road. Autumn color is a serious distraction for those of us who live here; it is a huge problem for tourists. The back roads up to Eden and back were largely devoid of tourists. The spots I stopped to take photos were occupied by other Vermonters, cameras in hand. We happily teased each other about acting the tourist. (Vermonters generally appreciate tourists and tend to get a bit cranky about them when we are overrun in the Fall.)  Another issue with driving is that often there is no place to pull over when a splendid foliage moment presents itself. Often, there are cars close behind one and throwing on one’s breaks endangers the other drivers. Having local license plates makes that worse.

This year I am uber aware of the challenges of getting those remarkable Fall photos we all dream about. Gimpy legs add a whole new layer, in addition to bright midday sun, telephone pole wires, and wall to wallFall Foliage, Eden, VT photographers.

Catching Up

Vertical Hong KongI realize I have posting nothing here since just before we left Hong Kong. That reflects, in part, the intensity of the trip, and of our return. India went very well, as did Hong Kong. We left South India with a new and much deepened appreciation for the immense challenging disabled people in India, and for the anxiety and resistance discussions of disability and accessibility issues engenders. there.

I cannot say enough about the work Hong Kong has put into becoming accessible. The city is hilly, watery, and vertical. There are no end of challenges for folks with mobility issues. Yet, there is a real commitment to accessibility (the buses are amazing!) and people with mobility limitations are out and about. Continue reading