hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-28 06:56 pm
Entry tags:

I did have a good time at Pride today, honest!

Now I want a t-shirt that says

hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-26 12:15 pm
Entry tags:

I wrote a thing!

I worked hard on it, because it's a tough subject and my brain hasn't been working lately (I have so many things to tell you about! but no words!). And it's important so I wanted to get it right. I'm pleased with how it ended up and glad I was able to do it.

Here it is. It's about Ray Fuller, a bisexual Jamaican denied asylum in the U.S. partly because the judge thought his relationships with women meant he couldn't be bisexual.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-23 10:14 pm

a pune or play on words

Someone told me on twitter that a parody site is a parody site, even though my problem with it wasn't that I didn't know that but that I hate the trope it was mocking.

And someone else, a new follower, just DMed me that it might be too late to change the name of my Kickstarter but "it should be dual not duel."*

SIGH. Am I especially stupid today? Have I just done something wrong so that I appear so, or something?

* Duel for Citizenship is the name of the Kickstarter project, the working title of the book, but I'm still open to better options if I can think of any! I might need another name if people aren't going to understand it!
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-16 11:43 pm
Entry tags:

Always a good go-to if you don't know an answer, anyway...

"Hang on a second," I said, starting up the stairs just when Andrew was nearly ready to go out. "I need to get some different shoes."

Trying to catch possible comments before they might happen, I said "I know you only have one pair of shoes because you have one pair of feet, but I can't do that."

"I know you do!" he said, rightly a little defensive at my pre-emptive unfairness. "I don't get it but I don't get a lot of things."

"And do you know why I can't have only one pair of shoes like you do?" I called down from the bedroom where I was buckling pointless but cute little buckles on my sandals.

There was a long pause.

I'd taught Andrew that women have to choose between comfort/suitability and acceptable appearance a lot more in our clothing than men do. I've never had one of those jobs where they mandated high heels, but I've certainly had criticisms for insufficiently-"professional" footwear even at temo jobs (where I couldn't afford new shoes!). Andrew's black brogues from Clarks are the overlap in the circles of functionality and approbation but for women in almost all of society, these two circles of the Venn diagram don't meet.

The pause got almost long enough that I was going to give the answer when two words floated up the stairs: "The patriarchy?"

"Yep!" I said, slapping my knees for dramatic effect as I stood up, feet newly sandaled and ready to take on the world. He got it exactly right; I'm so proud.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-16 12:53 pm
Entry tags:


By 12:30 this afternoon, I had...
  • gotten out of bed very early (around eight), feeling relatively rested (though my "relative" baselne here is not good right now)
  • did laundry and hung it outside (hooray for sunshine!)
  • walked the dog
  • remembered to take my meds
  • took recycling out, took bins out, and put them back when they were empty
  • wrote a little version of my "migrant story" for this website
  • texted a friend to make plans to get together this week
  • ordered a massive, overdue online grocery shop, which will be here tomorrow afternoon
  • typed up my shitty longhand notes from the LGBT+ Lib Dems conference I was at recently and sent them off
  • went with Andrew to a GP appointment
  • ordered new prescriptions for Andrew and I before we've even run out of the existing ones (though it'll be close, for me!)
  • ate reasonably well/appropriately
And yet I feel like I've done nothing, everything is overwhelming and crushing me.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-16 10:03 am
Entry tags:


My passport got picked up by a courier yesterday to be taken away and replaced with my new passport in about a month. There's a little part of my brain that is constantly aware of this and not happy about it. I occasionally hear friends talk about not having seen theirs in years and I marvel at this: I could always tell you exactly where mine is. When people ask you what you'd run to get out of your house in case of a fire (note: I know this is different than there actually being a fire, when it's most likely you'll run outside without anything), I always say my passport. It's a surprising answer I think, so prosaic and boring.

Of course I know intellectually that my friends can lose or forget about their passports for years and it's at most an inconvenience the next time they think about a holiday or a work trip abroad. But I didn't get a passport until I came to visit Andrew, and ever since it's been necessary to my well-being. First as what I needed to be with the person I loved, and now as what I need to see anyone I'm related to, anyone who's known me loner than a dozen years.

Without my passport, I don't quite feel like me.

It's not just my standard form of ID, since I can't drive. It's also the only proof I was given of my Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. It's what I have to show to prove I can work here, to access benefits and public services. I have scans of what airports call "the picture page" of my passport for ID, but I also have scans of the ILR page for access: it's like a tiny little bit of a UK passport that entitles me to almost everything a UK citizen gets while they're in the UK.

Should I get as far as a job interview before my passport comes back, there will have to be explanation and faff; it'll make me worry that I seem more difficult to employ than someone for whom they don't have to worry about immigration status. If my parents suddenly get sick or someone in my family dies, I'd be desperate to fly back and terrifyingly unsure of how to (this is not the time to give me the details on this; I'm sure there's a procedure and I could figure something out if I had to, and yes I know it's unlikely, but when you've already got an anxiety disorder anyway this kind of thing is meat and drink to it, and mine's gorging on this right now).

There are good reasons I don't often think about how so much of my life depends on such slim threads as this passport.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-14 09:58 am
Entry tags:

What even is this bullshit

So remember my aunt with the severe burns and the broken ankle full of pins and plates?

I got an e-mail from my mom yesterday that just said she
has blood clots in her lungs. She is now at st. Mary's hospital. Depending how fast the clots dissolve as to when she gets to come home.
This is the whole e-mail. So it's left me with more questions than answers, starting of course with What?! Fucking WHAT?!

I mean, I guess if it's "when they dissolve she comes home" that means they will and she will. Mom doesn't seem worried at least. And...I guess it's a break for her and her sister who had been having to alternate spending a few days at a time with my grandma and this aunt, both of whom now need looking after; hopefully she'll get better care for the things already wrong with her if she's in a hospital (though if she's at St. Mary's (in Rochester) she's a long way from the specialist burn unit she had been visiting (in the Cities)!).

But...blood clots in your lungs sounds really bad? Why has this happened?! Are there any other complications from whatever's caused them, or likely to be?

And most of all Jesus when can my family and particularly my aunt catch a fucking break?!
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-12 10:16 pm
Entry tags:

Even though I DO still like boys!*

* It pleases me that I started coveting this shirt while I was holding a boy's hand.

[personal profile] magister told me about a t-shirt he spotted when we were out today (which of course I missed, so I'm glad he did tell me!) that said "Girls don't like boys, girls like ghosts and Jillian Holtzmann."

This is a convention I learned about from this slogan:

but quick googling tonight found me this and now I want it so much.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-10 05:37 am

the wonder dog

I woke up because I was sure I felt the tiny but distinctive pressure of the dog jumping onto, and then moving around on, the bed.

I hadn't done any such thing, of course. We're keeping the dog downstairs again.

But so convincing was the notion, and so relieved was I to have been woken up (from horrible nightmares, for the second night in a row...), that I couldn't resist moving my foot slightly, to where I was sure I'd felt the dog.

Of course there was nothing there. But of course I still felt comforted by the little wonder dog just then, anyway.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-07 08:54 pm

Love meme

I was just thinking yesterday how long it's been since/how much I could use another of these love memes.

It's an idea that goes around DW/LJ every so often: good excuse to say nice things about people you know, and if you'd like you can add your name to the comments and tell people to go say nice things about you.

Which is what I'm doing now. I could use some nice things.

Here's where to put mine.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-07 08:17 pm
Entry tags:

#biphobiabiggins and Being Friends with Bigots

So a guy I've never heard of but apparently other people have because he is -- or, was -- on Celebrity Big Brother said some biphobic things: bisexuality is "the worst type" of sexuality, AIDS is "a bisexual disease", bisexuals ruin relationships"...

You know. All the usual things.

The unusual thing, though, is that this time people seem to be taking notice.

The CEO of Stonewall wrote about this in the Guardian. (I can almost forgive all the propaganda for themselves just because a few short years ago I never would've expected to say Stonewall's publicly condeming biphobia!) Stonewall, along with other not-often-friend-to-bisexuals Peter Tatchell, have banned him from hosting events until he apologizes to bisexuals. Twitter was unimpressed (including a lot of my friends, which is how non-TV-having-me found out about this). Biggins was even removed from Celebrity Big Brother, though since he also made a "joke" about the Holocaust it's unclear whether the biphobia alone would've been a banning offense.

Biggins's apology -- if you can call it that -- as quoted in that Gay Star News article is the epitome of the "I'm not sorry I did it, I'm just sorry people are yelling at me" kind of apology public figures have to produce when they've gotten caught saying what they actually think:
‘I am mortified by what’s happened, really mortified,’ he said. ‘I have a lot of bisexual friends and I’m not in any way a bigoted person.’

But he continued: ‘But I think they do fuck up a lot of relationships.’
After a moment to laugh at how, as is so often the case with the fauxpology (I hope it takes a better apology than this to get Stonewall and Peter Tatchell and other LGBT groups to end their ban on Biggins!), the person's real opinions can't help but escape at the end there, I considered the "I'm mortified...lot of bisexual friends...not a bigoted person" bit.

While a lot of people know that the "I'm not racist, I have black friends!" construction (substituting other bigotries for "racist" and other kinds of "friends" as necessary) is a bad thing to say, maybe we don't talk enough about why. Because people, like Biggins here, still seem to think that friendship is a guarantee that you are not, cannot, never will be, able to commit a form of bigotry against any group your friend is part of. The unspoken follow-up seems to be "if I were biphobic, all these bisexuals wouldn't be friends with me!"

Really? I would argue that friendship doesn't work that way. That's not what friendship means. Even if using hypothetical friends to deflect criticism wasn't a reductive, dehumanizing way to talk about your friends (and, I'm afraid, it is!), it still fundamentally misunderstands what being friends entails. Do you have any friends you agree with entirely, condone wholeheartedly? Friends who never make mistakes, never make you roll your eyes, never make you need to change the subject? I am certain that I am never capable of being such a flawless friend. And I don't expect my friends to be any such thing, either.

But perhaps this is what Biggins imagines: that bisexuals are only ever friends with people totally free of biphobia. Does he think it's possible for us to take a "zero-tolerance" approach? I fear so; why else would he mention his bisexual friends in reference to his biphobia?

Biphobia is so widespread that I don't feel I have the luxury of shunning anyone who ever commits it. Getting people to even acknowledge that biphobia is a thing is such a struggle. It's so pervasive that if I decided not to associate with anyone who ever did anything biphobic...it'd have left me even more lonely than I sometimes have been! I've heard biphobic shit from mates. What if one of them, one day, was challenged on it and said "Oh I can't be biphobic, I'm friends with a bisexual," thinking of me? I could imagine it happening. My friendship shouldn't be taken as a certificate absolving anyone of biphobia.

His comments about bis and bisexuality confuse bisexual identity, which is what he disparages and blames for everything in these comments, with bisexuals' behavior, which of course is as varied as that of any other group.

And in the same way, he wants us to care about his identity as Not In Any Way Bigoted more than we care about his behavior in these nasty things he said.

I don't care what he is (or says he is), I care what he does.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-06 07:42 pm

Maybe James has a type after all!

I changed the title of my blog yesterday. That's what people see at the top of my Dreamwidth page, or if they go to comment on one of my entries or something.

I just noticed that [personal profile] miss_s_b must have changed hers recently, too.

To the same thing.

Yes, it's a line from a current and popular movie that we both really liked. But still! I never expected such a thing would happen. Made me smile.

(I think everyone I know who might care has seen it by now, but just in case please note that comments now contain a spoiler for the identity of a cameo at the end of Ghostbusters.)
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-08-05 02:42 pm
Entry tags:


So I haven't mentioned my volunteering for a long time. And there's a reason for that...

To recap: last autumn I found myself after my first meeting at the Visual Impairment Steering Group ending up as the "peer leader" the council wanted for this, because they're the council and they have no money to pay people to do this "peer-led" things are very on trend right now it's important for us to have ownership of our own advocacy, or something.

I didn't mind being "leader" because it seemed to just mean answering a few e-mails and going along to stuff if my e-mails saying "hey, does anyone want to do this possibly boring or talking-to-strangers thing?" (I paraphrase!), which is pretty easy. And actually interesting, since I do like boring things -- I notice (and talk to however I'm with, as many of my friends can attest!) pavement and pedestrian crossings and stuff a lot more now that I've been to a few meetings about them. I ranted at [personal profile] magister about this just yesterday in Bradford, and that was before we almost ran into a little-kid steam train blocking walking areas in the shopping mall...).

Of course it's not just e-mail; a lot of our blind people -- especially the older ones -- don't do e-mail so you've got to ring them and they never answer and so it took a long time for me just to figure out what times they'd had their meetings back when there were meetings, and that they wanted them to be the same.

So I e-mailed the contact from the council's sensory team about booking the room where they meet, and...somehow we haven't gotten any further than that? I've seen her once or twice and she seems happy about what I'm doing (which isn't much more than going to those couple of things she's seen me at) but...I guess there's been more chaos and turmoil in their team: people starting and leaving jobs, people being off sick, all the regular local-government bollocks.

I actually saw one of the group the other day at a bus stop, and we chatted about this; he said he'd been meaning to ask another person in the group about me and what'd happened with this. I tried to catch him up and I don't think I've done anything wrong but I feel bad anyway. They were worried about the group dying away and they were glad I'd taken over to stop that happening, and it feels like it's happening a bit anyway. But even with me happy to co-ordinate things, we do need the sensory team to help us out and communicate stuff to us.

It probably says a lot about the protestant work ethic I grew up with that whenever I hear myself thinking "there's nothing else I can do" or "it's out of my hands" I get immediately suspicious that this is an excuse for me to be lazy or apathetic. But in this case I don't really think it is! Though I might e-mail sensory-team contact person again...

The other thing I was doing was creating a tour for visually impaired people of an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. This was intended as a self-contained six-week placement at the end of the course I did there last summer...and it ended up taking us about six months to get it into a state we were happy with.

I owe MOSI an e-mail with all my feedback about this. Basically, everything I said about this in November turned out to be true, and then some.

I don't think anyone had any conception of big a project they'd landed on brand-new volunteers. A little while ago I found in a stack of papers the plan the exhibit curator (who my fellow volunteer and I were working under) where all this was supposed to get done in six weeks and I laughed. There is a kind of ableism in this, in suspecting accommodation will be really straightforward and won't require any specialist skills...but it was like one of those fractals where there more closely you looked at it, the more complicated it became. Each little bit ended up being as much work as we thought the whole thing would be.

And when we did get the project sorted...it was actually pretty awesome. And as far as I know, no blind or partially sighted person ever got to take advantage of it. We got our bit done and then when the lovely volunteer coordinator said "what else do you need from us?" I said well, publicizing it. And I don't know if that ever happened, but I never heard anything (and the idea had been for me and my fellow volunteer to deliver the tours as well so I think I would've heard about it if there'd been anything!).

And again there were staff changes, again there was a lack of institutional knowledge (which was one of the hurdles I had to overcome in the first place; MOSI has had almost complete staff turnover (at the levels I'm dealing with) since 2013. And both the staff I started working with have left their jobs. And the exhibit we put all this work into is a temporary one that'll be replaced at the end of next month.

I feel strange and sad about this: I put so much work into something I'm so proud of. I learned a lot. And now all the effort will go to waste. And all the learning will too, if I don't find someone sympathetic at NOSI and explain this to them and carry on doing a lot of work for no money because if I don't it won't happen at all.

I love MOSI and I know it isn't very accessible to a lot of visually impaired people, and I'd love to help change that. But again it all feels so outside my powers as a volunteer.

Plus, I did that whole course about volunteering in heritage sites and now I'm...not really doing any. Which is a shame.

Of course this year I'm supposed to be writing a book anyway (it's going slowly; my mental health has been unrelentingly bad these last few months and that makes it hard).

Somewhat relatedly, after a random twitter conversation -- one of those where I was complaining about everything being in London -- I ended up talking to someone very nice from Migrants Organise who will actually be in Manchester soon and wants to chat. I felt self-conscious because I'm not part of a group or even any category of migrants that are really suffering but she seemed impressed by the book and the theme of "immigrants who don't look like immigrants" seems relevant to her; she said they'd had Western and Northern Europeans getting in touch lately saying "I've never felt unwelcome here before but..." and that kind of thing. Trying to make space for such "stealth" immigrants without getting in the way of POC needs and perspectives is something I've long been interested in. So maybe something will come of that; I have no idea what to expect and I'm not worrying about it.

And in a slightly more "heritage" type context, I keep meaning to investigate the Portico Library, after James and I fell in love with The Leeds Library when we were at this year's M.R. James conference there. James is a member now and it's somewhere I absolutely love visiting with him. I have grand ideas about how much more reading, and writing, I'd do at such a place.

Of course Leeds is a bit far, but there's a subscription library in Manchester and that's the Portico. Which is a bit more open-to-the-public than the Leeds one; it has a little gallery and a cafe and lots of events that sound cool, like this about historical American books right now. And they have volunteering opportunities that sound perfect for me: stuff I'm interested in, expected to be the same day every week for at least three months which gives the kind of structure I like (and have been missing in both of the volunteer things I've done so far!).

But really... I need to chase up the VI steering group, I need to talk to MOSI about how not to lose any more accessibility knowledge, I need to sort out my CV if I'm going to send it to the Portico (which would be no bad thing as it needs sorting anyway)...I'm overwhelmed, and stuck, by everything right now.

I've been meaning to write this for a while, thinking I'd feel better when I did, and I think I do. It's a start, anyway.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-07-31 10:05 pm
Entry tags:

The social model of disability

So today as always there was a problem with the audio-description headset I always try to get now at the cinema.

I'm used to this. More often than not, they don't work. I'm okay with most movies anyway -- I mean, I went to them for the first 33 or so years of my life without even suspecting such a thing could exist -- but action-y kind of movies are the hardest for me to follow and, being the last person in the world to see it, I'd heard so many good things about Ghostbusters that I wanted to get all the goodness out of it that my sighted friends had so enjoyed.

We'd already elicited confused looks from the ticket seller and the ticket checker at the AMC Great Northern when we asked about audio description, but along with his hot dog and ice cream and Coke, Andrew came back from the concession stand with headphones for me.

"Is it working?" he whispered at me as the film companies' logos came on the screen at the beginning. He too is used to it not working -- and doing the legwork for it, bless him. He gets in for free with my CEA card and he takes his responsibilities as my carer in this situation very seriously. Plus he'd already seen Ghostbusters on his own (twice!) so I didn't feel bad about sending him out when it transpired that I'd been given the headset which just replicates the film soundtrack, which helps some hard-of-hearing people, rather than the audio description I benefit from as a sight-impaired person.

When he sat back down next to me, he said the projectionist he'd spoken to had said, upon realizing what I wanted, "oh, we don't bother with that, no one ever asks for it."


No one.

I'm having a tough time lately: even the smallest decisions to be made or smallest changes to plans have left me absolutely frozen. I'd been unable to cope with a rail replacement bus, or choose a drink from the options at a small shop, in the last couple of hours. You get the idea.

So having just sat through the first scene of the movie, which I hadn't been able to follow (if Andrew hadn't told me what happened in it, because we were running a bit late and weren't sure if we'd miss it, I wouldn't have had any idea what was happening because I wouldn't have known what to watch out for) thus leaving me eagerly looking forward to my audio description to make the rest of the movie an easier, richer experience for me: even when I can follow movies, it takes a lot more energy than getting the help of AD, and as I believe I mentioned I'm pretty low on energy lately!)

And now I wasn't going to get it. Because they can't be bothered. Because no one asks.

I was upset. And then I was angry. And then I couldn't decide which I was more of. I wanted to get out of there; I was feeling ill at the thought of coping with a couple of hours of this. I wanted to find someone to shout at. I wanted to kick things.

I ended up in tears. Quiet ones, but Andrew still noticed and offered sympathetic squeezes. I sat tensed up in a little ball, arms protectively crossed in front of me.

I didn't shout at anyone or kick anything. I'd paid for this and I'd been so looking forward to Ghostbusters. It wasn't one of those times when I've gone along to something I'm indifferent to because someone else is excited about it or just something to pass the time. I'd already felt left out because most of my friends had seen it, and everyone had wanted to talk about it. I'd listened to and read all their words, but I didn't feel I could join in.

And now I still couldn't feel like I was joining in properly.

Because they couldn't be bothered.

It was a long time before I unfolded my arms, before I could smile -- much less laugh -- at the jokes. I did laugh and I did enjoy it, but that's a sign of how great the movie really is as far as I'm concerned. Even when I'd relaxed a little, I felt a little ill and anxious to be out of the cinema, so the whole movie seemed tainted for me. Anything less good might've been ruined entirely. I was already convinced I'd have to go back -- not just to see it again like some friends have done, but to feel like I'd seen it at all.

We don't bother. No one asks.

Yet I'd asked. How was I supposed to process such an answer?

We didn't stay for the post-credits scene. Much as I'd enjoyed myself, I was desperate to get out of there. We talked to a manager, who gave us a couple of free tickets and vouchers for popcorn, but what good is that to a cinema I can't trust to bother with the likes of me? The manager assured us this problem had been mentioned to the techie people, but I have no means of knowing how, if or when it will lead to proper implementation of their obligation to provide available disability accommodation. She'd told us the projectionist Andrew spoke to was new and he shouldn't have said what he did. While I agreed that it wasn't a professional answer, I was quietly almost grateful for that because it revealed something I was sure this manager would rather we didn't know: how people really think. How they act when they don't think anyone notices. It's far more useful in getting an understanding of the extent and nature of a problem than a carefully-worded, "correct" response full of the right words to cover a company's asses.

Andrew and I came back home and tweeted about it. His tweet thread starts here and mine here. Andrew, who tagged AMC in some of his tweets, of course got a reply from them asking him to take it to private messages, but he wasn't interested.

We're both less interested in calling out the particular cinema than we are in calling attention to this, to how much more audio description could be used and appreciated than it is -- as I say there, I didn't even know it was a thing I could ask for until about a year ago, and I'm sure that's true for plenty more people who would benefit from it, too (especially because lots of sight loss is gradual and sort of "under the radar" because people are uncomfortable thinking of themselves as partially sighted or don't know that these resources would benefit them...the way that I used to think things were for "proper" blind people and not for me. Subtitles and other adjustments for d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are poorly-enough implemented, appreciated, and recognized as useful or just a thing that exists, but audio description lags way behind even that.

This is what I mean about the social model of disability. It might sound crazy but it isn't my lack of sight that disables me. I could imagine a world that worked in such a way that I would find it as more or less as easy as any sighted person to get around safely, to get and keep work, to read books and watch films and use technology and cook and do everything anybody else does.

What stops me from feeling that I'm living life on the same basis as anyone else isn't anything inherent about my eye condition or my usable sight: it's the way society is set up. It's the broken pavements, the unwillingness of bus drivers to stop when someone with a white cane is at a stop, the prizing of "design" over blind-friendliness in the built environment, the unspoken notion in recruiters' heads that there's always someone easier to give the job to, the muggers who picked the registered-blind man to beat up and mug near my house the other day rather than anybody else they encountered on the street, no doubt thinking he's an easy target (I found out about that from Facebook which, hearteningly, has rallied round to get his locks changed for free so that he doesn't have to worry about his stolen keys being used to let baddies into his house, and offered all kinds of sympathy and support).

It's cinema projectionists not bothering with audio description when it's as readily available to them as the loop they do implement for people with hearing loss. And it's them blaming this on the sight-impaired members of their audience or potential audience for "not asking."

It's also any possible response to this that goes anything like "well, who cares, no one's ever died from not being able to see a movie." The idea that fun or frivolous things are only for the abled people who find them easiest to access is also ableist. People seem surprised that disabled people want to do anything other than the appointments and tasks they need to manage their condition: there's a lot of antagonism to disabled people wanting to attend concerts or sports events, going to clubs or bars...even having sex is often treated as a luxury that can't involve any allowances or adjustments just so disabled people can do it -- why should they want to anyway? If leisure and hobbies and yes even sexuality are as crucial to life as abled people think they are (and they are!), they should be just as important to disabled people. Disabled life shouldn't just be about getting to medical appointments and surviving on the most meager crumbs of life. It should be Pokemon Go and Ghostbusters and whatever else our families, friends or colleagues are talking about.

James, bless him, read my tweets and told me that the Bradford Cineworld is showing Ghostbusters with audio description (like I said, I'd had good luck with them before) and we can go when I visit him on Thursday if I want (he's seen it already too but doesn't seem to mind the prospect of seeing it again!). I do.

I look forward to seeing the film.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-07-26 01:07 pm
Entry tags:

How to deal with living as a sighted person

I was coming up the escalator at Piccadilly, from the Fairfield Street entrance. An older white man in a suit, with a wheelie suitcase, was a few steps ahead of me on the escalator. When he got to the top, he stopped (well out of the way, not like a tourist in London), turned around, smartly snapped the handle down on his suitcase, and gave me just long enough to think I wonder what he's doing... before he said "you're coming to the end...now!" just as I was indeed getting to the top of the escalator myself.

It made me laugh. I'd never had anything like this happen, or heard of it happening. It turns out that escalators are exactly the kind of thing white canes are good at -- I always put the cane on the step ahead of the one where I'm standing so I can feel, I can get a bit of warning even if I'm not paying attention (because I can see well enough to be fine on escalators anyway if I'm not daydreaming) and it tends to work very smoothly.

Still, I appreciated the guy's unobtrusive, effective help that only lasted a second and didn't interfere with my own plans about how I was getting around (as a person who's probably more sighted than I look when I'm using my white cane, sometimes overhelpful strangers surprise me and cause more of an obstacle than I had before, unfortunately).

I laughed a little at the sheer delight of it, told him he was kind, and moved on thinking about how once I get this immigrant book out of the way (it seems now like I never will, urgh) I might take all my thoughts about the sighted class -- I've been offered lots of classes on living with sight loss but I don't think it's me who needs them, it's everyone else! -- and make that into a book or something too. Since I can't actually get a job teaching the class, which is possibly the thing I'd most love to do (besides be an astronaut or something even less plausible), I could maybe put it all in a little book.

The next thing I had to do was buy my train tickets, so I got in line to do that. Just then I got a text so I took my phone out and I could swear that the middle-aged white man who'd just joined the queue behind me was glaring at me. But I chalked it up to either his bitchy resting face or just me being paranoid because I do worry about doing anything when I'm out that complicates the perception of me as a blind person. Of course, totally blind people use phones too but it's another thing that subverts people's expectations of us and I'm aware of the potential animosity that can be caused by anything that does that.

So the line crawls along, there's a big group of students or tourists or something who seem to be going to London and are having to have peak and off-peak tickets explained to them. Eventually I'm at the front of the line and someone calls "next please!" from what seems like miles away. It's certainly on the other side of this group of European young people who still don't have their tickets but do all have rucksacks and bags everywhere.

And this part of Piccadilly station is really badly organized; there's no way for people who want to leave with their tickets to get out except to walk past the queue of people waiting t buy tickets. So I see a man walking towards me from what I can presume is the ticket seller who's just shouted for me and because she's way down the other end and there are all these people and their bags at one of the nearer ticket counters, I'm waiting for this man lwaving to walk past me before I attempt to go to the ticket seller because there's no room to do anything else. (And indeed I still end up bumping into somebody's bag anyway as I tried to get past this big group of people.)

But as this man gets past me and I start moving toward my ticket seller, the grumpy-looking guy behind me says "go on love!" in his grumpy northern-man voice. I can't help bristling at this, and snapping "yes I was doing." I add a "thanks" that I hope is understood with all the sarcasm with which I intended it but I worry that it's to mitigate the possibility that he was telling me to be nice and not to be mansplainy or ablesplainy like it seemed to me. (Or even just to be impatient but in an impersonal way.)

And then I was annoyed that I do expect sexism and ableism so much that maybe people would legitimately be able to say "but I was just trying to be nice!" and I am in fact an ungrateful bitch.

But then I thought about how this contrasted with the other thing that'd just happened. I didn't mind being singled out and helped then (even when it was help I didn't strictly need). I was pretty convinced this grumpy man wouldn't have been as grumpy if I weren't younger and more feminine than him even if I weren't carrying a white cane.

We never interact with people as only one of our identities unfortunately. I don't know what it is about me that makes people react to me like they do. I can't react to them except as a combination of all the other interactions I've had and what those have led me to expect. Of course it's not fair to each new stranger I might encounter and maybe react to a bit more snippily than they think is warranted. But it's hardly fair on me, either.

Anyway, I'm really going to have to think about writing that book! Like I need another book to be writing...
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-07-24 08:58 am
Entry tags:

Signs that I am loved by good people

I'm so lucky that my life is far enough removed from the gendered expectations of the dominant culture that both Andrew and James noticed I'd shaved my armpits as soon as they'd seen me after I did it. They both seemed concerned or confused, and asked me why I'd done it.

I've totally forgotten that bodies like mine are expected to be hairless. And it's largely down to these two men.

Also, this happened:
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-07-22 12:07 pm
Entry tags:


My mom's wonderful ability at writing e-mails:
We will try on Sunday to skype.  Dad has his colon test today and then there is [my aunt, Mom's sister].  She got burned from boiling potato water and broke her ankle, which she needs surgery on.  She is at a burn unit in the cities.  We are going tomorrow to see her and see what is going on.  I was at the hospital last night till the transmitted her to the cities burn unit. 
And this is all I know, except for the Skype call, which ended up being on Tuesday. (I still don't know a) why my dad's having a colon test or b) why I need to know this.)

My aunt got discharged from the burns unit more quickly than expected -- apparently despite severe burns on her torso and groin, she hadn't had to take a single prescription painkiller she'd been prescribed. (Which is a bit of a shame really as my mom had to pay for them! Their other sister paid for a little mobility scooter to help her get around while she can't walk. Apparently Medicare didn't see fit to pay for these things. Useless fucking American no-healthcare system.)

She's had the operation on her ankle: a plate ans eight pins are now holding it together. I thought the ankle must've been related to the scalding water incident that caused the burns, but apparently my aunt says not? My mom assumed they were related too and I'm confused as to how it might have happened otherwise but I guess there's no point wondering.

This is the aunt that moved back to Minnesota to look after my grandma after my grandpa died, because she couldn't manage alone. So my mom and the other sister have been taking it in turns, a few days at a time, to stay there and cook and clean and care for both of them.

My parents are taking my aunt back to the specialist burns unit some time today, to have dressings looked at I think (but I get all this like third-hand from my mom so I never understand what's actually going on with my family's health crises).

Once the burns are sufficiently healed and the cast is off her foot, my aunt is apparently going to need lots of rehab and therapy in order to be able to walk properly again. She's been through a lot (my mom, who doesn't believe in TMI, shared some grim details with me), and she's got a lot more to get through.

And she's so nice. She made the summer vacation that I had to go on with my family last year bearable for me. Having spent her adult life halfway across the country, she and I share the We Got Out and We Know There's a Bigger World Out There mentality that separates us from the rest of our family, who never say what they're thinking, eat fresh vegetables, or have a beer without it being a big deal.

She's also the one who's best with newfangled things like texting and e-mail (I think her daughters trained her better than I or my cousins managed to get our parents up to speed with this kind of thing...though my parents' new iPad has meant I'm now afflicted with them wanting to Skype all the time). So I really should get in touch more.
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
2016-07-20 08:43 pm


A nice chap from a local news website has just re-interviewed me about my book. I talked to him a few months ago while the Kickstarter was going on and it was actually a lot of fun, he was good to talk to and asked interesting questions.

But then the Dictaphone on which he'd recorded our conversation (and, it turns out, a bunch of other interviews!) broke, and so recently he's been in touch again to ask if I'd return to and update him on the subject -- he'd noticed that my Kickstarter was successful and was sweetly pleased for me.

He told me he wasn't going to allow it to go wrong in the same way as before so he's going to write it up right away and it'll be on the website tomorrow or Friday. I'm terribly curious about how it'll end up looking!

He asked if I'd had any other interest and I had to say I hadn't thought of seeking any out (he got in touch with me originally, probably watching for Kickstarters that say they're based here), he encouraged me to and gave me a couple tips on how to go about it, which was nice. It'd be good practice at clarifying the theme and intent of the thing, anyway! And by "clarifying" I might mean "coming up with one in the first place"...