On Being an Inspiration (Without Being a Douchenozzle)

Hi everyone!  It’s that time of year again, I guess.  That time when I see a bunch of articles and blog posts floating around about how the people who call cripples “inspirational” are basically ableist asshats.  It seems to come in cycles, usually popping up around the holiday season when people are more likely to try to spread the love (it’s actually starting a little early this year).  Anyway, I feel like I’ve mentioned this before, but it needs repeating: they aren’t the asshats in this scenario, you are.

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Ain’t it cute?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand what most of these posts are trying to say, and I even kind of agree with the most basic message they’re attempting to convey.  I know I’m not actually inspirational, that I’m just doing what everyone else is doing (also known as living my life the only way I know how).  Yeah, I totally agree with that sentiment.  My problem with these rants about not being inspirational is that these people are being rude to people who are only being nice.  That is what I can’t get behind, so to speak.

Imagine (or if you’re a cripple/physically different in any way, you’ve probably lived it):  you’re at a restaurant and some happy-go-lucky cheerleader type comes up to you and says “OMG!  I just had to tell you that I think you are so beautiful.  It’s such an inspiration to see you out and about.  I don’t think I’d even be able to get out of bed if I were in your position.”  Now, keep in mind that this is the fourth time you’ve heard something like that this week and no one could keep track of how often you’ve heard it in your *insert age here* years on the planet.

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Sakura! But yeah, you all know the type.

What she literally meant:  “You’re an awesome person!”

What your jaded ears heard:  “You’re so disgusting.  How can you even leave the house, let alone your room?”

There are a number of ways you can respond in a situation like this.  For example, you can simply say thank you (my go-to response).  This usually results in a smile, possibly some small-talk, and a polite parting of the ways.  If you’re feeling particularly argumentative, you could respond with “Thank you.  I’m really nothing special, but you’re sweet.”  This could backfire into the lady listing the ways you are special, but at least you were nice about it!  Or you could let your cynicism reign and tear down someone who was only trying to let you know she thought you were cool, which makes you a douchenozzle.

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As these conversations always are.

What I’m getting at is that it’s nobody else’s fault that you’ve grown so cynical that you can’t take someone’s kind words at face value.  No, they aren’t being ableist and they aren’t making fun of you, they’re being nice.  Believe me, I’ve been in enough of these conversations to know that people don’t think that much when they speak.  It’s a unique experience for them, so their words simply mean what they mean, there’s nothing hidden underneath.  You only think there’s negativity in the words because you’ve had years to analyze a plethora of these conversations.  Stop overthinking it.  Nice people do exist.

Mood Music

Hey all!  What kind of sounds do you enjoy in your creative environments?  It’s a weird question, I know, but it’s an interesting one.  A lot of people I’ve talked to about this can’t work in noisy places.  They go so far as to carry around those noise-cancelling headphones if they decide to write outside of their usual area.  It’s a neat idea, since it’s not only dampening noise, but also giving people a visual sign that you don’t want to be bothered.  However, I couldn’t do that.  I like to work when there’re sounds all around (preferably music).  So, I thought I’d share some of the music I write by.

Music

Honestly, I don’t really have much in the way of criteria when it comes to the music I listen to while writing.  I basically just hit shuffle on my iTunes and I’m ready to go.  I usually try to start with a song in a language I don’t speak much of, because it’s easier to not get distracted when you can’t sing along.  Any language will do, really, but I’m partial to Japanese.  Though my music ranges from English to Japanese to German to Spanish to French to Thai to… well, you get the idea.

Buck-Tick is one of my go-tos for writing.

Anyway, on the rare occasion that I do more than hit shuffle, I’m usually looking for a song that sets a certain mood.  Take the song above, if I’m looking to write something epic (like fantasy epic, not epic for the sake of epic), that would be on the list.  My writing tends to lean more towards horror a lot of the time, so you can bet I have a ton of rage music.  Dir en grey, Rammstein, basically all your screamers and growlers go on the rage list.  Then there’s the happy rage (see below, but beware of foul language) which is really helpful when writing certain characters.  You know the ones I mean.  We all have them.

I suppose I have to admit that I also have a number of sappy songs.  I blame a certain male I used to know for that.  These are the types of songs I never used to own.  Ah well.  I suppose we all need a reason for a little sap.  Admittedly, it’s actually helpful to have musicians like James Blunt and Lifehouse and others in my collection.  I find more and more romance seeping into my writing, so it’s good to have that kind of playlist.  Plus, you know, the music is really good.

So yeah, my writing music spans pretty much everything.  Also, it runs the gamut of the years.  I mostly mentioned 90’s and later here, but I have classical and oldies and everything in between.

As I was asking in the beginning, are you more of a quiet worker or noisy?  What kind of noise?  Nature or music?  What kind of music?  I’m curious to know how my method differs from yours, so drop me a line on here or Facebook or Twitter or Google+!

Growing Up Cripple: Halloween Edition

Hi all!  I had no idea what to talk about today, so I was chatting with a friend when she asked what my first Halloween costume was.  Honestly, I have no idea what my first one was, but I have had some pretty cool ones since then!  Thus, since it’s October, today I will ramble a little about costumes/Halloween and how the whole crippleness thing plays into that (or doesn’t).

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How about both?

Personally, I love the idea of dressing up as someone you’re not and getting to be a superhero or a ghoul or whatever for a little while.  I always have.  It’s fun.  And it’s probably the reason why I like cosplayers so much.  What’s not to love?  Plus, on Halloween, free candy is involved!

Some people might wonder how Halloween is different for people in wheelchairs.  Does the chair affect the costume choice?  Does it inhibit where you do your trick or treating?  What about haunted houses?  For me, the general reply is that it doesn’t make much of a difference to me.  Depending on what I wanted to be any particular year, I chose whether or not to include the chair in the costume.  Yeah, I couldn’t get up some driveways, but that’s what siblings and friends are for (someone to lug your bag of loot up to the door and point you out so you get candy regardless).  I’ve never been a fan of haunted houses, but you can usually find accessible ones if you look hard enough.  It’s all about what the cripple person is willing to try.

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Sister, Mom, and I.

My favorite part of Halloween was always the costumes (though the candy was a definite close second).  When I was really little (like five and under), I could walk holding onto things and I could be carried, so for the first few years, a chair didn’t play too much of a role in choosing what to dress up as.  In fact, even once I was wheelchair bound, it took me a while to realize the chair could be part of the costume!  I honestly don’t recall many of the non-chair outfits aside from the tiger above (I was freakin’ adorable once upon a time) and being the pink Power Ranger (yes, I was one of those children).

Once I started wanting to include the chair in my costumes, things got a little weird.  I remember being a zombie truck driver one year (before zombies were cool) and having the cab of an eighteen wheeler built around my chair.  I don’t have any pictures of that one.  Another year, I was a hippie in a VW Bug (seen below).  I’m sure I was a lot of other great stuff, but I can’t remember what.

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Hippie, not hipster.

Anyway, being cripple doesn’t have to make something like Halloween difficult.  Especially if you’re surrounded by creative people, which both of my parents were.  Mom was the artist and Dad is the craftsman.  Hell, even to this day, I plot out costumes and different things the chair could be!  The only reason I don’t pester Dad with the technical parts is because I don’t know any seamstresses to help me with the outfit parts.  I’m sorry, a steampunk chair needs a matching outfit or there’s no point to it.

So, what are you doing for Halloween?

A Look Inside Real Mexican Tacos

Hi all!  I know I’ve been slacking on the food review front, so I thought I’d get back to that this week.  A few months ago (July, I believe), a taco place opened up down the road from us (Dad and I).  No, not like Taco Bell tacos, more like Mexican street tacos.  Actually, the place is called Real Mexican Tacos.  For those of you familiar with Mesquite, it’s on E. Davis where the old Red Lantern used to be.  Everyone else can get the address from their Facebook page (linked above).

So, here’s a reminder of the rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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Please excuse the dull phone colors. The sign is really quite bright.

First up is accessibility.  It’s in a strip mall with ramps dotted up and down the sidewalk.  The nearest ramp is two doors down, so that’s normal.  Otherwise, the doorway is wide and clear (one door with no twists or turns to finagle my way around to get inside).  The tables are great.  They’re a nice height and don’t have anything that really gets in the way of footrests and all that.  They’re also spread out so it’s not a tight squeeze to get around in the restaurant.  That’s always a “Yay!”

Service… I have no real complaints.  A lot of the staff only speak Spanish, so it can sometimes make for confusion (especially since our Spanish is very limited), but everyone is super nice.  Dad and I have been in a few times and I’m pretty sure we’ve had the same waitress each time (she speaks English).  I think she might have been a little unsure about me at first, but it didn’t stop her from treating me like a person (bonus points!).  Everyone is really helpful when it comes to explaining the different menu items and answering questions.  So yeah, the service is great.

Now, the part everyone really wants to know about: the food!

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I opted for the enchilada plate last time. Dad had tacos and a quesadilla.

Real Mexican Tacos has a couple of “plate” options (combos that come with rice and beans), but it’s mostly pick and choose stuff (single items that you can mix and match as you please).  This last visit, I went with the chicken enchilada plate.  They have both salsa verde and crema on them.  It was actually frickin’ delicious.  The tortillas weren’t mush like most enchiladas you get around here, so there was a really nice mixture of textures to go along with the flavors.  Definitely recommend them if you don’t feel like tacos.  Dad had a trompo taco (super yum!), a barbacoa taco (good), and a lengua quesadilla (lengua is a personal favorite of mine in quesadillas or tacos or anything really).  They also have sopas and tortas and some other things every day, as well as specials (cabrito tacos, menudo, etc.) on the weekends.

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Strawberry cheesecake.

Honestly, this last visit was the first time we’ve been that they had dessert.  They’re still really new, so the menu is still growing and changing and that’s perfectly okay with me.  The cheesecake was really good (probably bought at Sam’s Club, but as long as it’s good, who cares?).  We’ll see if there’s anything new next time!

Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk price.  It’s fabulous.  When Dad and I can leave full and content for less than $30, the price is ah-maze-ing.  It’s definitely worth giving the place a try!

My overall rating:
MMMM (a potential MMMMM once they get a little more settled)

See you next week!