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).

d6d
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.

Shawna'sHalloween1
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?

Growing Up Cripple

Hi all!  I really had no idea what to blog about, so I procrastinated for a while with the help of social media, and that’s when I noticed something strange.  I’ve seen a lot of “growing up” hashtags on Twitter (growing up a girl, growing up black, etc.), but there isn’t a hashtag for growing up cripple.  Yeah, you can find growing up disabled and growing up in a wheelchair, but they’re few and far between (plus, they’re mostly depressing).  Since I’m not all that Twitter adept (140 characters just isn’t enough), I decided to blog about it.

Young Me (Color Correction)
It’s me! According to the copywrite date, I was four. I used to be so cute. What happened?

People act like growing up anything but a straight, white, able, cis, male puts you at some kind of disadvantage (cue the “privileged” arguments), but I disagree.  Growing up, I never really felt like my crippleness put me at a real disadvantage or made me any less of a person.  Don’t get me wrong, back then and to this day I’ve encountered people who seem to think I’m invisible, people who actually cross the street when they see me (I’m not contagious, I swear!  Though, I do bite.), people who say or ask less than intelligent things, and the like, but I learned quickly that that was their problem, not mine.  Just because some people are idiots doesn’t mean their behavior is in any way my fault.

Were things ever more difficult than they should’ve been?  Yeah, of course!  I mean, when stairs and curbs are your mortal enemies, you’re going to run into problems.  Luckily, I was raised in a family where finding ways around obstacles was a challenge readily accepted.  Can’t reach your mouth with that fork?  Let’s tape a plastic one to a skewer!  Can’t reach the keyboard with your right hand?  Try this backscratcher!  Keep getting stuck in the mud out back?  Let’s build a deck!  And the list goes on and on.

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Prom. I designed the dress and Mom made it.
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High school graduation. Most of the immediate family.

Granted, the whole stuck in a chair thing also makes outings much more annoying (no, it’s not just something that affects home life), but it doesn’t stop me.  That’s one thing Dallas has going for it, most places are accessible at least to a point (SMU, I’m looking at you when I say “to a point”), so I go to clubs and concerts and out to eat and to cons and renfests and all of that delightful stuff.  You want to talk about privilege?  Try being a cripple at clubs and cons and such.  I was raised never to expect special treatment, but you’d be surprised how often places offer front of the line privileges among other stuff (and who am I to turn such thoughtfulness down?).  Let’s see the straight, white, able, cis dude get that kind of treatment on a regular basis… I think not.

Shawna54
I miss my purple hair. And the red hair. And the teal. You get the idea.

Anyway, I guess my point is that life is what you make of it.  Yes, my crippleness makes life a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s the hand I was dealt.  I’m not inspirational (though I kindly thank those who think I am, because they’re being nice when they say that kind of stuff).  I’m simply living my life.  Life is hard, but do you want to know a secret?  Everyone has problems (even that privileged white guy).  You can either deal with your own issues and try to live happily for the most part, or you can focus on all the bad and be miserable forever.  It’s your battle.  No one can fight it for you.