It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Monday, January 31, 2011

60 Minutes Story on GSK Whistleblower

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Questions & Answers (Eventually)

This picture above [2 street signs on a pole, the one pointing to the left says questions and the one to the right says answers] from Ellen's post last month on Love that Max inspired this post. Eva and Jenni both have question and answer segments on their blogs, maybe I will too. Although I've never felt all that curious, and I assume that most of my readers have disabilities, maybe you don't. Or maybe you do and still have a question. When doing a self-advocacy training for teens/20 somethings with DD, a woman with a DD stopped me during my intro and said "I've heard all people with bipolar are violent." A valid assumption given media. So ask away in the comments and I promise to get back to you in a post sometime in the future. When I have writers block it'll give me something to write about.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moms & Botox: What's the Deal? Or, Botox is Relatively PainLESS (and Botox Day is Like Christmas)

I've been meaning to post this since October when Tanis posted about Jumbly's botox appointment. She called the post The Steel-Toed Boots of Motherhood. I read it and thought about other moms that have written about botox, like Ellen and Kathryn. All three of their children have cerebral palsy, all three write about their children's botox appointments with angst, and I wonder why. I am somewhat flummoxed. I thought I wrote a post over a year ago, Botox Day: It's Like Christmas, but apparently I never did. OK, I don't know anything about Christmas (remember, I'm Jewish), but as my appointment gets near I start counting down the days.

In her next post Tanis writes that the day of the appointment was a soul crushing day for her. In 2009 Ellen wrote about being scared for Max. I don't know why Max's doctor puts him under general anesthesia for botox, I've never heard of that. I have heard of using conscious sedation for little children, like what was done with Ellie.

Kathryn thinks that people who think botox is not painful are out of their mind [look at the picture below, it's a teeny, tiny needle]. Jenni and I must be out of our minds then. Kathryn, have you ever had botox? How do you know? She seems to think that the pain produced from a botox shot is 100x worse then a tetanus shot. No, Kathryn, it's not. Tetanus shots are worse. To me, botox shots hurt about the same or less then a flu shot.

I understand that these kids are 7 and 8, and that when I first started getting botox regularly I was 20. I did have botox a few times when I was somewhat younger and unconscious, during surgery, but doing it that way makes it hard to determine whether improvements are from botox or surgery. I also had botox once when I was 18, although hardly any, I think just in my thighs and opted for the numbing cream.

I fully support the use of numbing cream, conscious sedation, distraction like bubbles or I Spy books, or sheer bribery like ice cream, money, or a trip to the toy store for little kids. I might suggest calling in a child life specialist. Getting upwards of 8 shots is a lot for a kid to take. I would have been a wreak at 7 and 8. But for the last five years I haven't opted for anything for pain management. Botox is my pain management. It's a g-d send. I just don't have the patience for EMLA. Having to wait for paratransit to take me to/from my appointment tries my patience enough. Waiting for Emla to kick in might put me over the edge.

OK, OK, I'm being rather misleading. Botox is injected all over my body every 6 months. I get it in 8 muscles, and because they are rather large muscles my physiatrist spreads the shots out and injects more then 1 spot. Of course I feel it. Of course, just like getting blood drawn or a flu shot, my natural CP reaction is that my whole body tenses up even before the needle even hits my flesh. Try telling someone with spastic CP to relax. It ain't happening.

Fortunately, I was told by Dr Gormley, of Gillette, that in the case of botox, tensing the area actually makes it easier for the physiatrist to find / access the correct muscle. Score one for spasticity! Of course it hurts when the needle is in my flesh, but as soon as it is out there is no longer any pain. It doesn't linger. I don't walk out of the hospital in pain. There is some very minor discomfort, but as my current physiatrist suggests, going for a walk afterwards not only helps work the botox into your muscles and helps it to take effect sooner, it also makes that discomfort go away sooner. What do you do if you can't walk? I don't know. Ask your physiatrist.

I always wonder why my doctor always has this look of guilt or something on her face when she is giving me botox. I'm sure the look on my face isn't pretty. I do always utter multiple OWWWs during the appointment. But I always wonder why she doesn't focus on the tremendous amount of pain that she is saving me. Or why she doesn't focus on the giant smile that I'm sure is plastered on my face most of the times she walks into the room. She's there to give me BOTOX! I'm a botox junky. Dr. Alter is one of my favorite people. She's totally got me strung out on the stuff :-)

She should hear the way I talk to other people anticipatorily about botox, with that smile on my face. Or maybe I should tell her that in the weeks leading up to "botox day" I go to bed thinking about botox the way most Christian kids think about Santa Claus (I think I have told her that actually). I'm sure little kids getting botox don't think of it this way, but I know of at least one other person my age (coincidentally a patient of Dr. Gormley) who looks forward to it, although I'm not sure if she looks forward to it as much as I do.

So I wonder why these moms look at botox with such angst, while I look at it as somewhat joyous in a way. Yes, I am injecting diluted botulism all over my body, almost from head to toe (from shoulder to calf), and yes, I'm fully aware that botulism in it's pure form is a lethal form of food poisoning, having done a report on it 8 years ago for 11th grade chemistry class. But the pain I otherwise have, especially from panic attacks, is unbearable. Although I'd like another option, I've rationalized the food poisoning. Why can't mothers?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

True Story Tuesday: "Grandpa you're a WUSS!"

Click on the picture to see the others

I'm renting Breaking Bad, and I've watched the first season so far. I haven't had access to cable most of the time it's been on, so it's the first I've seen it. I don't know why I'm watching it. It's bizarre. Actually, I do. The son in the show, Walter Jr, played by RJ Mitte, has CP, and he's a real honest to g-d cripple in real life. Unfortunately, I found out from IMDB that the show has made him 'crip it up,' as I like to say. But whatever, he's still authentic, and I'm not sure you could train yourself to have a pronounced 'CP slur.' That's what impresses me the most, he's on TV and he even sounds like a cripple! I find that groundbreaking, because they don't portray him as a supercrip, he's just a 15 year old mainstreamed high school kid.

A big part of the show, from the first episode onward, is the premise that his father is diagnosed with stage 3A lung cancer. In the first 4 episodes he refuses treatment, so in the 5th the family holds an intervention. When it comes to Walter Jr's turn to speak, he says
"This is bullshit ... I'm pissed off ... I-I'm pissed off. 'Cause you're being -- You're being... Y-you're -- You're a pussy. You're, like, ready to give up ... What if you gave up on me, huh? This here [he picks up one of his crutches], all the stuff I've been through, and y-you're scared of a little chemotherapy?"
That little speech gave me a flashback. Brought me right back to when I was 8 years old and my grandfather, 67 at the time, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. They cut it out and he was fine for the next 10 years, until he died of a massive heart attack.

I remember sitting in my grandparents kitchen, his surgery had been scheduled, but I don't know how long he had before the date. It could have been the next day, it could have been scheduled for a month later. Anyway, people were talking, and he was scared. I just looked at him with the innocence only a young child could have, and stopped him right in his tracks.
"Grandpa you're a WUSS!" I shot back.
I think I was too young to know the word "pussy."

He didn't even know what the word wuss meant. Never heard it before. I was too flabbergasted at the fact that he'd never heard it before to explain to him what it meant. My mom had to.

I had already gone through my first surgery 2 or so years before. Hamstring transfers that left me in a spica cast for the following 8 weeks. [man I wish they had this cast cooler thingy 20 years ago, or even 9. It's a good pic of a spica] So many months of physical therapy. My grandpa had none of that. What's a little prostate surgery to an old man, I thought? C'mon!

I don't remember if I was scared of that first surgery or not by the time it came. My parents put me into a few months of psychotherapy before. But, if I was, by the time I was 8 I didn't remember being scared at all. Bitter still at that point, very much so at the surgeon who had lied to my face about the outcomes, but NOT scared. I was 5, you're 67. Man up!

Certainly gave him a different perspective...

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Friday, January 21, 2011

The Sunshine Folk Shed Light on Long-Term Care

From the MD Daily Record, written by Joe Surkiewicz, published Jan 2, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD -- While most of the 25,000 residents living in Maryland’s 234 nursing homes would prefer to receive services at home, the overwhelming majority languish in institutions.

That’s largely because they don’t know their options.

But thanks to The SunShine Folk, that’s changing.

The SunShine Folk are a group of former nursing home and state institution residents who reach out to residents in nursing homes and educate them about their options for receiving long-term care at home.

The group was launched by Maryland Disability Law Center in 2005 as a collaboration between people with disabilities who provide hands-on peer support and the MDLC, which provides the legal expertise to help secure the Medicaid waiver services needed for them to live independently.

“The SunShine Folk help facility residents choose and apply for Medicaid programs and advocate for themselves in the transition process,” said Gayle Hafner, a senior attorney at MDLC. “MDLC staff work to remove legal barriers in the more difficult cases.”

This successful partnership between legal professionals and grassroots advocates has enabled hundreds of people with disabilities — including seniors and individuals with significant support needs — to fulfill their dream to move from an institution to the community and “get their lives back.”

It also makes economic sense.

“Any time it costs the state $85,000 a year to live in a nursing facility and only $40,000 a year at home, coming home is the way to go,” said Floyd Hartley, a leading member of The SunShine Folk. “I was in a nursing home for three years and never knew about waiver services until I met Gayle [Hafner]. It allowed me to come home and get the same level of care — actually, better care that is much more individualized.”

The group not only serves individual clients but also has its collective fingers on the pulse of the state’s progress in rebalancing its long-term care system away from over-reliance on facility-based care.

The SunShine Folk have gained experience, knowledge and savvy and have positioned themselves to advocate successfully for systemic reforms that help improve the lot of many people who remain stuck in institutions.

Furthermore, the program serves people who face complex legal hurdles, have intensive-care needs or face other barriers to freedom from facility-based care requiring skilled and sustained assistance.

“Experience tells us that the majority of individuals the SunShine Folk have helped to free would still be stuck in institutions, but for the program’s tenacious outreach and persistence,” said Kim Stevens, an MDLC paralegal who works closely with The SunShine Folk.

“Although most individuals prefer to receive services at home, Maryland spends about 85 percent of its Medicaid funds on institutional care,” Stevens continued. “Maryland spends only 15 percent of its Medicaid long-term care monies on home and community-based services and supports for seniors and individuals with disabilities, ranking it near the bottom among states in home-care services spending for this population.”

A federal demonstration grant, Money Follows the Person, attempted to address this imbalance. Due to the success and advocacy of the SunShine Folk, the state attempted to incorporate peer outreach contractors, program education and waiver application assistance into its MFP operational protocol.

“The sustained monitoring by The SunShine Folk clearly reveals that the state’s initiative falls far short of the intent,” said Hafner, the MDLC attorney. “Nearly 100 percent of the residents who connect with The SunShine Folk choose to initiate a waiver application, while only 30 percent of those who interact with the state’s program educators choose to do so.”

At least part of the reason is that the state’s contractors are restricted in the information they can share and are less committed to helping people find their way home.

The SunShine Folk, on the other hand, are able to respond to all of the residents’ concerns and requests for information, and support the individuals throughout the transition process.

“Just within the past few months we have made several presentations at conferences about this peer model of mentoring, and people are always asking how to replicate the model for other projects or in other states,” Hafner said.

“The SunShine Folk have been an invaluable resource, an on-the-ground eyes and ears for many advocacy groups,” she continued. “The state policymakers recognize The SunShine Folk’s real-life experiences and actually listen to them because of their knowledge, dedication, and commitment.”

The SunShine Folk keep hope alive for people during a complicated transition.
“Sometimes the social work aspect of transitioning a person with complex needs requires more resources than a legal services agency is equipped to offer,” Hafner noted. “The SunShine Folk can be the knowledgeable, one-on-one contact and mentor for someone during the entire process, from thinking about the possibility of transition, all the way through settling into a new home in the community.”

Added MDLC executive director Virginia Knowlton: “You can replicate the model, but not the passion for the work and sincere desire to help people find their way out to the community that our advocates have. This is an effective collaboration that grew organically from the ground up in response to a pressing human need.”

For information about The SunShine Folk project, call Knowlton at 410-727-6352.

Joe Surkiewicz is the director of communications at Maryland Legal Aid. His e-mail is

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How I Feel About Parents Who Refuse Vaccinations

I've linked to this article from Slate before

From January 3, 1967 [a 4 slide Peanuts cartoon]


Thanks Penny!
(Penny posted this on Facebook for an entirely different reason -- her views are not necessarily the same)

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Honor of MLK Day, Another Famous Quote

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.
You don't have to have a college degree to serve.
You don't have to have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.
You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve.
You don't have to know Einstein's "Theory of Relativity" to serve.
You don't have to know the Second Theory of Thermal Dynamics in Physics to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace,
a soul generated by love,
and you can be that servant.

[this picture is from Isrealli, the official blog of the State of Israel. Who knew countries had official blogs? "Israel is the only country outside of the Unites States that marks Martin Luther King Day annually"]

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I am Not a Freak

"Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better." ~MLK Jr

When I saw that this month's DBC was being held in conjunction with MLK Jr Day, something deep inside of me got mad. I wasn't upset that the carnival is Monday. In fact I thought that was a great idea. I don't have anything against MLK Jr at all. In fact, ADAPT has long considered his birthday (today) to be "Freedom Day." We're down with him. What angers me is why some people aren't down with us.

I don't know how people viewed Black Civil Rights leaders during the 1960's, when everything was going on. I wasn't around in the 60's, I'm 25. I imagine things were viewed differently depending on which geographic region of the country you resided in at the time. What I do know is that now, in 2011, and for at least the last 20 years, Malcom X, MLK, Nelson Mandela (yes, I know he's not American) have been regarded as national heros, while I am regarded by some people as a freak.

Please explain to me why blocking a bus with a powerchair is different then refusing to get up from the front of a bus. Please explain to me why yelling outside of an inaccessible McDonald's (that link is in Mandarin, use Google Translate) is different then refusing to get up from a lunch counter?

Did people tell MLK to just "be nice?" Not just people, but Black people. HIS people. I'm sure some did. I've been looked down upon by other PWDs, wheelchair users, been instructed to "be nice." I've gotten in arguments with certain PWDs (those old friends), who don't agree with how or why I do the things I do, so often that we no longer speak. Being nice in my experience rarely gets you what you need, your civil rights. IN YOUR FACE does.

MLK Jr said
We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
I'd have to agree with this. People are scared of people with disabilities. Especially people with very visible physical disabilities and significant psychiatric disabilities -- people who cannot pass. People are scared, fearful of what is different; of what they do not know. By making our very visible selves even MORE visible we are intensifying this fear. I get that. That explains why TABs get nervous around ADAPTers, but that doesn't explain why some PWDs are put off by us. We're not any more different then they are.

I think PWDs are put off by me (us) because by hanging out with people who do things such as handcuff themselves to the White House fence, I challenge their reality, how they were raised, the ways they think are the "right" ways to be a PWD. Don't call attention to your disability. Don't ask for "special" treatment. Be nicer then other people. You should be grateful for what you do get. Etc.

My parents taught me not to settle. My parents taught me separate is not equal. My parents taught me that sometimes to get what you need you have to stop being nice and start being FORCEFUL. My parents taught me this when I was 5. And my mother wonders why I'm so into ADAPT... But that's another topic and story entirely...

The theme for this carnival is "let your freak flag fly." I'm different. I'm a radical. I challenge not just the "norm" but I also challenge the "atypical." ADAPTers call ourselves "wild and weird ones." I wear that label with pride. But I'm not a "freak" in the way that people who judge me intend that word to be meant.

Why are Malcolm X, MLK Jr, and Nelson Mandela national heros but not Ed Roberts and Justin Dart Jr? We are the same. We do the same. We're not freaks. We're also a very creative dedicated minority hell bent on making the world a better place.

Friday, January 14, 2011

As a Reminder...

that today is the first day of One Month Before Heartbreak, I post The 12 Days of CRIPmas

In Solidarity

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First Quarterly Health Care Reform Consumer Forum Event and Community Health Fair

Baltimore HealthCare Access Hosts First Quarterly Health Care Reform Consumer Forum Event and Community Health Fair

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Congressman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young, City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, M.D. kick off first event to "Get the Facts" on health care reform to Baltimore consumers!

WHO: Baltimore HealthCare Access, Inc. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, and other local/state dignitaries

WHAT: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young, City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, M.D. will join Baltimore Healthcare Access along with other local and state officials to launch the first in a series of events to provide the facts to Baltimore residents about health care reform. The first event, Baltimore Health Care Now and Later, will feature experts discussing health care reform in four consumer oriented forums including information sessions for seniors, small business owners, the uninsured, and underinsured. City residents will have the opportunity to find out about changes that have already taken place and get a glimpse of what to expect in the future.

Baltimore City has over 96,000 uninsured residents many of whom will qualify for new health coverage programs once health care reform is fully implemented. Some city residents already qualify for coverage through existing state programs and Baltimore HealthCare Access will offer on-site health coverage enrollment at the event. The first event, in a series of quarterly forums, will also feature a community health fair where city residents can get help now with their health care questions and see if they might qualify for existing health coverage options. There will be 40+ health vendors, free health screenings including diabetes and blood pressure, free flu shots, depression screenings, on-site health coverage enrollment, and more! Among the vendors will be the Law of Office of Fred S. London, P. C., a major event sponsor, who specializes in Medicaid eligibility, Social Security Disability, SSI (Supplemental Security Income), and other health related matters.

WHEN: Saturday, January 15, 2011
1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Harry and Jeanette Weinberg YMCA at 33rd Street
900 East 33rd Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218


MORE EVENT DETAILS: Press conference with the Mayor & other local & state representatives begins at 1:00pm. Baltimore HealthCare Access will provide health coverage eligibility & enrollment assistance on site; Baltimore Broncos players & cheerleaders; Kaiser Permanente’s Professor Bodywise's Traveling Menagerie; Healthy kid's activities; Free transportation from select sites for seniors; Wear your purple & watch the Ravens game on a big screen TV too!

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's [Inter]national Delurking Week!

I think I got it wrong last year. Delurking week is the second full week of the year, not the first. If you want to participate on your own blog just google image delurking week. There are all kinds of great images to choose from besides this cat, which is so adorable I just want to take it home with me.

What is delurking week you ask? Well when you regularly read a blog or a message board but you have never posted / commented you are called a "lurker". Someone said that sounds kind of sinister, but that's what it is. Bloggers by our very nature are rather narcissistic, and we LOVE when people leave comments. Blogging to me is not one sided, it's an attempt to start a conversation. Sometimes I might even get the slightest bit depressed if I don't get as many comments from a post as I thought I would.

Delurking Week is a time when we bloggers peer pressure you to come out of the shadows and say "HELLO!" I know I've gathered a lot of public followers this past year, but I also know that most of you don't comment and that there are quite a few more of you that are regular readers and aren't public. So...
I want to meet you, I really do. Tell me a little bit about yourself. It's the least you can do, you sure know a lot about me.

I'll also be doing a bit of delurking this week too. I'm guilty of not always commenting as well...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A New Year's Message From National ADAPT

This was posted on FB Jan 1

It's that time of year where a bunch of folks make New Year's resolutions. Most resolutions are things like lose weight, work out, be on time, and procrastinate less...

So what have your representatives in Congress resolved to change in 2011? We all KNOW they will give up working out by mid-January (if it lasts that long), will gain back 10 pounds after losing five, and will continue to be late to everything. Of course, they will find a hundred reasons to put off working on that procrastination resolution. So rather than waste this opportunity, THEY SHOULD RESOLVE TO ELIMINATE THE INSTITUTIONAL BIAS!

We contacted the Congressional candidates during the election and a number of them pledged to eliminate the institutional bias, but a lot of these folks didn't. Congress is about to come back into session, se we need to make sure that they know we want them to free our people.

We've posted a Congressional New Year's Resolution you can use to ask your members of Congress to end the institutional bias. The Congressional New Year's Resolution is at:

We know this will be a tough Congress to work with, but there is widespread support for this issue within the disability community. Every major national disability organization supports ending the institutional bias through the Community Choice Act. There is support for it beyond the disability community as well. We have estimated that the cost of CCA to middle class folks is only about $6 a year. Giving seniors and Americans with disabilities their freedom would cost as little as a big cup of coffee. And based on a Harris survey (click to see the fact sheet), 89% of those surveyed supported the legislation.

We are working with Congress on reintroducing the legislation, but we aren't waiting to ask our Senators and Congressional representatives to sign on and support it. Please give them a call or send an email asking them to make a New Year's resolution to eliminate the institutional bias.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

FDA ECT Meeting (I almost missed this) & January White House Disability Call

From MindFreedom International:
The US Food & Drug Administration holds a meeting about electroshock device

The US FDA announced that on January 27 and 28, 2011, a US Food & Drug Administration committee will "discuss and make recommendations regarding the possible reclassification of devices indicated for use in electroconvulsive therapy."

what Forum
when Jan 27, 2011 08:00 AM to Jan 28, 2011 06:00 PM
where Gaithersburg, MD
contact name James Engles, FDA
contact phone 301-443-0572 code 3014512513
attendees All are welcome.

US Federal Committee To Have Meeting About Electroshock Devices
Location of FDA meeting:

Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg, Ballroom, 620 Perry Pkwy, Gaithersburg, MD.

More info from FDA web site:

The FDA has appointed an advisory committee to assist it to determine if electroconvulsive therapy (also known as electroshock) devices will be moved from Class III to Class II, or as many have proposed, to require the manufacturers to submit a "Pre-Market Application" which they should have been required to do 35 years ago.

If the Committee agrees to downgrade the risk of ECT to Class II, it will be more readily available, and the manufacturers may never have be required to prove either that it is safe, nor that it is effective.

ECT survivors may briefly speak to the committee in this public meeting to provide their story or perspective on the harms caused to them by ECT.

Communication of long term harms is especially important, as the manufacturuers and ECT advocates are minimizing ECT long term ill effects - such as long term memory loss, as well as long term effect of reducing ability to learn and remember new information.

The FDA states that persons wishing to speak at this important meeting may contact James Engles at While a deadline of 14 January is listed to ask to speak, the sooner the better.

There will certainly be psychistrists and manufacturers representatives and others claiming ECT is a life saving treatment. The Committee needs to hear from people who know the true risks of electroshock.
From the Whitehouse:
In order to help keep you more informed, we are hosting monthly calls to update you on various disability issues as well as to introduce you to persons who work on disability issues in the federal government.

This call is off the record and not for press purposes.

We strongly urge and ask that you distribute this email broadly to your networks and list serves so that anyone who wants to participate can do so.

Our next call will be Monday, January 10 at 3:00 PM Eastern.

The conference call information is below.
Dial in: (800) 230-1093
Title: Disability Call (use instead of code)
Date of Call: 01/10/2011
Start Time: 3:00 PM Eastern

For live captioning, at time of call, log onto:

Again, please distribute widely.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Went to the Movies on Christmas

[This is an old favorite, this song, and by old I mean since 2007 when it came out and went viral among us Jews. Especially us local Jews -- the shopping center it was filmed at is 20mins north of me.]

It feels like this post is up a bit late. I keep meaning to post this video on Christmas and always forget. [although apparently I linked to it once] I am laying here in bed writing this at about 11pm on Dec 24th, but there were things I wanted to get up last week, so this is posting on January 4th -- and so be it.

There's thoughts swarming around my head wanting to get out, and a shrink who isn't Jewish and thus is on vacation somewhere north of here (until today, the 4th) with her family. I hope this doesn't come out wrong and offend my best friend, but all I can think of is a previous Christmas, 2007 to be exact, the best Christmas I ever had. A Christmas filled with my old friends, whom I haven't talked to in 14 months (except for that awkward time in April or May when I ran into someone in B&N).

Our relationships were much more dysfunctional then they are with my new friends, so why is it that every few weeks I wax nostalgic, look at their facebook profiles, and briefly consider giving them a call? I can't because I lost my last phone in a giant pile of snow last winter during snomagedden and no longer even have their numbers. I could send them emails, but I always think better of it. I have recently clicked "like" on someone's birthday party photo and got no response. I don't know what I would have done if I had.

Anyway, Chinese food on Christmas was never a "thing" in my family when I was a kid. I only remember starting to go when I was older, sometime in the last 10 years or less, when some family friend (I can't remember whom either) invited us to go. It was fun, the crowds, the lines out the door of people (Jews) waiting for a table, running into people from shul, or maybe an occasional Mah Jongg partner you didn't know would be there. There's more then 1 Chinese restaurant in town. You never know who's going where. It's like a huge party, but nothing remotely resembling Christmas. I haven't done Chinese food every year, some years I stay home alone and order in, some years I don't even order in.

It was 2007 when going out with my mom stopped. My mom started going to Rhode Island with her then boyfriend (I know, I know, you hate that word), now husband to do real Christmas, even though he's Jewish too. I decided to have a "National Chinese Food & Movie Day" party since I'd be home alone in the totally awesome luxury condo we lived in at the time (I wax nostalgic about that condo too). I invited all 20 Jews I knew and still spoke to that were in the area and were between the ages of 18 and 23. Just my 6 closest Jew friends came (I knew that would happen) and we had a BLAST all night. We got Chinese from the place that was so close I could even walk there, and I think one of the movies we watched was Reign Over Me.

This year I am going out with a friend who is not Jewish but is choosing not to go home for Christmas. I'm being a supportive friend to her, making sure she is not all alone and depressed on Christmas, and she in turn is being supportive of me. I don't get out as much as I should. "We'll do Jewish," I said when she told me she had decided not to go home. We saw True Grit. I don't recommend it unless you like seeing a lot of people shot to death.

But I can't keep thinking about how different it is to "do Jewish" with other Jews and how I won't be running into anyone I know. None of the Asian restaurants in walking distance are open, and although I chose one 20mins away (thinking we were going to a different movie theatre) we have chosen not to drive. I feel completely anonymous this Christmas, and that just seems weird. I mean, I'm in Baltimore. In the US the second highest concentration of Jews, after the NYC metro area, is the Balto metro area, and yet I no longer have a Jewish community here. If I chose to stay home all day it'd be different. I should be running into other Jews this Christmas. I should be with other Jews. But I'm not.

This Christmas, I miss my Jewish friends.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Announcing One Month Before Heartbreak

One Month Before Heartbreak is taking place from 14th – 16th January 2011. This is a blog swarm (or blog carnival) style event somewhat similar to Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD). A Blog swarm is where people come together to post on their own blogs about the same issue and then share the links on a master list.

Drastic cuts have been announced in the UK to help reduce the monetary deficit. The proposed cuts appear to disproportionately target the more vulnerable members of society, including disabled people. When the cuts were first announced the government freely admitted that they hadn’t carried out a full analysis of the likely impact on disabled people.

The cuts include:
  • Removing Higher Rate Mobility Allowance from people in care homes, a move which is likely to make many people prisoners in their own homes (and possibly in their bed in some cases as HRM can also be used for specialist powered wheelchairs).
  • Changes to the way Disability Living Allowance (DLA) works. One of the proposed changes is that all existing claimants should undergo a medical to ensure people aren’t receiving it when they aren’t entitled. A costly and potentially pointless exercise as medical evidence is needed before DLA can be awarded and some claimants go for medicals anyway. DLA also has one of the lowest fraud rates of all benefits in the UK – I’m not a benefits expert but I have an incurable, lifelong disability – and an indefinite DLA award, I’m probably one of thousands of DLA claimants in similar circumstances. Sending me for a medical would cost a lot of money and achieve nothing that the forms and medical notes my doctors have provided hasn’t already done. All in the name of trying to save the government some money.
  • Another change to DLA that is being considered is changing it to something called PIP (Personal Independence Payment). With DLA if you have certain conditions your disability is recognised and you get it automatically. If you are considered terminal there is a fast track system. PIP as it’s been described appears to have neither of those safeties. One of the main things which would be looked at with that would be how well you can use aids and equipment. For example, it’s pretty obvious that a wheelchair user has some mobility problems, if they didn’t they wouldn’t use a chair, after all. But under PIP rules they could be ruled to have no problems with mobility if they can use their wheelchair independently.
  • Council funded care has been cut. The Independent Living Fund is ending which could force more people into care homes.. Access to Work has had greater limits placed on what it can provide which will make it harder for disabled people to find work and potentially may mean some disabled people who are working have to stop. Free bus passes are being withdrawn making transport more difficult. We are treated by the government as second class citizens and hate crimes are increasing.
  • There are other cuts planned. The 12 Days of Cripmas is a topical take on an old Christmas carol and lists many of them. Chilling but well worth a watch.
The Broken of Britain is a non party political group which was set up by Bendy Girl to help give disabled people a voice in fighting these cuts. Many disabled people and our allies have shared their story, e-mailed their MPs or done whatever they can to help out the cause since it was launched. One Month Before Heartbreak is one of the projects we are doing this year.

As I said above it’s a blog swarm which means people getting together to all blog on a subject or a theme at a specified time. The hope is that by all writing at the same time it raises awareness and makes more of an impact.

The consultation that’s currently ongoing about DLA reform ends on 14th February 2011. Which is Valentines Day, traditionally a day for love but which could severely affect disabled people if DLA reforms aren’t handled correctly. We need to ensure that our voices are heard. We’re holding this event a month before the consultation ends in order to raise awareness of the consultation and give people to chance to respond to it if they wish. Bendy Girl came up with the name One Month Before Heartbreak.

If you want to take part, write about whatever you want. Obviously, it should have something to do with disability and it would be great if you could mention this event and Broken of Britain. You don’t need to write specifically about the DLA consultation and your personal experience. Those are welcome but this isn’t topic specific. You can participate on one of the days or on all of them – it’s up to you.
Nor do you need to write. You can do a video, a recording, write a poem, draw a picture, anything you want! Sharing links and supporting those blogging is also very helpful

I [Emma] plan to make space available on my own blog [A Writer in a Wheelchair] to anyone that doesn’t have somewhere to share and wants it.

You don’t need to be disabled or a carer or come from the UK to take part. For our cause to be successful we need support from the international disabled community and from the non disabled community worldwide.

The full details of One Month Before Heartbreak (as they stand now) are available here
One Month Before Heartbreak
A Broken of Britain
14th – 16th January 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I think I saw someone do this last year, but I don't remember who. Here is the first sentence of my first post of every month of 2010:

Jan: I know there are many more people that read my blog and don't comment than people who read my blog and comment

Feb: If you've visited my blog at all over the last three weeks you probably noticed my plea for money fixed at the top of this blog.


April: In my B&N the teen self help section is right next to the bathroom, and so I've often found myself flipping through the anxiety workbook for teens on the way to or from.

May: It's that time of year again!

June: To quote one of Maryland's long time CIL directors, from the other day, we don't do case management.

July: video and no text

Aug: About 2 weeks ago I put out a call to some bloggers I am FB friends with.

Sept: I've been meaning to get this up--it's too bad you can't read my shirt.

Oct: ECT ruins lives.

Nov: I don't know how I got to Virginia Wood's blog.

Dec: Our Fallen Brothers and Sister

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