Saturday, 31 December 2011

2012 Resolutions

1 Destroy the NDIS
2 Write more, including and especially for my thesis
3 Go to more gigs
4 See even more movies at BIFF than I did this year.
5 Refuse to reply to anyone who writes to me in text language (unless you have dodgy crip hands). You have been warned.

Goodbye Cruel Year

I am writing this on the last day of my most bleak year.  Thankfully over the last two months I have been rewarded for enduring the misery and pain. I think a clear path towards happiness has been set up for 2012. At least I hope so.

The biggest lesson I have learnt this year is not to consume myself with one thing entirely.In previous years this has meant work or relationships. Easier said than done though it may be, I do wonder how long it will take me to truly learn this lesson. I think I'll spend the rest of my life constantly refraining from large emotional outpourings and failing. My trust must be harder to earn, as cruel as that may seem.

I have also learnt the true value of friendship. I know the people who will crawl down the mine just to fetch me out. This has allowed me to have a selective friendship group and recognise the rest as pretenders. This has given me a reality check I so desperately needed.

This year I took three great risks and was rewarded handsomely each time. The first ensured the following months were much happier than those that had gone before. The second resulted in the happiest day of 2011. The last resulted in the best night I had with anyone this year. The above results tell me that I must take more risks in 2012.

With the pain that came my way I gained a greater sense of self, and more importantly gained the ability to be more honest with myself than ever before. I certainly created more enemies than friends this year, and as each year passes the trend is bound to increase. I am who I am.

The crip with a chip who wears his heart on his sleeve and on his blog, the guy who loves and mourns overtly, who gives his opinions even when they are not asked for. The guy who does not suffer fools, because life is a waste of time for those who do. And he's the guy who keeps sitting up because he has no other choice.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Where Are The 'Roll' Models?

When you’re a crip like me in his late twenties, you tend to look for guide posts for living a successful life. When I was school aged, I didn’t really think I’d make a credible 28 year old. I had no people with disabilities a generation older than me that could act as any type of role model. By then people of that age had either tragically passed, or were just satisfied at making it that far. None of them had suitable romantic relationships with anyone who wasn’t connected to the disability sector and none of them had a job they took pride in. A primary school kid like me viewed the age of 28 as a nominal figure where meaningful life stopped for however long until you dropped dead.

For the last 12 years I have had what most people considered to be impossible expectations for myself. It wasn’t enough to get a menial job working for a charity or a sheltered workshop like my crip peers wanted to. I instantly knew I was better than that. I wanted to be an intelligent person with a university qualification and in a loving relationship (with a person who was not disabled). And yet up until I entered university I knew of only one person with a disability who fitted that reasonably broad description. I saw (and continue to see) this as an enormous problem, because these goals are just average ones to have what I considered to be a meaningful life.

The community’s expectations for people with disabilities are far too low. During the first half of high school I coasted through, dicked around, was a surly grumpy bastard and was still looked upon as a 'role model'. Is it a coincidence that I had no crip one of my own? Even now in real terms I am yet to achieve anything above average, and I still carry the tag ‘role model’. If I chose to freeze frame my life to become a lazy bum who did not write another word, and sat around all day just relying on collecting DSP cheques I would still be looked upon by an outside observer as an ‘inspiration’. This is because once upon a time I deemed myself capable enough to try post graduate study. It is a fucking cop out.  Given the tools I have at my disposal: an agile mind, a comfortable environment and a stable future I MUST do better than that regardless of physical disability. I must change the current social paradigm, perhaps the world in order to fully achieve my potential.

Too often the standard template for crip greatness is survival. This might be necessary for some, but what about those of us that need to be pushed, stirred and cajoled to ensure that we can achieve the best we can? There are very few crip role models that achieve what can be clumsily termed ‘standard greatness’: that is to be a true leader in their chosen field regardless of obvious physical disability. Perhaps most tellingly very few of those in this select group are actually humble about what they have achieved, consequently turning out to be dicks who should not be admired in any way, shape or form (See Kurt Fernley and Nick Vujicic). Even worse are those who don’t belong in this group and pretend that they do. I suppose they get offered the kool aid so regularly, they can no longer help but succumb to its sweet taste. They assume that they are super talented, because they achieve a standard career AND have a disability. In that case their disability is not just their inability to move around in an agile manner, it is that they have a giant head that far outweighs the rheteroic.

If those of you who don’t have a disability think I am being harsh, then you are part of the problem. Sure, give those who need encouragement to live their daily life kudos because they deserve it, but don’t pander to anyone. If you think someone is being a dick and skating by expecting life to come them because they are disabled, give them a kick up the arse and a reality check. This includes me. It is time to get real. Future crips need genuine role models, not also rans. Just like their able-bodied peers. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Some (Pretend) Questions

Dear Made Up Religious Figurehead,

For arguments sake I’m going to pretend you exist, just for the hell of it.

If you don’t mind I have a few questions for you. It is not that I expect you to answer them or anything because you’re far too busy making innocent children cripples, or victims of pedophile rings, but do me a favour and just pretend you give a shit, like I’m doing right now.
  1. If you are really all seeing and all knowing why did you choose to have your son’s birthday on December 25th? Surely it would be better at the beginning of July so we could all indulge in a mid year break? You did not plan it very well.
  2. Was it your idea to turn this day into a commercial free for all where your subjects concentrate on getting the latest piece of shit, instead of actually celebrating your son's special day?
  3. Can you please stop the Australian TV Networks from airing Love Actually every 3 months? As much as we all love Hugh Grant dancing around like a wanker, those who are really obsessed can just buy the DVD.
  4. Why did Christopher Hitchens have to die before John Howard? You certainly have a taste for the ironic.
  5. Could you please tell the majority of your followers to stop being bigoted, judgmental arseholes?
  6. Could you also please tell them that is okay for anyone to get married if they want. It doesn’t matter if both people like sausages, tacos, or one of each.
  7. Please can you just fuck off? Or at least tell your followers to stop using your supposed teachings as justification for reprehensible behaviour?
Happy (Pretend) Birthday for Tomorrow,

Signed,

A disgruntled man whom you made a crip for no discernible reason whatsoever.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Bob Geldof Thinks Kenyans Need Calendars?

Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ (DTKIC) is simultaneously the best and worst Christmas song of all time: let me explain why.

The original version of DTKIC was written by Bob Geldof (at the height of his arrogant self righteous phase) and the lead singer of Ultra Vox, Midge Ure. The song was written in a day and it shows. It includes cringe worthy lines a plenty. My favourite lines include: Here the Christmas bells that are ringing are the clanging chimes of Doom. Well, tonight thank God it's them instead of you. Really it is pretentious twaddle. The original version included a cast of 1980s superstars who single handledly created the hole in the Ozone Layer with the amount of hairspray they used in the dressing room. The song is saved by the producing genius of Trevor Horn whose sole reason for being on this earth was to create the stunning outro. It may not feed the world, but it certainly fills my ears with pleasure.







In 2009 the Canadian Punk Band, Fucked Up (Yes, that is their name) recorded DTKIC with a cast of indie guests including rapper GZA, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü, Tegan and Sara, Yo La Tengo, Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene, comedian David Cross, Andrew W.K. and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio. The highlight of this recording (besides Tegan and Sara of course) is the hilarious decision to change the lyrics from ‘Thank god its them instead of you' to ‘Thank God its them instead of JEWS’. Genius I tell you.




Naturally, Glee broadcast a cover of DTKIC last week. Of course this version took all the sappiest Geldofian traits and mixed it with a dash of extra sugar and a touch of laughing gas. Check the video out to see what I mean.



The most important thing here is that DTKIC is not a happy song. It is a song about starving children and poverty. You don’t sing ‘The greatest gift they will get this year is life.’ smiling like the Von Trapp kids. Importantly, one has to ask what the hell was Ryan Murphy thinking and/or smoking when he said ‘Hey this is A GREAT IDEA!’. You don’t sing DTKIC to a bunch a homeless people at a soup kitchen. As Todd VanDerWerff explains:
Predictability goes with the territory in these things, and if you can tug at the heartstrings when the characters realize how lucky they are, fine. That works. Instead, after an hour that already had me bug-eyed, barely able to breathe, on the edge of hyperventilating (I’m not even kidding), the kids sang “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to a bunch of homeless children. (Since they live in the United States, I’m going to say, “Yes. They probably do.”) Mercedes sang, “Tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you”—an awful, awful line—to a bunch of hungry, homeless children. Yes, helping the less fortunate during the holidays is ultimately all about making yourself feel better, but you don’t have to sing about it.
THERE WERE STILL FIVE MINUTES LEFT AFTER THIS SCENE.
So what do we learn from DTKIC?
1. Bob Geldolf writes crappy songs, and thinks Kenya has a shortage of calendars.
2. Naming a band ‘Fucked Up’ may sound cool in theory but it is pretty daft in practice
3. Glee need to do a Trevor Horn tribute episode soon, but they never will.

Oh well I’m off to listen to the 1984 B Side Feed the World 3:28 of musical mastery, that only includes that very Horny outro. And I might go get something to eat, I feel hungry now.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Instinct

I wrote the following in 2007 in an unpublished diary, I was 23.
My electric wheelchair is not the world’s most convincing camouflage tool, but that’s the way it goes. I remember I was 12 when I asked a girl out for the first time. Her response was as expected as it was cruel. “Why would I want to date you? You’re in a wheelchair! Get lost!” As much of a cow as she now appears to be, it was a crushing blow, and in retrospect, it started the long slide into my first battle of depression, which lasted for three years on and off.

Since then, I have fancied girls both in and out of wheelchairs. Like any man my age I have had tons upon tons of rejection, but unlike any other man (except for the few who occupy the confines of a well padded wheelchair seat) I am constantly wondering in the back of my mind whether things would be different if I could climb out of the wheelchair. I have had a few discussions with friends who are in wheelchairs and it appears to me that we are all besieged by the some kind of self doubt. They just choose to express it in different forms. Some choose denial, others objectify themselves, and others have ‘faked’ partners. I personally sit quietly and ponder what it all means in isolation, sometimes harming myself emotionally, sometimes seeking happiness in the wrong places.

In my case it certainly doesn’t help that I have an antisocial personally (I hide this with narcissism), and for the most part detest large social situations. The fact that I would prefer to spend the weekend watching the football and a decent movie, rather than go out to party certainly doesn’t help my cause. It is not all about being in a wheelchair. I think I could speculate accurately that if I had the same personality outside the wheelchair I would have severe difficulty trying to find a date. However, I also prescribe to the fact that I would not have my current personality if I weren’t in a wheelchair. The ultimate Catch 22.
Reading this in retrospect it occurs to me that perhaps I was the problem, I was so preoccupied with overcoming my disability that I was not concentrating on developing my personality. Lately this unpublished entry has been on my mind.

To be sure, there are people who say they don’t give a fuck about the wheelchair, but their actions indicate otherwise. Like opposing council in a bad David E. Kelley courtroom drama, these people ask leading questions, which then lead to obvious answers. ‘So you must have been really bullied at school?’ To which I once replied 'Why? Because I was the only guy handsome enough to be hit on by both the girls and the guys?’ (Cue befuddlement) These types of questions are often worse than those that are just downright ignorant. At least they are honest. I’ve talked before about these kinds of horrible stereotypes.

Then there are people who really don’t give a fuck. Almost without fail I can sense these people in five seconds. They have had exposure to people with physical disabilities before. They have gotten their burning questions out of their system, had uncomfortable postures and their looks of stunned amazement are out of their system either out of necessity or by choice. The comfort they feel is easily detectable. There is no case of elongated silences punctuated by a desperate need to start inane conversation, no puzzled stares around the room trying to avoid looking at the wheelchair like it is a golf cart that they secretly wish could be driven around Royal Melbourne.

Those who are not among the crip fraternity might think I am being overly paranoid, but let me tell you this sense is instinctual, and does not require an ounce of concentration. It takes less than a second to pick up this vibe and only a couple of minutes of conversation to confirm it.

Then there are the people who surprise.

Once in a while I will have a conversation with someone who has not any previous exposure to people with physical disabilities and they will treat me like my disability is the most natural thing in the world. On average it happens about once or twice a year. I know when this happens it is a special occurrence and so I treasure the experience. I try and foster long lasting friendships with them if it is possible.

The last time it happened the conversation covered a wide variety of topics, politics, movies, music, books, and our respective personal histories. Not once did the person's gaze deviate towards the wheelchair. Not once did this person have uncomfortable body language. There were no leading questions, no audible gasps of amazement. I was so intrigued by this notion that I had to ask the obvious question, after one of the most comfortable thirty minutes I have experienced:

‘So do you know any people with physical disabilities?’
‘No, you’re the first person I’ve met’
‘Really?’
*Nod*

And I believed them.

I knew that this was a person that I wanted in my life for very long time.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

It Is Done

I sit and wait, nerves tingling. I wonder what the hell am I doing? There’s too much risk involved. I am taking one hell of a chance. I stare at the clock watching the seconds go by wondering if I can actually do this. Feeling physically sick, emotionally discombobulated. The last time I was so vulnerable I was badly bruised by leaving ribs exposed to the fatal punch at the moment of utmost weakness.

Am I brave enough to do it again?
Do I have the intestinal fortitude?
Have I regained my mental strength?
Do I feel safe?

As that last question dances around my brain for what seems like a lifetime, the moment of truth arrives. My brain tries to process several thoughts at once.
Don’t talk too quickly.
Don’t be egocentric
Smile where possible
I feel really stupid. Do other people see this?
God, why am I doing this?
Just breathe
I hope I say the right thing
I hope I do the right thing
Fuck my muscles are tight, I hope I don’t spasm
And then it comes.

‘Hi My name is Todd.’

For the past year. I have failed on almost every occasion to present my complete self. Too much anger, too much pain, too much fear, lest I get hurt again. However this time I have no idea what I’m scared of.  Conversation flows.
During the past year this blog has been filled with misery, heartache, pain and fear. These  emotions are easy to express for nothing can get any worse, and therefore I have nothing to lose. Expressing happiness here comes in the form of a rave review, a political meditation or philosophical notion. I cannot express too much happiness on this page because I might throw this state into jeopardy, or even worse look upon a post with extreme bitterness retrospectively and then all its importance is lost. This is the reason I give when asked why the majority of my content is cynical and jaded. To be truthful daily life as a crip affords few moments of genuine utter happiness for me. I have increasingly found that these opportunities only arise if and when I’m populated amongst like minded souls or when I am challenged.

This places an enormous responsibility on friends old and new to carry my emotional weight. Take one new person I met recently, IC. New people like IC are hard to come by, they don’t know how I think, or how I operate, or that I am recovering from an emotional trauma. IC cannot read my mind nor, can tell that I’m about to evolve into a panic attack just because I have worked myself up in such a state at the prospect of meeting someone new.

Hi my name is Todd, I am a social misfit.
And yet I survived to be showered with praise, and compliments. We will meet again. Most importantly I know that when we do I’ll be not only comfortable, but revert back to the better version of myself.

It’s for this reason I know I have turned the corner. The dark clouds have gone now. 359 days after my personal hell began, I can boldly and bravely declare that I feel the ordeal has ended. The fact that I was tough enough to withstand those inner questions and personal doubts whilst thriving is proof that I have moved on to the next phase of life.

It is about fucking time.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ode to Hitch

There is no-one like Christopher Hitchens. He was the most brilliant and versatile non-fiction writer of modern times, whose prodigious output was of stunningly high quality, a showcase for his vast range, deep knowledge and fierce wit. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he faced it with characteristic honesty, courage and rigour,…He is, quite simply, irreplaceable. The Guardian
What does one say when he loses his main source of inspiration?

We all knew Christopher Hitchens was going to die. In fact back in March, I predicted that he would not last the year. Tragically I was right. He has been gone for less than 2 days, but already I feel an intellectual vacancy, which I doubt will be filled again. The ritual I had in reading his articles 2 or 3 times a week in either Slate or Vanity Fair used to fill me with real pleasure. Not only for their content, but for their technique. And now that is gone.

Reading Hitchens changed my life.

More than any other person Hitchens was the one who made me want to become a writer as opposed to a mere political scientist. He was, and is, my major creative and intellectual driving force behind my writing, and the reason why I have become so prolific on this blog. Reading his memoir Hitch 22 made me want to turn this blog into a book of essays on disability, politics and pop culture. Who knows if it will end up becoming a reality, but I see this goal as my major greatest personal project post PhD and now because of his death I have become more determined than ever to fulfill this goal.

Although I greatly admire him I will never seek to imitate the great man. Thousands have tried and yet so many have failed. One only has to follow my Facebook or Twitter accounts to gain an understanding of the qualities that made Hitchens a literary legend. I agreed with Hitchens a great amount of the time, but even those who did not would have to agree that all of his points had intellectual rigiour behind them. To understand Hitchens was an exercise in becoming smarter. To watch him weave in and out of arguments was a masterclass of writing. Even when he was controversial I still believed he was right. 

To characterise Hitchens as merely an Atheist expert in theology, or a political writer, or a forensic observer of culture and literature is a gross disservice. He was all of these things and much more. As Slate’s managing editor put it:
Here's what I learned from Christopher Hitchens in the 25 years I knew him. Don't let anyone else do your thinking for you. Follow your principles to the end. Don't flinch from the truth. Repeat until the last ounce of strength drains from your body.
To be sure he had his list of heroes and villains, wore his biases on his sleeve, and had a vicious turn of phrase, but that was the part of Hitchens I liked best. Whatever subject he was discussing he would always do so with great passion and intensity. If 10% of this comes across in my writing I will have achieved my objective.

Anyone who believes in the power of words will miss Hitchens.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Unforgettable Mess

At this time of year I normally write a ‘Christmas Letter’ to my email contacts and recount the events of the past year, but because this year has been poor (and I have already done this to some extent) I have decided to pass this year.  Rather than focus on a year of shit, I thought I might focus on the year to come. One of the trickiest things about setting personal goals is the fact that outcomes are essentially unattainable. Every year, I promise that will I achieve goals in my academic work and I fail. Every year I am determined to develop more meaningful and lasting relationships and I fail at that too. At least I have achieved part of that goal, even if the last piece remains elusive.

The overarching goal for this year was to reconstruct my life after totally bottoming out last year. As the clock hit 2011, I was in the far corner of my bed tucked up in the fetal position hoping the enormous amounts of pain I was in would just disappear. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was probably the lowest point of my life. At this stage almost 12 months on, the framework for the rebuild has been constructed. There is little more I can do to change my behaviour, because it finally seems like all the rubbish has been cleared.

The goal for next year is as simple as it is sweeping: I have to act my age. I must balance the responsibility of being an independent 28 year old, but also behave like 28 year olds generally do. I must make mistakes that are not catastrophic, and destroy my sense of well being. I must develop relationships that will last in the long term. Previously they have flared up with great brightness and faded just as quickly. I need to develop a sense of evenness in my life that I have yet to experience.

Most of all I have to regain my motivation to finish the PhD. For the quicker I finish the thesis, the quicker I gain 100% control of my life. Though it will be hard enough orchestrating a move to Brisbane in the next 12 months, I’m starting to think I got at least one thing right in 2010: I need to move interstate. Of course it would be easier to stay within the confines of the big regional centre that is Brisbane, and I may well, but depending on job opportunities I’d love to move to Melbourne and become a full time academic researcher/writer. After searching the entire year for a long term goal, at least this could be beginnings of one. Although this year is proof that even if I don’t change my mind, circumstances might just do it for me.

One thing is certain: I won’t be here next year. My elongated adolescence will finally be at an end. Whoever said ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger’ obviously had some in reserve. For he does not know that looking forward is and will always be harder than looking back. Going south is very easy when there is no true north.

This should all be regained next year. Or at least I hope so. 2011 is, and will always be, a wound made of time that will constantly seep beneath several layers of bandages. The trick for me is to keep the wounds covered.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

'We Were Dead.'

'I did not want to finish the year because I know that as the days pass, as January becomes February and February becomes (winter), certain things will happen. All year I have been keeping time by last year’s calendar: what were we doing on this day last year, where did we have dinner… I realised today for the first time that the memory of this day a year ago doesn’t involve (him). (We) did not see a year ago. (We) were dead.' Joan Didon, 2004

This, so much this.

Go read ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ Your life will become so much better for it. It may change your life like it did mine.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

(I Found Love?) In A Hopeless Place

I know you’ve been waiting for another installment in the adventures of the CripDater™, so here it goes. Five months later, how many dates have I been on? A big fat duck egg (alright, maybe a half of one?). Sure, I have been picky, but at the same time I haven’t been my usual judgmental bastard either. To qualify for my further interest I must find the female attractive, and they must have an above average level of intelligence.

You would think that consists a majority of participants, wouldn’t you? The grand total of people I was really interested in getting to know amounted to eight people, total. One became a friend, six rejected me, and as of the time of writing I’m not sure what will become of the eighth. ‘Dating’ (if you can even call it that) is an ugly son of a bitch, trench warfare if you will. And just like World Wars 1 and II the crippled tend to get massacred.

Or at least that is what you’d think.

I found my lack of success and frustration had nothing to do with my four wheeled seat. Mostly I’m out of favor because I know exactly what I want, and I go after it, sometimes with reckless abandon. I have the opposite problem to most it seems. Most could have anything they wanted, but don’t know exactly what they are looking for. So instead of going after yours truly, who seems to fit the ideal profile of ‘…a guy who doesn’t play games, is generous, caring and knows what he wants’ (I’m modest aren’t I?) it seems that women want the exact opposite: a dickhead who fucks around, be it physically or emotionally.

As is my want, I made a list at the start of this dating journey of the qualities I want in my partner (not in any particular order of importance):

1. Someone who I can share my life with
2. Who I can think about the first moment I wake up, and the last moment before I go to sleep, and know that they still love me
3. Who I can hold close and listen to beautiful music with
4. Who I am insanely attracted to
5. Someone who gets that songs are so powerful they can change your life.
6. Someone who I can talk to all night, while we watch the sun rise together
7. Who understands that life is tough
8. Who knows that love is unconditional, both to give and to receive
9. Someone who cares about the things I love most in the world (politics, music, and pop culture).

To me these nine things are non negotiable. Firstly, I will only investigate people who I think could meet these criteria (the eight in question seemed to on first impression). Secondly, if I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to converse with them, I would only date them if I was confident they could certainly meet two thirds (six out of the nine) of the criteria, hopefully if we then hit it off, ticks will occur across the board. Yes, I am anally analytical, but you knew that already.

The intangible factor is that I am really an old man at heart. Travelling is not a priority, nor is gallivanting or adventuring. Activities I enjoy including concerts and film festivals are much more desirable than backpacking or physical activity. At the end of a hard day of academic work I want to watch TV or a DVD, perhaps listen to a podcast or read a book with my partner within touching distance, or if I’m lucky, in my arms. During this five month period, it seems I’m the odd man out because when this is mentioned by a single woman online it is most often listed as an ‘occasional’ activity.

All of this is of course a great shame to me because I know that this is the time I want to settle down. I am an impatient and frustrated man. I don’t want to waste another decade waiting for nine ticks. And yet I know because I am a fussy bastard it might take even longer. Sometimes even when I thought I had nine ticks, I did not.

It is back to square one.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Full Year

I know its early, but it’s the best time to do this, considering

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Online dating, taking control of my own life.
 
2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I made plenty, some I kept, some I didn’t but I tried my best with all of them

3. What countries did you visit? 
None

4. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Stability and independence.

5. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory?
February 10: saying goodbye, August 8th: that goodbye kicked in, August 21: the day I started living again, November 3rd: the best day of my year.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year??
Surviving it, literally

7. What was your biggest failure?
Everything to do with my thesis, I feel way behind

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes.

9. What was the best thing you bought?
A huge ZIP drive, and more bandwith

10. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My brother for coming back when I needed him most, FS, TCF, EM, Speedy, and a few others for helping me through

11. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Apart from my own? The ALP.

12. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Chomsky

13. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Gillian Welsh: Time (The Revealtor), Ryan Adams: Do I Wait?, Fleetwood Mac: Go Your Own Way  

14. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
At this exact time? Much sadder. From NYE? Much happier.

15. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Thesis work

16. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Less self destructive behavior.

17. How will you be spending Christmas?
With my brother and the fam fam.

18. Did you fall in love in 2010? 
No.

19. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
God, Yes.

20. What was the best book you read?
The Politician: Andrew Young

21. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Old School Marvin Gaye

22. What did you want and get?
Not much. Some great new friends are nice though.

23. What did you want and not get?
Movin’ Out.

24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28, a probable day of shit turned out nicely.

25. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Letting go, moving on, staying strong.  

26. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Homeless Bum?

27. What kept you sane?
Peeps mentioned above, thirtysomething, Brothers & Sisters, Felicity, lots of tunage, & the Kindle

28. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?  
Suicide Girls (Can I fancy them all?) 

29. Who was the best new person you met?
TCF, the internet can sometimes work wonders

30. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011?
Eat the shit up and spit it back, its not tasty, but it is good for you.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

'Can I Play With Your Joystick?': Crips, Sex and Scarlet Road.

Sex is the most basic need, most primal desire any human can have in the world. Often it brings us the most satisfaction, and binds us to other human beings like nothing else. Everyone notionally seems to be entitled to have sex in any way they want, in the privacy of their own home. That is unless you are physically disabled. SBS premiered a documentary on Friday night, which in my long experience is the only one that has seemed to deal with disability and sex in a factual, non judgmental manner. Scarlet Road: A Sex Worker’s Journey chronicles three years in the life of Rachel Wotton, a sex worker that specialises in satisfying disabled clients, not only a sexual sense, but one in which her clients can truly feel like men.

As a man with Cerebral Palsy, I must declare a stake in this issue. It is one that is very close to my heart. I have gone through many of the same experiences as the clients in the film. I have even gone so far as to talk about my disability and sex way back in 2008.
The worst thing about having a physical disability is the lack of control I have in life. Everything is very clinical, get up at this time, eat at this time, have a shower at this time, and go to bed at this time. I have no control over these things. (With sex)…. I got to do things on my own terms…. it was the first time I felt like I was being treated like a sexual being with desires and needs that were important. All my life I have been viewed as an asexual being whose desires should be avoided or neglected. (It) taught me not to be afraid of my sexuality and not to push it into the background.
The latter portion of Scarlet Road deals with one of Rachael’s clients who has Cerebral Palsy. His wish for his birthday was to have Rachael act as his girlfriend and stay overnight in his bed. This was despite the fact that he could not talk and has severe spasticity in his muscles. I strongly identified with his desire. The loneliness I have felt for 99% of my life as a disabled person, unable to hold someone as they fall asleep is one of the most painful things I’ve had to endure in my life.

Can you also imagine sharing a bed with your girlfriend and then having a carer coming in to the room to get you up in the morning, sometimes accidentally during the middle of a sex act? This is both a possibility and a reality, that I along with countless others face our entire lives. In order to fulfill her client’s fantasy, Rachael not only needed to learn how to perform a sexual act to client’s satisfaction, but also how to feed him, toilet him, and change him, so he could just have one night of privacy and romance. These acts of personal care hardly set the mood for a night of passionate and sexy love making.

Scarlet Road did a remarkable job showcasing the response of other people connected to  Rachael’s clients. To take one example, often the desire for a disabled child to have sexual intercourse with a paid sex worker can be a moral affront for parents. However in some cases, parents of a child with a physical disability have to be involved in the process itself. Whether it be transferring the person onto a bed so the sex act can take place, or driving their child to a brothel, the notion of privacy between parent and child is almost eliminated, and that is only if the parents are willing to be open minded and supportive. Sometimes if a crip wants to have sex, it has to become a community based activity with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, carers and parents all having to consult a person with a disability so they can achieve their sexual desires.

However, Scarlet Road is bittersweet in a way because it has demonstrated what a unique and fantastic individual Rachael really is. While paying for sex is not my first preference, I wish her organisation Touching Base was operating in Queensland, so it could provide me with an easier way to explore the options available to me. The fact that the two marginalised groups: sex workers and people with disabilities have to come together to ensure every person has access to sex, speaks volumes about society. After all I am a cripple and I like to fuck. Who doesn’t?

Friday, 2 December 2011

INTENSE

adj
1. Possessing or displaying a distinctive feature to an extreme degree: the intense sun of the tropics.
2. Extreme in degree, strength, or size: intense heat.
3. Involving or showing strain or extreme effort: intense concentration.
4.
a. Deeply felt; profound: intense emotion.
b. Tending to feel deeply: an intense writer.

Do I scare people? Are they afraid of my directness? Or is it my willingness to open up and be brutally honest about myself and how I am feeling? It is probably because I am very forthcoming with my opinions, especially unpopular ones. Having once prided myself on my honesty, I don’t think I can ascribe myself with that characteristic and give a correct assessment of myself. Unflinching, unafraid and terse certainly.

I figure that this is why I gain and lose friends at a quick rate. I suppose people see my intensity as a charming characteristic at first. I say (and publish) things people think of saying, but would never dare to. This has never changed and probably will never. But in the long term, it seems to piss former friends off. I would probably say ‘If they don’t understand me and how I operate were they ever really  my friends to begin with?’ This question in itself is a perfectly illustration of the intensity I speak of.

Part of the dynamic is that throughout my life I have endured wild fluctuations in emotions. I am constantly in one of three states: on an insane high, debilitating depression, or recovering from either extreme. This I realise doesn’t make me easy to get on with. I often shoot myself in the foot too. I am always keen to brag about things when I’m on a high, but when the inevitable low comes I have to backtrack very quickly.

For this reason I have to start leaning to shut up. It is not working too well is it?