Sunday, 20 December 2015

2015: A Wish Granted, But A Dream Lost.

A year ago, I posted on Facebook that I had one primary goal in 2015, which frankly has been my yearly goal since 1997. I repeated my oft quoted remark by the protagonist of the television show, Girls, Hannah Horvath:

I just want someone, who wants to hang out all the time, and thinks I’m the best person in the world, and wants to have sex with only me.

It may have come eighteen years too late, but I finally found someone who fits that deceptively difficult criteria. I met FRG in May, and ever since she has complemented my life, rather than overpowered it. The throughline of 2015 was my chance meeting with FRG, and our developing relationship. Everything since has featured her. She has now moved in with me, and we are planning trips to Bluesfest in March, and to Adelaide in July.

Unfortunately 2015, was also a year of profound disappointment. As one dream came true, another died as I said goodbye to my PhD, and resolved to downgrade it to a Masters instead. Tears were shed, and a profound anger emerged that will never really dissipate. Regardless, when I finally finish the thesis next year, I will not be returning to study again. I need to do something different.

I have had many opportunities to do this. In January I was the lead writer for The Conversation's coverage of the 2015 Queensland Election, which received nearly 200,000 unique viewers to my articles. From this came my first ever television appearance as a political commentator. It also led to a job with Griffith University as I became a weekly contributor to its political blog The Machinery of Government.

I continue to live in the best supported accommodation in Australia with help from Youngcare and Wesley Mission Brisbane. This has allowed me to have an incredibly fulfilling life. I went to the Gabba for the first day of the First Cricket Test, saw my beloved Port Adelaide play in Melbourne, the Gold Coast and in Brisbane, attended four concerts, four films at the British Film Festival, productions of Wicked and Anything Goes, along with going to the movies at least once a fortnight on average. Further, I took a week long holiday on the Gold Coast in September, which was organised by WMB where I read six of my forty books of the year. I am incredibly fortunate to have these opportunities.

2015 may not have been as good as the proceeding two because of the disappointment with my thesis, but perhaps it has been the most crucial. For the first time I am beginning to make long term plans in my personal life. 2016 is already shaping up as a significant year of change. It will be due to the most important revelation of this year.

I am not alone anymore, and I no longer have to wish for that loneliness to disappear.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Best of 2015

There is less than two weeks of 2015 left, so here comes my 'Best Of 2015' list. The usual disclaimers apply. The most obvious thing is that I didn't get to see or hear all the things I wanted to, and thus the lists reflect my personal tastes. 

I encourage you to make your own lists if you disagree with my choices.

Books (I've read, in order of preference)

Tunes (in order of preference)


TV (In order of preference)

Movies (In order of preference)

Internet Articles (In chronological order)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Moving, Yet Another Barrier.

The day after my 32nd birthday, FRG moved into my apartment officially. Though we had only been dating for a little over 6 months, we agreed that the timing was right. She had been spending almost all of her time sleeping at my place, and the place that she was renting was not at all suited to my electric wheelchair, so much so that I had never been inside.

A casual reader of this blog might assume that this important step may be arrived at too quickly. However, as with all facets of my life there are always external forces at play. Prior to sharing our apartment, my time with FRG was severely compromised, as she lived on the other side of town, meaning that all of her permanent items were nearly an hour away. Not to mention the fact that she was paying (cheap) rent on a room she never used.

We both entered this relationship knowing that we wanted it to last years, not months. We think in the long term.

Yet an important question had to be tackled.

How can an able bodied partner successfully move into a complex specifically designed for people with disabilities, who are expected to live by themselves?

This is why my circumstances are exceptional. Youngcare, who built my accommodation, and Wesley Mission Brisbane (WMB), who provide the staffing to help with my physical support, both agree on the same principle. I am a young person living a young life. Part of a 'typical' young life is finding a long term partner, and moving in with them. This is exactly what we have done.

Just because I am disabled, it does not mean I am incapable of finding love, or that I must find love with another person who has a disability, because we happen to share similar disadvantages.

WMB could have said no. This would have been outrageous to me if they did, but many other organisations would have. In fact, a few months ago the Manager of the Apartments and the Clinical Care Nurse were the people who first suggested that this living situation would be possible. FRG and I had not contemplated moving in together at that stage.

I talked with management again about a week before FRG moved in to see if the option was still viable. They said it was, then we convened a meeting to organise a few particulars. This meeting was not about restricting my options, but rather ensuring my safety and our privacy.

WMB wanted to ensure that if FRG was to do the majority of my physical care (She always wants to, despite my long term reservations) that her, I, and the organisation were legally covered. They also asked us if they could put a lock on our bedroom door, which was to be paid for by WMB. Although I could tell that WMB were somewhat uncertain about these processes, they did them anyway to their great credit. Lesser organisations would have framed these types of discussions as too difficult or inappropriate.

FRG and I are blazing a trail, even though we shouldn't be. WMB haven't confronted this type of thing before. A walkie has never moved in with a cripple in their supported accommodation. It is not their fault. This simply has never occurred before. I'm lucky that the management of my apartment building are so forward thinking. Others are not. Society in general believes that people with disabilities are unable, incapable or undeserving of love. It is not the first barrier we have had to overcome, and it will certainly not be the last.