Incubating Reality | When Dreams Come True

I’ve been seeing this picture every time I turn on my laptop since it’s been my desktop background for many months.

It’s a gem, isn’t it?

However, it’s more than just one of my favorite images from a pool photo shoot last year with my friend, Bryan Allo (he’s awesome, by the way).

Several months ago, when I first made this my desktop background, I found peace and power in its resignation. A sort of calm strength as I resigned myself to sinking deeper into my life as a poor, disabled person without much agency over my future. I saw it as a letting go – an acceptance of my hard life and a determination to maintain grace despite sinking.

I knew I would keep dreaming, doing, being. But I also knew there would be no housing stability. No living wage. No permanence in my independence. I knew my future was only as strong as my frugality to maintain a facade of stability for as long as my dollars lasted over and above the meager Social Security Disability income that didn’t match my survival budget.

I was holding my breath here. Holding my breath so I could maintain a pose for the outside world to see my hold-it-togetherness, something I’ve gotten quite good at while being impoverished.

Continue reading Incubating Reality | When Dreams Come True

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I’m Impoverished & Disabled. I’m About to Be a Homeowner in California.

I moved to Sacramento in 2011 because it was one of the most affordable big cities in California. The cost of living was fairly similar to Raleigh, NC at the time (where I lived before moving to California). In recent years Sacramento has faced one of the fastest climbing housing booms in the nation as a result of Bay Area residents moving in. Rent has climbed at astronomical rates, and so has the price of homes. Low-income and affordable housing has not been a priority to the city and region, and homelessness has grown as a result.

In 2013 I was diagnosed with the same disease that killed my father, Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). My health deteriorated and I became disabled and impoverished as a result of not being able to work.

Ten days ago, on January 23rd, 2019, when I woke up I didn’t know I would be writing an offer on a house that night. I didn’t think it was even possible.

But when I saw a listing pop up in the MLS search that evening for a house I could afford, I told my real estate agent (who also has AS), “I want a house more than anything. I want to move on this.”

Continue reading I’m Impoverished & Disabled. I’m About to Be a Homeowner in California.

Women’s March: Make Universal Accessibility a Cornerstone

Millions, possibly billions, of people were devastated on election night in 2016.

I was one of them. I feared for my life.

I graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree, but I now try to survive on under $1,000 per month on Social Security Disability (SSDI) because of a disease I was born with. As a result of this incurable disease’s progression, I am fully disabled and impoverished. I am a living, breathing, pre-existing condition.

After the election sunk in, I desperately sought hope. I clung to the gleam of The Women’s March, craving for throngs of women to somehow save me from this new hell. I had dreams of attending the 2017 march in D.C. but wasn’t sure how I’d survive it. My inflammatory disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis, causes debilitating pain and fatigue if I exert too much energy or stand longer than a few minutes. I would have to rely on my cane, pain medications, and a slim chance of places to sit and rest during a march where I wouldn’t know many people. In the end I settled for attending my local march in Sacramento, CA.

I borrowed a huge, clunky wheelchair from my church and asked friends to push me in it. I noticed people’s kindness – those who made room when I asked for it – and I called it accessibility, when in reality the march’s overarching inaccessibility made it such that I had to rely on the kindness of strangers in order to participate (I remain grateful for the kindness). I had to do what many with disabilities must do in order to survive: ask for help; rely on others; and say, ‘Thank you,’ for not being trampled.

If I could make it to the front, I was told, there was an area for people with disabilities, but I learned of it a hundred yards away – and about two thousand ambulatory people swarmed in a pink pussy-hatted mass between it and me. So, I settled for less and pretended it was sort of OK that my primary view was of people’s butts and shoulder bags. Continue reading Women’s March: Make Universal Accessibility a Cornerstone

I Survived Sexism. Ableism Took Its Place.

In high school, I fought to be the best at every boot-camp exercise our ex-Navy coach put us through during soccer practice. One day I laid flat on my back for nearly 15 minutes lifting my feet six inches off the ground because the coach said whoever kept their feet up longest could get water.

I won. I got water. I couldn’t walk the next day.

I heard my teammates describe what they did to (not with) their girlfriends as a matter of pride. I learned how to change into my uniform on the bus for away games without a sliver of upper thigh or chest showing.

I sometimes stuffed a sock in my shorts, I ran faster and hit harder, and I got angry that the referees refused to call fouls on me. The one time my coach smacked my butt after a good play, “Alright, Hill!” – it surprised us both; he’d forgotten I was a girl for an instant.

I was permitted to play on the boys’ soccer team, thanks to Title IX, because we didn’t have a girls’ team.

My teammates got by fine just being mediocre. I had to be twice as good just to be seen as OK. Continue reading I Survived Sexism. Ableism Took Its Place.

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