Friday, April 19, 2019

Disability Representation in Funny Little Bunnies

Released in 1934, Funny Little Bunnies is an Easter-themed short in the Silly Symphony series from Walt Disney.  It features bunnies dyeing eggs, carving chocolate rabbits, and putting baskets together for the holiday.

I watched it for the first time a few days ago and was surprised.  There are depictions of disabled rabbits!

The first is an old, brown rabbit hunched over a cane using his free hand to grasp a paintbrush.  He is shaking constantly.  Another rabbit brings him an egg so he can paint a spiky line around the egg's center.

Immediately after, cockeyed white twins paint each other's eggs while they sit side-by-side.

At around 5:44, two blind bunnies in sunglasses weave baskets.

Each example of disability comes at us with a jab of comedy (which isn't surprising in 1934).  The old rabbit can't draw straight!  The twins' eyes are so strange!  Are the blind bunnies even blind*?  The one clearly "saw" the piece he needed to grab!

But, as I watched, I didn't just see the weak humor that accompanied each disability portrayal.  I saw an old rabbit past his prime being assisted by another rabbit to still engage in his passion.  I saw twins doing what they loved together.  I saw blind rabbits who are skilled in basketry.  Every bunny, disabled or not, was doing their part to prepare for Easter.  Their society found places for them to contribute without making it a big deal.

This Silly Symphony emanates a sense of perfect harmony.  Easter Bunny Land is accessible and inclusive... and that's no joke.   

*Small note on visual impairment:  You don't have to have zero vision to be considered blind.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Interim (A Poem)

He is laughing at something on TV. My breath
scrapes over my teeth, back into a diseased body. Tears
slide in havoc, no tool to reverse them, remote

rewind.  Before this year, we didn't know I had cancer.

Months until we find out if I still do. A horror
movie villain downed with a shovel. Will
there be a sequel to this, a round two? Fights wear

on a person.  Depression has followed him this year, ate

away the light in his eyes. The light I give, I take
like a goddess in a sadistic carnival. Misery
unmeasured, delights on display.  "I'm sorry."

I ache to say to his damage.  I caused this unhappiness.

"It's not you," he says, like we're breaking up.
Close to the breakdown.  When he laughs in joy,
I cry because it's a rare sound.

I wrote this in 2017 after radiation therapy was completed.  I try not to write too many poems about cancer (I think I've written four in total) because someone has probably said everything better than I can.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Poem in Vinyl, Thoughts on Mortality, Rejection Tally

My new poem, "Misdirection" is up at Vinyl.  You can read it, if you want.

There is a new post on my cancer blog where I talk about thoughts of death in the middle of the night.  It was a difficult post for me to write, but I felt it was important.  You can check it out here.  My next post will discuss my decision to forego a wig (even though I love my hair).

Rejections this year so far:  19 (plus one "closure notice" from Tin House).  Acceptances:  Zero.
Submissions out:  Twenty-nine.
Hope level:  Fairly optimistic.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

No, "Dr." Phil #100outof100

My husband and I met online in 2005.  I sold him no soft lies during our courtship:  I'm disabled and need help with every day stuff like bathrooming and showering.  He wouldn't have to be my caretaker, I assured him, he could just be my partner.

But, he wouldn't hear of me having a worker come into our home and assist me.  My care was his job.  From the minute we moved in together, he took on that role.  Thirteen years hasn't changed his mind.
Dr. Phil recently had an episode with a disabled man and his wife (who is his caretaker).  The couple was unhappy.  Good ol' Phil said "One hundred out of one hundred relationships that involve caregiving fail" and told the wife she could either be her husband's caretaker or spouse... not both.

Every relationship involves caregiving at some point.  Sure, the majority of couples only need to help one another in a caretaking capacity for short-term stretches, but everyone gets ill or injured in the decades they hope a marriage will last.  We swear to be there in sickness and in health.

And, when we get old, our bodies begin to fail us on a more permanent basis.  Do we all get divorced when we hit 70?  Dr. Phil says our relationships just can't survive if we have to assist our partners!  I guess anyone needing help for more than a month should either move into a nursing home or set their spouse free.
There is a different undertone to the #100outof100 sentiment if you're disabled at a young age.  It says:  Make sure you have a good amount of caregivers before you look for love or your "happily ever after" is doomed.  It says:  No one will want you if they need to care for you.  It says:  You aren't deserving of love as you are unless conditions are met.

It is difficult enough to put yourself into the dating pool as a disabled person without so-called experts peeing their toxic "advice" into the shallow end.

Not only that, but insisting caregiving is an unenviable burden flowing one way also proclaims disabled people can't be caretakers ourselves.  We can't assist our lovers in different (but just as important) aspects.  A person in a wheelchair can't calm their boyfriend's anxiety.  A father on crutches can't need help from his wife while simultaneously being a stay-at-home dad.
No couple is exactly the same.  For some inter-abled couples, it is best to keep caregiving entirely separate due to uneven dynamics, time requirements, or intention.  But, for others, it is the best decision ever made and never regretted.

"Dr." Phil is an ableist quack whose rhetoric could mess up people's lives.  Shame on the bald little buzzard.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Cannibal (a Poem)

This is the moment I hear you call
soft over my body, a vocal imitation
of my flesh.  Husk of me still pliable,
blood-slick, the tang of unwashed skin
unleashes your hunger.

There is also a small update on chemotherapy if you haven't seen it (but want to).  Talks about side effects, so it isn't the most pleasant thing I've written.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Reschedule, Rejection, and Rhysling Nomination

My part of Wisconsin received about a foot of snow yesterday.  Instead of going to chemotherapy, I stayed home and watched a wall of white gobble the world.  My fourth attempt at getting treatment will take place on the 19th.  I hope the weather cooperates.
I received rejections today and yesterday; they are the first for February.  This year, I've heard "no" twelve times.  No acceptances.  I'm submitting a lot this week since I'm not coping with chemo side effects.
Last night, I received an email stating my poem, "Consumption" was nominated for a Rhysling Award!  It's never happened before.  They have a list-in-progress but, as of this post, my poem has yet to appear.  I receive a copy of the anthology that houses all the nominees.

I probably won't win, but knowing someone liked my poem enough to consider it one of the best things they read (in the genre) all 2018 brings a tear to my eye.  I wish I knew who it was.  My readers are the absolute best!  I'm honored.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Chapbook Incoming (Dancing Girl Press)

I still can't believe it.  Sometime this year, I'll have a chapbook out in the world.  Me, the college drop-out without a mentor who has never attended an IRL conference or workshop!  This is the result of years of effort.

I'm thrilled...

... and terrified.  What if I can't edit and my chapbook is lousy with errors?  What if no one buys it?  What if people buy it and then hate it?  What if...

*Mentally hyperventilates*

A lot of writers have a case of imposter syndrome, but I drive the truck the cases are stacked in for transport.  Have you seen the work DGP produces?  Gorgeous.  They're out of my league.  I'm the homely girl getting asked to prom by the quarterback.


I can do this.  I'm a poet.  I just have to focus on the parts in my control and believe I have at least some talent.
Today, I wrote editor Bowen and asked if my chapbook could be one of the last ones released this year.  My chemotherapy will end just shortly before it's supposed to come out, otherwise.  I hope, with a delay, I can more effectively connect my work with its readership without anything in the way.  It was a harder email to compose than I thought.