Tag Archives: montreal

UWC updates! Readings, bookfairs, film launches, oh my!

Well, between getting by, eating food, singing in my undies, lying down and writing, sitting up and writing, swimming, and hanging out with the people I love, I’ve found myself involved in some exciting events that I would love to share with you. In order:

May 23, Montreal’s Anarchist Bookfair. I’ll be tabling all day. Some by, say hi, get your hands on a copy of the Underwater City Zine I.. got a fresh batch coming out of the oven, they’re professionally bound and everything! Also, will have a few hand made puzzles up for grabs:)

May 29, ACSEXE+ Film series launch and cocktail. 5 à 7, Maison du développement durable (50 Sainte Catherine west). This fabulous event will be the culmination of a lot of the work I’ve been doing lately. Three short videos featuring three people talking about sex-positivity and sharing tips for the crip community will be screened and a short discussion will follow. Then snacks, smoozing and social time. Yes yes yes! **L’evènement sera en français. Event will be in French, whisper translation into English will be available. Films sous-titré. Films closed-captioned in French at screening – will be posted online with closed captioning in French and English. Interpretation LSQ sera en place:)

June 10, Underwater City Launch, Edmonton! I’m excited about this, I’m going to do a reading and feature some local music at Cha Island Tea Shop, from 7 pm onward. Edmonton, let’s do adult story-time, I’d love to see you there!

September…. surprise Halifax zine launch and reading. Location and details to follow!!


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Well, tonight (Mar 18, 2015) I called the cops on a
bus driver. Yes. The driver of the 105, bus number 22-288, departing
concordia loyola campus at around 10:30 pm tonight, held me captive
on his bus at my stop. I was the only passenger left, he closed the
doors, parked the bus, illuminated the out of service sign and told
me I was not going anywhere.

This happened after I had requested
that he lower the bus when I got on at loyola. I had taken the
concordia shuttle from downtown and waited to take the 105 two stops
to home. I requested, he looked me up and down and said ‘vous est pas
capable de prendre la marche?’ I stared at him. I said, ‘are you
going to lower it?’

He said ’S’il vous plait?’ I stared at
him.

He reluctantly lowered it.

I sat at the front of the bus.

He said, ‘you could have said please.’
In French.

I said, ‘it’s not up to you to ask
whether or not I can take a step.’ In English.

He said ‘vous pouvez parler en
francais’.

I said, ‘yes I could’.

He sassed me.

I sassed back.

Then, two stops later, at my stop, a
guy was getting off first, and before he got off said, ‘it shouldn’t
make a difference whether someone is speaking english or french,
you’re in the public service, you should respond to your customers.’
The driver at this point said ‘oui, je comprends le francais, j’ai
juste dit…’

The guy getting off the bus said
something else and then the driver became aggressive, pointing his
finger at the guy and started to yell. Then I got up and told him he
was being aggressive and that is against stm policy, it says so right
there on the poster. (‘Pas de place pour la violence’ with a big
clipart heart)

The guy got off the bus, I sat down to
hit record on my phone because I had a feeling this was not over, and
then I found out that I was right.

The driver got up out of his seat, came
and leaned over me and said, that I was not polite.

I said that all I did was ask for the
bus to be lowered.

He said that he has children and he’s
teaching them to be polite.

I said, ‘oh now you’re comparing me to
your kids? That’s demeaning.’

I told him that it is his directive to
lower the bus and ramp whenever asked, regardless of what a person
looks like. I was angry. He was going to call the cops. He had closed
the doors, making it impossible for me to get off the bus. He
was going to call the cops?

Fuck no!

I dialed 911 and
tried to set up my call recording app.

I guess 911 is
blocked from these types of apps because it didn’t take.

I called again,
without recording and told the oporator I was being held on a city
bus against my will. I told her where and what bus number and she
said she’d send a car.

Then, after hearing
me speak very loudly, in English, to 911, the driver opened the doors
of the bus. Imagine that. He got off and talked to the driver of
another 105 who had pulled over to look out for his union brother.

I waited on the bus
for the cops. Let’s do this shit I said to myself and my cellphone
recording, fuck this. Let’s see what the cops have to say about a
male bus driver locking a woman alone with him on a bus late at
night.

The cops came to
talk to the bus drivers, completely ignoring me.

As they went
directly to speak with the drivers, I intercepted, asking ‘does
anyone want to hear what I have to say?’

One
c
op told me to go away – over there. The other, shorter
shittier cop grabbed me by the arm and pulled me away, and when he
realized I was audio recording him, he took my phone, stopped the
recording and turned off my phone, and wouldn’t give it back to me.
Schoolyard bully style.

I finally grabbed it out of his gloved
hand and started recording again, attempting to speak with the stm
cops and chef d’operations who had now arrived on the scene.

They were ‘mamming’ me, and telling me
to wait my turn, that they had to speak to the driver first even
though I was the one being threatened, held against my will and had
called the cops to help me.

The first cop, after having a little
chat with the bus driver, confronted me and told me if I ‘can’t live
in the society, that’s my problem.’ He had my bag, including my
wallet, and he threw it in the mud. He told me to go home. ’M’am go
home. You’re off the bus now. We need you to go home.’ This is
actually what he told me. As though I am the problem. I am a
hysterical, crazy bitch who should quiet down and go home. I’m the
problem. I did something wrong by calling the police when my security
was in danger. ‘Go home, m’am, go home now. Back off. Back off. When
I tell you to back off you back off.’ Me: ‘Don’t touch me, you can’t
touch me.’

Cop: ‘If you don’t follow my order I
can touch you. Back off. That’s an order. That’s an order.’

What is that shit? Am I a fucking
cadet?

Eventually an older man stm cop, a
retired military policeman I found out later, took me to sit down in
his cruiser and took notes on my side of the story. He looked me in
the eyes and answered a lot of the questions I grilled him with like,
what is the policy of the stm on ramp usage, (by saying I don’t know,
I’m not a policy guy) and sublty suggesting I request a
‘sensibilisation’ for the driver or group of drivers in the complaint
I could file. Hardly an ally, but he wasn’t harrassing or being
violent towards me, so that’s a start.

I told him a lot, recounted the whole
thing, how I didn’t answer his question about my personal, physical
‘capabilities’ and he took that as a personal affront to his pride,
and as an opportunity to hold me hostage and give me private
ettiquite pointers. I explained that asking someone what they are or
are not capable of when they request an accessibility feature, is
dicrimination. You can hear all of this on the attached recording.
The stm cop listened, took notes for his report. I asked who gets the
report, in like, 2500 different ways. He dodged my questions about
this in 3000 ways. He asked what my disability is, for the report. I
told him what I was comfortable telling him, that I use various
mobility aides, that I have chronnic pain and that any unnacounted
for movements cause me more pain. I refused to answer with any more
information. I asked him about protocol when a complaint is filed, he
told me that I should consider taking Transport Adapte. I repeated
sentences about discrimination and how scary it was to be locked on a
bus with a man. He offered to drive me home. I declined.

We got out of the car, out of earshot
of his bitchy young white Quebec-supremicist lady cop partener with a
swishy ponytail. He told me his mother is ‘handicapped’ too, and she
uses a wheelchair and she has a hard time getting anywhere, and its
not just the stm its stores and restaurants and they offer
alternative services like food delivery, but its not the same. He
said this is a hard moment and it will pass.

I said, yes discrimination is
everywhere, but the stm is a public service and it especially burns
because I pay full price for a pass every month.

And this moment may pass, but actually,
this happens every day.

Now I’m home and trying to play back
that first recording of the bus driver and little cop and it won’t
play. I think he fucked with the recording somehow. Makes sense that
a cop would learn that trick. Hopefully someone out there can help me
fix it so we can hear the first five minutes of what turned into an
over hour long complete fuck up.

I am at a loss. I am fine. I am
wondering should I get back in touch with the journalists? Should I
blockade stm meetings, should I ignore this constant bullshit so I
can get my work done? Should I move right now and leave all this
horse shit behind me, thereby kind of screwing my comrades over? I
had such a nice evening too, singing and seeing my music family, UTC.
I was listening to Canada Reads on podcast and planning the soup I
was going to eat. That driver, those cops, this constant harrassement
and abuse by the stm really put a damper on my mood.

Right now I am in calm shock and need
to eat dinner.

Le #printemps2015 arrive. There are new massive protests planned for Quebec this spring, in the tradition of the student protests of 2012. (See kind of funny photo above)

This
is exciting for me, and also concerns me. I love the idea of people
young and old, mobilizing against austerity, and sticking it to the
decision makers. God knows almost nothing turns me on more than a
demonstration in the street by the light of the springtime Quebec moon. I
said almost. I’m more than just political in my preferences, you know that.

However, like this young, normalized, white hand proudly proclaiming it’s rightful place in a mass social movement in Quebec; against austerity, against selfishness masked as an economic system, proudly aligning itself for community, marching really fast and rambunctiously down the middle of the street, it doesn’t represent all the people in the movement, nor the people most affected by austerity. 

My comrade Laurence Parent tells it like it is in this article recounting when a healthcare professional recommended she eats frozen microwave dinners 365 days a year to accommodate cuts in her province- funded homecare services, that had previously provided funds for meal preparation, like for actual food. http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/laurence-parent/repas-surgeles-a-saveur-dausterite_b_6778700.html

Now that’s something to say Esti! to. (Esti = Quebec version of Fuck)

Or the story that recently came out in the Journal de Montreal, about long time disability rights activist, Deborah Kennard, who is not being released from hospital to go back home after a stay, because the residence where she lives will not agree to pay for nursing care to meet her healthcare needs. http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/03/14/confinee-a-lhopital-en-attendant-une-decision-administrative An administrative loophole has turned her into a prisoner of the hospital. Austerity has extended that sentence.

I’d get out on the street to protest that shit.

But I’m not sure if the young, healthy, only-been-in-the-hospital-for-a-broken-arm-at-age-6 fist in the above photo is aware of these realities. I’m not sure if they know that parents with young children who need physiotherapy and speech therapy at an early age to assure their positive future, have the role of physical therapist being thrust on them due to budget cuts in the CLSCs (community health organizations), as if a parent who is exhausted and working full-time can moonlight as a top quality physio therapist as well, to compensate for a failing economic system.

I will hear chants about students’ tuition and a lack of jobs for young generations this spring, but will I hear the tens of thousands of people expected to take to the streets yelling about homecare cuts, and being allowed off the bus with a ramp, like I am so often refused http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/conflict-ramps-up-walker-reliant-rider-complains-driver-left-her-stranded-1.2258406, and having access to the accessibility devices that suit them best, not just those provided by the province’s favourite company? I don’t know.

Will they protest the age-old, and personally consuming excuse that ‘we can’t accessibilize transit in Montreal, because… austerity.’ As though the decision makers on the board of the STM are not at all responsible for mis-spending and complicity in the failure of past accessibility projects like the elevator to nowhere in the Place Bonaventure metro station (subway system in Montreal). http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/Montreal/2015/03/02/004-ascenseur-station-bonaventure-metro-montreal-accessibilite.shtml, or could not, while doing other repairs and closing down Beaubien station for an indefinite amount of time, also work on installing a damn elevator. But no, that would cost too much. Because… austerity.

This is not just a rant.

I sincerely hope that when that fist and the throngs of people that join it take to the streets this spring, accessibility will be on people’s radar. That when people yell about austerity and resist the police who will inevitably come to silence them, they will be doing so for people who are not there at the demo, not just themselves. That they fight for people who are stuck in the damn hospital waiting to get their lives back on track, waiting to do their life’s work of activism again, if only they weren’t being hospitalized, forcibly.

I hope that when the young folks take to the streets they yell extra loud for the folks who got fucked by transit on the way over to the square, showing up late to the demo or just giving up and heading home.

I hope that they pay attention to their surroundings and don’t kick canes out from under people’s hands like they did in 2012 to me, as I struggled up that very same hill on Berri street (pictured, weirdly, above). I wrote about that experience here: http://aimeelouw.blogspot.ca/2012/07/a-qui-la-rue.html I hope that they read our posts, share our perspectives and enact the community that they are advocating, on the streets, on transit, and in their everyday interactions. Because austerity for many, is a constricting force on our daily lives. It squeezes and pushes and there is no way out. Unless everyone gets on board and starts yelling and tweeting and writing and recording and works our collective magic, to make sure austerity is the thing that gets squeezed out this #printemps2015 (spring2015).

My little, kind of cold, also white, arthritic hand says to the fist above: take me in your hand, and let’s join a million other hands of all forms and colours with all the real, daily concerns they have written on their palms, and let’s do this thing together. Open that fist and leave space for all of us who are being harmed by the decisions that lead to austerity and the decisions that are made in austerity’s name. Lower your hand and follow our leads. 

A few weeks ago, I had the honour of speaking at the 2014 Take Back the Night March in Montreal. I’d like to share my words here, for those who weren’t able to make it, those who live far away, or those who like to read. (Photo: ACAB Media)

Thank you to the Centre for Gender Advocacy for organizing this evening and for inviting me. These cardboard taxis look amazing!

We all have a million stories of feeling unsafe in the streets, and stories of ourselves and our loved ones experiencing violence.

I’m going to share a story about street harassment with you tonight. A story of two depanneurs. I had just finished swimming. I was hungry and didn’t have anything to eat at home. I went to the dep, picked out some tins of tomato paste, brought them to the counter, leaned on the counter because my leg was tired, and then felt an unwanted hand cupping my left bum cheek. I turned around, not believing what was making itself known on my butt, and yelled, you’re harassing me! I looked at the dep employee, said, this guy just touched my ass, turned around and looked at the grabber, exclaimed my anger, and then he said, no I didn’t, and dismissed me like I was a hysterical woman. The dep employee who I had been buying snacks and cheap wine from for the past 3 years, said nothing. I said, are you going to do anything? He did nothing.

I thought, if I had been driving my scooter I would have rammed the son of a bitch, or if I had brought my cane I would have whoopsed him upside the head, but I had no mobility devices/ weapons with me.

In this scenario, counter to what you might think, I was more exposed because I did not have my mobility tools, those symbols of disability, with me.

And so I relied heavily on the man behind the desk to get my back.

He did nothing.

The tale of the second depanneur is as follows. I was practicing for a performance with a friend of mine downtown, and it was late. We got hungry and we got Chinese food. We practiced some more, and when we were finally satisfied with the state of our performance, or maybe just too tired to go on, we left. She took a cab, and this time I had my scooter. In Montreal, it is not possible to hail an accessible taxi. It is not possible to call for an accessible taxi either. These have to be reserved in advance and are highly unreliable even when you do reserve them, which I don’t do because I don’t plan to rehearse til’ 4:30 am. And I resent the implication that just because I have diverse mobility, I need to plan more, to make up for an inaccessible transit system.

Nonetheless, as we know very well, taxis are not a safe option for women travelling the streets of Montreal anyway.

The metro was not open at this hour, and even if it were, Guy-Concordia station is not one of the 4/65 stations in the city that are accessible.

So I was relegated to driving my scooter on the bike path.

As I was nearing my home, a man in a large blue pick up truck drove by, and slowed down at the corresponding rate that my fear grew. He rolled his window down in order to yell sexually explicit things at me. Things like, I’d let you ride me instead of that thing, and you’re too pretty to use a wheelchair, and where you going, anyway?

He was alone in his truck, so I knew he wasn’t just trying to be funny for friends he may have been with.

I was scared. I felt exposed.

This time, my mobility tool was a beacon, something shiny to attract the unwanted attention of a predator.

Something that made me seem more vulnerable and weak.

I went the other way at top speed and he got blocked by a one-way.He went around the block and I rolled to the dep on the corner, thinking, at least I can be around another person, in the light, and feel a bit safer.

I overestimated the power of presence of another human being.

The guy working in the dep barely took his eyes off whatever screen it was he was mesmerized by. He dismissed my claim of being followed with an ‘I don’t believe you’ smile and by saying about the truck riding predator, “he was probably just turning around.”

He did nothing.

Tonight, I’m not going to focus solely on street harassment or harassment in deps, and the useless reactions of men working in depanneurs in the night when those are the only populated places open to seek refuge in when feeling threatened in the street.

Harassment is one form of gender and ableism- based violence that many people experience pretty much every day in Montreal, myself included. But it is not nearly the only form of violence and dehumanization that people with disabilities face.

I could give you numbers.

I could give you stats on the high numbers of people with disabilities (pwd) of all genders who are targeted and abused. I could tell you that pwd are vulnerable to many forms of violence, including violence in relationships, sexual assault, violence in institutional settings, forced sterilization and abortion, and non-consentual medical treatments.

I could give you stats like women with dis are 1 ½ times more likely to have been abused as a child.

I could tell you that sexual violence can also be the cause of disability.

I could tell you that 81% of women admitted to psychiatric institutions have had gender-based abuse in their past.

I could tell you that 5 times the number of deaf boys and 50% of deaf girls are sexually abused in Canada.

I could tell you that many pwd are excluded from romance and sexual expression because of barriers to access and prejudice. Many people with disabilities simply do not have sexual freedom.

I could share stories of homeless women with disabilities living out on the streets because of a lack of accessible shelters here in Montreal. I could share the experience of calling shelters with a woman who used a power wheelchair I met and hearing ‘we don’t serve those types of people here.’ Shelters do not have the resources or the understanding to serve disabled women at risk.

I could share stories of unfit living conditions where 20 year olds are living in retirement homes because there are no other assisted living options. And in these homes, abuse and control run rampant.

I could share the experiences of so many quebecers, silenced and forced to stay in abusive relationships, relying on their abusers for care.

These stories are real,

These numbers are far too frequent.

For me, Take Back the Night is about sharing this information.

And it is about so much more than that.

It is about more than individual experiences in a system that was not constructed with us in mind.

Take back the night is about taking back the humanity that has so often been stripped from us.

It’s about taking these stories, one by one, and creating a network.

A network of people looking out for each other.

So I call on you as I call on myself:

To commit.

Commit to tearing down those walls that keep people segregated in institutional living.

Commit to tearing down the doors behind which people stay in violent relationships, depending on their abusers for care.

Commit to breaking-down the already crumbling steps of Montreal’s infrastructure so that people can access what they need.

Commit to tearing down those walls!

Because all these walls and these stairs, and these concrete structures reinforce our situations of marginalization. They keep us locked in institutions and they keep us locked out of public spaces.

Let’s not be too shy, or too scared, or too committed to the myth of self-reliance to ask how we can support one another.

It is that fear and discomfort and unfamiliarity that keeps those walls standing high, dividing us.

Let’s embrace our fear and discomfort and ask how we can support each other. And when we fuck up, because we will inevitably fuck up, let’s apologize, and keep learning how we can support one another. Because that, along with the actions of those here tonight, and those of us who cannot be here, will keep us taking back the night, tonight, the night after that, the night after that.

Say it with me:

Tear down those walls.

Tear down those walls.

Tear down those walls.

This evening, I bashed a metal garbage can off the wall it was nailed into with my scooter, in a fit of fury.

I had spent the entire day trying to wake myself up enough to tick off at least some of the tasks on an ever-growing list of work and life activities, to little avail. I slept through the million alarms I set for myself, sipped coffee, black, with milk and finally of the cappuccino variety. I walked a block to my neighbourhood coffee shop for a change of scenery and crisp air, carrying my laptop and a folder. In doing so, I over-exerted my knee, which then hurt for the rest of the day and probably took away more of my limited energy. For all you spoonies out there, this was a seriously low spoon day. Even among these last few low spoon weeks.

But I was going to the pool. I had to. It is good for me. It is never a bad idea. These were the phrases I chanted to myself as I worked my way out of my waking slumber and into my heavy winter coat and along the bumpy and pain-inducing cracks on the sidewalk in my scooter. I was going to the pool; that happy place that never lets me down. The place that I enter into feeling frazzled and disjointed, and come out feeling clear-headed and serene, like the glassy surface of the water after closing time.

I was changing, I was showering, that routine that has become almost religious to me. I was doing laps. Left arm up, kick kick, right arm up, kick kick. And so it went for a solid twenty minutes. It felt amazing, as always. I didn’t want to overdo it though, and go beyond the optimal peak of gaining energy and endorphins towards exhaustion again. I had to get up when my alarm goes off tomorrow. No sleeping in with an anemia hangover from nettle tea and the stress of idleness that chronic pain and fatigue can bring.

My swim was over, I was showering and squeezing the water from my hair. I was putting on my stretchy pants and wishing my socks were stretchier as I struggled to pull them over my damp feet. I was putting my hair up, I was back in my coat, boots on, and I was ready to go.

This is when things started to get rag-y. Check it out. My pool is an amazing place. There is a ramp into the water, it’s ridiculously cheap for a yearly membership, the people are chill, its clean, there are lots of windows that let in natural light. The centre has won an award for their level of accessibility. However, tonight, like so many nights before, the automatic door to the accessible change room was not working.

Sometimes when I go swimming I go with someone and so we work out exiting the change room together. When I go on the weekend, there is a kid’s swim time after adult lane time and so there are a million kids and parents who willingly hold the door for me and my scooter. But tonight I was the last one in the change room, no one was walking by, and I was mutherfucking stuck.

I tried to Houdini my way out by opening the door on foot, holding it open with my ass, and driving my scooter out, backwards, while not actually being in the scooter. This, of course, is highly risky for my feet, which were out of necessity, very close to the wheels. One wrong move and 250 pounds of mobility would have trodden their way across my foot. This also requires perfect placement of the scooter before I get out and open the door and maneuver it out. I was not reaching the perfect placement tonight, as I have patiently done in the past. Plan b: I looked for something to hold the door open, growing more and more pissed as I searched. There was this big, metal coat rack on wheels that I tried to prop the door open with, but it wheeled towards the door frame as soon as I let go. There was a foot stool by the water fountain for little kids, but it was too light. So I kicked it instead, sending it down the hall, hoping someone would hear and come out and help me. This is also when I started yelling, “helloooo… I’m stuuck in heeere!” and “yo… YO!”

No one heard me.

The thing is, I could have walked to the front desk, scooter inside the change room, and asked them to come and hold the door. But that would have definitely pushed my knee over the edge of just tired and pain-under-wraps mode, to all out, I’m not walking tomorrow. And when I had come to the pool to do something good for myself, I refused that route. So I went back in the change room, got in my scooter and drove forward – into the garbage can. I was in a frenzy at this point, frustrated and full of rage that they still hadn’t fixed this goddam door, even though I had told them it wasn’t working the last time I had come, and the time before that, (and the nice chick I see on Wednesdays who uses a wheelchair had told them before that). I just bumped the garbage the first time, and it came a little loose, so I backed up the truck and went in a little harder this time. And again. And again, with a thundering reverberation into the empty and locked-up swimming pool by this point. These booming sounds, I thought, would have to elicit some sort of action by the front desk staff, surely to god. But nothing. So I kept ramming that garbage until it went hurling across the floor, hit the wall and ricocheted backwards.

I sat for a minute, digesting the sight of nails sticking out of the wall and the metal garbage and bits strewn across the floor. My rage cooled after having noted my own success at destruction.

Here’s my take on the garbage scene, with the indignation of recent fury still coursing through my veins, and weariness, that effect of daily barriers to access, feeding my analysis: Only people who rely on the automatic door notice when it’s broken. That’s the bitch about accessibility; lacking accessibility features doesn’t piss everyone off, and the less people pissed off about something, the slower it is to change. But if I break things that are essential to all the patrons, maybe it’ll piss them off. Maybe they’ll see, to a lesser extent, how it feels to have something so essential as an exit, broken. If nothing else, I’ll have the catharsis of busting shit up til they fix it

This is what a first class scooter looks like! Turns out the wheeled device spot on the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto train is in fiirrrst classs. So here I am baby. It was easy to get on with the scoot, Via Rail staff were chill and helpful. It makes such a positive difference when people are friendly!

Here amongst the business people and independently wealthy there are curtains on the windows, newspapers for all, and a man with a liquor cart. I don’t know why newspapers are a sign of upper society, I mean, the news is pretty much everywhere now. But ahhh the luxury of flipping through! Never thought you’d hear me say I like class systems eh? Well class tastes pretty good when it comes in the form of a complimentary 4pm gin and tonic! Hahaaa (evil capitalist laughter).

But seriously, this train is much newer than the one J and I took from Edmonton to Vancouver. And it is, unlike that one, rather accessible. There’s even a giganto bathroom. Too bad the western train is so filled with steps and narrow aisles.. Seems like the touristic (Rocky Mountain line) would have more of an emphasis on access. But maybe just more people travel on the central Canadian lines so they prioritized making them accessible first. Well… Something to ask my new Via Rail employee friends.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some gin to drink and polite elderly men to make small talk with.

Anti-inflammatories, inflammatory comments, and gym-going businessmen

I feel like I came back to sit in my apartment. Like all the freedom and beautiful things I experienced in the city by the sea got crushed under the forced and weary footsteps I took yesterday on a quest to find wheels. Like the cheap wine and post election revolutionary stirrings in the street were not worth the lack of mobility and freedom I am experiencing right now, in this moment. I haven’t felt this much physical pain since I left Edmonton and thought I could just go to the dog park and walk around with my Mum like I used to. Boots laced up tightly and dog drooling all over the beige spring earth. I was wrong.

And I was wrong to expect that the Rheumatologist I came back in time to see would have anything to say that I haven’t already heard: take anti-inflammatories, here’s a prescription, oh they hurt your stomach and you don’t want to damage your kidneys? Well take this other thing at the same time, so it counters the side effects. Its all about quality of life. You want to have a normal life right? Well, take these things and walk like I do until you can’t anymore. Then have your bones cut out and reconstructed and then walk around like I do some more.

I don’t like ableism, the idea that the definition of a good life is one that mirrors that of the normal, jogging businessman. The guy who lifts weights after driving to the gym. The kind of guy who carries all his grocery bags in one hand. Its oppressive. And he, incidentally, is also the type of guy who cuts you off in the grocery store because he’s in a rush to go home and grab his ergonomic shoes and extra breathing exercise clothes and make it to the gym tonight.

I don’t like ableism, the training and practice in medicine that aims at contorting you, your body, your reality to fit the norm. The medicine that makes you conform. The physio who says, I’m closing your file, you need to stop seeing me and get on with your life. As though doing exercises that strengthen me and make me feel balanced in my movements are a temporary, post-crisis experience; the time in a wheelchair a negative period in an otherwise bi-pedal, therefore, positive life.

I can’t sit, I can’t stand, when I lie down the nagging god damn pain makes my breathing short, my muscles contract, and makes me scowl. This is what I get from their normal.

Why should I struggle getting everywhere I go? To let doctors feel that they have succeeded? To make people in the public feel more comfortable with my body? To feel like I made it back to the enrobbing comfort of the false norm?

How about instead of me walking around just so I can get on the metro and hopefully have the mobility required to buy groceries, get fresh air, see things and get to a job, we just put elevators in the metro so that I can use some sort of wheeled vehicle to do the same stuff? I promise having crips in public places doesn’t contaminate the public experience. I promise we won’t roll over your toes or force our ways of being on you, like you have on us. I promise you’ll stop feeling so uncomfortable the more you see us in your spaces. I promise that diversity of existence is a positive thing.

Voting rights suppressed by stairwells

As many know, not all voting stations are accessible in Quebec.

People with diverse mobility are being fucked in their voting rights. The anglos and newcomers will understand the unjustness of having to prepare to vote, the need to take precautions to avoid barriers to voting. What if someone wants to vote strategically after hearing the results of the latest poll rather than vote a week in advance? What if people don’t have the energy to research if their polling station is accessible? What if they’re disorganized and show up on the day expecting to have their right to vote and find out that it got thrown down a flight of stairs and smashed at the foot of their wheelchair?

A message from the chief electoral officer:

“Please note that… on polling day, polling stations should be easily accessible but it is possible that some of them aren’t. As a result, people with difficulty moving about should check in advance with their returning officer or by contacting our Information Centre…

If it turns out that your poll is not available on April 7, you still have the possibility to exercise your right to vote at the office of the returning officer on April 1 and 2 from 9 am to 9 pm and on April 3 from 9 am to 2 pm. Locations used for this vote are accessible to people with reduced mobility.”

The fact that they refer to people as ‘having difficulty moving’ is insulting. The difficulty is posed by their choice to place voting stations up a flight of stairs. Having wheels is fucking liberating, the electoral office is the oppressive thing in this equation.

They say ‘you still have the right to vote,’ like aren’t we benevolent in offering you a shitty alternative and making you feel like it is your defective bodies that are responsible for a restriction of your rights.

I’m angry about this. It makes me either want to say fuck your election or vote really hard even if it is a pain in my ass.