I would like to express first of all my deepest gratitude for some things. First, I support any community that has been marginalized over the past months since the hothead took office. This includes disabled people, LGBTQIA people, sex positive communities, African Americans, etc. I am a straight ally to LGBTQIA people, and I’m not afraid to say so. People are scared to support this kind of community but there is love in it. What about two million other things I support though? As my dear love lies sleeping, I want to confess that I was ignorant about the community at large of blindness, and sadly there are people in the community who don’t deserve full attention.
There is one documentary that draws attention to a woman I’m sure will brighten everybody’s day. I watched a documentary about a very positively awesome woman, Michelle Smith, who is living independently in Maine, and her story is told in so much detail.
The thing of Ms. Smith is that she’s blind, and I can relate to that, but she was evaluated for what is called High Functioning Autism, and people have low expectations of her. As a disabled person at large, I feel the same way she does, marginalized and unable to work. She and I have both been fired from job training or internships because of emotional issues. Michelle’s are different than mine, her having lost the family she loved when Mom and Dad got divorced and a brother died at age five. Unfortunately, my circumstances are more extreme. I’m currently challenging my family’s illicit attitude toward blind and abused females and I can’t even recall my parents’ emotional attitude that their poor baby daughter is incapable of a, b, and c. Michelle’s mom has to drill her sometimes because she takes multiple medications, human growth hormone being one, and birth control another. Due to psychological abuse and treatment as an inconvenience, I have to go to therapy and work out issues and take medications. The only psychological medicine I take does not mess up the birth med I take that regulates things. I see it doing two things for me though: preventing unwanted pregnancy and regulating the cycles that women are supposed to have and for me, 32 days.
Michelle’s and my lives are different, but due to Florida psychological doctors having a bad attitude about disability and blindness, they made up a very flawed diagnosis of high functioning autism, and my parents treated me differently. They just patronized me, whereas Michelle’s mom supported her choices about independence.
I have only a few words to say: go get ’em, girl. She is a very sweet person, and from her documentary, I gather she loves to play with her boyfriend, and yes, in the most positive way. however, the statistics are very bleak for blind females like myself and Michelle.
For women like Michelle and I, it is 90% likely that a parent will make a decision that will put the female in no position to have children, or understand sex, or learn about teen maturation issues. For us women with disabilities, 80% will have been raped in their teens, me knowing about 8 women who said they were. Some women are also taken advantage of in other ways. Jane (name has been changed) was nearly raped by a man who, sadly, was also blind. Jane’s former boyfriend is one of 90% of blind males who feel lost sexually and don’t know how to address what I call “sexual etiquette”. This means when she says no, it means no. Michelle is blessed and lucky that she fell into the 10% of women with disabilities who live active lifestyles and have a support system.
Let’s meet Leyla (name has been changed), an Asian born blind woman with Autism who has a really awesome support system, two men act as father figures for her, and she sings and jams in a band. I know many women who dream of lives like Leyla’s, but she knows firsthand what Michelle went through. But one thing stands between Leyla and Michelle, Leyla was viciously isolated and abused and stood up to her family and cut them off. This is what I plan to do because of the family’s disabling attitude toward me. Look at my life for example. While Michelle is in her apartment in Maine, I live with my boyfriend in a two bedroom apartment in Denver, and we have a relatively great life together. Yes, we have arguments, but Trenton usually brings me to a point where I can rest and be at peace. None of the other boyfriends I met in person could do that, even a sighted man I met on Craigslist Personals. Note to self: I won’t be needing Craigslist to sell or maintain things anymore because of scammers and people who want to take advantage of me. I won’t be dating online because I don’t feel comfortable around sighted mankind who seem to think I’m just too naive for relationships. My father is included in this list, and I’m planning to marry Trenton and get rid of this ghastly maiden name at once because … funny you could ask me why.
Smith and Bell are common last names, but Taurasi is not. Taurasi is hard to pronounce and spell for some American phone people, and while booking a cab on the way home from the restaurant my friends and I went to, I had to spell it twice because someone couldn’t find my information on this thing. I was using a Medicaid account, and since my last name is hard to spell and pronounce, the guy could not look it up and he handed the phone to another person. I use nonmedical Medicaid transit to get around because the resource is there, it saves me anxiety and money, and it operates on the weekends, finally. But in rural Titusville, Florida, or Juliette, Georgia, or even some places in Arizona, places like Sierra Vista or Camp Verde even, that resource is null and void, not there. Bangore, Maine even might have better resources than the rural towns I mentioned. I’m struggling to build a support system even now because Trent and I are no place near getting married, and churches won’t help us with wedding bills. I wish people would be more supportive and not have to be paid to do things for me, but Titusville, Juliette, and Camp Verde are all red spots with red states written all over them. Boston, Massachusetts is where Michelle plans to move, and boy will she be in for a treat. Boston is the feeder city for Perkins School for the Blind, where Michelle went to school. Perkins has had a long and proud history, and in the documentary, the staff there seemed understanding and wanted Michelle’s potential to grow.
Alumni weekend is where the blind school alumni hang out for three days during a class reunion, and I can say this for certain: Michelle’s doing fine. However, she gave up her acting career because of Los Angeles being so spread out. I personally don’t like Los Angeles’ reputation as a gang city along with Chicago, Illinois. Chicago does have Horizons for the Blind, where a buddy of mine who follows me on Twitter works. However, moving to Boston, CHicago, or L.A. would mean leaving my love behind and his family can’t all come. I don’t know what to do to convince any person’s family that sometimes you have to leave certain things behind in order to follow on with what your heart desires, but that’s the only thing I did not like about this documentary. Michelle could have made Los Angeles work. I know a few Angelinos who made it work, one of whom was my first boyfriend who grew up in South Central. Henry and I didn’t work out, but I’ll never forget when he got his first dog, and made it work with the dog as guide dog partners in travel. The golden retriever had helped Henry navigate the roads and byways of L.A., but then again, would it work for Michelle? Her life is different, but she might have wanted a guide dog sometime in her life. I would say if she can handle the dog being occasionally sick, cleaning and grooming, and of course travel, Michelle might look into it. I personally don’t want a dog right now, only as a pet, and then only when I get my own property so the dog can be a dog. Of course, I’d train the dog to bring in the mail and do things dogs do best, but a guide dog or pet dog would be too much scooping up waste unless you’re my buddy Melissa who bought a special toileting harness and poo bags for her dog, problem solved. I would follow her example, but then I had a buddy who lost his dog, and she died young because of cancer. Poor Jilly was a great dog, but now she’s fetching balls in a field of wildflowers, endless fields of flowers called Heaven. She’ll join another two friends who had dogs go there too.
Losing a dog isn’t the same as losing a cane. Michelle does mention the low expectations of a mobility TVI, but what she didn’t mention was the guide dog scenario. Dogs and people can potentially have a strong bond with each other. Cats can do the same thing, and Michelle did have a cat of her own with her mom, it was shown right in clear black and white.
Overall, I felt energized watching Michelle’s documentary, and I felt she made the right choices after the Los Angeles trip after all, even though she gave up on acting. I want to sing, and a song has planted itself somewhere in the garden, now I have to water it and make it bloom. For me and Leyla, songs are what keeps us alive. For Michelle, it’s anime, cats, and Hello Kitty. I don’t think it’s wrong to like Hello Kitty or dolls or anything. Dolls are cool, and maybe I’ll customize a doll from Pleasant Company, it’ll be blind and hold a cane, but I’ll use said doll to teach a potential child a lesson about blindness and how blindness does not define me. I do not keep company with people who don’t support me, only those who do. I have a few friends, but again, because of SSI, I can’t finance a wedding or do anything without church or family help.
I’m only talking big ticket stuff here.
Anyhow, I’m happy to say that Helen Keller’s quote about the “best and most beautiful things” is correct. It must be seen by the heart, not the eyes. And I hope you all see this also.