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Discrimination

19 Nov

Image

When most people hear the word “minority”, they think about it in terms of race, but people with disabilities are a minority, too. As a girl with a fake leg, I am a minority and I have been discriminated against.

I once took a Multicultural awareness class in grad school, and we had lots of great discussions. In one discussion, a white woman was visibly upset, talking about how she and her husband and kids always face discrimination because he is black and their kids are biracial. She said none of us would truly understand the discrimination they’d faced, being stared at, looked down upon. But I understood. And I wasn’t afraid to voice that. 

I kind of think staring at a person with a disability is human nature. I don’t think it’s discrimination. People are naturally going to be curious about someone who’s different from them. But people stare at me a lot; they even did when I was a little kid. I’d feel their eyes on me, and I didn’t understand. It made me feel different. And sad. Nowadays, I understand. But I am still aggravated when people stare too long, especially adults. They should know better.

I was lucky growing up. Kids didn’t really make fun of me for my fake leg, maybe because I really wasn’t much different. I ran, rode bikes, roller skated; I didn’t let it stop me. But there were a few times when people made me feel different, in a bad way. Mostly at amusement parks. Once at a roller coaster in Ocean City, and twice on rides at Six Flags. After standing in line, I was stopped by the ride operators, and abruptly told I couldn’t get on. I was 9 years old the first time, 11 the others. And I just didn’t understand. Luckily, My friends’ parents were able to convince them, in both cases, to let me ride. But not until after many tears had been shed. 

And luckily also, no one really made fun of me throughout the rest of my years of school. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’d know I have a good sense of humor about it. I probably made more fun of myself than anyone else. Sure there was a friend who called me Peg all throughout high school, but I took that as a term of endearment. And well, in high school,  there was also a guy I barely knew, who asked me if I had sex with my fake leg on or off; that was pretty offensive. But there are always people who offend me without meaning to. Often people ask me if/why I’m limping and when I tell them why, they profusely apologize. And then I have to reassure them not to feel bad. But, you know, there’s really nothing to apologize for. I have a leg. I can walk. Why are you sorry? The apologies offend me more than the questions do. 

There have been quite a few times, though, where having a fake leg has worked to my advantage. I can go on the exits of amusement park rides, and not stand in lines, if I choose to do so (though the process has gotten more technical). A few years ago, I finally got Handicapped parking tags, so that’s a convenience. But I always feel like people think I’m “faking” being handicapped if I’m not wearing shorts or a skirt. ( I didn’t really feel I needed them until I had a baby. There’s a lot more stuff to carry. And walking a shorter distance makes it easier). The time it benefitted me most, though,  is when I was a sophomore in college. My professor, one evening before class called me into her office, and profusely apologized for telling a folk tale the previous week that made reference to a “hollow leg”. Apparently, another student thought it was somehow insensitive to me and mentioned it to her. In all honesty, I hadn’t given it a second thought. But she ended up bumping me up to an A in her class, which I sorely needed to get into my major. And I really should’ve gotten a B. 

So I guess the “moral” to all this is, well, a few things. If you are wondering about someone with a disability, don’t be afraid to ask about it; a lot of people don’t mind. Also, don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume you need to apologize. Don’t assume you know what a person can or cannot do. Don’t assume a person who has handicapped tags Isn’t disabled, just because they don’t appear to be. Because you know what they say about assumptions…

Sent from my iPad

Fallen Limbs?

2 Nov

Fallen Limbs?.

Fallen Limbs?

2 Nov

I knew it would happen someday. I didn’t know when. I didn’t know where. But I knew that one day, my fake leg would fall off. It didn’t happen until I was 21; I’m surprised actually that it took so long, since I’ve had it my whole life. But the way it happened was more unexpected than anything else. I suppose I’d always pictured it maybe coming off mid-kick, or while I was running, or skating, or falling or something. But that’s not how it happened at all. Here’s how it did.

It was a hot, summer night. Myself and some friends-guys, girls, people I knew from college-were all hanging out in the back yard of my friend Greg’s house, who I had a crush on at the time. We were drinking some drinks, smoking some smokes. It was a pretty mellow evening. There were also maybe a handful of people I didn’t know, but the crowd mostly consisted of musician-types, punk-rockers, cute girls, artsy types, with maybe a few Deadheads scattered in. But all-around, a group of pretty open-minded people.

I decided to go in the house because I had to pee, and I wanted to find my friend, who had disappeared somewhere. So I walked up the few steps to the back porch and opened the storm door. I walked in slowly, the storm door closed quickly and forcefully. Next thing I knew, I was in the house, but my fake leg was not. My first thought was, “What the hell just happened?” You know, I was missing a leg all of a sudden. After I recovered, I looked back expecting to see my fake foot stuck in the door, with the leg part on the floor. But no, the entire leg was outside. And of course, I open the door, everything is silent, everyone is staring at me, and this blond hippie chick, who I barely know hands me my leg and says, “Here!” Really? Couldn’t it have at least been an acquaintance?

I go inside, put it back on, and start cracking up laughing. Part of me was mortified, but the other part of me thought it was absolutely hilarious. I go to pee and find my friend; he doesn’t seem to think it was as hilarious as I did, but then again, he missed it. I spent the rest of the night saying, “Oh my God. I can’t believe that just happened! That has totally never happened before. I knew it would happen someday, but never thought it’d happen like this”. I was incredulous. But I was also kind of excited, like I’d been waiting for that day all my life. And it was not anti-climactic! And now that I think of it, no one made fun of me that night. No one laughed at me, until I laughed at myself. It definitely makes for a good story, and despite it all, I ended up having a little fling with my friend Greg.

It’s happened a few times since then, but nothing as exciting. A couple times my foot has gotten caught on the edge of a step, as I pulled my leg up, and it fell of. There’s been times when a screw’s come out and it’s half-fallen off. The only time that’s even come close in comparison, is in my 2nd year of teaching in Baltimore City, when one of my students, a girl who hated me, came walking by me in the hall. We were the only two there, and she started walking close by me, criss-crossing to the bathroom. As she walked by, she stepped on my foot as I was moving my leg up, and it fell and went clunk on the hard hallway floor. Again, I was left standing legless. Of course, at that moment, my principal happened to be walking by and asked if everything was ok. I said yes, he moved on, and I was left with my arch-enemy staring at me in the hallway. I begged her to please, not tell anyone, as I knew I may be the laughing stock of my eighth grade class. I may have threatened her a teensy bit? I’m not sure-the memory’s hazy- but middle school kids can be relentless. Sure enough, she never told. She may not have been a favorite of mine, but she at least earned some of my respect after that day.

My leg hasn’t fallen off recently (well, it almost did) and I don’t think it will. But even if it does, I still don’t think it will be as rewarding as the first time.

Tattoo Shops–What’s in a Name?

25 Sep

If you’re reading this, you are likely aware that the title of my blog is “The Girl With the Fake Leg Tattoo” and one subject I have not touched on yet, is tattoos.
Choosing a tattoo shop should be a big deal-if you choose the wrong place, you can be stuck with crappy artwork on your body forever! So where did I get my tattoos? My first tattoo I got at 16 at a local shop. My next two I got at ages 17 and 20 from friends at tattoo parties. One turned out really awesome, the other, not so much; I ended up getting it tattooed over, after many years of suffering with it. What can I say? I was young and stupid. I’ve been lucky lately that several of my friends and acquaintances from high school and college ended up being tattoo artists, and for my last few tattoos, I’ve given some of them my business. Unfortunately, the two guys I know best, work at shops that are REALLY far away.
I have some ideas for new tattoos, and I live in an area where there are lots of tattoo shops, so I was thinking about going to one close by. Some places nearby have been recommended by friends, and I’m fine with that. But since I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve been noticing a lot of tattoo shops on the way to work. And though it might seem silly, the name of a tattoo shop is very important to me.
Tattoo shops should really consider the name of their shop before opening one. First, I want a tattoo shop that at least sounds professional and classy. Baltimore Tattoo Museum, Read Street Tattoo Parlour, Main Street Tattoo–nice, normal-sounding names. I do not want to go to a place called Pinz and Needlez, Marked 4 Life, Double Elevens, Daddy Dice tattoos–they sound a little too “thuggish” to me–for lack of a better word.
I’m also O.K. with tattoo shops that have names that relate to the act of tattooing, like Sins of the Skin or Inkslingers. But please, make sure your tattoo shop’s name doesn’t sound like a strip joint-like Flesh or Exotic Pleasures.
“Artsy” names are sometimes fine too–for instance, I might go to Dragon Moon tattoo or Saints and Sinners. But be sure your tattoo shop’s name makes sense–House of Poncho’s? What does that even mean?(it also has a picture of a grenade on the sign–no idea) Why would I want a tattoo from Red Octopus or Iron Lotus? They have no meaning for me, or not even positive connotations. I also will not go anywhere that has “kreations” or “tattoo’s”.
Maybe I’m picky, but words mean a lot to me. But of course, names can be deceiving. I’m also not actually claiming that they do better tattoos at places with better names. Be sure to do your research and get recommendations from friends before getting a tattoo. Just don’t get your tattoo’s kreated at a place called, say, Skin Flicks.

The Unique World of Kids and Sports

2 Sep

     As a mom of a 9 year old boy, I’ve been widely exposed to the worlds of little league, basketball, and soccer; as the wife of a sports-lover, I have seen my husband try to teach my son such other sports as golf and tennis. He’s even tried gymnastics, since one of his best friends was really good at it! And though I am not a sports fanatic myself, I have loved watching my little boy develop into a well-rounded athlete. I love watching other kids play, too. It’s fun seeing their faces beam with pride when they make a great play, or watching as they learn to play as a team. I’m sure any parents who have kids that play sports can relate.
     In truth, I never fully expected to be so “into” watching him play-I was not brought up in a sports-watching family. Nor have I ever excelled in athletics myself ( not for lack of trying, which I will talk about in my next post). But kids’ sports really do hold my interest; one of most entertaining parts of having been brought into the fold of all of these kids’ sports games, is witnessing the silly things that kids do. Things that you would never see happen in pro sports game: Piles of kids diving for the ball in the infield; Boys sliding along like skaters, instead of running, on the slippery school basketball court; girls taking 10 putts to get their balls in the mini-golf hole; my son, at4, having fits every time he had to put on shin guards and cleats for soccer.
     The first sport my son Jonah tried, at 2, was golf, thanks to his dad; we’ve played a LOT of mini-golf since. My husband has been pretty good about trying to get Jonah to hold the club, putt, and play  right way, and he’s been receptive; but I’ve noticed many kids aren’t too concerned with that. This results in lots of do-over shots. And kids who just drag the ball along the green with their clubs to get it into the hole. Or kids who do the exact opposite, swinging the club like they’re at the driving range, endangering their fellow golfers. 
     Jonah’s first team sport was soccer. He played for2 seasons, and the whole time, all he did was run around the field, away from the action, because he was afraid of being kicked. Whenever the ball was in play, all the kids seemed to crowd around it, kicking each other or piling on top of it in their attempts to protect it. And there was one kid who would pick up the ball at least 2 times per game, no matter how many times they told him not to. 
     Next came baseball. Tee-ball was a bit painful, in that a no-hitter is definitely not a good thing, when the kids really can’t hit any of the balls; but their sheer cuteness made up for it. For the first few games, and some after, whenever a ball landed in the field, ALL the kids would go for it, resulting in pile-ups (the pile up seems to be a common occurrence in kids’ sports). And there were always those kids who were more interested in playing in the dirt in the outfield, than playing in the game. Nowadays, I’m surprised at how emotional kids can be when they lose a game. Ever heard the saying “There’s no crying in baseball”? Well there’s definitely crying in little league. I’ve seen benches full of 8/9 year old boys in tears over losing “the big game”. 
     But perhaps the most entertaining to watch has been basketball. I’ve seen a little boy who didn’t really get the team concept, walk off of the court mid-game, several times, to ask his mom for snacks and water. I’ve witnessed many kids being complete ball hogs, doing fast breaks every time they got possession of the ball, and trying to shoot instead of using their teammates. One of my son’s teammates would actually try to shoot 3-pointers every time he got the ball–sometimes with success, most times not.  There was even one boy who seemed to have his own offensive strategy; every time he got the ball and he couldn’t get away from kids on the other team who were trying to block him, he’d just throw himself down and fall on the floor.
     And one day a funny thought popped into my head: What if some of the same things that happened in kids’ sports actually happened in pro-sports? What if Nick Markakis had to run to the woods to pee in between innings? Or if Adam Jones’ dad had to help him tuck in his jersey, or double-knot his shoe laces before the game? Can you imagine David Beckham suddenly forgetting his position and having to leave the field to ask the coach what to do?Or Kobe Bryant’s mom coming to wipe his sniffly nose during a time-out? What about Phil Mickelson having to fish his ball out of every water-hazard? Or Tiger Woods swinging his driver around like a crazy baton or pretending it’s a baseball bat?  
     In any case, watching kids play sports is truly a unique experience. You never know what’s gonna happen. And you won’t know unless you see it for yourself. 

Fake legs in the movies

20 Aug

 

Movie Blog

 
“My name is Amber, I’ve got Hepatitis B, a mad case of bedbugs, and I’m rockin’ one leg.”  If you don’t recognize them, these are the words of Amy Poehler’s tragically funny one-legged character on SNL. Every time I saw one of her skits, I couldn’t decide whether  to be offended or not, because while she was extremely proud, cocky even, about her one-legged status, she was also kind of pitiful and cringeworthy. SNL put Amber in such unlikely scenarios as contestant on “America’s Top Model” and “Rock of Love” as she hops around, burps and farts unapologetically. She has a white-trash wardrobe, a “hardcore learning disability”, and she falls over a lot.  So again, while she “owns” the fact that she has one leg, she also “owns” every other disgusting characteristic. So is her audience supposed to see one-legged people as disgusting? I’m not sure. 
     There are many movies and TV shows that have had one-legged characters throughout the years, and most of them, I appreciate. It seems that in any movies that have a main character with a disability, it’s always some inspirational story of overcoming obstacles, but I’m not talking about those;  I’m talking about the funny, adventurous ones.
     “Friends” character Joey accidentally throwing his date’s fake leg into the fire because he thought it was a log? Hilarious. A gunfight scene in “Darkman” where one of the guys takes off his leg to use it as a machine gun? Awesome (I always wanted a shoe phone like Max in “Get Smart” by the way). Rose McGowan’s fake-legged stripper character in”Grindhouse/Planet Terror”,  whose new boyfriend makes her a futuristic machine gun prosthetic? Badass!
     But there are some not-so-awesome scenes with fake-legged characters, too. The scene in Stephen King’s mini-series version of “The Stand” where an old dude gets beaten to death with his own fake leg? NOT cool-got me started thinking that it would really SUCK if that happened to me one day. The otherwise beautiful girl who has to call “Ace Bigelow: Male Gigolo” because she has a fake leg and can’t get a date? Puh-leeeez! That could be further than the truth. I never had a problem finding dates, and all attractive ones, thank you very much. Although I did start wondering after college, if some of those guys dated me just so they could say they went out with a girl with a fake leg. 
     And my tiny pinkie–I told you it’d be making a cameo in this post. Remember, most everyone I meet thinks it’s cute, so I never had any reason to feel self-conscious about it UNTIL I saw Chris Elliot in “Scary Movie 2” who has a tiny little deformed hand with tiny fingers poking out. And yes, his character is kinda gross…he stirs cake batter with his little hand while everyone in the movie winces. After that I started wondering, what if people see my little hand and think it’s freaky, not cute? And that made me sad. 
      But, I think it’s pretty easy for people, in general, to be offended by things they see in movies that “hit a little too close to home”. And people’s opinions of movies/tv shows, are in actuality, very subjective. What one fake-legged person sees as funny, another may abhor. And I really doubt that any of my friends see Amy Poehler’s Amber and think of me! The reason I’m not completely offended by it, is that I KNOW people are different; people find different things funny. 
     I guess my rule of thumb (or tiny pinkie) for judging the portrayal of characters with disabilities is the same as it is in real life. In real life, I believe in free speech. I don’t have to agree with everything a person says-I can have my own opinion about it and they still have the right to say it. If someone makes a movie you don’t like, you don’t have to watch it. But if a person or group is spewing hatred or untruths, or are personally hurting, bullying, making fun of, or mocking someone, that is where I draw the line.  Sometimes mean can be funny, but sometimes mean is just mean. 

My Tiny Obsession

5 Aug

Tiny PinkieI took an unintentional hiatus this week, because of a busy schedule and because of my newfound obsession to online Family Feud. But I digress. I want to talk about another obsession-my obsession with all things tiny.
I LOVE tiny things! Baby tennis shoes, baby fingers, baby toes–I squeal at the sight of them. Little pens, paper, colored pencils, tiny books-I get overwhelmed just thinking of their cuteness. Miniature utensils, cups, plates…I just want to eat with them everyday. Make-up is the worst–all those mini lipsticks, glosses, nail polishes. And tiny little Knick-knacks–forget about it!
I get so excited by all the tiny things I see in stores, I have to take a step back so that I don’t give in to my instant impulse to buy them. I have learned to keep my habit under control. I think I can trace my obsession back to my love of Hello Kitty as a child-so many miniatures of every kind. But My parents could never afford to buy much of it and it was harder to find back then, so maybe I’m trying to make up for lost time.
And I have another confession to make. My fake leg is not the only unusual thing about me. If you’ll notice in the picture, I have a tiny pinkie. It’s smaller than all the rest of my fingers, and I’ve always thought it was cute, even though it’s missing two knuckles. I call it my baby pinkie. When I play Monopoly, I am always the thimble because It fits on my little finger. Miniature jewelry, like rings you hang on a necklace, they fit on my finger, too. And most everyone I know thinks it’s cute, too. Maybe that’s why I love tiny things, because I was born with a tiny pinkie.
I really just needed to get this off my chest. No real message here, but my pinkie will be making a cameo in my next blog post, which will examine characters with fake legs in movies and on TV.

My Shoes

25 Jul

OK–Can’t figure out quickly how to create link, so I am posting it.

My Shoes
My shoes are not very dainty or lady-like.
They are not strappy sandals or
cute kitten heels.
They are not playful platforms or
sparkly slingbacks.
They are not flirty little numbers or
sexy stilettos.
They are decidedly unglamorous.
But, my shoes are sensible and
keep me steady on my feet.
They do not wear down easily.
They are sturdy
with long-lasting soles.
Just like a woman.

Why is there always just one shoe on the side of the road?

25 Jul


“Boots and shoes are the greatest trouble of my life.”—George Eliot
I tend to agree with this quote—I have a lot of trouble with shoes, which I will discuss briefly later. But something that has troubled me for years is the mystery of why there always seems to be just one shoe on the side of the road. I see it all over, driving down sidestreets, highways, interstates. Always one shoe. Never a pair. So in order to answer my own questions, I have decided to explore this phenomenon.
I truly have questioned it for years. First, whose shoe is it? Are there specific types of people—kids, construction workers, drunks, who are continually losing just one shoe? Next, how does it happen? Did it fly off some guy’s foot sticking out of a car window? Maybe two kids on a road trip got in a fight in the backseat of the car, and one threw the other’s shoe out? Was it someone whose car broke down, got annoyed by the feel of it and flung it off in a rage, while walking for help? Or did a drunken girl, in her walk of shame, trip and lose the shoe and, in her stupor, just decide not to pick it up? Did someone with a shoe fetish deem the shoe unworthy and just chuck it from his collection? There are many possibilities.
Seriously, why just shoes? Why not hats or gloves or other articles of clothing? Why not other items that could easily fly out of a car—CD’s, ice scrapers, sunglasses, coffee cups? It bothers me to no end. Since the “one shoe” thing just boggles my mind, I decided, for my own sanity, that it has to have some meaning, it has to be a symbol for something. So I did my research. I discovered that in dreams, shoes represent one’s approach to life. For instance, dreaming of sturdy shoes might mean that you are determined or headed in the right direction. Missing shoes may mean that you have self-esteem issues. Losing shoes might signify that you are trying to find your identity.
Thinking of shoes somehow reminded me of literature from my English teaching career–the infamous Cinderella story, where a sweet, genuine, kind, yet tortured girl, finds true love in losing just one, perfect glass slipper. The glass slipper is said to represent Cinderella’s untarnished, pure nature, yet shoes are also a symbol of wealth in many cultures. In some cultures, removing shoes is a symbol of respect and/or holiness. High heels, especially stilettos, represent sexiness in our culture. Shoes have different significance across different cultures.
On a more depressing note, this “shoe quest” also led me to remember the mountains of shoes left by victims of the Holocaust, and poems about them. So what does this all mean in regards to the one shoe on the side of the road? Absolutely NOTHING. In my research, I found that not even experts of the obscure had a good explanation for it. I have decided that each person must find his/her own significance for the shoe.
So I decided to examine my own relationship with shoes. I think shoes just annoy me, in general, and that’s why I find such issue with the shoe on the side of the road. When I was younger, I wanted shoes with a heel, but my ankle doesn’t bend, so my dad told me no. And despite years of indignation, I have realized he is right. I can’t wear just any shoe I want. No flip-flops because I don’t have real toes. I get annoyed when my friends have long conversations about cute shoes in front of me. And sometimes the shoes I DO have are REALLY hard to get on my fake foot, so I have to use a shoe horn. I mean, who else has to do that? But I have come to terms with my shoe relationship-I even wrote a poem about it a while back (which again, I will link if I figure out how).
So what is the meaning of the shoe on the side of the road? Maybe it’s just there to remind us to take the right path, that no matter where we go, we can surely find a shoe that fits, even if we take a difficult path.

Yes, I have a fake leg.

23 Jul

Yes, I have a fake leg..