So I've been trying to integrate the long white cane back into my life. When I lived in Columbus, it was easier to do so. There was so much disability awareness around campus, and well, campus and its adjacent neighborhoods made up most of the parts of the city I hung around in. In Pittsburgh it is not as easy, especially in my neighborhood. People are free with their comments. Sometimes (most of the time) I don't want to be noticed for my cane, or to be a one-woman disability education-service (e.g. "Not all people who use a cane are completely blind...")
But the cane needs to come back. I'm just safer when using it, not only at night, but in the rain, in bright sunlight... lots of lighting and terrain conditions are made easier for me when I use it. Also, cars and people tend to stay out of my way. It's taxing to my identity though. I can't "pass" any more. So yesterday there was supposed to be this really cool reading / talk at Pitt about / from the Beauty is a Verb anthology. I was so stoked to perhaps meet Jennifer Bartlett (if I was lucky) and to maybe have her sign my book (double lucky) and to maybe even have a five-minute conversation with her (triple-extra lucky). With this emotional energy bolstering me, I vowed that yesterday would be Cane Coming Out day. Kind of like the opposite of cold turkey. I was going to give a big push to my psyche and just start using it. Every day. All the time when outside. Like I did when I lived in Columbus. I wasn't going to share my little goal with anyone, but my reward for the first day would be to go to this awesome reading.
And then Pitt canceled both their events. I heard they postponed them until September. The University has been plagued with bomb threats (if you didn't hear) and I had this shivery-up-and-down-my-spine feeling that they were canceling the event on the potential of a threat because of the idea of evacuating so many people with disabilities. And I didn't like to dwell on that thought, or what it implied, because it put me in a very-much-NOT Cane Coming Out Day headspace. I talked to a friend on the phone about it fifteen minutes later and she also brought up this thought (that they canceled it because of the idea of evacuating, etc. etc.). I do wonder if the reading had been some "ordinary" poets, and not had a draw specifically for people with disabilities, if it would have been canceled. To repeat: there was not an actual bomb threat made.
But I kept to my goal and used the cane for the whole day. It was a reallllllly emotionally taxing day though. I talked about anger so much in my therapy session that I felt like beating things and whipping rocks at houses I passed when I got out. But then the anger dissipated. And, double-yay, no one gave me any shit about the cane.
I did run into a gaggle of neighborhood girls on last bit of the way home, walking up my hill. Long child-legs in shorts. Hair braided with springtime colors of beads like bright greens and pinks. They were the cutest. I would guess they were somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. I'm bad at guessing the ages of children.
Our sidewalks are really narrow, plus cars park on the sidewalks because the street is narrow, occluding half the narrow sidewalk. There's lots of awkward walking situations on my side of the sidewalk up to my house because of the cars. They came toward me in an oblivious (?) wall. We all sort of stopped in a heap, because no one could go into the street on account of an SUV or 3 was parked, blocking us.
I said, "excuse me" in a tiny voice. I'm rather shy. I know they're just children but there were so many of them. This one girl looked up at me incredulously and said, "are you blind?" like she was observing a solar eclipse or something. It was so cute; it touched my heart because she was small. I said, "a little bit." Then, "mostly." They parted and let me pass and they were on their way and I was on mine. I hope I didn't sound mean. I felt very tense. But little kids get a free pass, especially girls. Yes, a blind person can look like me, I will be happy (genuinely) to let you know.
This morning everything is making me cry. I'm crying about submitting another MS to a contest because of the money. $20 here, $20 there. Since January I've felt really tense about money. I'm crying because I'm thinking about going outside again and who will be out there. In Oakland people didn't seem to notice, which is fine with me. But the South Side is where I get hassled in general, mostly by guys who like to say things to petite young women walking alone.
Just a note: If one person comments and says "just let it roll off you," I'm going to work out my anger management issues on you, or your blog, or your Facebook wall. If I could "let it roll off me," I wouldn't be blogging about it. I'm thinking about one specific person here. My brain lasers are trained on you.
But.... but I am going to try to breathe through it. And make my aura big.