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Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer

Month

July 2011

Have Power Chair … Will Travel

I am SICK TO DEATH of bumming rides.  (Okay, I know it’s a cliche’, but I can’t think of anything original.  Fellow writers, help me out here.)  Since I don’t drive, I’m forever asking favors.  Do you mind and could you please take me to the drugstore/grocery store/doctor’s office?  With my mother recovering from an illness and also unable to drive, it’s really starting to wear on me (yes, another cliche’.)  One thing I’ve learned being disabled, people genuinely want to help.  It makes others feel good.  It makes me feel like an eight year old in tights being chauffeured to gymnastics.

I’ve tried relying on the public transportation available to me.  If you’ve read my memoir excerpt “Riding the Short Bus.” you know I occasionally ride JTA’s door-to-door bus service for the disabled.  It has some shortcomings.  If I schedule a 10:00-10:30 a.m. pick up to go to Publix, the earliest I can schedule a ride home is 12:00-12:30 p.m.  I could be shopping by 10:15 a.m., but not be home until 1:00 p.m. or later.  Better not get ice cream.

If you’re beach bound only, there’s also Dial-A-Ride.  I experimented with that service last week.  First, there was no answer.  This did not bode well for Dial-A-Ride.  Or for me.  Then, though I had called the required 24 hours in advance, they were all booked up.  When I picked a different day, they told me what time I would be going shopping.  I had to be available all day.  Hey, I’m disabled, right?  I have nothing better to do. Continue reading “Have Power Chair … Will Travel”

Willing to be Dazzled

This past Friday, I went to a memorial service for a woman named Rosemary Fletcher.  Because she was a dance professor, there was a beautiful performance of modern dance.  After many heartfelt words and shared memories, everyone got up and sang.  Some even shook their stuff.  Joy through tears — a wonderful emotion.  Guests were encouraged to leave with packets of wildflower seeds tied with sprigs of, what else?  Rosemary.  Is it inappropriate to say it was the best funeral I’ve ever attended?

I was touched by an excerpt of poetry read from Mary Oliver’s “The Ponds.”  It perfectly embodies how Rosemary lived her life.  It is how I hope to live mine and invite you to live yours.

Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled —

to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even

to float a little

above this difficult world. 

I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.

I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —

that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum

of each flawed blossom rising and fading.  And I do.

In loving memory, Rosemary Susan Fletcher 1950-2011

Pet People

I’ve become one of those crazy animal ladies.  Notice I didn’t say crazy cat ladies, because, to be honest, Bella and I have never had a problem.  And Bella is just one cat.  I think you have to have four or more to be official.  Three is pushing it.  If you live with a significant other or kids, you’re safe.  Don’t ask me why.  I don’t make the rules.  No, the problem started when Frankie came to live with us.

I bought a cat condo last week so Bella would have someplace to get away from him.  I always thought they were kind of tacky.  But, like parents who say they’ll never leave toys strewn about the living room, it happens.  Out of necessity.  And for me, guilt.  Guilt for bringing a dog into the house.  So I bought what I considered to be a more tasteful one.  A ridiculous amount of money for carpet and sisal rope, it sits unused in the corner.  She hasn’t touched it.

Mealtime has become tricky too.  First, Frankie got a can of wet food because it successfully disguised medicine.  Now Bella happily munches the moist stuff too.  Again – guilt.   I couldn’t very well treat him and not her.  My apartment used to smell like eucalyptus and incense.  Now it smells like salmon and giblets.  And that’s just going in.  With the two of them lying around all day passing gas, I’ve decided the cans should come with warning labels.  Possible side effect: intense flatulence.

I’ve even found myself saying the very things I used to roll my eyes about.  Things like, “We need to set up a play date!” or “Frankie will be at doggy daycare that day.”  I used to think daycare was for spoiled little rich dogs.  Now I defend it.  “He needs to socialize with other dogs!”  I say.  I believe in the power of the pack.  I think Cesar Millan is a god.

A friend of mine has a theory about all this pet mania.  It affects those of us who’ve never had children.  Or empty-nesters.  I’ll leave this one to the mommies and daddies out there.  I’m in no position to object.  All I know is my once impeccable apartment is littered with squeaky toys and if you’re wearing black, I’d advise against sitting down.  But I make no apologies.  They’re part of the family.

Keep It Simple Stupid!

 Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.  ~Lin Yutang

I have no idea who Lin Yutang is (or was,) but he’s a wise man (or woman.)  You see, I created a lot of pressure for myself in trying to write both for my blog and my book. I haven’t figured out how to do both.  When I’m concentrating on one, the other suffers.  So last week, when the juices started flowing for the book, (which I confess, they haven’t done in some time,) I wondered how on earth I would get it all done.

Then my friend (and fellow writer,) Mary, suggested I focus on the book and forget the blog.  At first my inner type A was indignant.  It scoffed at the idea.  And then I thought, yes.  Why not?  Will I get scads of angry e-mails from hundreds of disappointed readers?  I don’t flatter myself that there are that many.  Besides, the purpose of the blog is to familiarize people with my writing so they will buy my book.  So, I finished another memoir chapter and I’m writing this in the final hour.

So much of our stress is self-induced.  Feeling short on time?  Do you really have to make that yoga class a third time this week?  If it’s stressing you out just to get there, you’re kind of defeating the purpose.  Will you or your family have to go naked if you skip the laundry this weekend?  Throw in a load of socks and underwear and be done with it.  Let it go.  You may find, like me, that once you let yourself off the hook, things are much easier to accomplish.  Sometimes it’s not the items themselves on the list that cause the tension, just the fact that there’s a list in the first place.  I’ll try to remember that next week.

Riding the Short Bus: An Excerpt

One evening, I was on my way home from the outpatient gym.  I’ve fallen into a bad habit since the hemorrhage.  Or maybe it’s not so much bad habit as it is human nature.  I’ve been comparing.  I see a lot of disabilities now and I decide in my head if someone is better or worse off than me.  It’s terrible I know, but it’s what I do.  Amputee?  Better off.  Prostheses are amazing now.  Mentally challenged but can walk?  Worse off.  I don’t think I’d trade my mind for any physical ability.

A blind woman was already on the bus when I was picked up.  I realized she was blind when I said hello and she responded in my general direction but seemed to make eye contact with my left shoulder.  Her eyes looked layered over with coke bottle glass.

Next we picked up a woman obviously coming from work.  She suffered from dwarfism.  I believe the politically correct statement is that she was a little person.  She couldn’t have been much over three feet high and she dragged a suitcase on wheels.  Her pudgy fingers were wrapped around a handle, that if extended, would have been well over her head.  I watched her begin the laborious climb up the three steps of the bus.  First she heaved the bag up one step and rested her hands on top of it while she positioned her feet on the step below.  The driver offered to help but she declined.  I stole a glance as she buckled her seat belt.  Her legs extended flat across the seat, her feet barely dangled over it.  Occasionally, I run across things I can’t reach or a car blocking my access to a curb.  I hate it when friends or well-meaning people put stuff in the very back of my freezer.  Or on the bar in the kitchen or on top of the fridge.  Or any other of the multitude of places that I can’t get to.  But this is only on occasion.  Her entire world is oversized.

Our motley crew continued on down Beach Boulevard when the driver stopped for a light.  I heard music coming from a Ford Explorer in the next lane.  A blonde had the window rolled down and her elbow out, resting on her knee.  I used to drive like that.  One foot tucked up under me.

The blonde turned to look at the bus and I felt grateful for the tinted windows.  I used to look at the short busses too, the blue handicapped symbol on the back, and wonder about the poor souls on board.  Now I’m on the inside.

The sun was setting so spectacularly that evening that I’m sure it would have warranted comment by the driver or passengers if one of those passengers hadn’t been a blind woman.  So instead, we all sat respectively silent in the warm glow of pinks and reds.  I watched as the woman adeptly handled her cell phone to call a friend, then a Chinese take-out place, something I can never do without misdialing or dropping the phone altogether.  Then I listened as she inquired about the specials and placed her order.  This is also something I cannot do as I’m hard to understand and often misunderstood or hung up on like a prank caller.  I thought about her eating her fried rice, something I avoid because it falls off the fork.  Then I turned in time to see the last of the pink sun sink beneath the horizon.

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