A Grumpy Day

Banks_of_the_CharlesI am grumpy and this post reflects that.

This morning dawned cloudy and cool, which was refreshing after two days in sweltering Boston; there is a reason one lives in Vermont. We were in Boston for family and work. Jennie discovered a hotel deal so we stayed in Cambridge, right on Harvard Square, and enjoyed avoiding the commute. The new Cooper Museum at Harvard was across the street, and we caught the last day of a truly moving exhibition there. The small museum is dedicated to African and African-American art; the show was predominantly contemporary and explored the African diaspora as experienced by living artists.

Then we crossed the bridge to Boston to meet up with my stepson, Daniel, who is an artist and arts administrator. Daniel is working hard to bring accessibility to one of the city’s iconic, and inaccessible, visual arts institutions. a building surrounded by even less accessible galleries and stores. (We are so proud of him!) Actually, I had the same issue in Cambridge, where, as in Boston, many stores, restaurants, and galleries are in historic buildings, and thus are exempted from most accessibility standards. I lost count of the number of times I found myself looking up a set of stairs and calculating the cost of ascending and descending them.

By the end of the day  I was stewing, a condition that apparently continued overnight as I awoke this morning feeling angrier and more frustrated than I had when I went to bed. Aging with Post Polio requires and apparently endless set of negotiations as one losses function. The difference between now and two years ago is striking, and was once again underscored by my growing reticence, then refusal, to go up stairs even to do things I really wanted to do. Even though  I refused to punish my legs, today they are weak and painful. DSC02733

All this took place in the context of the present political situation, in which one side rails against making spaces accessible for persons with disabilities and threatens to do away with the very legislation that makes any semblance of accessibility possible. At the same time, the other principal party has adopted the Neo-liberal position that supports some accommodations while systematically undercutting the programs of support that make life with a disability possible for innumerable people.

Both sides agree on the project of blaming persons with disabilities for our challenges. Although their rhetoric differs, they insist that everyone could be wealthy and healthy, and thus, need no accommodations, if we simply worked hard enough. By doing so, they ignore the simple truth that any system contains a finite amount of energy, and that concentrations of resources in one quadrant leave scarcity in another. (Ironically, Post Polio is associated with a lifetime of making too many demands on a Polio ravaged body, essentially being a condition of over achievement.)

Of course, our political leaders’ lack of empathy is not limited to issues of disability, but extends into the realms of economic and racial justice, and environmental stewardship. Their blaming  hearkens back to very dark days, indeed.  As a young adult I accepted the task of holding a healing vision for the present, and for future generations; today I am finding hope for the future illusive.


18 thoughts on “A Grumpy Day

  1. I sympathize with your grumpiness. Being in bed with a fever and head cold, I become aware of how my body and my attitude are related, and awed at how healing feels at deep levels. I wonder if our systems could begin to look at programs of assistance and equity like a parent would look at their children. Instead of insisting that they learn to compete and “win” or “earn” basic needs and favoring those who do, you would simply work toward treating them fairly so that they all would live as happily as possible. Why do people think that governments are overindulgent when they try to be good? I suppose the same people think that parents are overindulgent when they try to be good.

      1. Actually, the “overindulgence” I’m enjoying is that I have only seen my partner Steve since Thursday. When I’m sick, “I vant to be alooone”! 😉

    1. Thanks, Cynthia. Fortunately, moods pass, even as the craziness seems to worsen. I can never understand how it can be so difficult to make accessibility a part of everyday conversation. Then there are a host of other issues, that are even more difficult to raise successfully, as you too well know. Still, there is goodness to be tasted……

  2. Thanks for sharing your grump! It seems to me that people’s eyes and hearts are open when they hear the pain and frustration that are caused by inequality and unfair economic decisions. But then, some people believe that the power with money will do the right thing for all if there are no government regulations put on them and enough money is funneled their way. It sure has seemed like a long time since some of that has trickled down – and the trickle has had less volume. Anyway, it is frustrating to have to do a cost/benefit analysis every time we want something in our daily environment, but when we are someplace as exciting as Boston and can’t participate in all the stimulating, exciting opportunities (like even a stroll to the corner coffee shop) it becomes emotionally overwhelming in its pain. My heart hurts for you this morning, Michael. I wish I could fix it.

    1. Pat, a few weeks ago the IMF publish a major paper saying that trickle down simply and utterly failed! The IMF!!!!!
      I wonder how much anyone can hear anyone else right now, but hope is still with me. Anyway, thanks for your note. I know you get it! Fortunately, the coffee shop was accessible!

  3. I think in this country we do well for providing disabled access, facilities, etc. At least, as far as I know. Not being disabled it is not something I look out for, but your posts have given me a new appraisal for the places I visit.

    1. Andy, I think it depends on where on is, very like here. I have found London very difficult, especially the tube, but it has been a while since I tried. I am much more disabled since our last UK trip a few years ago, but we may try to make it over sometime this next year. By the way, I love Padua – a very disability friendly city. We’ve been chatting about retiring there…..

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