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Hello All –

I’m hoping you have a bit of time on your hands because I’ve got a sneaking feeling that this post will be of the long-form variety. In a good way, of course. At least, I hope.

I just zipped through (delightedly, I might add!) the uber thoughtful and insightful Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig. Though we haven’t actually met in person, her writing, (which I cannot recall how I discovered it) makes me feel as though we are friends. Rebekah writes with an honesty, fierceness, and passion that invokes the same in me, from a perspective similar (we both have beautiful and flawed bodies!) and different – hers ambulates primarily via wheelchair.

Her book examines the ways in which disabled people experience the world and how improving our collective thinking about their bodies and access (my goodness the workarounds of the wheelchair bound!) utlitmately benefits us all.

When I was in college, yakking it up among a group of male friends, a blind woman and her dog approached to ask me where she could find the bathroom. I gave the most succinct directions I could and received the loudest tongue lashing imaginable about her blindness and how dare I expect her to understand. The vitriol parted the group as though the Red Sea, and I shamefully guided her by the elbow along the path I so carefully described.

Decades later, I remain peeved by the interaction, for two reasons. 1. had she clearly communicated with me that she needed my physical guidance, I would have done it. I was and remain that person. 2. More importantly, why wasn’t this something our school provided? The reason for her rage certainly justified, though there is still no excuse for her berating me. I was not about to insult the intelligence of someone without my same abilities.

But now, as I do some foggy math, I wonder, was this in the fall of 1989, my first semester of college and before the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 (If you want to see the marvelous story of many of the people instrumental to the legistlation, watch Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution)? Before something as simple as someone guiding a woman to all the necessary (or even frivolous!) places on campus seemed logical? Before the inevitable stress of isolation and an urgent need to pee(!!) in an unfamiliar environment caused her to lash out at me. And after which, whenever I saw her, I immediately shut my trap for fear of it happening again. I mean, really, how simple it all could have been.

That interaction, as it goes with the most painful, taught me some valuable lessons of clarity in communication and how to be truly helpful. In times since, when I encounter someone with a disability, I ask: “I know this isn’t your first rodeo, but if you need help with that door, let me know.” Or others in wheelchairs, shorter than me, or otherwise hindered, “I’m not the tallest person around, but if there’s something you can’t reach, I’m happy to try.”

What is even more important, and what Rebekah emphasizes, is how we can make this a seamless process for everyone. Which reminds me of another woman, who rode her wheelchair, sometimes with a child on her lap, on the busiest of roads in Portland. My initial feeling was of horror and rage. How dare she put herself and a child in danger like that?! A car could easily hit her. Then the realization hit me, after remembering walking those same streets. There were no wheelchair ramps! She, to get from point A to point B, was left with little choice.

So the question remains — How do we make all spaces more accesible to all? Wouldn’t it be great if there were solutions everywhere, without anyone feeling impotent, or forced into dangerous situations, or hoping for some stranger to offer aid?

Rebekah also discusses bodies that don’t appear disabled, like mine when I am severely depressed, or when I lived with the chronic and debilitating pain of endometriosis. The lousy feeling of being other. How my cheerful demeanor, because, despite how awful I felt, life was still good, made doctors and others doubt me, brush me off, act as though it was only an attention grab. “You just need to learn to relax.” (In actuality my insides were ripping apart. Literally.) “Write a list to make you feel happy!” These responses made me fear telling anyone, because they had the solution to my very simple problem (grrrr….), and I was just a weak and defective idiot, unworthy of love or trust.

She also writes about the common fear (one I share) of a job loss that would deprive us of insurance and critical care. The threat of bankruptcy and outrageous premiums for a pre-existing condition laden body.

What might be most striking about Rebekah’s book, is when she encounters people with the belief that a life without disability is the only one worth living. I can say with certainty, based on my own experience, and witnessing that of my cousin, whose genetic disorder has delayed her walking and speech, lives mostly in a world of her making, one in which she scoots and crawls about, shouting and flapping her arms in laughter and raucous joy, is, quite possibly, one of the happiest people I know. I am enriched and enlightened by her, more thoughtful and clear of purpose in her presence. More joyful, too.

 A million thanks to Veterans and their families, for all you have given, for all you continue to give.

So many things happening here – summer, glorious summer, has arrived, and I’ve been enjoying it ever so much, silliness and heat and bright light with sunglasses, sprinkled with every manner of ripe, delicious fruit. I devour cherries by the pound with nectarine and cantaloupe chasers, a steady drip of succulent juice on my chin. And the plums will be here soon! The feeling of warmth, too, without layer upon layer of clothing is blissful, and that heavenly blue of the sky is what keeps me going through the long wet of winter and spring.

We’ve been reading a lot, nearing the home stretch on the first book of The Game of Thrones. We sit in the living room, and I draw and paint while he reads, sometimes slowly sipping a little whiskey or port. He needs no other distraction, happy to close his eyes, a cat on his lap, while I take my turn at the page. It all feels so homey and old-timey and special. It’s too bad the book isn’t as pleasant as the ritual. Drat, my friends, I am not terribly keen on keeping up with this story. I’ve tried, but it just isn’t my cuppa – far too much detail for this reader, of every kind. And I can’t help but feel that every character is a bit of a caricature, too. Oh well. So this one is it for me, and the hubster will fill me in on the rest, or perhaps we’ll get the television series off Netflix. Perhaps.

This photo demonstrates how impossibly adorable and spoiled our cats can be. Milo, as of late, loves to cuddle while I write. At first, he’s like a sack of potatoes over my left shoulder, purring and nudging my cheek, with me doing my best to type with one hand. When I decide he is too heavy, he squeezes behind me. Then, like Napoleon across Europe, he conquers the seat, until there is scarcely room for my own bottom, and he has to be exiled to St. Helena (also known as the hallway).

Finally, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear much from me over the next few weeks. I’m going to be out enjoying the weather a bit more, finishing some projects, generally letting the little man take hold of the world, if he is so inclined.

Happy Summer!


Happy Monday, one and all! We’re in Reed Canyon, enjoying one of Laura O. Foster’s Portland Hill Walks on the sunniest of Earth Days. Gosh it was lovely yesterday, eighty-two degrees, I think, and part of three days of warm temperatures in a row, with sun!

We walked to the walk, which was ever so fine. Short-sleeves and sunglasses and sunscreen required.

As per usual, we learned a lot, despite the location being a frequent destination for us, though we’d never actually ventured into the canyon before, usually taking the bridge over the water.

It was cool to see it from this perspective, to be, quite literally, in the thick of it. Our feet squished in a bottom land full of all manner of plants and flying creatures. There was a cacophony of birds and bees and who knows what else zooming to important destinations.

The air was rich with moss and oxygen, flowers and decay.

On our way home now. People decorate with everything in these parts.

And drive very personalized vehicles. Have I told you about the black van with the “Halen” license plate? Eighties music fans rejoice! Too bad I didn’t have my camera that day.

Upon our return home, the hubster was ever so tired and napped on the patio with Paris. Though he doesn’t really need to be tired for such activity. He is that kind of sleeper. Sometimes I envy him for it, but mostly I watch and smile and sometimes laugh.

This is from today – look at the sunshine streaming in the window! It was perfect for hanging out with one my littlest friends. We’re spending more time together while his Mommy takes care of her cancer. Today, he watched me hang clothes on the line, hunted cats and gnomes in the backyard, made full use of the laundry chute, threw paper airplanes, ate ravioli, and made a cake.

He was very pleased with the way it turned out. It is almost Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba!

My name is Colleen, and I like to dance…


Some ever so random bits and bobs for you today. My mind is a wandering one. Its oft preferred state, which, after some overly obsessive and incredibly tiresome thinking suits me fine. Uh-huh.

First, a little more leg than I anticipated, but whatever. Call me a slut, but my neighbor beat you to the punch on whore. Because if a little leg, using birth control before having my internal lady parts removed (read about it here: 1, 2, 3, 4) , and enjoying sex with my husband make me one, I say, in for a penny, in for a pound. Anyhoo, the socks beg to be seen! They are from Gumball Poodle (oddly, I bought mine at New Seasons) and are perfect for roller skating, even when hidden under cropped pants, with many other neat-o options. Meat, anyone? Beer? Bacon?

Second, a little listening. Do you know about Poking Smot? I must say that I, in no way or shape, like this moniker. Really? That’s the best you got? Well, I shall forgive you because your website is so freakin’ awesome that it nearly makes my head spin. Music, so very much music: new, old, jazzy, synthy, rocky, poppy (currently jiving and toe tapping to Sandy Bull’s “Blend”). Merde et zut alors! This place could be the site of my downfall. I’ll just listen to one more song and be on my way, oh and another, but wait, they’ve got that? Down for the count peeps, d-o-w-n!

Third, a little reading. This is a shout out for local writer K.B. Dixon who sent me a copy of his book, The Photo Album. It is a very quirky, Colleen-style tale. A warm breeze of an afternoon read and well worth the time, it’s an imaginary photo album (hence the title) with captions. What was happening there? What was intended? What don’t we see? Filled with details of places I love and very much home. It made me think, laugh, and sigh with wonder.

Fourth, a little watching. And contrast. First, another one of my man-crushes, Zach Galifianiakis (I’m not kidding), in a supporting role (with Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson – a fine trio if ever there was) in a truly awesome and also very Colleen-style comedy series, Bored to Death. I think I’ve mentioned this bit of kooky before, but dang, do I love it so. The hubster can’t get enough of it either, I might add. We laugh until we cry and always want more. Luckily we’ve got DVD number two waiting for us to-night. It’s on, bitches! (Just for you, Amber)

Now to the contrast, The Yellow Handkerchief. It follows Brett (William Hurt) after his release from prison, searching for a new hold on life and remembering May (Maria Bellow), the love he left behind. Then there is Martine (Kristen Stewart) and Gordy (handsome Eddie Redmayne), young and inexperienced, escaping home, awkward and yearning for a connection, to no longer be outsiders and first forgotten. They travel in Gordy’s car, through the post Katrina aftermath, taking ill used highways and discovering unexpected places, especially within themselves. Sweet and sad and happy.

Fifth, a little love, for you, sweet readers, and Friday. Have a tip-top, hat’s-off, groove-on weekend!

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