Saturday, September 20, 2008

Split in Two

Do you ever have one of those days... er, weeks... er, months? Times when you feel like you're on an emotional rollercoaster?

September has been a shitty month. There's no polite way to say it. September has been a terribly shitty month!

Upon my return from England, I heard about my dear friend Aaron having cancer, which is so unfair! Why must such a terrible thing happen to such a sweet, unassuming guy?

I had two of my employees quit on me, and others who wanted their shifts switched around. (I understand that people's lives change, and dealing with this type of thing is just part of having Direct Funding and being able to choose who works for me - but, god, sometimes I feel like in scheduling hell!)

Rob's easy chair is falling apart. The front left wheel
on my commode still hasn't been repaired yet. In fact, there hasn't been any OT person visiting yet to do an assessment of the problem. It's kind of a race now to see if Rob will get a new easy chair before I get my new commode. My bet is firmly on Rob.

My mother very, very kindly has offered to buy us a new easy chair. My mother is a wonderful woman!

If I could afford it, I'd buy Rob a chair myself. Hell, if I could afford it, I'd simply buy myself a new commode!

But I can't. Sales at the St. Lawrence Market has been absolutely dismal. Look up "starving artist" in the encyclopedia and you will, most certainly, see a picture of me.

Next weekend, I'm going to be a vendor at Queens Quay Pet Show, which I'm very hopeful about! It replaces my hope about the consulting job at Bloorview Kids Rehab. I recently heard that this project doesn't start until Spring '09!

On Thursday Lenny and I went to a workshop called "A Call to Action to End Poverty for People with Disabilities in Ontario: Imagine an Ontario where no one ever went hungry and where everyone was treated with dignity and respect!" It was hosted by ARCH Disability Law Centre and Disability Studies in Toronto.

The email they sent me as an invitation to the workshop intrigued me: "The Ontario Government has announced that it will develop a poverty reduction strategy by the end of 2008. Public consultations are being held across Ontario. We want to make sure that people with disabilities who are living in poverty get consulted and are actively involved in efforts to end poverty in Ontario."

Was the government finally going to do something about poverty, especially poverty in relation to people with disabilities? I was reservedly hopeful.

There were about 25 there, and we were all saying how insane it was for the government to expect people on Welfare to rent an apartment for $350.0o. People with disabilities, like me, who receive the meagre ODSP monthly pension were all saying the same things: 1) we should get an increase in funds so that we're not living below the poverty line, 2) ODSP should not penalize people for receiving monetary funds from friends and family (such a practise traps us in poverty forever), and 3) we should not have our meagre funds scrutinized every year by ODSP; it's a truly humiliating experience! And, if we send in our taxes every year, why must ODSP scrutinize the little money we have?

We were asked what would we do if we didn't live in poverty. Right away, I said I'd get out of subsidized housing and get a bigger, nicer place. (I hate the fact that I have limited choice of where I can live!) Other people said that more money would mean being able to buy healthy food for their families, or to take a yearly vacation, or pay for childcare. Nobody suggested anything outrageous like caviar or diamonnd rings. We all just wanted to have a better life and live with some dignity.

The workshop made me feel good - empowered! And yet, I doubted whether anything would happen... within the near future anyway. And, with the election coming up, I'm even more doubtful. When elections come up, people with disabilities (and other minorities) are forgotten.

And yet, I have to have hope. I have to keep fighting, fighting to have my voice heard and change things for the better.

Well, I feel better now. Pouring my guts out in prose always helps. It's very theraputic for me. I'm neither sad nor overjoyed, just resigned and determined.

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