Monday, April 27

another day in place

In an effort to catch you up on the past few years (well, year, really) of my life, I have neglected to relay any part of the ongoing present, or current events.

Early boredom
But what's to say, really? We're all doing the same thing: staying home. Since my Left-Hand Man and I only recently moved to this home, the adjustment has not been that significant. We don't have work outside of our home or social gatherings to avoid since we don't have friends. We have a house and the two (and sometimes three) of us. We might as well be living on a desert island, except the beaches would not be closed.

Anyone else having flashbacks to every post-apocalyptic novel they ever read, wondering when the wandering marauders will start raiding for babies and canned tomatoes. Why babies, you ask? To start a new civilization, obviously. I will say I never saw toilet paper becoming the currency of this new world.

I can only imagine what it might be like when your ability to eat or feed your family is taken, but I am familiar with staying home. I stayed home most of my childhood, in fact. Homeschooled on the rural high desert southwest, isolation was a given. But boredom begets, by necessity, creativity. We had hours and hours to invent new worlds in juniper tree houses and crude wooden block fortresses that stretched across the family room floor.

And later, in my mid 20s, I experienced another bout of home-boundedness forced by physical collapse. I spent lots of time in a hammock, not only under house rest, but held hostage by my own body. This is when I started writing my book.

I've learned that being side-lined deserves gratitude, thought it frequently invites anger. The beaches closing actually felt like a personal insult to my spiritual wellbeing. I raged. I slept as much as possible. I'm still drinking gin and tonics, but I started painting. And now the Small Queen insists on painting with me, as in, when she wants to paint, I have to paint, too. And she is prolific.


Thursday, April 9

the small queen

There is a new small person in my life.
She is about two thirds my height, loves ice cream, music, and scaring anyone, at any moment, throughout the day.
As I mentioned in a previous post, after I met my left-hand man and got married, I gained a 5-year-old girl, in her adorable and whimsical prime.
She is BIG into fairytale at the moment. At any given time, she will be a fairy, unicorn, mermaid, or queen (not, she will inform you, a princess). She can produce any Frozen song (1 or 2) at any time, anywhere, complete with all lyrics memorized. 
"Guess what I'm going to be when I grow up? A stage singer," she has been informing us of late.
I'm so delighted by this small person, which is the very best way to describe her. And I'm impressed with the great honor and responsibility of the position of influence I've been given.

I am now regularly propositioned: "I need you to help me go to the bathroom." I guess it's more of a demand than a pitch, but at least she makes me feel needed. And by 'help' she means keep her company while she sits on the toilet, supply exactly four ply of toilet paper in due time, and wash your hands with her. I take my role in moral support very seriously.

When asked, as a 5yr old myself, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "A mommy." And as an adult, I have wondered what it would be like to be a one-armed mommy, never knowing if I would have the opportunity to find out. But apparently this small person is curious to know what it is like to be me, a nearly 40yr old newly married, unemployed woman trying to get in touch with her creative self.  
"Do you want to go swimming," I might propose to the small queen, and she will very likely respond, "Do YOU want to go swimming? I want to do what you want to do."

And when she is in the mood to learn my ways, she is a dedicated student. When we sit by the pool, me reading Vagina, A New Biography, and she one of various Frozen 2 adventures, she will wait to turn a page at the exact moment that I do. She waits to sip her hot chocolate for when I take a drink of my latte. She will refuse to wash her left hand unless I bend over sideways to allow Finneas a brief rinse. It's like being followed by a small robot, programing itself based on your actions.

Never have I been so aware of the way I do everything in my life. Now I know why moms are so exhausted. It's a huge job being the example template of adulthood. Frankly, it's overwhelming to think about, and I'm only part-time. But it also feels so exactly what I am meant to be at this time. She invites me to play with her, and what better way to spark my creative self. Whatever will I do when she stops requesting my presence at court by her porcelain throne?


Monday, February 3

my left-hand man

That was a pretty good cliffhanger I left you with, eh?

Yes, in a mere five months, I went from answering "How did you guys meet?" to "How's married life?" The first is much easier to answer...he rode a Harley with long salt and pepper curls to a coffee house and into my life. OK, we met online, BUT that is how we met in person. From then, we've spent most every day together until now, except that time I went to circus camp.

And that's how he became my Left-Hand Man. 

So many times love doesn't work out. And then it does. There was no flash of lightening, signaling trumpet or writing in the sky. I just knew he interested me and my interest did not wane. But this excited me so much I lost 10lbs in two weeks and woke up one morning to text my mom that I was going to marry this guy. Thankfully he agreed... over the phone, while returning ink cartridges to Target. I dare anyone to challenge his multi-tasking skills.

Falling in love with Left-Hand Man was like a quiet, but growing hum. It wasn't bells, whistles, or grand gestures. It was coming home. We had so much in common, it became redundant to express an opinion or preference. I found myself saying "me too" so often I worried he would think I was trying too hard. 

We have each lived quite a bit of life up to now; loved, lost, and left much of the arrogance of youth behind. It's the good time. I love his quiet, steady temperament; the way he prepares meals with special detail; and how he explains to his daughter that just because she is scared does not mean she isn't brave. And I still can't get over how spoiled I feel when he carries eight bags of food out of the grocery store while I carry none.


Tuesday, January 21

ten years

In May 2010, I posted for the first time to this blog, so we are nearing the 10th anniversary of the creation of OneArmGirl. That's gotta mean something, right?

Granted, I have sadly neglected this poor blog, and you faithful readers, if you are still out there, for the past four years. In the years 2017 and 2018, I wrote a total of one post respectively. Somehow it is worse that I took the time to write one!

As usual, there are reasons, but no real excuses for my lax creative integrity. I was in a raucously unhealthy relationship for longer than I'd like to put in writing. Not surprisingly, it sucked the life out of me, leaving little left to offer here, and too much shame to dig any deeper into my psyche. And strangely concurrently, my life got a lot more stable--I bought a house, got comfortable in my job, frequented local coffee shops--and I luxuriated in comfortable monotony.

But shame on me, as a self-identified memoirist, to avoid the real gunk of life!

It's a new year, a new era, and gunk of life I shall bring you. I admit this new resolve is somewhat selfish in nature (shocking for a vocation that demands self-absorption, I know!). I find myself now in the midst of a personal metamorphosis, the magnitude of which would measure at least a 5.5 if we had a Richter scale for such things (someone, please create one!). Not since moving back to New Mexico in 2009 have I intended as much difference in my life's focus and geography.

In the last year, I have found love, gotten married, become a step-mom, and moved to Florida. And now I want to write, for real.

Let the journey continue...


Friday, July 5

as the confetti settles

It's been a week since amputee circus camp came to an end.

Credit: Michael East
After five full days of playing and training, it all climaxed in a bang of confetti for the finale of our performance at the Ontario Contemporary Circus Showcase in Toronto.

The piece featured each camputee on her chosen apparatus: fabric, hoop, and Erin's celebrated hanging wheelchair. The one brave camper dude brought down the house with his hula hoop, tossing it into the air and catching it with his nub arm.

We certainly accomplished a lot in one week. We laughed-e.g. "Does anyone remember where I put my legs?"-We cried, in frustration and recognition, and we prevailed with no camper left on the ground. But though we were drawn together-literally grouped-over the commonality of limb difference, I was struck by our diversity. Even our physicality spanned a spectrum, and no two of us had lived the same experience in our bodies. I didn't find, as I expected, that working with other aerialists with missing limbs was particularly helpful in skill development because we were each so differently abled.

Instead, we had so much to learn and consider from one another because of our differences. I learned from Talli how one moves through the world with no arms; from Bonnie the importance of wheelchair accessibility and how often it is lacking; and from several that not all prosthetic legs are created equal. These are things that I never consider, that no one ever considers, until one is confronted by it.

On Saturday, our courageous teacher and camp co-leader, Tina Carter of Airhedz in the UK, was invited to a panel discussion around the question of accessibility in circus. She invited each of us to forward our ideas. But I think there are no concrete answers here. The most important thing is openness to learning from one another and believing that we all have important things to contribute, in circus and elsewhere. Accessibility is a state of mind. That's where it begins...


Wednesday, June 26

away to the circus

Hello there! I know, it's been a minute...or several years, whatever. Explanation? Well, I could say I ran away to the circus, which is kinda true, but I didn't run so much as take a plane, then a bus, then a train...and it wasn't several years ago, it was Saturday...and it's not Barnum and Bailey, it's circus camp...and no ordinary circus's amputee circus camp, or as we campers have affectionately termed it, Camputee 2019!

This is actually the second annual Amputee Circus Camp, hosted in Kingston, Ontario, at Kingston Circus Arts by the lovely and talented Erin Ball. Erin lost her legs below the knee several years ago. She was an aerialist before her accident, and she has continued with a mission to bring others with limb difference and disability into the world of circus.

So here I am. Just getting to hang out with other limb-less or partially-limbed folk from all over is novel enough, much less have the opportunity to play together on fabric, trapeze, and other aerial apparatus. It's surreal. 

Erin and Talli
There's a good variety of us with partial arms or legs or both. Very few times in my life have I had the pleasure of being in the majority when it comes to limb deficiency. And to find as many other folk with limb differences who are ALSO interested in circus arts is close to impossible. But then, "impossible" is a word we don't give much credit around here.

Of course we are all serious about circus and working so hard our entire bodies are aching with soreness, but the comedic potential in such an environment is astronomical. Just one peek: in the Starbucks drive-thru the other morning with Bonnie and Talli, both with lower limb deficits, we missed the ordering spot and I offered to jump out and ask the car behind us to back up, only to discover the child-lock was preventing me from exiting the, the one most able to jump out. Don't fear, coffee was ascertained eventually, an international incident averted.


Saturday, March 31

good enough

As a self-diagnosed recovering perfectionist, I've discovered a fantastic new life motto: good enough.

I recently decided to 'go back' to school by taking one course in anatomy at the local community college. After completing the necessary registration steps and procuring a student ID, I found myself in the book store reminiscing about old college days, exorbitant book costs, and ridiculously long lines. These days we have a thing called the internet where one might purchase any book, any or all additions, and have it delivered to one's door in two days. When I was last in school, the internet was for messaging your roommate across the room because it was so novel.

Textbooks are still absurdly expensive, but as a new student in my late 30s, school is a novel experience. Going back to school is one of those rare opportunities that one has to do it all over again, but differently this time. And even though I found myself with the same old stomach full of winged caterpillars on the first day, it does feel different. Mostly I just don't care nearly as much this time around. Teachers do not reflect who I am and test scores do not determine my self worth. I laugh in the face of extra credit. Ok, maybe my ears still prick up at the mention of bonus points--let's not get crazy, I said I'm a recovering perfectionist here. But I kinda feel like I'm 'playing' school, like it's a big game or an experiment--how well can I do with less effort? And I'm having fun--a word never associated with academic pursuit before in my life.  

I woke up this morning thinking about my new approach to school, that there's a definite line between agonizing over perfection and stopping at good enough. This was not a part of my vocabulary in early school days. As silly as it may sound, I only knew how to strive without end, to study obsessively until you're certain you will know the answer to every question, to read a paper over and over again until your vision blurs--practices that seem verging on psychosis. At least, it's no way to live.  

'Good enough' means putting in what is commensurate with what you are getting out. I'm finding I retain more learned information when I stop to consider it's actual relevance to me and my life, how it may benefit me or those in my circles. And that goes for everything in day to day life, work or play. As a reformed 'exceptional' student, it's astounding that it's taken me this long. I got good grades most of my life, but I studied for the test, I wrote what the teacher wanted to read. I was scholastically successful, but not life-accomplished.

It's just not worth measuring up anymore to anyone else's expectations. I'm the only one who will account for my life and how I spend my time. Good enough is whatever counts and not a second more. That's what I (now) call perfection.