DC is giving me writer’s bloc. I’ve been trying to write a blog post for a week, and yet its still 1:30 AM on Monday morning and I am speechless. My friends back home have probably fainted from the shock of the previous sentences. I am never without words, its why I’m an English major. No one ever wants to sit next to me at the movie theater because I won’t shut up. I’ve always got something to say…except for right now. Tonight I spent two hours on the phone with my friend Melissa brainstorming, pleading with her to give me some ideas so I could go to bed. We finally settled into a discussion on the anniversary of the ADA and what its passage has meant to me. I decided the answer was pride in the disability community. I hung up ready to write the best, most amazing blog post EVER, bar none…except as I started writing I realized I already wrote about disability pride, a few times in fact. Gulp. This is going to be a long night.
Sitting here pulling my hair out and listening to the Glee album on repeat, I’m wondering if its possible I could really have absolutely nothing left to say about the disability experience. If its really a simple enough issue to have fit into a mere five weeks of blog posts? Yes. No. Maybe… I have no idea.
Part of me wants to write that disability is no big deal. It’s a simple fact of life. It is not a singular identity, but a difference in experience. That the ADA has uncomplicated the issue of disability, to show our community as fellow human beings unfairly segregated, de-humanized, and shoved aside. That with the anniversary approaching, people with disabilities are people first, and appreciated as important members of society.
The slightly louder part of me is saying no; that the issue of disability rights is so entangled in the very principles we value as a nation. That this is a marathon, not a sprint, and as such the ADA cannot be applauded as the finish line, but should be heralded as a sign of the strength of our community in the miles to come. And the reason I am running out of writing material is not due to the simplicity of the issue, but all that I have left to learn. This summer has certainly been a great education in the vastness and diversity of the disability community.
The really sleepy part of me is saying maybe and I have no idea. That at the end of the day I have enormous pride in the disability community. That the ADA broke down barriers to facilitate my pursuit of a happy and successful life, and also resulted in a pride that fuels my actions. But I also do not allow myself to be only a person with a disability. Disability is part of my life, but it is not all of it. And in the end the only way to reconcile these two aspects of myself is to stop asking yes or no questions, especially if I want to get to bed anytime soon!
Besides my writer’s bloc, this week was pretty awesome. As a couple of people wrote about, we had a star-studded pizza party on Wednesday evening. Like Ericka mentioned, I generally think of pizza parties as pretty chill, but of course AAPD never does anything halfway! It was more like a networking extravaganza, with several leaders in the community present to give us advice and also hear how our summers are going. Thanks to Yoshiko Dart, PJ Edington, Ralph Boyd, Dick Thornburgh, Wade Henderson, Jonathan Young, Mat McCollough, Andy Imparato, and all the others who took time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences. Mat also hosted a presentation on Thursday about professional communication and using communication strategies to reach consensus. The presentation was very helpful for professional development and I’ll definitely be applying the skills to my internship.