[The Story] Cooking Up Ideas

Working as a team involves figuring out everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, areas to develop, traits to ignore, then doing the work. Between research and deep cleaning my kitchen, I was brainstorming ideas for “The Story” about how John (left) and Trishna would collaborate on cooking. Between partial use of his right arm and her bad foot and back, they’ll encounter adversity just preparing dinner, yet their primary strength is that “three hands are better than two.”

Spoiler Warning Scale: Minor (background, concept brainstorming)

Trishna’s Cooking Upbringing
Trishna didn’t receive exemptions from chores because of her impairments. Her parents valued independence and thought it was a valuable trait for her to learn, so when it was her week to be cooking assistant, she did as much as she could. Her parents certainly made adjustments and, secretly, made certain duties easier. Otherwise, if she wanted a pre-meal snack or a glass of water, she’d have to show she tried before asking for help.

John’s Summer Tutelage
During his summer stay at Trishna’s family farm, John learned as much as he could from Trishna’s parents. He volunteered to help wherever he could. During his week as cooking assistant, he learned the cooking essentials, and during Trishna’s week, her parents would let them do a majority of the cooking together. By the fall, when they moved into their dorm or apartment for their first year of college, they became a solid cooking team.

Working Around Impairments
Trishna and John can to do a majority of duties solo. Trishna isn’t paraplegic. She can’t really stand independently, can stand for around a minute while holding onto something, or longer with crutches. She can grab items from low-hanging cabinets, though her balance is terrible. John can grab more items, though to be useful, his right arm needs to manually be moved into position and can’t hold any weight. So they need to work together.

Cooking and Cleaning
What that means practically is that they don’t operate with designated duties. They’re both in the kitchen at the same time, unless one cooks a surprise meal or the other isn’t feeling well. Trishna does have more cooking experience, so she’ll lead any sort of bigger meal they may prepare for special occasions, whereas John will jump at the chance to prepare simpler meals. Together, they cook, clean, and maintain their kitchen actually quite effectively.

Specific Kitchen Modifications
Trishna’s parents made wheelchair-accessible modifications to their kitchen. They added a roll-under sink Trishna can use for washing and drying, including a lowered counter area for additional kitchen prep space, and rearranged commonly-used pantry items toward the bottom shelves. For John, they install hands-free faucets, found tools that could be operated with one hand, and moved heavier items toward the bottom shelves. They focus on accessibility when searching for new apartments and usually do well.

Iceberg Theory Research
While I don’t have any wheelchair experience, others have shared their experiences in assorted videos. Here are six examples that provided context for this update: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)