I feel somewhat conflicted about my writing progress for “The Story.” Today, for example, I had a physical therapy session that completely annihilated my health. The walk from the entrance into their office took a grueling 10 minutes for me to hobble toward on two canes. I didn’t do much when I got home other than relax to let my body heal. When I’m in those moments or socializing with others, “The Story” is building itself.
Spoilers?: Minor [brainstorming almost always]
Between socializing on Twitch and Discord, I’ve made significant writing progress.
As much as it would be nice to write in a tunnel, somewhat like I’m doing now where I’m listening to music while writing, I can’t write in an echo chamber. The words I use in the context that I place them in have meaning and if their meaning is problematic then I should be held accountable for my actions. However, as I’ve been going along late-2020, dealing with terrible health problems that worsen by the week, and as I’ve been constantly wondering whether my health will ever improve, I’ve found gold within these experiences.
The health problems give better context into how it’s like to be disabled.
If I look at the version of myself that began writing these essays years ago, that felt insecure about writing about Trishna’s disability because he felt unsure about whether he was representing disabilities correctly, I can tell that version of myself that he was doing fine. I’ve been disabled for months now – technically since I went on medical leave. I am physically disabled and doing much of anything is a gamble against my health. On days like today where I am fortunate enough to meet with a member of the American Healthcare System, it is likely that my body will be in worse rather than better shape.
We didn’t even do much physical therapy today.
I don’t know what Trishna’s specific disability is, which was my main concern, but that I tried to convey a character with disabilities in a positive light, as a pretty girl, in a loving family, with a boyfriend in John, is a step in the right direction for inclusivity in media. In a livestream, someone had brought up the new Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings in a positive light, and I felt a bit of an itch say that what he wrote years back was problematic: “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.” I understand why he said it, because in general, there is an attitude of sorrow around people with disabilities, like we have some sort of wasted potential, and that because we can’t move around well or can’t see that we must be living a miserable existence.
Trishna is going to be a hot person in a wheelchair.
Jennings has apologized for this quote and as we concluded the conversation, I said that if we all dug into our pasts, we’d find problematic materials. I’m no saint here, myself. The thing to keep in mind is the context around the situation, and, let’s say that Jennings was just messing around and tweeting some things as a nobody, before trying to scrub his image after becoming a somebody. We should be able to forgive him only if he makes strides towards preventing further actions like this from happening to others. His forgiveness should be found after he has shone the spotlight on “hot” people that live in wheelchairs, because then he will have wheeled a mile in the chair of someone from that perspective he didn’t know back then.
Through my brainstormings, I never wrote anything problematic like this.
However, part of that involved me meandering through my thoughts, and so, I could say that it is probably possible to look through my 2,000,000+ words that I’ve published here to find something incriminating. I’m sure there’s a stray word or sentence that might seem shitty. However, I would hope that those looking to incriminate me would see the context. I was trying. Now that I am disabled, on long-term disability, and perhaps permanently disabled if the apathy of the American Healthcare System continues at the pace it does, I can think back through the many archives of my mind with everything I’ve written about “The Story” and think to myself – I tried.
Maybe something was misworded, but I tried.
For someone like Jennings, we’ll only know if he’s taken on the burden of the mistakes of his actions – how his words perpetuated a stereotype that disabled people like Trishna, who uses a wheelchair because of a condition she was born with that caused severe spinal or nerve damage, or John, who was involved in a childhood accident that removed his right thumb and pointer finger and left his arm full of deep physical and psychological scars – if he seeks to repair the damage he’s done. Most people, generally, don’t care to the degree that I did in that conversation I was in earlier today.
They don’t have the skin in the game of disability representation.
Now that I know how it’s like to live in a frail body – at my last meeting with this physical therapist, as I tried to put on my jacket, retrieve my canes, and leave, my heart felt like it was going to explode and my body was in the midst of terrible new pains, I was alone – I know I need to create media that represents characters like Trishna and John as “hot.” I already planned that out years ago, but I was careful because I didn’t know how it was like, and I wanted to be respectful in my representation. I appreciate that someone who is able-bodied wanted to do his best to advertise characters that had appeared in his mind, told him that they were disabled, and he did what he could to honor them. It will take time for me to write “The Story.”
But I know that if I keep socializing, health willing, I’ll write it.
|Quotes: Quoted in full so I didn’t use the fancy HTML linking here.|
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: When I bring up my disability, it’s never for sympathy, and only to give examples or to help people understand certain situations.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Written On: 2021 January 25 [11:15pm to 11:44pm]|
|Last Edited: 2021 January 25 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|