Life as an Extreme Sport

Dead Mother Disqualification

On Twitter, there’s a somewhat interesting organization for the area called AroundMainline. Their goal is to increase the visibility of companies and events on the Mainline – simple enough. They also publish an e-newsletter to go with their Twitter feed. They promote restaurant week, do giveaways and prizes, etc.

Today, they said:
One of our most amazing giveways EVER! Win a $500 Mother/Daughter day at Joseph Anthony Retreat Spa and Salon!…

I read the details and went “well, that could be fun for me and my sister… but I’d better ask*, since I suspect they would say ‘no’ to that.” So I did, and had the following conversation:

@AroundMainLine Clarify: must it be mother/daughter duo that accepts/uses the prize?

@rocza anyone can comment to win the day at the space but the prize is for a mother/daughter duo to experience, hope that helps!

@AroundMainLine Clarifies. Unfollowing til after Mother’s Day. It’s insensitive, to say the least, to folks w/o mothers + other traditions

And to be honest, I probably won’t follow again, although who knows – I can be a bit flighty when it comes to things like that.

What’s the big deal? Well, a few things:
1. I get a bit tetchy when it comes down to the grand Mother’s Day push, given that whole “my mother is dead” thing. Having everything I look at or am exposed to via advertising or just having the gall to go to the store be all about CELEBRATE WITH MOM kind of irks because ya know? I don’t have that option.

2. You never see father/daughter giveaways like this for Father’s Day. Or father/son, mother/son, or sibling pairings. It’s not like “Sister’s Day” is going to roll around and you’re going to see someone offering a $500 spa package giveaway for two sisters to share.

3. Who’s to say that the sister and I doing a “mother’s day spa day” to honour the memory of the woman who gave birth to us is a bad thing, or an invalid way of celebrating a day dedicated to someone we can only honour in our memories? What am I supposed to do, win a $500 salon visit and take a ghost?

It’s the whole lack of balance thing. Yes, people who still have mothers who are alive are a special bunch – their mothers are still alive. Let’s try not to make what’s already a difficult thing even harder by rubbing it in with “special special people parties” versus “poor lil’ motherless children who never get invited to the fun.”

*Note: they clarified the contest after I asked my question on Twitter. It was initially left vague and non-specific.

Performance Details & Review – Company

When a performance is an all-star cast, it’s difficult to structure the review. When the performance includes Neil Patrick Harris and Christina Hendricks stripping to their skivvies in a delicious act of “service ALL the fans,” thoughts of a performance review go right out the window, as one is entirely too busy giving thanks. However, one would be remiss to not give it a try, both for posterity – and pity for those unable to witness such an all-star performance, skivvied or otherwise.

For those unfamiliar with Company, it is a non-linear Sondheim story that follows the life of Bobby (Neil Patrick Harris). Bobby is turning 35, and via vignettes unconnected in time and often separated by song, Bobby discusses love, marriage, and living with his friends.
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Being Alive – Thoughts on “Company”

I first encountered Sondheim’s “Company” in my early 20s. I was married, living in Reno, and moving into “adult” theatre as opposed to what was appropriate for children.

I was, to say the least, not impressed. It was dated, clearly no one thought that any more – any of that, from marriage to how awesome NYC was to busy signals.


However, one makes a lot of concessions for artists one is beholden to, and for various reasons, Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Colbert are, each in their own ways, artists I am extremely beholden to. Pattie LuPone, Anika Noni Rose, and then later John Cryer and Christina Hendricks all nicely added anticipation to the purchased-basically-when-announced tickets of a limited (four show) performance of “Company” at Avery Fischer Hall with the New York Philharmonic.

Some people suffer for art. I was willing to suffer for artists.

What I was not expecting was resonance.

I am turning 35 in five weeks. I am divorced and have been for years. I live on the East Coast now, and every time I go in to NYC, I have to resist the urge to stand and spin slowly in the streets. Everyone might not be a friend, but I understand the powerful urge to cry.

When I was 22, the problem was not that “Company” had aged, but that I had not aged enough.

The Invisible Made Visible

While I have never been terribly quiet in discussing my disability, I also acknowledge that I am, for a disabled person, in a privileged class. I can “pass” as normal – that is, I don’t look outwardly disabled. There are a host of issues that come with this, including a lack of “validity” from both normals and disabled folks. (I don’t look “sick”, so how can I be “sick”? Comes from both sides of the aisle.) But, problems aside, I fully acknowledge that it is nice to go out in public and not have the public gaze focused on me. Been there, done that, definitely didn’t like it.

Which is what makes this so strange
The invisible made visible. on Twitpic

I haven’t been visibly identified as disabled in a long time. When I fly, for various reasons, I normally fly United, and I pay for the upgrade that allows me extra leg room and space. This comfortably addresses my issues, and there’s nothing else I really need to do, other than make sure I select smart seating when I am booking my flight.

For various reasons, I am flying Southwest today. I haven’t flown Southwest since I was a child, so I had no idea what to “do”. I tried to contact Southwest air via their Twitter account, and they promptly ignored me. Their customer service agents, over the phone, told me there was nothing they could do – just try to sign in early enough to get priority boarding. Sigh. So I read over the information on the website, and they said to contact customer service at the airport – so I did. I explained that I am disabled and that I do need advanced boarding and he asked for a doctor’s note.

Oh, from the doctor I haven’t had since August. Sure, I’ll get right on that thing that wasn’t mentioned on the website.

I volunteered to show Adam, the customer service rep, the pain patches covering my right arm. He laughed, said that wouldn’t be necessary, and explained my boarding process, handing over the above blue tag.

Now I am sitting here, and irrationally, I feel branded. Like everyone is staring at me – which of course isn’t true, unless you count the adorable moppet who appears to find me the most fascinating thing ever. Still, next to me is this bright blue boarding pass, clearly printed PREBOARD – and why.

Is the person across from me looking over his newspaper to look at me? Figure out what is wrong with me? Wonder why I have armwarmers on, which cover most of the pain patches and hide them from visibility? (Practically speaking, they keep them on, but is that what it looks like?)

Is the woman with the three young children trying to figure out why I get to board ahead of her?

Is that a scowl from the very well-dressed man the fact I might get the seat he wants?

Maybe more importantly, why do I care? Why does it feel so exposed and vulnerable to have people know I get to board a whopping few minutes ahead of them? These are people I don’t know and will never know; we will be spending at most three hours together on a packed flight.

And yet, and yet. I sit here and wonder: should I exaggerate my limp? Avoid full mobile range of my right arm, to emphasize that I am indeed broken, and not just gaming the system? Should I put on airs and affected manners just to verify I am legit, really and honestly? And ultimately, if the gate agents don’t care, why should I?