Voyage to the End of the Block

Today I read Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880), read a lot on Wikipedia and elsewhere about the Ainu and their history, and got about halfway through Finding Fernanda which I read about on Racialicious. It’s awesome investigative journalism, a good expose of the politics of international adoption and child trafficking.

In the morning I tried out the scooter. The battery heated up while charging to scary-hot and didn’t charge fully. I took the scooter for a spin anyway.

Voyage of Exploration to the End of the Block

At the end of the block I came back up the hill feeling very doubtful that the battery was going to behave itself. Sadly I was correct as the scooter didn’t have the power to get me up the slope of a driveway that cut across the sidewalk much less the rest of the way up hill. I texted a couple of people and then realized there was still a charge but the steepness of the hill lowered the battery gauge to 0. So I serpentined my way up. About 4 houses away (at the steepest bit of the hill) Danny came out to rescue me and started laughing. “Are you TACKING?”

So I will try a new battery tomorrow. I called 6 wheelchair and medical supply stores and they didn’t stock this kind of battery. They all special order it and it takes 3 or 4 weeks. Weeks!!! Then I called someplace called Battery Plus, which had it and for much cheaper than the wheelchair stores. I hope it works. I’m counting on it to get around! But if it doesn’t I’ll find a more powerful powerchair.

After a rest and icing my ankles I tried going down the hill in my manual chair. It wasn’t too hard with gloves on to help me brake. So, that’s fabulous! That means I can get on the #24 bus. I hopped on and was on my way to physical therapy in the Castro.

On the bus I watched a very very old lady with a quad cane and a funny hat getting on the bus using the lift and walking with extreme difficulty. Obviously a regular. There was some fuss and rearranging as the driver made some people get up for her. Another very old lady said hello to her very happily. I eavesdropped on their conversation about shopping and then the lady with the cane said, “Now that I can go out of the house again I only go as far as 18th because I’m just afraid of getting tangle up with that Occupy stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with them 100% but I’m scared I’ll get caught in one of those crowds.” They agreed about liking Occupy but being scared. That was so sad….

Then it was my stop. I realized I had backed my chair into the claw thing that grabs and locks your chair down to the floor. I usually try to avoid those and just hang on tight. The lever was stuck and would not release my chair. This snowballed embarrassingly until 2 people plus the driver plus some sort of transit cop were trying to tug my chair free and not listening to my protests that they were going to pop the tire right off the rim. Finally I stood up (mostly because people’s armpits and crotches were in my face, very annoying, and i was being jostled way too much) There was a collective gasp from half the bus. SHE CAN WALK!!!!! The driver turned around and went “Girl, what are you doing standing up! Sit back down!” “Look… that’s what the boots are for, standing up!” The chair was freed, I thanked them all and then got out of there as fast as possible feeling angry and embarrassed.

Then it was very lovely to be in the parklet in the sun at Market and Castro. I had a cookie and wrote in my notebook and looked at people. I wonder if people still say “basket days” about days like this when it’s amazingly warm and everyone’s in tight shorts? NOT EVERYONE THOUGH since there was a completely naked dude wandering around all leathery and hippietastic, holding a sort of wizard staff walking stick. Okay then!

Physical therapy was reassuringly fine and was half massage, my favorite kind, not like the boot camp kind of PT. I took a taxi home. End of story! At least I mentioned books a little in the beginning of the post.

Here is how I watch livestreams and twitter events as they are happening, btw:

big monitor setup

And in other news, this article ticked me off because of the framing: Activists and Anarchists Speak For Themselves at Occupy Oakland. The title says it. It is activists and anarchists speaking for themselves. Yet claiming to be speaking for “voiceless” people in an “empty” city and a battlezone, a riot, a war zone. I am deeply suspicious of framing events and places and histories in this way. It in fact goes with occupying to describe a place as empty and its (non)inhabitants as voiceless (a clear Denial of Agency attack) and thus making that place suitable for a battleground. This audio clip from an activist named Soul is more like it. Work with the people doing effective work rather than writing stuff about how great it is to have a battle with riot cops.

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3 Responses to Voyage to the End of the Block

  1. Jesse the K says:

    The only chair that worked for me in San Francisco had two Group 24 Marine deep cycle batteries (gel cel so easier for flying). They weigh a ridic amount: 140lbs for the pair. Probably $300 for the two of them — cheaper to just take cabs! Even with these relatively new heavy duty batteries, I had to stop at noon to recharge (I napped) and I was tacking at the end of the day.

    I hope your wheel survived that claw. They don’t fit any of my power chair wheels, and the dirty looks I got from the front-of-the-bus regulars are forever etched in my hindbrain.

    • Liz Henry says:

      Most of the people in the front of the bus including all the other disabled passengers had to get up and squash themselves so that my (very very narrow, more or less pediatric size) manual chair could get out the front door. The placement of wheelchair space is so ill thought out!!!

    • Liz Henry says:

      And the claw things, well, christ, *people* can fly around in an accident too but no one handcuffs them automatically to the floor…..

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