Musical Chairs

      One of the lens through which I look at life, as a person with a life time mobility disability, is musical chairs.  I believe that game  fosters competition and getting your own needs met, regardless of the needs of others. Self obsessed competition fosters the myth of the meritocracy, and ignores privilege.  The most obvious privilege that I recall from my childhood was physical talent.  Success was defined by the  ability to win games.
      Musical chairs came into my life when I started commuting by mass transit.  I soon realized that I wasn’t sitting down because I wasn’t fast enough.  I began to say “I suck at musical chairs.”  Of course crowded mass transit trains feel like half a lifetime ago.
      I believe we are still seeing self obsessed competition. When we talk about “everybody working from home” we are forgetting the essential workers who are keeping our lights on, our heat running, and delivering our groceries.  I have been on mass transit during the pandemic, I saw very few white people. I want to suggest that pandemic hoarding is also about musical chairs.  I need to make sure that MY needs are met, regardless of the needs of my neighbor.
       Then there is the vaccine.  Who has been vaccinated? I am delighted that my 91 year old mother has been vaccinated. I am delighted that first responders are being vaccinated. I have heard stories about SUVs with NJ plates parked outside vaccination hubs in NYC.  That’s about privilege on so many levels,  it’s probably not even conscious.  Again, the drive to get your needs met, regardless of the needs of others.
     I live in NJ. I have heard stories of vaccine appointments obtained after spending hours on the phone. To those who have urged me to be proactive, and check a dozen different places, I say I just don’t have the time.  I am really extraordinarily fortunate to be working full time. I have commitments outside of my work that fill up my day.  I have neither the time or the inclination to spend hours on the phone.
      So I have decided to decline to play musical chairs because that never ends well.  I have registered where I am supposed to register, and I am waiting for a response.  I will be vaccinated some time before I am expected to return to my office.

Observations on attending a virtual conference

         Attending Library conferences over the years has truly enriched my life. When I was an active mother, it was a holiday. In 2015 I brought T with me to San Francisco and we had a lovely time. In New Orleans in 2018 I learned about grits. I also discovered that sleeping car beds are not friendly to my arthritis. In 2019 I went to the ACRL conference in Cleveland, OH and met with Library Juice Press, and they accepted my book proposal.
       So I went to ALA Midwinter virtually. I had a nice time, and learned some things about attending conferences. ALA Midwinter was distorted because I forgot to leave home. I have a rich and complex life, that includes extensive commitments on the weekends. I did everything I usually do, and then layered conference on top of it. That was a mistake.
       So, I intend to attend ALA Annual virtually. I am going to do my best to “leave home.” I will arrange to also “leave work.” It’s important to focus. I want to learn how to attend virtual conferences because I am aging with a disability, and going to F2F conferences is going to get harder.

Reflections from my bubble

      Since I began to shelter in place last March, the Daily Walk has been a thing. First I overdid it and ended up with tendonitis in my right shoulder. But it continues to be a thing, gently done. In the last week or two I have started walking in circles in the basement. (I do a mile. It takes between 21 and 24 minutes.) This means that there are many days that I don’t leave the house. I am very aware of my bubble.
       I don’t tolerate corona viruses very well. A cold descends into my lungs and requires antibiotics and / or steroids to shut it down. This may be due to the CP, because we found documentation from the CDC that listed CP as a risk factor for serious disease. My spouse and I have taken this virus very seriously from the beginning. I am very grateful that my job became remote. I continue to be grateful for a very interesting and complex job for which I am well paid.
     I am also very grateful for T. Somehow not being face to face with the rest of the planet is a little easier with hugs from my beloved.
     I also really acknowledge my privileges. This virus has hit BIPOC communities very hard because often the essential workers are from those communities. I did take NJ Transit into NYC a couple of months ago and I didn’t see any “suits.” I am here and reasonably comfortable because of the people who pick, pack, and deliver my groceries. We do takeout on Friday and Saturday nights, very aware of the people who cook and pack up our food. I think we all need to be a little bit more aware of the people who don’t get to stay home.
     I will be vaccinated when appointments become available. I believe I am currently eligible, but there are no appointments due to supply issues. Time will tell.

To mark a new era

Darity Jr, William A., and A. Kirsten Mullen. From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century. UNC Press Books, 2020.
Like everybody else I have been pondering what I want to see happen, in this era that we enter today. I returned to a book that I read this last summer. I believe that we will not complete the work of the Reconstruction until we have tackled the question of economic inequality. It’s time to start studying reparations. Darity highlights H.R. 40.
A friend has reminded me that our representatives are our employees. Please reach out to your representatives and ask that this be introduced and passed. I believe it is time for true change.

What I read as an ebook

A hold that I placed through quite a while ago popped up on my ipad yesterday.  I have spent the time since then glued to Intimations by Zadie Smith. Caused me to realize how comfortable it is to read on my ipad.

I really recommend Intimations: Six Essays In particular her description of racism as a virus really rings true.

I think what’s important is that I am reading. Paper and ebooks both have their benefits.I simply want to read more, and finish more books in 2021.


The importance of public libraries (and paper again)

Wiegand, Wayne A. Part of our lives: A people’s history of the American public library. Oxford University Press, 2015.
        One of the articles I read recently really recommended Wayne Wiegand’s history of public libraries. Because I could not get it digitally, I opted for borrowing it in paper from my local public library. I buzzed through it in less than a week, completely enchanted. Among other things the author does an excellent job of addressing the racist history of public libraries in the south. This is a beautiful reminder of the unique mission of public libraries, please read it if you haven’t already.
       I was reminded of something I already knew. I love public libraries. They are a fundamentally important part of each community. When I retire, if I am well enough, I intend to volunteer at my local public library. I honor their mission.
       So two things I will leave you with. The best thing I can do for my public library today is contribute to their circulation statistics. I want to urge my readers to support your local public library. The other thing that has got a hold of me is starting to read paper again. All of the conversations about it being more tiring to read digitally have come back to me. I am making a habit of a paper book in the last hour before sleep. I seem to be sleeping better. This is my project for 2021.

What’s missing

What’s Missing
I have taken this virus very seriously because I do not tolerate any respiratory infections easily. This may be due to CP. Early on in the pandemic I found a document from the CDC that listed CP as a risk factor for serious illness. So myself and my spouse have had some pretty strict boundaries since March. So far it is working. I am grateful each day to be well.
This virus is problematic for two reasons. First: A person can be a carrier without appearing ill. Second: They don’t know why some people are hit harder than others. Some have long terms health problems. Some don’t make it. Enough don’t make it that Covid-19 has become a leading cause of death among some age groups in this country. This is a fact.
What about people who know lots of people who have sailed through this virus with no problem? Statistics are meaningless to some people if they don’t lose anybody. Why get a vaccine? As I started thinking about this way of thinking I found a startling lack of empathy. In some ways I find this similar to ableism. Both are based on an assumption of wellness and a lack of concern for people who are not so fortunate. Empathy became a major theme of my research. I don’t know how to teach empathy.
Our book has been delayed. It is now expected in March.

The Heroes of the 21st Century

My reference desk has gone very quiet. During the intersession there are just a couple of us around, so I try to help by sitting with the chat interface open. If I try to multitask to much I will miss the questions when they do come in. So I have been catching up on podcasts.
One of the things that it is interesting to consider is the impact of individuals at the turning points of the world. I truly recommend the most recent episode of this American life. (
The image of the head of vaccine research at the NIH collapsing in tears of joy upon hearing the the vaccine trials were successful is simply precious. The crews that fight wildfires and the doctors and the scientists are the heroes of the 21st Century.
Take what actions you can to stay safe and healthy this holiday season.

In honor of Veteran’s Day

I postponed writing this because I had a really busy week. I knew that I wanted to write about this story, but  I didn’t realize that it connected with Veteran’s Day until I reopened it.  So, I’m late, but I hope you enjoy this story.

I don’t read a lot of fiction, but what I sometimes pick up is short stories. That’s how I ended up with “Uncommon Type: Some Stories” by Tom Hanks (Knopf, 2017).  The story “Christmas Eve 1953” got stuck in my head. This is the story of Virgil Beuell, who came back from World War II service with an artificial leg and missing some fingers on one of his hands. Virgil reminds me to also be really grateful for heat and hot water. “After buying the house, he self-installed a furnace that was far oversized for the modest home. He put in, too, a beast of a hot-water heater…” It’s a lovely story, honoring Virgil’s success as a “working man,” his passion for his wife, and his love for his kids.  Finally his annual connection with his buddy from the service. We learn about his war service, how he met his beloved wife,  and how he got injured.
So I recommend this story, in honor of our wounded veterans, who come back as members of the disabled community.


What drives my research

One the central issues of my writing, and of my research in the area of disabilities studies, is a journey of self acceptance.  I have cerebral palsy. I am a hemiplegic, which means that my right side is challenged. I am what is called “high functioning.” I am able to walk. It is different and I require support, but I get the job done.
I continue to get into trouble because my athletic soul calls me to do things that are mismatched with these facts.  This last Spring I developed tendonitis because I over exercised.  That’s why I say that my emotional and physical journey is about realigning my insides to match my outsides.
The discovery of disability studies allowed me to take a big step forward in self acceptance.  I kept seeing my life reflected in what I was reading.
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