Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Two Months... Oh, and Happy New Year! (Part One)

First, we must open by apologizing for not posting at all in the last 2 months!...Oops! We've had a lot of trips back and forth between MI.& IL and a few illnesses. We'll comment on some of these things in this post.

Shari Lynne: In the beginning of November, Sean and I went to a baby shower for my cousin Aaron and his wife, Gina, who had a baby girl named Emma on December 17th. I have another 2nd cousin. Sean was able to meet some more random family members, and we played some cheesy shower games.

Sean: I came back early because we had a ADAPT of Chicago Productions taping, where I was filmed doing an editorial piece about the poor job Sarah Palin has presented herself as a hypocrite since the 2008 election. Shari Lynne stayed in MI 'til the 18th because she had a volunteer commitment on the 16th. Meanwhile, we formally adopted our new kitty, Sweet Pea (named by Shari Lynne), who we waited 3 months to bring home. It was supposed to be an early one-year anniversary gift, but it turned into a late anniversary gift and early Chanukah gift (more on that later). She had ring worm, so the adoption facility, PAWS, kept her as long as necessary to make sure the infection was all gone. We ended up calling almost every week to see what the status was on her condition. A special thanks to Becky Schwartz Abramowitz for helping to bring her home on November 12th!

Shari Lynne: On November 16th, I was still staying at my dad and step-mom's place in MI, my volunteer opportunity had been canceled until February. I was kinda relieved about that, actually, because I couldn't find a ride to the meeting. Anyway, on the night of the 17th, I tried going to bed at a reasonable time, but I was restless. I got back out of bed, and ironically, Sean called my cell at the same time. Turns out, I should have just stayed in bed, even though it was nice to talk to Sean, because as I went to turn on the light in the living room and sit on the couch in the living room, I lost my balance and caught myself by grabbing the window sill and the side of the couch. Unfortunately, I crunched my hand into the arm of the couch (screw you CP and random balance issues!). I went to an ER once back in Chicago. I broke my ring finger on my left hand; they had to cut off my engagement ring; which made me cry, it costs more to get it fixed than it cost to buy it; and now, it's  "healed" crookedly. My Dad was wonderful enough to buy a new ring for me, but since my finger is now crooked, I can't even try on the new ring. :(

Sean: When Shari Lynne got back into town, her Dad (Gordon) and step-Aunt Joy had driven her, and Gordon stayed for the weekend. She was so happy to see our new addition, Sweet Pea. Aunt Joy didn't stay with us, she's got a daughter and son-in-law (Ali and Steve), who live a couple miles from us, but she had dinner with us, and she brought us to an early vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner at Ali and Steve's house. It was pretty good food! It wasn't too weird having Gordon over. He helped us shop for groceries and made breakfast and other meals for us.--

Shari Lynne: --Sweet Pea loves Dad! He was the first person that she cuddled up to and let pet her, which made me totally jealous!... That's changed, now. Just today she visited me three times for a petting/cuddle session. She loves to be petted.

Sean: It was interesting, your Dad's stay because, on the one hand, he got to remind me over and over again how weird I am.--

Shari Lynne: --which, "coincidentally" is the same thing I do everyday. :)

Sean: On the other hand, he said, you're strange, but I like you, you're a good guy. He appreciates my sense of humor, overall, but especially about my disability. It was nice of him to say that, it meant a lot, and it was unexpected, too.

For Thanksgiving, Shari Lynne, Mom, and I went to Peotone, IL to visit my aunt and uncle. Mom met us here, at the apartment. We took the bus down to Millennium Station and then a train down to University Park where my grandfather (Papa) picked us up. It was the first major holiday since Mama (my grandmother) died, so it was important for us to be there. It was good for me to see my younger cousins, who live with my aunt and uncle, but otherwise, it felt socially awkward.

Shari Lynne: The food was pretty good, though. :)

Sean: Next came was interesting because I've never celebrated it before. Shari Lynne is converting to Judaism (Reform). I'm agnostic, but Judaism is growing on me. If anything, I do appreciate the community/cultural aspects of it.

Shari Lynne: I decided in October 2008, after years of curiosity about Judaism and months of questioning in 2008 to convert. I've been struggling for years to find a way to accept the Baptist/Wesleyan Christianity that I've grown up with, when so much of what most Christian denominations preach does not fit with my values. I started reading about Judaism, particularly the Reform Movement because that is the Movement my brother Justin's partner, Elon's family belongs to, and the one my cousin, Carissa converted to in 2001. I appreciated the concentration on social justice issues and hoped to have family to share holidays with when it becomes official. When I met Sean, we had a brief discussion about it, and when I knew we'd be getting married, I insisted he at least learn along with me about Judaism so that I am not the only one teaching our hypothetical children about it. :)

 So, anyway, it was fun to celebrate together, for the first time, and start creating our own traditions for the holidays. We still visited my side of the family for Christmas because that's the only time we are guaranteed to see Justin and Elon (New Yorkers) every year. This year was unique where travel is concerned because we were able to leave Chicago on the same train as Elon and got to visit with him for a few hours outside the "Denton-drama-bubble," as I call it.

Both: Good-Night for now!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!!

Sean: We went to see two friends of mine who are in a band called Daemon Familiar, at Quenchers, on Western. One of my future groomsmen, Ryan McGraw, met us there, and we attempted to catch up in the loud bar. We were late, but we got there in time to hear a few good songs, and my friend, Pablo bought us a couple beers before we left. I kept getting confused about what band they were covering. For some reason, I thought it was Styx, but it was Cheap Trick. They really did rock! I enjoyed hearing and catching up with them.

Shari Lynne: I'm in favor of seeing them again in another show.

Sean: I can't wait to see them again.

Shari Lynne: It was enough of a pain-in-the-butt getting to the bar, but we had quite the adventure trying to get home. First we took a bus to the Fullerton L station, where we got off at N. Clark St. (Wrigleyville)

Sean: There were plenty of cars because people were getting to/leaving parties, and there were plenty of drunk people...blocking traffic, walking around in the street, getting into fights, and who knows what else in public.

Shari Lynne: It was annoying enough to see the huge crowd, but it was a little concerning for me to see all the women with costumes including teeny tiny skirts. Yes, I get the concept of a woman having the right to wear a short skirt if she wants, I've been there, done that, myself. The problem lies in the fact that sometimes, it's taken a bit far. Besides, it's too cold! We even saw one where all she was wearing was caution tape as a dress and a construction worker's vest as a costume. We did dress up ourselves, last night. I wasn't wearing a costume, but I wore a sexy-ish top, but I wore pants. It's too frickin' cold for a skirt, no matter the length. Sean wore his prosthetic, and he dressed up as House.

Sean: cane and all! Good thing I have a natural limp going for me when I wear my prosthetic.

Shari Lynne: We finally got on the 22 Clark St. Bus, but we were waiting for a LONG time because the traffic was so screwed up with all the drunken debauchery in the way. We didn't go very far on the bus before we got off and tried to get on another bus, but it wasn't running anymore. I had to pee pretty badly at that point, too, and there was no public restroom available where we were waiting for the bus! I had enough money, so we decided to get a taxi.

Sean: We waited at least a half hour for the bus before we realized the bus we needed was not coming. I was trying to figure out another way to get home, when it comes to bus routes, but it wasn't really feasible by bus. We then started trying to call taxi companies we knew had accessible vehicles (Shari Lynne was in her power chair). When calling companies, they either were busy or they hung up on us after being on hold for a few minutes. We wasted time trying to call.

Shari Lynne: It was made worse, actually, because for some reason, when we called the number we thought would get us an accessible cab usually, a recording came on and said it was disconnected. Come to find out, the number was a direct line to a specific cab company, and when we tried it again later, it worked, but we still couldn't get through to anyone.

Sean: A guy named, Louis came by, and he asked if we were trying to get a cab. Of course, we were so he tried to hail one down for us.

Shari Lynne: It's amazing the number of both occupied and unoccupied cabs that ran off as he tried to get their attention. Most were not accessible but were in the forms of vans or SUVs so, it was harder to tell right away if they were accessible, so this caused some drama. I wish that any cab that had the capacity to be accessible was. Of course, I lived in Grand Rapids before this, so the concept of accessible cabs is new, in many ways, to me.It's interesting, too, when we finally got ahold of someone at a dispatch center who could help us get a cab, they claimed it's a busy night (being Devil's Night and Halloween was on a Sunday) so it'd take awhile. Meanwhile, there were like 150 cabs on the street, mostly cabs on the street, all passing us by, none of which were willing to radio into their dispatch centers to help us. They all just said to call the numbers on the side of their cabs, which were mostly busy.

Sean: Even some cab drivers with vacant taxis acted like we weren't there. I was amazed that Louis went to such lengths as to walking into traffic, talking to cab drivers, yelling at some of them to flag them down. He tried calling taxi companies himself. He was with us in the cold weather, trying to help us get a cab for at least 45 minutes.

Shari Lynne: He did see one accessible cab earlier, but when he tried to flag them down, turns out there were "three divas in the back" as he put it, and they refused to switch to one of the bazillion going down that road at the time, and got the driver to speed off, pointing out that the light was green.

Sean:  I was shocked when, finally, we saw another, occupied,  accessible van and Louis pull out his own money and offered to pay the passengers' fare so that we could use it. The first one, they said no and kept going. The second one, we thought said no, but they stopped after the cab turned. Louis ran over to the cab and found out that they had reconsidered.

Shari Lynne: Louis rode back to our side of the street, and I saw him trying to tip the taxi driver, I'm guessing since the other riders canceled their ride, but he refused it. Sean insisted on getting his number so that we can get him coffee or a drink or something to pay him back.

Sean: Yeah, I insisted that we pay him back somehow, whether it be buying him a drink, making him dinner, or even a pie. Something to say thank you considering he went to such great lengths to try to get us a cab when he didn't have to do anything!
He could have been apathetic like anyone else on the street like many, many drivers and dressed-up people that passed us by, but he decided to help and didn't give up until we had a ride home. I would say, a lot of the time, I'm a realist, and even very cynical at times, but I was shocked to know that a person would go to such great lengths to help complete strangers.

Shari Lynne: I noted, while we were still in the situation, there aren't that many people out there like him. When we spend so much time pleading, usually non-verbally, with people to empathize with us when someone else publicly ignores, humiliates, or violates our rights, it's easy to understand why what was just "doing the right thing" to Louis was amazing to us.

Sean: He went way above and beyond. I was almost speechless.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yay for Progress!

Shari Lynne: So, I went back to MI this past week to volunteer with Michigan Disability Rights Coalition (MDRC) in a leadership program they have. If you don't know what MDRC is, just trust me when I say, it's the most awesome disability rights organization in all of MI! Anyway, I got to spend a few more days with my dad after that, which was not particularly exciting, but it was good. I haven't seen him or anyone connected with him since our engagement, so it was fun to show off my ring and gossip about other stuff. My dad failed to mention until driving me back to the house that my "step-"brother, James and his wife, Twilia are expecting their first child. So, I was annoyed enough (because I tend to be the last to learn anything regarding family news) to smack him in the arm a couple times for not telling me after he found out. So, yay, I'm gonna be an aunt, and I don't have to be the first to make my daddy a grandpa! For the record, James never knew we were engaged until he saw me this weekend because well, communication sucks in our family, I guess, and he and Twilia do not have a facebook account. Related to this not-knowing-what-the-heck-is-going-on-unless-it's-announced-on-facebook problem, I had no idea that my dad and step-mom are already saving money to help us have a real wedding. YAY! This means, we don't have to go to city hall and elope, though my dad would prefer that. We get to have the most awesome wedding of the a reasonable price! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Now that we don't have to rely on ONLY our pathetic incomes to have a wedding, we can finally start planning something. So, we started putting a guest list and music list together. Once we figure out how many people we want there, we can find a place to have a ceremony/reception. One thing I can tell you is that it is not going to be your average wedding ceremony. It will definitely be very personalized to who we are as a couple. Not religious but definitely spiritual in nature.

Sean: I'm agnostic and I don't have any set idea of how it's going to go or how it needs to go. I do know that it won't be your average wedding in the sense that, it will be just two set sides, the brides side and the groom's side, as we have so many friends in common. We will have many crips there, family, extended family, hopefully many ADAPTers. Right now, we're making a list of who we want there, and it's annoying trying to figure out how many people we can have there.

Don't get us wrong, we are still going to try to save what we can, contribute what we can, but we are definitely grateful to have some of the weight lifted off of us and have some resources out there.

Sean: I'm still working on my thesis and we're both still trying to find a job.

Shari Lynne: It's a cut-throat world out there in the job-search frontier. I am a few credits short of a BA (and I WILL go back as soon as Sean finishes his Master's), but I have all this work/volunteer experience. Sean has a BA but not the kind of experience that I do. We wish there was a way we could splice each other together and then clone it so that at least one of us could get a job! Oh, well...

Sean: On the wedding plans again, last night, I had to pry Shari Lynne away from the computer because she was starting to stress out way too much over the guest list, of all things. I told her that it didn't need to be done in one day, we have plenty of time. Besides, we know who we definitely DO and definitely DO NOT want there. The point is, we've started somewhere. Shari Lynne's computer's still messed up, so it's not so easy for us to go through her iTunes list right now, so last night, we went through mine--

Shari Lynne: --which isn't particularly diverse...

Sean: Oh, come on, don't be that harsh!
I guess we're having the biggest problem finding a song I can dance with my mom to, albeit briefly. We need to get her opinion on it, of course. Perhaps she has an idea what she'd like to dance to at the wedding. Right now, I have "Time After Time," the Eva Cassidy version in mind. It's a beautiful song, the cover of it, I love it. I like the original (Cyndi Lauper), but the Eva Cassidy version is so good. It's a damn good song!

Shari Lynne: I figured out ages ago, my dad and I have to dance to "What a Wonderful World" by Sam Cook. It's one of the songs I first heard while watching the movie, "Witness" with my dad and then a few times listening to Oldies on 104.3 FM (Detroit) while on road trips (with Dad driving, of course). Besides, if you know me, and you listen to the words, it totally applies.

Sean: I played a couple of songs to get a laugh out of her. I told her to imagine walking down the aisle to Parliament's "She's a Bad Mamma Jamma" while I walk down the aisle to Afroman's "Because I Got High." Hehehe. How unique would that be?

Shari Lynne: I can just see my dad shaking his head and wishing he could hide if he heard the Afroman song. I'm starting to reconsider the Bad Mamma Jamma-thing just because he's got me listening to it now, and it would definitely be more fun than some of the more somber possibilities. Right now, I'm pretty sure I'll walk down the aisle to "In the Morning Light" by Yanni...Yes, Yanni... it's really pretty! Sorry, Denita, I totally stole your idea, but you can share, right?!

Sean: We have some totally awesome ideas for a theme, but that is under wraps for now. It's between us and our unofficial wedding planner. We're really excited about it, though. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Our Blonde Friend

Shari Lynne: As mentioned in the previous post, Sean tends to be more vocal about getting people to move out of the wheelchair-accessible spaces on the CTA buses. I tend to only speak up as loud as he does "when provoked." One such occasion became possible not too long ago, when we were returning home one afternoon.

We had already waited, unjustifiably, for 45 minutes for the 147 (express to downtown) to pick us up at home. When it finally showed up, an EMPTY one passed by all of us without even braking. Next, a full one was right behind him and couldn't let us on. Of course, that driver said, "The bus is full. Don't look at me like I'M the problem."...implying a couple of things, one: that we are a problem (when all we want to do is get from point A to point B.) and that he's not willing to take control of his bus. Even a driver waiting to change shifts was pissed that it not only took so long but that the first jerk passed everyone. Still, we managed to get on a third bus behind the full one and finally getting on our way.  We were trying to get to an appointment at the Apple store because the screen on my computer is busted. I was 15 minutes late thanks to the screwy CTA crap. (BTW, it's going to cost $396.74 to fix it, but I will eventually, because I love my Mac!) This was only the beginning.

Sean: On the way back, we ended up getting on the 146, when it pulled up, we had to go out in the street in order to get on the bus, and one jerky passenger couldn't wait and nearly barreled a woman over trying to get on the bus. I had difficulty getting up the ramp (it's VERY steep and dangerous to try to get up the ramp with no curb underneath it) in Shari Lynne's manual chair I've been borrowing. After I got on, the bus driver had to yell to the standing passengers, a couple of times, to move back so we could fit into the spaces. She also said that the bus would not budge until we were both "secure" in the wheelchair-accessible spaces.

Shari Lynne: The jerky passenger who jumped on ahead proceeded to yell at us instead of yell at the people surrounding him to get them to move back. It was an "extendo-bus," as we call it, meaning the bus has an extra cab to accommodate more passengers.

Sean: I had reiterated essentially what the bus driver had said, that the bus wasn't going to budge until we're secure, and it doesn't matter to me if we wait. Finally, people did move back BUT a blonde lady, who was sitting the entire time, decided to be argumentative, I guess, and she said, "I bet it doesn't [bother you]!" I had said, "Well, when you need to be assertive, and people with disabilities especially have to." She responded by saying, "You don't need to be that assertive."

Shari Lynne: This is when I felt provoked! I turned to her with one of my famous looks that said, how dare you! I said to her, "There are only TWO spaces on any given bus in the COUNTRY for people with disabilities to use. If we don't speak up, we're stuck!"

Sean: That's when I jumped in with, "So CRAM IT!" The lady responded, less confidently this time, with, "unbelievable." The passengers near her seemed mortified, and we think more with her audacity.

Shari Lynne: Sean's been urging me to be more assertive and vocal, but it was not as necessary for me until that woman said this. She had no idea what she was talking about. She also was carrying a Coach bag, an iPhone, and looked like she was at least trying to dress fashionably. If she had said one more thing, I would have recommended that she get off the bus and get a taxi. See? We can't even ride in an accessible taxi together (if both of us are using chairs) because they are only big enough to fit one chair at a time!
We didn't have any awkward exchanges since then, other than a few glances on my part. I had this feeling that she was going to end up getting off at our stop after a few where she didn't get move. Sure enough, we live in the same neighborhood. Luckily, we don't live in the same building.

Sean: I wanted to antagonize her more when we were getting off the bus, but Shari Lynne reminded me that would just be passive-aggressive, and it wouldn't change anything. However, it was entertaining, and therapeutic, for both of us to joke about it on our way to the apartment.

Shari Lynne: This is why we call her our Blonde Friend, because it's ironic. She had an opportunity to be empathetic, but she chose otherwise. We hope to never really run into her again, but figure it's possible.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Welcome to Cracks in the Pavement!

Shari Lynne: I  moved to Chicago on June 28, 2010. Why? Well, the cheesy, cliche reason of following a boy.  Sean has always lived in Illinois, and I needed the mass transit that Chicago provides, so it was the logical choice.

Sean: I remember Shari Lynne was one of the first ADAPT members I saw when I got off the plane in Atlanta, before we got our luggage. She was cute, pretty, and very amiable. She was engaging. She was militant and ready for action. It was both of our first National Action with ADAPT ( ). We went on the same train, to head to the Omni Hotel (connected by skywalk to the CNN headquarters) in Atlanta. After dropping off our luggage, we met up at the CNN food court...well, we were all meeting up at the food court... I thought more of us were all going to have drinks after getting there, but only Shari Lynne and I decided to have drinks, and she became my "drinking buddy." We went to Dantana's Grill & Bar...We started talking as we were there: talking shop, disability stuff, disability pride, why we were there, why we FIGHT...The next morning, we met up again at Orientation, and we shared a table.

Shari Lynne: While waiting for orientation to begin, I got hit on and asked out by a hasty, overzealous ADAPTer. I was quite flustered but was friendly and tried to let him down gently. Meanwhile, I was kind of hoping Sean would get the guts to ask me out.

Sean: We gravitated to each other, we seemed to naturally click, but I thought she was seeing somebody because she had this ring on her right hand, which I found out later was an heirloom from her late, beloved grandmother. After a couple more days, and through the encouragement of our mutual friend, JoJo Cross, I worked up the nerve to ask her out.

Shari Lynne: He never directly asked me out. He came up with this paragraph long diatribe that basically boiled down to the words he never said, Will you go out with me? Of course, I was trying to get him to say these simple six words, so I carried it on a little longer saying a couple of times, "What do you mean?" Eventually, I just gave up and said, "That would be good."

Sean: I can be so audacious, direct, forthright on anything else, but I could not find the words to ask her out. I was sweet on her.

Shari Lynne: This is true. I usually cower a little bit, unless provoked by ableist by-standers, when he is being assertive to the point of obnoxious while trying to use the accessible spaces on the CTA buses. In the interest of context, it is necessary to disclose that I have Cerebral Palsy and use a wheelchair to go long distances, while Sean is an amputee, and uses a chair when we are out and about to keep up with me. This requires that we frequently take up the accessible seats on the buses. There are only two spaces on any given bus in the country so it can create problems on occasion, but mostly it just adds to our adventures.

We officially became a couple on 10/13/09 ...which involved a long-distance relationship with Sean in Chicago and I in Grand Rapids, MI ...and we became engaged ...rather randomly...on 7/17/10.

This blog is the compilation of our adventures as an engaged couple who both happen to have disabilities. The experiences of living together, commuting together, learning together, and trying to figure out how the hell we're going to manage to have the wedding we would like without the means to save a dime.

Look back soon as we will delve into more interesting details soon!