Monday, January 30, 2012

A Confession

Oh Blog World, a confession. I do not generally have an issue with social anxiety. I like making friends, hanging out with people and such. But I am horrible at socializing in groups. I attribute it to many things. I'm short, so that doesn't help with those times when you're mingling, and you get shut out of the circle, and you try to work your way into the circle, but you're at elbow level, so you're also trying not to get hit in the face and....


Also, I'm kind of a strong personality. You'd think that'd work well in a group, but.... well. I take some getting used to. And that's fine in, like, groups you see all the time. People from my program, my sorority sisters, old high school friends. It's fine. But new people tend to give me sidelong looks, shuffle to the left and shut me out of the circle.

Before accidentally elbowing me in the face.*

So, yesterday I had agreed to go to a Nerdfighters meet-up at the Prudential Center. But I woke up and REALLY didn't want to take the bus+T, or walk+T or really anything at all to get there, because it is maddeningly inconvenient for a place that is a mile away, especially to spend two hours being awkward (and I know, Nerdfighters, but trust me MY AWKWARD KNOWS NO BOUNDS).

Plus, from the excuse factory, I was ill all week, so even though I was useless, I didn't actually do productive things. Yesterday, I edited half of a manuscript, snuggled with my large stuffed frog, watched a massive amount of Vlogbrothers videos and read a book.

I regret nothing. I was a productive, writerly person, and it was awesome.

*This hasn't actually happened, except in my nightmares

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Five!

1. This is way late. Sorry! I was poorly all morning, so I stayed in bed, then had to meet a friend at Panera, so I just got caught up with The Internet. Also, because I've been doing little for the past few days, I don't have much to blog about, but I'll figure it out. I have to be somewhat productive, because tomorrow I have my mentorship presentation, which is kind of like my first book reading. Eeks!

2. Am I the only one who is cursed by certain objects? I seem to have lost my one working umbrella and I only have one spoon. I have four knives, four forks and one spoon. Where do they go? Do The Borrowers really like spoons? And why do all my umbrellas break? Where did the one unbroken one go? THESE ARE THE THINGS I PONDER.

3. While bedridden this morning, I had all kinds of crazy dreams. One took place at Downton Abbey, but the other one involved me climbing out of an exploded Tube station. Maureen Johnson, I blame you.

4. Even though I have an epic amount of books on my to-read list, this year I am giving myself permission to re-read. Last year I was so focused on speeding through the to-be-read, I didn't get to go back to books I wanted to experience again. As a kid I was a chronic rereader, so I'm hoping to get back to that. I've already reread Lola and the Boy Next Door. And I read TFiOS twice in one day. Not sure that counts.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Checking Out

Fun fact: You can order contact lens fluid on Peapod. I love the future.

I flew back to Boston on Monday, and the airport-bouncing made me realize how much having a disability ups the necessity of interacting with and relying on other human beings.

A typical person can go to an airport without really having to interact with anyone except gate agents and TSA. But when you require a Skycap to push you around the airport in a chair that ups the people by at least two. In my case on Monday it was five. I got a chair going through security at home, there were three involved in Atlanta, because I left the airport to have lunch with a friend, then one in Boston.

It's really easy to dehumanize helpers like this in our world. They often have little English, and you can only say "Boston. I go to school there. Yes, it snows" so many times before you want to scream. But then I got into my cab in Boston, and the guy was so nice that it reminded me that everyone involved in my day has their own lives.

But there IS a lot more small talk involved than there would be usually. And by the time I got back to the dorm I didn't want to talk to another human being for like a week. Unfortunately I had a doctor's appointment the next morning, which is even more banal small talk, no matter how nice the people are.

And, not to get into detail, but I also started thinking about how having a ton of doctors messing with your body all the time can desensitize you to having people do things to you. I got my first pat-down yesterday (at the Pensacola airport, because they don't have anything better to do), and I wondered why it didn't bother me much. Because I checked out. I'm so used to having people do things to me. For me. It's easy to check out on both ends.

So I'm going to work on staying mindful about not doing that, with people or occurrences.

But it does make pat-downs more bearable.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Profile: Justin Dart

I need a better title for these. Any ideas?

I love that hat. Can you tell he's Texan?

Justin Dart is a man whose name should be known, especially by people with disabilities, but every year we bring kids to the Florida Youth Leadership Forum who have no idea who he is.

In 1948, at the age of eighteen, Dart contracted polio. Like many other people, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he used a wheelchair after his recovery from the disease. Dart didn't let his disability get in the way of attending the University of Houston in 1951, but--and this is what gets me--the university refused to give him a teaching certificate due to his disability. This is one of the ultimate markers of the change that's been made in the past sixty years. Although it isn't always easy for people with disabilities to attend college, a discriminatory act like this would raise hackles all over the place.

Mostly thanks to Mr. Dart.

He wasn't just a disability rights activist--he was a successful businessman--but he used his success in other areas to fight for his beliefs. After he saw the horrible conditions children with disabilities were often faced with in Japan, he withdrew his business from the country. Although he was friends with President Reagan, he spoke out against insufficient reform in legislature for people with disabilities. He had a major hand in getting the ADA passed, calling it the "civil rights law of the future." But becoming known as the Father of the ADA didn't convince Dart to stpo campaigning to rest on his laurels. At his death in 2002, he was fighting for universal health care.

This, combined with the fact that his first civil rights activism in the 1950s had to do with racial discrimination, reminds me of the fact that it's not just disability rights I fight for. It's human rights. And while I speak out about disability issues, because I know a lot about being a person with a disability, I know even more about being a human.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Five!

1. I read The Fault in Our Stars twice yesterday. If you have not purchased this book, do not pass go. Purchase it now. (Not you, Kendra. It's your January book). Review forthcoming.

2. This is a late night Friday five because I was out getting dinner with a friend at a down-home Southern restaurant. She's applying to colleges right now. A part of me misses being in that place where your future is totally undefined. The other part of me wouldn't want it for the world.

3. I love physical books, but there is something absolutely awesome about being able to decide you don't like a book on your kindle and immediately being able to start a new one.

4. I'm heading back to Boston on Monday, to the land of snow and school and independent bookstores. I am excite, but I will miss my family. Still, I can't wait to see what the semester has in store.

5. SOPA and PIPA got shut down! Not tweeting on Wednesday paid off. Or something!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thoughts from Booksignings

Last night, Mom and I drove to New Orleans to be a part of the Tour de Nerdfighteria. I hadn't been to New Orleans since before Hurricane Katrina, and probably since a middle school field trip Mom insists happens, but I do not remember. I can't comment on how the city has or hasn't bounced back from the storm.. All I can know is that the fact that humans try to find humor in tragedy:  we picked up a parody newspaper called "The New Orleans Levee: We Don't Hold Anything Back."

Actually, I saw a lot of humor there. Like these signs on the bathrooms at the Temple Sinai where John and Hank were. I understand the idea--don't put your shoes where people might put their hands--but still.

New Orleans also makes me think of Neil Gaiman's short story set in the French Corner, featuring voodoo and hole-in-the-wall watering holes. We ate lunch with one of my friends from high school at a place called Daisy Duke's, and their menu brought to mind the party-nature of the city:

But this wasn't the kind of party I would be attending. There were already Nerdfighters outside the venue at five when we got there, but we ended up close to the front of the line. Mom worried that she'd be the oldest person there, but she wasn't.

We saw the TFiOS van.

Mom read Paper Towns

 In line, a boy was doing a project recording people's reactions to a question about love, people were quoting John's books and humming Hank's songs. Inside, I heard teenage girls gushing over To the Lighthouse, and I thought of myself at fifteen, designing an entire unit on the book as an extra credit project, and wished there were Nerdfighters.

But while John talked about the joy of writing for young adults, about their desire to figure out who they are and how their experiences are new.

And I thought about how I didn't necessarily want to be seventeen again, but I could still live with that kind of wonder about the world, and stop focusing on the uncertainties. I love the random, exciting experiences of things like booksignings and meeting people I admire, but I'm generally nervous around strangers, for fear that they'll judge me. So I plan to try to treat each new person like they're someone I admire. It won't be easy, but it's a goal.

They signed ALL MY THINGS and were incredibly nice. I finally got TFIOS (my thoughts about which will be posted later).

They say you're not supposed to meet your heros, because they might not live up to your expectations of them, but I have to say that meeting the Greens makes me admire them even more.


*Let's add to the pictures of me getting things signed with frizzy braids in my hair!
**It was very hard to get pictures of them. They move around like hamsters on speed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Profile: Martin Henderson

Today's scheduled profile has been thrown off the rails a bit by the amount of disability in the news this week. Like Peter Dinklage at the Golden Globes, i wish to draw attention to an event that demonstrates just how hard it can be for an ambitious person with a disability to make their way unheeded in the world.

Martin Henderson, an aspiring actor and a Little Person, played a goblin in two of the eight Harry Potter movies. But if you google his name with search parameters that limit your query to all items posted before January 13th 2012, you don't find much of anything. Henderson's Google results will always hone back to three days before Peter Dinklage gave him a shout out on Sunday night, to an inciden reported in the Telegraph on the 13th.

Last October, a month after English Rugby player Mike Tindall was shamed for allegedly participating in a "dwarf-tossing" contest in a bar in New Zealand, Henderson was injured by what he believes to be a copycat attack. He wasn't a willing participant, however. This is not the time to talk about why some Little People are forced by circumstance or society to participate in being thrown around for others' enjoyment. This is about why a man having a cigarette outside of a pub can be subjected to such treatment, without safety gear, or even his consent.

Many wonder why, if Henderson's injury is now showing to be so life-altering, he didn't bring attention to it earlier. I point to my Google search. I point to the fact that Henderson probably did not want to be associated with the occurrences of dwarf-tossing that still happen all over the world. He more than likely didn't want this to be all the information available about him, any more than I wanted to have my first profile piece focus so hugely on such a horrible setback for a person with a disability.

But now that he's found himself having difficulty finding acting jobs due to partial paralysis, he and Peter Dinklage are speaking out to make sure this injustice doesn't happen to anyone else. And so am I.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Did you know that in the 1987 Deaf President Now protest at Gallaudet University they held a banner that said "We Still Have a Dream"?

Did you know that the Americans with Disabilities Act wasn't signed until 1990?

Did you know that in Florida until 2010 you couldn't adopt a baby if you identified as homosexual?

Never mid that LBGT couples still can't get married. Never mind that kids with disabilities are still segregated in innumerable but important ways and have decisions made about them every day, even though their forebears fought so hard for justice.

Separate is not equal.

Nothing about us without us.

I grew up in the deep south. Every history class, Black History Month and reading of To Kill a Mockingbird taught me how far we've come. But I only had to look around in my life, and the lives of my classmates, to see how far we have to go. So, for me, today isn't necessarily about celebrating success. It's about remembering another lesson Dr. King taught--and that's to never get up. To never stop fighting

Because I still have a dream of a world with less suck, more awesome and far, far less injustice. Where created equal doesn't mean created able-bodied, or heteronormative, or of average intelligence.

What about you? What's your dream for the future?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Discovered on Bed Rest: The Guild

These posts are going to involve a lot of me being late to the ballgame, but while I was lying around on my stomach for three weeks, I consumed A LOT OF MEDIA, OKAY?

The Guild is about a girl named Cyd, who lost her job in an orchestra after she burnt her boyfriend's cello. (He cheated on her. With a guy). She finds solace in a World of Warcraft-like Role Playing Game, and forms a guild with five other players, who eventually become her friends. They battle other guilds, collect treasure and combat personal problems all at the same time. And they are hilarious.

One of the things I watched was The Guild, Felicia Day's webseries that's been going on since 2007.

Please note, I am not a gamer, but I relate to a lot of other things on the show. The social awkwardness, the friends with overbearing mothers, the sort of lost mid-20s feeling. Plus it has Teal Sherer, one of my new favorite people. And a Neil Gaiman cameo. It's not afraid to represent diversity in a true way, and the jokes are often incredibly honest despite the relative absurd nature of part of the show.

Also, season five, which is set at a con is pure gold, and features steampunkers. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?

Watch it here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Five!

1. I am three books away from done with my reading list for Contemporary Young Adult Realism, and it is sweet. For today I read Unleaving by Jill Paton Walsh. I was quite prejudice against it, because it uses the terms "mongoloid" and "mongol" for a child with Down Syndrome, who comes to a not-very-good end. However, the book has incredible depth, and it required me to see past my contemporary biases to analyse it. We're meant to pick one of these "touchstone" books to do a significant amount of work on through the semester, and I think I might pick this one. To work with a book that's inherently problematic to me.

Also the language is beautiful, and it has some great parallels to To The Lighthouse /Nerdery.

2. Speaking of Nerdiness, I am a sad Nerdfighter. I do not get my copy of The Fault in Our Stars until next Wednesday when Mom and I go to New Orleans to see John and Hank on the Tour of Nerdfighteria. THIS IS ALL THE SAD THINGS. And yet all the happy things.

3. Amazon put the DVD collection of My So-Called Life on sale this week, so I bought it (of course). it comes with a little book by Winnie Holzman the creator, which I haven't delved to far into yet, but she starts off by talking about what she would have done if the series had continued. It makes me think about the way in which characters live in an author's mind, whether or not anyone else cares about them at all.

4. In my watching-all-the-Netflix time, I've been watching a few disability-related documentaries. Technically, they were all Deafness related. I figured Netflix was recommending them to me because I've watched all the Switched at Birth ever. But upon further searching, both on Netflix and Google, I found that most of the documentaries that are available, or at least known, are about Deafness. Is this because Sign adds another layer to film? Because it fascinates people more than it scares them? Because Marlee Matlin is awesome? Not sure.

5. I may or may not have mentioned I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas. It's being used in conjunction with my iPad for all the awesome things I use tech for, but as I was installing apps on it the other night (through the backdoor, because the app store is not that great) I felt like SUCH a traitor every time I clicked on "download Android version." Why should I? All tech is out there for me to consume. Why must I be so brand loyal? Are you this way about things? Am I the only one? Thoughts?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Eulogy for Mass Market Paperbacks

First of all, let's celebrate the new threaded comments feature and wave bye-bye to IntenseDebate. Woo!

Now that that's done, let's wave an even happier good-bye to something else. Mass Market Paperback sales are on the decline. The New York Times chalks this up to less impulse buying and more ebook sales--that is to say, many people who would buy Mass Market now by ebook.

In completing my reading list for YA Realism, I've encountered a lot of Mass Market books from the local library, a format which I hadn't encountered in a long time. Most of them have incredibly cramped text, yellowing pages and fraying spines. Maybe this is a sign that a book has been well-travelled, but it also makes it difficult to read and immediately (if unfairly) turns me off of the book.

I have no qualms about this disappearance. I'd much prefer to have an ebook where I can pay the same $6 price, enlarge the text and not feel like the book is about to slam shut from size or fall apart every time I turn a page. I want my hardcopy books to be fit for display, a collection of sorts. I think the disappearance of Mass Market will provide ebooks a niche in the market that won't require the disappearance of other types of print books, and I think it's a perfect compromise.

What about you? Do you read Mass Market Paperbacks?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Pseudonyms

Today on Road Trip Wednesday YA Highway asks:

If you couldn't use your own name, what would your pseudonym or penname be. 

Pseudonyms have a long and interesting history. Some of the best known authors in Western canon were writing under pseudonyms. George Eliot, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll and Currrer Bell (Charlotte Brontes early penname) to name a few. However, in the information age a pseudonym is much harder to keep hidden. There are those who can publish anonymously, the author of The Secret Diary of a Call Girl remained as anonymous as Jane Austen writing as "A Lady" until she revealed herself. But the secrecy rarely lasts.

Often nowadays true I don't-want-you-to-know-who-I-am pseudonyms are used by authors writing as a character winthin the text. Lemony Snicket and Darren Shan are examples of this. But we all know by now that Daniel Handler is, in fact, Lemony Lemony's assistant, of course.

All of that said, I do plan on publishing under a name that's not my full name. Chelsey Blair are my first and middle names. I want to do this because I've been Chelsey Blair on the internet for so long, and also because i want to separate my academic writing from my fiction. (Also, I plan on changing my name when/if I get married. So.) But I know my "real" last name will be known. It's the internet age. It's on my facebook, how I'm known to the alumni office of every school I've gone to.

Really, a pseudonym these days is just the name printed on the book. And for me that'll be Chelsey Blair.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Belated New Year, New Things

I think I've finally found a way to mix together a lot of things I've been wanting to do with this blog, without interfering with the good things I already have going. As you all know, a lot of what I want to do is promote disability awareness, both about life as a person with a disability and disability in general. Through the past few weeks of (in the end pointless--the surgery didn't take) bed rest, I've discovered a lot of interesting people with disabilities doing things in the world. I've also always been interested in disability history--specifically things people might not know about.

So, starting a week from tomorrow, every Tuesday I'll be posting a Disability Profile. A post about someone interesting--not necessarily famous--who has (or had) a disability.

It should be interesting at the least, and it'll help me--and whoever reads it--remember just how much people with disabilities can achieve.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Five!

1. The healing process is not exactly going as expected, which is incredibly frustrating, especially since I have to throw myself back into the groove of doing things-for-school soon, and will have to once again balance all that with taking care of a wound that should have freaking gone away by now. :-(

2. Speaking of school, I'm seventeen books into my twenty-seven book reading list for Contemporary YA Realism, and I'm discovering some really good YA I probably should have read a long time ago, like Cormier's "I Am the Cheese." I also think it's interesting the way my professor chooses books--most of the classics as well as the books on last year's syllabus are from YALSA lists, or award nominations. Just gets me thinking about popular literature versus literature deemed to have merit by The Powers That Be.

3. GREY'S ANATOMY LAST NIGHT, OMG! No spoilers if you haven't seen it, but the last ten seconds literally made me drop the bag of M&Ms I was holding onto the floor of my mom's room.

4. The book piles now look like this:

My only qualm is that the picture books should come right after the general fiction, but then some of the larger non-fiction books wouldn't have fit on the shelves. *sigh*.

5. If you haven't already seen the gorgeous trailer for John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, where have you been?? It is killing me that since I'm going to the January 18th event in New Orleans, I won't get my book until then. I'm pretty sure I will have to stay off the Internet to avoid spoilers, like it's 2005 and Half-Blood Prince came out.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Yesterday on the new YouTube channel SciShow, Hank Green talked about the possibility that the Higgs Boson particle may not actually exist. The particle is predicted by the standard model of physics, so, according to Hank, if it doesn't exist, we'll have to reconsider a lot of what we know about the world. Reminding us that physics is theoretical.

My little brother is developing a thing for dinosaurs. Of course, I immediately set him up with The Land Before Time on Netflix (signs of its impending demise? It only has a few of the  random direct-to-video sequels). Smart kid that he is, he then turned on one of those maybe-the-dinosaurs-looked-like-this documentaries, with CGI stegosauruses (stegosauri?) And as he exclaimed over dino-life, I kept reminding him and myself that "This is what we think they looked like/did/ate."  We don't know, and unless his hope for a time machine is actualized, we'll probably never know.

So many big things in our world are unknown and uncertain, it just makes me think that maybe it's okay when the little ones are too. Maybe instead of making life more frightening, it actually makes it more exciting, to never know what may be proven or disproven around the next bend. To never know what a new year, or a new day might bring. Especially if you see it the way the CERN scientists in Hank's video--one asserts that this revolutionary discover would, at the least, keep him in a job. Keep his life going. And that's what questions do. They keep us going.

And maybe that's worth reconsidering everything we know every once in a while.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Stuff I Discovered on Bedrest: Switched at Birth

I'm still healing, so that's why blog posts have been, er, nonexistent lately. But being on bed rest has allowed for much consumption of media. Nerdlet that I am, I must share these discovers with all of you.

Today's find is Switched at Birth, the awesome show from ABC Family that comes back for its winter season tonight (!!). The premise of two girls discovering they were switched at birth has been done before (for instance in an episode of Veronica Mars, coincidentally featuring Katie Leclerc who stars on SaB), but this show has a twist.

One of the girls is deaf. And not in a cliched, sweet-little-mute girl kind of way. In a way where she is actually a real person, has interests, and is pretty kickass if you ask me. The show deals with her disability, and the politics of it (the Deaf community has more debatable issues than any disability community, I'd argue) without shyness, particularly the Cohclear implant issues.

Plus it's just a fun show.

It comes back tonight on ABC Family at 8/7c, and they're marathoning it all day to day, so go check it out!