Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Am the Juggler Koo Koo a Choo

Remember in my last blog entry I wrote about how busy I am?  Well, I left out a couple of things, like going to the Picasso exhibit at the AGO in May.

The actual exhibit was interesting and enjoyable, but the "accessible" route I had to take in order to get up to the ticket booth annoyed me terribly!

The ramp I had to go up was certainly lovely to look at; all smooth, shiny, and curvy.  However, navigating upwards along its winding path was both frustrating and humiliating.  There were stairs to the left of the ramp that had no twists and turns, so people could simply walk straight up, taking them at the very most 60 seconds to complete the climb. For me, it took roughly two to three minutes to reach the top.  Not only that but the walls of the ramp were so high that I was almost completely out of view from the rest of the art enthusiasts.

Sure, some people might say, but those are just minor issues, what's the big deal?  And my answer to them is this: When you have a disability, these little things mount up, one on top of each other, day after day, making you feel as if society is determined to impede your progress in life by any possible way it can, as well as trying its best to hide you from its sight.

On my way to the Mayworks Foodshare event last month, I  took regular TTC (not Wheel Trans) and couldn't leave the Bloor bus station because there weren't any curb cuts to let me get onto the sidewalk.  I had to ask one of the drivers of the accessible buses to pick me up and drop me off at the sidewalk. But if the bus driver hadn't been agreeable to my idea, or had been too busy to help out, I wouldn't have been able to go to the event.  I would have had to jump on another bus and gone home!

And, speaking of curb cuts, let me tell you this story!  On my way home from the Foodshare event, having just left the Wellesley bus station, I was zooming along towards Church St in my power wheelchair at a great speed.  I was in a fantastic mood from just seeing a lot of my good friends and knowing that I had successfully ablibbed my way through a panel discussion for which I had been utterly unprepared, and I was trying to keep up with Ainsley who was riding her bike. Because of the speed and my elated mood, I almost jumped off one of those curb cut dividers, which could have potentially caused my chair to tip over right into the busy street!  Fortunately, I saw the divider just in time and swerved to miss it.

Inside my head I cursed all curb cut dividers and the people who designed them in the first place!  Why can't all curb cuts just be all in one, not with dividers?  And if there are dividers, why not paint them bright yellow so people can see them?

I was going to rant and rave, and say that I believed that curb cut dividers are created as an evil plot to slow down people in wheelchairs. (I mean, whenever I'm about to cross the road where there's a curb cut divider I can't get near the ramped sections because people are standing on it!)  I still kind of believe this to be true.   And yet, having thought about it, I suppose curb cut dividers could be just as annoying hazardous to other people too. Anyone who's in a hurry and not looking where they're going could stumble and fall.

Self Portrait 2012

Well, whether there actually an evil plot to try to impede my progress in life (and in the streets!) I pretty much do my best to fight against it.

This is the tenth year of my business Annie's Dandy Note Cards and Artwork. I'm very proud of this fact!  Ten years of hard work, a lot of success and some failures, but always my passion to make my business into something substantial, something from which I can eventually get off ODSP.  For a decade this has my dream, the main focus of my existence.  Make art that is both beautiful and poignant, and find ways to make enough money to sustain my lifestyle and remove myself from a program that is both restrictive and dehumanizing.

My family and friends laugh at me because I'm always coming up with new ideas on how to promote my business.  Books, videos, pamphlets, art shows, and umpteen different websites.

My latest brainstorm was to create the Dandy Card Membership, where people can have a card a month delivered to their doorstep for $40.00 a year ($36.00 if you order from me in person), along with a free pen and a description of how/why I painted each picture.


You can order your own Dandy Card Membership at or

Like everything else in my life, I juggle all the work that is involved in my business: painting, having cards printed, designing other merchandise and ordering the finished products online, keeping track of all my income and expenses, and chat charmingly with customers.

One day I'm going to portray myself in a painting as a juggler.  I think this is my lot in life, to happily juggle one million things at once and to still look for more to take on. Perhaps I was a juggler in a previous life, say during the Renaissance, performing to earn my keep.

I do exceptionally well at juggling everything in my life.  Lately, though, one thing keeps slipping out of my grasp.  A song, or a picture, or a special momento, will bring everything toppling down all around me.  Even when something exciting happens and I feel overwhelming happiness (like coming up with the membership idea, or going out to a party or a movie with friends) will put my psyche off balance for a few minutes and grief takes over, making me sob and sob and sob.  I miss Rob so much!  I miss sharing my life with him.

This weekend is Pride.  Rob and I used to love to enjoy the festivities.  It's literally in our backyard, so it was (and is) impossible to ignore.  Pride: one more reason to miss my dear, sweet Rob.

I know this torturous bout of grief will end, probably after Pride, and I will go back to my regular juggling act.

I am, after all, the Juggler, Koo-Koo-a-Choo!