Friday, September 12

going circus

Last week I took part in an outdoor benefit performance. Partner Zach and I re-enlisted some of our moves from the last show, developed some new stuff, and let it fly.

Here is my signature feat:

I am able to climb the fabric and hold myself with one arm weaved between the two ribbons because Zach is basing me at the bottom, creating tension. Thus, it is called a tension climb.

Here I am climbing the fabric. Notice the little girl in the foreground mimicking our moves. I used to be that little girl, triple-axel-ing around the living room during the Winter Olympics. I climbed around the trapeze bar my dad hung on our homemade swing set, holding 'dangerous' poses for the imaginary audience below. Did my dad ever imagine what seed he was planting?

Dreams do come true.


Wednesday, September 3


I am often told I have a good attitude for someone with a disability.

I know people mean well, but it's a little insulting when someone assumes the physical difference that I was born with must be the greatest tragedy of my life. 

Unhappiness is not rationed to a select few. It's readily available to all. You only have to pick your reason. Heck, you don't even need a reason.

I could get down about my disability, but why be so narrow-minded? There are so many other things to choose from: breakups, rudeness, and famine, to name a few.

Lately my attitude has been less than optimistic. It hasn't been exactly bad, just sort of stuck in the doldrums. I've stopped expecting good things, which is almost worse than being angry or upset, signs of passionate feeling. This dispassion is hard to kick.

I don't feel like I have a legitimate reason for my disappointment. Sure, there are a handful of things that haven't gone the way I would have liked.

This week I was excited to find a horse that would be perfect for our therapeutic riding program, only to learn it had been sold the day I made an inquiry.

I'm responsible for some of my blues. I've hurt people I care about because of my own selfish needs. And the worst part is I'm mostly upset because of how it makes me feel.

I took a picnic lunch to share with my cousin yesterday. He wasn't home, but his tenant Ramon was. I sat with Ramon under the shade of a cottonwood tree as he told me about his life journey from Cuba where he was nearly aborted before he was born, to working for Sears as a delivery driver. It certainly had not been easy, but happiness and contentment seeped out of him. Sitting next to him, I felt like the most negative person on the planet.

The only cure I've found for a poor outlook is looking more closely--examining the small, simple pleasures in my life. I will never forget how when I was struggling with physical illness and feeling strapped on every side, the one thing that I looked forward to each day was a bowl of yoghurt with raspberries and honey. To this day, I have never tasted yoghurt so good.

On Monday, Father Daniel called to invite me to a baseball game.

"We are taking the bikes," he said. It was all I needed to hear.

On the back of a motorcycle driven by a Franciscan priest, the sun and wind blessing my cheeks, I wondered how I got so lucky.


Friday, August 22

boys like girls

I met my friend Peggy for a coffee date.

Peggy survived polio as a child and we've both lived in bodies that people notice. Fueled by caffeine, we engaged in conversation like new recruits in warfare, swapping stories as if we might explode before we got them out.

Then we got to adolescence.

"I asked my mother if boys would like me," Peggy said. "And she said, 'The right boy will'."

I smiled. 

"Did you worry about boys liking you?," she wondered.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. I've written an entire essay about it for my memoir. And I feel like a total traitor saying this, but the answer is no, not really.

Truthfully, I have never worried that my physical differences would keep boys away, much the same way I never believed anything else was out of my reach because of my lacking arm. And I don't know why, because I've worried about nearly everything else my entire life.  

I have certainly suffered unrequited love for specific boys, but lots and lots of girls worry about not being good enough to love (boys too, for that matter). So I'm tempted to think physical difference is just one reason we give to excuse ourselves for lack of interest from the opposite sex.

Plenty of boys have been friendly toward me throughout my lifetime--and most of them have not interested me romantically. If I was interested and he wasn't, I usually told myself he was missing out or that it made no sense to like someone who didn't like you back (I was a child strangely grounded in logic).

I haven't had many boyfriends...some might argue no boyfriends...but it isn't for lack of interest. In fact, my arm seems the opposite of a deterrent, often the very thing that makes me approachable. 

I used to think only quality guys would want to be with me because they'd have to settle for minus one on the arm ledger. But as I've discovered recently, I am also attractive to selfish jerks who could care less about my amazing personality. So, apparently, you can have that too if you like, arms or no arms.

Peggy's mom might have told her any boy should be so lucky to capture her interest.

"I found out boys do like me," Peggy says now, a twinkle in her big brown eyes, looking back over more than forty years of life experience.

Of course they do.


Thursday, August 14

legs in the way

I happened upon a radio show this week where folks were calling in with their lamest excuse for not having sex with someone. One guy said he once told a woman that the battery in his prosthetic leg was dead.

The show's DJs found this fascinating, peppering him with questions like, Do you need your prosthetic leg to be charged for sex?, Do you wear your prosthetic during sex? and, If you don't wear it, do you fall off the bed?

The caller made it clear that not only was a full charge not necessary, but neither was the leg when it comes to happenings in the bedroom.

And for those of you who might be considering using this post in lieu of a bedtime story for your children, you may want to reconsider.

According to a statistic I ran across recently, quite a few people don't need or use their prosthetics for anything after a while. I don't remember the actual statistic or where I read it, but that's why I'm a writer and not a statistician.

I was relieved to hear this, actually. As a lifelong prosthetic deviant, I didn't want to think I was the only one who's fake arm was packed away at the back of a closet.

I've tried to wear a prosthetic arm for various reasons over the years--much like one wears orthodontics--hoping it will somehow improve appearance or social prospects.

Ironically, I called my first prosthetic arm my 'Helper' though I can't remember anything it actually helped me with. My mom had to bribe me to go to occupational therapy, where I learned to slowly place toy blocks on top of one another with the Helper, like a tiny crane. Unfortunately it was way more efficient and faster to do twice the work with my good arm. Even as I write this post, one hand sprints around the keyboard, a typing prosthetic still a very distant invention.

Fake body parts are certainly no friend of lovers. A boyfriend of my mid-twenties told me that my prosthetic arm creeped him out. And I'm pretty sure getting intimate with prosthetics is likely to end the night in the ER.


Monday, July 28

tying my shoe

Per a recent request, here is a short video of OneArmGirl tying the laces of her hiking sneaker...


Hope you found that enjoyable. There are actually several variations on this, involving my mouth, Finneas, and sitting down, but I'll save that for another segment of Ask OneArmGirl. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I think these are one of maybe two pairs of shoes that I own with laces. My closet is full of slip-ons.

[Note Keeper the Dog's close attention to the proceedings. She could care less how I tie my shoes as long as it means we are going out for a walk.]

Monday, July 14

Ask OneArmGirl...the answers

In the latest edition of Ask OneArmGirl, we received three whole questions...well, two questions and one request.

Balloons and confetti are currently falling from the ceiling at OAG headquarters as a result of this great success. We are thrilled at the response considering our recent neglect of this blog and our shameless resort to threatening our mother...I knew referring to myself in the third person would eventually backfire--I just like feeling like I'm working with a team.

Question #1 comes from reader 'summerrains':
"I was wondering if your engineers ever came up with a ponytail contraption?"

This question refers to an assignment taken on by engineering students of my former college buddy, now professor, Mike. They accepted my challenge to find an efficient way for someone with one hand to put a ponytail in her hair. They took on the task with gusto, emailing frequently for my consultation, but sadly this project (to my knowledge) never came to fruition. The end of the semester did, however, and I was notified that Project Ponytail would be tabled for the next year. And that was the last I heard. Can't blame them, really. They just needed a good grade and, while a one-handed ponytail seems innocent enough, it's a dilemma that's plagued me for years.

Question #2 comes from reader 'Gray':
"Did you ever try using the 1-Up hair tie to help do a ponytail? I think I may have mentioned it before in some ancient post. I have a friend who likes them a lot."

Gray, I did indeed. In fact, 1-Up hair tie creator Sara the Hand Therapist was gracious enough to send me a whole set. I detailed my experiment with the 1-Up hair tie in a post you can read here

Though I only spent one day playing with 1-Up, and am sure I could improve, I have found some rubber ties from Goody to be just as handy for me. They are a little sticky, so they cling to my hair better while I maneuver them into place. Plus the design couldn't be simpler as they look just like other hair ties. That said, as my hair has gotten longer this summer, I've started opting for clips over ties anyway.

It's interesting to me how popular this ponytail thing has gotten. I feel buoyed by the number of people concerned about my hairstyle, determined to make a way where there seemed to be no way.

Many thanks for that, and for another successful installment of Ask OneArmGirl. Tune in later this week for a special video response to a reader's request.


Thursday, July 10

an apologetic post

I am so behind in posting that it's started to hang like a guilty haze just behind my ears. I fall asleep wondering if I will write the next day.

So here I am, ready to post. Ready or not, here I post?

There's been a lot going on, though I'm sure, on the spot, I couldn't tell you what. Summer is in full tilt and I'm just trying to hold my own against the centrifugal force.

Did I mention painting the living room?
I feel like daily tasks are just whirling around me. If it's not exercising the dog, planning a riding lesson, washing the dishes (how are there so many dishes?) or watering my sun-wilted plants, it's something else.

This week, my dad came into town and I got sick (simultaneous but not correlated). Nevertheless, we're making the best of it: walking the acequia path with Keeper the dog, having beers with monks while discussing theology, taking afternoon naps.

So, while my brain is flustered, let's do a long-overdue segment of Ask OneArmGirl. This is where you (my long-suffering readers) get a chance to ask me a question, or two, or three. What would you like to know about me, my life, or the one-armed life in general. Perhaps you've been wondering about a sometime regular character who has not recently appeared on this blog. No question is off limits, though my answer may be limited.

What do you want to know? Leave your question in the comments and I will dedicate a shortly upcoming post to answering them.


*Mom, if no one asks a question, you are required to do so...