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...

Wednesday, June 25

bad with your good

On one of the longest, hottest days of the year here in my corner of the Southwest, my air-conditioner decided to take the day off. My hypotheses: it's been feeling overworked as it is also the heating unit--or, it is having an identity crisis.

Either way, I am currently sitting directly under the ceiling fan, contemplating an escape to the sanctuary of the closest movie theater.

I've been struck lately by the necessity of taking the good with the bad. What's really behind the pithy statement? What does it mean to 'take' what life hands out?

As you may recall, a few weeks back, I was excited to get a call from Heidi Latsky about an upcoming film exploring disability in dance. She asked me to send audition tapes. I cleared out my entire living room to create a makeshift dance studio, only to find, several weeks and phone calls later that the film is already way over budget with too many dancers.

"I promise you will be in the next movie," Heidi tells me apologetically over the phone.

"Ok," I laugh, thinking she might have said "I promise you can go with me the next time I get an invitation to the White House."

But who knows?

No one knows about a next time, or a first time for that matter. Am I sitting on the floor crying, listening to Sarah McLachlan? Not yet. As I mentioned, I'm sitting under a ceiling fan, sweating.

So, I've had some disappointing news. So what? The older I get, the more I realize that sometimes dreams come true, and sometimes they don't. And sometimes they come true later, much later than we wanted.

And it's not that it's not a big deal; I was over the moon with the prospect of working on a film like that. It was a perfect opportunity, in one fantasy, launching my platform as a celebrity disability advocate. I imagined myself on the Today Show.

But it is not to be. And it's ok, something else will come along.

Meanwhile, I will keep enjoying my morning coffee and dog park visits with Keeper the dog. I will keep learning how to teach a little girl to communicate with her horse. I will keep trying new dance inversions with my fellow acrobats. These are the dreams that come true again and again each day.

I don't think taking the bad with the good means denying your attachment to feelings that arise. It's OK to be ecstatic, and it's OK to be heartbroken. You take each development, each emotion like you would waves as you make your way deeper into the ocean. You let them wash through, past, and sometimes overtop of you, but you keep going, never forgetting how good it feels to swim.


Monday, June 9

erasing the line

At the dog park recently, I met Tom from Guam. Almost as soon as I met him, he asked about my arm. No, this is not Dr. Seuss. If it were, I would have said he asked about my 'aam.'

Interpretation by friend Noam.
While this question still catches me a little off guard, I am always happy to meet someone willing to be honest and straightforward in their curiosity. I explained that I was born with one arm and that I think it is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

"Really? How do you mean," Tom asked.

"It's allowed me to see the world in a different way, to think outside the's also opened many opportunities to talk to people."

I didn't mention, talk to people like Tom who is now a regular follower.

In case you haven't noticed, I like to talk about disability. It's often the superficial starter to some very deep conversations. One can hardly bring up disability without finding out where another stands politically, spiritually, and socially; whether he or she is more of a half full or half empty glass sort.

"Do you consider yourself disabled," Sarina (another dog park colleague) asks me as we walk together around the Old Town plaza. She is clearly unconvinced.

But that's just it. Where is the line between disabled and able-bodied (both terms I detest, for the record). It's strange to me that someone would question my handicap when everywhere I go, people stare at me.

I was recently at a large theme park with Dragon Boy and Mama. Standing in line for the next ride I was sure to regret going on, I was surrounded by a sea of children whose parents, regretting their unlucky position near me in line, attempted to divert their children's curious eyes.

If I'm not disabled, what am I? Do I exist in some gray area between normal and disabled? The town freak, perhaps? If I don't seem to have a disability, try going just one day using only one arm; and maybe the other arm above your elbow--just to keep things fair.

But do I have a disability? Maybe. Maybe not.

This blog is less about claiming a label than taking the piss out of pariah. [Someone who is British tell me if that sentence made any sense]. Even more than celebrating my own freakishness, I write to show our great commonality--as people. But I have to highlight the line before I can erase it.


Thursday, June 5


Dear readers,

I'm on vacation this week and running a bit behind. My apologies.


Thursday, May 29

dog park destiny

Destiny. Whether you believe in it or not, you can't help but notice occasions when something seems to come together just right. 

I debated whether or not to go to the dog park this morning, but off we went in the end. The place was deserted until another regular and her two mastiffs showed up. Keeper the dog is not a fan of big dogs or any dogs for that matter, but mastiffs hardly even notice she is there.

Just as I was starting to think about taking off, a Jack Russell Terrier with owner in tow entered the park. The owner ended up being a savvy German gal, road-trippig around the country. We got talking, our dogs actually started playing together, and I offered her a room to stay.

So just like that, I have a houseguest. Sarina and Slick couldn't be more amenable and lovely to hang with, and it turns out you don't have to be back-packing across Europe to meet europeans. This is nice for a more domestic, home and hearth gal like me.

We toured around the old town plaza (after a stop at Starbucks, of course), discussed our mutual love of candy sculls and un-scheduled road trips, and now we're sitting quietly in my living room, each absorbed in her own technical device as if we've been friends for decades.

It's a good day to remember that anything can happen any day. So I guess it's important to stay open.

Also, the Germans are obviously stalking me.


Thursday, May 22

the end and the beginning

Ever have one of those hours, days, weeks when the world seems to be coming to an end...well, at least your world...but then it doesn't?

I had one of those last week. I was working on an audition video for Heidi Latsky. I just needed a phrase or two of choreography that would allow her to see how my body moves. I cleared out the living room, leaving a makeshift studio (with all of my furniture piled at one end). I moved around the space. I turned on some music. I just needed to condense my dance ability into a fifteen second video--no big deal. 

Except that for a perfectionist/artist, that is a huge deal--damn near impossible deal, actually. I was an hour in, hot and bloated (for other reasons), and I only had about eight counts of movement. Then I made the mistake of recording myself and watching it. Within ten seconds of recording, I was piled under an avalanche of horrible high school dance audition memories--not to mention thirty-four years of frustration with my own body, the way it moves and the way it doesn't move. I might as well have been onstage before the judges of So You Think You Can Dance with all of them grimacing and shaking their heads. 

I felt untrained, unprepared, and like a complete idiot for even thinking I could do something like this.

I sat down on the couch, now wedged in the doorway between the living room and kitchen. I felt as discombobulated as the room looked. This was only the tip of the iceberg currently threatening the buoyancy of my self confidence. I was already feeling like I'd made a huge mistake becoming a therapeutic riding instructor when I'm really interested in physical therapy--the night before I had to teach, I'd decided I hated my job and I've only been at it for a couple months. And somewhere within the same week, I decided I'd adopted the wrong dog, that she was too nervous and not friendly and needed more space. The end was in sight.

Nothing made sense. So I went to bed. I really did. I took a three or four hour nap. I woke up hungry, called Dragon Boy's Mama and Little Gen, and went out for sushi, leaving the living room in disarray.

Back in the 'studio' the next day, I reminded myself that I was making an audition tape for a woman who wants to work with different bodies. I also told myself that I needed to do it, at my current ability level, and get it over with, or I would assuredly be committed when I stumbled out of my apartment a week later, malnourished, naked, and mumbling something about Baryshnikov.

Over the next day or so, I finished some semblance of choreography that I could stand, sent off the recording, and put the couch back in place. Life had to go on...

And it did. A week went by and I heard nothing. I started to console myself, saying I'd done the best I could (though myself never quite believes that).

Then, this morning I woke up to an email from Heidi. The subject read: "working with you." There was one sentence inside: "I would love to so please call me when you can so we can organize this..."