...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Good news, bad news
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Wherein we hear riff #287 on "my life as a disabled person (and why it sucks sometimes)".

Today we were so happy to finally cheer the Grand Reopening of…our rebuilt, expanded branch library! Yeah, I know, but you get it, don't you? Stu and I are - no surprise - big fans of public libraries and the Seattle Public Library gets our vote (mostly). Until the economy tanked, our library was unbelievably good at serving the public. In fatter times, if one patron requested the library get something, the library usually got it. We’ve seen that collapse, of course, with the collapse of Seattle's tax base, but this is a BOOK city. People love books here; reading is a popular pastime (and no, not just because "it rains all the time"). Who knows why? Sure it's a university town, but hundreds of other cities house universities and they don't have the number of independent bookstores and book events that Seattle does. Yeah, granted (and that's still ANOTHER story) the Northwest Book Fest collapsed, but that was management and maybe I'll tell you all about that some day. I volunteered for the Book Fest for several years before giving up in disgust. How a successful book event managed to shoot itself in the foot - no, both feet - is a pathetic tale.

But books are IT here. And we've been without our local Greenwood Branch for what, a year and a half? It's a 10 minute walk from the house. Stu was shlepping every week to the University branch by bus; not bad at all but still…

So the big opening was today; 50 percent more shelf space, who knows what? And here's the catch. I DON'T know what. Still. Because the good news - everyone was excited and wanted to visit the new library and see things and get books and hear music and get coffee.- was also the bad news for me. Because the crowd was so big and inert that in five minutes I was stressed to the max. People don't SEE disabled people in crowds. They don't NOTICE the scooter. I find this hard to imagine - it does after all take up real space in real time, but they walk in front of me and past me. They don't move aside, they go right where I need to go because It's the only way to get somewhere. Clumps and crowds and armloads of people. Dozens of strollers lined up in front of the library - blocking paths. People not moving aside, people not remembering that you gotta go in AND out. I was frantic and had to get out because I hate it hate it HATE it.

This isn't claustrophobia. This is being invisible. I don't need folks to move aside. I need folks to SEE me. Cutting in front of me is JUST like cutting in front on anyone else. Cutting in front of me to use a curb ramp is worse; it's my only option. People without mobility problems most people walking on their own, can step down from curbs, can go ANYwhere they like at the corner. I MUST use the curb cut - if I'm lucky enough to find it.

Making "speeding" jokes by the way, is tedious, tiresome and boring. I've used a motorized scooter to aid my mobility for what like eight years? It's like telling a tall person he should play basketball, or asking her what the weather's like. Like she's never heard it before. I know folks are trying to connect, but come on. And worse? Okay, really honest? Think about this one. "I could use one of those." I'm supposed to find that amusing? And yes, I've heard it dozens of times. From strangers. From friends - though to be fair to the friend who said it, once I said her name and said "come on" she instantly got it, apologized and said "I know better. I don't know what I was thinking."

Funny? No. It implies that I use it cuz my feet are tired, or cuz I'm lazy. Cuz walking is just a hassle. Rant. Rant, rant, RANT.

So we have a new library. Stu went off to take a walk and on his way back, still couldn't get in - the crowd hadn't died down. Cool, huh? It's more of interest to him anyhoo, since he goes to that branch all the time. Me? I'm still getting books delivered to me from our fantastic Mobile Services department. And there lies yet ANOTHER story; about how the Head Librarian decided to save money this fiscal year by shutting down that department. And how hundreds of people took her on; not just the hundreds of elderly folks in nursing homes and home delivery folks like me, BUT (and here's where I hope I balance some of that ranting) lots and lots of able-bodied folks came out and fought for us. Some had parents who used the service, some even knew me. But lots of them just GOT it; got that this is a great great service. It's my branch library, as someone said, just on wheels; you can't shut down a branch that serves thousands of people. I met with city council members about it, and I wrote letters and I talked to friends and I investigated the possibility of a class action lawsuit if the funding was killed. And it was gratifying as heck.

But feeling invisible sucks.

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