Fri 16 Dec 2005
Laurie and I arrived at the Carlisle House around 1230PM. When we first walked in and hung up our coats and I observed that some of the members were taking part in singing Karaoke. I sat on a chair and introduced myself to Ron who was to my right. He told me about what songs he enjoyed singing karokee to and we discussed car racing for while. He informed me that his favorite driver is Jeff Gordon and that his father drag races at a race track in Mount Holly. Ron also told me that he used to race, but that he sold his car and that he would like to work as an auto mechanic, which he had done in the past. I was then introduced to Peanut, who was doing most of the Karaoke singing. She sang the songs Boardwalk, the electric slide, and others. I also met Mel, who was knitting at the arts and crafts table. Mel was also taking part in singing and dancing. She was a great singer. After being introduced to Mel and Peanut I went back and sat down and talk more with Ron. We discussed what he wanted for Christmas, hockey, football, what television shows he enjoyed ad he showed me a giant star that the members made. Ron then had to leave to pick up his Mom at work. He told me he would be back on Friday and that he would be making lunch. After he left Peanut wanted me to sing Karaoke with her, so stood with her and sang and danced. After a few Karaoke songs with peanut Laurie and I had to leave. I hugged Peanut and Mel and told them how much I enjoyed my time with them.
I think before going I was feeling a little bit nervous because I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But soon after I got there I began to feel more welcome and in talking with Ron I just attempted to look for something that we could have in common to talk about. I was surmised at all the things we had in common such as football (even though he likes the Steelers and I’m an eagles fan) as well as certain TV shows such as wheel of fortune. It made me happy to see that there were things that I could identify with. Something else I observed was just how carefree everyone seemed, especially Peanut. She seemed as through she couldn’t be happier singing and dancing. There was no fear in her of being embarrassed or different, she was just happy to be expressing herself. You could also see just how much she enjoys the Carlisle House. In comparison with something in my own life sometimes I go to a bar with some friends on a karaoke night. After we leave the bar everyone says how next week they are going to sing and how they wish they had this week, but they never do. I think that people who are “normal” have a fear of embarrassment and of being different, where it seemed like people like Mel and Peanut weren’t afraid to be themselves. I found them to be truly inspiring, I even sang and danced and felt like it didn’t matter how I acted I was accepted.
I think that based on my observations I really saw that these people are being something extraordinary through their differences. Not to say that people without disability aren’t unique, but I think that each person was using his or her difference to be something special. For example, Peanut seemed so thankful for everything that she had and she to really be happy with who she is. Rosemarie Garland discusses the dominant culture as being neutral and what is defined as normal doesn’t really exist: “If one attempts to define the normate position by peeling away all the marked traits within the social order at this historical moment, what emerges is a very narrowly defined profile that describes only a minority of actual people”(8).