Sat 10 Dec 2005
December 6, 2005
1. When Justin, Adena and I walked into the facility, Peanut, a small woman in her 60s, approached us to help put up the Christmas decorations. Adena and I helped her carry the lights from the storage room into the common room, where a large, empty space filled the area where the pool tables used to sit. Kicking off my shoes, I stepped on the couch and hung the lights while Peanut and Adena passed me tape. We talked about our plans for the holidays and how Winter break can’t arrive soon enough and Karaoke, Peanut’s favorite activity at the center. Afterwards, Peanut made us Christmas cards and told us she was tired and wanted to go home. I left her and Adena after an hour of decorating and found Justin watching a pool game between Van and another resident. When their game was finished, Van said he wanted to play me, so we played 45 minutes worth of pool. He broke every time, and while I would play strongly at the start of each game, I would lose my coordination towards the end, and Van beat me three games to one. In this time, I learned that he was from Boiling Springs originally, and I told him I had done an internship for education class at the high school. He said he never went to high school, but that he always wished he had. After he didn’t want to play anymore, I found Peanut and Adena sitting on the couch, so I joined them and met Paul, a quiet, friendly man who loves to smile. After fifteen minutes, it was time to go so Adena wouldn’t miss her class, and as we said goodbye to everyone, Peanut approached Adena and I and gave us each hugs and telling us to come back anytime.
2. I really enjoyed my interaction with Peanut, who reminded me of my grandparents on my mother’s side. She made me feel included and important to the center in allowing me to hang the Christmas lights, and I felt very much a part of the family when she gave me a hug before I left. Perhaps it was the holiday spirit, but everyone seemed genuinely happy and thankful to be there which, in turn, made it easy for me to approach people and talk with them. Though I wanted to stay with Peanut and Adena, I also wanted to get to know some other people, and though Van and I didn’t speak much during pool, just being able to play a game and challenge one another made the experience worthwhile. I could see that when I congratulated him on a particularly difficult shot he was proud, and he began to do the same for me, which boosted my spirits as well. The most memorable moment of the day was when I asked Paul how his day went, and he replied good and I shot him a smile and a thumb’s up, which he laughed at and reciprocated with a big smile on his face, the first I had seen in my two visits to the Carlisle House.
3. After interacting with Michael (last week), Peanut, Van, and Paul, I recalled Rosemary Garland-Thomson’s construction of those with a disability as anomalous and dangerous to society and realized the lunacy of this stereotype. Those who I spoke with had some of the most positive and engaging personalities of anyone I’ve spoken to, perhaps because they don’t fear what other people think of them and therefore do not feel the need to be negative. When Peanut expressed her discontent with Bush’s plans in Iraq, Adena and I agreed with her and we began to poke fun at the state of our country and those running it. Clearly, these people are educated and informed members of society who care enough to express their opinions, even though someone else may think differently. These people are individuals and have strong opinions on different issues. If they present any danger, it lies in voicing their likes and dislikes, interrupting the smooth-flowing pace of their community and society as a whole. The fear, then, must stem from some dislike of expressing oneself for the sake of what society thinks. I can only hope to be as brave as them some day.