Sat 17 Dec 2005
I went to the Carlisle House on Thrusday December 8th from 12-2 P.M. As I walked in the door I was immidiately greeted with the sound of Peanut singing to the kareoki machine. Sydney, James, and I introduced ourselves to those present and then searched for Stephanie. After confirming our presence with Stephanie, Peanut took James, Sydney, and I on a tour of the facility. Following the completion of the tour,James and I stayed in the main common room watching Peanut and a few other individuals singing with the Kareoki machine. Peanut immidiately approached me and asked if I would take off my jacket and sing along with her. Iuite apprehensivly but continued anyway. Peanut and I sang “New York, New York” first and followed up with a few additional songs. I then asked James to “jump in” with me and the three of us proceeded to sing a few more songs. Peanut then decided to get a milkshake from the Dairy Queen, so James and I joined Sydney in the kitchen. I met Chris in the kitchen and proceeded to spend the majority of our time talking with him. We talked about his past military experience, partying, and the success of the Carlisle High School’s boys basketball team during the mid-1980’s. We continued the conversation both outside while he smoked and in the kitchen over coffee (which was surprisingly good) and soup. I then met Scott who owned 4 dogs and was quite the cross-country runner and wrestler during his high school years. Our conversation then revolved around how he spoiled his dogs, feeding them Turkey for breakfast. I can personally relate, for my dog receives roast-beef every morning. After a short period of conversation we found ourselves in the pool room. An administrator of the Carlisle House then joined the pool game. I was unable to determine if this man possesed any mental conditions. However, after a brief period of time I realized that he was in fact an employee, who coincidentally grew up very close to me. Sydnery, James, and I remained in the pool room until we said our goodbyes and left.
Upon my initial arrival I felt akward not because I was surrounded by peopel with varying mental conditions, but because I felt as if our interaction was artificial. I was curious if those who I spoke with felt as if they were being studied or observed. I quickly overcame this feeling when Peanut asked me to sing with her. After finishing the first few songs, I began to get into the music and had fun. In addition, I quickly understood that the Carlisle House truly was a recreational facility. I was just another person singing Kareoki, playing pool, and smoking cigarettes (even though I didn’t actually smoke) just like anybody else. Talking with Chris also aided in diminishing my anxious demenour. The more I talked with Chris and learned about his past experiences, the more comfortable I felt. The two of us had a mutual love for partying and in particular, partying in New York City. However, as I was first approaching Chris upon my initial arriva, a woman playing cards on the other side of the kitchen commented on how I looked. Immidiately, Christ try to ensure me by saying, “Don’t worry about her, shes crazy”. This comment (which was repeated later on ) made me feel slightly anxious, for I didn’t know how to respond. The rest of my time there was very calm and enjoyable. I left the Carlisle House feeling significantly more comfortable than when I first entered.
Some of the information conveyed in Thompson’s, Extrodinary Bodies, was identifiable during my trip to the Carlisle House. The unexpected comment made by Chris, “Don’t worry about her, shes crazy” exemplified Thomsons argument that “disabled” people tend to stereotype and margenalize other “disabled” people in an attempt to normalize themselves. The more Chris and I conversed about partying in college, the more “normal” our interaction became. Therefore, Chris may have repeated the same comment in an attempt to solidify his “normalcy”. In doing so, he was projecting the woman whom the comment was directed towards, as an entirely different “disabled” person. My analysis of the comment may very well be inaccurate, but Thomson’s argument and this class has reformed the way in which I approach the topic of “diability”.