Cape Town Globalist… Meet The Disability Diaries

Now in the final year of my degree, the decision to go to UCT’s ‘Plaza Week’ (the event at which you can sign up for whatever society manages to catch your eye) was made more out of a desire to see friends I hadn’t seen in the three-month vacation more than it was to sign up for any society. While strolling the Plaza looking at the full range of stalls from the anti-abortionists (sigh) to UCT’s LGBT+ community, RainbowUCT, I came to The Cape Town Globalist. As you could guess from the title or my tweets (assuming you follow me on Twitter; if you don’t, my handle is @AidanBizony), I signed up with them.

Important Links:
Facebook: The Globalist
Twitter: The Globalist

Tonight was the first meeting of the year for the society. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect and was just a tad cynical. Having left there less than three hours ago, I am truly surprised by them and am willing to work with them on an ongoing basis. If everything outlined tonight comes to fruition, I think it could be the start of a brilliant relationship.

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“Sorry I’m Late”

Hey guys… you still there?… um… this is awkward…

As any of my usual readers would notice, I’ve not been around much (or at all) over the last few weeks. It’s just been the start of the academic year at UCT and the beginning of my final year of my Undergraduate Degree so the work, social life, series, naps, and whatever else you’d expect a usual Cape Town student to get up to has been keeping me busy. Well, that and also the fact that every time I’ve come up with a post idea recently I either feel it needs a bit more work or it fizzles out into nothingness.

Now that I’m back into the swing of things, I finally feel comfortable publishing my nonsense again. Yay for you (assuming you actually like the blog). While I might have had to dig myself out of the woodwork recently, that doesn’t change the fact that I am still at a loss largely about a topic for the next few blog posts. To make up for this, then, I thought I should sketch an outline of what I’m planning so that you actually know what to expect and I have a list of ideas to refer back to in future.

Collaboration with Diary of a Disabled Person

We did it again.

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What Makes Me Different

Pantehra u3 lightI came across an article recently written by Virali Modi on Slate.com outlining some of her experiences about being in a wheelchair. I know that I’ve explained why I’m in a wheelchair, how I think slightly differently as a result, and how it affects my daily living but what I don’t feel I’ve explained well enough is how my being in a wheelchair makes me feel different… in good ways and bad.

As with anything, the wheelchair has its ups and its downs. In my previous post, Just How Much Does the Wheelchair Affect my Daily Living?I told you that the wheelchair is something I don’t consciously think about that often and that I often ‘see’ myself as standing until there is something that makes it obvious to me (like a bookshelf being too high). While all of that is true, I have become more aware of other little things that I realise behave slightly differently as a result of the chair since I published that article. Since I designed the blog to be a medium for me to express my opinions and experiences on life with a disability, I feel I should provide an update to the original article. So here goes…

1. I’m always seated

Although I’ve been disabled for my entire life, the wheelchair has only been part of my life for the past five or so years. Even when I wasn’t in a wheelchair, though, the nature of how I ‘walked’ was largely based on ‘hanging’ from my arms. In other words, I never truly stood. While I never stood properly (in the sense of weight-bearing through my feet and legs) I was still verticle.

Now some years down the line of being in a wheelchair, I still find myself using words like ‘walking’ or ‘standing’ when referring to what I’m doing. It’s just part of my vocabulary and I don’t notice myself using it until the person I’m talking to has a decidedly puzzled look on their face. Once the initial confusion subsides, however, they don’t seem to mind it too much.

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Why I am Not ‘Differently-abled’

More and more these days, there is a growing need for political correctness – be it with respect to race, sexuality, gender, or disability. The shift from the archetypal, misogynistic, narrow-minded approach is a movement I wholeheartedly support. To support a changing paradigm, though, does not exclude you from being able to disagree with elements that develop as a result of the emerging paradigm. The use of the term ‘differently-abled,’ which is gaining popularity in the Cape Town Disabled Community if not internationally as one of the alternatives to ‘disabled,’ is something I disagree with. Before you delete the website and stop reading the blog, at least give me the next couple of minutes to outline why it is I find myself repeatedly disagreeing with the shift from ‘disabled’ to ‘differently-abled.’

While I might not agree with the term, there is a lot to be said for the ‘differently-abled’ argument. One of the strongest arguments I’ve heard in its defence, in fact, was that it acknowledges the different strengths and weaknesses in individuals, thereby highlighting what disabled individuals can do rather than what they can. The reason behind the term – as a way of highlighting what one can do as opposed to what they can’t – is something that I like about it. The problem, for me, comes primarily in the fact that while it acknowledges the strengths versus weaknesses argument, ‘differently-abled’ does not do enough to acknowledge the significant physical, emotional, and psychological limitations that a disability places on an individual just by the nature of its existence. These added limitations can be, and often are, severely limiting and disabling to the individual they effect. While I personally prefer ‘disabled’ as it does not shy away from the negatives that are natural attributes of the phenomenon, I really do appreciate the way in which ‘differently-abled’ emphasises the positive attributes of an individual. While ‘differently-abled’ might highlight the positive attributes of a person, I do not feel that the term is sufficient enough to communicate the dramatic impact of disability. For me, ‘differently-abled’ just sugar-coats disability a little too much for my taste.

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Leaving South Africa: An Update

For those of you who read The Disability Diaries often, you will know that our family has decided to immigrate to England. In a couple of earlier posts, I explained a little bit about why we decided to leave South Africa. Since today is a special day in the ‘Bizony Family Relocation’ saga, I thought it would be appropriate for me to give you (my readers) an update on how our plans to leave the country have been developing.

Although we’ve decided to leave by the end of my Undergraduate degree – which I am set to complete at the beginning of December 2018 – my sister and her husband moved to London last year. In fact, today is the anniversary of their leaving Cape Town for their new lives in England. Ever since they left South Africa, our emigration plans became all the more certain.

While their year away from us has not entirely isolated my sister and her husband from the ‘Cape Town contingent’ of the family thanks to WhatsApp and Skype calls, the fact remains that my father and I have not seen my sister since the day they left. To think that it has, as of today, now been a full year since my father and I have seen her is a little disturbing given the relationship we’ve had with her up until their leaving but at least it hasn’t been entirely isolating.

Notwithstanding the fact that our leaving plans dictate our leaving South Africa in early 2019 once I graduate, at least my father and I would see my sister before then. Since my 21st birthday is coming up this March, we decided that we will go over for a few weeks in mid-March. The March 2018 trip will serve two purposes: to celebrate my turning 21 with the whole family together again for the first time since they left and, secondly, to begin the various processes that can only be done from England that are necessary for our planned 2019 immigration.

Right now, though, our main concern is finding a place to live when we get to England for the first time as residents. Finding accommodation, at the best of times, is not the easiest thing in the world. This already-difficult problem is made even worse for us when you factor in that, for various reasons, we will not be able to rent property in the UK not to mention that we will be entering the English property ladder with the ‘Mickey Mouse currency’ that is the South African Rand. To say, then, that our property search is ‘difficult’ is an understatement.

Naturally, before we can decide on which house to buy in England we have to decide exactly where in England we plan to live. Considering that we need a minimum of three bedrooms and space for two adult Golden Retrievers, the factors we have to take into account in planning this monumental endeavour just continue to mount. Since my parents have decided that I “must be living on my own after a year in England,” they have focused more on where they’d like to live that would be near to London but far enough out to be cheap enough for our already-limited budget and well-suited to the lifestyles of two retirees. At the moment they are particularly enamoured with Wiltshire. How the Wiltshire plan will develop between now and the successful purchase of their ‘England home’ is anybody’s guess. At least their job is made easier by the fact that our South African house has been sold and the money has been converted to pounds and is now safe from how the South African currency will react.

Although it is not in the immediate future, knowing that my parents are planning on almost certainly living in a different city to myself and my sister is quite a strange concept for me. Either way, people do it all the time so it shouldn’t be that bad – at the very least, it’ll be an adventure.

So that’s about as much as we’ve planned in terms of leaving. It feels like a lot of work that we’ve been doing but when I see it written up I am terrified of how little we’ve actually achieved and how much we are still required to do before we can leave the country and the limited amount of time in which we have to do it.

Here’s to hoping we can do it.

A Man & His Journal: Agenda, Emotional Crutch, Childhood Dream

Something that has been playing around in my mind in the last couple of days in particular: emotional coping mechanisms. I’m not entirely sure why. Sure, everyone has their own proverbial emotional rollercoaster that takes them through the highs and lows of their lives and, for the most part, it’s not a bad thing. Hell, if nothing else it keeps life interesting.

What made me start thinking ’emotional coping mechanisms’ specifically I cannot say. Perhaps, weirdly, I’ve been feeling somewhat contemplative over the last couple of days. Reasons for this train of thought aside, I thought I could discuss one particular coping mechanism that I use to get through the more ‘entertaining’ parts of my rollercoaster. I know that this trick works for me and I also know that it is one of the relatively common ones. That said, not all of these will ‘gel’ with everyone.

Anyway, down to business…

Journaling

This is perhaps one of the earliest and longest lasting of my ‘tools.’ I started my first journal on my thirteenth birthday. While I haven’t been straining to write in my journal every single day, I find myself gravitating towards it on a semi-regular basis.

Now going into the eighth year of a relationship with journaling, I found the reasoning behind my journaling has taken several forms and I seem to regularly change its raison d’étre. For instance, I still remember the reason I first decided to start journaling in the first place: I wanted to join history.

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Welcome to 2018

Hello, Friends

It’s been a month since I’ve last interacted with you on the blog but, yeah, life happens and all that jazz. Among all of the other commitments at the moment, I also seemed to have contracted a case of writer’s block – as one of my favourite childhood, fictional characters, Adrian Mole, would have said, “Just my luck.”

Recently, though, I’ve been feeling particularly creative so I should be back on the ‘blogging band wagon’ soon. Since my brain is deciding to give me the silent treatment on The Disability Diaries front, I feel like opening up my content up to my readers. If you want to know my thoughts etc. on a particular topic feel free to e-mail me, reach out on the FaceBook, Instagram or Twitter accounts.

Considering it is near midnight in Cape Town at the moment, I don’t think I will be able to accurately discuss some of the ideas that finally began swimming around my head at the moment. I decided to write this post tonight just to keep The Disability Diaries alive and well while I begin drafting the new posts.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if there is anything you want to know about me.

Bye for now and here’s to a wonderful new year,

Aidan