Prove It

Many stores have responded to Covid-19 but putting in place special shopping times for community members that need a little extra consideration. Examples of those type of people being seniors, pregnant women, people with disabilities or otherwise immunocompromised. This is a solid thing businesses are doing that they don’t have to, and none of what I am about to say is in any way contrary to that sentiment. I am grateful for these accommodations because safety and sanity are my top priorities right now. With that, now let me tell you about my morning.

I needed to go to Costco. I try to have my husband go, but they were out of things we needed when he went, and when you have IBS and MCAS you just can’t risk running out of toilet paper and generic Benadryl. So I decided I’d venture out on a quiet Wednesday morning in hopes things would be in stock and not too crazy. From the minute I woke up I could feel my anxiety buzzing, even though I triple checked the website that it was the elderly AND disabled all I could think was, what if someone asks me why I’m there? what if they make me prove it?

About 90% of my illnesses manifest invisibly. I really only have a few symptoms that say HEY! Look at me! I’m sick! So knowing I would have to stand my ground in line while a bunch of old people stared at me like, wtf is she doing here? was stressing me out BIG TIME. I knew since it was a going to be upwards of 90 degrees I was going to bring my cane for stability, POTS related dizziness etc. Which sadly was the only thing I was kind of holding on to for peace of mind as some kind of symbol to say, I deserve to be here. Who is going to question the 27 year old with the cane?

But isn’t that kind of fucked when you think about it? I shouldn’t need some visual manifestation of illness or disability to prove to a bunch of strangers that I am in fact ill or disabled. I am just as fucking sick on days when I don’t need a mobility aid, my diagnoses do not magically change. There are also hella young people who are living disabled and chronically ill that don’t need mobility aids but very much need to shop during these special times for their safety, so that creates this issue of society wanting us to prove it. It’s the whole “But you don’t look sick” complex we battle against every day, or the “you’re too young for all those problems” line I’ve heard SO MANY TIMES, well you know what Ethel I have them so what the fuck now?

So here I am rolling up to Costco sweating balls, partly because I always am, and partly because of all this anxiety that I don’t look sick or disabled enough for the general public to accept me. I mean I am used to stares. We all are. We wore masks before Covid-19 was a thing, I use a mobility aid and am under 60. But let me tell you these Senior citizens were obvious AS FUCK. More obvious than my 10 year old students when I brought Sticky to school. Just validating all that anxiety, and I’m just trying to stand my ground, wobbly, but standing nonetheless.

The kicker was at the entrance when I was asked if I was someone’s escort and I nervously replied, Um no, I thought this time was also for the disabled and immunocompromised ? [Shamelessy being like here! Look at my cane! It’s real!] The Costco worker at this point was majorly backtracking and said, “Oh yes of course ma’am, there is a different line on the other side usually, but you good!” To this I am thinking, FOR FUCKS SAKE! Would it kill you guys to have i dunno a sign with some goddamn arrows?, but instead I politely replied that I didn’t know it was my first time coming at this time.

So I’m giving you all this play by play largely just to say that it’s some bullshit. We know disability can be invisible. We know it can impact anyone of any age. We know all this stuff and yet here we are, and it just sucks that you can’t go to the store during a time DESIGNED FOR YOU, without feeling like an anxious mess like you’re cheating some system. Maybe this is just me, and maybe I need to just own it and not give a shit. But it was in the back of my mind the whole time, what if they turned me away? Can they even do that? I don’t like feeling like I need to have a mobility aid or a bad tremor day for someone to believe that I have a disability, but that’s the fight we’re in sometimes. And welp, it’s fucking bullshit man, and that’s what I came here to say.

How do you cope with the haters and anxiety in situations like that? Drop some comments here or on Instagram @the_illest_blog! Thanks for reading my mess

Back the Fu** Up

You can do your best, but the moment you step outside you assume the risk of everyone else’s actions.

Back when my now husband was just some cute classmate of mine at university in Santiago, Chile, he had a penchant (still does tbh) for graphic tees. So these t-shirts would say all sorts of stupid shit, and I was always like come on man, really with the graphic tees? Mind you all of them were in English, and my husband’s English was not fluent at that time, and these shirts are somewhat NSFW, making them even more bizarre in the context of 2010’s Chilean fashion. But there was one shirt to reign them all, which I just couldn’t stand. It was a white tee, with a large graphic of the back of a semi-truck, and in red and black block letters said “BACK THE FUCK UP” and you guys when I saw this shirt I was just like… why? Why is this even on a shirt, why is it in Chilean stores? Why did this otherwise intelligent young man buy this ridiculous and profane shirt?

Throwback pic of my husband with “the shirt,” lovin the pose right?

So this dumbass shirt has always been a joke and point of contention in our 7+ year relationship. I even went so far as to tell him not to even bring it to the US to my apartment, it was serious.

Now why the astro-fudge-brownie am I telling this story? Well this shirt is my new motto. BACK. THE. FUCK. UP. The whole Covid-19 thing has me feeling some type of way, and so many of these feelings end in just frustration, anger, or a felling of helplessness. I’ve already posted on my Instagram briefly about being a vulnerable or at-risk person, and let me tell you everything that comes with that label is heavy as FUCK.

Some of us still need to leave our homes for ongoing medical care, it just isn’t an option not to. I suit up, mask, hat, sanitizer for days right? I do my best, but the moment I step outside I’ve now assumed the risk of everyone else’s actions, and the other day these people were just getting way too close to me, fucking CLUELESS. Guess what I wanted to shout in their faces? Back the FUCK UP! Like where is that damn tshirt now?! I desperately need my 6ft radius bitches.

Should we all be wearing these tees? A staggering number of people don’t seem to give a shit at all. It’s truly unbelievable the actions people have chosen to take in this situation with regard to endangering others health and safety. I don’t know if it is because I am school teacher, but adults choosing not to follow simple instructions makes me so mad. I want to call their grandmas and take away their cellphones for a week just like the 13 year olds in my class. Like “Excuse me Spring Break Brody, in this community we DO give a shit about the well being of others so if you’re not going to get it together, we’re calling mom, and no more White Claws or iPhone until you can show our community you can use them safely.”

Ugh….I feel like I need a major a Tina Belcher style “ughhh” after thinking about some of this stuff. It makes you want a T-shirt emblazoned with “Back the fuck up” just so that’s one less thing to remind yourself and others. Sadly I don’t think the shirt is still for sale, and the original is behind closed borders in Santiago. Rats.

To all my other vulnerable readers, and everyone else I hope people respect your space, your safety, and your health in this time of crisis.