The Saga of Finding an Accessible ATM, i.e, “I Need My Money!”

I’m lucky. I live in downtown Minneapolis, which means I’m in “walking” distance of literally DOZENS of ATM machines. But the kicker? It seems as of late that finding one that is a) wheelchair accessible and C6 quad friendly (i.e., no swiper thingy please!), and b) accepts my type of card, is becoming more and more of a challenge. It’d ridiculous really. Let me give you some quick insight into what’s been happening so you can better understand my ATM-situation (btw, in the picture to the left…the dude pictured is NOT me). I used to visit this awesome, cutsey lowered-ATM machine that was located about 4 blocks from me. Getting to it was a cinch. You see, since the city I live in is all interconnected by skyways (they were constructed due to the long cold winters; but the winters are now not so horrible anymore, due to global warming. *shrug* Waddya do?). After a quick 2 block jaunt, I’m in the “system” so to speak; zooming through the skyways at my top speed (which is 6 mph I believe. I’ve never clocked it though). And soon, I arrived at the Wells Fargo, totally wheelchair-accessible, ATM machine. It was even situated right next to this awesome shoe shine-place owned by a Hurricane Katrina evacuee, who played the grooviest Zydeco music ever, blaring it at Corporate America drones as they passed by during their lunch breaks; but that’s another story altogether. But about a month ago, it was a “no go” situation. The machine spat out my card like a piece of pork gone bad, telling me that Wells no longer accepted my card. “Wtf?” I thought. I pondered; exasperated, and decided to move onto the next accessible ATM machine I knew existed in the “system.” The next machine was also a Wells ATM, but I tried it anyways. “Maybe the other machine was a fluke?” But no. Rejected again. Off again I was, zooming, unrelenting in my search. When a girl needs some cash, she REALLY needs some cash. Success was finally had at a totally NON-accessible Wells ATM machine, located a further 5 blocks inwards towards the downtown zone; a truly annoying thing. If it wasn’t for my chair’s elevator seat and a kind stranger who pulled my card and cash out for me (a really scary thing to ask a stranger for help with, btw), I would’ve been totally screwed. I hate how my disability makes the seemingly easiest things so complicated. No fair ūüôĀ

Don’t Go to Russia (the access and prejudices may drive you batty)!

I recently fell across this crazy (yet brilliant and hysterical) article written by Yasha Levine on “The Exile,” a Russia-based informations site, called “Hell On Wheels: 24 Hours Without Wheels in Moscow.” I’m not quite sure if his article was supposed to be satirical or purely informational, or shocking, or all three of these attributes, but I do know one thing – it was a HUGE wake-up call to Miss Tiffiny Carlson, in regards to how lucky I am to live in a city (Minneapolis), that is over 90% accessible (in regards to public facilities).

What Mr. Levine did was rent out a wheelchair for 250 rubles/week called “Nadezdha,” from an area medical rental place, which basically means (translated from Russian into English, of course), “Hope.” So, with the shoddy “Hope” wheelchair in his possession, which wasn’t easy to find by the way, Mr. Levine went out across the vastness that is the city of Moscow – post-Communism over 10+ years no less – to peruse the town PUBLICALLY, which in itself happens to be a big deal over there because essentially no one with a disability ever goes out in public out of both physical (lack of accessibility) and psychological (shame, embarrassment) reasons. Thanks to the extreme division of the able-bodied and the disabled in Communist-era Russia, everyone with a disability was pretty much institutionalized and never integrated into the public environment. The Russian public, still, TO THIS DAY, doesn’t know how to properly and politely handle people with disabilities (other than throw spare rubles at them or tell them they’re not wanted).

What Levine did in his 24 hours “without legs” was traverse the Muscovite subway system (via wheelies on escalators), dine on sub-par sushi at a huge (relatively new and thankfully accessibly) mall that lies on the outskirts of Moscow (fitting in a dinner date with his girlfriend, no less), and than (his biggest challenge), attempting to integrate himself into the elite Moscow clubbing scene (which was by far his biggest challenge). “We do not allow invalids into our club,” said one bouncer in the most simplistic terms possible, as he attempted to enter a certain snotty club. Undeterred, he used his friends (who were able-bodied and hip, as “clout”) he finally did get himself into another nearby high-brow club, and even got himself a few sexy (clothes-on) lap-dances from some hot Muscovite-women too. Oh the surprise that was!

To read this truly informative and mind-expanding article, and to learn to fully appreciate the accessibility of your current residence by the highest means possible, do read Yasha Levine’s article on his one-day escapade (thank ye gods) in the city of Moscow.

Cats and Wheelchairs: The Unexplained Mystery

If you happen to be the lucky owner of a feline companion and also find yourself a wheelchair-user, you might have discovered the same¬†bizarre occurence that¬†I have during my many chair-using years: Cats want your wheelchair.I think it’s because that cats¬†are, without a doubt (next to the sloth of course. No animal can¬†beat the sloth), the laziest animal on the planet. And if you don’t believe me, go down to your friendly neighborhood cat shelter and pick one up. Not only will you be doing¬†a service to society (score!), you’ll also be endlessly amused at how a cats seem to hone in on your chair; the most expensive seat in the house.

Take my¬†one year old cat “Pixie Stick” for example. Every night after transferring into bed, she takes the first second it’s without “The Tiff,” and jumps right¬†onto it; hanging on it in all wacky poses and perches, much like a monkey in a tree. Or trying to show-off like Nadia Comaneci. She thinks it’s hers, or at the very least, she thinks she’ll be able to steal it from me while I sleep. Lucky for me, the chair by itself weighs exactly 307 lbs (thanks to the two¬†incredibly heavy car batteries that power the thing). I don’t care what kind of cat food I feed her, there’s no way on God’s green earth she’ll be able to even budge the thing. Ha. Dumb cat.

In all seriousness though, I love having her in my life. She is by far the most hyper cat I’ve had, allowing her to¬†easily¬†win Gold in the category, “Hardest Cat to Control.” I mean, she isn’t named after a pure-sugar candy for nothing. Just look at her in the picture above. She looks like she just got the best¬†high ever¬†on some high-grade opium, after¬†settling her bony butt on my backrest.

But she’s only allowed to sit up there for so long. All the seating I¬†have is custom and cost thousands of dollars to make, so having long grey and white cat fur all over it evey morning isn’t something I appreciate.

I do however have a huge supply of lint rollers on hand to erase any trace of her lounging. I swear, I have at least six rollers right now in my bedroom dresser, waiting to be used. And oh yes, they WILL be used. 

“I’m Really Not a Wheelchair-Type of Person”

Ok, I’ll say it once again: “I’m Really Not a Wheelchair-Type of Person.”

You see, I’ve found this totally ludicrous statement to work like a charm nearly everytime I¬†spew it from my mouth.¬†When I meet amiable, yet¬†(unfortunately)¬†ignorant, able-bodied folks, it’s the only way I can get it through their thick¬†“sterotypical layered skulls” that I’m just as “normal”¬†as they are. And of course, after I¬†say this statement, I go into my injury story:¬†“Yadda, yadda, I dove into shallow water, broke my neck, yadda, yadda,¬†drowned, yadda.”
And then, after this bizarre conversation (if you can even call it that. It feels more like being grilled by the Spanish Inquizition), they begin (at least from what I can observe) to treat me un-alien like; a complete 360 degree turnaround from what they were doing just a few minutes ago.
It makes my soul cry everytime¬†I feel the need to say this statement; especially when¬†I see that it works. I¬†have to¬†be honest here; it simply¬†lowers my faith in humanity. Just when you think society¬†as a whole is beginning to see the “person” and not the disability, your hopes get shot down like a fake rabbit in a carnival shooting range.
But desperate times¬†call for desperate measures; and I’ve¬†found that¬†this desperation, the feeling¬†of wanting to prove¬†I’m just¬†like everyone else,¬†really hits me hardcore when I meet my boyfriend’s family or friends. If I truly care about someone, i.e., my boyfriend, I really want the other people who are¬†important in his life to see me as a positive addition, not some “cripple” who’s dragging¬†him down. This is without a doubt my worst fear, my worst my anxiety.
I’ll go out dancing and clubbing (with my versatile elevator-seat¬†– great for bars – power chair), I’ll throw out the f-bomb just¬†for shock value, I’ll subtely mention I can still drive, still have sex, still have babies, etc, all to cue them into the fact they, “Hey! I’m really not a wheelchair-type of person!”
Now, between you and me, we both know¬†that no one is really a “wheelchair-type” of¬†person. We’re¬†all humans; plain and simple. There are just a lot of idiots out there who need the dumbest statement thrown down at them, so maybe, just maybe,¬†they’ll finally get it.

Want to Become an Instant Celebrity? Become Disabled!

(Please! No pictures!)

A fellow female quad (and hysterical I might add) friend of mine, from an unnamed locale in sunny¬†(and oh-so-coveted on my end) Florida, has seriously invented one of¬†the best lines ever in regards to¬†life with a sudden¬†disability: “When you get a SCI, you’re an instant celebrity.” And she’s right! Well¬†to a degree at least…
You definitely do receive some of the bennies of being a celeb, like getting scurried to the front of lines at clubs, to the front rows at small concert venues, and even scurried to the front of the heinously long¬†lines at most of the¬†rides in Disney Land (or World; whatever your “happy place” poison might be).¬†But the reasons, oh the reasons, you get¬†this “celeb-like”¬†treatment¬†my friends,¬†are for MUCH different reasons; and pretty sad (and annoying!), if I may be so blunt.¬†It’s most likely that these complete strangers, the concierge at hotels/casinos, bouncers, waiters and waitresses, whatever, are kissing your warm, flat tuchis either out of a) fear of legal repercussions¬†(no, thank YOU Justin Dart; my personal hero, b) pity, or c) religious duty. Whatever their reasoning, don’t be fooled. They’re not, “oohing and aahing,” over you like they would if they had ran into say, Adrien Brody or Keira Knightly.

Heck, if you’re visiting a small town and get stares, it’s probably¬†likely you’re getting the once-over¬†because they’ve never seen a person out in public in a wheelchair before (apparently these rumors are true, although being from a big city like Minneapolis, I have yet to encounter such shock first-hand; Thank God).So, the next time you head to your local Starbuck’s and¬†get the usual stares (or for the intellectual city-dwellers:¬†Those “secret” glances hidden¬†by quickly diverted eyes. Yes, I’m talking about you. I see you), and then even get asked on multiple occasions, “Are you sure you don’t¬†need anything else?‘ or maybe you¬†just get a free coffee out of the deal, do not under any circumstance think you’re getting treated like a celeb ’cause you are one in a weird, novelty-esque, convuluted, sort-of-way.

You may be interesting and new, and a fascinating customer who breaks up the monotony of their day, but remember, you are disabled. You may feel like a “celebrity” at times, and you might even (God forbid), get your photo secretly taken by some messed-up devotee hiding in a nearby bush, but the life of being disabled is unfortunately, nothing like celeb-dom (I would assume at least. I do not know this first hand. ha).

But hey, that might be a good thing.

Why underbust corsets and matching bras rock my world

While perusing the ‚Äėnet this weekend, I came across a revelation of sorts in the realm of corsetry¬†for¬†wheelchair-users (and no, when I say corset I do not mean an¬†abdoninal binder. ew).

Thanks to Bridget from The Girls Next Door, a E! reality-show based on Hugh Hefer and his three blonde bombshell girlfriends, who¬†live in his mansion in LA, Bridget (Hef‚Äôs¬†2nd¬†gf. She‚Äôs 2nd to Holly and I believe Kendra is 3rd; not quite sure how this all works out though. ha) gave him a striptease (for his huge)¬†80th birthday party. image to the left) wearing a MATCHING UNDERBUST CORSET AND RUFFLY BRA! Hello, baby!! Talk about ‚Äúlightbulb in Tiff‚Äôs head‚ÄĚ city!

After years of struggling to wear over-the-bust corsets with the rest of my girls (yes, I run with that sort of crowd), I realized that the pairing of an underbust corset¬†with a cute matching bra, would literally erase several of the problems I‚Äôve had while wearing ‚Äúregular‚ÄĚ corsets; problems ranging¬†from the corset¬†shifting sideways to the entire corset itself being much too long and flipping up weirdly (and ugily) at the waist. And let‚Äôs face it, I‚Äôm too cheap to commission a $350 custom-corset. I have college loans to pay off.

Here’s another excellent (and HAWT) example of an underbust corset and a matching bra being worn by the sexy Dita von Teese (Marilyn Manson’s ex-wife no doubt), thanks to the amazing site, Absolute Corsets.

Enjoy having fun with underbust corsets and waist-cinchers, ya’ll! They’ll really make you feel uber pretty, even on those awful days (and we’ve all been there) when all you seriously want to do is just call it quits (been there, done that, bought the postcard).

 Be sexy!

– Tiff

Agent Provacateur

Say adios to the same old boring lingerie you’ve been finding at Victoria’s Secret at Target all these years, and say bon jour to sexy lingerie designers, Agent Provacateur.

With celebrity spokesperson Maggie Gyllhenhaal, how can this company go wrong? Be prepared for overly-French, high-priced, yet highly unique lingerie, with certain items having a S&M flair.

Remember, just because you’re sitting doesn’t make you any less desirable. Avoid the corsets, however. For most corsets (unless they’re custom-made for your seated torso) will be too long and flip-up, if you will, at the waistline where the corset hits your lap.

Happy sexy time!