#CripLit Chapter 2: Funktionslust


"...—a word
  for what a sailboat knows, running before the wind—"
Charles Harper Webb, Funktionslust

Color photo of a Milwaukee back-brace.Alice was a tidy packer but there was no way she had fit all that into the one suitcase. Accepting the coffee her mother handed her, Gretchen waved off questions about her sore throat, eyes glued to the three objects lined up on the couch next to the sleeping Phoenicia. She rocked thoughtfully as Alice fretted about her being too ill for the clinic visit later in the day.

“Will you please relax, Mom? You’re looming. I’m fine.”

Alice tossed her the second gift, a dark blue paperback that landed on top of Dolly in Gretchen’s lap, making her gasp with laughter and ask, “Where did you find this?” But it was the third, the final gift, that made her sit back and say, “Oh good god.”

Continue reading

Sorrow, Bright-Eyed Now, After Meeting Her Death

for Belma González

BIPAPSTWhen Gretchen landed in the hospital again with pneumonia in 1993 she learned she had something called sleep apnea, plus chronic respiratory failure and minor heart damage that she, only 27, could expect to heal with proper treatment. At the first Wednesday morning meeting following her return to work a few weeks later, the West-Hesperidan women’s free clinic staff apologized to her. Even with her cane, Gretchen couldn’t stand long enough for fourteen women to express remorse so everyone stayed seated instead of making a circle around her. The gist was that while they knew Gretchen had muscular dystrophy, they still hadn’t thought of her “like that.” They said they were sorry for not respecting that Gretchen had a disability and for assuming that she had been lazy and napping at her desk when she was, in fact, semi-conscious and unconscious, depending on the time of day.

Continue reading

Announcing #ADA26 as The Year of #SassingBack, #CripLit-Style


Parody People magazine cover announcing NotPeople's Rationalest Man Alive! Peter Singer

Unlike Melania Trump, Tales From the Crip plagiarizes only its own material. In honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 26th anniversary, TFtC is kicking off The Year of Sassing Back, #CripLit-Style by offering this gently-used excerpt from our first — and only! — NotPeople Magazine’s Imaginary Interviews With People Who We Wish Were Imaginary. Our own Respironics Bi-Pap S/T sat down with philosopher Dr. Peter Singer, Princeton’s Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, whose anti-crip, pro-swine agenda argues that infanticide of babies with disabilities should be legal up until the 28th day after birth, that health care for people with disabilities should be rationed, and that the consciousness of some pigs doesn’t get enough respect. Happy ADA26! We’re not dead yet!

On the Love Secrets of the Utilitarian!

RBPS/T: Isn’t “No Rules, Just Rights” pretty much the mating call of the utilitarian?

PS: “If it feels good, do it,” is a much more rational mating call.

RBPS/T: What’s a common way for a utilitarian to get friend-zoned?

PS: A utilitarian could help a hot girl move and then she gets back together with her bass-player ex. Who’s a contemporary Continental phenomenologist.

RBPS/T: That sounds…nonhypothetical. And gender-biased. But hey, you are a philosopher.


RBPS/T: Hypothetically.

PS: It was a long time ago. I am completely and 110% over it. My happiness has never been more maximized. A random person might see me on this cover and think, “Wow, he is totally living the life he said he would and here I am, possibly married to but probably long-since-dumped by an untalented string player who distracted me from what my life could have been, and if something tragic happens like I get so horribly disfigured in an accident that I need expensive but ultimately futile treatments or I have an adorable but super sick baby — which wouldn’t be so unlikely if the weak genes of a contemporary Continental phenomenologist were involved in the uterine brew — I will most definitely not want societal resources wasted on prolonging our now-useless lives that are almost entirely composed of suffering moments that don’t include one single glimpse much less the infinitely tender touch of the brilliant moral pragmatist — pragmatic moralist? — I should have appreciated and who I secretly dream of providing me with his personal care and support at no cost to the public or to his individual liberty.” SHOW ME ONE TENURED “ARTIST,” SHEILA!

RBPS/T: No projection there.

PS: What’s projection?

#CripLit Excerpt from “The Copier God Unleashes the Flood Waters”

Was taking assistance from an aspiring sterilizer of the indigent morally acceptable? Was peeing on his shoes more embarrassing to her or him?

As the West-Hesperidan Free Clinic’s Administrative Manager, Gretchen had met their new neighbor, Randy,  at a house party on Alamo Square one of their donors had thrown the year before. She had been new to representing the clinic at these things and wandered on the edges. The house had been a nightmare for her to get into, a mountain of boxy, tiled steps out front and an over-sized brass banister that was useless. An observant guest, a middle-aged woman, saw her hesitating on the sidewalk and offered an arm. She turned out to be a charge nurse at the university hospital who knew even better than Gretchen how to get a person up some stairs. Gretchen thanked her effusively and filed away the hand-on-elbow, lean-on-forearm technique.

What’s All This About #CripLit? I’ve been writing stories since the 80s and becoming progressively more disabled since 1965. I write what I know but I don’t want to know what I’m writing before I write it. To me, “CripLit” means characters who are disabled and embrace the politics of disability, its ethical and moral dimensions. “And with a little sex!” to quote Sullivan’s Travels. © 2016 talesfromthecripblog.comGretchen had been there for a very long hour when she started to need a bathroom. She asked a man standing alone near the front door who was staring into his glass if he knew where it was. He pointed to a line of people in the hall toward the kitchen.

“Only one,” he said. “I took care of things right away, myself.”

“Great, thanks so much,” Gretchen said, moving away.

He trailed after her, still eyeballing the bottom of his glass with its quarter inch of liquor. She attached herself to the bathroom queue and crossed her arms, resolutely facing away from him.

He — “They call me ‘Randy,'” — became quite chatty now that she had her back to him. Divorced, newly retired, just bought a house nearby. Fantastic investment except for the scum that came with it.

She turned around. “Scum?”

Continue reading

The NotPeople Magazine Rationalest Man Alive Interview: Peter Singer Gets Nonpersonal With A Respironics Bi-Pap S/T

Parody People magazine cover announcing NotPeople's Rationalest Man Alive! Peter SingerAs part of Tales From the Crip’s new series, Imaginary Interviews With People Who We Wish Were Imaginary, our own Respironics Bi-Pap S/T sat down with philosopher Dr. Peter Singer, Princeton’s Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, whose anti-crip, pro-swine agenda argues that infanticide of babies with disabilities should be legal up until the 28th day after birth, that health care for people with disabilities should be rationed, and that the consciousness of some pigs doesn’t get enough respect. These fascis — fascinating ideas are just the tip of the iceberg of why Peter Singer is gracing the cover of NotPeople magazine as the Rationalest Man Alive! 

RBPS/T:  Welcome to the United States, Dr. Peter Singer, and all Bruces from Australia.

PS: G’day.

RBPS/T: We’re going to have a rational discussion!

PS: Rational.

RBPS/T:  Rational.

PS: Rational.

RBPS/T:  You’ve been named NotPeople’s Rationalest Man Alive 2015. How does this make you feel?

PS: Rational.

RBPS/T:  Any plans for keeping the title in 2016?

PS: I don’t make plans more than 28 days ahead.

Coming Up in the Interview! 

Peter Singer as you’ve never heard him!  

“Your bizarre stereotypes about Australian people are getting in the way of me explaining why infanticide is the rational choice for parents of disabled infants!”

Continue reading

And MEL saideth to the Catholic school teachers, “What did you expect?”

There’s a parable in the Old Testament’s Book of Mel called, “The Parable of the Sheriff and the Town of Rockridge,” that roughly translates into the modern idiom as an infinitely rueful, “What did you expect?”

Sadly, this parable sprang to mind instantly when I heard about the protests against San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (pronounced “COR-LEE-OWN”) regarding his proposed morality clause for teacher and other school employees’  contracts.

“What did you expect?…

‘Welcome, Fornicators?’

‘Marry whomever you want?’

‘Mazel on the IVF?’

“You work for a scary church, a church that’s long been out of hand, that despises women in the West… you know…Catholics.”

I don’t fault them for stubbornly continuing to hope that they’ll be treated with respect. Nobody EXPECTED the Inquisition.

The Archbishop, though, is doing just what it seems I should expect, given his ilk’s track record. So to him, I’d say: I’m just spit-ballin’ here but if I were really trying to get a firm grip on the whole morality thing, I’d put my energy into controlling something other than employees’ masturbation, reproductive, and marital choices. Like, oh, let’s see…child abuse? Feeding students who are hungry? Maybe continuing to clean up that giant immoral mess that your fellow priests inflicted on children?