Thesis dreaMS Part 3 – reflections of a slightly mature disabled PhD student

The day I almost got wet

Setting out from home at something that has 7 at the front means that the weather is significantly different then than it will be later in the day. I began the day with 3 layers, hoping that I wouldn’t have to add a raincoat as a 4th layer. The skies were dark. Just as the bus approached the stop sign down the street, the first rain drops hit me. Almost wet, not quite.

Fast forward to my class, and my first presentation – introducing an article, and following that by leading a discussion. In the middle of my presentation – fire drill! Everyone left down the stairs. I waited where those of us in wheelchairs usually wait (close to the staircase), and was then told that the level I was on had a flat exit to the rear. I asked where they would like me to wait, and was told “wherever you feel comfortable”. I decided that was next to the fire hydrant, because it seemed to be a good plan to be next to the water in the event of fire. Alas no. No fire, no water needed. I stayed dry for another day.

My fire hydrant

I wore my dockers, and wasn’t alone. I’m down with the cool kids.

Feet of someone at the bus stop, also wearing Doc Martens

Accessibility is still a work in progress. The classroom door is too heavy for me, the washroom door too. I will find the right people to address that, or find someone with a screwdriver willing to back off the pressure on the door closers. I’m learning the pathways around what is a very small campus, with a central courtyard. Today was the day to introduce people to clubs – medieval club in a wheelchair, maybe? – and the whole of the sloping route through campus was double lined with tables offering up all manner of things. I wanted none of them. All I wanted to do was to get to the bus.

The bus. I realized there’s a display at the front that announces the stops, and also has some service announcements on it. If you’re in a wheelchair, it’s behind you. We face the opposite way to everyone else. Another work in progress.

Me on the bus, looking perplexed, because the electronic message board is behind me

I’m enjoying the reading, enjoying the courses, but missing being surrounded by like-minded disability studies people. It’s a challenge I’m up to. The Disability Studies world supports you in the right places and challenges your mind in the other places. Not being in that world is taking some getting used to.

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Michelle in wheelchair with lightsaber fighting Dart Vader