I voted yesterday.  Four hundred forty-fourth in my ward.  Maybe my new lucky number?

I remember learning about civics and government as a middle schooler. I was a nervous student of the social sciences; I recall my teacher imparting, with what I perceived to be immense gravity, the import of what we were learning. I wanted to get the facts right.  I mean, sure, I constantly pursued the ‘A,’ but how could I let down our founding fathers? Or worse, the suffragettes?

I’d perform poorly now on tests of the subject matter that captivated and awed me as a young teen. This is not a point of pride, but fact. I’ve arrived at the juncture of life where I have forgotten more shit than I’ll ever learn from here forward.  Also not a point of pride, but fact.  My short term memory is breaking up with me, and it’s getting ugly  She doesn’t even want to be friends.  *sigh*

I distinctly remember my seventh grade teacher telling us that participation in the democratic process allowed us to keep the biggest, most important secret we’d ever have.  She told us that no matter what, no matter who, no matter where, no matter nothing! that no one, NO ONE, could make us share the names of the candidates for whom we voted.  You could be thrown in a torture chamber, held at gunpoint, but no one had any right to force you to divulge your vote.  Being able to vote elevated you into a secret society, and the secret was yours to hold forever.  Pinky swear, cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye.

Pre-teen lack of guile, middle school innocence?  Call it what you will, but her lesson stuck.  I thought it was so, so, so what?  So neat that one day I would get to vote, and you could ask me, but I’d never have to tell you who I voted for.  Even if you said please.  “Neat” is how I came to think of my little secret.  I still kinda do.

You know how I voted yesterday though.  I can invoke my nifty privilege to keep mum, which I intend to because middle school social studies class, you guys!  But you already know.

I hope you voted yesterday.  Social media and 24-hour news networks allow few secrets to be kept these days. You don’t have to share on which side of the aisle you sit, stand, or filled in those little Scantron circles–you too get to keep that private.  Forever.  I slept poorly last night–want to watch/can’t watch/have to check/don’t want to know election returns returned–stole my sleep, but I woke today with a smile.  And the teensiest ray of hope.


One of my heroes, HEROES, Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, sharing reason 348,734,992 why you should vote.


What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.  These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.

–Joseph Addison

Sunshine and smiles, that’s me today!  I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which is “peer recognition for bloggers who inspire positivity and joy.”  I can hear you laughing, and if eye rolling were audible, I’d hear that too, you guys.  The irony is not lost on me.

I was nominated by one of my favorite bloggers and author Suzanne at My Dang Blog.  She’s clever as hell, she’s an engaging writer, and I am sure if we were neighbors, both we and our dogs would be best friends and share a bottle of wine at least weekly.  Alas, the heroine of today’s tale lives in Ontario, and I only pretend live in Toronto, which makes the weekly wine date somewhat of a trick to manage. Also, no wine for the dogs.  I mean, that was pretty much understood, right? But I don’t want you to think I’d booze up my Rawr-Rawr just to get him off the couch once in a while.

With her nomination and my acceptance, because I am nothing if not one for sucking up to the universe for praise, I agree to answer some questions she has posed, and because it wasn’t an even ten from her, I’m throwing in a few of my own just ’cause.  See if you can guess which are legit and which come from my own Ask Alexa.

1) What country do you come from?  Born In the USA, just like Springsteen, except more Great Lakes Region-y

2)  Political advertisements: Persuasive or Divisive?  Lies.  Lies.  Lies.  Twisted and manipulated from every angle, but the most menacing are the ones from the nut jobs not sharing my ideology.  Obviously.  Hey, it’s my blog and it’s my award. I tried, y’all, I tried to listen to the other side, to remain open and objective, and use those conversations to inform and educate myself on opposing views, to understand why and how people think it’s OK to mock disabled people and shove LGBTQ individuals back in the closet.  I’ve yet to see the advertisement that convinces me otherwise–“Oh really?  So he’s in favor of sex offenders you say? I better check the other box.  Thank you SO MUCH for this clarifying ad.”  Divisive.  What?  This is the Sunshine Blog Award??  Oh yeah. OK, moving on. . . PS–no one is in favor of sex offenders.

3) Left or Right Handed?  Both, actually.  I have answered this before, so read down to #4 if this is old news.  I consider myself a lefty, as I write with my left hand.  I also bat lefty, lead with my left leg, and use a chef’s knife using my left.  But I throw a ball, cut with scissors, and cut food with my right.  The tasks I do with one hand can absolutely not be accomplished with the other.

4)  Last Song You Listened To?  Soooooo late to the party, but I just downloaded the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast recording.  I don’t know the song’s title, but I think it’s called Cabinet #2.  Everyone in the world knows what I’m talking about except me here.  Last week I went to see the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-Hamilton smash.  He is an unparalleled talent, but you already know that.  I’d have been a much better student of history if I could have sung it instead of read it.

5) What is your dream destination?  I don’t know that I have one.  In his youth, my husband was in the Air Force Reserve, and had a sortie that landed him in Italy.  From the day we met, he has said he wanted to take me to Italy to revisit what he experienced as his happiest days (I mean his happiest days before I came into his life, obviously).  So there maybe?

6) Why did you burst out laughing in a meeting on Thursday?  This question was directed to My Dang Blog in response to a specific post, but I’ll answer it too.  I burst out laughing twelve times a day, at minimum, at work.  Why?  Because my sense of humor is inappropriate and only marginally safe for work.  But this time there was a specific catalyst: Thursday marked the fifth annual South Toronto Day celebration.

My coworker Christine decorates my work and life with Canadiana and Barenaked Ladies-themed Photoshopped works along with other, more traditional birthday paraphernalia to celebrate the birthday of Ed Robertson, my favorite singer.  Yes, it’s a bit over the top, and no, I DON’T KNOW if the guys in the band think I’m crazy.  Stop asking me!  Christine contributes the swag–no small endeavor–and I supply the treats:  maple leaf cream cookies (naturally), all-dressed potato chips, and an extra special find for SoToDay 2018: maple-bacon chips.  If only they made a poutine flavor!  I have a new boss this school year, and she probably thinks I’ve got a few screws loose, but she did play along and wish me a “Happy Canada, what? your favorite singer? what’s the plane about??” Day.

7) What is your favourite movie? (See, Suzanne’s Canadian, so the “u” stays)  I have a few favorites, but if I’m made to pick just one, it’s Singin’ In The Rain.  It’s not the favorite I’d choose to watch most frequently (that would be The Hangover), but Gene Kelly?  Donald O’Connor?  Come on!  I can never walk away from or turn off That Thing You Do! or The Replacements.  Why is this not a top five list?

8) What crazy thing did you do on Friday night?  Last Friday night was off the hook, yo.  After I recovered from an eternal work week with a small fermented beverage, my husband and I shopped at Sam’s Club.  For those not in the know, Sam’s is a warehouse wholesaler, known for its 50-lb. sacks of rice and 2-gallon drums of olive oil, you know, what every household of four needs.  So yeah, Team Weir crushed the livin’ la vida loca Friday night.

Oh, and also there were showtunes. 

9) Are you happy with your current life?  Yes.  I bitch a lot, but I consider myself a generally happy person.  Positivity is quicksilver these days, which makes the timing of the Sunshine Blogger award especially ironic.  I struggle mightily regarding work issues–of the million things I want to go well or right for our department, I am unable to effect the change I want to see happen, and that frustrates me.   As my number one son navigates the world of high school, I wince as I watch him try so damn hard to accomplish tasks that for his peers come easily.  His classmates don’t even ever have to consider the effort going into activities like walking or holding a drum mallet, but mine does, and I find myself playing a dangerous game of comparisons these days.  I have a number two son for whom most things come effortlessly, and I’m relieved and elated for him.  I have a husband who loves me, a roof over my head, a car that starts when I hit the button every time, and enough to eat that I’m about 8 pounds heavier than I’d like to be.  I’d be a jerk not to be happy about that, right?

10) Do you have any new and interesting bathroom stories?  New and interesting?  Ummm. . .  There was that one time I was in the midst of doing the thing at my favorite breakfast restaurant.  Though my door was latched properly, a woman, apparently new to how public bathroom stall doors work, bashed and bashed on the door until it popped open.  She had the, I don’t know what, nerve? naivete? to look surprised to see me sitting there.  But watch me turn this around.  Ready?  I’m happy to be smart enough to know how bathroom stall doors work.  Go, me!

STOP THE PRESSES!  THIS JUST IN–And I swear on all I hold dear that this is entirely true:  Someone pooped on the floor outside my boss’ office today.  Like turds.  In my office building.  Left (is that the correct verb?) between 8:10 and 8:20 AM.  Am I really happy with my current life????  Maybe I rethink #9 above.

I need a moment.  Or maybe a new job.

Now, according to the rules, I’m supposed to nominate other people for this award. To straight-up plagiarize Suzanne, “Frankly, I follow a lot of people, and you all make me happy, so it’s really hard to narrow the list down without me worrying that I’ve left someone out, but here are some people who are very positive and would probably never throat punch anyone.”

To play along, should they accept my nomination, they’re to refrain from throat punching, answer these questions and pay it forward (or feel free to create your own questions) (or feel free not to answer any of them at all) (or feel free to continue ignoring me because most of these  bloggers/sunshine purveyors don’t know I exist).  But hand over my heart, Suzanne, I adore you and Titus and your Dang Blog, and I’m touched you think that for one hot second I spread sunshine.

Jim, at Random Writings On the Bathroom Wall always has a little something nice or sassy or thoughtful in his posts.  They’re quick hits, and I like ’em.  I believe I read recently that he doesn’t share in the blog awards, but I like the quick read = smile thing.

Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess, is an all-star.  Even when her team loses as many games as the World Series champs win in a season, her spin is funny and sassy, which to me is a ray of sunshine.  And I say this not only because she featured my kid in her blog.  Honestly.  She’s been featured in some pretty big press too!

Gemma, at Wheelescapades, savors tea as she explores the UK, reporting back on accessibility from the driver’s seat.  I especially enjoy her interviews with other bloggers.

Oh, to be a visual artist!  I grin madly every time a new Wrong Hands is published.  Clever word play elevated by terrific illustration.  Love.

Another Jackie, this Jackie writes at Disability & Determination.  Like my son, Jackie also has MD, and shares observations and determination in the every day as well as some of the big picture stuff.  Every post isn’t 100% sunshine, but every keystroke is keepin’ it real, and a good 99% of her posts are, in fact, facing the sun.  When I began blogging, I searched for MD-related posts and writers.  Lucky find for me!

The Bloggess changed my life. Not 100% sunshine, but if bravery and candor and holy crap, the funniest woman on the planet aren’t sunshine, I don’t know what is.  Jenny Lawson is the first blogger I ever followed before I knew that one “followed” a blog. Suzanne’s a fan too! xoxo

What Are YOU Looking At? And Also It’s My Birthday So Be Nice

I live in a pretty cool part of my city, a neighborhood busy with weekly concerts in the park, monthly art festivals, sports of all sorts–5Ks and .05Ks and the like, beer gardens, food trucks, and street festivals.  It’s a hipster haven, it’s LGBT friendly, it’s fairly liberal, it’s crazy with cool new restaurants, it’s got good schools for families–it’s got a lot going on along all the right trajectories.

Saturday was the Bay View Bash.  It’s a one-day close-down-the-streets four-stage cover band palooza.  Lots of craft vendors and artisans hawk their wares, and there’s more patchouli (eewwww) and street food than you can shake a waffle on a stick at.  Also, beer.  Lots and lots of beer is available, and lots of beer is imbibed. I don’t like beer.  GASP!  How can I hail from Brew City and dislike beer?  I just do. Dislike it, that is.  The smell of beer makes me kinda dry-heavey, and no, it’s not a holdover from having drunk too much beer when I was 22.  The smell of Southern Comfort holds that special place in my colorful history–I wasn’t always the angel I am now, you can probably imagine.  This is not a post about judging people who drink too much.  I do love a well-crafted cocktail, wines of all shades, and would dive into a pool of margaritas and slurp my way out with a straw if such an opportunity presented itself.  I’d be the world’s jerkiest hypocrite if I pretended I’d never previously gotten my sauce on in an overindulgent way.

No, this is a post about judging people who look down at people who appear different.  And by look I mean stare slack-jawed and by stare I mean, “wow, you’re really acting like an asshole.”

I encountered two people in motorized wheelchairs at the Bash.  One individual garnered little attention.  He looked “normal” (yes, quotes intended for there is still no font for my tone of voice), except for the wheelchair.  For a period, we ended up behind this gentleman in traffic as we all wove our way through the throng.  Passersby straight up stopped and stared at him as he traversed the crowd, and I don’t know why it surprised me, but it did.  This dude isn’t the one that’s got me all contemplative though–it’s the other man.  Now I will grant he was not wearing a shirt, and I’m always pro-shirt when it comes to street festivals, so maybe that could be factored into the stares.  But his body was more physically different than the first guy.  Markedly different.  Markedly physically deteriorated; his legs were contracted and his arms moved with considerable, rigid effort.  His head canted to the right and into his chest.

I know what you’re thinking, so stop it!  Wendy, obviously YOU were staring at him as well since you’re such a reliable informant on his physical being.  For a chunk of time, my family was walking behind him, and yes, he stood out.  Yes, I watched him from behind.  I mentally extend sincere apologies to wheelchair users I pass, because now I do think about wheelchairs when I encounter someone in a chair.  I wonder if my son will land in a chair like one of those I see some day–I do actually check out the various chairs’ features–and I wonder if people will stare at my boy.  I wonder if sidewalks and buildings will be accessible for him.  I wonder how he will feel if when people make assumptions about him.

What prompted me to write this was a woman’s (I hope it was booze-infused because I don’t want to live in a world with this level of overt uncouth and unkind) loooooong stare down as she approached from the opposite direction.  The stare would have been enough for me to react negatively to her, but the stare coupled with the SNEER, huff, and shriek of OH MY GAWD to her friend, whipping her head around to continue to stare at his back as they went in opposite directions.  It was awful.  She was awful.  I sincerely hope she was that drunk.  He is a PERSON, you malevolent beast, not an attraction.  Sure he looked different, but I bet he knows that already.  I bet everyone he passes recognizes that too, so probably no one needs that pointed out.

Who knows?  Maybe he did something jerky to her last pass?  Maybe they have history?  Maybe he was a giant ass to her first–people with physical disabilities can be jerks as easily as anyone else.  Maybe I’m making too much of it because I view things through the lens of my son’s future.  Maybe it was the conspicuous absence of the shirt?  Maybe it’s none of my damn business?

Except it is everyone’s business to be kind.  BE NICE, PEOPLE!  Which is a lovely segue into my next topic.  If not for Jenny Lawson’s effing amazing blog, The Bloggess, which you should totally click here and read, I’d never have discovered Wil Wheaton’s blog.  I haven’t read every syllable he’s ever written, but I do enjoy his writing style and perspective on many topics.  I LOVED this message he relayed:  Whenever you can, do something kind for future you.  Read Wil’s full blog post here. It’s much better than what you’re reading now.  I’ll wait til you come back, I promise.

Of course I was reading his post while mindlessly stuffing my face with Doritos (there’s nutritional science and psychology behind why they’re the perfectly perfect engineered snack, people), but the crunch inside my head was so loud, it took awhile to shush sufficiently that I could hear what Wil was saying.  I stopped gorging myself in that instant, and did something future me would appreciate:  I stopped jamming Doritos into my pie-hole.  I also stopped feeling guilty at keeping my  hair appointment.  My husband got called into work second shift today and tomorrow, and I felt like I should stay home to shuttle little one to football practice.  I asked another set of parents to pick up and deliver him, and they did.  There’s much more to come on this subject, but my takeaway was a new twist on a familiar mantra:  be kinder than is necessary–you are your ground zero.

It’s my birthday, so happy birthday to me!  Birthdays are not exactly time for not-resolutions, but it’s always appropriate to take stock and think kind thoughts, right?  And not just for future you, but for right now you too.  Thank you to everyone in my world for starring in the role of being just who I need.  If you made me happy, thank you.  If you made me reflect, thank you.  If you made me want to throat punch you, thank you for the lesson on what I don’t need and/or want.  You are each exactly who you are meant to be in my life, you each fill the space you were meant to inhabit for little old WW.  As is her annual tradition, my friend Nikki occupies (among her many roles in my life) the role of outdoing herself creating personalized, often inappropriate Barenaked Ladies-themed household items.  Apparently the traditional gift for one’s 49th (holy shit you guys, I’m 49 in less than two hours!) birthday is a photo collage blanket of me with my favorite musicians on the planet.  It’s amazing and hilarious–Nikki deemed her effort epic, so please enjoy.  Oh, Nikki, you kill me. You fill that role like no one else in the world possibly could!  #ketchupandmustard ❤️💛

I thought my birthday present from Nikki would be the piece de resistance of birthday swag, but that was until I got home fully blonded-up, just as nature intended.  Epic though my blanket may be, and it IS epic, right, #Ladiesladies?–it’s not this rare glimpse into the psyche of my seventh grader.  His English/Language Arts teacher charged kids to create a poster about something “real” in their lives, and this is what he designed, thus far in draft.  I could barely speak.  The birthday gift my big kid gave me isn’t even meant for me, but the gift of his perspective is more than I can manage tonight.  My hold on acknowledging 49 is tenuous enough, but this?  I can’t speak.  But I don’t need to–he, in a rare and special turn, spoke volumes.  Happy birthday to me.