Saturday, October 4, 2008

Josh Blue

I am registered with Disability Services at the University. Admitting to a University official that there was something I couldn’t do was no easy task, because up until this point in my life I have been an extremely dedicated over-achiever (see my first blog post – i.e. I graduated with honors from an Ivy League University, never had a C on a transcript in my life, etc.) But I had to do it. I may be able to withstand the pain and cramping in my fingers for twenty minutes while I type this blog post, but there is literally no possible way that I could type for three hours in a row right now.

However, typing for three hours straight is exactly what a law exam requires you to do. And even in my “healthy” past experience I have needed just about every minute of the allotted three hours to even attempt to properly address the questions. Not to mention that a law exam is an extremely high-pressure typing situation because the exam is your entire grade for the course. So no matter how carefully you have done the reading, how well you have paid attention in class, and how thoroughly you have outlined the subject in your notes, if you mess up on the exam it shows up on your transcript. Period.

After my diagnosis I literally had nightmares about law exams. I would be halfway through explaining the fundamental rule of pacta sunt servanda when my fingers would become so cramped and twisted that I would start hitting the wrong keys. Suddenly my well-reasoned answer was gibberish on the page. But before I could go back and fix it, time would run out. And since those nightmares are now legitimately possible, I realized that I had to register with Disability Services to see if they could provide me with some accommodations for my physical limitations, at least until we identify a treatment that makes the pain more bearable. So, I submitted paperwork from my doctor confirming my physical disability and I admitted, out loud, that there are some things I simply can’t do right now.

In the end, I’m really glad I did. And not just because it will help me get through exams this semester. On Monday, Disability Services sent out an email offering free tickets to a comedy performance. APL and I both love stand up comedy, so I responded immediately and was awarded two free tickets to see Josh Blue. I had never heard of him, and it’s been a really rough week, so I didn’t get a chance to look him up on YouTube before we went to the performance last night. I was just looking forward to an evening that I hoped would take me away from my own troubles and let me laugh a little bit.

So I have to admit that I was a little surprised to find out that Josh Blue has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects body movement and muscle coordination. It’s caused by damage to the brain, usually occurring during fetal development. A lot of his jokes were about living with his disability, how he deals with it, and how other people view him. And let me tell you, Josh Blue is hilarious. One thing you’ll miss out on if you watch the links I posted is the interaction he had with the interpreters who were there for the deaf folks in the audience last night, which were so funny the whole audience was practically rolling on the floor laughing. I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.

I don’t think it makes sense to compare Josh Blue’s physical disabilities with mine, as they are obviously very different. And just because his disability may be “worse” than mine doesn’t make it wrong that I’m having so much trouble dealing with the new pain in my life. I think everyone is dealing with their own disabilities, in their own ways. But I am happy to say that Josh Blue’s performance last night really helped me in dealing with mine; it was exactly the lift in spirits I needed. I certainly don’t mean to be condescending, but I thought he was pretty inspirational.

2 comments:

Joanna said...

Josh Blue IS hilarious. I saw him once on an MTV MADE episode - he was teaching a kid with Asperger's to be a comedian. I love trashy television!

Z said...

It's nice to laugh when you are feeling icky. Makes you feel slightly-less-than-icky.