With The Wheelchair Chronicles completed, I still don’t have a release date for the film but this morning I wanted to share with you all a clip from the film talking about my travels through Chicago. Thank you all for your continued support and I’ll update you all on when the film is coming out.
I know it’s been a while since I last wrote on my blog or provided any news on the film. Well as I mentioned back in November of 2015, I completed the film and explained the wonderful journey I went through to finish the Wheelchair Chronicles. Fast forward to today, it’s still finished but life has gotten in the way recently and in a good way. I’ve taken on more responsibilities in my life but don’t think for one minute that I’m forgetting about my film. Once I figured out where I’m gonna debut it in Chicago, I’ll let you all know where and how you can see it. Sorry for the wait everyone but you’ll won’t be disappointed when I present The Wheelchair Chronicles.
The last couple of days I’ve been thinking hard about the person that I’ve become and where my life is at today compared to person I was and where my life was 14 years ago. I look back at that point in my life because that was a time that my entire life was turned upside down. During that time I got my first wheelchair, I was bouncing around between high schools trying to find my identity and it was a time that I suffered from a deep depression that took me years to get out of and recover from.
It started all in 2000. I was a student at St. Benedict High School. I was finishing up my sophomore year and I miss a large amount of the school year due to St. Ben’s getting a grant to help renovate the school. At the time I was actually walking but with the new construction, I couldn’t walk from one building to the next. Long story short, I wouldn’t be able to return to St. Ben’s my junior year but could return for my senior year.
During my junior year in 2000, I was actually home schooled through Senn High School and I was to complete a year at Senn and be able to transfer back to St. Benedict the next school year. Well that never happened and I wound up being stuck in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system for the next three years. I was beyond devastated because that meant I would never see my friends at St. Ben’s again. My friends meant so much to me at that time because they accepted me as a person and understood about my disability.
Around 2001 that was the beginning of my downward spiral. I was stuck at Senn before being transferred to Mather and then back to Senn (by the way, without my knowledge). I did get my wheelchair and while that played an important part of my life, I didn’t feel that way at the time. I hated being in a wheelchair and add to that I couldn’t get out of my house as much because we lived in a basement apartment and it was difficult for me to get out of my house. The only time I ever got out was to go to a few events and to school and I fucking hated going to school.
I spent the rest of my high school years being home schooled and I just kept getting deeper and deeper into my depression. Yeah I had the support of my uncle and my mother. She’s a praying woman and I didn’t give a damn about her trying to encourage me and lift my spirits up. Nobody knew what was going on with me. I put on a fake smile and pretend everything was alright, when I was actually going through hell. I was even at a point where I had suicidal thoughts, something that I’ve never mentioned to anyone until today. At a certain point I thought about killing myself. I hated my life, I hated being in a wheelchair, I was so damn lonely and I couldn’t take it anymore and I had my thoughts on how I was gonna end it. Thank God I didn’t go through with it but still, I was in a dark place.
I got out of high school in 2003 and started going to Truman College part-time and spent four years there. I was still couldn’t get out the house as much as I wanted to, I was still lonely. Going to school everyday was keeping me from going back to that dark place and being in a deep depression but I still kept to myself. In the summer of 2006, things started looking up. I moved from my basement apartment to Old Town, I dropped out of Truman and transferred to DePaul.
I was still a loner during the first few months at DePaul but as the years went on I met and got to know some amazing people there. They were just like my friends at St. Ben’s. They accepted me as a person (I’m trying so hard not to tear up now). They have given me so much love and support and I’m so grateful to have them in my life. The main reason the Wheelchair Chronicles is being made, is because of their encouragement and the strong belief they have in me and I’m forever thankful to them for that.
I’m now at a point in my life where I’m happy with who I am as a person, I happy that my film is close to being completed and that it’s taking me to places that I never thought I’d be at this time. I’ve met some new friends that are now a part of my life and now I’m networking with some big-time people in Chicago. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and where my life is heading.
Two weeks ago I celebrated my 32nd birthday. Now for some it might be just another birthday, another year where you’re getting older but for me it’s a huge accomplishment. It’s a huge accomplishment as a black man because there are many young men who don’t get to reach my age so I’m thankful and blessed that I get to see another birthday. As a wheelchair user it’s an accomplishment because I’m at a point where I’m starting to figure out my life.
It’s funny to me that it’s taken this long to figure out my life. I remember as a teen planning what my future was gonna be like. I was gonna go to college, get a great job, be married, and have children but as I’m typing this, that hasn’t happened and I have no regrets about that. Now that I look back, having that plan is just plain boring to be honest. I never thought about what twist and turns that would come my way, the unexpected curveballs that would be thrown in my direction, and meeting people who would change my life.
The Wheelchair Chronicles has been the starting point for where I’m figuring out who I am as a person and has taken me to places I’ve never imagine. I never thought I’d be apart of an amazing group of people who want to be advocates and fight for and with people with disabilities. I never imagine that I would have an article in the Chicago Sun-Times telling my story and talking about my film and that same article would get me in touch with the Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet. Now I’m apart of another group of wonderful people who have a passion for sharing the artistic work of women, women of color and people of color with disabilities.
At 32, I see myself as a wheelchair artist, activist, advocate, and an ambassador. I want to continue to share my story with the world but I also want to fight and stand with my fellow disabled brothers and sisters. As an ambassador, I want to be able to network and be apart of other groups and committees in the city and share my story with them as well. People with disabilities are gravely misrepresented in media and I’m out to change that. I might be a one man army but you know what, it only takes one to bring people together and turn that one into hundreds, hundreds into thousands and thousands into millions of people willing to fight to be represented. Now that I’m starting to figure out my life, I’m now a very dangerous man because now I know what I’m capable of.
I saw this quote scrolling through tumblr and this made so much sense to me and also in regards to my film. I want to show the world through this film a more real representation of a disabled person and that I have my own identity as a person with a disability.
“The history of the portrayal of disabled people is the history of oppressive and negative representation. This has meant that disabled people have been presented as socially flawed able bodied people, not as disabled people with their own identities.”
– David Hevey, 25 March 1992
This has been such an amazing week for me. It started off on Monday when an article I wrote in collaboration with Access Living was published in the Chicago Sun-Times. Everyone I knew was proud of me for my work and now I’m finding out some prominent people in Chicago have read it as well and that’s so awesome. I forgot to share it with you all and I apologize for that, so I’m posting a link to the article at the end of this post for you all to read. I hope you all enjoy it.
So where do I begin!? It’s been a long as time since I’ve written on this blog and many things have happen since my last post. I’m upset at myself because I’ve wanted to keep everyone updated on what’s going on with the film but life has gotten in the way of providing you all with updates. Just to let you all know my film is still going well. I haven’t worked on it as much the past few weeks but I’ve come up with a brand new idea that I feel will add more to the overall presentation of The Wheelchair Chronicles and I’m very happy with my decision and I think you all will like it very much.
While I’ve been away from the blog my life has gotten a bit busy and for good reason. I recently started working with Access Living, which is a strong advocacy group in Chicago dealing with and helping people with disabilities in many ways. I joined Access Living’s YPC (Young Professionals Council) a few months ago on an invite from one of the amazing therapist at Day Rehab Center, Alli Luft and became a member from day one and it’s been incredible. So far I’ve met so many awesome people who work all over the city and come together for a common goal and that’s to help people with disabilities and I’m loving it. You know at first I really didn’t think I fit into this group because I’m just an average filmmaker and many in the group have legit professions. I got over that quickly because being a filmmaker is a huge asset to a group like this and that matters. So I’m grateful to be a part of that group.
Even though I’ve been away from the blog and my film, it’s for a very good reason. I hope to have the film finished by the end of the year and I expect to continue my work with the YPC at Access Living. I feel that my best work is yet to come and I look forward to what the next few months have to bring.
It’s been a while since I wrote on my blog. A lot has happen since I last wrote and while I’ve wanted to write about my experiences, I just haven’t been motivated to write. On one hand I’ve wanted to talk about what’s been going on in my life and other times I’ve had nothing to say. That sucks for me because the main purpose of this blog was to share my experiences with you all.
It feels like I’m in a funk, not depressed or anything like that but just not in the mood to do anything. With the weather being bad, I don’t feel like going outside (unless I really have to), I don’t want to get out of bed. My sleeping patterns have been fucked up, and most of all, I’ve been quiet especially when it comes to keeping you all updated about my film (which I’m still working on), my continuing work with occupational therapy, and working on going to grad school.
2014 for me has gotten off to a rocky start. Hopefully things will turn around! No…I know it will turn around. I will get out of this funk and continue to work hard to achieve my goals and be a success. I won’t let this rough patch get me down even further.
It’s been over a month since I started doing physical therapy and occupational therapy at the Day Rehab Center and it’s been a lot of hard work. The work has been tough but I’m enjoying myself and having a good time. While my therapy has been success, I’ve has to once again put my film on hold and that’s something that has bothered me.
I was upset that I couldn’t finish my film because I had put myself under a deadline to have The Wheelchair Chronicles completed and sending it in to different film festivals across the country but that’s not gonna happen. At first, I was pissed because that meant I had let a lot of people who have supported me and this film down but then after getting some words of wisdom, I realized that my supporters will completely understand that due to working at Day Rehab and dealing with other issues, people will understand that my film is not finished.
I forgot that I have the best supporters in the world. People who love me and actually care about me and they are very understanding as well. I have to remember that and now I’ve also gained a whole new set of supporters from Day Rehab. I’m no longer putting myself on any unnecessary deadlines. My film will be done when it’s finished. Now I can relax and focus on giving you all a great documentary about my life in a wheelchair.
So Monday I started my first full week at RIC and my therapy was typical of the first couple of sessions but during Monday’s session I got a chance to get to know about my therapists. In my first session of the morning I got a chance to meet Allie, a new therapist that just started that morning. We hit it off very well, I found out that she was from South Carolina and had just moved to Chicago just five months so she was still getting use to the city. We talked for a little while and she was telling me that she was preparing for winter and I told her that winter here ain’t no joke so you better have all of your equipment to handle winter in Chicago. Well she told me she was “ready” but we’ll see as we get closer.
My second session was with the torturer Megan who once again put me to work. This time we were doing sit-up type exercises to work on my back and shoulder. Then we did forward sit-ups first with a medicine ball that worked my forearms and then second set of forward sit-ups were assisted by Megan and I’m glad she did because this second set involved bending completely forward (something that did frighten me because I rarely do that) and using my back muscles to bring myself back up, it was rough but I did it. To finish off my session we did a couple of transfers back and forth between the mat and my wheelchair and that ended my session with the torturer. I call Megan that but in all honesty she works me hard and I always feel sore after working with her and that’s a good thing.
My final session was with one of my favorite ladies Grace (no Bridget this time *sigh*) and Christina and for this session we did some simple tasks like working with buttons (buttoning and unbuttoning) and using my hands to roll coins in my hand and put them in a bank. During this session I found out that Grace is originally from Northern California and moved to St. Louis before coming to Chicago. She told me a funny story about experiencing her first winter in St. Louis where she mistakenly used table salt to actually salt the sidewalks. We both shared a laugh and I told her it was an honest mistake but you did learn your lesson the hard way and now she knows. To finished off the session I showed Grace and Christina how I put my jacket on and that was the end of our session.
I put in a lot of work yesterday but I got a chance to know my therapists and I had fun and I look forward to continue my therapy sessions.