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Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Daughter Kerry Advocates for the Disabled, Pt. 3

Kerry has been asked to give a speech to a support group for those with disabilities.
Here it is:

My name Kerry Purdy. I am here to speak on people with disabilities entering challenging careers, such as first responders and the military.  I have wanted to enlist in the military or become a police officer since I was fourteen, and I feel like I have been put down and ridiculed for having such goals-which, in the log run has simply made me more determined.

I feel like I would be a very good candidate for the military or a career along the lines of a police officer or firefighter for several reasons.  I have the desire to serve, make sacrifices, and protect others.  I am a serious outdoors woman.  I have hiked and camped in numerous locations: the Appalachian Trail, in sand in Florida and Georgia, and in ice in Alaska.  I have carried fifty-pound packs over mountains.  I often helped lead hikes, and set up camp.  I am also a cross country runner. I was one of the first on my school's team.   I enjoy working out and lifting weights, and will usually push myself.  I understand that many with disabilities do not have these interests, and I am set apart in many ways.  I no longer want to be seen as a "disabled" person, but someone who has her own goals and dreams, and wants to accomplish those.  It is frustrating and discouraging for me to have these honorable goals, and not be taken seriously for them.

In conclusion, I would like to say that society needs to be more educated to our needs and desires.  We are human beings with human needs and feelings, just like everyone else.  I have grown quite a backbone in the last several years, and I certainly hope that is paying off.  Society needs to start "thinking outside the box."  I do not romanticize about these careers. I have done extensive research and know they are nothing to take lightly, please understand that.

Thank you everyone for listening.  It's time to start thinking outside the box.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Verdi's Rigoletto: A New Way

Zelko Lucic as Rigoletto in Vegas
The Metropolitan Opera is about to open a new production of Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto. The court of Mantua circa 1600 has been changed to Las Vegas, circa 1960. The Duke of Manuta becomes Sinatra-esque. Rigoletto himself possible as Don Rickles. I like it. I'm looking forward to seeing it.









 

I like the singers involved and I admire the commitment I see in the above clip. This by way of assuring those who care that I'm not mired in nostalgia.

Aldo Protti 1955
This morning I stumbled upon a 1955 RAI telecast of Rigoletto. There is not one outstanding voice here-except Virgina Zeani. The technical quality is sixty years old. But I want you to look at the performance below and notice the superb diction. You could take dictation. All of them singing in their own language but these singers regard the language as crucial. Note also the posture. Even in a TV studio everyone carries him/self with wonderful posture, standing a straight line from the belly button on down. The movements are fluid and easy on the eye. Opera was important to these artists. The staging is uncluttered and clear. If you don't need to move you don't move. No flailing around "all about the  place"

I've heard outstanding voices in this opera: Pavarotti, Milnes, Peters,Sutherland, Mac Neil I loved them.


The over all performance in this ancient TV film I find both gripping and strangely moving. I couldn't watching it. The singers weren't working to become the characters. They were the characters. Notice too that in three minutes Countess Ceprano becomes a major role. Look at Aldo Protti's face at Monterone's curse. Sparafucile is no cloaked bandit but a king in his own realm.Watch for the elegance and clarity-as the story is told through music, words, gesture and attitude. I won't say those were the days because I wasn't there. I will say that this Rigoletto, in fuzzy black and white, with no "names" is wonderful. Do you agree:




Opera is a rich world. Unlike many, I believe the new and the not so new can co-exist. When treated with respect, intelligence and love, opera will thrive in Mantua and in Vegas.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Les Troyens: Dancing the Trojan War

Last night I attended the encore showing of the Metropolitan Opera's live performance of Berlioz's opera Les Troyens. This is a five hour French grand opera based on Virgil's Aeneid.

Conductor Fabio Luisi. My hero!



















(The above clip is from 1982-not the current production)

The Trojan war is a big deal for an opera. you think Aida is a big show? Gotterdammerung? You've never seen Les Troyens. Not only is it long, a huge orchestra and chorus are front and center. And there is no tenor alive who can truly sing Aeneas.


Bryan Hymel as Aeneas
Until now. BRYAN HYMEL. Who knew? Nice young guy from New Orleans. He came late to the production, with "two hours of rehearsal." This is a well focused, tight voice with a touch of metal and no breaks way up to D above High C. No part of this grueling role seemed difficult for Hymel. I haven't heard such an ovation-well deserved-since the prime of Dame Joan Sutherland.










.

Who is more beautiful than Susan Graham? In her fifties, she's just now at the peak of her loveliness. Hers is a warm, beautiful mezzo soprano. Tomato soup with Ritz crackers on a cold night. One of those melted chocolate voices where you can just wallow.








 I don't think Cassandra is Deborah Voigt's best role. The music gives her little opportunity to soar. I kept waiting for her flash of silver voice to really peal forth.She said later she was ready to get back on her horse (Brunhilde!) Dwayne Croft-who I think is undervalued-brought a beautiful voice to a thankless role. Karen Cargill sang Anna with a voice you want to marry. What a deep, luscious sound More!

But folks. The dancing! It was long! I know its French opera where a ballet is de rigeur (am I cute or what?) This is a long opera. I don't think there's a wasted note. There's a great scene in part two where Dido and Aeneas celebrate their love. And in the midst the loving couple is on a satin settee..NOT ALONE! Aeneas' son Ascanius is cuddled up, along with  the sage Iopas (Tenor Eric Cutler-superb) and dancing dancing dancing.

Don't be mad. I like T&A as well as the next guy.  The white costumes were flattering or at least enticing. A lovely tush is always a treat. But to me this was extended coitus interruptus-the only longueurs of a long evening. The dances were great. And hot. But it did seem to go on and on and on. What I want to know is what were Dido, Aeneas, Ascanius, Anna and Iopas thinking cuddled up in satin with nothing to sing.

Never mind. Perhaps had I attended the live-live showing at 12 noon I would have been fresher and more able to appreciate the dancers skill over booty.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nice Photos: They Deserve Their Rest, pt. 2




The previous post on this topic is the most viewed item on this blog.
Who knew?
Acknowledging my forebears and the Irish Sports Page, I continue with more grave sites of departed musicians.

Marian Anderson (1897-1993) Great American contralto. Broke every racial barrier in classical music. She was the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan opera (1955)

Eden Cemetery, Collingdale, PA




Bruno Walter (1876-1962) Conductor, protege of Gustav Mahler. Gave the first performance of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde

S. Abbondio Church Cemetery, Montagnola Ticino, Switzerland

Pablo Casals (1876-1973) Cellist, conductor, humanitarian

Cemeteri De El Vendrell, Tarraguna, Cataluna, Spain




Emma Eames (1863-1952) soprano-a beauty noted for her voice and temperament. Retired young. "I would rather be a beautiful memory than a curiosity."



 Robert Merill (1917-2004) baritone, beloved by Toscanini and the New York Yankees 


Sharon Gardens Cemetery, Valhalla, NY




Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989) The most acclaimed pianist of the 20th century


 Cimiterio Monumentale, Milan. In the Toscanini family tomb. Horowitz was Toscanini's son-in-law






Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) Re-invented music for the 20th century





Cimitero di San Michele, Venice

Thursday, January 10, 2013

RIP Rex Trailer

BOOM TOWN may have been a John Wayne or Howard Hawks movie in the 40s, but in my Boston childhood of the 1960s, BOOM TOWN was a morning kids show starring Cowboy Rex Trailer and his sidekick, Pablo.

Not PC , cheerful and handsome Rex packed six shooters and a horse-in the TV studio at WBZ Channel 4 on Soldier's Field Road. TV studios have as much personality as a low end dental office, except the dentists smell better.



Pablo was very much the stupid Mexican, who was always in trouble and always being punished. Thankfully, we have evolved. I swear once he was given a spanking. That'll  put a different spin on a cheery kids show.
Rex was handsome, Rex could sing and Rex was kind. Every year he took a passel of kids to Knott's Berry Farm in California. Parents thought he had said 'Roxbury Fahms' aka Boston's 'hood: "Why would he take children theyah?"

Rex came to a meeting of Cub scout Pack 168 in Lexington, Ma around 1967. I should know. My father was the scoutmaster. So I got a preview of Rex as he drove up in his red truck loaded with guitar cases. Not a horse in sight. He came into the Harrington School gym. We were 8 and 9 year olds, sitting politely in a large circle on the floor (imagine that today?) I don't remember any of the words or music but I'm sure there was the usual adult to kids rant about interfering with yourself mixed in with Home on the Range.

Bozo
Don't call me cynical. Rex was one of several TV personalities who told us the world was okay. He got us excited about the moon walk. When the KKK briefly tried to gain a hold in Boston Rex told the kids :These are bad people. But don't be afraid. It was okay because Rex said so.

Bib Brotha Bob
Bozo the Clown and Big Brother Bob Emery were there too. Big Brother Bob had his well loved theme song: "The grass is always greenah in the othah fellas yaaaaahrd". Bozo-oh, and Miss Jean's Romper Room-("who's been a good doobie?") were mainstays but they couldn't sing and they didn't have a horse, much less guns. Rex was cool. He was the dad many wished they'd had-we change our minds on this as we age.

Withal, he was a good guy with a long career.
I didn't know old cowboys went to Florida, but that's where he died a few days ago, at 84.

I don't know what happened to Pablo. And you gotta wonder about Miss Jean and her doobies.

Friday, January 04, 2013

When a Bastard is a Bitch or Vice Versa

Maria Stuarda at the Met: Eliza van den Hever as Elizabeth; Joyce DiDonato as Mary

Donizetti's opera Maria Stuarda received its Metropolitan Opera premiere last week, 170 years after it was first performed. New York certainly has not been without this dramatic opera about Mary Queen of Scots. Beverly Sills sang the unhappy queen (to the delight of legions of other...queens) in the 1970s. Montserrat Caballe and Shirley Verrett played Mary and Elisabeth (Elisabetta thank you very much) at Carnegie Hall in the 60s.

Beverly Sills comments on Maria Stuarda




The Met brings us the wonderful Joyce Di Donato and a soprano from South Africa called Eliza van Hevel.
The source for Donizetti's opera is not history by Friedrich Schiller's drama Maria Stuart. Any dramatist who eschews a confrontation scene between Mary and her cosing, Elizabeth I is a fool. No fool Schiller.In fact, the two ladies never came within 100 miles of one another.  History tells us that the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, the widowed Queen of France,was the heir to Elizabeth-who was considered by the Catholic world a 'usuperer'. Elizabeth was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, for whom Henry VIII has abandoned Roman Catholicism.

Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587)

Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) and his librettist Cesare Bardari agreed with Schiller. Mary and Elizabeth had to meet and get into a vocal/vernal bitchfest.And so they do-in the park near Fotheringay-where Mary has been imprisoned for years. The meeting begins with biting courtesies but deteriorates quickly. Elizabeth calls Mary "shameless." And finally,the Scottish Queen snaps-in Italian no less:

Figlia impura di bolena, parli tu di disonore           
Memetrice indegna oscena!                                          
In te cada il mio rossor!
Profanta, e il trono inglese
Vil bastarda, dal tuo pie!

Beverly Sills, New York City Opera, 1972
Impious daughter of Anne Boleyn                                                                          
Do you speak of dishonor?
Lying, guilty obscene woman!
I blush for you.
The English throne is profaned
Vile bastard, by your foot!

Here's the scene sung in English, with Dame Janet Baker and Rosalind Plowright:



Montserrat Caballe (Maria) and Bianca Berini





At the New York City Opera, Ashley Putnam and Marisa Galvany





And the greatest voice of all, Joan Sutherland, with Huguette Tourangeau, Amsterdam
(with horrible production quality--sorry)




Alas, I'm aware of no video with Beverly Sills: I think she takes this scene hands down. Here's the audio at least:



Thursday, January 03, 2013

A Rose is a Rose is a Rosenkavalier

Okay, I know its a cute headline. It's a new year, so you gotta give me one.

I've been doing some prep work for this weekend's Columbus Symphony concerts and pre-perforamce talks. The Waltzes form Der Rosenkavalier conclude the program. Pavlov's dogs slobbered ovber steak. I love the way music can take one back or provide a vitamin pill of memory.

The Knight of the Rose was first performed in 1911. In the Vienna of Maria Theresa-Mozart's Vienna-we meet a lovely princess, considered old at 32, and her handsome, dashing 17 year old lover, Count Octavian Rofanpo. The role of Octavian is played by a woman in male drag. Yes it contributes to a naughtiness inherent in the music. It was common in Mozart's day for young men to be portrayed by women. Strauss and his librettist, Hugo von Hofmansthal, recreated Mozart' era and Mozart's ethos. Strauss and Hofmansthal hoped that Scottish soprano Mary Garden (1874-1967) would play Octavian, but she-no fool-told the press "It would bore me to make love to a woman." You gotta love her.

Mary Garden (1897-1967) Bored
The Waltz was new in the 1770s , and considered a peasant dance. It was fine to boff a 17 year old when your husband's out of town -but dancing cheek to cheek as it were was considered scandalous, or at least low class. The Princess has a country bumpkin cousin, Baron Ochs (yes, OX-you got it). Count Octavian and the Baron's young, dewy and rich fiance, Sophie fall in love. Ochs is furious and after a few belts of tokay, challenges Octavian to a duel. He is thus pricked in the arm, and falls screaming "murder"-and rather than dying, he grumbles to a waltz tune:




"Ohne mich, jeder Tag  dir zu dang; Mit mir, mit mir keine nacht wir so lang":
Without me, every day is a misery...With me, no night is too long."

If that's not a pickup line....They must have been pretty randy in 1911.

What there was of a waltz in the 1770s was nasty but had turned elegant and sexy by 1911.
Hofmansthak (l) and Strauss
I wish I could say the guy gets the girl at the end of this opera-he does, except remember he is played by a she even tho she is meant to be a he in the opera so no, they aren't lesbians. Get it? As with any opera plot, you might need to write this down. I understood this better 20 years ago before I joined AA. Twenty- five years ago I found myself having to explain this opera in detail to a room full of nuns. Still drinking then, thank God.

Withal, Rosenkavalier can always get me out of the blues. Not only the above quoted waltz, but especially the brilliant hustle bustle of Act 2-as we meet the precocious and spitfire young Sophie,






No, they aren't doing the entire opera this weekend. just the Waltzes, along with Mozart and Johann Strauss
Columbus Symphony Fri-Sat 8 PM Ohio Theater. I give pre -concert talks both nights at 7. You don't get to skip the yak just because you've read this far..

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

My Daughter Kerry Advocates for the Disabled, PT. 2


A while ago, I composed a speech for advocacy for the disabled, listing several grievances about how people with “disabilities” are treated in society, “special ed” programs, etc. I did not go into too much detail about the “vocational” program I attended, and so now I am writing this essay about what I saw in that building.
            While I knew I wanted to pursue the Army or firefighting, I decided to enroll in this new “vocational” program, assuming that my tasks would fall to mostly helping out with the low-functioning classes-that was what I was so informed. I was also informed that the “vocational” program had moved from the main high school building into a smaller building nearby that had for a while housed the middle school students but didn’t work out for them. I assumed that it would consist of the “grad” students and maybe the high school students and that we would, for the most part be helping out with other classes, given career preparation skills, possibly internships at sports centers, day cares, fire stations, etc. This ended up being the biggest mistake I have ever made. I entered this so-called “vocational” building to find that they had moved all the nonverbal, low-functioning and remediation students into it, and put the “grad” students in with them. I truly regret not just collecting my diploma and enrolling in the Fire Academy or going to an Army recruiter that first day. The building was extremely small and cramped; it stank, and they NEVER cleaned it. Several of the teachers were snappish and rude, and had superior, know-it-all manners. It became apparent right away that they would NOT be encouraging or supportive in any way for our future. We were taken to grocery stores to perform “internships”, i.e. unpaid labor there. We were expected to do rudimentary first-grade level work. If I tried to speak up, they would yell at me to shut up and do my school work. All the books in the “library” were at a fourth grade or below reading level. (I entered the first grade reading at a fifth grade level.) In no time at all, the teachers were targeting especially me. Not just because I was definitely one of the more outspoken students; but because I was, hands down, the most “capable” in the whole building. I was borderline “neurotypical.” I was, as far as society was concerned, everything I was NOT supposed to be. I wanted to enlist in the Army with a backup plan for firefighting, instead of being content with bagging groceries for a living. I knew that I was lesbian and attracted to other women, instead of being asexual. I was clean and cared about my appearance. I was athletic and coordinated. I-GASP!-drove. I knew that I, no question, intimidated the teachers, with their strict low expectations and stereotypes for “disabled” people. This is why they had it out especially for me. One instance would be right before the winter break. A teacher asked me to write a paper on my holiday of Yule, or the Midwinter Solstice. She told me that I only needed to make it three pages long-and then pointed out that an ordinary college level paper would require several more pages and extensive research. When I offered to do a regular college-level paper for her, she stared and me and snapped, “No…I know you CANNOT do that.” No. That is not it. The truth is, she knew I COULD do it. She was fearful that I would bring her back a perfect, detailed, college-level paper, and completely dumb down her and the rest of these rigid, holier-than-thou teachers.
            After the new year, they set up “Fun Fridays” for the students who had had “good behavior” and gotten no “strikes” during the week. Students would get to choose from several different activities to partake in on Friday afternoons. The “grad” student were expected to partake as well-sitting quietly in the classroom with our Ipods, not bothering anyone, was “not an option.” Students who had made the slightest slip-up during the week, however, were sent to “Focus Fridays,” in a separate room where they were expected to complete worksheet after worksheet on proper behavior until the end of the day. One day, they decided to send me to “Focus Friday” for no apparent reason. They claimed that I had been “teasing” another student. This I had no recollection of. When I asked them to please refresh my memory, I was simply met with blank stares and “Well…uh…you did.” What they were doing was trying to make me feel dumbed down, and assert themselves over the big, bad, “most capable, borderline-neurotypical” student that they so feared.
            That was the message at this building. Don’t ask questions. Be quiet. Sink into oblivion. This was not a “vocational” building-this was a place set up to intentionally dumb us down, make us feel degraded and humiliated, and show that “disabled” people have NO place in society. There was nothing “vocational” about this building. I am hoping that others can see my side of the story. It, frankly, makes me angry that I need to do this. This is a sad truth, that society still looks at any and all “disabled” people this way. This is no different than the way a person of mixed European and Native American blood would have been treated a hundred years ago-no differently than if they had been a full-blooded Native American. Society obviously has not been educated to our needs, thoughts, and feelings-many obviously bhow people with “disabilities” are treated in society, “special ed” programs, etc. I did not go into too much detail about the “vocational” program I attended, and so now I am writing this essay about what I saw in that building.
            While I knew I wanted to pursue the Army or firefighting, I decided to enroll in this new “vocational” program, assuming that my tasks would fall to mostly helping out with the low-functioning classes-that was what I was so informed. I was also informed that the “vocational” program had moved from the main high school building into a smaller building nearby that had for a while housed the middle school students but didn’t work out for them. I assumed that it would consist of the “grad” students and maybe the high school students and that we would, for the most part be helping out with other classes, given career preparation skills, possibly internships at sports centers, day cares, fire stations, etc. This ended up being the biggest mistake I have ever made. I entered this so-called “vocational” building to find that they had moved all the nonverbal, low-functioning and remediation students into it, and put the “grad” students in with them. I truly regret not just collecting my diploma and enrolling in the Fire Academy or going to an Army recruiter that first day. The building was extremely small and cramped; it stank, and they NEVER cleaned it. Several of the teachers were snappish and rude, and had superior, know-it-all manners. It became apparent right away that they would NOT be encouraging or supportive in any way for our future. We were taken to grocery stores to perform “internships”, i.e. unpaid labor there. We were expected to do rudimentary first-grade level work. If I tried to speak up, they would yell at me to shut up and do my school work. All the books in the “library” were at a fourth grade or below reading level. (I entered the first grade reading at a fifth grade level.) In no time at all, the teachers were targeting especially me. Not just because I was definitely one of the more outspoken students; but because I was, hands down, the most “capable” in the whole building. I was borderline “neurotypical.” I was, as far as society was concerned, everything I was NOT supposed to be. I wanted to enlist in the Army with a backup plan for firefighting, instead of being content with bagging groceries for a living. I knew that I was lesbian and attracted to other women, instead of being asexual. I was clean and cared about my appearance. I was athletic and coordinated. I-GASP!-drove. I knew that I, no question, intimidated the teachers, with their strict low expectations and stereotypes for “disabled” people. This is why they had it out especially for me. One instance would be right before the winter break. A teacher asked me to write a paper on my holiday of Yule, or the Midwinter Solstice. She told me that I only needed to make it three pages long-and then pointed out that an ordinary college level paper would require several more pages and extensive research. When I offered to do a regular college-level paper for her, she stared and me and snapped, “No…I know you CANNOT do that.” No. That is not it. The truth is, she knew I COULD do it. She was fearful that I would bring her back a perfect, detailed, college-level paper, and completely dumb down her and the rest of these rigid, holier-than-thou teachers.
            After the new year, they set up “Fun Fridays” for the students who had had “good behavior” and gotten no “strikes” during the week. Students would get to choose from several different activities to partake in on Friday afternoons. The “grad” student were expected to partake as well-sitting quietly in the classroom with our Ipods, not bothering anyone, was “not an option.” Students who had made the slightest slip-up during the week, however, were sent to “Focus Fridays,” in a separate room where they were expected to complete worksheet after worksheet on proper behavior until the end of the day. One day, they decided to send me to “Focus Friday” for no apparent reason. They claimed that I had been “teasing” another student. This I had no recollection of. When I asked them to please refresh my memory, I was simply met with blank stares and “Well…uh…you did.” What they were doing was trying to make me feel dumbed down, and assert themselves over the big, bad, “most capable, borderline-neurotypical” student that they so feared.
            That was the message at this building. Don’t ask questions. Be quiet. Sink into oblivion. This was not a “vocational” building-this was a place set up to intentionally dumb us down, make us feel degraded and humiliated, and show that “disabled” people have NO place in society. There was nothing “vocational” about this building. I am hoping that others can see my side of the story. It, frankly, makes me angry that I need to do this. This is a sad truth, that society still looks at any and all “disabled” people this way. This is no different than the way a person of mixed European and Native American blood would have been treated a hundred years ago-no differently than if they had been a full-blooded Native American. Society obviously has not been educated to our needs, thoughts, and feelings-many obviously be “vocational” program I attended, and so now I am writing this essay about what I saw in that building.
            While I knew I wanted to pursue the Army or firefighting, I decided to enroll in this new “vocational” program, assuming that my tasks would fall to mostly helping out with the low-functioning classes-that was what I was so informed. I was also informed that the “vocational” program had moved from the main high school building into a smaller building nearby that had for a while housed the middle school students but didn’t work out for them. I assumed that it would consist of the “grad” students and maybe the high school students and that we would, for the most part be helping out with other classes, given career preparation skills, possibly internships at sports centers, day cares, fire stations, etc. This ended up being the biggest mistake I have ever made. I entered this so-called “vocational” building to find that they had moved all the nonverbal, low-functioning and remediation students into it, and put the “grad” students in with them. I truly regret not just collecting my diploma and enrolling in the Fire Academy or going to an Army recruiter that first day. The building was extremely small and cramped; it stank, and they NEVER cleaned it. Several of the teachers were snappish and rude, and had superior, know-it-all manners. It became apparent right away that they would NOT be encouraging or supportive in any way for our future. We were taken to grocery stores to perform “internships”, i.e. unpaid labor there. We were expected to do rudimentary first-grade level work. If I tried to speak up, they would yell at me to shut up and do my school work. All the books in the “library” were at a fourth grade or below reading level. (I entered the first grade reading at a fifth grade level.) In no time at all, the teachers were targeting especially me. Not just because I was definitely one of the more outspoken students; but because I was, hands down, the most “capable” in the whole building. I was borderline “neurotypical.” I was, as far as society was concerned, everything I was NOT supposed to be. I wanted to enlist in the Army with a backup plan for firefighting, instead of being content with bagging groceries for a living. I knew that I was lesbian and attracted to other women, instead of being asexual. I was clean and cared about my appearance. I was athletic and coordinated. I-GASP!-drove. I knew that I, no question, intimidated the teachers, with their strict low expectations and stereotypes for “disabled” people. This is why they had it out especially for me. One instance would be right before the winter break. A teacher asked me to write a paper on my holiday of Yule, or the Midwinter Solstice. She told me that I only needed to make it three pages long-and then pointed out that an ordinary college level paper would require several more pages and extensive research. When I offered to do a regular college-level paper for her, she stared and me and snapped, “No…I know you CANNOT do that.” No. That is not it. The truth is, she knew I COULD do it. She was fearful that I would bring her back a perfect, detailed, college-level paper, and completely dumb down her and the rest of these rigid, holier-than-thou teachers.
            After the new year, they set up “Fun Fridays” for the students who had had “good behavior” and gotten no “strikes” during the week. Students would get to choose from several different activities to partake in on Friday afternoons. The “grad” student were expected to partake as well-sitting quietly in the classroom with our Ipods, not bothering anyone, was “not an option.” Students who had made the slightest slip-up during the week, however, were sent to “Focus Fridays,” in a separate room where they were expected to complete worksheet after worksheet on proper behavior until the end of the day. One day, they decided to send me to “Focus Friday” for no apparent reason. They claimed that I had been “teasing” another student. This I had no recollection of. When I asked them to please refresh my memory, I was simply met with blank stares and “Well…uh…you did.” What they were doing was trying to make me feel dumbed down, and assert themselves over the big, bad, “most capable, borderline-neurotypical” student that they so feared.
            That was the message at this building. Don’t ask questions. Be quiet. Sink into oblivion. This was not a “vocational” building-this was a place set up to intentionally dumb us down, make us feel degraded and humiliated, and show that “disabled” people have NO place in society. There was nothing “vocational” about this building. I am hoping that others can see my side of the story. It, frankly, makes me angry that I need to do this. This is a sad truth, that society still looks at any and all “disabled” people this way. This is no different than the way a person of mixed European and Native American blood would have been treated a hundred years ago-no differently than if they had been a full-blooded Native American. Society obviously has not been educated to our needs, thoughts, and feelings-many obviously b
            While I knew I wanted to pursue the Army or firefighting, I decided to enroll in this new “vocational” program, assuming that my tasks would fall to mostly helping out with the low-functioning classes-that was what I was so informed. I was also informed that the “vocational” program had moved from the main high school building into a smaller building nearby that had for a while housed the middle school students but didn’t work out for them. I assumed that it would consist of the “grad” students and maybe the high school students and that we would, for the most part be helping out with other classes, given career preparation skills, possibly internships at sports centers, day cares, fire stations, etc. This ended up being the biggest mistake I have ever made. I entered this so-called “vocational” building to find that they had moved all the nonverbal, low-functioning and remediation students into it, and put the “grad” students in with them. I truly regret not just collecting my diploma and enrolling in the Fire Academy or going to an Army recruiter that first day. The building was extremely small and cramped; it stank, and they NEVER cleaned it. Several of the teachers were snappish and rude, and had superior, know-it-all manners. It became apparent right away that they would NOT be encouraging or supportive in any way for our future. We were taken to grocery stores to perform “internships”, i.e. unpaid labor there. We were expected to do rudimentary first-grade level work. If I tried to speak up, they would yell at me to shut up and do my school work. All the books in the “library” were at a fourth grade or below reading level. (I entered the first grade reading at a fifth grade level.) In no time at all, the teachers were targeting especially me. Not just because I was definitely one of the more outspoken students; but because I was, hands down, the most “capable” in the whole building. I was borderline “neurotypical.” I was, as far as society was concerned, everything I was NOT supposed to be. I wanted to enlist in the Army with a backup plan for firefighting, instead of being content with bagging groceries for a living. I knew that I was lesbian and attracted to other women, instead of being asexual. I was clean and cared about my appearance. I was athletic and coordinated. I-GASP!-drove. I knew that I, no question, intimidated the teachers, with their strict low expectations and stereotypes for “disabled” people. This is why they had it out especially for me. One instance would be right before the winter break. A teacher asked me to write a paper on my holiday of Yule, or the Midwinter Solstice. She told me that I only needed to make it three pages long-and then pointed out that an ordinary college level paper would require several more pages and extensive research. When I offered to do a regular college-level paper for her, she stared and me and snapped, “No…I know you CANNOT do that.” No. That is not it. The truth is, she knew I COULD do it. She was fearful that I would bring her back a perfect, detailed, college-level paper, and completely dumb down her and the rest of these rigid, holier-than-thou teachers.
            After the new year, they set up “Fun Fridays” for the students who had had “good behavior” and gotten no “strikes” during the week. Students would get to choose from several different activities to partake in on Friday afternoons. The “grad” student were expected to partake as well-sitting quietly in the classroom with our Ipods, not bothering anyone, was “not an option.” Students who had made the slightest slip-up during the week, however, were sent to “Focus Fridays,” in a separate room where they were expected to complete worksheet after worksheet on proper behavior until the end of the day. One day, they decided to send me to “Focus Friday” for no apparent reason. They claimed that I had been “teasing” another student. This I had no recollection of. When I asked them to please refresh my memory, I was simply met with blank stares and “Well…uh…you did.” What they were doing was trying to make me feel dumbed down, and assert themselves over the big, bad, “most capable, borderline-neurotypical” student that they so feared.
            That was the message at this building. Don’t ask questions. Be quiet. Sink into oblivion. This was not a “vocational” building-this was a place set up to intentionally dumb us down, make us feel degraded and humiliated, and show that “disabled” people have NO place in society. There was nothing “vocational” about this building. I am hoping that others can see my side of the story. It, frankly, makes me angry that I need to do this. This is a sad truth, that society still looks at any and all “disabled” people this way. This is no different than the way a person of mixed European and Native American blood would have been treated a hundred years ago-no differently than if they had been a full-blooded Native American. Society obviously has not been educated to our needs, thoughts, and feelings-many obviously believe we don’t have any at all. Thank you if you have read this far. We need to stand up.

--Kerry Perdy