I’m certain you are familiar with having to balance work, family, and social obligations, sometimes having to sacrifice one for the benefit of another. In my life, these trade-offs can be frustrating both because there are no good choices and outsiders do not comprehend the situation.
I have a small yard that has been fenced so my dog can go relieve herself without me needing to accompany her. This is a way to save a little bit of energy. A couple of times a week, someone comes along and scoops up all the solid waste and disposes of it. While not ideal in that odiferous items are left to perfume the air that other residents of my apartment complex must inhale as they pass, given my circumstances, it is the best I can do.
Should I be doing better with my guide dog? Yes. Blindness does not mean I cannot scoop after my animal. (In San Diego, I am exempt from having to do so by local ordinance, but that has little baring on whether or not a blind person has the capacity.) If I had typical health, I’d be ashamed of myself for leaving her droppings to intrude upon others.
My onsite property manager is not pleased with me. My scooper was on vacation and I let dog droppings sit for about six days. There was a mini, excuse the pun, stink over it because of the “smell” and in my opinion, because I got him in trouble. The multitude of cats living in my complex relieve themselves wherever they wish and smokers fill the air with toxic clouds without sanction. I, however, can’t leave some droppings for less than a week.
I know I should be doing better. I wish I could do better. An internal debate rages that goes something like this:
“Jen, can’t you just take her out on a leash four times a day?”
“Sure, but I’d have to give up something else. What should I sacrifice?”
“Don’t go out with friends. Give up one of your discussion groups. Stop some of your exercising. You have choices.”
“Those all contribute to my sanity or my physical health. If my life is reduced to what I should do, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be living that life.”
“You are a drama queen.”
“Yeah, probably.”
This is when I usually decide I’m pretty selfish and at its core, my choice to leave poop to scent the air so I can do things that make me happy is self-centered. Still, I cannot bring myself to handle the situation in any other way.
Situations such as this arise frequently leaving me feeling like I’m failing not living up to some internal standard of what it means to be a “good” person. Apparently, good people put all responsibilities ahead of everything else. Apparently “good” people bring new meaning to the word selfless.
I fail at being a girl because I don’t engage in typical female behavior: I avoid hairspray, refused to wear lipstick even for my sister’s wedding, think gender roles were made to be broken, and wouldn’t know lady-like behavior if it bit me on the backside. I fail at being a disabled person in that I’m not grateful the appropriate amount, tend to be demanding, and refuse to fit the expectations others have of what it means to have my disabilities. These are things I’m almost proud to fail at.
Failing to be a “good” person, on the other hand, bothers me more than I want to admit. I guess it’s because I actually want to be that “good” person and cannot manage it because I, depending on your perspective, either lack the selflessness necessary or do not have the physical ability. In either case, I am left feeling inadequate in one of life’s most basic endeavors.

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

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