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Just a brief diary here to thank you all for your ideas, your suggestions, your offers of work, your hookups for other freelance assignments, and your donations.

In the last 48 hours, I've received several hook-ups for potential freelance writing assignments. A potential expression of interest in one of my art tables. Pointers for new places for tutoring work. Advice on specific car, lift and mobility scooter models. And $504 in donations toward a new set of mobility equipment. I am blown away!

Beyond this, I've also received countless messages and comments expressing kind thoughts and support. It's as if the universe has opened up -- and not just on this, but other fronts.

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Hello, all:

I'm writing today to ask for your help. For your help, NOT for your charity. And for your recommendation of this diary, if you're comfortable and so inclined.

Those of you who know me from a Netroots Nation past or here in the Dallas real world know that I have significant mobility issues since a car wreck sustained six years ago this month. Flash forward to today, and it's time for me to replace my scooter lift and my mobility scooter (again). And, combined, it's a multi-thousand-dollar expense I just can't manage at my current income level.

I posted a diary a few week back, asking for advice from the Kos Ability crowd, among others, about programs that might help me. Great comments all. Tonight I'm back, asking for pointers, recommendations and hook-ups for real-world work that can help me pull in some much-needed cash.

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Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM PDT

KosAbility: Most Days

by Melody Townsel

Here’s the thing. You see people like me in a scooter or a wheelchair and you want to help. You do. And you’re nice, mostly, so we let you. Mostly. So you hold open doors or you carry stuff or you grab us a cup of coffee or you hand us the pencil or you pick up the keys we drop. You get your mitzvah, and we get our caffeine. You feel good, we feel good. A win-win, right? And most of the time, that’s how it works.

Most of the time.

KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic. There are two parts to each diary. First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and/or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.
Most of the time I’m grateful for the help. Most of the time, I’m happy not to have to use my crutches like chopsticks to pick up my wallet or my pen or the dollar that slipped out of my hand on the way from my purse to the vending machine. Most of the time, I can find a way to stash my coffee between my legs or my arm and the arm of my scooter and shake your extended hand. Most of the time I’m able to muster a smile or a thank you or a tip in the grocery-store parking lot.

But we all have those days. I know I do. Those days when we’re tired or sad or, for some of us, experiencing more pain than normal and we just can’t pull it together to be happy or grateful. To smile enough to thank a stranger for opening a door that by rights should have had a handicapped-accessible button that allows us to open it ourselves. To be sufficiently grateful for the help being proffered.

And it’s that level of required gratitude that can weigh you down as much as legs that just won't do what you need them to do when you need them to do it.

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No doubt about it! For months now, I've been remiss; I've been watching white Republican men -- many of them fellow Southerners -- march boldly into battle, engaging in hand-to-hand combat as our nation's evil-doers work to undercut my status as a wholly vessel of motherhood. They've spoken boldly and without measure, laying down that brand of unparalleled truth that can only be attained from distance -- far, far away from the delivery rooms and orphanages and teen halfway houses of this great nation.

These men have stepped in front of political bullet after bullet to save me from myself, somehow seeing clearly in a way I simply can't that earning as much as the men around me might bring me immediate gratification and the ability to pay my bills as well as a man, but will, in the end, limit my opportunities for finding love and (straight) marriage.

They have, in short, laid it all on the line for me. 'Lil ol' me. And tonight, this card-carrying Vagina-American seeks -- from deep in the heart of what Jon Stewart has coined "Vaginastan" -- to  to make things right.

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Watching Rachel Maddow with the tween right now. Just finished The Ed Show. The kiddo has asked question after question, working to wrap her newly-minted 8th-grade head around today's Wisconsin election and last winter's Wisconsin state-house pyrotechnics and Citizens United and what, exactly, the whole union thing is all about.

Some of this stuff is just too complex, clearly, but every few minutes, she collects a new hot-button issue I can tell she'll spend some time and thought digging into. Citizens United being a big one. All the money flowing into the election is clearly blowing her mind.

But in the midst of it all, something big clicked:

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Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 08:05 PM PDT

Working for a "Real" School

by Melody Townsel

I'm a teacher. Still feels strange to say that, but I have been for a couple of years. A public-school teacher, for the last two years teaching 10th-graders pre-AP English at an early-college high school. In the fall, I'll begin teaching 10th-grade English at our local arts magnet.

I love being teacher -- love it enough to hold my nose and weather the frozen salary and the endless job cuts and the ever-lower state funding levels and the nonstop (seriously, 57 days this year) testing and get to work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every day. Love it enough to distribute my cell-phone number as part of my syllabus and take panicked phone calls and texts from kids before every major project and test and homework assignment until my drop-dead cut-off time of 9 p.m. for accepting calls.

Love it enough, then, that I'm always shocked when somebody tries to throw cold water all over this second career. Which a man I've known for years around the neighborhood just did.

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Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 06:03 PM PDT

Food for Thought

by Melody Townsel

My bank account got shut down today. Chase caught a fraudulent debit-card transaction -- card swipe for nearly $300 made as a credit transaction with no PIN entered -- and shut my account down. Sigh.

I'll get the money back in a few days, I'm sure, but I am unsettled. Digging through all my other cards and transactions to make sure that this is the only time I've been stung. I manage my money to the penny, so I doubt I'll find more, but the timing couldn't be worse.I found out as my card got declined at the local grocery story. I immediately received a text and a call from the Chase Fraud folks. Good on 'em.

So...I'll wait a few days to stock up on groceries. Continue to figure and refigure in my head schemes for replacing my unworkable, broken-down mobility equipment in the wake of my insurance-company denial. And be grateful, despite it all, that I can still afford basic groceries (most days).

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Hello, all:

Yes, yes, I know it has been a very long time since I've actively posted and commented in here -- although I read every day. Teaching, health issues and single parenthood have taken every spare moment I've had for a long while.

So...OF COURSE, I would come back in here asking for something -- but, there you have it. I need help. Advice. Research. Links.

Those of you who've been here for years may remember my terrible car wreck in 2006. If you don't, well, stay with me anyway.

The time has come for me to replace my mobility equipment, and I'm hoping some of you out there know of grant or other assistance programs that may be able to help me out.

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Sun Jun 19, 2011 at 03:04 PM PDT

Hospital Pricing A Go-Go!

by Melody Townsel

It's been three days now. Three mind-numbingly, excruciatingly, everlastingly long days that I've been placed on hold, sent into voicemail hell, pressed the star and pound button and talked to everyone from the custodian on duty to one of the ICU patients.

Three days in which I STILL don't have a decent, ball-parkish estimate of what the surgery I'm about to undergo in three weeks will cost me. Three days in which I STILL don't know how big the check I'm going to have to write the hospital will run. Three days I'll never get back. Three days in which everybody I talk to tells me how lucky I am to have insurance again, but nobody can give me any actual information.

Three days.

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Yo, yo, yo! Hollah!

Mel T here, ya'll, takin' a coupla hours offa gradin' 10th-grade papers on Julius Caesar and kickin' back here in my phat crib!

Just chillin' with my shortie, sipping a cup of tea and watching the Kid's Choice Awards on basic cable. Uh huhn, I said it. Basic cable. Oooooh, yeah!

Jump below if you can handle some more...

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Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:04 AM PDT

Independence Day for Dixie!

by Melody Townsel

I posted here last week about the death of the love of my life, my father, Dixie Townsel, who passed on Father's Day. I post here this morning sitting at a hotel in Monticello, Arkansas, with all of my family from Texas, waiting for the procession to Megehee and, then, Dermott, Arkansas to inter my father's ashes and, then, celebrate his life with a kick-ass, all-day wake and barbecue bash. I have no doubt Dad will be right there with us, sipping on some Jack and loving being the center of attention in all the stories.

We made the decision to bury him on the 4th for so many reasons, not least of which because he served in the Air Force and will be receiving his military headstone and flag. He also loved the 4th, said it was one of his favorite holidays -- and, in that spirit, I offer again, below, a blog I wrote two years ago in celebration of one of what I believe was my father's favorite 4ths.

May your 4th, too, be marked with food, family, friends, meaning, joy and love.

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Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 02:44 PM PDT

Dixie Townsel: 1939-2010

by Melody Townsel

Last Sunday morning, as Father's Day dawned, my beloved father, Dixie Townsel, passed away. After driving himself to the ER on Easter Sunday, his descent into the extreme illness and pain that marked his battle with the advanced stages of metastatic small-cell lung cancer proved to be heartbreakingly, breathtakingly, mind-numbingly rapid. By the time he drew his last breath, his passing was a blessing.

As I sit here wrapped in the quilt Sara R., her sister and her family of Kos elves so beautifully cobbled together in the weeks since my early diary about my father's illness, I am still unable to stop crying for any length of time. Surrounded by all of your heartfelt messages of support, though, I am returning here to celebrate my relationship with him and the guidance he gave me that continues to shape the person I am and will be.

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