Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New EasyStand Blog post: When the Return to Work is Very Accessible, Plus Some Tidbits on my SCI Turning 17

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 3 months since my last blog post. I don’t know how many regular readers I have, but I do feel compelled to apologize for leaving everyone hanging for so long. But I started a new job a few months ago, which required a transitionary period, my nonprofit the Minnesota Spinal Cord Injury Association has required some extra work, and I’ve gone through some emotional stuff on top of that. So all that combined has taken me away from some of my blogging duties.

As for the new job, this is a month belated, but my last EasyStand Blog post was the fourth in my workplace accessibility series. This time I wrote about When The Return to Work is Very Accessible. So check that out.

Almost two weeks ago, on July 12th, it was the 17th anniversary of my spinal cord injury. As much each year has passed, July 12th, maybe the most significant date on the calendar for me, has slowly become just another day. But this year was especially tough because the 17th anniversary signifies me being in a wheelchair for equally as long as I was able-bodied. I have quietly been bracing myself for it for a few years. My status update on Facebook that day was “17 years since my paralyzing spinal cord injury at the age of 17. 17 years a stronger, tougher man. And perhaps, 17 years of becoming a better, more well-rounded person because of it.” From initially posting that post, to texts from my family, to the over 100 “Likes” and 14 really sweet and supportive comments that post generated I found myself surprisingly teary-eyed a number of times throughout the day. Check out my original July 12 post here as well as my book excerpt that followed it to get an idea of how far I have come and how much things have changed since then.

Anyway, although it is not a day that I celebrate or commemorate, I do make a point to get out and do something fun. For example, last year a buddy of mine and I went to Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lounge, a really fun pizza joint with an awesome patio dining. scene. I’ve been wanting to go there for over 4 years since I saw it featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” on the Food Network.

Over the past few years the kind of fun that I’ve been able to have, generally, has been limited because I didn’t have a lot of fun money to spend on account of my long, tough job search/unemployment period. But since I’m finally at a company with long-term job security I’ve finally been able to get out there and do more fun things around town without sweating paying for it.

One of those things has been my desire to see more live music concerts around town. So on a lark I looked up the music schedule at the Fine Line Music CafĂ© and lo and behold on July 12 an interesting sounding, New Orleans based blues-rock band called Cowboy Mouth was playing there that night. So I got tickets and me and that same buddy, who is a big-time music fan, went. We started the night off at a nearby restaurant called Jackson’s Hole, which was a bit of a country bar/restaurant with patio dining. Then we went a block up the road to the Fine Line.

We got a table right in the middle of the venue and were surprisingly entertained by the opening act, the Odd Fathers. When Cowboy Mouth took the stage the place suddenly filled up. Who knew some band I’ve never heard of had such a huge following? During their first song the lead singer/drummer came out into the crowd and started imploring people to come closer to the stage. He stuck out his hand to my friend and said, “You sir, I’ll make a deal with you—if you come up closer to the stage I promise you that I will give you the best f------g rock show you’ve ever seen!” My buddy immediately flipped his cap around and shook his hand as if to say, “Done and done.”

Then he turned to me and said, “Big guy, how about you, do you think you can come closer too?” I shrugged in “It’s July 12th so what the hell fashion” and started making my move. People in the club started pulling chairs and tables out of the way for me to get through, and every time I stopped the masses kept imploring me to come closer until ultimately the crowd parted like the Red Sea and the next thing I knew I couldn’t have been closer to the stage. And I spent the whole concert there. It was awesome! The band was super entertaining and put on a helluva show. Check out the videos here and here to get a taste for both their music and how close I was all night, and check out this video for another song they performed that I really liked. I’m officially a Cowboy Mouth fan for life. I couldn’t have imagined having a more fun night, and it was probably my best July 12th so far.