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Thursday, December 16, 2004

THE NINE SOULS OF WILDE CUNNINGHAM, PART II

Continued from yesterday...

Wilde and I lift off the ground, leaving behind the gift shop where they display their creative wares; the holiday music stream drifts away behind us. Airborne, it’s hard to keep track of wilde-- their computer and their connection from the care center are hardly tiptop-- and for awhile, I'm whirling around, trying to catch sight of them. I've only been in-world with them for just over half an hour, but then, their sessions in the care center are so regimented, they’ll have to leave in some ten minutes or so.

"It takes 15 minutes to set up to play, with all the chairs and such [around the computer]," wilde tells me. "And then the group play is a more times taking endeavor than playing alone. So we get about 45 minutes of playing time per session. We are full of desires of things to do, but all in good time."

What to show people confined to wheelchairs, for whom travel outside their individual capacity is a time-consuming effort in itself, and they now have a only few more minutes to explore?

I take them to the Field of Dreams.

While we teleport there, here are some excerpts from some notecards to read, written by members of wilde, and available from their kiosk in Bretton:

DANNY

danny would want you to know he's been to washington dc, in the capitol, protested there for the rights of those in nursing homes.... and can he laugh!! he loves to laugh!! and sing! his favorite to sing is 'i'm dreaming of a white christmas...' once we were on a plane together, which was quite the ordeal for him to board having been harassed and then carried and stuck etc. etc.....once we were boarding this plane he began singing this song and the whole crew and passengers stopped... stunned to hear him sing, so passionately from the heart. they were the prisoners of his song, stopped dead in the moment till his song ceased!

["He’s cried over Second Life," lilone tells me of Danny. (lilone helped him write his notecard, hence the third person.) "He has much difficulty speaking and being understood. So having someone help him get his parts into the notecards really moved him strongly. Then also, because this empowers him and frees him. So he's cried over living his dream to communicate."]

SCOTT

[I] have a picture board with primary pictures i strain to point to if that seems easier to get my point accross. i am in my mid 30's... i have much to say. what can a picture board do for me?? pictures are so very very limited!!! still, life would sure suck if i didnt have my picture board! thats an understatement! i depend on my tray. it is almost like a piece of my body.

my mom... i have to talk about my mom. perhaps i will write a whole notecard about her soon… i was born on christmas and she's always delighted i was her christmas baby, but honestly i think she’s just as much my Christmas gift from above as i am hers.

[“Scott’s mom came in-world,” lilone elaborates for me. “She came to see what Scott had done, and because he wanted to gift her with his poem, she cried twice too. She was so proud and sooo happy for her son. It was hard to share with his mom the writing on the challenge of speech--scott was transparent. Such transparent challenges can be hard for a parent to read, but they shared them side by side. It was way kewl.”]

CEREBRAL PALSY – FROM JOHN

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain…

misconceptions about those with cerebral palsy…

that they are not intelligent
that they are happy to be ignored
that they lack humor
that they don’t mind the total dependency
that their common sense, humor, insights don’t surpass yours at times

JOKES BY MICAH

whats the definition of christmas?
the time when everyone gets 'santa' mental

whats red and white and blue at christmas time?
a sad candy cane!

what do you call an elf who steals gift wrap from the rich and gives it to the poor?
ribbon hood

a christmas thought
~stressed is just desserts spelled backward~
happy holidays
from micah

POEMS BY MARY

i'm trapped i'm trapped but so are you
tho perhaps you see it not
you’re trapped inside fragilities too
your worries make you rot

what do you see when you look at me
can you tell i have a soul
do you see only my body
do you think i am less whole?

[“Mary has the wisdom and heart of a saint. She’s very insightful. She’s here, Hamlet.” She directs me to the image of an African-American woman with kind eyes and on her face, a shocking deformity. “See this woman. This is the Mary I know and love... her tongue hangs out without her mission all her life. When she speaks, no one can understand. Even me at times. She’s lived all her life this way. Children cry and run from her-- when her heart is golden. Amazing woman. Truly I can call her my friend.”]

THE WILDE COLLECTIVE ON CRIMES AND INJUSTICES-- MORE THAN OUR SHARE [“Written by all the members of wilde, but namelessly for their protection and greater transparency”]

most of us, if not all of us, have had things stolen from us, because we were disabled
many of us, if not all of us, have been slapped or abused physically, and several times
all of us have been verbally abused-- a lot! which hurts by the way!!
we've had our money taken from us
perhaps the greatest pain when our dignity has been taken, stolen.
our humanity, feelings, kicked around and abused

control. people take control. they take control of our things, our decisions. they force their will and preferences upon us. no we cant buy that. no we cant eat that. no we have to watch this. no i dont have time now. no you cant go anywhere. no you will be unable to move for awhile. no…

And now wilde Cunningham and I are standing in the Field of Dreams. Somewhere on the East Coast, many pairs of eyes are squinting.

"We can't see it very well," they say, "but from what we can see, it's lovely. We will create a land mark here."

I tell them they're able to change the color of the flowers on this field. "What's the group's favorite flower color?"

There's a brief pause for deliberation. "Most of the group likes roses." And the field around begins to bloom a deep red. But our time remaning in-world is brief, and there's so much more to talk about.

To be continued...

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