Sunday, June 15, 2008

Adventures in NYC

Most of the time I don't find my disability all that disabling. I can live with it and what it has for consequences. When I'm at my parents there are stairs that I can just barely manage, but they're also more than willing to help me get around or get things for me when they can. At uni I was in accessible housing so things were flat and I could get places on my own.

Recently, however, I got a job in New York City. This would have been fine, except I had less than a week in which to find housing. Finding housing in NYC in that amount of time is a daunting for anyone, but when I had to keep in mind things like the length of my commute and the fact that I couldn't do a walk-up it became more and more complicated. And I got to the point where for the first time I really hated the fact that I had a non-normative body. I was conscious that it shouldn't be something I criticized myself for, but the rest of the world, but it really didn't matter. Trying to find housing you can afford with my job is hard enough. Most people live out in a borough with several roommates and live off ramen/other cheap food. I can't do that. I need real food and while having a roommate may have been nice, my experience is that it's much harder for me to live with others now unless they mostly leave me alone. And, quite honestly, once you start looking at Manhattan housing, it's about the same price to find a "cheap" studio as it is to share an apartment with someone else in most cases.

In the end, I still had to compromise on accessibility. I can walk/crawl/mobilize myself just enough to get me and my wheelchair up and down the steps into the building. There's an elevator, but I have a ground floor studio so that part doesn't matter as much. In any of the areas that were at all feasible for a commute to where I'm working, however, anything that was truly accessible with no steps was waaaay out of my price range. I'm hoping that maybe with more time to search, I'll be able to find a more accessible place for when my lease here works out, but I'm not holding my breath. And other than those 5 steps, it's a fabulous place. Larger that I was expecting and well maintained and in a wonderful neighborhood.

My commute isn't great, but that's due largely to the fact that I haven't had the time or energy to figure out the bus system yet. The subway station closest to my flat is accessible, but the closest station on the other end is 10 blocks from work. So right now I'm wheeling that distance. My shoulders may never forgive me.

Work itself is wonderful. On one of my first days my boss told me straight out that she'd just assumed my wheelchair wasn't going to be an issue because I never mentioned it as being one. And it hasn't been. I have to pick things up/drop things off at another building almost daily, but it's only 2 blocks away and they're flat blocks. They've also been incredibly wonderful about the fact that I had a pre-planned holiday that I was not giving up to get the job so that after having worked 3 weeks, I leave Wednesday to spend just over 5 weeks in Europe. I'm looking forward to the holiday which will mostly be spent with a friend sleeping while he's at work as I didn't get much of a break between finishing uni and this job.

So maybe now I'll start writing here more now. I'd like to, but I just haven't had time. As well, for awhile, I was concerned that it was going to end up being very related to my thesis, but now that I'm done, it's less of a concern.


Rachel said...

Check out this disability-related article:

aoc gold said...
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Dynah said...

Congrats on the job! I'm applying to a few law schools in nyc and but idea of finding housing there is scaring me off. And now I read that you "still had to compromise on accessibility"- that terrifies me! Best of luck with the stairs. I'm glad at least your subway stop is accessible!

Dynah said...

I just realized this post is from last year :P Well, what I said still stands, and I'm curious how things are going for you!