Birthday!

Well, it’s been quite obvious: August 2015 was not quite a banner month for me in terms of blogging. I’m really sorry about that! Things have 100% absolutely picked up around the office, and a lot of the new responsibilities that I’ve gained have to do with spending time on the computer. You can imagine that the very last thing someone wants to do after spending their 8+ hour work day on the computer – is spend even more time on the computer! So, unfortunately, e-mails have backed up and blogs have been backed-up. But, on the bright side, I have many posts waiting in the queue, just to be proofread and then hit “send.” So, check those out soon!

Anyways, I write this particular blog post becuase my birthday is tomorrow!

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What a quick year it’s been! I began this year floating in the middle of the ocean, on my way to Bermuda, disconnected from much of society on a cruise. That would be very indicative of how the rest of my year would go. I spent many days here and here as disconnected as I could possibly be, for example, going without my phone for 24 hours at a time! Was it hectic and stressful to get back to 40+ e-mails, 20+ text messages, 3 missed phone calls, and limitless Facebook notifications? Absolutely. Heck, there are still some FB notifications that I had every intention of replying to from my LAST birthday. Obviously those are gone now – and it does still irk me a little bit – but not nearly as much as it would have a year ago.

Not relying as much on technology and social media for communication has become a big plus in my life. I’ve continued, as I’ve always been, to maintain connections with those family members and friends that are close to me. Whether it’s calling home to the parents most Sundays, calling my best friends back home just to say what’s up, frequent trips to Blacksburg to see friends there…I try very hard, spend a lot of time, and put a ton of effort into making sure those relationships maintain. I’ve written about that before here on the blog, and I hope that I continue to write about that for years to come. But it hasn’t been as focused like “oh man, I must reply to EVERY Facebook post!”

To continue reflecting on the year – I spent the first half of it living at home with mom and dad and that was one of the best, most humble decisions I’ve made in a long time. While I lived there, I never did unpack those boxes though. I was determined to not stick around long, but I also was determined to not settle on a job offer. I was fortunate to receive a few (yes, read a FEW, not a LOT, haha) between graduation in May and the fall, but nothing really…stuck. My dream job offer came through at the end of September, and I started working in early October when I get back from San Francisco.

If you would have asked me back in October if it was my dream job offer, I would not have said yes. I was nervous as heck. I was nervous as all get out that it was not as close to higher education (which was my master’s discipline) as I wanted it to be, and that I wouldn’t be able to grow as much as I wanted. Little did I know that this position would be 110% perfect for being able to have a day job and a passion job – and continuing to serve and work through this very blog – HESONWHEELS.com, and grow that involvement and advocacy into our Nation’s Capital.

That’s where I spent most of the rest of the year, here in Northern Virginia/D.C.. BUT, we all know that I have wanderlust, so after Bermuda and San Francisco, I then embarked on many trips to Richmond and Blacksburg Virginia, but then I also took HESONWHEELS to Austin, Texas for 2 weeks, and then we visited Chicago for a weekend in the summer. Combine that with moving in February, and I STILL haven’t even quite unpacked the boxes that didn’t get unpacked when I lived with my parents! All the essentials are here at my new condo but it definitely still looks like I moved in last month. I’m working on it!

That’s the biggest development of the year, though. Finally living “on my own.” For the first time (while yes, I do have a roommate) in my entire life, I’m paying for my groceries, my gas, my car insurance, my phone bill, my rent, my credit card bill, etc. etc. etc. insert all other annoying adult grown-up bills here…completely on my own. It was immediately petrifying. As many people my age I was worried I would just…mess up and run out of money or something. Having spent an extra two years in college pursuing my Master’s, too, I subconsciously was worried that I was behind the curve with many of my friends.

So far, so good though. My kid life (having two older siblings to shadow) mirrored my adult life. I was able to watch many of my friends go ahead of me and do those things, at which point I could then get advice from them on what to do and what not to do, etc. and that worked out beautifully. Like I said though let’s not jinx it – so far so good. :)

What else here? Moving … bills … new job … HESONWHEELS … traveling. Charlotte is very healthy! This is also the first year in EIGHT years that I made a concentrated plan to be a single man, from a romantic relationship. From junior year of high school all the way through college and graduate school, I was attached to a serious relationship in one form of another. Great years of my life that taught me much, don’t get me wrong – no matter how young! But, especially after moving into the city, it was so assuredly refreshing to be single and just me a man, his dog, and sometimes his roommate. Grateful, and loved. It’s so refreshing to be able to go to a happy hour or just hang out with friends and worry solely about yourself and not have expectations from others. A bit selfish? Absolutely. But I admit that. I’m really focused right now…and in the past year I didn’t want anything to get in the way of that.

Otherwise, and anyone reading this will say “duh,” I’ve been focused on building HESONWHEELS and doing more social advocacy, while continuing to support diversity initiatives and student groups at Virginia Tech. Tech is my home – I’m back in Blacksburg on average at least once per month – and I would have it no other way. Do I wish there was a shuttle that would take me so that I don’t have to drive? Absolutely. But I’m grateful for the opportunity to routinely get back to the place that I truly do call home.

I really think that’s it. In the vein of making this more than 1,000 words…I just wanted something I could go back and say “Well. THAT’S where I was at that time, at that birthday.”

That’s where I am, my friends. Thanks for reading. Here’s to another year.

And p.s. – if you have a free moment, please check out this survey in honor of said birthday. THANK YOU!

100% Accessible Taxis.

To follow up on my accessibility + travel adventures (yes, the Chicago blog is STILL a work in progress!) I wanted to share this article. It highlights Montgomery County’s intention to, by 2025, have 100% of their taxicab fleet accessible to those with mobility impairments.

With how much I travel and get around, and have been increasingly leaving my personal vehicle behind, the guarantee of having an accessible mode of transportation no matter where you are is a BIG DEAL.

Montgomery County is aiming to develop a plan to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible cabs that have lifts or ramps, with a goal of having 100 percent accessible taxicabs within 10 years.

One of the most ridiculously true passages, I think, in the entire article is the paragraph where it says, “Accessible taxis can provide backup transportation when Metro elevators are broken, or late at night when public transportation, including paratransit, is no longer running,” she said. “Accessible transportation ensures that each and every one of us, and those we care about, can remain active should we find ourselves living with a temporary or permanent disability.”

It’s also authorizing accessible vehicle licneses to driver-owned coopearatives to encourage them to do the same.

Finally, shout out to Roger Berliner, a council member who seems to be spearheading this bil!

Pixar’s Inside Out.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go do it. Now. It’s the greatest movie I have seen, hands down, all year.

Like Jimmy V said, “If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”

In this case, that’s a heck of a movie.

Now, mind you, I only watch a handful of movies every year. But watching Inside Out did for me what few other movies do – it held my attention all the way through. I have an admittedly short attention span and have a hard time getting into characters in such shorts amount of time. This begets my preference for episodic television shows where the character development can last over the course of, practically, years (can you say ‘Jack Bauer‘?).

It’s most interesting because you spend most of your time watching this movie in the head of the main character, Riley. As the adolescents  handles a move, as an only child, from the mid-west to the American west coast, she has many emotions and feelings – and that’s where the other main characters (pictured below) come into play. There’s Joy and Sad and Fear and Anger and they all work together in Riley’s “control station” (a.k.a. brain) to effect how she reacts to various situations.

Simply put: this movie is a beautiful, thoughtful, yet animated portrayal of emotion. It’s deep. It’s almost as if they consulted many psychologists to make sure they got it “just right.” There are references to so many terms that I learned in school, like REM sleep, that you wouldn’t normally see in a kid’s a movie – but they make so much sense and play a very intricate part in understanding the greater, more deep parts of the story as an adult.

I laughed, I teared up, I thought…and I continue to think…about how great of a movie this. Go check it out if you have the time.

Emerson.

Let’s start this with a question.

If you don’t openly and vulnerably engage in conversation with others, how do you ever grow? 

And then, let’s say their experiences are different than yours, or they disagree with you?

Isn’t that a monumental opportunity to try and think from their perspective?

The best, most robust, vivid, and loud memories I have are from conversation with others. You know why? becuase you can learn from people things that you would never, ever learn from a textbook. And, too, you can learn from people the same things that you could potentially learn in a textbook.

Say you’re speaking with a historian…

Read more after the jump …

Baba Nam Kevalam: love is all there is.

It’s taken be a bit of time to get all of this put into words. Here it is though…

It was July 2013. That was the first time I met Phyllis and Clark. I never thought that two years later, after meditating with them for the first time, I would have to come to terms with never seeing Clark again on this Earth. He passed away late last night. SO, it is with a very heavy heart that I sit down to share the news of the passing of my good friend, Clark Webb.

Read more after the jump …

HESONWHEELS is going to Chicago!

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at Wednesday night trivia at Clare and Don’s with my good friend Ari W. She mentioned that her job was sending her to Chicago for a few days so she could take care of some work. She randomly says “hey, I don’t know what you have going on but you should come!”

Up front, here’s the moral of the story: Don’t suggest I should do something if you don’t really want me to. Cause I probably will.

In that moment, I whip out my iPhone and start looking at how much financial damage a flight to Chicago would do for me, especially in such short notice; we were less than 2 weeks out! Anyone who knows how airline pricing works knows that that is not a good thing.

I end up finding a great deal out of Baltimore–Washington International Airport and found a place to crash with a great friend of mine, John F., for when I arrived in Chi-City. I looked at my work schedule, realized I’d be able to dip out for just a day or two, and the rest is history. That’s how the adventure of HESONWHEELS going to Chicago was born.

That next week, I mentioned my trip to a good friend of mine who happens to have a disability. He also has always wanted to visit Chicago, just as I had it on my short list of places I really wanted to visit in the very near future. When he heard about it he asked me a simple favor: to let him know how it went.

I decided to do him one better and turn my quick trip to Chicago into a mini-event here on the blog. I’m going to live-tweet the adventure that is this trip to Chicago, and oftentimes through a lens of accessibility. What’s the airport like? What are the airline employees like? What are the accessible Ubers in Chicago like? Things like that.

If you’re interested at all you can follow me on Twitter (@HESONWHEELS, real creative, right?) or check out the hashtag #HOW2CHI that I will use in some of the posts. If you decide to check it out, I hope you enjoy!

Oh, and we did win trivia by the way. :)

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C’mon, vamanos! Everybody let’s go!