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The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

through a loving story of a friendship between a newly wounded soldier

and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

on the About page to learn for the Soldier & Rocky are changing children's

lives.

 

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Tuesday
Dec132016

Broken As Clooney

It's true. We all can't wait to turn on the news to see which politician did something hypocritical. What preacher disobeyed God's teachings. What officer broke the law. Which parent broke his child. 

My daughter came to me with an issue. A professor said something unkind to her in front of the class. A professional she was taught to defer to, to respect, to follow. Her world was shattered for that time before we spoke - when I sat her down and reminded her how many wonderful and loving things had been said before, how could she let one person negate all the good? Isn't this the time to stop the madness and realize the imbalance of power a thousand good words has over one that hurts? 
But sadly, it's all too true - that kind words are powerful, but unkind words are atomic. 
So it is with our society today. In our media-riddled world of seeking the darkest in others. That the entire news broadcast is about the bad, with one good one at the end to "perk us up". The good doesn't bring in the ratings, otherwise it would be the other way around.  
Everyone is human. I know, this is tough to admit. We all want to imagine that Clooney is a god (although I can feel my DNA shift along with your own as I consider its validity) but that's because he never lets his guard down. And we never want him to. It would ruin the mood. 
We elect our politicians because they have the better ads, nicer look, most power to get things done, and then we wonder how they could possibly do anything so stupid as send a selfie of a snake. 
Why should the words from one human have weight over the words of another? 
Perhaps a key is to live your life knowing in your heart your own level of broken. I know, how depressing is that! We are taught to love our own magnificence. That we are each too good to treated poorly by others. This is true. But how can we deal with the hurtful times if we cannot empathize with the world view of the other who is unable to see the world as you do?
My daughter is a strong, A-type creative, opinionated young woman. Her professor is an  A-type, commanding personality.  No words even needed to be spoken to see these two would not be having tea. Yet this interaction stunned her to her core. Her world-view was shattered. The unexpected was almost worse than the altercation itself. The lesson from this? Pedestals should be for plants. 
Yes, there is protocol and decorum. But they are not law and can be broken at any time. The protection is to enter life knowing that no matter how high an office, how important an individual may be in your daily life, everyone is at first and foremost a flawed human being with a certain number of tools with which to deal with us other flawed human beings. Sometimes one has a dirty bomb, while the other has a hammer. And sometimes, all you have is the nail. 
In the end, we all belong here. Because we are here to learn, to look at our selves and discover our tools. Who knows, you might even lend one out to a friend. But none of us is perfect. However I may need to go back to that Clooney reference, just to make sure. 

 

Thursday
Oct132016

The Story Behind The Soldier and the Squirrel

Friday
Aug072015

My Night with Trump

It was 1994. I was pregnant with our oldest child (she's now 22). My husband wiped the evening's meal off of Donald Trump’s limo. My morning sickness was terrible at night - Which somehow helped me blend in with the 2am bar patrons, unlike when our group entered Madison Square Garden for the KISS concert earlier in the evening. We did not blend in then, on a summer night in New York City, twenty years ago. Needless to say, we had a feeling this was going to be an interesting evening.


I was star struck as we drove through the city, but it wasn't The Donald that held my attention. Or his hair. It was the buildings. I couldn’t help it, I was young, but the good kind of young with an innocence that carried my up and through the sunroof of his limo. I stood with the warm summer air patting at my cheeks. Trump and his wife sat at my feet, my husband chalking up my odd behavior to howmones.  It was a brief escape for my square peg through that round hole of New York's elite. It’s hard enough to feel like you belong anywhere when you are in your twenties, still trying desperately to discover who you really are and what you really want. The other wives were coiffed with designer clothes. Their hair was Blonde. The men were silver. The driver was anxious.

I was six months along. The top of my swollen belly pressed against the sunroof frame. Something about pregnancy makes you bold - brave enough anyway to allow Donald Trump to witness my swollen ankles like elephant feet cut off at the knees; the kind they make coffee tables out of. 

We arrived at Madison Square Garden. As we entered the building, the audience began to stir like bees in a hive. Word travels fast in a sea of New Yorkers. They must have seen the hair. As we walked to our seats, the crowd grew louder, and louder.

Then he did it. The Donald raised his hand to the air - like Hitler with a toupee. The king of New York had addressed his subjects. (Remember, this was twenty years ago.)

The Garden rumbled. I turned to The Donald with a question mark. He shrugged his shoulders to the girl from the sunroof. He was used to all of this. The buzzing. The Garden. Girls thrusting through his sun roof. in that moment 80,000 swarming bees began to notice their king bee entering the hive as they waited for the KISS concert to begin. I envied people who were used to such things. It meant they belonged to something larger than themselves.

Then the chanting began. Dah-nuld! Dah-nuld! Dah-nuld! 
We followed him through The Garden like baby bees. Then they got louder. Dah-nuld! Dah-nuld! I had never seen anything like it in my life, Nonetheless been stared at by so many people at once. Of course, they weren’t looking at me, but still, the sense of visual invasion was so overwhelming I wanted to suck my head so deep into my neck that it would lodge in my ribcage. But Dah-nuld? He loved it.

Trump is Trump. Love to hate him or hate to love him. Either way, it spurs a response. Sometimes a nauseating one. I tried to chalk that up to morning sickness, at night.

We finally made it to our seats. And I made it through the concert without throwing up. Until we went to dinner afterwards. And got back in his limo. A piercing stab in the corners of my jaw stung my bones. Gentle waves of nausea lapped at the back of my throat. My skin clammed and faintness overtook my jovial mood. Pull over, we had to pull over. I couldn’t do this in his limo. Lord knows what ever else happened in Dah-nuld's limo, but it sure wasn't going to mix with the precious juices of my pregnancy. My husband rang the alarm. She’s gonna blow! The limo came to a stop against the curb, I scuttled to the opened door overlooking the gutter, my head just barely reaching the moist wall of humid summer air. And it happened. I threw up all over Donald Trump’s limo. 

I don’t think he ever knew I did that as he went home after dinner in another car. In twenty years I don’t think I have ever even mentioned it to his wife, so why not just blog about it, I said to myself. I mean how many people get to blog about the night they strolled into a garden amidst a sea of bees and christen the limo of a king? And so, I did. 

Thursday
Mar052015

Communication for Couples During a Life Challenge 

Bensko Speaking to LA Army Battalion - Click to Play

Wednesday
Feb182015

FreeWheeling

The holidays certainly have a way of wrangling one's life into splattered mess of glitter and bows - but what a glorious mess it can be. And it was. One of the greatest gifts of my life was given to me by my parents. They did give me life once, so no surprise for it to happen again. Their gift was the FreeWheel. Imagine a sports stroller concept. That third wheel in the front and triangular base foundation is perfect for off-roaring with those lil buggers. Let's just say I now feel like a lil bugger. The FreeWheel attaches to the front foot-bar of my regular chair. In doing so, the  front casters are lifted off the ground and out of the way of ground cover. It's a bit pricey, but if someone told you they could give you freedom from confinement for the cost of a family's day at Disneyland, chances are you'd take it. 

URL http://youtu.be/7gozw760gl8


One of my favorite activities in the world is camping and being out in Nature. To wake to a dozen different birds and debating with your husband as to whether the Woodpecker can really peck that hard. Inhaling smoke from cedar logs and coughing up last night's s'mores. Using a portable toilet inside your tent and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. I did order the PeePo. Yes, this is a thing. It is a proportionally shaped "funnel" for us gals so we can tWinkle in the woods like boys. It's pink. I got it from Amazon Prime two-day shipping. It had to be good. Until I realized I couldn't stand. Or squat. So hubby ran to the Sport Chalet before we left and nabbed up the granddaddy of all porcelaine gods. The portable princess and the pee-pot. 

Maine of the most devastating things about losing mobility, was the mourning process of losing the ability to be that bear in the woods. This holiday, however, I have learned that although I may need to approach the woods differently, they are no less glorious, rich, calming and awe-inspiring because I view it from my chair  it's just that now that I have my attachment, I can enter those woods, roll through the leaves, race my kids on trails and leave my hub in the dust feeling only slightly guilty that he has to walk.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Oct072014

Disabled At The Hollywood Bowl

I don't ever blog about an ADA violation to whine. Honest. But there comes a time in a "new normal" when one's world can get turned upside down, and you realize that others just like you face nights like this every day of their lives.  When seeing a Blake Shelton concert at The Hollywood Bowl for your husband's 50th birthday brings tears to your eyes - and not the good and sappy kind. Just because others simply don't understand how difficult disability can be. 

I never knew a police officer could stand in front of orange cones with an empty lot and tell a woman her husband would have to get her wheelchair out of their car in the middle of Highland Avenue traffic on a Saturday night. That no, a disabled person could not be left off at the top of the hill near the entrance, because those darned orange cones are just too heavy to lift. He must have a busted back. Oh, wait. That's me.
I had no clue what the Hollywood sky looked like at night from a 45 degree slope, listening to a sweet man say it's all okay as sweat dripped from his brow to his coat. On his 50th birthday. A night he'd never forget. Because his wife planned it that way. When she never, ever, goes out because of the pain. 
We arrived at the top of the never ending hill to where a flashlight would lead to our Our specially - selected, gotta get this right - so our night will be perfect - seats. The flashlight shed light that we had to take an elevator to the next level up. No problem. And off we went. 
Trek and push. Push and trek. Ding. Level Two. Another flashlight. A hem and a haw. Another flashlight came over. They danced on our tickets light fireflies in a mating ritual. "I'm sorry, Sir. You're on the wrong level. These are the next level up." 
We are used to this game. My husband now resembles a seal that's been pulled from the gut of a whale. (I know, whales don't eat seals. Just go with it.) Still telling me 'it'll all be okay'.
Push and treck. Ding. New flashlights, mumbles and firefly sex. Then one of them asks for the boss firefly to come over, while the other one pulls out her cigaret. 
This can't be good. 
The woman in the chair (that would be me) finally speaks, "Excuse me, is there a problem? We have disabled seats. It can't be this hard to get to disabled seats. Right?"
"Ma'am, yes, these tickets are for disabled seats. But they are another level up, and then, well, you kind of have to go down steps to get to them."
I felt the earth crumble within my core. I've been through things like this before. But never. Ever. Like This. My eyes swelled with painful tears. The kind of tears that come from a place so deep they are heated before they rise. My husband's hands wrapped around my shoulders as they began to heave. 
I looked up at a girl who knew little of this world and asked her how this could possibly be? She said, "Your seats are for disabled, but for the kind of people who have a broken leg or something like that." 
Something like that. I'd like something like that. That would be nice. 
A man named Steve came out from a door - a pop of light in the night. His eyes understood. He handed us a special note that would us to a special row. To the front in Garden Box seats. 
In a box to the right of the stage we sat with room for all that come with me. We sat in awe of how fortunate were we. Blake Shelton was in primo form as he sang our song, Honey Bee. It truly had become a night we would always remember. And before we knew it, it was time to leave. 
"One sec to the Ladies Room", I rolled to the stalls. The handicapped opened. A young woman in boots and a cowboy hat shot out. She looked down. I looked up. That was all. I was too tired to care. That was nothing compared to the night that had been so far. I finished and flushed and washed and dried. Then something incredulous caught my eye. The second handicapped stall. I had to look twice. My chin hit the floor. It was being used as a storage locker. A woman rustled with garbage bags stacked around the john.  A poetic bookend to our evening, I suppose, when fireflies shed a light on The Hollywood Bowl. 

 

 

Sunday
Sep142014

Teeny Bean

On October 28th, 2014, it will have been 3 years since my accident when my life changed in a moment. Being in a chair has been a challenge, but one that has also opened a whole new world of interests for me.

A few months ago, one of my doctors suggested learning a new skill to add to my treasure chest of pain-management tools. So began my mission to oil the gears of my mental machine.

I started out by attending Stanford. Kind-of. There's this big little app called iTunes U - a massive archive of thousands of audio and video courses from universities around the world. I also attended Harvard, but I'm a West Coast girl at heart. Plus I can't stand the cold.

That's the goal. Turn down the volume.

Learning new things helped to keep my mind from my condition. I had forgotten how wonderful moments of "AHAH!" could be! I couldn't learn enough! Academic courses lead to creative ones, which led to artistic ones. Having been a working photographer prior to my accident, this fed a need I thought was lost. The desire to create.

Although I have always been a right-brained creative, I never really thought of myself as a crafty person. The scrapbooking aisle brought on an apoplectic twitch. Too many fantastic little sparkly options at once left my mind in a spin.

Painting. I'll try painting. But what to paint? Looking at a canvas gave me performance anxiety. So I started with a desk. I was in bed for a week.

Finally, it happened. A sparkle. The kind I could handle. In my quest through YouTube How-To's for something to shield my brain from pain, I came across a video on how to make a necklace. I was clasped. Not only was making jewelry fun, it was something I could share with our children. The following Saturday, my office looked like Michael's after a 6.8. Tiny crystals peeked through the ridges in the floor - everywhere. I could lay back and create a mini masterpiece. Even if it was a flop. Then I realized what my doctor was talking about. It wasn't so much about finding a new hobby, more than a new passion. I had mourned losing the ability to photograph weddings. But it was also about losing an identity.

In creating Teeny Bean Fine Jewelry, I am able to begin a new life of productivity and passion with something I love. During the making of each piece, I fall into a zone of "feeling" the life within the stones and the process. In those moments, pain and disability do not exist and all there is, is light. It is my hope that when someone wears my line, they feel the same way about life.


Friday
Sep052014

The Doctor And Joan

"She really was an amazing woman." Dr. (Norman) Leaf continued on about Joan Rivers as he battled the Friday traffic to a much deserved weekend. He'd kill me if I said this within ear-shot, but he truly is the plastic surgeon to the stars. The only C-list in his office is on the breast implants inside.

It was the first quiet moment he had to truly soak in the fact that she was gone. Dr. Leaf had heard about the new video segment released from Joan and Melissa's reality show where they sit in a waiting room just prior to one of Ms. River's final surgeries. This one in particular would be on her neck, and Dr. Leaf would be her surgeon - just as he was thirty-five years ago when she first hit it big and needed a little nip, or was it a tuck. He would never tell, and never did. I've known Dr. Leaf since I was 17. This was the first I had heard that she was one of his patients. Dr. Leaf is also the medical director on our R.A.W. board and is totally dedicated to changing the lives of our wounded.

The bulk of her surgeries during her later years were done by someone else, but it wasn't her stardom that left its mark on him. It was her spunk.

I had watched the reality show and so was perplexed as to how I could have missed him on it. It was because he never filmed to air. What struck him today was how moving the re-released segment was, that her conversation with her daughter happened right outside his door, and yet he never even knew it existed.

Surgeries do something to some of us, if not all. They scare us into submission - into admitting we are human and may not exist someday. I say may, because it is a thought too large to completely comprehend nonetheless own.

As I face another surgery, I am reminded how fragile life can be. How important it is to have such conversations with our loved ones prior to releasing control over our vitals to someone with a knife. This segment touched many people today. But it was wonderful to hear from a surgeon himself how the passing of a patient made him reflect on the enormity of their life and the effect it had on the world.

 

The next night Dr. Leaf was on CBS News as word got out that it was his office Joan and Melissa were in. Here is the segment:

Wednesday
Aug272014

Taken And Stirred

So close and yet so far...Ah, it seems nomatter where I wish to park nowadays, whether it be my wheels or my tush it's never boring. But Monday took the cake. I was just a gal trying to make a doctor's appointment and attempting to park her car. Sounds easy enough, right? Instead of simply writing a blog about it, I decided it was time to be proactive, instead of wallowing in my Starbucks cup over over-infalted coffee beans. The following letter may have remained private if this was not a pattern in this company's operation. A post-script is that when I told my doctor what happened (I was a blubbering mess when I entered her office so it was pretty hard to hide. Mind you, I'm a pretty tough girl at this point. They say it's a death by a thousand cuts, and perhaps this last cut was mine.) My doctor looked at me with empathy and said she parked in that lot for 18 years. The people that ran it were absolutely lovely - so kind. They always greeted her with a smile, treated everyone like family, and left such a impression on her life. Then, two years ago the current company purchased this lot and things have never been the same. The abuse she experienced by these attendants was bad enough that she no longer parks there - right behind her building - and would rather walk than be subjected to their business practices.

Here you go:

To: Quality Parking Services
Re: Parking Lot at Le Conte & Broxton
wwwValetParking.com

Dear Mr. Ghaed, Mr. Akbary and Mr. Iravani,


I am writing regarding an incident at your lot on Le Conte and Broxton. To preface, I am disabled and use a wheelchair, requiring handicapped parking to enter and exit my vehicle.
On Monday, August 24th, 2014 I entered your parking lot around 1:30pm as I had a 2pm appointment in the office building adjacent to it on Westwood Blvd. As usual, I looked to the left as I entered the lot to use the handicapped spot. Although it was available, a large white truck was parked in its blue protective area to be used for the disabled person’s entry and exit of the vehicle. I tapped my horn for the attendant’s attention. He approached my vehicle and I asked him if he could kindly move the white truck so I could use the open handicapped spot. He said, he couldn’t because he doesn’t have the keys. I said, no one is supposed to park in the blue area as it belongs to the handicapped spot. I mentioned he must have seen the man park, because you have to pay before you leave, and the spot is directly down the front aisle from the valet stand. His response was curt and stern. He said this lot was privately owned and “did not have to obey city rules.” I was surprised by this response, as well as the animosity he displayed toward me, a woman with a wheelchair in my front seat (or any potential client for that matter). I asked him again to please try to accommodate me, as businesses are supposed to offer something for the disabled. I would understand if the handicapped spot was already taken, but the one available wasn’t even being used for its intended purpose.
I drove around to an open able-bodied spot to see if I could exit my vehicle with my chair. I could not. I then found two spots and parked in the middle. I thought perhaps I could then create my own “handicapped spot” seeing as nothing else was even offered. The attendant approached my car, whipped out his pad and said, That will be $25.” The usual fee at that hour is $9.50. My jaw dropped. Again, I asked if he “had any humanity in him, to please simply allow me to use the two spaces for the regular price. I have to add that the lot was almost completely open. There were probably fifty spots available. Surely he could offer two for an hour. He began to raise his voice, as I started to cry I knew I had to find something as the clock was ticking and I had to get to my appointment and it takes me time to exit my car and get from A to B. I drove around the lot trying space after space several times to see if something would work. I was beside myself, extremely distraught and tears were flowing. Living a life with a disability is difficult enough. I try every single day to hold my head high and never say woe is me. Yet here I was being treated like a criminal for asking for an accommodation for my needs.
as I made my way to the front of the lot, the attendant again approached my car. I asked for his name. He said Francisco. It is at this time I noted the name of your company and knew I had to notify you.
It was then I remembered that I had parked in your lot last fall, when I first began to go out in public with my chair. I noticed a car was parked in that same handicapped spot without a placard. I had asked the attendant to please not park cars in that spot who don’t need it. He responded with the same answer Francisco did, so it is clear that this must be the protocol for your company.
I am asking that you please abide by the city laws and allow for disabled parking. I would even ask if you could please offer at least two disabled spots so we can utilize your services. With UCLA Medical Center I can only assume this would enhance your business model.
That day, I ended up having to park on the second floor underground of the UCLA Hospital and hand-wheel my way to my appointment. I was exhausted, dehumanized, and humiliated.

Please consider not only the request for the disabled community, but also the suggestion to instruct your sensitize your employees on how to treat customers of diversity and educate your company to the Americans with Disabilities Act.


 ADA guidelines specifies that access aisles for car and van parking spaces, must be measured from the centerline of the marking. However, if the parking space or the access aisles is not adjacent to another parking, measurement could be made including the full width of the line.
Designed van parking spaces shall be a minimum 132 inches wideand must contain an access aisle. If it is a car parking space it shall be 96 inches width. However, van parking spaces could be 96 inches wide only if the access aisle is 96 inch wide.
Access aisles shall be adjacent to an accessible route, connecting parking spaces to entrances. Two parking spaces shall be permitted to share a common access aisle. Avoid using accessible routes behind parked vehicles. If the accessible route crosses traffic lanes, it shall be visibly marked enhancing pedestrian safety.
Access aisles shall be 60 inches wide minimum and should extend the full length of the parking space being served. Remember to mark access aisles to prevent vehicles from parking over the aisles.
The aisles must be marked clearly; however, the method and color of marking are specified by State or local laws. Aisles shall be allowed to be marked on either side of the parking space. Hint: Van aisles are recommended to be placed on the passenger side of the van space.
Aisles shall be at the same level as the parking space they are serving. Level changes are not allowed, and constitute a violation of ADA Design standards. Aisles slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted.
Access aisles should be leveled in all directions. Built-up curb ramps are not permitted to project into access aisles and parking spaces because they would create slopes greater than 1:48.
Parking space identification must include the International Symbol of Accessibility. ADA Design standards request that signs identifying van parking spaces shall contain the “van accessible” sign. Signs should be installed at least 60 inches above finish floor.
It is important to prevent vehicles or vans to obstruct the required clear width of accessible route. Parking spaces for vans and access aisles and vehicular routes serving them shall provide a minimum vertical clearance of 98 inches
In regard to the number of handicapped spaces you currently provide, this should help:
State law requires the following number of spaces, based upon the total spaces in a given lot available to the public:
• Between 16 and 25 spaces: one handicapped space
• Between 26 and 40 spaces: five percent of such spaces but not less than two
• Between 41 and 100 spaces: four percent of such spaces but not less than three
• Between 101 and 200 spaces: three percent of such spaces but not less than four
• Between 201 and 500 spaces: two percent of such spaces but not less than six
          
According to California Law, The ADA says that each separate lot or garage has to be compliant with their minimum parking space requirements.
If one has 20 spaces, the ADA would only require one space to be accessible (and it would have to be a van-accessible spot). If the other lot has 100 spaces, there would be four total handicapped spaces required (including one that’s van-accessible). You are clearly offering less that the spaces required by law. And yes, as a private company doing business with the public, you are NOT immune to these rules and regulations. They were actually created just with you in mind.

I look forward to your response.

Thank you for you consideration,

Micaela Bensko





Micaela Bensko
www.RebuildingAmericasWarriors.org
310-990-8389

Blog www.MoanaVida.com

Sunday
Aug242014

The Handicapped Stall

I really wish I could have been more patient yesterday.

The rest room used to be a place of retreat. Even in the mall. A restaurant. A store. The buffering echo of the stalls somehow insulated me from the mania outside. But not so much anymore.

I've mentioned briefly before about frustration when the handicapped stall is occupied by someone who bounces about. The first thing I look for under the door is anything with wheels (I'm a sucker for moms with strollers. It's the roller derby girls that get to me.) I even went so far as to ask one lady who pranced out of the stall to please, please leave these stalls for people who need them? She paused. Looked up. Then down at me. I'm quite short nowadays. It was one arc short of an eye-roll. With one eyebrow raised, she replied in a confrontational tone, "I got a bad ankle."

'You must have one large ankle.", I thought to myself.

So now, every time I roll up to a stall with the little man in a chair, it's like a crap-roll in Vegas. No pun intended. I never know what's going to pop out of there. Yesterday, I rolled up to one. It was locked. I could see no wheels, hear no baby. I waited. And waited. A slight flapping of the toilet paper role echoed beyond the door. My time was near. But by this time, I was brewed inside, like a day-old pot of coffee that lost its perk.

The toilet flushed to a tussling of pants and a zip. Then a shuffle. A long shuffle. As though she wore a rack of petticoats donned one by one. Then she began to emerge. Black orthopaedic shoes peeked through the bottom of the door as it creaked open, like blind dogs sniffing for a plate of food. Her face coiled around to mine. Betty White's body double.

Then it hit me. The handles. She needed the handles. The silver bars around the toilet to keep her steady. Wheels had nothing to do with it. The other three-hundred stalls did not have safety handles.

Man did I feel like, well, you know.

I left wondering how I began to think this way? Expecting the worst, rather than the best? No matter how difficult these past three years have been, the one thing I never want to lose is my faith in the goodness of others. But it's so hard when sprung back out into a world where my reality is not the norm. It's not realistic to expect others to understand how deeply it cuts when able-bodied people pop out of our stalls. There will always be women with bad ankles. But I have to remember that not every woman ahead of me, is one of them.

I went home, did some Googling and found an interesting post online: "

"Sorry to inform you that in California it is a finable offense to use a handicapped-designated restroom stall if you're able-bodied. The fine for the first offense is $271. I was riding my bicycle on the state beach at Huntington Beach and was arrested and given a ticket, which the court has upheld."

I Googled some more.

"...there is no law, just rude people."

This was getting serious.

My heart asks this of ye olde public. If you walk into a bathroom and there are any available able-bodied stalls, please do not use the disabled stall. Even if you don't see anyone disabled at the moment, we could rear our heads at any moment. If all of the able-bodied stalls are used, and the handicapped is open, just think about it for a moment, how you would feel if you opened the door and I was waiting for you. With drool running down my chin and head spinning with green vomit spewing from my ears. OK, I digress.

So, I don't believe it is illegal to use 'the stall', but is it worth it? If you really have "to go", I'd understand, but please, please, I beg of you, for the love and God and all that is holy and on sale at Marshall's, please leave the handicapped stall to those who need it. This also means for people who need the extra space because they need to change a colostomy bag. I'm learning so much as I journey through this challenge. It just goes to show that even those of us that need 'the stall', are learning, too. And I promise, the next time I start to brew, I'll remind myself we are all so often handicapped, simply by being human.