On Being a Cripple
...In our society, anyone who deviates from the norm had better find some way to compensate. Like fat people, who are expected to be jolly, cripples must bear their lot meekly and cheerfully. A grumpy cripple isn't playing by the rules. And much of the pressure is self-generated. Early on I vowed that, if I had to have MS, by God I was going to do it well. This is a class act, ladies and gentlemen. No tears, no recriminations, no faintheartedness....
American poet and essayist. Mairs was born in Long Beach, California, and grew up in Boston. Married at nineteen, she completed her B.A. at Wheaton College, had a child, and earned M.F.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Arizona. The personal difficulties that inform her writing include suffering a near-suicidal bout of agoraphobia and anorexia that led to six months spent in a state mental hospital and the later discovery that she was afflicted with multiple sclerosis. She found salvation both in writing and in Roman Catholicism, to which she converted in her thirties. Her first book was a collection of poems, In All the Rooms in the Yellow House (1984). The eight books of essays and memoirs Mairs has written since include Plaintext: Deciphering a Woman's Life (1986), Carnal Acts (1990), Waist-High in the World: A Life among the Nondisabled (1997), Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer (1997), and, most recently, A Dynamic God: Living an Unconventional Catholic Faith (2007). See also nancymairs.com.