Mange | Aime | Profite

Hidden gems. They’re everywhere; the little places we find, and unexpectedly fall in love with. Mine happens to be in my home away from home; New York City.

Delice & Sarrasin.

Located on 20 Christopher Street, in New York's West Village, this  French eatery is one of my favorite places in the world. The restaurant is truly special in the sense that every element you experience is completely standout.

I was first struck by the atmosphere. It’s quaint, while feeling fresh and modern, which is an almost impossible balance to find in New York. It’s the kind of place you go, and you feel encouraged to take your time to enjoy your meal and the surroundings.

Once you’re seated in the cozy dining room, your attention turns to the main focus of any restaurant; the food. And the food at Delice & Sarrasin is one of the things that make it unique. Guests enjoy authentic French cuisine that would make even the truest food purest happy, But, there is another not-so hidden secret to the menu at D&S.

Veganism. 

Yes, veganism. Every one of the classic French dishes, from the Cassoulet Toulousain, to the Ratatouille Niçoise, is completely vegan. And whether you live a vegan lifestyle, or you have never had vegan food in your life, I can assure you, you will be left wanting more once you’ve finished your meal.

All of these aspects are fantastic, and undoubtedly contribute to the success of Delice & Sarrasin, but it’s the hospitality of the staff that is the standout star of this restaurant.

The first time I visited with a group of friends, we were tended to by Olivier, who had such charm and charisma, everyone remembered him the following day. And to our surprise, Olivier remembered my friend Michael and myself when we visited again, nearly six months later.

We had the opportunity to chat with him throughout the night as he checked in on the table, and by the time our night came to an end, Michael and me both felt as though we had made a new friend.

That very same night, we were fortunate enough to meet the owner of the restaurant, Christophe Caron, who was side by side with Olivier, making sure everyone was well taken care of.  And I didn’t know it at the time, but Christophe’s mother,  Yvette, was in the kitchen as head chef.

She is the genius responsible for adapting her classic recipes for a vegan palette.

Delice & Sarrasin, and the people who make it thrive, is something special.

Empowerment of Intimacy: A Journey of Self-acceptance

“I’d never considered the price of intimacy until I hired a sex worker.” This was the opening line of a recent article by Andrew Gurza, who discloses that it was his “nearly year-long celibacy,” which drove him to the idea of paying someone for sex, and he openly admits that it was not an easy decision, as he was worried about the stigma that was attached.

I don’t have a problem because he made a decision he felt was right for him. My problem is that in his discussion of the decision, he perpetuated the stigma that a physical impairment makes an individual innately undesirable.

I also struggle with my sexuality, in terms of intimacy with another person. When a look at myself in the mirror, or lay in bed and think about all of my physical limitations, I can’t fathom how or why another person would be interested in me on a sexual level. I’m bone thin, my legs look uneven, I’m full of scars, and the biggest muscle on my body is probably my mouth. — which might be the only thing working to my advantage in the situation — (Kidding. Kind of.)

But the fact is, I have had sex, and done sexual things with guys, and each time, I’ve first had a frank discussion about my physical limitations. Being upfront gives me the comfort of knowing I was honest, and gives the guy an out, if he decides to take it; if things progress beyond that point, we are both as informed as we can be; and I take comfort in knowing that means by the time he arrives, the guy wants to be with me, physically.

I understand and empathize with the desire to have an intimate  physical connection with someone, but I feel it’s worth waiting to find someone who wants to be there…. because of who you are as an individual.

I’m not suggesting it’s easy, but doing so is true empowerment. It proves that disabled people can be, and are, seen as sexually desirable  And more importantly, it’s a sign of confidence and a show of self-worth; believing that you will find someone despite whatever insecurities you may feel.

It isn’t my place to judge someone for actions they take in their own lives; but when a highly visible advocate for “social acceptability” of the disabled community, suggests that hiring an escort was liberating sexual experience which made him realize he would not accept a “affectionless existence,” I feel an obligation to say…

There’s another way.

The Gold Wheelchair

550_kylie_jenner_interview_120115 So, apparently, wheelchairs are all the rage at the moment..

As someone who uses a  wheelchair everyday, I see it as my permanent accessory which I refer to as “my throne on wheels.” But a lot of people are really pissed that Kylie Jenner literally used a wheelchair as an accessory during a photoshoot for Interview.

Many with disabilities are offended. Arguing that a wheelchair is not a prop, but something used for mobility, and should not be made light of.

My response to that — Get over yourselves.

I get it. A wheelchair is not something people go into, say, Tom Ford, to buy for the season. But seeing the wheelchair as more than a chair is giving an inanimate object the power to define an individual.

Seeing an able-bodied person sit in a wheelchair is at most, distasteful, but in no way does it take anything away from me, or any other wheelchair-bound individual. It was done to make a statement. and it has succeeded.

Was it unnecessary? Completely. But we live in a world full of things which are unnecessary.

Sure, there's an argument that there is a lack of representation of the “disabled” population in the media.

I completely agree.

Wheelchairs, and the people in them, are decidedly unsexy in the eyes of society, and it would have been great if Kylie used this moment as a platform to make a statement about representation in the media. But in a way, she has. The backlash has drawn attention to the lack of representation of  actual wheelchair-bound individuals in the media; maybe this will end that trend.

Diesel was way ahead of the curve with their amazing Spring 2014 campaign featuring Jillian Mercado.

So, take a seat and let the gold wheelchair — which I’m kind of envious of — be the statement it was meant to be.

 

Dating A Guy in A Wheelchair

black-white-kiss-couple As relevant as the phrase might be to my life, I don’t think I have ever Googled, “Wheelchair Dating.” But, a few days ago, I was having a conversation with a friend, and I wanted to share an amazing BuzzFeed video which tackles the subject with humor while still being informative.

In my search, I came across an article on Thought Catalog entitled, “I Dated A Dude In A Wheelchair.”

As a man in a wheelchair, (I will never refer to myself as a dude, and I’m not sorry about it,) I have been very open about my struggles with dating. It isn’t easy for anyone; but my disability, and the resulting wheelchair, definitely adds an unusual, if not difficult, element to the situation.

I thought it would be interesting to gain some perspective from the outside, so I read on.

To start, they met online, which is how I have ended up on anything close to date-like situation; so it was immediately relatable, for reasons beyond medical equipment. Annie, the author of the article, said she was drawn in by wheelchair dude’s “messy red locks,” so she figured she would give him a shot.

They message each other, as one does, and eventually the conversation got to marathon racing, of all things, because… why not?

Apparently, wheelchair dude shared that he had signed up for a marathon race, but he, “thought she should know,” that it was for the wheelchair division.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“‘Wow!, I thought. ‘What an amazing guy. Is this like to raise money for his friend’s charity or something?’ Until the reality of it slowly thickened and filled my brain, and I double checked his photos and realized yes, yes. This man is in a wheelchair.”

From the outside, it may seem that Ms. Annie may have an ineptness for paying attention to details, but the majority of guys have told me that never noticed the wheelchair in any of my photos either —which is weird to me, because in my mind, it is blatantly obvious.

Annie went on to say, as a former fat girl,”You never want to be the bitch that shuts someone down strictly based on physicality.”

That sentence had me gagging.

Here’s why.

The idea that this woman believes she has a moral obligation to give wheelchair dude a chance because she may have enjoyed one too many twinkles back in the day is absurd. — Yes, I understand the “relatability” factor,— but here’s the deal, B — you give someone a chance because you’re a decent human being who sees people for who they are, not what they are.

Regardless, the two went on a few dates Annie recounted all of the questions and hesitations she had.

Don’t get me wrong, being around someone with any sort of impairment is not the norm; there will always be logistical questions, especially at the beginning. But for there to be any hope of success, there has got to be open and honest communication by both individuals.

Using myself as an example: if I go on a date with a guy, I make sure they know several things before we agree to meet.

  1. They will literally be picking me up at some point.
  2. They will have to be Bob The Builder on several different occasions during the evening while putting together the world’s most antiquated wheelchair.
  3. If I actually agree to eat in front of them, they’ll need to cut my food, as my fine motor skills are decidedly lacking.
  4. I don’t drink cheap vodka.

Of course there is going to be questions and conversation beyond this. There has to be. But it is foolish not to know the basics beforehand.

By the way, “does your dick work?” has become a prequalifying question, which I understand. It seems guys can deal with things like receding hairlines and mediocre teeth, but forever flaccid penis syndrome would be problematic.

But getting back to Annie and wheelchair dude; it seems like they never established a baseline understanding of what to expect from one another in terms of logistical physicality, and ultimately, it didn’t feel “right” according to Annie. She said,

“…the sad and shameful truth is that in some way, it did matter to me. It was an Issue. I wanted to prove to myself that I was a better human being, but what dating this man taught me was that I’m just a human being.”

Fair enough.

As I said at the start of this, dating is never easy for anyone. And it is never going to work out, until it does. But open communication is key to the success of any relationship, and it may be uncomfortable to think about, but… relationships start with first dates. So… own your shit and be who you are, because that’s the only real choice you have.