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September 08, 1988 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-08

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Page 4- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1988

PROFILE

Purple cow
Continued from Page 2
"I've never seen a purple cow - I get queasy when
one of them goes by," she said. "I hope to never see
one - They should be kept out of sight with their
own kind. But I can tell you anyhow - They'd proba-
bly rather be dead. I'd rather see than be one - Take
one to lunch? OK, but don't expect us to become
friends."
Here at the University, Vander Beek said, disabled
students are still purple cows --in sharp contrast, she
said, to the University's avowed goal of aiding op-

pressed minorities.
"I want this minority to be seen as a viable popula-
tion when it comes to the whole University program of
embracing diversity," she said.
VANDER BEEK'S fight against barriers doesn't
stop at the office. Her determination to overcome her
physical restrictions has led her in the past to learn to
ride a bicycle and a horse. And once, when she was in
fourth grade, it led her to try her hand at roller skating,
against her mother's protestations - with disastrous
results.
"I fell and knocked the wind out of me," she said.
"And my brother did exactly the wrong thing when ap-
proaching an anxious mom... He ran in and said,

'Mom, Dar fell and she's not breathing."'
She regained her breath and her mother, eventually,
regained her composure. And although she hasn't tried
roller skating since, she has made a number of other
ventures outside her work, including publishing nine
short stories and a song, gardening, and teaching tricks
to her "favorite pastime," Bree.
Vander Beek gave a demonstration of the dog's
skills in her office, where Bree - named after the
talking horse from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia
- "has been known to sleep right underneath the
desk."
"BREE," she said, crouching down to stare in the
dog's face, "would you rather be dead or Republican?"

Bree collapsed to the floor.
But Vander Beek's disability does place some con-
straints on her activity. Many days, she said, after
putting in ten hours of work at the office, she can do
nothing more than rest.
The key to coping in such situations, Vander Beek
said, is finding alternatives. For example, she said,
when she had to decline an invitation to Thanksgiving
dinner at a friend's house because she was bed-ridden
with fatigue, the friends brought Thanksgiving to her,
setting up a "picnic" in her living room.
"I really enjoy life," she said. "Perhaps because it's
been almost taken away from me so many times."
-Poniewozik is the Daily's Arts editor.

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