Getting to Know You
- Your name: Nina G
- What’s your connection with disability? Person with LD and who stutters. Daughter of a father who is hard of hearing–also fourth generation Disabled American on that side. Granddaughter of a grandmother with post-polio
- Star Trek or Star Wars? Spaceballs
- If you could live in any other country for 2 years, where would you go? The most I have been out of the country is two days in Mexico City to see Pearl Jam (my boyfriends idea, although we did go to Frida Khalo’s house).
- What dish would your bring to our community picnic potluck? There is a really great bakery I go to in Hayward, California–The Cupcake Shop. Everycake from here is amazing with tons of frosting on it, but if I had all the cakes in their shop on a raft that was going down, I would choose the Apple Pie cake with caramel layered in with both butter cream and creamcheese frosting.
Now That We’ve Been Introduced…
- What do you do: Comedian and professional speaker
- How did you come to doing what you do? How has your career trajectory flowed? I started comedy 6 and a half years ago. Previously I had taught and done trainings, but still believed that I couldn’t be a stuttering stand up comedian. It was a childhood dream, but fell off my radar. After going to a National Stuttering Association conference, I was changed forever! I came back, soon broke up with my then boyfriend and started comedy.
- Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years? I am working on a book or essays from my life and I hope to get the published in the coming years. I also hope to continue to do professional speaking.
- Not to be morbid, but what do you want people to remember about you when you’ve gone? Hopefully they get the message to be less of an asshole around disability issues.
- Who or what inspires you? The absurd! Especially as a comedian with a disability, I always shocked and the strange things people say. Right now I am a little obsessed about telling the story of my friend who stuttered and was a virgin a few years ago. His psychotherapist told him that once he had sex he would stop stuttering. Seriiously?! I never saw that in the list of treatments for people who stuttered. Anyways, my friend eventually started seeing a really great woman and I knew it was going somewhere. One Sunday morning I got a text from him that read, “I still stutter.” Reading between the lines, I texted back, “Keep trying.”
- If you could say something to yourself in the past – that is, the you that was really struggling with something related to disability – what would you say?
I am currently working on an essay titled Stutterer Interrupted. I have come to realized that the interruptions I have experienced as a person who stutters are just not from people who finish my sentences because they are impaitient or “trying to help.” The interruption also came about in my development as a person, most glaring in my teen and early adult years. The way that I dealt with my stuttering and learning disability was to put a barrier up which then interfered with many of the typical ways people develop.
- What do you like about your particular disability? For my learning disability, I like the divergent thinking that I experience and my ability to look at things differently. For my stuttering, I like the community I am part of but I also like that stuttering is like an asshole detector. If someone is an asshole then my stuttering will reveal that pretty quickly.
- Any one thing that you wish people would *get* about disability? I wish the media had better images of people who stuttered. We are usually portrayed as pretty screwed up. My favorite example is Elvis’ last film Change of Habit. Mary Tyler Moore plays a nun/speech therapist who is Elvis’ love interest. Elvis or course is a singing doctor in a poor multi-ethnic neighborhood who cures a girl of autism just by loving her. The last scene shows MTM dressed as a nun in the church where she has to choose between Jesus and the saints and a singing Elvis. So great!
There is a young man who MTM sees in speech therapy who stutters. Apparently her interventions didn’t help his stutter or to establish rapport because he tries to murder her with a knife toward the end of the film. The message was that he found the power in a knife because of his speech issues. Classic stutterers are murderous psychopaths! Just an FYI to everyone out there. Pretty much most people who stutter are not going to kill you and Elvis can’t cure Autism.
Stuttering is a neurological difference in the brain. It is somewhere in the left hemisphere. I wish more people understood this! It might help people understand that there is nothing wrong with me and I don’t need their advice to slow down and breath–as if I never thought of that!
- What single piece of technology makes your life easier?
Technology only helps people who stutter in so far that it connects us online. There are podcasts and online communities that help us feel a sense of community, which can be difficult when you are only 1% of of the population.
For my LD, technology helps a lot. Spell check and just the ability to type are wonderful. Also I read using text to speech and that also is pretty awesome!
- Where else can we find you online?
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.