Friday, January 29, 2010

Random January

Attempting gradual shift into normal with the monthly link-o-rama…


Starting with a paragraph about being offended. A group in Nashville wants to censor Shakespeare and a school in southern California bans…. the dictionary?? And who is the filthy-minded adult who looked up the offending term? Some idiots are trying to create an all-white baseball league and there are Bible verses on combat weapons. I don't even know where to start with that.


Next, it's all about cats. First, I love them - they have such confidence. They can also be gift wrapped (although I couldn't see Her Royal Catness assenting to that particular practice), like playing with household tools (sent to me by John/TinkPapa) and, sent to me by Jason, should probably not be translated or we'd all feel really stupid.


The best viral videos of 2009, which really ought to include this one of a man walking under the influence and failing miserably. Images from Google View in Canada, a story about left shoe theft (sent to me by both John and Trevor), dolphin prosthetics and Janet sent me this one about a rather literal interpretation of the concept of a handicap drop off zone.


More from Trevor: banished words, a lovely sign at a disabled parking spot, an adapted wheelchair that I would really, really like to try, the British Royal Marines invade the wrong country and a rather sobering tattoo commercial.


This month, David's contributions include the 19th century example of not a viral video, but a viral food, the headline of the year and why you shouldn't go grocery shopping after dark. Dave Foley (from The Kids in the Hall) explains the difference between Canada and the US, a rather brilliant review of a Stanley keychain with light and tripod (seriously, go read it, you won't regret it), an epik beard and the Khan Academy, which may be what are the most useful things I've ever posted - free video tutorials for students (or parents helping with homework) on pretty much anything. In the world of nature, turkeys stand in for an adoring mob screaming your name (I'm not sure if I want someone out there to translate what's going on or if it's much better not knowing), photos of sand dunes from outer space (so gorgeous), the ultimate treehouse and an article about deep thinking dolphins (Douglas Adams might be right). And lastly, why the Danes are the least insane of the Scandinavian nations.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Grief

How do you go back to normal?


At some point, it's essential to trip into life again, because getting lost and staying there does no honour to the one who is gone, instead, you must live on and carry them with you into that life. But how?? How do you pretend at work or the meetings or the bank that everything is fine, because after all, overwhelming perfect strangers with your loss is not polite and yet again, I am back to wishing for the dress code of mourning from a hundred years ago and more.


I don’t know what I dislike more: there is the beginning of grief where food has no flavour, little shapes of tasteless cardboard in your mouth and around you, the world has no colour. Watching others go about their lives is like watching a movie, you separate from the crowd you were part of just yesterday and time passes at a snail’s space, as you realize it has only been one day, one week since your world, your life, your self was rent and changed past bearing. And then there is the moment where you somehow can step to the side of it all and laugh with the clerk in the grocery store as if you are not carrying this heavy weight of tears.


It comes too soon, too soon for decency.


Later still, as you go about the simple tasks that make up a day, you forget, for a few moments, you find yourself humming, because that’s what you do when you do these routine steps, the hum embedded within them, entangled in the strands of normalcy and with its habit of years, it claims you for a minute or for two. And you find that as long as you keep busy, be it with feeding the cat, clicking into work mode or disappearing into a TV program, you are somewhere else, parallel to the place of grief and then…. In a moment of stillness, of non-doing, over lunch, at the crosswalk waiting for green, turning off the lights at night, the wave hits you and then another and with each, the tears come closer, welling up from deep within, moving towards the surface in rhythmic pulls and you think it’ll only be to your eyes but not further, that’ll you’ll hold yourself together and you’re wrong. The wave is not small, it has grown from each that pulled the loss upwards, pushed aside the curtain of normal where you hid, enfolded, and the tears fall again, from a bottomless source and you curl around it to keep from breaking.


And you talk to others who are heavy with the loss, because they understand the tears that accompany your every step, they understand this howl of rage and misery building within you, demanding to be let out in a scream, in a vicious fight and anyone and anything will do as long as you can rip someone, something to shreds the way your heart is shredded. They understand the outrage that now, the world goes back to normal, but you cannot, because there no normal anymore. The first week has passed and the funeral is done and now there is just an endless stretch of life to be lived, lived without. And you know that you will, that eventually, the grieving will progress, that food will have flavour again, the world have colour and down the road, the hole in your heart will scar, you will laugh again and when you do, you will remember not with fathomless pain, but with love and a smile, the ache always a part, but less than that love and that smile.


But how?



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Claire

Almost all of us have one. Someone we grew up with, were friends with since forever. Someone who knows us better than anyone else because they were there during the hard years, the good times and the really awkward teenage years. Someone who’ll keep your secrets, the person you can call in the middle of the night when the shadows get to you, the one who’s the first you want to tell good news and bad. Someone who transcends friendship, is a sister-friend, a brother-friend. Part of the family. Part of you.


Claire, Niagara Falls, 2008, photo by ?


For my sister, Claire is that person. They met when they were 9 years old, in school when we’d been in Canada barely 2 months – Janne Banana and Claire Bear, stuck together since then.


The first time they traveled without adults was when they were 16 and together flew to England to visit Claire’s grandparents for two weeks. The first time they got drunk was with each other and the first time they tried to pretend they weren’t was very shortly after that (and they weren't very good at it). They shared birthdays - both in late March - shared a house for a time, saw each other through it all, marriage and divorce, deaths of loved ones, births of children, Claire’s three and Janne’s twins, being Aunty Janne and Auntie Claire to the kids, a solid maternal presence backing one another up practically and emotionally, being there for each other and for each other’s kids.


Nicki, Kirsten, Marilynn, Claire & Janne, April, 2005


Claire & Liam, 2006


Claire was an old soul, wise beyond her years even as a child. She grew into a beautiful woman, in all the ways that matter. She has always been the scary kind of smart - I don't know if she was ever tested, but I believe she was in the genius range, which made her adolescence "interesting" for her parents. And she was always that - interesting. She thought deeply, observed well, but quietly and when she did give her opinion, it was keen and on the mark. And she shone as a mother – Claire had her kids early and from the start, was the kind of mother we all want to be: relaxed, but fierce, willing to do anything to make her kids’ lives better, no matter the cost to herself.


Claire & kids, 2008, photo by ?


Janne and Claire gave their hearts to each other a long time ago and thanks to their friendship, both of our families intermingled and grew, Janne belonging in Claire's family, with her parents and siblings and Claire belonging in ours, becoming an extra sister to me, an extra daughter to our parents. For the past 27 years, Claire has been part of our family, part of everything important and all the little moments in between.


Janne, Morgan & Claire, June 2007


Sunday night, Claire collapsed at home and was taken to hospital where she later died. She was 36.


Claire & kids, November, 2009


Writing those words… it’s the most surreal words I’ve ever written. Claire is indomitable, one of the strongest women I know, fighting through a life that’s been filled with challenges and always coming out the other side. That she, my extra little sister, is no longer fighting is inconceivable. That she, who has been part of our lives, our family, for three decades is not here anymore just simply cannot be. She leaves us bereft, all of us, her children Marilynn, Nick and Kirsten and Marilynn’s daughter Aryka, born just two weeks ago. Her parents Stewart and Christine, siblings Sandy(Alex), Frazer, Vanessa, Ian and Helen. Her extended family and her many friends. We will forever carry a Claire-sized hole in our hearts.



Claire with Aryka, Jan.16, 2010


I know that our families will continue to be intermingled, that we will all be there for each other, but especially for her children who will need as much family as they can possibly get. Family who will tell them about their mother, remind them of that look of hers when you pointed a camera in her direction, the other look that told you that she knew very well when you were full of it, her funky sense of humour, the quirked smile that said so much and the quiet tenderness she showed for all she loved. We will share all the stories that we treasure, keeping her a part of our families and alive in our hearts.


Safe journey, Claire. We send you love.


Photo by Morgan, 2009


Monday, January 18, 2010

Wonder Drugs for the Wonder Cat

About 10 days ago, Mojo the Wonder Cat had her first chemo treatment and it went remarkably well. We thought. Due to a miscommunication - because Mercury is retrograde after all and boy, has that ever packed a punch this time around – I didn't fast her, which means she couldn't get sedated for the treatment and the stress turned out to be too much for her bladder. She got a UTI. Popping in and out of the litter box every two minutes, eventually getting so stressed out she tried going on her safest places (the couch, my bed), followed by an "interesting" case of diarrhea due to either stress-induced colitis, antibiotic side effects or chemo (or the perfect storm of all three) which was apparently too heinous for the litter box all meant I couldn't manage her side effects at home, so she went to the vet for a couple of days. By last Thursday, they claimed the diarrhea was largely gone and that she'd stopped peeing everywhere, tentatively diagnosed her with "idiopathic cystitis" - which I take means "the cat’s peeing everywhere and we have no idea why" - and everything was compounded by the stress of being at the clinic, keeping her from eating, so the best place for her would be to come home.


I'm not quite sure they fully understand the impact of a disability and using a wheelchair. Because although the best place for Mojo to be is definitely home, when you have a disability, it can be difficult to manage certain pet-related illnesses and their treatment (and we won't talk about the implications that may have for my ability to let her finish the chemo). For instance, it makes it next to impossible to wipe up diarrhea from the floor (because the diarrhea wasn’t gone), replace towels on the bed when it gets used as a safe place to urinate (because she was still peeing everywhere, always trying to, half the time nothing coming out) or administer medication to a cat that transmogrifies into an armful of eels when approached with medication or the nail clippers.


And speaking of medication, she came home with four: Ovol for the bowel cramps (which I’ve given her for over a year now and it works brilliantly), Tylosin for the diarrhea to attempt to put a cork in her, Clavamox, an antibiotic and Amitriptyline. Yes, the antidepressant. Because I can't pill her no matter how many people are holding her down, all medications are provided in liquid form, as squeezing syringe after syringe between cheek and gum at least gets most of the meds inside her.


Haber’s Pharmacy in Toronto offers compounded medication, which adds flavour to chew tabs or liquids for animals that according to their voicemail messages allegedly "make it easy and fun to give your pet medication!". Obviously, these people have never met Mojo. At first, Tylosin and Amitriptyline were provided in roast chicken flavour and either it didn't cover up the bitterness of the meds well enough or Madame had associations from the clinic, because she'd fight it tooth and nail, whipping her head around in an effort to spit out chicken-flavored medicated drool (because as a result of getting meds, Mojo has in the past year taken to drooling when getting her meds. Or being really happy) and for some reason, the chicken smell made me gag. It was bad enough when pulling the liquid into the syringe first thing in the morning, but wearing it after it had been flung everywhere about my person made it even worse. So the nice people at the pharmacy gave me tuna flavoured meds instead.


Imagine the scene: twice a day, my friend Barb comes over, grabs the cat while I drape a towel over myself and sits down on the corner of my bed. I pull up next to them, we place Mojo's bum on my leg while Barb holds her sort of like a baby, with a firm grip on front legs and head. I then pull out 4 (in the morning) or 5 (in the evening) syringes and we go to town. We start out with the ones she tolerates well - Ovol (mint-flavoured) and Clavamox (banana-flavoured - what can I say, my cat is weird, she likes fake banana flavour). And then we gird our collective loins for The Fight. Because although the tuna flavour appears to obscure the taste of the medication more than the chicken, there is still mad shaking and flinging of medicated drool and by the end of it, the cat is covered in drool, I have tuna-flavoured drool somewhere in the vicinity of my left breast and banana-flavoured drool dripping from my glasses and Barb is trying not to gag because the tuna smell does to her with the chicken smell did to me (we have now bought a mask for her), there is more drool all over the floor where Mojo has flung it as she runs from the scene of indignity and Barb and I then spend some time washing up.


However, the diarrhea is so far in the litter box and is starting to attain a vague shape, the peeing has decreased and is largely happening in the litter box (although I'm keeping everything covered with blue incontinence pads for a while longer – with the aging baby boomers, it’s the decorator look of the future!), she hasn’t woken me up by trying to pee on my comforter for two nights now, is eating well and best of all, the anxiety and stress has simmered right down.


Amitriptyline is the bomb.



Friday, January 15, 2010

The Tale of the Muffins

Yesterday, it was David's birthday and before I go on, I'll take it brief pause to allow you to sing misc. birthday songs in the comment box, should you be so inclined…


That was lovely. Well, except for the one that was as off-key as my own rendition. Still, it's about the enthusiasm with which it's delivered, not necessarily the beauty of the song, right? Or so I tell my family when they wince greenly at my... erm... "singing".


Naturally, for a birthday, there ought to be cake, right? There was an added wrinkle, though, as due to my allergies to nuts, said cake need to be nut-free - should the birthday boy wish to kiss me, what he eats needs to be nut-free, as well. We're still starry-eyed enough that he chooses kissing me over cake - get back to us in 10 years and the choice might be different. Anyway! Finding a nut-free cake is a bit of a challenge - there are places in Toronto that specialize in nut-free baked goods, but none of them are in my neighbourhood. Not a problem, right? I hear tell it's why most homes have an oven...


So in my quest to be a good girlfriend, I poke around on the Internet to find a recipe for a vegan chocolate cake, because I am also lactose intolerant and allergic to eggs and although both of those ingredients are less important when engaging in demonstrations of affection, I wouldn't mind having a taste of the cake, too. Found a recipe with loads of positive comments, raving about how it was the best chocolate cake they'd ever had, vegan or no vegan, so this seems like a good idea. I enrolled my mother to help me with the physical labour part and we do an ingredient check on the phone, discovering she has most of what's required and I pop out to pick up the two things that aren't in her cupboards.


Wednesday shortly after noon, I show up at my mother's place and we get going. We measure out the dry ingredients, adding more cocoa as recommended by several of the people commenting on the recipe (1/2 cup), sifting them into a bowl. Next ingredient on the list: vegetable oil. Mor opens the bottle and I inquire whether she has grabbed the wrong bottle, because that’s sunflower oil. Turns out that she'd been so convinced it was vegetable oil she hadn't even checked. We look at each other, have a brief discussion about what to do next, both being complete novices to vegan cooking. I consider going back to the store for vegetable oil, but my shoulder is screaming, so we agree to substitute. Sunflower seeds are yummy, right? Therefore sunflower oil might add a nice, slightly nutty flavor to the muffins (we’re making muffins, instead of cake - more portable and easier to share).


Can you hear the music of doom?


Bravely, we soldier on, replacing the vinegar with lemon juice (1 1/2 tablespoons as recommended by another person in the comments), whisk the crap out of the mixture, pour it into muffin trays and place the two trays in the oven with the light on so we can see what's going on. Much to my surprise, watching muffins bake is fascinating. They gradually rise into a slight alpine shape and exactly at the 20-minute mark, an intense aroma of chocolate emanates from the oven, wafting through the entire apartment making both of us drool in anticipation. We take them out after 25 minutes and these are the most beautiful muffins I have ever seen - perfect, dark, sinful-looking, these are the pinnacle of muffinness:



We let them cool a little, not at all standing in front of the rack urging them to hurry up. Mor carefully lifts one muffin out, puts it on a plate and with great ceremony, takes it to the dining room table where I insert a fork to cut the muffin in half. The top of the muffin is a perfect thin crust giving just the right amount of resistance to the fork, then breaking and my fork slides into the soft, moist, yielding inside in a way that leaves no doubt that these are the best muffins I have ever sunk a fork into (and somehow I think that sentence just raised my blog rating to NC-17). I take a small piece between thumb and forefinger, mor does the same and we pop the pieces into our mouths. Chew briefly, then look at each other in horror.


This muffin is the worst piece of baked goods either of us have ever had.


These muffins are not just bad, they are well past bad and right into the territory of vile. In case you're not quite sure what I mean by that, let me without exaggeration to say that these muffins are terrible at such sublime a level the taste became an entity of its own. They are the Taj Mahal of awful. Apparently, you can't substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil without completely ruining the taste. I'm sure had we followed the recipe, they'd been awesome - underneath the Awful - yes, it deserves capitalization - is a clean, chocolate richness, but it's hard to find when it takes you 45 minutes of ingesting other foodstuffs to get rid of the vague, yet pervasive, sunflower-related yech coating every milimetre of your mouth.


Therefore, when David arrived at my doorstep yesterday morning for the planned all-day birthday festivities, I stuck a candle in one of the muffins, sang him the Danish birthday song, asked him to make a wish and blow out the candle and then… told him for the love of god not to eat the muffins.


He ignored me and tasted it (as did I). It improved - there was that nice nutty flavour among the chocolate. The aftertaste, however, was still... interesting. Still, he took them home. I'm assuming he'll use them as projectiles for annoying neighbours.


And before I go... this one's all Laurie's fault. Something silly in the depth of winter: formspring.me. Ask me anything.





Thursday, January 14, 2010

11 Things You Should Know about RA

This month, we're going back to basics on MyRACentral:

"
1. We Don't Know What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis
These days, much more is known about RA, especially the process that leads to developing the disease - a combination of a genetic predisposition
, abnormally autoimmune response and environmental or biologic triggers. However, how it all comes together and why it comes together in some people, yet not in others, is still unknown."

The rest of the post is
here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Matter of Perspective

When I was younger, I kept a diary. Or journal - is there a difference? Do they just call it journaling to make it sound less adolescent so adults can do it, too? Regardless, it's what I did. I had a shelf near my dining room table where there were books and books of my past, starting in 1982 when we first moved here, covering well into the 90s where I switched to the digitized version. And then I got a blog and stopped writing in notebooks, actual or digital, but that's another story...


And this past weekend, I destroyed them all. Or rather, I had Michele do the ripping while I shredded, but before we did that, I took a look through each, skimmed a few pages here and there, just to see if I could bear to get rid of them. I found that I could, but I also found the writings of a very unhappy girl. And sure, these diaries were much used for therapy and for expressing feelings without a filter and some of it was happy, but most of it was not, most of it was about a young woman, unhappy, lonely and stuck. I read some of it to Michele and once, as I was setting the stage for a paragraph, I did so by saying "and then she said..." and the second between that and the beginning of the paragraph I read aloud stretched into a moment that lasted much longer than just a second while I realized what had just come out of my mouth.


Then she said.


She, not I.


Before we'd started this little project, Michele had asked if I was certain, asked me why I wanted to destroy this record of my history and I replied that it was no longer who I am. But I had no idea to what extent this person who wrote these diaries was no longer me, no idea that we were so different we may as well have been two different people. I've been thinking about it, ever since my New Year's post, the one where I talked about finding true happiness in a place I'd never imagine could be happy. The person I was before, the one who was stuck, who kept saying she wanted to live, not merely exist, but couldn't figure out how to do that, is so far from the person I am now who has found the happy in a place that could to some look like existing, but is in reality the most intense living I have ever done.


It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? And there's something going on about that idea and the way you change your view, because in the past few days, I have tripped over post after post here and there that poke at this from different points of view. One of the new users on MyRACentral wrote about spoons, using them and getting them and framed it within Bishop (George) Berkley’s philosophy called subjective idealism that states "ideas are dependent on being perceived by minds ('Esse est percipi' -- to be is to be percieved)". In other words, "reality is defined by us." And then Trevor sent me a link to one of Roger Ebert's latest posts called Nil by Mouth about the loss of the ability to eat and drink and the, to us who still can, surprising lack of grief over this loss and by then, it became obvious to even me that there was a theme going on.


Because whether it is those pants in my closet that I think are turquoise, but others see as blue, a life that some see as small and limited, but in my eyes is more intense and happier than it ever was before, the loss of an ability that turns out not to matter much and even be a window into regaining something else or a disappointment that if you turn the prism just a notch can be seen to contain a bright and shining moment or even become an opportunity... it is all perspective.


"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" said Shakespeare and he was right, just as Bishop Berkley was, because it's all how you look at it. You can get lost in the grief or you can, after sufficient grief and/or sulking, reframe a loss and make it something to leap upon, something to build on. In the process, someone somewhere will probably call you a relentless Pollyanna, but it is not a mindless positivism at all. It is a life philosophy, the embrace of the belief that reality is defined by you, that you may not be able to control what happens, but you can control your thinking about it and because your view of the world, your view of the events of life is completely up to you, there are no limits to where you can go.


And I'm only just beginning to see the truth of that, to see the pure expanse of what is possible if you choose to define your own reality and I have the feeling that once more becomes visible, it will be beyond what any of us think possible. I wonder... are there truly no limits?



Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Under the Dome

It took me almost 4 weeks, but I’ve finished Stephen King’s doorstep latest novel Under the Dome: A Novel (and then it took me an additional four weeks to get around to writing a review - what can I say, December was a little nuts). A whopper at 1,100 pages – which translates into 34.5 hours of audiobook – it’s classic King. Classic, sprawling, epic King.


It's a beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, a little town situated in a positively bucolic area and King describes it so with such feeling and detail you can almost see its beauty and smell the crisp, fall air. King also gives us a taste of the rot in this particular bushel of apples when he describes our hero, Dale "Barbie" Barbara - veteran of the Iraq war, currently short order cook - on his way out of town after a latenight parking lot fight with Jim Rennie’s son Junior and his buddies. And right at this moment, the factions in what is to come are established: Jim "Big Jim" Rennie, the town's second Selectman, on one side, Dale Barbara, reluctant hero, on the other.


Barbie’s on the side of the road not too far away from a grumpy old woodchuck when out of nowhere, a huge, transparent dome slams down, neatly following the town borders. In short chapter after short chapter, we follow the consequences - the woodchuck is neatly bisected, a plane crashes and suffice it to say, this dome gives a whole lot of people a whole lot of problems, some of them fatal. But this is just the beginning. Over the next week - yes, the 1,100 pages cover just seven days - the town becomes a microcosm of distilled America. Titular head of the town is the first selectman, Andy Sanders, a na├»ve, aw-shucks figurehead for the real man in charge, Big Jim Rennie, a man of such spectacular and sickening manipulative evil that it’s easy to make the leap to King using the Bush-Cheney government as a model. Locked under an impenetrable dome, Big Jim is free to run roughshod over the town, ignoring laws, creating his own, complete with an ever-growing army of thugs and his aim is to bring about a situation in which the town gives him unlimited powers to do exactly what he wants. Opposed by a ragtag band of citizens including Barbie, Julia Shumway (editor of the towns’ newspaper) and Rusty Everett (physician's assistant thrust in to the role of town doctor), the situation turns into a tighter and tighter spiral of tension, including kids with visions, homicides - some sanctioned by Big Jim, some not -and an ever-decreasing quality of air.


Under the Dome is a commentary on how easy it is to create an authoritarian regime and an impassioned argument for environmental change. In interviews, Stephen King has spoken about how we on this planet all live under a dome (i.e., the atmosphere) and seeing our pollution problems shrunk down to a small town in Maine makes them that much more understandable and urgent.


As the novel builds to its climax, things get worse and worse and there are times when the relentless pace of catastrophe leaves you gasping, desperate for a break, but you don't get one. And at the end, the only word I had for what was happening to the people you have come to care about (or hate) was merciless - King is utterly uncompromising in following the path of the story, of the characters to their inevitable conclusion.


Under the Dome reminded me of The Stand - sprawling, epic, apocalyptic, huge cast of characters - and in a way, it felt familiar, like re-visiting an old friend (if you're friends with really horrible things, that is). In recent years, King has moved towards what I like to call "adult horror" in Bag of Bones, Lisey's Story and Duma Key, a development I've thoroughly enjoyed and Under the Dome is a return to more traditional King. Turns out there's nothing wrong with that - much as I enjoy his adult horror, traditional King is a one hell of a roller coaster ride, keeping you locked in and hooked until the very last page, even though sometimes, you wish you could close your eyes for a particularly steep drop.


After I started reading audiobooks, I came to appreciate Stephen King’s talent more than I did before - his books are ideal campfire stories, the rhythm in his writing lending itself particularly well to being read aloud and the past, I've highly recommended going the audiobook route. Not this time. It's read well by Raul Esparza, but not in the breathtakingly perfect manner of Mare Winningham (Lisey’s Story) or John Slattery (Duma Key) and Esparza makes a couple of odd choices in terms of characterization that end up getting a bit in the way of the story, so this time, I’d recommend reading the book yourself – that is, if your hands can handle the weight. If not, the audiobook will work just fine, but either way, read it. You'll have a blast.



Monday, January 04, 2010

Would You be Blue?

Like so many others, I am fairly fresh from seeing Avatar and aside from wanting to see it again and preferably on a bigger screen and in 3-D, it made me think. Particularlythe part about Jake, the paralyzed protagonist who is given the chance to use his body again in a 10-foot tall blue-skinned avatar and gets sent into the forest to befriend the people of Pandora.


Sidetrack: 20 years ago, I wrote a short story with a somewhat similar premise about a disabled girl who through various interesting happenings gets to try out an able-bodied life among another race and for several years now, I've been slowly expanding it into something more like a book. Except, I think my window has just closed, because anything I write will be seen as a derivative of Avatar and I am more than slightly pissed. Damn you, James Cameron!


Where was I? Oh yes, blue skin, paralyzed and using your body again.


I'm pretty sure there isn't anyone living with a physical limitation who didn't get a little wistful at this part of the movie. That first scene of Jake trying out walking again, standing on the floor, figuring out how to use his legs again after so long of not - and subsequently crashing into quite a few things - going outside and digging his toes into the soil and then running, running as fast as he possibly can and... wistful doesn't begin to describe it. I don't think there's any particular word that can be used to sum up the mix of longing, sorrow and laughing in an almost-there recognition of the giddy joy of your body doing what you want, exactly what you want, with fluidity and grace. And it makes you want it with a burning need so hot it obliterates thought.


And then you start thinking. What would you do if you could do this, if this opportunity of popping into another body, a healthy, strong and flexible body was offered to you? Would you take it? And your first (and second, third and right through 27th) reaction is Are.You. Kidding. Me??? In a heartbeat.


But then, eventually, you start to be able to see through the haze of desire and that's when I started thinking maybe not. Because real life is not like the movies, in real life, you have to come back to your own body, the one that isn't so healthy and strong and flexible. And if you have come to a state of acceptance of that real life, of being grateful for everything that is within it, of loving the people in your life, a life that is connected in a myriad of ways, thousands of unseen tendrils linking you to people and communities - because in real life, no man is an island - and it is your life and in your heart you have for it a fierce, uncomplicated love, what happens if you have tried The Other? Would you not be shot back with the speed of light to that place of grief and resentment that was your before, before you figured out that the answer to enjoying this life you are given is to largely accept your limitations and move on, focusing on living instead of wishing things were different? And when that happened, would the love for your life not cease to be uncomplicated? Once the memory of what it was like to have no limitations is with you like a second skin, would it not taint everything else and everyone else in that life you used to love, smearing them with a grey, gritty film of what could have been?


Sometimes in this life, you have to recognize that brick wall before you beat your head upon it until you are a bloody mess and sometimes, you have to let go of desire and what ifs and move on, with acceptance and joy just - to borrow a line from Bridget Jones - the way you are.


Only forward is the answer, never back.



p.s. I'm percolating a possible project that needs a bit of a team approach (bragging rights only - alas, no money involved). To that end, I'm looking for someone with graphic design experience to make a small web-based design. If you're interested, please email me at landers5ATgmailDOTcom.