Sunday, November 29, 2009

Glee doesn't get a free pass

Anyone who cannot hear well or has a loved one with poor hearing knows that it is profoundly unfunny.

I am disappointed then that Glee played for comedic effect the half-deaf choir director last week.

Perhaps they were trying to show the difference between children, who seemed moved by the deaf choir's performance, and Mr. Shue, who acted annoyed and exasperated by the hard-of-hearing director. But I don't think that was it.

The disability of the director was played as a joke. Like Mr. Shue kept saying "your cellphone is ringing," only to have the director respond to some unasked and unrelated question. It was SO funny.

As someone who doesn't hear his cellphone 90% of the time I am now rooting against the Glee Clubbers, even if they do have a wheelchair user.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A little catch-up

CLARIFICATION: My friend took exception when I wrote that she said I was overreacting by being annoyed that someone walked right into the wheelchair stall as I washed my hands. She said that she felt it was uncool but did not believe the guy deserved to die. I responded that I did think he should die (I may have said that if I had a hand grenade, I'd have tossed it in the stall. This was, of course, a lie. Do you have any idea how long it would take maintenance to repair and clean up grenade damage?) I pointed out that given my execution stance she did in fact think I overreacted. Hence, no correction. But to clarify, she does think the guy was majorly uncool, like school in summer: "No class."

When I live in my new house, I will still be tired, which is one reason I have not written for almost a week.

I have been working the afternoon shift for the past two weeks, and I go back to it on Wednesday. It is not such a bad shift, but there is no me to do other stuff when I am late. And on Friday, I worked 9:30 to 7, which was cool when I was there because there is less to do on the day after Thanksgiving and I had time to do some "bells and whistles" that I often have to do without. But I was so tired.

When we live in the new house, however, I will have a place to retire to and write. Or be anti-social, if you will. I can't wait.

So here then are some things that happened this week but I was too tired and social to write about:

I was in the work bathroom drying off my hands and this guy walked in and right into the handicapped stall. "Walked" being the important word here. He had no apparent reason other than that stall is cool. I thought this was a ridiculously bold maneuver given that a person in a chair is in the restroom, watching. I wanted to say something to Claren like "Let's leave the bathroom with a wheelchair stall occupied by a walker." Or something. That is not too juicy a putdown; in retrospect I am glad I said nothing. I told a friend about this and she said I overreacted. Probably, but I am still bugged by it.

Oh, also at the new house (being blogged about now), I will have a private bathroom. I hate my bathroom now because it is off a fairly public area. Also, there is no exhaust fan to hide any odd sounds.

And I am the king of odd sounds. One morning, I was showering and had left the bathroom door cracked to keep it from getting super steamy. When I got out, my sister, who was not there when I went in, said: Wow, your showering tires me out. She was referring to the many grunts and groans I made.

It's true. Showering tires me out, too, sometimes. Showers are supposed to be rejuvenating. I hate getting out a feeling worse than when I got in.

Bruce Springsteen answered this question in a recent interview:
"Does this feel like it might be the last run for the E Street Band?"
"No. We don't even really think of it."
Neither had I, but apparently a lot of his other fans did. I hope this shuts them up but I doubt it will.

Probably more stuff happened. I survived Thanksgiving -- it was actually nice.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Getting my fat on helps me swim

Apparently, all I need to swim like a pro is a fat suit.

Not like a Monica from Friends fat suit or the one Barney wore recently on How I Met Your Mother. Just a little one, "to give you the fat you need," my teacher said when I saw it.

It was awesome. I swam some well and so independently, the two volunteers had plenty of time to talk to each other about things like SATs and what college they want to go to. Oh, man, I am old.

I did two and a half pool lengths on my own. In the middle of length 3, the teacher was hollering something to us and I thought we were stopping there so I stopped swimming. But we weren't stopping there, and actually I caught the volunteer off-guard and went under for a second. Surprisingly, it went well. I took a quick breath before going under and then held my breath.

After that I did more swimming with the fat suit using my legs. I also walked up and down the pool, but that was hard because of the suit. It tended to ride up on me when I wasn't floating.

We even took it off and I swam on my own for a length or two. Pretty awesome.

Finally, I was blowing bubbles in the water and to make that more interesting my teacher had one of the volunteers and I lock forearms and then he walked backward down the pool, pulling me off my feet, so I was floating and felt like I was really swimming on my belly. He stopped every five seconds so I came up for air. That was fun.

But then the teacher got a bigger volunteer to give me a bigger challenge. The teacher told me to kick, too, and I just lost it. We stopped and started again and he said "ready?" I said "OK" but left my mouth open, got a major mouthful of water and then we decided to call it a day.

It was a good lesson and I almost didn't go because Mom and Dad had gone out and my sister was real busy. But she sucked it up and took me. She even came to pick me up after I said "shit" and "ass" in front of her son.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why is Neighborhood Watch stalking me?

I am working late this week and next, so I just got back from my walk around the block with Claren. While out, I was stalked by a white car with a magnet on the side that said Neighborhood Watch.

OK, "stalked" may be too strong, but they drove past me really slowly twice, and I have lived here off and one for most of my life but have never seen a Neighborhood Watch patrol car.

I was on the sidewalk letting Claren the Wonder Dog relieve herself the first time they drove past, and part of me thinks they just drove by again to make sure I picked up after her.

This would be a horrible abuse of power if true, but I can't really figure out why else they drove past us slowly again.

I mean if they were worried I was a burglar, they are kind of morons. How many burglars have red flashing lights on several parts of their bodies? Let alone the wheelchair.

Actually, if they thought a wheelchair user was a burglar, it would show a remarkable lack of stereotyping, so maybe I should praise them for that.

Nah, they were just morons.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Doomed to repeat myself

I have to put cream on my hands and face to keep them at a dry consistency. If I forget they become like rice paper.

The other night I turned off my light, took off my glasses, then put Aquaphor on the backs of both hands. I put the dispenser back on the shelf and knocked off my glasses, which fell down the crack between the bed and the wall.

There I was hunting for my glasses with the cream precariously clinging on my hands. I could not wipe it in because then I'd be unable to turn on or off lights or anything else.

This predicament seems unique. Unfortunately, what follows is something I wrote years ago (when I was still walking a little):

So I go to bed a few nights ago. I have to use too many creams on various parts of my body, and the last one is hand cream. So I spurt some cream into my left hand, take off my glasses and turn off my light. I am getting ready to rub in the lotion, but I hear water dripping. I try to ignore it, but finally I decide I better see if I left my faucet on. So I turn on my light, put on my glasses and close my hand into a fist so the lotion doesn’t get everywhere. I don’t rub it in because then I could not turn off my light again or do many things with slick hands.

I somehow manage to get to the sink, and hold my hand under the faucet, but I can’t feel anything so I decide to turn the lights on to check for sure, as my hands can be a little insensitive at times. As I go to flip on the bathroom switch, I accidentally turn off all the lights, so there I am in the pitch black, balancing with a fistful of lotion. I quickly flip the switches back on and see the faucet is not leaking.

The trip back to bed, with the fistful of lotion, is mostly uneventful. I get back into bed, pull up my flannel sheets, take off my glasses and go to turn of the light. In the struggle with the light, it hits my glasses and I hear the awful sound of a lens bouncing. So I am lying there in the dark, with my fistful of lotion, and I feel around for my glasses. I put my fingerprints on one intact lens piece; then my finger goes through the other side of the glasses.

On comes the light again and I put on my now half-glasses. I find the lens and my glasses screwdriver and with my fistful of lotion, try to get the lens back into the glasses and tighten the screw. Somehow, I succeed.

Finally, I lay back down, turn off the lights and rub in the fistful of lotion. I was too tired that night to think “How much more?”

What I am pissed about, other than the annoying frequency of so's, is that I never say what water was dripping.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

5 yards down ...

In keeping with last week's "do the hard stuff first," I actually did a little swimming right from the get-go.

Mom can even vouch for me. The teacher watched me swim about five yards, told me to take a break, went and got Mom, and had me do it again.

Then I did some walking and some swimming with the floatation belt.

The main problem was that it hardly gave me a chance to warm up. Not that it was even cold today, it was beautiful, but I still get cold in the water.

Also, when Mom got out to watch I started laughing and almost sank.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Full stop

Because I am sure that I am not really starting to see the good in people, I have decided that my blog is just reaching a wider audience than I realized. Everywhere, people who have to come through Falls Church are saying to themselves: "Don't piss off the guy in the wheelchair; be nice to him or he might skewer you on his blog!"

How else to explain what happened today on a rainy day walk?

I was crossing the street and this SUV stopped to let me across, but about eight feet from the curb, my thumb hit a button on my chair that turns it off.

This is a totally stupid button-placement issue. It has no business being where it is, especially because I have asked the wheelchair salesman where to put your hand to avoid that button and he just more or less put his hand in the same position as mine and said you just don't touch it.

Anyway, the driver just drove on, no honking or nothing. Now that I think of it, I could be bitter he didn't offer help. After all, a wheelchair just dies in the middle of the road! What did he think was happening? Ass!

Ohh, that felt good. I'll give him a pass, though, because of what happened next.

When I got to the sidewalk, Claren immediately pooped in the grass. I was bent over in the rain picking it up, tying the bad and putting Claren on my caribiner so I could keep both hands under my poncho.

Not one but two people stopped, rolled down their passenger windows and offered to help. I said no and let me them go on, but I think I could like it here now that I am properly training the citizenry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The local cops cherry tops ripped this holy night

It actually wasn't too holy unless you count being the eve of Mom's birthday or the eve of the WWI Armistice, but I went to bed right as some kind of ruckus started outside my window.

There were several police cars and their lights were shining right into the window. I tried to watch what was happening, but it is hard to sit up in a bed, especially one that is just a twin. Plus, a tree blocked my view.

I did see the officers looking into the car with flashlights, and I worked myself up into thinking they were searching for someone who had probably jumped out right before the cops arrived and who was probably making his way to our house even now, opening the door I didn't lock. Either that, or the bad guy would see my light, decide I had seen too much and come get me.

I actually got up and went to the family room, allegedly to get a comic to read since the lights were too oppressive. Mostly, though, it gave me a chance to check that the door was locked (it was).

Then the police left. Mom, who had a better vantage point upstairs, said everyone drove off in separate directions. Weird.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do I like people now?

A friend of Mom and Dad's, and the family's really, had a massive stroke last week and died. It was out of the blue.

I went to the funeral parlor today for her husband, I guess. He and his wife belong to a group with Mom and Dad. I wanted to tell him that his wife always checked on me when they were meeting at Mom and Dad's house.

I did tell him, although I am not sure he really heard me. He heard Dad who repeated it, though.

Not a funeral home fan. Too crowded, too loud. Too many too's. But it was good.

I saw other family friends, although one friend gave me a hug, and her handbag got stuck on the wheelchair joystick so I whammed into her shins. She called me dangerous, but I was like ... ummm, your fault, babe. Good thing it was too loud for anyone to hear my thoughts.

One woman, a daughter-in-law of the woman who died, surprised me. She said something, and I told her I don't hear well. But instead of just abandoning me she kept talking and I kept shaking y head that I didn't hear. Finally she came around and sat down and talked right into my face so I could hear her.

Another woman offered to go in front of me to move people out of the way if need be. She said she had the body for it. She was old enough to be my mother but I wouldn't cross her, but no, at that point I just wanted to leave. And on the way out, an old man cleared the way.

Another post about nice people, what is wrong with me? Snap out of it!

And let me just get this out of the way: When I die, no dark clothes allowed. I want to hear Lionel Richie singing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Swimming and walking fool

Oh my gosh, walking is hard! How do you people do it?

As I was taking a break from six or eight laps of swimming, my teacher said: How about walking? Actually, it wasn't really a question. I was eager to do it anyway.

With one volunteer under my arm on my left and the other on my right, i walked the 25 yards of the pool. It was really more like marching because then I can see and feel my feet. It was cool.

It was also exhausting. I think I was really grimacing because my teacher, who was watching, asked: Does it hurt? No, I told her, just tough.

Extra tough because I started with about six laps without the flotation belt and with minimal head-holding by volunteers. We wanted to try the hard stuff before I got tired. It worked.

I did some good almost-swimming, although whenever I feel water coming up to my eyes or over my face, I take a deep breath. Of course, it doesn't matter because the volunteer is right there to keep me from going under, but it seems like a dangerous habit.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Man down!

I hate the sidewalks of Falls Church. They are old and cracked and narrow and often have utility poles sticking up in the middle of them.

And that doesn't even mention the curb cuts, or alleged curb cuts. They often start an inch off the road and then they are so steep up to the sidewalk.

Normally, then, I always ride on the street. But today, I got to Little Falls Street on the bike trail and after deciding to come home on Lincoln Avenue, I figured I better get on the sidewalk. Otherwise, my little sister would yell at me.

I got up the curb cut, but as I tried to make it up the steep part of the curb cut to the regular sidewalk, there were issues.

My right wheel bounced off the curb. For a moment I balanced precipitously.

"Man down," I warned Claren, and then the wheelchair and I toppled on to our side into the street.

When I was a sophomore in college, I flipped a friend's car during a high-speed reporting trip down Route 29. We were all fine, but when the car came to rest on its roof in the median, I remember starting to panic because I couldn't undo the seat belt.

Similarly, when I hit the street today, I was trying and trying unsuccessfully to undo my seat belt.

I was still trying when this guy came up behind me and said something soothing and helped me unbuckled my belt and then pulled me away from the chair. His wife/girlfriend was pulling my chair upright and onto the sidewalk.

I was trying to show them how to unlock the engine, so the chair would be easier to move, but the guy would have none of it. Just sit still, we got it, he said. Finally, when the woman was struggling with the chair, he moved to help with it, and he said to the gal: Just help him sit.

Claren was just on the leash this whole time sniffing the helpers.

Even more than trying to unlock the engine, I was trying to pull up my pants. I wasn't quite mooning anyone, but as I was dragged away from the chair my pants started slipping.

Eventually, we got me back In the chair, and shooed off at least one driver who stopped and asked if we needed help.

You had quite an accident, the guy said. I didn't disagree, though I was totally uninjured (I am a little sore now and not sure if that is a result).

They waited to make sure everything worked OK once I started driving away, so I stayed on the sidewalk. After a block, though, I took to the streets.

You see why I hate the sidewalks of Falls Church.

The people of Falls Church, however, rock!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Taking a lesson from the Psalms

I want to be cured. I don't care if there is medicine involved or a miracle. I am just tired of being in a wheelchair (and yes, I was tired of it yesterday, too, just too tire to write this).

The Psalms usually make me feel less alone because I can always find someone in there complaining to God in some pretty severe language. And they come up with such ingenious reasons for being cured or saved or whatever.

The writer of Psalm 13 wants to be healed so his enemies don't see his death as a divine judgment against him. In 64, the writer says that if the evil people are struck down, then everyone will believe in God.

The writers weren't afraid of asking for violence either, which cracks me up. I can't even get to an elevator before it closes, and these guys are asking God to make their enemies' "children fatherless ... vagrant beggars, driven from their hovels." Or they ask God to shoot arrows at their enemies or cut off deceitful lips.

And whenever I think I am getting too terse with God, there in the Bible, Psalm 102, verse 3: "Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly." Even if I hypothetically call God a "son of a bitch," I think I am more respectful than that. (Not that I call God a son of a bitch, I can't write what I call him.)

My one beef with the Psalms is that they usually let God off the hook at the end, saying something like "... but you Lord are great and know what is best so I will worship you."

I think if I wrote a Psalm, it would end "I don't at all get it, God. For someone who claims to be powerful and loving, you don't act like it."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bad genes not germs

I don't think I have the flu – swine or otherwise. Really.

It's just so hard to tell. Is that aching in my legs a result of swimming or falling or a seasonal disease? Damned genes or damned germs – which is which?

Work sent out an email ordering us to go home if we feel bat all ad. I always feel somewhat bad somewhere in or on me. Not sure if that counts, though.

After the email, I was less worried about my health, then about my appearance of health.

I know you are supposed to cough into an elbow (my nephew reminds me), but it is all I can do to not put my face through the computer monitor or fly into the desk when I cough. My germs are then sailing freely through the office, but Friedreich's ataxia is not contagious.

And I do cough. When I drink and the water goes down the wrong pipe ... When I don't drink and my throat goes dry ... When I talk loudly and it tickles my throat ... When I eat pretzels ...

I want a sign: I am not sick, just disabled. The wheelchair probably explains the disabled part so maybe just a sign that I am not sick or at least not contagious. But is that protesting too much?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting there

I was too tired to write about swimming last night. After all I had just swum 19 laps, three of them without a belt.

Also, one of the volunteers started letting go of my head without telling me. It was pretty cool.

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