Sunday, June 10, 2007

Reading Tennyson and why I am coming for Revenge

I’ve been reading Tennyson’s The Revenge, the story of the fight of little ship of war against the Spanish Armada:

Sir Richard spoke and he laughed, and we roared a hurrah, and so
The little Revenge ran on sheer into the heart of the foe,
With her hundred fighters on deck, and her ninety sick below;
For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left were seen,
And the little Revenge ran on through the long sea-lane between.
I’m coming for you. Just warning you. I AM a one woman terrorist organization; a disabled terrorist organization. I’m actually planning on starting a terrorist organization to attack places that discriminate against those with disabilities, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the knife fight going on between me, my body and the rest of ambulatory humans, all six billion of them (I’ve always been ambitious).

I’m sitting at my desk; my body weakened by several hours of erratic and painful heart attacks and I have decided that I am NOT going to be plucky. I am going to be threatening, and skary, and not at all to type. Because it turns out there isn’t a type. I went looking for “females in wheelchairs” and found a section at the national disability webpage in pink about make-up and nylons. Not much about women with neurological degeneration trying to figure out how to do kickboxing. I’ve got the biggest arm and shoulder muscles I’ve ever had in my life. To be honest, they are bigger than some/many guys. A few weeks ago that used to bother my inner voice of what a female should be. But then I decided to be contrary. My Physical Therapist told me three months ago that women in wheelchairs don’t wear skirts. Last week I got some tights and wore a mini skirt to my physical therapists office. She said, “I guess it depends on how you want people to look at you.” (She has described my clothing style to others as “porn star”).

“The thing is,” I said right back, “they LOOK at me.” And now, with my corsets and shoulder muscles, I guess they will look more. Actually that day a woman jumped out of a car to drag her friend to “look at her top, that’s so fab.” (my black velvet corset). As for the shoulder muscles; I’m trying to make them bigger. I went to the gym to work them out. There is no female wheelchair action figure. Particularly not a non-spinal cord injury one who has an endurance of about three minutes. But when I am finished, I hope to be able to throw myself out of the chair and use the entire wheelchair as a weapon. Wheelchair Fu! Be afraid.

I’ve had to drop so many self images, self expectations these last few months: nothing like caring about how you look and then drooling, spasming, twitching, turning green or lying face down in public to make you leave those behind. What does Cosmo say about slurring and twitching as forms of allure? People would say adjusting is about survival.

I’m not big on survival. I do like Revenge a lot, it's a good name for a ship; a better name for a body. That's me: Elizabeth Revenge McClung. Survival can be proactive and doing what you can to make things turn out best (which may or may not work). Revenge is Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes refusing to take their hands off each other's necks to save themselves. Revenge is obsessive, determined, driven and quite willing to take whatever personal injury is needed to achieve its gain. That is where I want to be. I need a big motivation to keep going these days so I’ve chosen a big target: Humans.

I am not going to go around hitting people’s shins. That’s not how I operate. How I operate is a sort of insane determination against all reason. Maybe I’ll interrupt your dinner as I vomit up blood on the floor of a restaurant. Haha! Got you! Bet you’re having nightmares tonight! Or I’ll invent some new sport. Or I take up throwing javelin. I don’t know how yet, but I’m coming for you.

For he said “Fight on! fight on!”
Though his vessel was all but a wreck;
And it chanced that, when half of the short summer night was gone,
With a grisly wound to be dressed he had left the deck,
But a bullet struck him that was dressing it suddenly dead,
And himself he was wounded again in the side and the head,
And he said “Fight on! fight on!”


kathz said...

Hmmm .... any chance of persuading you to be selective, at least in the first stage of your revenge on the human race? To quote The Mikado, "I've got a little list."

I've been trying to think of a suitable Tennysonian response to your general challenge - I'll look up some more later but for now I think I'll go with Ulysses because he talks about being older:

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

I hope that's suitably heroic and determined. Meanwhile, I comfort myself by thinking you'll have to take on the whole of North America before you get to England.

By the way, I take it you've appointed Linda your official sidekick ....?

Heather said...

Do you think wheel scythes can be had through mail order? Could come in handy.

kathz said...

did I see a later post on Bloglines?

Elizabeth McClung said...

Nope sorry, was going to blog last night but too much in pain so still sticking with REVENGE! and pain pills! Yes, when will my long bablyonian chariot blades arrive (they never sell them on ebay, odd that).

kathz said...

Having had problems with the lawn I'm wondering if you can persuade a manufacturer that wheel-scythes are a perfect lawn-mowing device (so long as you don't let on about your not very secret plans for mass extermination).

I hope the pain pills are working or, better still, that the pain itself is subsiding.

The Goldfish said...

I loved your physio's comment. Once I was out clothes shopping with an old school friend who was very Catholic and very conservative (she's a nun now). I found an outrageously short tartan skirt; not strictly speaking a kilt but close on.

My friend, who was always the height of tact said, "Well I suppose when you're wearing it in the wheelchair you could always put a tartan rug over your knees..."

I live in skirts, even though most of them are long. The only ones I strongly advise against are really floaty fabrics, which tend to billow up, show your knickers and obscure your vision at the same time.

My general attitude towards dressing for the wheelchair is that people will look. Nothing you can do with your appearance will stop them looking. Not everyone has the confidence to give them something to look at, but if you do...