Sunday, December 16, 2007

Does Victoria Works Dept. hate wheelchairs and why my right breast hurts

Much like Sputnik all things that go up (at least in my life) are followed with a descent, usually one which leaves a long burning crater somewhere in the outback. So after going out for such a nice dinner, last night trying to sleep was unpleasant; the same type of ‘unpleasant’ as having your body disappear and your organs show up in various back room auctions would be an “unpleasant” end to your holiday in Columbia.

But this is what separates us humans from other mammals; that instead of hibernating with Hagan Daaz I choose to go play air hockey. Truthfully, I am starting to wonder how much relationship I have with the human species. Other humans don’t get to watch the veins collapse as they type a blog post as both hands start looking like a mix between eggplant and jellyfish; other humans have hearts that beat on a fairly regular basis. Most people with hypothyroidism and who spend 95% of their time motionless end up gaining weight, not losing large amounts of it. Well, that was off track. Which reminds me of my trip to Ye Olde Video Arcade because for the last week Victoria’s works department has decided to level off our sidewalk (and the sidewalk of the next block) by first digging it up and then leaving it somewhat done. I sure I would delighted if they did not manage to wipe out the only way I can enter or leave my building. When, oh when will the people realize that the jet pack wheelchair from Austin Powers films was a JOKE.

Anyway, the city DID put down a board so that people who stepped over the two foot hedge to walk around the sidewalk construction wouldn’t fall and hurt themselves. Jumping my wheelchair over a two foot hedge isn’t a trick I have mastered yet so I have to go though the one space left to me, which is a patch of grass (going the opposite direction). Linda and I had a conversation about why this blog seems to write so much about disability and we concluded it is because having mobility and other disabilities becomes this huge veil, this barrier that has to be overcome before ANYTHING else can be done.

So, the fact that I have no pavement connecting my apartment building to the rest of paved society is only half of the annoying part. Because the city is so efficient that they have ripped up parts of city blocks all over this area. So many parts that there isn’t any actual pavement for me to wheel my wheelchair on; and the other side of the road is under construction as well.

So how exactly do I get to the library, or go to go to the Y for boxing or today to go play air hockey? It turns out that I have to go on the road. Now this wouldn’t be so bad except that a) our street is parked up on both sides so though it is supposed to be two way, it only has enough room for 1.5 cars (not that we have ever seen a full car passing a .5 car). b) This street has the longest stretch on this side of town without any traffic lights so taxis and other cars do very high speeds (above 40 mph) down this stretch to make up time and avoid traffic. c) It gets dark at 4:00 and my boxing class is at 7:45 p.m. and I have to go almost two entire blocks in the dark on a street where cars can’t see me until they crest the hill at speed.

It just seems a sort of bizarre cruelty as I am out there pushing uphill in the street around parked cars while the pedestrians who are ON the sidewalk and step over or around the re-paved sections just sort of stare at me in the street. Kind of the same irony that makes 2/3rds of all the games in the arcade require functional feet which are the eight different types of car racing games (none of which have ADAPTIVE acceleration and braking), and the six or seven shooting games all which have a footpad you tap to reload your gun. And the dance machines? Or the motorcycle racers? Anyway, I try to focus on what I CAN do which is Air Hockey……and pinball.

Linda finally admitted that I won our last game, which made this one the tiebreaker. The one thing I can count on with Linda is that she gives me no mercy; at least not in Air Hockey or tickle fights. I quickly made a slight advantage with 3-2 and she had a very peeved look on her face as she fought her way to a 6-5 lead. The fact that I gloat and do a little upper body dance (with song) in the wheelchair when I get a point I am sure is no incentive for her to beat me. So, final point, I had the puck and was trying to hammer past her tenacious defense when….the time ran out. So 2 games to 1 for Linda….not that I am counting or anything.

From there we did our hydroplane boat game because it is the only “driving” game that has hand controls and then played the Pirates of the Caribbean pinball. Linda is a VERY serious player who stands far back from the machine, studying the motion of the ball, the angles. In fact she even asks me what ramp she should shoot next and how to get the multiball (like I know?).

I on the other hand play the “chaos theory” of pinball in that anytime something happens, I cheer and anytime my ball disappears I get glum and stare down the hole it vanished (or I shout “No! No! No!” right before it disappears). If my ball hits a ramp and things happen and there is binging noises and lights, I am happy, though I am also clueless on what exactly is going on. Often Linda will say things like, “The Ball is Locked” or “Hit the Treasure Chest” which must mean something to her. All I care about is that no matter how many times I save the little ball with the flippers, it continues with a determined death wish to try and outwit me and commit suicide and disappear down the hole. We played two games and in the first game, the ball was SO good at committing suicide at top speed they kept giving me “mercy” extra balls to play. Some guy drifted over and tried to chat us up by asking how much we played and how, you know, HE is the top score on that game. I think we were supposed to giggle and say, “Oh show us how?” and then he could get behind us (if his portly stomach would allow) and “guide” us in the art of pinball. Only a) Linda is very focused and ignored him completely and b) I was so busy horaaying that often both my hands were off the flipper buttons and the ball would commit suicide while I was busy. As I pointed out to Linda later, if she had played that right, she could have been having some “mustachioed sex this afternoon.” There was a loud “Ewwww!” Here you can see as I watch with glum face as my last steel ball commits suicide. (I won one game, she won one game – so we are tied on pinball).

Not the worst way to spend and hour, and I got Linda a caramel Apple hot drink at Starbucks because I have a card, which I think someone gave me. We also returned our library books and gave food to charity. If I have any sort of lesson learned from today’s outing it is that if you play Air Hockey from a wheelchair with your right hand, your right boob will hurt because everytime you reach or give it a slam, the breast gets one against the table edge. I guess professional wheelchair air hockey players have special bras or something. So, that’s probably the most useful thing I learned today, except when your pinball disappears up a ramp and the machine makes a lot of noise, you maybe shouldn’t take both hands off the machine and pump the air going “Whoo Hoo!” Because then, when the ball is fired out of some dark space on the pinball board like a cannonball, you might have a chance to save it with the paddles. That and the Victoria works department don’t think a lot about wheelchairs, but I think we knew that already.


Marla said...

Glad to know I should wear protective gear next time I am playing air hockey. It sucks that your neighborhood is being torn up like that. Maybe the sidewalks will be extra wonderful and smooth once it is all done? Is it cold where you live? I notice you don't wear a winter coat?

Marla said...

I have found this blog...
to be interesting. She has an article titled, 'School Principal Dismissed for Using a Wheel Chair'. You may find it interesting. It is further down on her current blog page.

jwoehr said...

Nice post! I love how you take so many photos of everything you're doing :) Feels like I'm hangin' at the arcade with you.

Maybe pro wheelchair air hockey players have matching air bras to cushion them?

alphabitch said...

Pinball is kind of scary to me. I've learned to kind of enjoy it on this one table at my local pub, but I don't think I'll ever be able to play on another machine, because the 'tilt' function on this particular table is broken, and you can lean on it and jiggle it and it won't stop you. I've seen people pick it up off the floor and not set off the alarm. But when I first started playing I was so overwhelmed by everything going on, I covered up about 2/3 of the table with my sweater, so that all I could see were the flippers, and I could only see the balls right before they got close enough to hit. After a couple of games like that, I felt like I was confident enough to remove the sweater. But multiball scares the shit outta me every time I happen to get it.

Air hockey, on the other hand, totally rocks.

I'm forever calling the sity to complain about maybe planning sidewalk repairs a little better so that there are still options for wheelchair -- or even pedestrian -- traffic whilst repairs are going on. Do they ever listen to me? No. It's not just a Canadian thing, this one.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Marla: Yeah, I am extremely heat intolerant in the upper body because I don't sweat anymore (the autonomic thing), so up the road I was wearing tank top while everyone else is in winter coats. Thanks for the Link, that was a despressing and incredibly screwed up story about how the school pulled together FOR the principal and then she was "dismissed" - wha?

Jwoehr: Thanks, you should check out the ones on squirrel town if you like pics - I try to take pics so that people get a sense of what is going on and because I am a lazy, lazy writer. haha.

Alphabitch: I really like how you covered the table with part of your sweater - Linda acts like it is a puzzle and she wants to know exactly what bumpers to hit and things like that - I just want my ball to roam free for as long as possible - I am with you on multiball - I just let them all die except one because I can't track that many objects with just two eyes.

alphabitch said...

Oh yeah, I meant to add maybe you need to wear a leather bra for air hockey. Or some kind of padding.

Lisa Harney said...

That's how I play pinball, except I don't actually wave my arms or shout hooray. I mean, I have no clue what the lights are doing, but I have fun making them do their thing.

Life would probably be better if I did shout hooray once in awhile..