Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why I box, why I blog, and why I don't give a fuck if you think I am "useful"

Yesterday after my limited boxing class my coach Ian and I had a conversation on why exactly I want to do an exhibition fight. He wanted to know how old I was (ohhhh, dude, you don’t date much do you?) and told me that doing this wouldn’t bring my youth back (‘bring my youth back’ – seriously, have you EVER dated?) and “prove” something about myself. I kind of wanted to wack him on the side with a “get over that male thinking.” Except Ian can easily avoid any wack on the head I try to give him (He has skary boxing skills; I don’t care how good you are, Ian can hit/tap you in any part of your body he wants in three seconds). I tried to explain to Ian that trainers and articles talk about people with disabilities and people in wheelchairs turning boxing into a joke. They say that women sully the sport and the disabled shouldn’t be allowed. If Boxing is a real sport, and I believe that it is, then it can be changed, it can be adapted so that almost anyone can participate and benefit from it. That’s why I want a two-minute exhibition bout: because boxing has made me an equally respected athlete in a training gym within a city where people don’t treat me as an equal outside that gym.

Ian said that he had a book that had 29 values to live by. So I asked him, “Does it have 'sacrifice'?” He paused a minute, “No it doesn’t. But what I was going to say is I have a 30th value; which I use sometimes called ‘fuck em!’” I told him I knew that value well.

I’ve been told by more than one person this week that if I have the energy to ‘keep a blog’ that I can turn my energy to “useful” things; things which might make a difference in the world, or things like advocacy work. These people are to use the vernacular, “knuckleheads.” For example, they don't bother to ask first how much advocacy I do on a daily basis; nor do they realize the amount of effort it requires to write and send a letter (Canada requires you to go and post it). They don’t realize that the tenet of advocacy; consistency is the very thing which is stolen away first by a chronic condition. Or as Linda puts it, "Why are the people who are disabled or SICK the people who should be doing the advocacy? Why not them?"

There is also some misunderstanding that because I write about doing stuff, I am full of energy and spend most of my time jaunting here and there. Or that because I go places or do things, it implies that I feel good or heathly; or feel good enough for a long enough period that I decide like able bodied people to "use up" some time. No. I go places BECAUSE I feel crap. My heart was erratic for hours yesterday, I was dizzy for several hours, I couldn’t sit up in the evening, and was having an emotional meltdown. So by 7:50 p.m., I felt like one of those animals in a Disney movie that drags itself off into the woods before they send the 12 year old to go and blow out it’s brains “for mercy.” (Or "To make a man of you son." WTF?)

I knew yesterday that if I did not get pushed up to the gym, and did not try at least to hit the heavy bags then I would get weaker the next day, the following day, and the following week. So I went, and I hit the bag, I tried to hit Ian. Then I came home and wrote a blog because I have determined, for me, that this keyboard is my beacon, my lighthouse, my telegraph wire. So every night I write out different subjects and essays to post which all have the same subtitle: “Here I am, I’m alive; I’m alive and I haven’t been silenced yet.”

This is a 'Hey!' for all you mothers, you dads, you people with Chronic conditions, you friends and family and lovers of those with health issues; you know that often there are not good choices. We don’t get to choose between ice cream and radiation treatment. There is only going on, and facing what has to be faced until it cannot be faced anymore and trying not let the inane and the medicos and the rest of the shit hanging overhead drive you insane. At least that is what I try to do and part of that is making what choices I can. So I may not have control over my heart or digestive system, the right side of body, but when my clock hits midnight, I will have posted. Yesterday, I was on codine AND tramadol and my fingers still hurt, but when midnight came, I won. I’m a lucky person; not many of us can go to bed at night secure in our knowledge of victory.

Tonight one of my care workers wanted to know why, “You have SO MANY skulls.” I told her they were cool. She told me that they weren’t, that they were “unhealthy.” I don’t know how to explain the irony to someone who lives a life on her side of the veil. That right now I have more in common with a particular 16 year old girl than with her. This is a girl who got childhood leukemia; wasn’t expected to live but did. Her body will likely never completely recover. She used/uses a wheelchair. She doesn’t get her classmates who read fashion mags and who seem just a bit shallow (a little?). Her parent is worried; she is friends with the ‘wild crowd.’ Really? Go figure. She lay in bed at night and realized that she would never have a boyfriend/girlfriend; wouldn’t have sex; wouldn’t ride on a motorcycle; all those night thoughts. And now she is back in alien territory where girls talk about mascara color and which purse is to ‘die for!’ And my home care worker can't see why I have skulls on everything I own? Like Jimmy Cricket said, “When you are afraid, get your friend to whistle.....and if he isn’t ripped apart accompanied by snarling noises, you will feel a LOT better!”

I am watching the documentary The Bridge, which was going to be about a year in the life of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. Only the film captured SO many suicides they decided to interview the people who saw the suicides, the family, friends, in order to get a picture of these people who routinely kill themselves jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. I can’t say it is a “cheery” film but fascinating. At one point I turned it off because there was a bit too much of “hi mom!” going on – and decided I didn’t want to spend too much time ruminating on which family members might be happier if I topped myself. Linda by the by, is NOT excited about me watching this ("Watch something cheery, like that crime show you like about rapes...." - That's Law and Order Special Victim's Unit - see, there are always sexual abuse, incset and rape (nothing unusual) but on the show the people are CAUGHT and PUT IN PRISON - every 45 minutes they catch another one and put them in prison - I LOVE that show). Only the fact that Victoria has no decent bridges I think lets her allow my viewing The Bridge. I'm glad, there just aren’t really a lot of good documentaries on suicide (a few good books about them though...email me!).

Well, I’m out of time, and that seems like just the right cheery Xmas note to end this post on. No, seriously, I understand wanting and needing to be anything than ‘here’ – but hey, just think the narcisstic thoughts I do to keep myself going: “Wait a minute, I’m the star of this film...I mean world, and if I go, then the film ends. And what will all these little minor characters do? It will all be over! No, no......for all the little people.....the show must go on.” (I'm ready for my close-up now, Mr. DeMille!)


Marla said...

"I’ve been told by more than one person this week that if I have the energy to ‘keep a blog’ that I can turn my energy to “useful” things; things which might make a difference in the world, or things like advocacy work." I can't believe people say this crap to you! Have they ever considered that your blog is more useful and brings hope, laughter, empathy, understanding, education to others? Who are these people that say these things to you?

I am glad you were able to box some again!

tornwordo said...

I don't want this film to end!

gina said...

Why on earth would it be anybody's business how you choose to spend your time?

Also... and I'm not sure that I should say this, but as far as I'm concerned your blog is a powerful voice. You are an advocate - and far more effective one than any of those "knuckleheads" could ever hope to be.

saraarts said...

Don't you love people who don't have a terminal or even potentially terminal illness telling you how you should spend your time? I mean, don't you just LOVE it?

It's on my personal list of all time favorites. No, not really.


Conversely, I also sincerely worry about people who need other people to make them lists of values to live by. I guess worrying about having values is a step in some kind of direction. I guess I shouldn't be such a cranky, judgmental old bitch.

Or perhaps I should write a book of 29 or 43 or 122 values to cherish when one IS a cranky, judgmental old bitch, or for anyone who just wants to be one.

saraarts said...

Incidentally, my inner pollyanna thinks that last idea could be quite lucrative.

Gaina said...

Value #30 is a friend of mine too, has been for quite some time! haha.

I appreciate you making time to read my blogs when I know you have so much other stuff to deal with, so thank you . I will have to be more interesting from now on, now I know I'm actually being watched! Haha.

I know what you mean about able bodied people just not getting it. I wish I could tap them on the shoulder and they could feel what I feel every day, the 'not right' feelings that don't actually hurt, but you know are there and the split seconds where you appear to be dawdling when you're actually waiting for your brain and legs to connect so you can get something done.

If I wasn't such a wimp about getting hurt, I'd take up boxing, as I can imagine it's a great way to exercise (or is that exorcise?) one's aggressive streak :)

Daisy said...

If you love boxing, check out Joyce Carol Oates's blog, as well as her book titled ON BOXING. :)

I love her novels, but some people only read the boxing stuff.

cheryl g. said...

I checked in and read the post earlier and was so outraged at the ignorance and arrogance of those telling you...

"that if I have the energy to ‘keep a blog’ that I can turn my energy to “useful” things; things which might make a difference in the world, or things like advocacy work.",

...that I had to wait before I could type something coherent.

To echo saraarts - Bastards!

Oh, and what's "unhealthy" about having skulls on everything. It seems healthier to me than "Hello Kitty". Just because I have clothes with flames on them doesn't mean I'm going to set myself or anyone around me on fire (unless they really deserve it).

I'm going to have to check out that documentary about the Golden Gate Bridge - it sounds interesting.

Keep on boxing and blogging!

shiva said...

Hi Elizabeth - I've just tagged you for the "Roar for Powerful Words" blog award, here...

em said...

God. You are a writer, and to use your time writing the powerful things you write is totally valuable. What assholes. If the world were just, all these people who want you to do advocacy would be reading your blog and shutting up. How useful is it to identify an important job and then try to foist it on someone else?

I'm going to scram before my typing becomes incoherent from outrage.

Lisa Harney said...

Have I mentioned how flattered I am when you drop by to comment on my posts at QT? No, not trying to prompt you to go over more than you do (I should post more first), rather just saying it's like a bonus post. :)

From what you've said in other posts, posting here every day takes energy and time that you can't spend on something else - the spoons thing. Or talkinga bout how 1 minute working out is one hour of pain. I don't get why anyone would want to dictate to you how you spend that time and energy, given you only have so much and it's better to do what you want to do than what other people want to force on you.

You do what you do, just like everyone else. Anyone who tries to change that just ain't worthy of respect. What assholes.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Marla: Telling you people you blog as a job doesn't get a lot of respect - but I thank you for the positive feedback. I am glad I was able to box again too - no matter how short a time.

Tornwordo: No way, not until I get my closeup!

Gina: I think at the end of the day, I am the strongest voice saying, "I should do more!" I want to make a difference.

Saraarts: you sound like you have a bit of experience on getting advice too? Ah, I look forward to your bestselling book: "Secrets of the Bitch: 43 points" - Linda thinks your book will make money too.

Gaina: I wish I could have been more help with your blog....sorry.

Yeah I know what I mean about wishing there was some way to transmit that knowledge; some way to help people really understand; if they can do a 36 hour famine, can they do a 36 hour PWD?

Actually, I'm not that agressive, I had a hard time in Epee learning how to make a touch - I don't like hitting; and the same with boxing, it is about thinking as anyone not in a chair has an automatic 3-1 to 10-1 advantage over me - I need to outthink, hit low to make them move the elbow and then a quick tap on the head. It is a thinking sport, not slugging - I really recommend it or non-contact kickboxing for women.

Daisy: Thanks - I have checked out her stuff - she follows the professional boxers, particularly the modern heavy weights - from her writing I simply cannot believe she has ever trained in boxing. The views of lightweight or the amateur boxer are quite different are are the developing womens boxing, less this idea of brutal murder and more a thinking game, yes with risks but even now, with the advanced club members, if I can get three taps on a body on head area, I consider myself doing well. I think reading her makes me want to write for boxing what I tried and was trying to do for epee and fencing. Boxing is a sport and much like epee or other fencing, only a small percentage may ever go to even a serious amatuer competition. It doesn't make the ability to play chess with hands and body a bad thing.

Cheryl: Like I said, I always am here recyling carbon for the planet. That's useful right? Linda goes, "She has flames on her clothes" - I said, "I don't know, she hasn't sent any pictures." - yeah, hello kitty at my age would be disturbing while wings are just....um.....whimsical?

Shiva: Thanks very much, and thanks for coming by!

Em: I think it is because a lot of people I talk to think Canada has disability laws and then I point out they don't and I tell some examples from my life and they are like, "well, why don't you do advocacy work." Except that if they asked I already did call the manager, and the training manager and got the run-around - I mean I have taped around my desk here the number of the manager for EMT's in Victoria, of Transit service, of VIHA and a few more. Do they love me? No. Has anything changed? No.

Lisa: Thanks, well you are doing good work and challenging people and actually doing the advocacy work I probably should be doing if I could focus on things for any length of time.

Yeah, the spoons thing. And the pain/exercise ratio - I am flattered you remembered - I don't like to bring it up because it sounds so unbelievable but yeah, some days are pretty busy with the pain pills and the breathing and the lying on the floor. You know, all that important stuff getting from point a to point ZZZZZ

cheryl g. said...

Yeah I have some clothes and things with flames on them for when I'm in a skater punk kind of mood. Sometimes a girl has to just dress way younger than her actual age.

lilwatchergirl said...

Or as Linda puts it, "Why are the people who are disabled or SICK the people who should be doing the advocacy? Why not them?"

Dear GOD yes.

More people should be saying things like you do in this post.

And your blog is advocacy. It's one of the best forms of it that I've come across in ages.

Wishing you spoons.

- Naomi