Saturday, April 26, 2008

The night before the race and "inner voices"

The inner voices were loud this week, and very loud today. They come from statements of a real person, actions and statements of real people, people who told me that I am incompatible with beauty, and that I was incapable of creating beauty.

When I get depressed, I call myself, “the Monster” because I don’t know to live with what is written inside of me. And I have worked to write what I do see, ALL of it.

So tonight, I see someone (me) who is both very scared, perhaps as scared as a child laying outside, the first time, under the great black of night only with no home to run back to. We know it is illogical to be so scared. Fear is just one of the voices, and if I ever listened to them, the teachers, the people in authority or influence who ALWAYS knew what was best, what I could or could not accomplish, well, I am would be a far different person.

So I am proud to say I have accomplished nothing but the attempts of dreams. This is not the kind of statement to make the voices happy.

I’ll admit that I am not beautiful (more on the E. Roosevelt scale) and maybe I cannot contain beauty but I can recognize it. I chose to follow it, to be near it.

This would be a good time to remind you (I know because I hear it in my head many times an hour) that I have never wheeled 10 kilometers at one time before. And according to the bike shop today one of my tires is going (there is a bulge or something). We have driven the route and there seems to be not one wheelchair toilet. That is too bad as just thinking about tomorrow makes me desperate for the toilet.

I may not be able to post tomorrow, even if I finish, just letting you know because though I am glad so many have such confidence in me, I do have this tendency toward passing out, even while in Japan. My intent is to finish. When I say intent, I mean, unless the wheelchair fails or I am restrained I WILL finish.

This is how I wheel up a hill. I put on something like trance or rock music to push me on, I get my arms swinging about three to four pushes a second, to get the momentum high so that I can continue the momentum while going uphill; always accelerate up the hill. About 2/3rds of the way up the pain from the oxygen will hit; DO NOT LET UP, if anything, try to wheel faster. Scream if you need to (I do! Crying is fine too, just keep the F**K going!). By the time you see the crest of the hill, the motion of your going forward will be the edge between falling over or pushing the wheel. Try to focus on just keep pushing the wheel; losing sight in the left eye is not uncommon, be prepared (they have a hill over 1.5 km!). At the last 50 feet just use the thumb and forefinger, you can’t feel the rest of the hand anyway. And that’s how I race in a wheelchair….a race which is against only myself (who invited the other 10,000 people?).

If I finish, I will have a down couple hours, and up for a couple hours and then a major down spike in my health. I am not wimping out I just know that I may be curled up on the bathroom floor with spasms within 24 hours. Actually that would be a rather positive outcome. But don’t know, as I said, I have never done a 10K race before (and there are plenty of ambulances there!).

I promise to give all possible human effort to finishing. And that is the only type of beauty I hold: that of planning and fear, of possible failure and certain pain. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

The future has never belonged to me; I just want the dreams.

I finish with something I found; it is about how I am feeling right now along with something I am passionate about: Porco Rosso by Miyazaki. The film is set in the inter-war period in the Adriatic Sea and our pig headed pilot, Porco, makes money by stopping air pirates. He was a WWI air ace and the place where he and the pirates have a truce is at Gina’s, a pilots club where Gina sings, and where she calls Porco “Marco”. In WWI Marco’s best friend and fellow pilot married Gina, but the next day, Marco awoke in a type of heaven, the last of his squadron, seeing his friend lifting his plane to join a mass of ghostly pilots. It is here that Marco becomes Porco, though whether that is a curse self-imposed or not is unclear.

An American ace Curtis is hired by the pirates and tries to woo Gina, who turns him down; she later says that she has a bet about if Marco will ever fly into her garden. Curtis and Porco have a dogfight in which an odd trait of Porco emerges (that he is a pacifist and will never shoot if the pilot might be hurt), and Porco’s plane is shot up. He disappears and is presumed dead. But he has returned to Piccolo’s Factory (where is plane was made) and finds that all the men are gone, to find jobs in the depression, and the new head engineer is Fio, a young red head female (guess who I identify with?). She is going to redesign his plane and is quite content to be around Porco even though he is gruff and verbally abusive with her. And soon an all female work force shows up to make the plane.

When take off time comes, it turns out that Fio built a small cubbyhole in the plane for her. Porco is furious. Fio is adamant, until his plane debts are paid off, Fio is coming with him. He reluctantly agrees and returns in time to foil the square jawed Curtis’ wooing of Gina by doing flying tricks over her garden. When he lands at his secret lagoon it turns out that it isn’t too secretive any more as the pirates burst out and plan to smash the plane. Fio emerges and berates them that they would DARE smash anything she just finished designing. They decided to smash Porco instead. Fio turns and attacks THEM for needing an AMERICAN and that Porco is here to challenge the American anyway. Unfortunately the oversexed Curtis shows up, having been turned down by Gina he immediately latches onto Fio and asks her to marry him. Fio, confidant in Porco agrees to a duel: if Porco wins then Curtis will pay off the debts, while if he wins, she has to marry Curtis (yuck!). The pirates agree to host the duel, which is now a huge spectator event (and gambling one) set on a small island. While Fio can only watch, stuck now as the PRIZE.

During preparations, late at night she asks Porco if she can kiss him since maybe like a frog in the story, he will be turned back. He says no. Like that would stop Fio. It is pretty obvious Fio has her mind set on Porco but on the day of the fight, Porco gets Gina to promise to get Fio out of harms way when the time comes. And that’s as far as I tell. But if you watch the Non-American, non-dubbed version you might have an ending that tells you about the curse, a kiss and the bet Gina has with Marco.

Here, for tomorrow, “It’s my life” set to Porco Rosso. And I hope I am as smart as Fio and as wily as Porco!


Wheelchair Dancer said...

rooting for you!



yanub said...

Elizabeth, may all things break your way in the 10K.

As for beauty, why ever would you think you don't possess it? Smack those nasty inner voices around. They lie. You have both beauty and dreams, not in some future, but in this very moment. I'd go so far as to say those are your defining characteristics.

yanub said...

Oh, yeah, also: It's My Life is the best song ever. I'll think of it as I think of you pushing yourself up those hills.

Stephanie said...

As I read your post, I keep hearing the theme from Rocky playing in my head.

Go, Elizabeth, go!

Elizabeth McClung said...

The weather forcast changed tonight, so that the sun in the morning is now rain starting at 8:00 am (start time) - so no wings, no ability to slow myself well going on downhills, the peds better watch out for themselves.

No wings and no mr. soot - sigh


cheryl g said...

OK, now listen to our voices... the ones that say you are good and worthwhile and possesed of a strength and beauty we are fortunate to get to see. I am determined to slowly drown out the other voices.

I will see you at the finish line and be your personal heat exhaustion EMT. Just get a supply of coldpacks chilling.

Blank said...

I'm local and am often out walking along a leg of tomorrow's race, so don't be surprised if someone on the sidelines starts cheering for you!

Hopefully, the rain will hold off tomorrow, or blow right over. Just to make it a little easier for you to reach your goal!

Victor Kellar said...

The beauty is in the trying, in the desire, in the persistance to try even with the fear and the pain standing there in the room, real and recognizable and not vague. We all have fears, many of them intangible, many of them imposed by some profane outside sense of orders. Fuck those fears. Face the real ones, the ones inside and out; put your head down, fasten your grip, make your fingers mean something and go up the hill

Elizabeth McClung said...

Once the race starts, once I have something to FIGHT - it will better (I hope) - I will look out for you blank, sorry if I seem a wee obsessed at the time.

doctor trousers said...

not beautiful - give me a break!

you are gorgeous! you are tall, ballsy, red headed and articulate ... what else could one want!

good luck babe ...

Raccoon said...

Bon Jovi? Or Poison? Some Big Hair Band.

Good luck tomorrow/today.

Maybe you aren't a traditional beauty, but standards change. Personally, I think your features are very striking. It's almost too bad that you are married. And a lesbian. Which is probably more important, as it means I don't stand a chance...

Seriously, those voices in your head telling you bad things... don't listen to them. Cheryl is right. Your strength, your willpower, shine to us. Even without your wings, the people around you tomorrow/today will see that.

And if you can't blog tomorrow -- no worries (although maybe Linda or Cheryl might be able to drop us a line?).

You did refill your scripts for painkillers, didn't you?


lilwatchergirl said...

Wishing you a successful race. I know how awful and patronising it is to tell a disabled person that they 'inspire' you, believe me - but it's sort of the only word that I can think of for the things you do, Elizabeth. You make me want to be a more active, more interesting, ever-higher-achieving disabled person. Thank you!

Neil said...

Those damned inner voices again, eh? There's days when I hate the night.

Actually, Beth, I think you ARE beautiful; on the outside, you're very attractive, and on the inside you have a love of life and a passion for words that make you a very interesting person. You also have lots of love in you; I can tell just from the photos of you and Linda. And you have a lot of courage too - oh, not the "plucky crip" courage, but the guts to try new things, moving to Wales and back, the Japan trip despite the odds against you having a good time (and you did anyway!), and the courage to bare your soul on the Internet in a blog.

Now, tell those inner voice to F*** OFF and resume listening to your soul, and your outer friends.

As for today's run, there are ham radio operators along the route to help watch out for you, and we're ALL sending love and energy for you.

May the clouds hold the rain in, and let the sun through for you. I'm cheering you on from darkest Saskatchewan, where the sun is shining through some high clouds, and it's up to -3C.

It's also 8:30 am here, so it's time to stop reading about you and hoping the temperature will magically rise about zero; I'm off to stuff in the contact lenses (so I can wear sunglasses) and get outside to ride 10K just for you.

Cheryl and Linda: please deliver a couple of hugs and kisses to Beth for me? And hey: you're both pretty fabulous too!!

Ruth said...

Good luck to you on your race!!

Perpetual Beginner said...

You scream your way up every hill if that's what gets you there.

Adding my voice to the outer chorus - your inner voices are the worst judges of your beauty. You posses it in spades, both outer and inner.

Gaina said...

I don't slap people in wheelchairs, it's not I am going to take you out of your wheelchair then slap you! LOL

You DO contain beauty, because bravery is beautiful, and you have got that by the bucket load. The way your writing encourages others to share their live experiences is a beautiful gift to them. So don't you ever tell me you have no beauty!

**lecture over**

As a wheelchair user of 35 years I have to say that 3-4 pushes per second would KILL me. Seriously, it makes my muscles burn. I try to push as little as possible and let the momentum take the strain, especially uphill - one huge effort then 'coast' on that until the next push. Whenever I watch TV and there's a disabled character in the program (rare but it happens!) I know weather they really are disabled or not just by the way they sit in the chair and the way they push it. AB people tend to push very frequently and in short strokes, so the chair movement doesn't 'flow' like it does when an experienced user is pushing.

Hala said...

When I read this, and thought about your 10K, I kept thinking about how the fight at the END of Porco Rosso goes--how the "air battle" REALLY plays out between the combatants. You remember what I mean.

A pig who doesn't fly is just an ordinary pig.

Lene Andersen said...

I think you're beautiful. Not pretty - I think you have to be under 6' to be perdy.

Beauty is something else entirely and you have that in spades.

Thinking of you today.

Blank said...

I didn't get out until later than I expected, though I did watch a part of the race. I'm sorry I missed you! I hope you flew down that course. (And hooray, no rain!)

Dawn Allenbach said...

My comments to you on beaut will come to your inbox.

As I write this, you're probably pushing up that hill. Go go go go go go GO!

Elizabeth McClung said...

OW!!!!!! I finished. And actually finished 1:08 so 68 minutes which is faster than my 5K (I didn't have a flat tire this time). Only once I stopped, I overheated and was taken to the first aid tent where it was assumed AS I went into shock that I was a) deaf and b) diabetic - so besides putting me next to the heater, which kept making me pass out, they kept trying to give me insulin because I couldn't talk (hey, I don't follow the logic, I just report the events).

It turns out I won my for the females in wheelchairs BUT that wheelchair racers are not considered to be GENDERED so because I was fourth overall, I was not going to get a plaque - which actually they had to do a 1 hour debate about because I was trying to say, "Did the top three MEN who used thier legs get called up for awards?" Yes. "Did the top three females get called up for awards?" Yes.......but wheelchairs aren't a seperate classification, they are a division like age."

Me: "well, since the top WHEELCHAIR finished in 25 minutes and top RUNNER finished in 29 minutes doesn't that mean the guy in the WHEELCHAIR won the event, if we are just a DIVISION and not a seperate classification?"

Them: "No it doesn't go that way, there are awards to the top three male RUNNERS."

Me: "And to the top three male wheelchair users?"

Them: "No, just the top three wheelchairs?"

Me: "So there is MALE, Female....and wheelchair? How do you tell our sex, do you turn the wheelchair over?"

Anyway, I will go into great detail in a few hours becuase they just DID NOT get it - that female and male wheelchair users might like to be considered different and at one point they handed me some metal thing and Jason (the "private event coordinator" in charge of prizes who refused to give his last name said, "Look, you got your medal alright, now just go away." Cheryl who witnessed the whole thing said not once did they treat me as anything but an annoying child, even when I tried to point out that 10,000 wheelchair users were comning to the paralympic games a few miles from THIS event in a year or so and might be curious to find that in BC they have no gender, just "Wheelchair".

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thank you to everyone for your comments and support, I will sleep now for some time (if I am lucky) and post about the race (with pictures - of course!), soot-san DID come with. And as for 3-4 pushes a second, I do the longer, swimming strokes on light uphills, just more attack on the sharp inclines. OW. Thank you again. Of course of the FIVE women registered TWO showed up - so saying I came first for the women....but there were over 12,000 runners. So, screw inspirations, I know I beat at least 4,000 of them (Linda says, "And screw bronze! We got gold!")

Disabled Giant said...

Sorry I just got to commenting now but congratulations on your achivement. Gold is right.

SharonMV said...

Yay!!!! Hope you are getting some sleep now. You finished the race & were still strong enough to argue with the likes of Jason. He & his ilk do not deserve to be classified as human.

You are beautiful inside & out. Now let the inner voices be silenced - drowned out by all of us cheering for you. Listen to your own true voice which we, your readers, are privileged to hear.

I'm off now to think about some of my dreams, the dreams I'm going to take back.


yanub said...

Surely, you do not imply that people who use wheelchairs have gender! Why, next thing, you'll be so bold as to insist that people in wheelchairs have sex.

I'm glad to learn that you survived the tender ministrations of the First Aid tent and still managed to come in first among women wheelers and 4th among wheelers overall. I do hope that someday, you will have the opportunity to bump into "Jason" on the streets of Vancouver. Just be sure to bump him hard.

Donimo said...

Way to go, Elizabeth!!! I read your post earlier and wasn't clear-headed enough to comment. This time my fogginess paid off by delaying my response long enough to find out you did the race. RIGHT ON.

I would really like to read about your "no gender for wheelchair racers" story in the paper and see it on TV. What crap. I'm not into gender division and myths and all that, but when it comes to sports it just makes sense. You got the gold... we all know it.

Beyond their stupid reasoning, there is you and your amazing achievement: a beautiful thing, indeed.

sas said...

i guess i'm new to you, but you're not new to me. i came across your site a few months ago or so when i was looking for different kinds of sex toys. you see, i sell them for a living (AWESOME JOB!). i started reading through your old posts before i read more recent stuff. i kept reading and coming back because i noticed that in the old stuff, you weren't in a wheelchair, but you are now. i wanted to find out what happened.
since then, i check in a couple times a week, and holy shit, beth, if anyone can do this 10k thing, it's you. i've never heard such determination and will and i love you for it! you've also made me aware of the disabled people around me in a new and respectful (i hope!) way. thanks for that. i can also relate to your wanting to do things because someone else tells you you can't for whatever reason. often, that reason is because of being female and that's always been something that PISSES me off. being a woman is a "pro," not a "con," in my book and i love "meeting" people who agree. and you do, right?
in conclusion, good luck tomorrow, don't die (did i mention i also LOVE your sense of humor?) and kick that race's ass!


em said...

Elizabeth, I know that outside voices maybe it don't matter in the same way inside ones do, but you are beautiful. You are beautiful. And I'm not the only one saying it.

I'm so glad you won that race, you finished and hopefully slept the sleep of the victor. Victress? Victoress... that is gender unspecified for the odious Jason.

And Soot-san was there. That just pleases me, and it will please the kids.

Neil said...

Yay Beth! Gold's not good enough for you, dear. Platinum, maybe?

As to you having a gender: your middle name's not Nellie, is it? Heavens! IMAGINE, someone in a wheelchair thinking she is a real person?

Give your inner voices a purpose, Beth, and send them after Jason; let HIM suffer the doubts and insecurity. God knows, he deserves it more than you do.

I did my 10K on wheels too, though I had an embarrassingly easy time of it, compared to you. Still, I sent you a couple of photos this morning, and forget to mention that you may publish them if you wish to.

I'll agree that "It's My Life" is good, but the song that makes me think of you is Sting's "Fields of Gold" as sung by Eva Cassidy.

First aiders can't *give* insulin; that would be prescribing. Unless it was EMTs/paramedics or physicians in the first aid tent, there was some gross negligence there. Keeping the person warm is standard treamtent for shock, so we can't berate them for that; you should have a medic alert-style bracelet to let first aiders and EMTs know that you're heat intolerant.

Tall, beautiful, eloquent, funny, full of life, passionate, strong, inspirational: please note that those are some of your positive characteristics, and when the inner voices start whispering, laugh at them and tell them to F*** off!

Hugs, and prayes for a good night!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Are you using my email Neil: - Because I haven't recieved ANY emails or attachments today - maybe hotmail is on the blitz?

Elizabeth McClung said...

WCD: thanks, rock on!

Yanub: I can only hope "break your way" means I get the good pavement as opposed to having things break. I will not dare ask publically for my defining qualities but thanks, it is just on some days, the lonely days the voices are a bit louder.

"Shout it out!" - yeah good song

Stephanie: Thanks, sorry I didn't see you I don't know if you saw me but if you see me in Cook Village or out on the waterfront please say hi if you have a desire to (I understand internet friends and real time may not want to mix, just offering).

Cheryl: you were of great moral and physical assistance, and you ALMOST have me to the point where I breath more than I talk, almost....

Blank: Hey, thanks, I am so glad the rain held off until it did, sorry we didn't see each other but if you see me, say hi, if you want?

Victor: I completely agree, it is the aspiration, the planning and attempt at something for which there may be little hope or great cost which makes us define ourselves. I made the fingers mean something!

Dr. Trousers: that wasn't what I was going for, how about "charmingly persistant?" Seriously though, thanks!

Raccoon: Um, I should look it up, something with hair. Thanks for the wishes. Yeah, I don't like the days the voices talk a lot. I hope people see that and not all the things I have failed to be for myself and them. But I keep trying, I will keep trying until I get it right.

Oh yeah, maxing out on both today. Oh, oh, oh its a long night!

Lilwatchergirl: Thanks for your wishes. I have to admit however I am a shameless opportunist. My muscles don't "develop" unless tramautic damage is done (like going up giant hills for four hours a day in Japan ever other day). And I know these muscles I have now will be gone soon, probably in six weeks I won't be able to do 5K. So I do what I can do when I can, and I believe you do the same. But hey, no loss in looking around for a few more chances to get in on the action, right? (remember LOTS of pain pills with this lifestyle choice)

Neil: I will be honest, I do have courage, because I have faced things I did not know I COULD face, but even now, I am forced every forward to greater challenges. Perhaps it is why I challenge myself so much, so that I at least have a choice is what I face, before I lose even that.

Thanks for your wishes and thanks for your 10K in COLD weather to be in union with me!

Linda is still sick, so no kisses from her and for some reason, Linda lets no kisses from Cheryl either (not with tongue either).

Ruth: Thanks! It will be a first!

Perpetual Beginner: Well, only one scream as it turned out, having a few hundred people around does temper me a BIT. Thanks, I think I have like 'inner voice' dysmorphia, what is it that I see compared to others?

Gaina: Okay! I'm convinced, I won't tell you I don't have beauty.

Well actually it does make your muscles burn, it makes them feel like someone set you on fire. But on the other hand, you can pass people jogging while going UPHILL. But I agree, I prefer the long push but with the pavement we have usually I am pushing with one hand on one wheel and braking with the other because our sidewalks slant so much.

Hala: yeah I remember what you mean. Well yes, exactly, I have to wonder if I am a bit trying to curse myself too. I wonder when the Fio part of me will pop up to try and change me?

Lene: Yeah, pretty just don't do lanky. But I do get asked sometimes if I model, which I think, "Are you saying I look anorexic, small breasted and androgynous?"

Elizabeth McClung said...

Dawn: I await your comments on Beauty, and your will power worked, I went, I went until I could breath no more!

Disabled Giant: thanks for your well wishes, and the name of the blog is Screw Bronze, so you know how I feel about coming in third.

SharonMV: Yeah, I got some sleep but the pain woke me up, I think it will be a few long nights, tomorrow is when I will find out how much arm function I will lose for a while. Already having problems with left hand and shoulder. Yes, I should take your advice. And Let me know about the dreams you are going to take back please, this sounds very interesting!

Yanub: Yes, who knew, and all this time I was so confused. Yeah, Jason is not my favorite guy right now, in fact all the "Not my problem" people are not my favs, I did like the volunteers who did a great job (okay not ALL the first aiders), and cleaned up so much trash and helped in so many ways.

Donimo: Thanks! I know how it goes with the commenting, I am just glad you following (by the by), has anything else showed up from, er, over there? I am going to write up the no gender thing for OUCH tomorrow so I hope it gets picked up but since the Victoria paper is sponsoring this, I doubt it will be picked up by that paper - maybe someone should tell the mayor of Vancouver he/she is genderless since they are in a wheelchair? Oh, and I WOULD have beaten the three guys if I could have, you know that!

Sasha: Thanks, I'm really glad you are reading (you know if you send me your address, I can still send you a post card from Japan, it will just be sent from Canada!). That is a pretty good job. I'm really glad you like reading the blog and I hope the bitch sessions aren't too much and I don't someone who genuinely wants to respect a person with a disability as an equal could be as clueless as so many are who are so offensive.

Yes, being a woman is a "pro" as I tell guys when I point out that Radcliffe is about to beat the men's marathon record! Also the clit has 8,000 nerve endings, twice that of the penis! thanks for the well wishes, and I will try to kick ass (or run over ass, whichever!).

Em: The outside voices matter, it is just the inside voices had 18 years or so to lay down the track. It does matter, and thank you. I slept the sleep of those who do things beyond thier ability, painful and woke with an OW! Yes, Soot-san was a great help - see him in the next post!

Neil: Well, I think they gave me some copper alloy? Yeah, next think you know we will want the vote or something. I was obviously just a bug to Jason and he desired to squash me, I will write it up for Ouch as see how much Jason has contributed to the image of this city.

I am happy that you rode in concert with me. I look forward to the photos, which haven't come through as yet. I will go listen to fields of Gold now, okay!

Well, they might not be able to give it but I don't know if they tested me while I was out but I know a insulin pen when I see it.

Hope you and your family have a good night too - and it warms UP for you.

Tom P. said...

I meant to comment yesterday but got caught up in things. Anyway, I wanted to comment on your "not beautiful" comment. As a typical, straight, American male I can tell you that I think you are very pretty woman. But I wouldn't want to date you and it's not because you tower over me or because I am sure you can beat the hell out of me even in a wheelchair. It because I'm old enough to be your father and I'm not one of those guys who dumps his wife to marry someone his daughter's age. I think that is just creepy. ;)