Sunday, October 30, 2011

Live large, live wild, be known for your word

Teenage Paparazzo, the documentary which starts with a 13 year old doing a 75 shot blinding flash on Adrian Grenier (of Entourage) who wanted to know about Austin and the world of Paparazzo. The word is from the 1960’s film La Dolca Vita which is about a lowlife camera fiend and referred to the hounds of photographers as a mosquito (though it is to mean, ‘flies around feces’). I recommend the documentary, but in it they talk about paraconnections (completely one directional relationships) and how life has changed from people being known for who they are and what they do and that has been stolen and given to a very few: the famous.

It posits that we take pictures and follow celebs in a way to tell our own story, that we love person X and care about them and that is what connects us to others. But also that we appropriate other’s lives to tell our own story, in a world where our word, our morality is far less important than Paris Hilton going to InandOut Burgers.

Beyond not knowing who is Paris Hilton (can you leave the answer, please) the documentary made me question the nature of blogs, ‘social networking’ and transparency, but also the idea of ‘worth’ Sadly, Paris Hilton is shown a lot: genuinely the girl who is both clueless and clued in. She must be the center of attention and will screw the teacher for a good grade and wonder, honestly, why people think that is bad. She likes paparazzi and when Adrian is telling her the Myth of Narcissus, she doesn’t know what the word ‘myth’ means and tries to bluff it by wondering out loud if this was a real boy who had drowned with the hint that maybe she should be doing a benefit or something for him.

When did an interest become more important than the nature of the worth of the individual: choices, morals, and striving, which has either stagnated or continued to strive. To me, the ability to try something new and look stupid to challenge the self is worth far more than the connection of a hobby. Yes it is nice that people can exchange knitting info, but I want more. I want a person. To me, the screen is no less a mask than skin by which interchanges and actions will tell the nature of the person. Yes, the face to face contact is good, but I don’t want to put someone who will never have a connection of the heart above someone who is a kindred soul, however much that sounds like I stepped out of Anne of Green Gables.

When I applied to work at the Cinema, I was turned down. Then hired out of the process by a fast track female manager who said that if I didn’t have all the things the company wanted in ideals, none of the applicants did. The problem is that doctoral students didn’t work 11 to 14 hour shifts cleaning up rubbish, or scooping popcorn, and not for minimum wage: so decided the class mindset of Viacom.

I live in service and if I have my way, I will die in service. There can never be dishonor in the service of others, in making people have a better, a happier life. Whether that is in caregiving, teaching, tutoring, writing, retail, scooping popcorn and cleaning popcorn machines, or serving as Prime Minister: if done out of a motivation for others, it will burn you out perhaps, but it is noble.

I believe the same is true for learning, for genuine research, though to write up those findings is an added benefit. I realized today that women, who have learned by need to take jobs without regard of personal ego, and adapted to the markets, adapted to the changes, they will now inherit the future. Perhaps some men will, but after millenium of male expectation, I wonder if they will have the flexibility to see beyond the self, the job, the status. Oh, I have run into the stogy matriarchy too, health care abounds with them, but the future is female. Females, in my experience, make better EMT’s, Police, Teachers, Principals, and Directors. The last two fortune 500 reports showed that those which had a critical point number of females in the board room grew, in spite of industry or depression, while those male dominated sank. For me, it is because of the ability to listen, to help the person help themselves, or assist them most effectively by acknowledging them as an equal person first. Yes, it is a simplification, but talking to a Police Officer Roy O’Brien (badge number 8, Victoria PD) who, walked in already having answers (put me in a home) advised me to be ‘sweeter’ and I wouldn’t have problems with temperature in the Jubilee Hospital (I need it dropped from 78 to 65, and if I only SMILED more…).

After answering all his questions about the disease I asked what he thought he would feel if he was diagnosed with a 2 year extremely painful terminal disease? At his silence I asked, ‘And if I was highly contagious?’ (meaning airbourne). He told me that he ‘risked his life every day that way dealing with people with such contagious diseases.’ Which. ‘HIV.’ He told me. As bad off as I was, I actually laughed, because not AIDS, but HIV as a two year death sentence in North America. Current studies show that particularly for Canadians who DO have the access to meds, those with HIV are more likely to die from non HIV related conditions – aka, ‘Normal Life Span’. So please send all Condoms and pamphlets to Police Officer O’Brien, who is working off 1980’s info (this was after he assured me he knew more about medicine than I coming from a ‘medical family’), and must do some very interesting things on his call outs (use condoms dude!).

Second example was TB, which we rank 4th from last, the US second to last in the world, His answers to questions were…unempathetic, to put it kindly.

He may answer the calls in the community but does he serve. Does he lay down his life in service? I asked him what if he knew a call would involve his death. He replied that as long as he took lots with him, that was how it was.

We live to serve. And to serve is to put the other best interests before mine own (albeit, any lasting relationship must be a 100% relationship, with both putting in as much as possible, not weighing 50/50). If I cannot live up to that credo, then I need to change what I do, and how I do it.

While I have tried to be transparent, I haven’t wanted this to be a ‘medical’ blog, or a ‘film review’ blog, or an ‘essay blog’, but a reflection of Elizabeth McClung. Perhaps that is useful, as I can honestly say it is not primarily ‘entertaining reading’ now. And yet, as no one seems to talk about the sinking down of health, where having a toilet bowl full of blood is normal, and isn’t the problem of the day, or even in the top five, there is a value in it. Because there seems to be a total forgetting that in Health and Wellness there is ‘unwell’ which comes to us all. I wish I had been able to know how long I would live, if I fought for it, as I am far beyond what I thought killed.

Perhaps if life is crisper, with sharpness because of the awareness of your own mortality then I’ve done the job today. I suffer because I dream, because an expert or specialist telling me what is ‘impossible’ is still only a mortal with an opinion. Challenge the greatest limitation you have: what you will allow to imagine. Do that, then follow through and let me know. I’m not saying you can’t do it, I’m saying you can, or if you fail, then fail from trying with everything you have, wiping out all doubt inside. I fail every day. And I try every day.

I was terrified that death was a test, that is rips away all the masks I had, that it would expose my inner core and leave me helpless, and meat, waiting upon another’s judgement.

And I was right.

But it is more. It is ugly often, as the pain, the shit, sweat and piss combine to reduce you to something writhing on the floor. The loss of function can bring the desperation of the truly helpless, and the grinding pain can tear away the laughter, while pride is the first and last to go. I can honestly think of no worse way to die than this, and I know most diseases. I wish for cancer. I read about a person confronting their Huntingtons’, looking at a person, in rigor tension, only able to moan, and thought, ‘Better to be dead, for if they are brain dead, they are already dead, and if not brain dead then it is worse still.’

NEVER, EVER take away the worth of a life in your mind because you decided in a not so bad state that the person would better off dead. I know, I hear that sentiment about me, and people like me almost every day. The people who think that have a greater rot in their mind than I; for they cannot accept limited wonder, or possibilities.

I have ‘good hours’ among a four or five days. But I still have good hours. Some of those on the backs of the care and consideration of Linda. Imagine more.

I did not survive the annual 106-107 degree fevers to die because someone else, over a cuppa, too caught up in ego to clean up a spill in a restaurant, much less clean a toilet, decides I should. I almost died in Austria, Greece, atop a mountain in North Carolina, at the end of a gun in Tennessee, and at the base of a Tornado in Virginia, on a slab of concrete fevered in Winnipeg, and driving 120 in the snow at 3:00 am in Sask. I fell down a cliff in Ontario. I’ve been dumped in water full of ice cubes more times than I can recall. I led a team off a mountain-top that was too extreme for the RAF, once Linda finished with the body. The wind on the ridge picked up two people off their feet, so we had to go in groups of three, first on, last off – always. In Southern UK I told a 11 kid to jump, and I’d catch him. He jumped left, and I caught, him, and he rode my body down, until my body crashing through the trees came to a stop. In Munich, I got Linda and I out of being crushed, like a dozen others, watching limp bodies passed above the crowd to the barricades. I survived in the middle of a war, fevered, without heat, in the snow. I squatted in Greece, watching one after another die or disappear into the underworld. Skinheads in Prague, and ‘lads’ setting friends on fire, another couple’s flat set on fire. Faced the guns at the Brandenburg Gates, and the machine guns later in Hungary. Got thrown out of the Vatican city. Skiied atop the alps in a Blizzard whiteout, in jeans. I would say I was young and stupid, except I never seemed to get smarter. I lived a life. I was in Belfast during daytime bombings, and returned when we had to commute into town due to a purge, kneecapping all gays in Belfast.

There is always a time, like waking up on a train to find the room empty and the floor full of blood, when you just do what needs to be done, or give up. And I don’t give up. Too many knifings. Or when the Judo champion with you says, “My God, do you realize how they (several hundred) are looking at you. They are ALL looking at you.” (meaning: there is a high likelihood of violence)

“Yeah” (but when chased through tesco’s by drunk lads, and report to security only to have the security guy join them, I am not unaware of the dangers of being openly queer).

Out jogging, to have drunk lads in a red convertible come round twice, and then, follow at jogging speed for a block before you can hear them decide to ‘do it’ and pull ahead and stop, the four guys climbing out of the car.

A guess one tip from my life would be: avoid taking a hitch-hike ride from someone who has handcuffs on the dashboard.

It is not all of a life, it is just living. It is why when we got lost looking for Raccoon’s, I tried every single exit. Because it is about surviving, and I am not leaving now.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

you have lived as best you can, loved as best you can and have done well IMHO I salute you)

GirlWithTheCane said...

Amazing post, Beth. *hugs*

Linda McClung said...

Thanks for the documentary review. I did not know that's what paparazzi meant.

Wow, when you put them altogether, you have lived a dangerous life, haven't you?

Thanks for the video - it is from my favourite of all the Due South episodes.

SharonMV said...

Beth, the more I know you & read your words, the more I know you live a hero's life both inwardly & in the world. You do serve others, not only in these adventures facing danger, but also every day - as a writer, a teacher, a friend. And in sharing your illness, pain, struggles and your fight to live openly is very brave.

Love, Sharon

Neil said...

I don't know your disease except through you, Beth, and I won't say anything's worse than yours.

However, my mother had Alzheimer's, though she died from a stroke. And I'm sorry, but because her brain was being stolen from her and she wasn't really my mom any more, I think the stroke was a blessing, in that it spared both her and my father from the end stages of a horrible, slow loss of her Self.

It seems that you have lived large, dear, and I know that you are a woman of your word. You are honest, honourable, and intelligent. What more could a person want? Other than a long life, of course...

And if you could have been Prime Minister, I think you'd have been a very good one.

I knew what paparazzi are; but I also didn't know the origin of the word.

And the song is one of my favourites, but I haven't seen that episode.

And now it's time for me to go to work and serve the people of Darkest Saskatchewan for another day. There's nothing WRONG with service jobs; I just wish there was some sort of advancement available.

Love and zen hugs,
Neil

Anonymous said...

we love this post :-) thankyou
Nicci and Nina

cheryl g said...

The documentary sounds like an interesting look at how “celebrity” is defined. I am flabbergasted at the people who become celebrities these days.

You have lived a life of service and you continue to do so. It is one of the many things I admire and respect about you. It also mirrors my own philosophy. I want to be someone who touches other lives in a positive way.

You are such a strong person and have been through so much in your life. If there is another life beyond this one I hope yours is filled with less pain and more love.

Raccoon said...

You know, I'm amazed at you every time I read your blog. The things you've done, the things you're still trying to do…

By the way, Paris is mostly famous for being famous. Like the Kardashians. Although, she is related to the founder of the Hilton Hotel chain…

I don't know why, or how long, people of been paying attention to the rich and/or famous. Someone once told me that you can be curious about things, but it's nosy if it's about people. And humans are always nosy: does she look like that without makeup? What was he like in school?

Modern technology just enables us to be nosy about more people in less time.

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

Amazingly thoughtful post, as always.

Migod, one thing you can't say is that your life has been boring.

Warm thoughts and hugs as always,

Lorna, Bob and Liam

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Tina Russell said...

I agree! I can’t stand it when people want me to play it safe in every single respect. There are a lot of things I don’t do out of a desire not to take risks that don’t sound fun or interesting to me (it took me a while to be able to withstand the peer pressure on that), but then I save that energy and use it to take risks on things that matter to me. There’s only ever going to be one Tina Russell and I want to make sure I’m the best one I can be.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thank you, I listed some of the things I have done, but also I want to not be ashamed because I hope, in tens to hundreds of thousands of lives I made a small differece to the positive - and that, more than they remembering me, or becoming famous, is more important.

Neil: I am sorry for your sorrow regarding your mother and that she did not get the kind of care and support to make her time at the end positive.