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Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer

Month

August 2012

Goals Schmoals?

This week’s blog post is all about failure. I’m cloaked in it.

I had two goals for the summer and guess what? Kids are heading back to school and I haven’t accomplished either one of them.

I wanted to shed 10-15 pounds. (I think I actually gained weight.) And I told members of my writing group if I was still working on my unfinished book come Fall they should just shoot me. (Now I run the risk of someone packing at Panera.)

If I may offer up my pathetic excuse — I had a houseguest for several weeks. And she’s a fabulous cook and fellow food lover. So, that explains my waistline. But, it’s less of a reason for my stalled memoir. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I have. The proof is in this blog. But, it’s become increasingly obvious that I can’t do both.

So, you will notice that some of my usually short and sweet posts have become even shorter and sweeter. And the category “Keeping It Simple” may become quite full.

Meanwhile, here’s a few quotes I found on the topic of failure that cheered me up and reminded me, like my friend Mary, (“goals schmoals!”) not to be too hard on myself.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

~ Michael Jordan 

“There is no failure except in no longer trying. “

~ Elbert Hubbard

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

~Theodore Roosevelt 

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Gone Swimming

I apologize for the hurried and extremely short nature of this post, but I’m headed to Mom’s to go swimming. I had a garage sale yesterday and after having teams of strangers swarming in my driveway and pawing through my stuff (it was very successful,) I’m feeling the need to retreat. Frankie is already there and we’ll take a nice, long walk. Mom and I will swim, maybe watch a movie. Follow my lead today. It’s Sunday. Don’t exert yourself.

Oh Pioneers!

Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony and now Oscar Pistorius. Willing to take the not-so-comfortable road. Willing to be an activist, each in their own way. Willing to be The First, a vehicle for social change. I champion them. I applaud them. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.

I watched with great interest as Pistorius, a 25 year-old double amputee from South Africa, competed in the 100-meter individual race and then the 4×400-meter relay race of the 2012 Olympic Games. He made history, becoming the first disabled person to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Olympic Games.

I saw the Games with my friend Anna, who’s also disabled, and it sparked a discussion. Anna keeps up. She’s much more in the know than I about what’s being talked about within the disabled community. And apparently, many folks would like to see the Olympic and Paralympic Games integrated into one event. My gut reaction? No way. Bad idea. I’m not usually so close-minded and it took me awhile to figure out why, but this is it. I’m a chicken. In the fight for civil rights, I probably would’ve just sat at the back of the bus and blogged about the social injustice of it all later. (If I was black and there was such a thing as blogging.)  Sure, the end result is great. I’m all for Utopia and a “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” approach to the Games and life, but it’s the getting there I’m not real comfortable with. Combine the able-bodied and disabled worlds and all I can see coming is a lot of stares and a lot of stairs.

But Anna is a bit of an activist. I was with her when she admonished some kid for taking the handicapped stall at a restaurant.(“How else will he learn?”) My mom’s an activist too. She once pushed me into a pizza joint restroom even though I didn’t have to go just to make a point to the staff that a wheelchair couldn’t get through their maze of tables. She waited triumphant while every server in the place started moving furniture. I blushed and mumbled my apologies.

But exactly what was I apologizing for? Being disabled? I think that’s the argument. As disabled people, we want the same freedoms as everyone else. Not to be treated special, just equally.

It doesn’t come naturally to me, this activism, but I’m working on it. The other day, I politely informed a gentleman who answered the phone at an apartment complex that carpeted floors didn’t make a place “wheelchair accessible.” (“Just so you know.”) Months ago, I wouldn’t have said anything.

So yeah, one Games would be nice. So would an inclusive world where it’s not “us versus them,” disabled versus able. A world where I’m allowed the same freedoms in my wheelchair as everybody else. Where I can go to the same restaurants and rent the same apartments. A world that doesn’t prefer their disabled citizens to remain an invisible part of society. (NBC talked a good game and advertised the Paralympics during the Olympics, but you won’t be able to actually watch them. Check out my petition here.)

To get us from here to there, I’ll rely on the pioneers, the activists. People like Anna and my mom. People like Oscar Pistorius. As for me? I’ll be hiding behind my computer. Is there such a thing as keyboard activist?

Day at the Dentist

Most people hate going to the dentist. They don’t like the picking, the drilling, the probing. No one’s crazy about gloved hands in your mouth or a masked face inches from your own. All while being expected not to move. I get it. But, I’ve never had the real phobia that many people seem to have. Maybe, I have a high tolerance for pain. Maybe as a kid, I was a sucker for the giant smiling tooth filled with the sugar-free treats and glittery stickers I always got when it was over. Or maybe, I’ve never had the kind of experience I had last week.

My usual hygienist had disappeared, gone to work in some other office, presumably where the patients all owned Water Piks and had minty fresh breath. I missed her. I like it when people get to know me. The wheelchair has a tendency to throw some people off. They are clueless — either speaking to me like I’m a child or hard of hearing. Besides, I had finally figured out a way to floss despite having only one good hand. I was ready to show off my healthy gums. The woman who entered didn’t care about my gums, only in assigning them a numerical value.

“Two, three, two. One, two, four,” she called out with lightening speed to another woman with a clipboard (who obviously could never come to work with a hangover.) While I marveled at this note-taking process and imagined the chaos that would ensue if a single number was mumbled out of earshot, Dental Hygienist (or Assistant to the Dental Hygienist?) began to look like the most stressful job ever.

The new woman, the one with the hook that deftly pushed at my gums, moved quickly. She had a brusque, all-business manner and a thick European accent. French? German? I didn’t catch her name so I’ll just call her Fraulein Clean Teeth. First, Fraulein Clean Teeth picked and scraped. I knew better than to try and make small talk and fortunately she didn’t bother. She just kept instructing me, “Chin up. Chin up.” Was I being lazy about my chin? Did I keep letting it fall into a relaxed position? I tried to be as compliant as possible. She was moving along at a brisk pace (were they paid per patient?) when she hit a bit of a snag. The snag was my chin on the end of her sharp picking instrument. She dropped it and hooked me like a fish when she tried to catch it. Have you ever been gouged with one of those things? It’s almost literally like taking a needle to the face. Fraulein mumbled a quick apology.

Next there was the toothpaste, rinsed out with such haste I would feel I was crunching on sand all day. Then Fraulein spoke to the clipboard woman. “Ask Mom if we’re doing Fluoride.” Was I 12? She must have seen my face as I imagined my mother’s shrugged response because then she asked me, “Are you paying or her?”

“I’m paying.”

“Do you want Fluoride?”

“How much is it?”

“22 dollars.”

“No.”

Mom thinks this happened because I look young, but I don’t look that young. I think it’s the wheelchair.

Then I was left alone, laying straight back to stare at the florissant lights as if on an operating table, for at least 15 minutes.

Just when I began to think I couldn’t take it anymore, feeling claustrophobic under the weight of my paper bib, the doctor came in. During all of about two minutes (in which time he probably made 200 dollars) he briefly inspected my mouth and declared it healthy. Did I have any questions? I wanted to throw him a curve ball, a real stumper. Make him earn his exorbitant salary. But alas, I had nothing. I was free to go. And without a giant tooth filled with prizes to make it all better. Kids get all the fun.

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