Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer


August 2013


dreamstimecomp_17842892Yesterday, two friends stopped by, separately and unexpectedly, and the blog post I had half-finished stayed that way.

This is something I find particularly difficult – letting go of my plans, giving up a measure of control. But life is more fun that way.

When was the last time you veered off a pre-planned course? Took a left turn instead of a right? Try not following the map for a change and see what happens.

“The fun stuff comes when someone is not so strict on sticking to the script. You’re allowed the spontaneity, and great moments can happen.”

 ~Jennifer Aniston

“Humor is a spontaneous, wonderful bit of an outburst that just comes. It’s unbridled, it’s unplanned, it’s full of surprises.”

~Erma Bombeck

“Our spontaneous action is always best. You cannot, with your best deliberation and heed, come so close to any question as your spontaneous glance shall bring you.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Why not seize the pleasure at once? — How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”

~Jane Austen, Emma

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.”

~Will Borden

Tough Stuff

I recently attended another Southern Slam Quad Rugby Tournament.  The difference this year was that our Brooks team was split up — all the teams were made up of various other teams. I have a hard enough time following the action as it is. I missed the color-coordinated uniforms clearly identifying who to root for, but I hear it’s more fun for the athletes — meeting and playing with different people from all over. If you’ve never checked out the sport – you don’t know what you’re missing. Take a look at my post from last year, complete with photos and video. I’ve also changed the title from Tough Guys to Tough Stuff in honor of the couple ponytails I saw in there swinging.

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One quadriplegic furiously chases down another as the two men move from their locked positions. Their wheelchairs race and then WHACK!  The clang of metal on metal rings out and one wheelchair crashes on its side, its occupant suspended helplessly. In any other setting, this would bring people running to assist, but here, a referee casually walks over and picks up the ball before someone rights the dangling player.

This is Quad Rugby, a.k.a. Murderball, and it’s all just part of the action. And having been to several games, I can tell you — there’s plenty of action. The rules are pretty simple. Each team tries to get the ball through the goal on their respective side of the court. The offense passes or carries the ball, while the defensive team blocks. There are fouls, rebounds and a lot of back and forth. It’s kind of like basketball, but without the hoops or dribbling. And, in my opinion, it’s more exciting. But don’t take my word for it. Check out this video of the Brooks Bandits (Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program) playing in the recent 5th Annual Southern Slam Quad Rugby Tournament.

It’s disconcerting at first, watching people in wheelchairs slam into each other. But then you realize, these guys are defying stereotypes and redefining what it means to be handicapped. While a friend and I watched an away game in Atlanta at one of the premier rehab hospitals in the country, a woman next to us had just met the parents of a 16 year-old who’d been severely injured in an accident. “Bring him down here,” she told them in the elevator that led from patient rooms to the indoor arena. “He needs to see what’s possible.”

I read a memoir by disabled cartoonist John Callahan in which he says he never forgot his first sight of wheelchair basketball players darting around and popping wheelies in the halls of his hospital. It gave him hope through the dark days to come. And the message? Life goes on. Goes on well. In fact, in the disabled world, inviting the Quad Rugby guys to your party is like inviting the football players back in high school. They’re the cool kids on the disabled schoolyard.

For those of you not in the know, quadriplegia means without good use of any of the four limbs (not to be confused with paraplegia, the loss of use of two limbs, usually by spinal cord injury.) Quadriplegics come in all shapes and sizes with greatly differing injuries and abilities. For example, I’m a quadriplegic. And I couldn’t catch or throw a ball if my life depended on it. Unless it was a beach ball. And even that’s questionable. Plus, I’m sure my double vision would get in the way if anyone was foolish enough to let me out on a court. There are quads who can walk (usually brain injured,) but many have suffered a spinal cord injury where the break was high enough to affect hand motor function or grip strength. I’ve seen double amputees playing Quad Rugby and one gentleman in Atlanta, wheeling his chair with a duct-taped elbow, making the former massage therapist in me cringe at the repetitive motion injury he was undoubtedly causing. Then I remembered — he has bigger problems to worry about.

Regardless of the difference in our abilities, we’re all disabled. We want, like anyone else, to belong somewhere, be part of something. These guys like being physical again and playing as part of a team. I enjoy the individual sports, like horseback riding or swimming, but with the camaraderie of a group of people to who, in many ways, I can relate. Everyone wants to look in the mirror of society and see themselves reflected there. And what you get from these games, or any adaptive sport, either as a participant or a spectator, is the sense that life is not over. Not by a long shot.

At Noon on Tuesday (I Mean Wednesday)

There’s something wonderful about drinking in the middle of afternoon. It’s so forbidden. So frowned upon. I love it. I guess that’s why I like the lyrics to that poppy Sheryl Crow song, “All I Wanna Do.” You know, “… is have some fun.”

Well, I did it. Popped open the champagne one afternoon last week with my friend, Diane. I finished (with her invaluable help) editing my memoir, Misadventures of a Happy Heart: A Memoir of Life Beyond Disability. 

I had no idea the whole process was going to take forever. My eyes are open now. I don’t see how people write second novels. Unless, it’s like childbirth and you forget the pain amid the joys of parenthood/authorship. I’m obviously just guessing.

But, it was a feat worth celebrating. Of course, this had me looking up quotes on celebration. As usual, I found a bunch I liked, so I’ll let you choose your favorite. Don’t forget to make time for your own celebrations. Not just birthdays and anniversaries, but the days you had a little more to do with. And, don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.130807_0003

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” ~Thomas J. Peters

“Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we will die.” ~Dave Matthews

“The year you were born marks only your entry into the world. Other years where you prove your worth, they are the ones worth celebrating.” ~Jarod Kintz

“A good time occurs precisely when we lose track of what time it is.” ~Robert Farrar Capon

“Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living.” ~Sydney Smith

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” ~Oprah Winfrey


House of Chairs

130801_0015 My mom has a chair problem. By that I mean to say she hoardes chairs. Or perhaps I should say she “collects” them. Hoarding implies she’s just days away from suffocating under a pile of dirty laundry and banana peels. It’s not that bad. She only has 24. 

I began noticing we had an inordinately large number of chairs when I first moved in. Since then, she’s acquired three more. Mind you, these are only the outside chairs. I can’t begin to think of the inside chairs.

130801_0017In her defense, most of them were free. Usually, they’re in someone’s trash by the side of the road. While I think, “they must be throwing them out for a reason,” Mom maintains that they’re perfectly fine. She watches all the salvage shows on HGTV. And you know the saying: One man’s rusted wrought iron is another man’s home-improvement-project-that-never-happens-so-it-sits-by-the-pool-growing-rustier.

130801_0026The pretty red ones were acquired last week on a rare shopping outing. My mom agreed to take me to that OCDer’s heaven — Bed, Bath and Beyond. I could spend hours in the place just daydreaming about reorganizing my closet or checking out shelf liner. My mom, on the other hand, hates it and spends the entire time waiting on me up front, sitting in displays of patio furniture. This particular day, I’d only made it halfway through the kitchen gadgets when I received her telepathic message of distress. “Let’s go. Now.” She eyed the rainbow of magnetic bag clips in my hand, but refrained from saying, “Do you really need that?”

130801_0013I know she’s glad she refrained, given the irony of what happened next. Having run into Home Depot for an extension cord, she came out with chairs number 23 and 24.

“What?” she said when I looked incredulous. “They were on sale.”

130801_0010Like anyone in the throes of addiction, she passed through phases of anger and denial. Once I began counting the chairs, she became defensive.

“You can’t count the cheap stackables! Don’t count the outdoor dining chairs. Those are part of a set.”

130801_0018Oh, I see. Part of a set. For the record, we have 14 chairs, not counting the cheap stackables or the outdoor dining chairs. They’re still chairs by the way, but whatever.

We’re ready to host a party of 50 at a moment’s notice.

130802_0003When I went to take a picture of the chairs poolside, I noticed they’d all been moved. Much like a kindergartner moves food around on his plate, my mother had spread chairs all over the yard in groups of two and three, hoping to disguise the sheer volume of seating choices available. I guess that she’s aware enough to try to hide this is progress. And after all, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

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