Monthly Archives: January 2013

Consider Yourself At Home

I’ve mentioned PHAMALY before, but this came up in my inbox and I had to share. I find these men and women so encouraging. I watch them perform and think, “what amazing things could I do?” But I hadn’t considered it from the actors’ perspective before. Some of them were pursuing careers in acting before they became disabled. Now they encounter prejudice and discrimination based not on their acting ability, but just on how they would look in a part.

I was not particularly athletic before my injury. As a student, a writer, and a gamer I didn’t feel like I’d really lost the ability to do something I loved. But three years after my injury I started Physical Therapy school. Here was a career I was passionate about, and one I’d be really good at. Two semesters in I was asked to withdraw because the school would not modify the program to accommodate my disability. I don’t believe it was the right choice but I understand that they felt like it was. This isn’t meant to bash my school or the professors and colleagues I respect. I’m just saying that I know what it’s like to be barred from something so important.

I love that PHAMALY provides a place for these actors to feel safe and strong. They don’t have to hide their struggles, and when they’re performing you look past their disabilities to see what’s really important: their passion and their talent. And PHAMALY is doing more than just providing a home for disabled actors. It is changing the way we view, understand, and treat those who are different. As an organization, PHAMALY is as much an inspiration as the men and women who are up on the stage.

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Living, Not Waiting

I recently finished the book Where Is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey. I tried to read this back in college just after my injury, but pesky things like school and life got in the way and I had to put it down before finding the answers I was looking for. Funny that I decided to pick it up again now after I’ve found those answers for myself. I didn’t need Yancey’s words to guide me through my pain, but I did notice that a lot of my struggles and growth were reflected in the pages.

Yancey talked to two people with quadriplegia. Brian Sternberg and Joni Eareckson Tada. About Brian he said: “Although he recognizes that God has providentially used his pain to bring good, he rejects the notion that God might allow such a condition to continue for the rest of his life. He has gambled his faith, and almost his theology, on the hope for healing.”

I have to admit, I found Brian’s story rather bleak, whereas, Joni’s words might as well have been my own. Yancey says, “She had to accept herself as a quadriplegic and search for new ways of coping. The process was painful. When her boyfriend would put his arm around her and squeeze, she felt nothing. At these times and others she kept fighting a temptation to close her eyes and fantasize, imagining what it would be like if she were well again. A fiancé, a sports car, long hikes in the woods, a place on a college lacrosse team – the possibilities were endless. But they were also worthless, and Joni realized that dwelling on them did not relieve her suffering and only delayed the process of self-acceptance.”

I believe in miracles. Whether that’s experimental therapy or something more along the lines of Jesus heals the paralytic. But I know that if I put all my hope and faith, time and energy into waiting for my miracle, I’ll miss something more important. My life.

I know God will heal me in His own time. He’s got it covered, which means I can put that particular worry in a box and pack it away in the crawl space next to the knick knacks I no longer want but can’t quite bring myself to throw away.

Joni felt the same. “I now realize that I will be healed,” she said. “I haven’t been cheated out of being a complete person – I’m just going through a forty- or fifty-year delay, and God stays with me even through that. I now know the meaning of being “glorified.” It’s the time, after my death here, when I’ll be on my feet dancing.”

I’m content. I’m happy. Which means that when my personal miracle shows up I’ll be pleasantly surprised, instead of looking at my watch and saying, “You’re seventy years late”.

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More Than Just Another Zombie Book

World War Z by Max Brooks

Normally, I write a blurb or short synopsis of the book I’m reviewing; something like the back cover copy that hopefully tells you enough to know if you want to read it or not. However, World War Z was not a typical novel and as a result I’m having a hard time writing a typical blurb. It is written as “an oral history of the Zombie War” – a gathering of anecdotes from all kinds of people, in all kinds of places, with all kinds of stories. There is an overarching plot if you’re looking for it, but the magic of this book happens in the individual people and the snapshots of their experiences.

Tales of zombies are not new, with ancestors like HP Lovecraft and Mary Shelley, but Brooks tells this old tale with such a unique perspective you can’t help but read it as if for the first time. We look back on the entire incident from the finish line, focusing on details hardly ever seen in other zombie apocalypse stories. We see the first individual cases and a variety of responses. We see the gradual fall of society from all kinds of perspectives, and then we see society rebuilt. No angle was left unstudied. Politics, socioeconomics, psychology. Brooks took a really good look at these areas in today’s world, added zombies to the mix, and extrapolated what would happen next.

I loved this book if only for the perspectives and the amazing breadth and depth of the details, but scattered among the fifty plus anecdotes were a couple stories that really struck home for me. I am a nerd in a nerdy household. Josh and I have discussed zombie plans, usually with some humor and a sense of the ridiculous, but also with intelligence and forethought. And any time the apocalypse is brought up, whether it’s zombies or some other society-destroying event, I have this niggling little fear that all the disaster plans in the world wouldn’t be enough because I lack the single most important survival skill: the ability to run.

Brooks rides roughshod over that fear, creating several disabled characters who not only survive the zombie apocalypse but are realistic in their struggles and strengths. He highlights the tale of a blind Japanese man who retreats to the wilderness to keep from burdening his friends and relatives, to die dishonored and alone. Who instead, dispatches hundreds of zombies with a shovel and finds new meaning in his disability as the founder of a “Shield Society”.

Brooks also introduces us to Joe, a man who patrols his neighborhood from a wheelchair and scoffed when he encountered hesitance about his joining the Neighborhood Security Teams. “Hell-o! And what did she think we were facing anyway? It’s not like we had to chase them over fences and across backyards. They came to us. And if and when they did so, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, there was more than we could handle? Shit, if I couldn’t roll myself faster than a walking zombie, how could I have lasted this long?” I loved Joe’s voice, with his confidence in himself and his role, even through the breakdown and restructuring of society.

I’m waiting to see if the upcoming movie retains any of the unique and thought-provoking style of the book. So far, the trailers make it look like just another zombie movie. And that makes me sad, because World War Z was so much more than just another zombie story.

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Truth or Lie?

Last week we played Two Truths and a Lie – actually more like Six Truths and Three Lies – and this week it’s time to take a look at which is which.

  1. I’m over a foot shorter than my husband.

– True. Josh is 6’6” and I’m a whopping 5’4”. Stop sniggering. 5’4” is average and it’s not my fault I married a giant…well actually it is, I guess.

  1. The first car I ever hit was a Jaguar.

– True. I hit a Jaguar with a neurotic Ford Taurus. Not a bad accident but dents and yelling ensued.

  1. The first stitches I ever had were in my tongue.

– True. Never had stitches in my life until a dentist cut my tongue open with her drill when I was twenty-four. Very unpleasant. Very traumatic. Needless to say I do not like dentists.

  1. I’m a Texan by birth.

– False. I consider myself from Texas, since I spent the most time there growing up, but I was born in New Jersey.

  1. I have a hot foot and a cold foot.

– True. During a scoliosis surgery they have to cut a certain nerve that runs along the spine that regulates the temperature of your feet. I now have one hot foot and one cold foot. Since they both used to be cold all the time, I consider this an improvement.

  1. I have eaten kangaroo, alligator, crocodile, veal, octopus, squid, swordfish, and bison.

– True. My favorite part about being to so many countries is the food.

  1. I have sky-dived, bungee-jumped, and white-water rafted while here in Colorado.

– False. All I can say is: hell, no.

  1. I was a crew member on a 135 year old tall ship.

– True. My dad and I spent several years volunteering on the Elissa in Galveston.

  1. My husband proposed to me under the Century Tree at Texas A&M (our alma mater).

– False. Though the century tree is a popular spot for that sort of thing, Josh proposed in Rocky Mountain National Park at the top of Trail Ridge Road. Much better than some ancient tree, I think.

I hope you guys have enjoyed this little break from the norm. I certainly had fun with it.

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