I have a friend who is an amazing photographer. He's bold, and brash, and sometimes quite offensive. He used to recommend that I do one thing I fear, every single day. He's a quadriplegic, like me, but with a more complete injury which wrought even more destruction. Since we met, his transformation from weak and fragile, dependent, vulnerable and lonely to a larger-than-life, successful, strong man in love has been a sight to behold.
What is interesting to me about this man (let's call him C-spine, since that is who he is) is that I don't think he changed into a different person. He just put a lot of effort into reclaiming the man he used to be. He set himself a series of goals-lift 1 pound weights, get a date, travel across country, move from Texas to the Pacific Northwest, promote his photography. As each goal was accomplished, the next was assigned. Inch by inch, he progressed.
Adversity can break you. If you think it can't, you haven't yet experienced enough of it to know. Whatever form the adversity may take-and the permutations are infinite-the common denominator is the shivering wreckage left of you at the end. Some are reduced to such a state by a divorce or the death of a spouse. Losing a a child stands as my biggest fear, the thing I think I might not survive. Yet people survive these things, and the myriad of ways a human body can be broken, every single day. How the hell do they do it?
Seems to me, the only way to leave behind that slobbering slagheap currently impersonating you, is to challenge yourself.
The challenges start small. You go to the grocery store. You get your wheelchair out and pump your own gas. You get a job or find some fulfilling volunteer work. You make a friend, or cultivate an old one. You find the small thing that scares you, whether your fear is of embarrassment or shame or failure, or pissing yourself in public. You embrace that fear, and you make it your bitch. You'll never fear it quite the same way again.
A rare non-Suicide Girls shot by C-spine:
Yesterday, I took myself to the movies to see Juno. Some people recoil at the thought of attending a movie alone. I've always enjoyed it. No distractions. If you cry, there's nobody to tease you afterwards. It the movie is a stinker, you leave. The process IS different in a wheelchair, though. It's harder. (When I told my husband this nugget of wisdom, he scrunched up his face and said "Duh!") The days that I venture out to a theater by myself, I count that as my daily dose of one-thing-I-fear. In a wheelchair, you can't carry popcorn and a soda, you must choose. Whichever you choose, the odds are good that you'll spill it, so hot beverages are off the menu. Better cold and sticky than scalded! Theater doors are heavy, the incline is decidedly steep, you must find where you're supposed to sit while effectively blinded by sudden darkness. Each theater is different. Yesterday's was an older one; that's what you get for a buck and a quarter. It did have the "handicapped" seat labeled. Unfortunately, the step behind the empty space intended for me was not. I entered my spot with an audible thump, a gasp and a giggle. I settled in with a prayer of gratitude for the seat in front of me, the one that kept me from hurtling ass-over-teakettle down the long vertical ramp which, in movie theaters, is the aisleway. The moral of this story is, get to the theater while the lights are still on, dummy. Someday, I hope to try that.
My review of Juno: 4 stars of 5-YMMV
Juno = hilarious. I think even the menfolk will like this one. My favorite part was Juno's parents, they weren't stupid as in most teen movies. They are long-suffering, ultimately supportive and smart as whips. The actors are amazing. Ellen Page, of course, everyone knows she's a talent to be reckoned with. But Michael Cera? Rolling Stone called him "a young Jedi knight" and that summed it up. Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman nailed the prospective adoptive parents. Bateman is esp. good, not surprising, he's been acting well for a long time. It's a nuanced part and he acts the hell out of it. Juno's dad is JK Simmons, who was CHILLING as Vern the Aryan leader on Oz, and is equally good, if opposite, here. The stepmother, played by Allison Janney, was my favorite part, because it's a role I play in real life, and she was so much like me that it was insane to watch. She refers to Juno as "My dumbass stepdaughter"-and she will figuratively cut your throat if you try to hurt Juno in any way. I've raised a boy from the age of 4 to 27, and that's exactly how we are. When Juno gets whiny and snotty to her, stepmom points out considerable sacrifices she's made. When an ultrasound tech gets judgmental on Juno, stepmom puts her in her place...and then nails her there.
The ending was a bit of a surprise to me. Nothing ever works out exactly as we planned. The Juno writer, former exotic dancer Diablo Cody, knows this very well. She also knows that plans are just based on hope, and sometimes how things work out is better than we'd planned on, anyway. The only complaints I've seen about this movie are that the dialogue is so good it's unrealistic. But I know some witty, articulate teenagers, so I didn't think so.
A surprise hit that grossed over 100 mill, this darling of the indy film festivals reminds you what good writing and acting are all about, and reminds you why you started going to the movies in the first place. If you don't have anybody to go with you, this is one of those movies worth going by yourself. Although it does suck that we can't carry popcorn and soda in these darned chairs!
PS-If you require action and special effects, skip this. It is simple sets and the directing is low-key. Also, you need to set aside any pre-judgments about premarital sex or what you think the consequences should be. If that raises your blood pressure, you won't enjoy this movie. (Also, I doubt you have made it this far in an entry entitled "Fear and Adversity-Fuck 'Em"!)