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June 14th, 2009

12:12 am
Bringing Home the Gold

I had a really awesome day today. Dad and I participated in the Endeavor Games. It's a local paralympic event with lots of different events for physically disabled athletes. The event has been around for 10 years, but this is the first year that they have had a cycling event. It was only a 4K time trial, but they had a category for blind tandem teams so Dad and I decided to go for it. Dad and I concentrate on distance riding so doing a sprint was new to us. Our time was 7:19 and earned us a gold medal. Of course, we were the only blind team there so all we had to do to get a gold was finish. But, we still had one of the fastest times of all the riders. There were several categories of riders. They had riders using hand cycles and amputees riding upright bikes with prosthesis. There were some CP guys riding uprights as well. It was a really fun event. Everyone was really supportive and cheered everyone else on. Since it was a new event for the games, the cycling competition was pretty relaxed and kind of disorganized, but it was a great time and I plan to do it again next year. Hopefully they will have some longer course options available.

In addition to the time trial, I also had a chance to go to a cycling clinic on Thursday evening. There was a coach from the U.S. paralympic cycling team who was there to give pointers. The clinic Dad and I went to was full of newbies who had never ridden before and were just there to check out the sport. Dad and I were the only experienced riders and of course, the only tandem. We got quite a bit of 1 on 1 time with the coach. He showed us some techniques for taking corners faster and helped get us started on standing up in the pedals which is helpful for powering up hills. Dad and I had been hesitant to try that on our own, but the coach worked us through some drills and had us standing and pedaling within 10 minutes. After the clinic, we headed straight over to Lake Hefner to try out our new skills. We knocked nearly 2 minutes off our fastest time for a lap around the lake. It was sweet. Part of that was probably adrenaline from the clinic and light winds, but I think the coaching helped too. It was great.

After our cycling event today, we went over to the track where my friend Benny was running in 4 events. Benny, in addition to being the nicest guy on planet Earth, is a 66 year old blind marathon runner who I have been acquainted with since childhood. We more recently became good friends when I was playing beep ball. Benny was the best fielder on the team . He's basically a stud. Anyway, this year, Benny got local sports personality, Toby Rowland, to be his sighted guide for the Endeavor games. Toby is a sportscaster for KWTV 9 and hosts a morning sports talk radio show on KREF 1400. Benny got me listening to Toby's radio show last football season and I've been a semi-regular caller since. I mainly call in for contests because I am ridiculously competitive like that. Anyway, to make a long story short, I met Toby in person for the first time today. He's a pretty cool dude. He is as nice in person as he seems on the radio. Toby had a channel 9 camera crew with him and did a story about Benny and the Endeavor games. The 6 o'clock story was good and they will be showing more of it at 10. I'll stay up and watch even though I am getting up at 5 in the morning for a 60 mile bike ride. I could just watch it on the Internet tomorrow, but Benny is one of my favorite people ever and I really want to see his moment of TV glory so I will sacrifice sleep for him.

Other than my first Endeavor Games experience, I haven't really done too much of anything interesting. I did finally see the new Star Trek movie. I wanted to see it in DVS, so I had to wait 3 weeks before the local AMC got the DVS version. The movie was sweet and totally satisfied my inner Trekkie. I was initially not sure that I liked it because the Star Trek timeline was changed by time traveling Romulans. I had to let that simmer overnight before I decided that I was Ok with it. I was pretty satisfied by the movie. I loved Leonard Nimoy's role in the film because I have been and always shall be a little bit in love with Mr. Spock. I thought all the actors did a good job stepping into characters that have been made famous by others. I especially enjoyed the new MC coy and Spock. I had no trouble accepting either one of them. There were lots of neat little shout outs to the die hard fans but it was freshened up and made accessible to new fans as well. Much love goes to J.J. Abrams for not screwing that up.

I have also been spending entirely too much time reading. I have been reading so much that my brain has been lost so often in fiction that I have had trouble getting focused on the real world. I have had to make myself back off a little bit. A prolonged visit into dreamland really hampers my productivity. It also helps explain my recent lack of updates. It's hard to write this crap when I spend so much time reading stuff that is infinitely better than anything I could ever come up with. I really want to write something meaningful but I am really just a hack. I am envious of anyone who can make a living at writing.

Other highlights of my boring life since my last update include a visit to the Hunky Retina Guy who was ever so complimentary about my weight loss. (I'm down 50 pounds since August by the way. I rule.) I have nothing major to report about the HRG visit. I'm still blind (duh) and I am sure the Hunky Retina Guy is still hunky. I also went to Dallas with Dad to see Cake for the 4th time. They were awesome as usual. It was a great show because Cake was the only act. They played 2 sets and I didn't have to suffer through a lame warm up band. I wish all concerts were like that. I also saw the B-52's. There was a time in high school when I listened to nothing but the B-52's. I have always wanted to see them. I had mixed feelings about seeing them now because they have resorted to taking the dinosaur rock band tour through Indian Casinos, but I really couldn't pass up an opportunity to finally see the World's Greatest Party Band. It was a decent show, although it was a little depressing. It was at one of our local Indian Casinos and the place was half empty. Most of the audience members were in their 40s and 50s. There are few things more depressing than a band that is past it's prime. Still, they totally rocked the house with "Rock Lobster", "Love Shack" and "Planet Claire". It was worth a little depression to get to see those classics in person.

OK, Benny's story came on while I was spell checking so I'll give my thoughts on it real quick. It was a little heavy on the "disabled people are inspirational heroes" stuff for my tastes and I could've lived without the tinkly pianos of heartwarmingness that accompanied the story, but Toby has a way of pulling that off without making it feel patronizing. I know that particular story angle appeals to people, but I don't really know how to handle it. Things that are amazing to sightlings are just normal life to me so I can't quite grasp what's so special about it. I have had people tell me how they are so inspired by things that I do and I always wonder why. I'm just living my life like anyone else. anyone in my position would do the same thing. You don't have a choice. You either give up and hide or learn to deal with it and move on. I put my pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else except I don't need to waste electricity to power a light bulb to do it. I don't see why that makes me special and I have to fight the urge not to be offended by people who find it special. From my point of view,people who find it amazing that I can walk, dress myself, cook, use a computer, or even ride a bike are really saying that they are surprised to find that I am not a helpless lump who is incapable of doing anything. I am supposed to be complimented because I exceed the ridiculously low expectations that society has of blind people. I can't quite get on board with that. I think my issues with this particular trait of sightlings comes from the fact that I have experienced life as being treated like a "normal" person and being treated as a person with a disability. There is a huge difference. The thing that bugs me most about being blind isn't the day to day frustrations or having to adapt and do things differently. That's something that can be learned and it's no big deal. What really eats at me is the way I am now treated by strangers. People are afraid to talk to me. They tip toe around my blindness so as not to be offensive and assume that I am tragic and helpless. It's very isolating and unsettling. I would much rather have people relax and treat me like a person rather than an object of pity. I understand that people may not be familiar with blindness. That's OK. I don't expect people to be experts. If people have questions, fine. Just ask. It's really not a big deal and people are just too serious and uptight about the whole thing. I don't want to be special. I just want to feel normal. But I've gotten off on a tangent that I didn't intend to get into and I suspect that I might be a little unreasonable with my views. I do tend to have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to what I perceive to be people's expectations of my abilities and am aware that I am inclined to overreact to this kind of stuff. What I really want to say is that Toby brought the inspirational aspect to the story without hacking me off. Toby delivers his reports with a sincerity that allows him to do the inspirational shtick without seeming like he's exploiting people for a good story. There was a little humor and it showed disabled people in a positive light. I really have no reason to complain about good publicity for people with disabilities. So, well done Toby and congrats to you for guiding Benny to 4 more gold medals.

Oh man, it's late. I am so screwed. Must go to bed now. Toodles.