Review of the Year, Part Two

So, lets get to the last 4 months of the year now, when a few things might have happened!

To do it in strictly in chronological order, the first new experience in September, was being wheeled through an airport in a wheelchair! In truth, I possibly could have survived the security experience at Manchester Airport (especially as I would have got Fast Track routing as a premium economy customer), but there was absolutely no way I was ever going to stand in the Immigration queue at Boston, I went with the ‘full in’ option. So fine, at Manchester it didnt quite work as planned (twice, but more on that later), as I got wheeled through security, and to the gate, but no one ever appeared to take me to the gate! So in the end, I managed to get myself down, and aboard the plane, but ironically that meant I was last on, not first! Boston end, it worked perfectly, and I can safely say I have never got through Immigration so quickly in my life, even if you allow for the time I waited on the plane before I got off!

The first few days on Cape Cod was a delight (Saturday night in Boston, went down there on Sunday) with Kate, just relaxing, and giving my back a wonderful break. Then, on the Thursday, we both headed back to Boston, Kate to head off somewhere with her partner, and me to head to Mahopac, NY, via Stamford (c/o Amtrak) to go to a friend’s wedding. Initially I’d assumed I would be going as a guest, then told I was a bridesmaid, only to find out I was Maid of Honor! Thankfully for all the others there, I didnt catch the wedding bouquet lol! It was an amazing experience, thanks go to Stacie, and Eric for the honor of doing that for me. Also thankfully, I was relaxed enough over those last few days that I managed to lay off the painkillers for just long enough to be able to drink at the wedding reception. Fine, I made up for it that night, but anyway…

Flying back afterwards was entertaining. Firstly, for some reason best known to themselves, the airline staff at JFK started boarding people, before boarding me in a wheelchair. It seemed they realized pretty quickly, and sent me through, but it was an interesting journey through all these people who had no interest in giving way to a passenger in a wheelchair!

On arrival at Manchester, chaos ensued. As had shown at JFK, I was the only person who had booked a wheelchair. Therefore, on arrival at Manchester, one wheelchair arrived, for me. Thing is, 5 people suddenly decided they needed a wheelchair, and one woman (who had the physical strength to push me out of the way!) decided she was taking it! Anyway, in the end, after a bit of a delay, a few more wheelchairs arrived, though only 1 extra pusher, and we eventually got through, but after quite a delay, obviously. Not helped by the fact that one person clearly didnt have the right paperwork (not sure if she was from my plane, or a holdback from a previous flight?). In the end, I sort of got up, collected my case, and struggled through on foot (someone pushed my case, thank goodness) to where I was being met! I only hope Manchester Airport does better next May, we will see!

After that, its fair to say that the year settled into LGBT mode at work. A presentation to just over 100 people on working as an LGBT person in my Civil Service Department, and gaining a position on a committee dealing with LGBT issues within said Department are 2 of the delights that followed. Oh, and on top of that performance, was of course, the performance as an Elf very recently!

Lastly, on Christmas Day, on Facebook of all places, someone posted a picture in one of the groups, of a young lady, in Christmas mode, of an event that happened nearly 90 years ago (1929). Yes, an unknown lady, at a pre-Christmas event in Los Angeles, way back when. Except…she looked familiar to me. Comparison to a few pictures taken about 5 years later, and agreement from a couple of other people on the matter, that lady is no longer unknown, to a few of us at least. Yes, 99.9% certain its a certain Clara Johnson! Talk about dream Christmas present, especially as in total, there were 3 pictures! Oh fine, here’s one of them, of her, at 24!

And thats about it! Two more working days in 2017, Friday all day, and a half day on Saturday! Not expecting anything major to happen, but we will see?

The video, big clue in the title. A live version of the song, from 2012, which means no Kirsty MacColl, but the woman gives a decent, if clearly rather starstruck performance

 
Tomorrow, a look forward to 2018, and what might, or will happen

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No more guilty feelings

No, sadly I havent been brainwashed, or mind controlled into accepting that its fine for me to use a wheelchair, when I need one, much though I would enjoy it if I was! No, the reason I can officially accept it now, without having personal issues over the matter, is that I have been given the news for real, I count as disabled. So yes, absolutely, go for it girl, use that wheelchair with freedom when offered one!

I might add, that for now at least, I dont plan to use one, unless I really need it, which pretty much means it is going to come down to travelling matters, principally airports, though I suspect that major railway stations may become a place where its now all too tempting to use one. I did decline one at Boston recently, though I suspect Kate thought I probably should have done, and fine, it was one of those matters you could make a case out for, either way. But as I didnt have to worry about the case, and I was only walking to the train seat, not stood in one place, it was fine.

Equally, already, if I have to stand in one place, unsupported, for more than a couple of minutes, its a problem! Thankfully, with a bit of planning, most places I can avoid that situation. And for example, things like the wedding, with my brace on, I can survive a fair bit longer, but yes, Immigration, or Security, at an airport, no chance! Especially as I have discovered that wearing a brace through airport security, you have to prove what it is, lol! So maybe next time I’ll take it off post handing over case, but before going through security, just slip it in hand luggage! Ah well…

The main blessing for me, now its been recognized as such, is that I can get a special design chair at work, to help support my back in a way it needs. Standard office chairs are fine for most folk, but when you have a bad back, they’re not sympathetic lol!

Yes, I hope my disability doesnt get worse, as most of the time I can get by under my own steam. It has slowed me down, that 20 minute gap between finishing work, and getting to the bus bay has got more of a challenge! Still doable at present, but…

But yes, now, next May in Manchester Airport, if not sooner, I will have no need to feel guilty about needing a wheelchair to get me through any more, I have disability status! Thats not to say that if someone wants to ‘convince’ me that its fine, that I’d say no, but… 😉

The video, something I dont need to feel any more about this requirement

Acting crossover stuff

Right, before I get back to the reality of work tomorrow, lets have a non holiday piece about the crazy world of casting patterns in the acting world.

Back in the early days of movies, ethnicity issues produced some, err, interesting developments from the movie studios. Though a small number of oriental actors, and actresses did break into the movie industry, the emphasis is on a small number. And the situation was little better for African-American actors and actresses as well, beyond a few token parts, generally as servants, or slaves.

Indeed, to take one famous name, Myrna Loy, before she finally got her big break, seemed to only play orientals, generally of the evil kind, or mysterious foreigners, despite having been born in Montana! Thankfully her chance to act as ‘herself’ came eventually, and a star was born! Other famous roles, such as Charlie Chan, Fu Man Chu, and others, yes, you get my drift, white actors in makeup! Thankfully, eventually things changed for the better, but seriously…

One area of personal interest, that sadly doesnt seem to have changed, is disabled roles, most specifically in my case at present, roles involving actors, and actresses, in wheelchairs. Have you noticed, even now, nearly all, if not pretty much all those roles are played by people that dont actually need a wheelchair to get around? Now, thats not to denigrate some, like Patrick Stewart, and Raymond Burr, who were really good in their roles, who just maybe genuinely disabled actors couldnt have matched, but all those smaller roles, where…yes, I know, I might be biased at present lol!

Firstly, let me say, its fair to say that at present, I’m not strictly a disabled actress of the kind I’m talking about. I, thankfully, as I proved at the airports, and the like, can get out of a wheelchair, as long as I dont have to stand in 1 spot for too long. I’m lucky, others arent, but if with this rant, I can help them too, then all the better! But equally, at present, especially on stage (which is in truth, probably more my field level), I couldnt perform out of a wheelchair for very long, so count me in, for now at least. In truth, I suspect that over time, my back will probably get worse, not better, so…

Put it this way, my dream role would be a female equivalent of Magneto, Davros (Dr Who & Daleks) or something equally sci-fi, but in truth, any challenge of a suitable role, for a 60(ish) actress, in a wheelchair would be good. No, I dont want a Tony/Oscar winning type role, my acting skills arent that great, I suspect. But a smaller role would be nice, in more senses than one.

And much though my dream is to act in the US, in the sense of that type of role, I’ll consider anything, almost anywhere! So, if you want to give me a chance to prove it (ha, ha), or know someone that might, then you can either email me at stephmajor8@hotmail.com , or contact @cgemLLC on Twitter, or at cgem-llc.com and mention the name Stephanie Carpenter, and they would probably be as thrilled as me if you did.

I know, I know, wont hold my breath!

Video time, going back to the old days, and in this case, a Scottish woman, pretending to be Japanese! One hit wonder time, btw.

Keeping to the rules, or otherwise

Fine, I’ll get to the title matter in a minute, but for now…

Sunday evening started with a change of plans, a trip to the cinema, to see It. No, not the 1927 silent movie starring Clara Bow, though I’m sure she would have looked adorable, even in a clowns outfit. No, this was the recent (shock horror) movie based on the Stephen King book instead. Something very different for me, but impressed with it, all the same. Mind, the final outcome (of this section at least) appealed to me no end. The actress playing Beverley caught this actresses eye, as someone to watch for the future, just saying…

After that, a dose of ‘The Orville’ which is a new series on Fox over there, which seems to be a witty take off of Original Star Trek, among other things. Yes, the big attraction for me, the chrome robot, no surprise. Yes, if they ever want an actress to play his female companion… 😉 Suspect its just CGI, in truth, sadly. Not sure when I see any more of it mind, over here, but will keep an eye out for that.

Yesterday was the last full day (for a while) in the US, most of which I just spent relaxing, before heading for home, via JFK, in a shuttle. Yes, wisdom prevailed, given the state of my body at present, only way to go. Before that, I did get to see the Creature from the Black Lagoon thing, though sadly not wearable lol. But if anyone wants to make one, and let me wear it…?

Beyond the traffic levels to JFK (its NYC, for pity’s sake), that all went smoothly, and so did the ride through security. Then the fun began! I was taken to the gate on my boarding pass, for my plane home, fine. Thing was, the departures board was showing a different gate, some distance away, and some ‘know all’ told me my plane was going from there. So I struggled down there, only to find a short while later that my pusher had known what she was doing, and the know all was an idiot! So yes, I struggled back to the original gate I’d been left at.

There was 1 wheelchair waiting there, mine, and yes, someone came this time, and took me to the plane. At this point, someone asked me to swap seats, so he could sit with someone, and I agreed. Unfortunately, the idiot I soon discovered I had the ‘delights’ of sitting next to on the way home, thought rules were for everyone but himself. As in, mobile phones must be switched off before leaving the gate, and only be put back on, in flight mode, when we were in the air. Him, oh no! Trying to hide from everyone (very badly) that he was still using his phone after this point, and indeed continued to use it, until after the plane accelerated for take off. Even then, I’m not sure if he switched it off, or just hid it away. He was certainly still doing something with it post take off (not meant to be switched back on while seat belt light is on), so who knows? Put it this way, he was still using it this morning, up to, and including landing, long again after having been told to turn it off. Oh, and then everyone else decided to be an idiot, as more than half the people in the plane were standing up, long before the seat belt light went off at Manchester.

Then it got, err, better! There was only 1 wheelchair used at JFK to load a passenger, mine! So, at Manchester, only 1 is sent to the plane, to disembark me. Thing is, seemingly, 5 other people then decided they needed a wheelchair to disembark, despite not requesting one. My name was called, I stood up to get in, and another woman took my chair! She clearly wasnt going to move willingly, so in the end, they tried to round up another wheelchair for me, only to discover 4 more people wanting one! No, Manchester Airport doesnt employ psychics, to know that all these additional people suddenly would want a chair.

Finally, and I do mean finally, I was on the move. Snag was, with 4 pushers, and 6 chairs, movement was erratic, and slow. Not improved when I finally got to passport control, and there is a group of 3, from the sub continent, who were clearly being shifty about their reasons for entering the country. Finally, he decided to let them in, I passed through quickly, but then we had to get all these wheelchairs down to baggage claim. Then pick out the right black expanding suitcase, from dozens of them, but we got there in the end. So only about an hour later than expected, freedom, and greetings! Then at last, go home!

Oh, and one last thing before we move on from the holiday, and back to more mundane events, one of the movies shown on the flight across. A movie called Blended, which given my knowledge of modern movies, I had to look up when I got home. Take my advice, give it a miss. It has a shocking review rating, and the actress in the main female lead role was dreadful. One look on her face throughout the movie, basically rabbit caught in headlights! Yes, I swear even now, after a few years off, I could have acted the pants off her! So come on Hollywood, let me prove it, lol!

Thats it, then. Lets close by thanking Kate, Stacie, and Eric (mainly, but there were others) for such a marvelous holiday experience. Yes, being Maid of Honor, at a wedding, very special.

So what happens now? Another suitcase, in another hall (Evita)? Probably not! To a big degree, a lot depends what the doctors say about my back in the next couple of weeks, and how many days of work, per week, I can get through, post medication. I’m currently suspecting the answer will be 4, but we will see. Maybe a magic cure, or a nice new cybernetic body lol? Oh, I wish for the latter! I suspect I will be getting the airport wheelchair experience again too, but we will see?

In theory, if I could get there next month, I could go to NYC again for a reading for a production by 2 friends, surrounding the life of Clara Bow, but money (definitely), and holiday time (possibly) mean thats unlikely to happen. Ah well, might have knocked them over on Broadway, especially if they were looking for a middle aged woman confined to a wheelchair for a role lol. Still, keep on dreaming…

Right, video time. One thing a plane is called, is a silver machine, though I doubt thats what they’re talking about here! Dont think its a robotizing pod either, but its almost more likely! Yes, thats Lemmy, of Motorhead fame!

No magic!

Hopefully most of my readers know what I mean when I say I was hoping for an Incredible Hulk type transformation today when I went under the radio-logical x ray scanner today. No, I didnt want to come out large, green, and very angry, but I’m sure you get my drift. No, I was hoping to come out as a delightfully pretty, talented dancer, in her early 30’s, just like Clara Elaine Johnson.

Thats right, unsurprisingly, it didnt happen! In truth, it was a very simple, very painless process, other than that I had to raise my knees a long way (thankfully supported), but they didnt object to that, I’m delighted to say. Most painful bit in fact, was the lack of help from First Buses to get there in the first place. Yes, made it in time, but it was a struggle.

Oh fine, finding out I weighed a few pounds more (about 7) than I thought I did wasnt good, but I’ll survive!

Well, I’m more or less ready to go, things that can be put away tonight are done, rest I need in the morning, so will be done then. Now, if I can get my head around accepting the idea that I need to be wheeled around in a wheelchair, all will be fine! If anyone can help scramble my mind to accept that fact, feel free to do so, I’d enjoy it!

So this is it, the last UK blog for a while. By the time they return, hopefully I wont have been visited by Hurricane Irma, and I will have been a wonderful bridesmaid. I would say that hopefully I can find a mad scientist (or a visit to MIT) who can transform me into said young, and pretty Miss Johnson, but as they say, thats wishful thinking, I’m sure!

Right, video time. What didnt happen to me when those rays scanned my body earlier today lol!

Everyday Hurts

Regardless of my current physical issues, one thing I’ve always tried to do whenever I see anyone in a wheelchair is acknowledge them, even if its only a quick glance with the eyes, I always try to do something, just to show my support. Even more so now, in the sense that in a couple of weeks time, proverbially at least, I’ll be in their place. Fortunately for me, at the end of it all, I will be able to get out of the wheelchair, and walk away, to some degree at least, even if my back ensures it wont be that smooth an event. But of course, for most people in a wheelchair, thats not an option. Probably why, to some degree, I feel guilty about requesting a wheelchair, but being practical, I cant stand long enough in one place to join the standard Immigration queue, into the US, and in truth, getting through security might be challenging too, if I dont time it right! So fine, it needs to be done, but even so…

Yes, thankfully, I’ve got to the point where I can accept that as a fact, so I’m finding it easier to live with it, even if its not the perfect situation. I see one gentleman reasonably regularly, using the same bus service as me, to and from Bradford, and we’ve now acknowledged each other so often, I quite often get a wave, rather than a nod! But no, it wasnt him yesterday that made me think about my scenario in a fortnights time.

I was walking back from work yesterday, into town, and saw a woman in one of those motorized wheelchairs approaching at as much speed as I’ve ever seen one go! I tried to acknowledge her, but I think she was more focused on setting a qualifying time for a Grand Prix lol! No, I wont get a motorized wheelchair at the airport, I’m pretty sure, just being pushed along, I’m sure. To be honest, I have to, at some point look up what the etiquette is for these matters, as I suspect one of the places I might need assistance is in the check in area, but how does anything get sorted out before I check in? If anyone knows, and is prepared to comment, I’d love to know. If not, I’ll have to try and find out online, hazard of being a solo traveler.

To be fair, I should point out that it wont be my first time being pushed in a wheelchair, but the last time was nearly 50 years ago, and for a few weeks at least, I couldnt walk, as it was after both my knees were surgically operated on at the same time. Since then, no, never been in one. Well, not until a fortnights time, at least!

Yes, I do feel sorry for those, who unlike me, having got through the rigors of Boston Airport, wont be able to just get out of their wheelchair, and walk away, and know how painful it must be for some, when they see the rest of us walking around them, with too many just ignoring them. But yes, as a social experiment, it will be interesting to see how others react to me, all the same.

The video, an absolute oldie, just hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I’m already torn

Well, more snapped than torn, but anyway, minor details…

I got a follow up call on Thursday, while at work from the surgery, and no prizes for working out what it was about, my back. In fact, I was going to ring them on Friday morning to get the update, but they actually beat me to it! No, they’re not waiting a few weeks to see how the back settles down, I’ve already been referred for a bone density scan check, so that doesnt sound good? No, still waiting to hear when it will actually happen at present.

So yes, MIT, if someone reads this, and you need a guinea pig for some back strengthening robot type thing, I’m your girl! Chrome body would be an additional bonus lol! If reprogramming comes as part of the package, thats not a put off! 😉

One snag I’ve since worked out, given that I’m due to fly to the US in less than 6 weeks time, is my inability to stand still for more than a few minutes at present, without the back giving way, even on painkillers. I can walk fine, though not quite as fast as normal, I can sit relatively comfortably too, but just standing still, no!

The issue, I hear you ask? Simple one, US Immigration! The last 3 times I’ve been through, the average queue time would be almost an hour. I know, some of that time is shuffling along in the queue, but I suspect that will be nearly as bad for my back as standing still! There is one obvious option to take, but typically me, I feel guilty about it, though several have already told me not to be. Yes, for want of a better term, especially in my case, the ‘medically disadvantaged’ situation.

Let me say that up to now, I’ve only ever needed to use a wheelchair once in my life, about 50 years ago, when both knees were first operated on. Yes, they were soft on children back then, though yes, it wasnt long before I had to use them again. But fine, I needed one for a while, I simply couldnt walk! But now, I can walk, and I can sit just fine. I can even stand for a couple of minutes at a time, but any longer…nope!

I know, arrange a wheelchair to meet me at Logan Airport, get whisked (relatively) through Immigration and Customs at the airport, thats fine. But what I know I would then feel guilty about, is getting up, and walking away, relatively normally. I know, cant be helped, just do it, but this is me, so…if anyone wants to mind control me not to feel guilty about doing it, it would be appreciated!

For now, I’m going to give it a couple of weeks, see if I get any more medication, and how that works before contemplating booking the service, but I will have to give notice, so…Its funny, I was reading an article that a number of people pull the assistance trick to get through security quicker, but thats not my issue, I hope! Rarely is the queue that long, that I couldnt cope, especially as you’re not actually stationary for that long, but the Immigration queue, eek! I know, I’m 59, I’m crocked, just do it, but its not my nature to do so! But yes, I suspect I will, all the same.

Right, video time. This is not the version of the song that everyone knows. No, Natalie Imbruglia covered this song! I do like her cover, but this is the far more rock laden original. Sadly the only live performance I could find was awful quality, so settled for this