How To Crash Your Wheelchair Like a Boss

A few weeks ago I “almost” had my first wipe out in “the company vehicle” (my new wheelchair). Today I had my first actual one.

I hit something with my front caster and the whole chair stopped. I fell forward and had no choice but to somersault onto the pavement. My wife held my chair and I got right back up and we carried on.

She said that even though she knew I was crashing, and it happened too quickly for her to do anything about it, a part of her wondered why I was doing a somersault while we were taking a “walk” around the block, just to be a goofball.

To anyone reading this who is concerned for my safety, you needn’t be. My wife spent many minutes afterward marveling about it being “the most well-orchestrated crash” she’d ever seen. I’ve had plenty of practice over the years and even though its been a few years since anything like that has happened and I had no intention of crashing today, when I did, something kicked in from previous experience and I took action with precision, almost by muscle memory, in order to crash in the way that I know to be least likely to lead to calamity.

So I submit to you, how to crash like a boss:

  1. You’ve hit a bump or a crack or a pebble or whatever. You’re going to fall. There is nothing you can do to prevent it. Might as well make the best of it. You have to stick out your dominant hand to break your fall.
  2. The secondary reason it has to be your dominant hand is that arm has to be strong enough to at least very briefly support your entire body. If you are in a wheelchair because your legs are paralyzed, you are merely protecting them right now. While you fall out of the chair, it may very likely begin to slide out from underneath you which could easily lead to your entire weight falling down on top of your legs if the scenario unfolds wrongly. So you have to momentarily have that other hand available to deal with that possibility.
  3. It can also only be the one arm you plant down because now that you are doing a handstand with your butt in the air, your legs are now in a free flop. You have to get a hold of them with the other arm.
  4. Then you have to make a decision based on your individual ability and the position you are currently in. Do you bring yourself down on the shoulder of your dominant, planted arm, or do you tuck (your neck) and roll? I’ve been known to do either one in a pinch but if possible, I think the shoulder is the safer way to go. Generally speaking, unless you really hit something hard and your whole person went goes flying ass over teakettle, you don’t need to somersault and probably shouldn’t. Just be sure to not let all of your weight come down on your elbow. You have that padding in your shoulder for a reason.
  5. Immediately after, you have to be careful to let your legs touch down gently without banging or getting scraped on the pavement. Depending on the surface you’ve fallen on be careful with any and all bony parts of your lower body when you momentarily are left sitting there, and when you are sliding yourself back into your chair. It can be a humiliating experience, though I’ve learned to laugh it off. But your instinct is probably going to be to get back in your chair as quick as possible. Make sure your arms and legs and back and head and neck and everything are all where they should be first.
  6. Bring the chair back behind you, and secure the brakes. If you don’t have them, if someone is with you please have them hold the chair. If you have neither, roll it up against a curb. If nothing else roll it up against whatever you hit that made you crash in the first place.

Keep in mind this all happens within the blink of an eye. It comes with practice. Though I do not hope this happens to you a lot, it happens to some of us more than people think. So we get a lot of practice, and thankfully know how to deal with it safely. I am not as agile or physically resilient as I used to be so I am grateful that I am able to at least do this in such a well-orchestrated way.

Keep rolling, my friends. Be well and take good care of yourselves.

The Evil Leprechaun Who Haunts My Apartment

Most people are unaware that there is a counterpart to the leprechaun in Irish mythology called the clurichaun. They are known to be surly, drunken little tricksters, mischievous fairies who usually haunt breweries and wine cellars and the like. Okay so he’s not really an “evil” leprechaun, per se. Just kind of a jerk.

Like leprechauns, they are known to guard hidden treasures. So I was pretty well convinced, being the mischievous bounders they are, that a clurichaun was responsible for the various items that had gone missing in my apartment of late with no plausible explanation.

The missing items included:

  • a flashlight I had used almost every night to read before I slept, which I would put in the same place every night when finished
  • one of my favorite caps which I bought because it reminded me of my grandfather
  • my favorite t-shirt, and the one tangible piece of memorabilia I brought home from my most enjoyable vacation
  • a whole damn card table

That last one is no joke. Months ago it occurred to me and my wife that neither of us had any idea where it was. We live in a two bedroom apartment, and the way we have our living space arranged, there really are very limited places to store such a thing, all of which would be quite visible.

Total mystery to both of us.

Then, about a week ago, as mysteriously as it disappeared, out of nowhere, my wife noticed the table, legs folded up, and leaning against the side of our living room sofa. Which we spend a good deal of time on, by the way. Then probably the next day, when doing some spring cleaning she discovered my flashlight in an area which was of course the most obvious place for it to be, but because of that, also the most scrutinized area in my previous search for it.

In any case, there it was.

Still no sign of my t-shirt or my cap. Maybe when the clurichaun gets bored with his mischief these treasures will be relinquished back to me.

Until then, because of how absolutely freakish the table’s reappearance was, I am reminded by this ordeal that human beings have an uncanny ability to not see what is right in front of their eyes.

Maybe if I approach my apartment from just the right angle, I will find my missing belongings.

Maybe if we all look at our lives from a different point of view, all of the missing pieces will come into view.

In any case, I don’t know what a clurichaun would be doing in our apartment. We don’t keep a lot of liquor around and none of what we have has gone missing.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.

Gone: “Viral”

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is no laughing matter. We don’t know how many people’s health will be affected, or how much it will disrupt our lives. But it is easy to get overwhelmed with worry about what could happen, if you think about it too much. I found myself in a heavy funk on the way to work yesterday, allowing some rather apocalyptic scenarios to dance in my head.

Throughout the day I decided that while I plan to be as cautious as is prudent right now, I will not entertain “worst case scenarios” if all it’s going to do is deplete my peace of mind.

I came home last night determined to write something, if not uplifting, then at least light-hearted. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking we should hold off on using the phrase “gone viral” in reference to social media. Under current circumstances, the words just carry too much weight. And again, it does affect our peace of mind to think about negative situations too much.

Covid-19 is nothing to make light of, but it is a fact of life that the way we are doing things is at least temporarily shifting. So long as that is true, there must be other ways to talk about a post, picture, video or what have you, that spreads far and wide on social media.

Here are just a few off the top of my head:

  1. Warped: Remember Super Mario Bros, how you’d be in that underground brick room and you’d find the secret door and suddenly you’d be in the sky jumping across tree tops? I don’t remember if that was how it went but the point is you’d warp, and out of nowhere you’d take a giant leap forward. (See also, “Leveled up”)
  2. Hulking up: I don’t know how old you are, but surely you’ve seen Hulk Hogan back in his day when he’d rip his shirt off and go into that whole head shaking, finger wagging, convulsive sweating routine. When he did that you knew he was about to go off. Now when you hear “Hulk” most of us probably think of the Marvel comics Hulk. Same deal. When he went off, big things happened.
  3. Gone Poprocks and Coke: Since I am clearly in throwback mode here, though I wouldn’t recommend it: You know that thing where you dump a whole package of Poprocks in your mouth and then you guzzle some soda and your whole face explodes or whatever? Yeah. I think that is a fine metaphor for how quickly a good post can be everywhere.
  4. Uncorked: Same concept, much less dangerous with proper eyewear. Celebratory in nature.
  5. Kardashing: Why not name it after the people that made viral social media posts a thing in the first place? It just feels right.

    I’m sure you have some better ideas. Let’s hear them. If nothing else this could be an exercise in finding different ways of doing things. Again, we don’t know how much our lives are going to change at least for the immediate future. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves, and watch out for each other.

Strange Days Indeed.

This month is full of contradictions. So much so that the whole thing started last month, on February 29th. “Leap Day.” We gained a whole day.

We coasted off that momentum right into March 4th, “the only day that tells you what to do.” March forth! It is also known as “Do Something Day!” meant to be a day of positive initiative. Just in case we didn’t make good use of February 29th.

Yeah, but then a few days later we “lost an hour” when we Spring(ed) – (sprung? sprang?) – Forward. Nobody ever has anything positive to say about that day until they start to realize they’ve got more daylight after work. Then it’s all just lovely again.

Now, then. After we’d leapt, marched and sprung, the other night we had a full moon. I am not a superstitious person, but for those who are, the ominous implications of the full moon are likely to cancel out the extra hour before sunset, all of the marching forth they’d done, and (did I mention?) their entire extra day!

Just in case it doesn’t though, this Friday is “the 13th.”
Double….whammy….

Fear not, though. Because I assure you that if you manage to evade the perils of these two most inauspicious days, St. Patrick’s Day and the “luck of the Irish” will be right around the corner.

For your sake, I hope you are Irish.

I’m kidding. Just as whatever it is that is unleashed on a full moon and on Friday the 13th does not discriminate, on St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish. So everything’s going to be fine. Then all you’ll have to worry about is what your friends have in store for you on April Fools’ Day.

What the Beatles Taught Me About the Value of a Second Draft

The Beatles, according to many, were the greatest songwriters of all time. I’m not here to argue that. The point is, great as they were, it did not always come easy to them.

The melody for “Yesterday” famously came to Paul McCartney in a dream. So he didn’t forget it, he shoved in the first words he thought of, which happened to be “Scrambled eggs/Oh, my baby, how I love your legs,” and so on.

I’m serious.

When McCartney and John Lennon first wrote “Drive My Car” it included the chorus “I can give you golden rings/I can give you anything/baby I love you.”

It’s trite, and it’s a massive cliche, and the Beatles knew it. But they liked the tune, so they went back to the drawing board. In the end, what they came away with was an anthem for women’s empowerment. The “girl” in the song was the VIP and the guy was her driver.

I think we can all agree that the final drafts of both songs were far superior.

Later, in “Paperback Writer” McCartney sang “I can make it longer if you like the style/I can change it ’round but I wanna be a paperback writer.” Clearly he understood that you aren’t always finished when you think you are, and it isn’t always brilliant when you think it is. Sometimes you just need to run a comb through it and tweak a few lines here and there. Sometimes you need to run your manuscript or lyric sheet or whatever through a shredder and start over. Either way a second draft can bring a freshness, a vitality to the piece.

And that’s just the writing process. When they got into the studio, they, like most recording artists, would do multiple takes of a song. The demo was the rough draft and each ensuing take was another “draft.”

In 1968, George Harrison brought a song to the sessions for the White album called “Not Guilty.” It is well documented that the Beatles recorded about 100 takes of the song. Literally. Many of them were partial or just false starts. But still they kept at it until they got it right. To top it off, after all that work they didn’t put it on the album!

It disappeared until 1979 when Harrison put it on his own album.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” began as a very different song than the one they eventually released. They tried countless variations, but it was missing something, particularly in the intro. Then one day Lennon walked into the studio, went straight to the piano and banged out what would become the song’s famous opening.

It took a lot of work, but in a moment of frustrations/inspiration, it morphed into one of their most beloved tunes.

In 1969, according to Lennon in typical hyperbolic form, the Beatles recorded “a hundred million” takes of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” yet another McCartney number that was not held in high esteem by Lennon or Harrison. McCartney was convinced it was strong enough to be a Beatles single.

In fact, not only did Lennon and Harrison not appreciate it, it is often cited by fans as one of their least favorite Beatles tracks.

That’s three very different outcomes for songs given multiple takes (drafts). But in every case, the result was appreciated by someone.

I’ll be honest. When I am writing on this blog, I don’t very often write a second draft. Especially with long posts like this, I edit and improve it as I go along. But I’m not letting it sit for a day or two and coming back to it with fresh eyes. I absolutely do that when I am writing for a client. Because they expect my best, for one thing, but also because I know that you can always improve a piece you’ve written. There is always going to be a more colorful, more insightful way of saying something.

But when it’s finished, you just know. And at some point you’ve got to release the album.

The Company Vehicle

I got my new wheelchair last week. It came with significant improvements, which I specifically ordered. I originally told them I basically wanted the Batmobile of wheelchairs, but it seems my insurance wasn’t real keen on that concept. So this will do.

  • I hardly ever use the brakes but when I do need them it is good to have a dependable and easy to use mechanism. This chair’s brakes are a spring activated situation, so a flip of the thumb is all that is needed to lock them.
  • The front wheels are wider than I’ve ever had before. So the many potholes in the sidewalks and roads will be much less of a hazard.
  • The footplate is tucked underneath significantly in comparison to my old chair, making me much more mobile in tight spaces.
  • The frame of the chair itself is minimal, making it much easier to keep clean. Though the existing bars are beefier than the ones on my old chair, the minimalism makes it much lighter.

I’ll be able to move very well in it once I master driving the thing. It is going to take some getting used to. I had my old chair for over 11 years. So though it was getting a bit creaky, I had driving it down to a science. I knew how flicking a finger against a spoke, or pressing a palm against the side of a wheel to slow one side down just so, could help navigate certain types of terrain.

With a new cushion and new tires, I’m pretty well set to take on the world this spring and summer. I plan to put on a lot of miles, as I do every year once the weather gets warmer. Especially this year as on evenings and weekends I’ll be pursuing my side project ever more seriously. You see, by day I am a mild-mannered insurance marketing agent. Outside the office, I am a freelance writer.

I ordered my chair painted dark purple to match the logo for my freelance writing business. I call it “the company vehicle” because I plan to put on some significant mileage rolling around my home town, getting to know my fellow business owners and offering my service, throwing some business cards around. You know.

In my work as a writer, I am driven by three things:

  • I am a writer. And writer’s write. So I write. Not only do I have a love for communicating in writing, for crafting a phrase that reaches people, but it is an inexorable part of me. It must be done.
  • A great and ancient lineage of poets and story tellers is represented by my family name, Dailey. That is why I called the company simply, Dailey Freelance.
  • Today is National Wheelchair Day. And though I don’t try to make it the headline, I never shy away from the fact that I am a disabled business owner. It is important to me to represent that because the kind of world I’d like to see, that I’d like to help create, is one in which disabled people are putting their talents and contributions on full display.

So I write. Because I’m a writer. And writer’s write.