But it isn’t all about me, so I’ve backed away from the eggnog and found these riveting stories to entertain you over the holiday:
Monique van der Vorst has endured several accidents in her life, but the most recent was the one that counts. Paralyzed as a teenager following botched foot surgery, the Beijing Paralympic medalist crashed in training last year, rendering her – wait for it – unparalyzed.
Yeah, I just used a word that isn’t in the dictionary, because it doesn’t happen.
Van der Vorst has since joined the Rabobank women’s cycling squad, with plans to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics – not Paralympics. Talk about a fast recovery. (The Rabobank men’s team competes in the Tour de France. Perhaps its current, most-recognizable name is Luis Leon Sanchez – he won a stage in 2011.)
Speaking of the Olympics, the 2012 London Games are less than 225 days away.
GRATITUDE: Not to make light whatsoever of the status, but you have to wonder how many paraplegics are tipping their chairs since hearing of van der Vorst.
Jim MacLaren wasn’t so fortunate. If you don’t know his story, it’s a read well-worth it. You’re just sitting at your desk waiting for beer o’clock to roll around anyway – am I right?
I first read of MacLaren in a superbly written article by Elizabeth Gilbert for GQ in May, 2002. She explained how MacLaren was an athlete who’d lost his left leg after being hit by a bus.
Following rehab, he resumed competing. It was during an Ironman race eight years later, when MacLaren was 30 years old, that he was hit by a van.
No freaking way. MacLaren broke his neck. Quadriplegic.
Here’s an informative blog post on MacLaren and the incredible work he did, written by the author of Sixty Seconds, Phil Bolsta.
An amazing, inspirational person, MacLaren died in August, 2010. In his honor, as MacLaren requested in his own, final blog post,
If you could just take 30 seconds close your eyes and take a huge breath all the way from your stomach and filling your lungs. And feel grateful.
Then again, if a wheelchair accident was a “cure” for paralysis, I suppose Mark Zupan and the folks from the movie Murderball, documenting paraplegics playing full-contact rugby, would have walked long ago. (Zupan’s book, Gimp, is another riveting read.)
On a much lighter note…
BABY, YOU’RE A FIREWORK: If you’re a fan of the Schleck brothers or cycling in general, this 18-minute interview with them by Ushi Hirosaki is a must-see – all the way to the conclusion. Consider it holiday therapy.
Don’t worry. The English (so-so) kicks in after the intro. If you like this sort of thing, more interviews can be found here.
After you watch the interview, google “Wendy van Dijk.”
TIMBITS: Thanks to Volkswagen and its Passat commercial, not another sleepless night will be spent pondering the lyrics to Rocket Man: “burning out his fuse up here alone.”
Until now, I’ve been singing, “burning up the streets of Avalon.” Oh come on – what did you think the lyrics were?
If you’re stressing over what to do with all those Winter Holiday vacation days, I have just the thing: Tebowing. And to all you crankies sick of hearing about Tebow, pull it together. You’re blessed. How else can you explain you’ve been chosen to witness a modern-day Miracle each time the Broncos pull off a fourth quarter – even overtime – rally?
If vino is more your thing, here’s a trio of movies to stream on New Year’s Day: Bottle Shock, Mondovino, and Blood Into Vine, in that order.
Bottle Shock is about a California wine beating out a French wine in a 1970s competition. That’s the equivalent of an American team beating a French team in the Tour de France.
Oh wait – that happens a lot.
It’s also about family dynamics and business, interracial sex, and sweet, sweet victory.
Mondovino is a two-hour documentary, but it has intriguing commentary on the global politics of which wines are deemed best, if you’re curious about that sort of thing. It’s hard core. Drink espresso while you watch.
Last, but not least, Blood Into Vine is about Maynard James Keenan of the band Tool producing wine in podunk Northern Arizona. Keenan is a rock star. Of course the movie is quirky and good fun.
Consider yourself entertained. Best New Year Ever to you all!