Ed wants to be The Next Food Network Star (TNFNS) bc that is one of the first shows I watched on TV after I woke up. The Nurses at Vibra (2nd Hospital) would often ask me if I wanted them to turn on the TV when they left the room, but I always shook my head or answered, “No.” I didn’t have a TV in my apartment so I wasn’t used to it, plus I considered the whole experience to be a surreal live-action show so I had enough imagery in my head to make me shy away from the tube.
By the time I made it to RIO (3rd Hospital) I decided to watch some television. “I think I’ll watch some TV tonight,” I told Mommy one day.
“Good,” was all she said – happy that I had expressed interest in doing something.
I didn’t tell her at the time, but I wanted to watch TV so I could verify the reality of the situation. I channel – surfed and saw lots of commercials for local businesses, confirming that we were in the Portland area, and also that it was May/June 2011. Well, it looks like real TV, I thought. So I settled on the escapism of The Food Network to help make me hungrier so I could reach my mandatory eating minimums and get off the PEG (feeding tube). I watched a lot of BBQ’ing on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and TNFNS was also in a prime-time spot. 2011 was the year Jeff the Sandwich King won, and I watched a large part of the season from my hospital bed.
A couple of days ago I saw a commercial for Demaris’ new show (I forget what it’s called). She is this year’s winner, and I watched the DVRed series with Hannah and Ai Ai while on vacay with them this summer (Joshie opted for Superhero Squad in another room, and Timmy was at work). When we watched the final “reveal” show we were treated to retrospectives by the finalists. Demaris’ was memorable – there were several painful clips of her earlier TNFNS efforts, and then it cut to her own commentary. The early tapes of herself are difficult for her to watch, she said, because she was a bit of a mess and it’s embarrassing – but she explained how she processed and acted on the feedback from the judges/mentors, “and look at me now,” she concluded.
Her confidence in making that simple statement made me feel badly about being annoyed at the TV screen that time she cried earlier in the season. My bad. It wasn’t just her, though – I routinely get annoyed when anyone cries during these shows, particularly Restaurant: Impossible when Robert Irvine is dishing up some tough love. Eddie loves that part. But when Demaris said “…look at me now,” I looked at Ai Ai, and said,
“See that, Boo Boo?” (pointing at the screen), “That is a teachable spirit.”
And you know what? Even though she was rather a mess at the beginning of the season, Demaris won. And she now has a new Southern Cooking show.
Good for her! The most compelling part of her win is that she didn’t begin the competition the way she ended it. She was willing to learn and able to put others’ advice into practice.
I am enthusiastic about Demaris’ success because a teachable spirit is something I’ve been working on for a while. When I lived in OR I went up to The Farm to see the N’s (JJ’s maternal grandparents), and Mrs. N taught me how to weed in her garden. She is a self-described “farm-girl,” and I am decidedly not. “I don’t know the first thing about weeding, Mrs. N,” I told her, “But I take direction pretty well.”
Pretty well, I flattered myself. I tried hard to listen to what she was telling me, but I wasn’t fabulous at the whole weeding thing. (Ooh, ooh! I got a carrot!! Sorry – my bad.) Of course, she was gracious as ever, I enjoyed a nice lunch with both of them, and she sent me home with cabbage and/or lettuce from the garden.
It took me a while to get into the humor where I was willing to take direction from my Therapists after I woke up. I was too loopy at Vibra (2nd Hospital) to do anything other than do as I was told, and we were just working on things like sitting in a chair and taking first steps (the absence of fear really helped here – I wasn’t lucid so it didn’t matter). By the time I got to RIO (3rd Hospital) I woke up in earnest, and after a couple of weeks I understood that these people meant business and it was in my best interest to attend to their advice. It was very strange for me – constantly hearing the words in my ear: Keep the walker on the floor, Midline, Breathe (this one came with illustrative hand motions), Let the wheels run through your hands (learning how to work a wheelchair), Eyes OPEN! And when I got home, it was your favorite and mine: Are you using your CORE?!?!?!
For a while there I was just rolling my eyes mentally and scoffing at the situation – I don’t need to know any of this; this is all just a misunderstanding/a dream. Whatevs. I just want to lie down. But when I began to understand that this was for real and we were playing for keeps I recognized that the medical professionals around me had specialized knowledge and I needed to absorb as much as I could before they would let me loose in the wide wide world. I’m still absorbing. And I understand now that engaging my core is vital to everything I do while awake – so is having a teachable spirit.