Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Ugly Truth...

Okay so many of us are watching the Olympics. I have been a fan since a young child. I’m a walking encyclopedia of major Olympic moments. At least the ones that meant something to me. I can relive each element, all the drama, triumph and heartache. I usually end up crying as I do this. One of my favorite chapters in my books ever, was trying to create one of those “moments” in a Bombshell story.

I thought I might rank them – because I love lists – but this blog is really supposed to be about writing. So I went with number 1.

1984 – Ice Dancing (yes it’s a sport… sort of.) - Torville and Dean’s Bolero. I actually might have liked the Paso Doble (short program) better. When everyone was doing the matador and bull, they did the matador and his cape. She draped around him like an actual cape and he swung her around the ice and I was… mesmerized.

Then came Bolero. I dare any of you to Youtube it, start watching it and then look away. You can’t. It captures you. It enthralls you. It was a moment of true perfection. I talked about performance last week on the blog and in my mind this was the most masterful performance ever.

Then I remembered a documentary special I watched on this couple. They were making a comeback in 94 (They were robbed of gold! Robbed I say!) and the show was a look inside their relationship and training routine.

It was… awful. Christopher Dean was the harshest task master I had ever seen. He verbally abused Jayne on a regular basis regarding her weight, her skating ability and her commitment. He made them drill over and over and over again even when they were both past the point of exhaustion. She gritted her teeth and accepted his orders and the whole time I thought… Jayne, tell this guy he can go kiss it!

It was ugly. It was nasty. It was brutal.

But that’s what it took for them to reach perfection. That “moment” is a beautiful thing. Reading an amazing book is flat out fun. But what I will take from T&D and the subsequent documentary is getting to that point can be ugly. Long hours, pushing yourself past your limits, living with an evil task master, whether it’s your critique partner (no one should be so harsh as Dean) or your inner skeptic – which is probably harsher than Dean on his best day.

Perfection comes at a price. It’s why not everybody can get there. The question is do you want it? Do you really really want it?


Karen W said...

Hey, that is the sign I have posted above my computer. It says "How Bad do you want it?" (Yes, I'm aware it should say 'badly', but I don't care).

Sometimes it helps, especially on those days when I'd rather do anything besides write.

Maureen McGowan said...

I really want it. I do. And while I accept it takes hard work and discipline and facing difficult to hear criticism... I don't think it has to get mean or abusive. Maybe some people respond to that... Not me.

There was a Canadian pair a few years ago (probably more than a few) who were exposed to have that kind of a relationship, too. The guy was a total a-hole to the girl. (Why am I thinking it was the dude who's now married to the original Buffy??? Didn't put his name, 'cause don't want to be sued. LOL Not sure it was him, but think it might have been...)

While I really do get your point, and think it was a great post about pushing for the gold :-) I really can't accept that we need to accept abuse to get there.

Not that you said that... it just sparked something in me about how women tend to take crap from men. Another sports related example I've read about is the US coach of the 80's era womens gymnastics team. (He was a Romanian... can't think of name right now... but he coached Nadia before moving to the US.) Boy there were some serious stories of abuse there..

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. :( Had line-edit deadline. Was going to do a post about curling. LOL. Not exactly writing related, but fun. Maybe will do it next week.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Maureen - I can't comment one way or other on Dean. Jayne would have to answer if she felt abused. (I wouldn't like to hear some of what he said - but that's me.)

But more I was just thinking about how far and how hard you have to push or be pushed.

"Get better, do more, work harder. Get thinner so I can lift you higher. Work longer because we need to get better." That kind of stuff.

I think regardless how "nicely" or "meanly" you say it the sentiment is still to push. And that's when you have to decide what your threshold is.

And for the record 2 more moments for me last night. Watching Vonn (and watching those other women fall) and Shaun White (my new boyfriend by the way.)

He is something else.

My new favorite term is freaky deaky....

Molly O'Keefe said...

Bela what's his name, right? Legosi? Or is that the guy that played Dracula - I think that's Dracula.

I hired a trainer - yep, I did. Best decision ever and will talk about that next monday. (I forgot to post too - it was Family Day here in canada and it felt like Sunday. Tuesday came as a total suprise) anyway - trainer was saying that it's great to want gold. IT's great to work really really hard for that medal - to devote your life to that effort - but it's not going to happen unless you love the process. I liked that.

My favorite olympic moment was the British runner many years ago who pulled a muscle during the finals of some race and his father came barreling out of the stands to help him cross that finish line. He was straight arming security, saying - 'we started this together, we'll finish this together." The photos the next day of the runner's face totally agonized, the father's face covered in tears. Amazing.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Yeah - steph - Shaun White was just in a class by himself. IT was like everyone else and then him - he was easily 50% higher on those jumps and so much faster and it looked so freaking easy. He was amazing.

Eileen said...

Oooh. Interesting. I get what you're saying about the abuse, Maureen. I think we can be disciplined and push ourselves without berating ourselves. There's pushing that's encouraging and pushing that's just plain toxic.

That said, I think it's a mistake to be too gentle with ourselves, too. There's a time to let the words flow without restriction, but then there's a time to come back and be ruthless.

Can't wait for your curling post, Maureen. Did you know that a member of the Canadian women's team is nearly 6 months pregnant? Perhaps my Olympic dreams are not dead!

Stephanie Doyle said...

The coach!... Yeah he's one of my moments. And again there is that line. He pushed... hard. Some said too hard.

But when Kerri Strug fell and hurt herself and started walking back for her next vault - he said, "You can do it. You can do this."

And she did. And landed on one foot. And he carried her in the for the medal.

Crying. Now. As I write this...

And Molly loved your moment too!

Maureen McGowan said...

I think there is a balance between pushing and abuse... whether it's self-inflicted or from a coach figure.. And everyone responds to different motivations, so who am I to say Torville and Dean was an abusive partnership... or that Canadian pair I was thinking of.. (Although I think in that case, she did come out and accuse him once they retired. They did NOT remain friends once their sports partnership ended.)

Eileen, that was going to be one of my great things about curling... That it's a game of strategy and skill, vs. physical prowess. So you don't really need to be in great shape. Not sure if that's a plus or a minus in terms of it being an Olympic sport, LOL.

I didn't realize one of the Canadian women was pregnant. I really haven't been able to watch much of the Olympics. :(

Eileen said...

Watching Vonn lie on the ground (or did she lay on the ground? I can never keep those straight) and cry after winning the gold when she'd been so even-tempered and calm in all the interviews leading up to it was amazing.

A great revelatory moment about her character, wasn't it?

Steph, your new boyfriend's double McTwist was awesome. I stayed up wayyyy past my bedtime to watch it. He really was in a class by himself.

Maureen, all your sacrifices will be worthwhile. There will be another Olympics for those other people, getting your book done is yours right now.

Sinead M said...

Love the Olympics as well. My favourite sport right now, strangely, is speed skating, the long tracks. The idea that the best skater is the one that keeps their form while every muscle in their body is burning, so it's as much a mental discipline issue as it is a physical prowess.
To work past the pain, so they inflict the pain on themselves...
it's warping my little mind.

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