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Welcome to my Beijing Blog!

My name is Lindsey Carmichael, and at the time when I wrote in this blog, I was 23 years old and attending the University of Texas at Austin. I am a writer as well as a world-class archer, and I felt compelled to keep a record of my days in Beijing. I hope you enjoy reading!

A few notes about that. My blog is about fifty posts long, and is organized so that the most recent posts are at the top. That means the easiest way to navigate is to use the calendar at the left side of the page to look at previous months or look at a list of my subject headlines.

To make it easier, I’m going to link the entries I find most pertinent to my Olympic story. The links below by no means constitute my entire experience, but you'll get an idea. (The one in bold with stars is the one of which I am most proud. It was written on September 13th, has a very unassuming name, and it is the one that has been most quoted by others.) Once you click on the link, it will take you to that particular entry, and you can use the “previous / next” links at the bottom of those entries to take you forward and backwards in my writing.


Welcome--Introductory Post!

Four Years… Four Weeks

The Last Practice


Inspiration, and a Final Goodbye

Travel Drama!

At the Village!

Rough Practice, and Opening Ceremonies

Beijing Paralympic Opening Ceremonies

First Day of Scoring

YouTube Videos!

First Match!

Oh the DRAMA! (Or, Lindsey's 1/8th Elimination Match)

Quarter-Finals, a photo, and two videos from yesterday!


**Details on Semis and Bronze Medal Match**

Quick Update + an essay about the Paras from 2004

Closing Ceremonies… Last update from China…?

Final trip home – and a couple surprises!


A Wonderful Week, and More Events to Come!

Two Articles!

Going to the White House for a Visit

Recap of Washington Visit

What’s Next?

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment on any of the entries, send me a message if you'd like to get in touch, or just poke around as much as you'd like. If you quote me in any way, please remember that all this work is copyright 2008 Lindsey Carmichael.


Passing the Torch / the End

I think the time has finally come for me to put the finishing touches on this blog. I’ve been home from Beijing for over two months, now. I’ve made inroads into my motivational speaking circuit. I’ve written over 31,000 words in a novel about a Paralympian, and I’m still going strong. By December I hope to have something readable, something worth editing and sending off to a publisher’s. By mid-January I start classes again, and continue shooting archery recreationally with the University of Texas Archery Club again. We have just instituted a Competition program, Team Texas, which will help our more competitive members stay focused and shoot better at the tournaments we attend.

I’m looking forward to finishing my English and History degrees in a couple of years. By that time, I hope to have made some serious progress with my Juice Plus business. I hope to have my Master Level Reiki third degree by then. And I hope to have a novel in the works of some publishing company, ready to hit shelves in a bookstore near you. I have a goal to meet, you know. I want to be on the NY Times Best-Seller List by 2020, and it would be absolutely wonderful to see a book about a Paralympian taking center stage in the literary world.

I’ve had a friend tell me that there’s no way I can make a living from novel writing, and that I ought to get a steady job. This same person has been skeptical about the fact that one can support oneself and one’s family just through Juice Plus. And I won’t deny that these things will take some effort… but if I care about nutrition, and care about seeing my friends a little bit healthier, then Juice Plus is a business I want to be involved with. And if I care about sharing my experiences with the world, and helping to inspire others with the same dreams that I’ve had, then writing is a business that I want to be involved with, too.

The journal that I’m using for this November is something cheap and simple from Barnes & Nobles. But emblazoned across the front of this modest notebook are words written in golden capital letters:


I could not agree more. My friend is probably right on some level. I probably ought to settle down with an easy 9-5 job and try to get my writing done whenever I can. And who knows? Perhaps I will. But I’m not ever going to give up the things that truly drive my life, that bring joy and purpose and magic into my days.

I may try for London 2012. I may not. I want to see if I can get to the point where archery itself is bringing happiness into my life. If I can see it through to that day, perhaps I will try for another Olympiad. Heck, I might even try for both the Olympics and the Paras again. But whatever I do, you can rest assured that I’ll be looking for the magic in my days. Beijing was incredible. It was so amazing that I still feel as if it were a dream. But there are so many other ways to find magic in our days. I hope I never stop looking for it.

Thank you once more for reading. I may post again here and there, might reorganize a bit, but for the most part this blog is a closed book. My story is told, and it's time to make new stories. May we meet again soon!

Novel Excerpt!

Hey everyone!

To celebrate the fact that today is the 15th of November and therefore the halfway point of this wonderful National Novel Writing Month, I have decided to share with you the passage I wrote this morning. At the moment, I'm hovering at about 24,440 words (from the total goal of 50,000 this month), with eight chapters and a prologue.

Not that it matters to you, really, but this piece was written into Chapter 3. I realized last night that chronologically, I needed my main character Marianne to make the Paralympic Team before my secondary character Casey went through the second Olympic Trials event.

This is fictional and not an autobiographical story, but I am using a lot of my own experiences. I have created these characters, not copied them from real people. Also, I have changed a few dates, as well as the location of the Games, as you might notice near the end of the excerpt. In real life, I was officially named to the Team while staying with the rest of the disabled archers at the Olympic Training Center for a quick training camp, and the coaches were there with us to deliver the official news, which we all knew was coming anyway. In this scene, Marianne has been living as a Resident at the OTC for months, and knows she will make the Team because of prior events at the World Championships. Even so, it's still an incredible feeling.

I chose this excerpt because I wrote it today, and because posting it would give away nothing about the book / characters / plot that wouldn't already be assumed by the reader. I am also fairly proud of it as a writer. It's not a stellar scene, but it's good. It's solid. And it also happens to capture the way I felt when I found out last March. I remember that it was the Spring Equinox, and chilly. I can remember standing outside Athlete Check-in after the meeting, and calling my great Uncle Norm. He was fast asleep in Massachusetts, but I left a message on his voicemail, breathless and excited. He still has it saved, and told me recently that he listens to it often. So here, I'd like to share with you Marianne's fictional (though no less realistic) experience.

Excerpt from PASSING THE TORCH...Collapse )

24,440 currently / 25,000 today's goal / 50,000 ultimate goal / 15 days left!

Hook 'em!

As many of you know, I'm a student at the University of Texas at Austin. I was in the process of researching classes to take next semester (UT registration is coming up very soon!) when I saw this lovely blurb on the English Department website. To be honest, I'd actually forgotten that I'd sent the info to one of my favorite professors. What a great job the department did!

Click here for the original page, or read on below:

Junior English major Lindsey Carmichael recently returned from the Paralympic Games in Beijing as a bronze-medal winner in women’s archery. A resident of Lago Vista, Texas, Carmichael is an avid student of literature and an excellent writer. Those who followed her summer blog—appropriately titled “Rings and Arrows: The Adventures of an American Archer Dreaming in Beijing”—recognize Carmichael’s literary talents. As Professor Douglas Bruster observed: “It’s rare to find someone with both a special athletic ability and the means to describe athletic experience in such engaging prose. Lindsey possesses real gifts, and has only started to discover what she can do with them.” Carmichael will resume her studies at UT in the spring.

What's Next?

I've heard this question so many times in the past few weeks that I'm having flashbacks to high school graduation. Most Olympians are warned in goalsetting workshops or by sports psychologists that they need to have plans already in motion by the time they come home from the Games, or they'll come home feeling empty or lost without something to keep pushing them. For some, that means turning around and starting a new training schedule for the upcoming quadrennium (four year period). I'm lucky. I was never just an archer. I have so many other interests that it seems unlikely I'll ever get truly bored in life. I'm also lucky in that I've known for years what I want to do with my life, with or without archery. I want to write.

My usual explanation for this strange desire to don a beret, sip espresso, and generally just starve myself into the role of existential-writer-extraordinaire goes something like, "Well, I like to write and people seem to like to read what I write. Works out well for everyone in the end!" And as simple an equation as that is, I'm actually banking on it. I don't really want to go into journalism. I know I don't want to be an English teacher. But I would be the happiest woman for miles around if I could write, edit, and publish books that people would like to read. If I could publish even one book that moved someone, that inspired them, that made them look differently at the world, then I would be over the moon.

Of course, I have to pay the bills somehow--and just writing something inspirational doesn't always cut it. I need not only to write my books, not only to get them published, but also to make sure they find their way into people's hands. My next truly big goal is for one of my books to make it onto the NY Times Best-Seller List by 2020. I don't care if I've got a slip novelette registering as a blip on the screen for half a day, or a record-setting new series that stays glued to the top. It would be nice to overshoot my mark and have several on the list at one time. I'll take what I can get, though. It's a worthy goal, and I'm already planning a few strategies on how to achieve that. In the meantime, though... let's just focus on getting something written, shall we?

So THAT is my next project, aside from finishing my degrees. Novel writing. This November will be my third year competing in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It's sort of like a nationwide (actually, worldwide these days) writing marathon in which normal people sit down at their computers and type like crazy for the entire month of November. The goal is for each writer to have a short novel by the end of it: 50,000 words in 30 days. Before you start looking into having me committed, let me explain. This is actually a very worthwhile way to spend three weeks (and I don't mean the part about being holed up in my living room for days on end, surrounded by old Starbucks cups and empty ramen packages). It's the perfect writing exercise because the thrill of the deadline actually pushes you harder than you've ever pushed before, creatively speaking. "It's the end of the 'someday' novelist," proclaims my favorite NaNo flyer. And it's true. Instead of going through life saying I'll get around to penning that fabulous masterpiece of mine someday, you actually have an excuse to hang a DO NOT DISTURB UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES (unless you have more coffee) sign on your door and finally get down to business, once and for all.

I won't bore you with the details, all of which can be found on the NaNoWriMo website or in Chris Baty's wonderful little book, No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. Suffice it to say that I have learned through being a competitive athlete that goals and deadlines make for very good motivators in life. NaNo is just another form of competition--although the only way to "win" is to beat your own best word count every day and to cross that finish line in time, waving your manuscript like it's God's gift to mankind. Which it probably isn't--not without some serious editing work. But still, you get the idea.

Now, before you all die of suspense waiting to ask me the next question on the list (but what are you going to write ABOUT??) I shall let you in on a secret. I'm a fantasy writer for fun, and I'd like to write historical fiction for a living. (That's why I'm double-majoring in English & History at the University of Texas right now.) But this year I am doing something that for me, is rather unprecedented. I am going to write about the Olympics and Paralympics. Strictly fiction, of course--though don't be surprised if you see a heavily edited version of that story you shouldn't have told me, deep in your drinks at the hotel in Washington. I've heard far too many wonderful stories in my two Games not to want to use some of them. The Olympics were MADE for drama! Anyway, this project is a kind of shot in the dark for me, and I have no idea how it will turn out, only that I need to follow through with it to see if it will work. I've never even read any sports fiction, so this is an entirely new endeavor for me. (Then again, J.K. Rowling never read much fantasy before she wrote Harry Potter, so really this is quite a good sign. Uh. Yeah.) Very exciting!

Here's the very, very rough synopsis:

Two friends and competitive archers are both headed for the Olympics, but they are in a car wreck and one comes out of it with a spinal injury. She goes through years of therapy to regain her strength and ability. The book opens as she discovers she's made the Team to the Paralympics--at the same time that the other friend makes it to the Olympics. The book will be an exploration of the different experiences each athlete must face and how that strains their relationship, ultimately bringing them closer together and showing them what it really means to be an Olympian.

Possible titles include: Passing the Torch, A Shot in the Dark, Slings and Arrows.
(I'm positively awful at names and titles... do you have any ideas?)

At any rate, I'll probably post an excerpt or two here sometime in November. Thank you all for reading! Oh, and if any of you happen to know a compassionate, well-connected literary agent or fabulously successful publishing company with the freedom to take a chance on a small-time novelist, drop me a line? I'd be forever in your debt. (And you'd probably merit a dedication in my book, no kidding!)

Disaboom feature

Well, I just got back from talking to a few classes full of third-graders about the awesomeness of archery. I had so much fun that I wanted to share with you some of the stories I told the kids, and it reminded me of this. A friend just recently made me aware of this featured profile of me on Disaboom.com, a website encouraging active lifestyles for people with disabilities. I barely remember writing these responses, but it turned out really well!

Paralympic Athlete in the Spotlight: Lindsey Carmichael

Excerpt from Disaboom.com, Posted: 9/4/2008 at 11:49 PM :

What is your favorite aspect of archery?

I love that just about anyone in the world can shoot archery. Male or female. Six years old or eighty-six. You can shoot if you are short, tall, or skinny as a rail. You can shoot from a wheelchair. You can shoot if you are missing an arm. You can even shoot if you are blind! That, to me, is the greatest testament to the level playing field of archery: in a sport assumed to be incredibly visual, we have archers who can shoot by feel alone. How amazing is that? And even within the able-bodied side of the sport, archery has the tendency to level the field between genders in a way that few other sports can. Because both sexes shoot at the same distance during Olympic competition, the scores of each division can be compared--and the archers who come out on top aren't necessarily the strongest or the most cunning. You see, all it really takes to be the best archer in the world is mental acuity and willpower. When I heard that the last few World Record holders in archery were all women, I have to admit I was totally hooked.

Recap of Washington Visit

Here we go again, wrapping up another Olympiad. The trip to Washington was wonderful, and bittersweet. Since we had so little time, a lot of the athletes stayed out all night, taking turns buying each other drink after drink, toasting their accomplishments, and pretty much just having a great time. It was surreal to see everyone in the same place, in a relaxed environment. I actually checked in at registration with the Men's Gymnastics Team, and while they were shorter than I expected, they were also every bit as toned and muscled as you'd expect. That sort of thing was true for about 90% of the 800+ people there. Just incredible.

Then there's the recognition thing. It happens a lot on campus to me, where I'll pass someone on the street and try to place their face. But after years of classes, who knows where you've seen them, or if you've met them, or if you've spent hours together in study groups? The same thing applies to such a crazy event as this. Do I know that athlete personally, from Athens? Beijing? Or did I just watch them on TV? Maybe I've talked with them before. Maybe I should be remembering a name right now. Maybe they won't notice if I just smile and keep walking...?

I stayed out with some rugby and equestrian athletes most of the night after the amazing banquet. The banquet was one of the best catered events I've seen, mostly because they served fillet mignon and Chilean sea bass. WOW. The food was incredible, and they kept the speeches to a minimum, although they played a couple recap videos from Beijing that were inspiring. (Mostly featuring the Olympian side of the audience, but hey I guess we can't be picky, right?)

It was cool to be able to talk with the Olympic Archers, who we all know from tournaments. Vic Wunderle, Khatuna Lorig, and Jenny Nichols were all there, as well as Olympic coach Don Rabska, who also happens to be my personal coach. How wonderful to see him!

The visit to the White House wasn't as cool as the one I remember from four years ago, but I can't put my finger on anything specific. It was a gorgeous day, with bright blue skies and a chill in the early morning air. The Marine Band was arranged on the White House Lawn, playing exquisite music. The cameramen were perched on some scaffolding behind the spectators. And the athletes were pushed up against the White House itself, in a hodgepodge of red and blue jackets around a platform with a podium in the middle. (Red jackets for men, blue for ladies, which I thought looked sloppy. Last time we all matched, and it looked great!) Last minute, they snuck Michael Phelps into the middle of the crowd, although I didn't see him until later.

President Bush's speech went just fine. He spent plenty of time on the experience he and his wife had, visiting the Olympics. He profiled many of the Olympic athletes they met, spending a lot of time on each little story about the two gymnast friends and rivals who had to share a room while competing for the gold, joking with Misty Mae, or meeting the Softball Team or the Men's Volleyball Team. When he finally got around to mentioning the Paralympics, he just gave as a quick congratulations and then segued right into the fifteen veterans on our (200+) team. He talked about Melissa Stockwell, the Paralympic Swimmer who lost her leg in Iraq. He smiled for us, and then moved on.

I guess nothing's perfect. At least he didn't accidentally call us Special Olympians, which would have been an absolute disaster.

This might sound obvious, but there's a big difference between seeing someone on TV and seeing them in real life. You pick up on things you'd never notice on the television, like how the President had aged considerably. It's nothing you could really put your finger on, but to me he looked like he was smiling over a bone-deep exhaustion. During the speech, he was incredibly focused, as if he was trying so hard that he might snap the podium with one of those seemingly relaxed politician gestures. When he made it through the speech, he looked a little relieved, proud of himself in a way he didn't want people to notice. Maybe I was just looking for something like that, I can't know for sure. It's just that, sitting eight feet away from him, I felt as if I could see his eight years of office written all over him. Regardless of whether or not you believe the US President is the leader of the free world or not... I would bet good money that the President himself has to believe that, and worry about it, and think of it constantly day and night for four or eight years. For President Bush, it may not register on TV as more than a few gray hairs, slightly slumped shoulders. But in real life, it's hard to not notice how hard this term has been for him.

I felt the same sort of surreal feeling when seeing Michael Phelps give interviews with another swimmer at the back of the White House. Poor guy looked like he was stuck under those cameras like a bug under a pin. He smiled and talked his way through it, but the whole time it was hard not to understand how real he was, and how exhausting this must be. Just a regular guy who maybe didn't know what he was getting himself into when he signed his life away for publicity's sake. Also, he doesn't look as goofy as he does on camera--or maybe it's just that in the past few months he's had to mature beyond his years. Shawn Johnson doesn't look as young, in real life--although with her height and blonde hair, she was continually mistaken for our star Paralympic swimmer, a little person named Erin Popovitch. I find that wonderful, to be honest.

Well, I have to go get ready to give a talk and a demonstration in front of a large group of third-graders in Marble Falls. Before the Games, these kids each made me good luck cards. I have stacks of them, still. I have no idea what to do with them!

I'll try and write again soon. Thanks for reading!

Going to the White House for a Visit

Monday morning I fly out early to Washington, D.C. for a very quick meet-and-greet with the rest of the 2008 US Olympic and Paralympic Team, and of course, the President.

This sort of thing is entirely optional, and I'd say more than half of the people who went to Beijing want to, or are able to come. Still, I went in 2004 after Athens and had a blast. So I couldn't say no this time around.

As many of you know, I am very liberal in my political persuasion. Still, no matter who is in office, no matter the political climate, it is an honor to walk the grounds of the White House and be in the presence of the Office of the President. Last time, I was amazed to discover how charismatic President Bush is, especially in a fine tailored suit, surrounded by his entourage with his smiling wife at his side. You hear about it, how you feel drawn to invite him to dinner or go have a drink with him, and I'll tell you the stories are entirely true. In fact, when he approached our side of the White House Lawn and began shaking hands, I was surprised to find my own hand reaching out. He shook my hand and I blurted, "Mr. President, I'm from Austin, Texas." He smiled, said "Welcome to Washington!" And that was that.

I don't expect anything different to happen this time, although it was a rare chance for me to be able to shake his hand four years ago. I'm happy just to be able to go on this trip, in part because it's like a quick reunion tour with all the friends and athletes I met in Beijing. I might even get to see Michael Phelps. You know, from a distance, since he'll be surrounded by screaming fans. But I'll also get to chat with the Olympic archers, who I know from various tournaments. Pretty soon, everyone will put Beijing behind them, filed away with all the other amazing, fun, and successful Olympiads. They'll start looking ahead to London 2012. That's as it should be, but I'm still glad we get one last hurrah together.

Updates to follow!

Two Articles!

As I mentioned before, I've had some interviews with a couple different newspapers. Here are the articles they wrote for me, both of which ran yesterday, Thursday October 2nd. (Lindsey Carmichael Appreciation Day, indeed!) I am happiest with the first one, printed here in our little hometown newspaper. Such wonderful writing! Mike Parker really captured the heart of my story.

Carmichael Brings Bronze Medal Home
by Mike Parker
North Lake Travis Log, 10/2/08
**Loads as a 3.6mb PDF file, may take a while.

Lago Vista Archer Relishes Paralympic Bronze
by Mike Leggett
Austin American Statesman, 10/2/08

As a side note, I feel it necessary to mention that the Statesman article took a quotation of mine out of context and used it in a way that made me uncomfortable. I emailed the reporter to see if they might edit the online version of the article a tiny bit, but he dismissed me with a quick apology and so far I've not heard back from the Sports Editor. I am still getting asked about it, so I'd like to clear the record.Collapse )
What a wonderful week this has been!

This past Saturday I had an absolutely fabulous Chinese-themed party for a wide assortment of friends. There were paper lanterns, delicious dumplings, Tsingtao beer, Chinese straw hats, and of course lots of good people. I am continually amazed by how many wonderful friends I have. Thank you all for coming and making that such a wonderful evening.

Since then, I've been to speak at the local school again. I've had lunch with several friends. I've been to a few long-postponed doctor's appointments, worked a few shifts (I have a part-time job as a wine tasting representative), and started in on my Juice Plus business. I've also been interviewed by a couple reporters, and have been corresponding with several people about other publicity events. Next week I even go to the White House with the rest of the Olympic and Paralympic Teams for a couple of days. See what I mean, when I say things have been crazy? :)

If you can believe it, yesterday the City Council of Lago Vista declared October 2nd, 2008 to be Lindsey Carmichael Appreciation Day. I won't type up the framed proclamation they gave me, but it was a huge surprise and an honor to be picked for such a thing. I couldn't stop beaming like an idiot after the mayor handed me the proclamation.

Our elderly neighbors, Kitty and Delbert, threw a big party for me as well, and such an event probably hasn't been seen since Jackie O left the White House. What a welcome! What a spread! More guests than any of us knew what to do with, incredible champagne, lots of toasting, more food than I've seen at most Thanksgiving Dinners, not to mention each bite more delicious than the last! She even baked a special Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with the pineapple slices in a design of the Olympic Rings! All I can say is wow. Goodness knows I have plenty of family already, each of whom I love seeing and visiting, but I've always felt as if Kitty and Delbert were like local grandparents. Always smiling and dropping off fresh cut flowers from their garden, or a few extra cookies from a big day of baking. They were always quick to loan me their golf cart so I could train on my own without having to walk back and forth from 70m all the time. It's amazing how the smallest of favors can contribute so much to other people's lives.

This weekend, I'll be dropping by the Austin JOAD Club to meet up with my old coaches. (JOAD stands for Junior Olympic Archery Development) They have graciously invited me to shoot in their Family Fun Tournament, but I have another party scheduled for later that afternoon, so I will only be able to come by and give a quick talk for the kids and their parents. Considering this is the same group that gave me my first shot at archery, I feel very indebted to them. Who knows? Maybe one of the other kids will take a look at my bronze medal and want one of his or her own. That would be so amazing.

For those in the area who are interested, here's the information on events this weekend.

3rd Quarterly Family Shooting Party
hosted by Austin JOAD Archers

2pm on Saturday, October 4th
4407 Monterey Oaks Blvd., Austin, 78748
(Click link for registration and more info!)

Lago Vista Bronze Celebration Party
hosted by Bam's Roadhouse Grill, Home of the Stuffed Burger

5-8pm on Saturday, October 4th
6115 Lohman's Ford Road, Lago Vista TX
(Very casual event, drop by anytime to say hi!)