Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Strange Victories, Strange Defeats

There hasn't been much good news around these parts lately: it's been all car-related crime sprees, poor surgical outlooks and the fact that the only groove I've been able to get into has been the ass groove I've worn in my bed. But today, a minor victory. Today, not only did I beat an old lady while walking down the street (I should probably say "passed an old lady" or "blew by an old lady leaving her in a cloud of dust and wonder"), but she gave me a little nod as if to say, "Carry on, soldier. I can see that your train is bound for glory and I will not stand in the way of such greatness. Nay, it is a privilege to have been out-paced by such a fine specimen of human potential such as yourself." (Translation: I walked faster than an old broad with a cane and she stopped to let me past). But still! In days past, I would have struggled mightily to pass the old woman and she might have cussed me out in the process (see here). Today, however, I smoked up behind her (that didn't come out right either) and she stopped and gave me a little wave with her cane to let me on through. Progress!
In other news, Steph and Adrian are staying with me while my parents are in San Francisco. I need to be babysat in case I break into the liquor cabinet. No, actually it's because I have never liked to stay in my parent's house by myself, which, yes, makes me a giant wussy (or something that rhymes with wussy). But, seriously, staying alone in my parents' house is like being in a very tame horror movie. It was built in 1908 and often you hear footsteps when no one's home, doorknobs turn rapidly and doors open and close really quickly. My uncle won't stay over because one time he slept in the attic bedroom and heard voices all night. Plus, there seems to be a mini crime spree going on lately around these parts, and I figure I should have other people around on account of the fact that I can't run from danger. (A. says I need a gun. I disagree).

Anyhow, Steph and I watched "(500) Days of Summer" and I realized two things: a) I am probably a hipster. Damn. b) I should probably start dressing better. What if I meet my soul mate while out and about and he mistakes me for a homeless person because of my sweatpants? (Maybe that cop was my soul mate). What if I end up spending my life singing songs to my house plants simply because I chose to wear sweatpants on some day in Starbucks and my soul mate took one look at me and thought, "I wonder if she injects heroin into her feet" as opposed to, "Hey, I kind of dig Amazon chicks?" Damn. I guess it's worth it to risk a concussion to put on skinny jeans.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Elementary, My Dear Watson!

I just returned from watching the new "Sherlock Holmes" movie (along with roughly 3/4 of people in the Greater Vancouver area...seriously, there was a mini riot at the ticket counter and I was forced to sit 3 rows from the front), which stars that sexy beast Robert Downey Jr., and it has become instantly apparent what I need to make my life better/cooler: a carved wooden walking stick that acts as the sheath for an immense dagger, which I could activate whenever I was in danger and use it to kick ass and take names. Dr. Watson has one of these in the movie and I think it would be just dandy for a variety of reasons:
  1. A "walking stick" trumps a "cane" because the former belongs to sophisticated, wealthy people who can list 'strolling' as a hobby along with 'collecting 17th century writing desks' and the latter belongs to me and half the old people at my grandma's care home.
  2. While the fact that I am 6 foot 2 (and will soon be 6 foot 2.5!) gives me some natural defenses, it never hurts to have a dagger concealed on your person, especially since today someone broke into my dad's car and a few days ago someone broke into my mom's car.
  3. Even if my walking stick does not have a hidden dagger, people have seen enough movies where walking sticks conceal weaponry that they might decide not to fuck with me just to be safe. Also, worse case scenario, I could pull some Splinter-style Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action and generally throw down. If an arthritic anthropomorphic rat can do it, so can I! Bonus: instead of being a "hero in a half-shell," I could be a "hero with a half-ass." Double bonus: perhaps my ninja skills could be parlayed into a career as a crime fighter, which is probably the only thing I'm qualified to do with an MFA.
  4. People would think, "Is she disabled or is she just preparing for a long and arduous hike?" instead of, "Hey, my grandpa had a cane just like that. Someone should give that girl a Werther's Original."
There are, however, down sides to consider. I would have to sacrifice my "comfort-grip" handle; (how easy is it to hold on to a carved eagle's head?). I might also look like one of those assholes who wears a cape, has a scraggly ponytail, carries a cane for non-walking-assistance-related purposes, and addresses everyone with an affected British accent as "m'lady" or "m'lord." There were a couple of those at U of I and something about them always filled me with a powerful surge of rage. (Granted, many things fill me with rage: like metafiction...and the fact that I haven't been able to wash my left foot for 6 months because I just can't reach the fucking thing).

Anyhow, yes, I must admit that it would be easier to pull off a walking stick if I lived in the 1800s. Since I don't, however, I'll continue my hunt for something that's a little less geriatric (but also allows me to walk with minimal gimpiness).

In other news, my new laptop is fantastic. It's so nice to be able to actually put the computer on top of your lap, which was not possible with my previous Macbook because the battery would get so hot that it would burn my thighs; (and to those of you asking whether that's the only burning I've had in my loin-region lately, shut up. I will start dating when I can successfully move my leg well enough to do the hokey pokey. I mean, how are you going to rock a headboard if you can't even put your left leg in, pull your left leg out, put your left leg in and shake it all about?)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Part Two

I wasn't planning on blogging this Christmas, (seeing as how most of you are probably face-down in a plate of wife-saver casserole after a little too much mimosa/eggnog anyhow), but the gifts have been unwrapped, the stockings have been unstocked, the cinnamon buns have been devoured and I've had too much coffee. Besides, does something really happen if it hasn't been thoroughly analyzed online?

You might notice that my blogging is feeling a little more streamlined...a little sleeker....perhaps just a touch more awesome (not possible, I know, but still). The reason: I got a new MacBook pro for Christmas!! This is an embarrassment of riches because I already had a MacBook, though granted it had been through the wars when I used to take it every weekend aboard a bus when I was playing varsity ball, then would proceed to fall asleep on top of it. And, granted, it's been broken since the first day I got it, when it fell out of its box when I was trying to carry it while walking with crutches because I'd just moved to Champaign and had no car. And, yes, it was kind of getting to that point where the wireless connection had stopped working unless you were 1 foot from the router and it would randomly shut down a couple of times a day and make a kind of clunking/whirring noise. But still! The computer was only 3.5 years old and was perfectly good, so I was totally, utterly and completely surprised. So thank you to my mom and dad for not just allowing me to live with them while I complain my way through a failed hip replacement, but for buying me a computer that allows me to complain to other people via my blog with greater ease. Everyone wins!

What else did I get this Christmas (besides the warm, glowing feeling of being surrounded by family and friends)? Two maternity bras. Yes, my stocking was stuffed not only with enough chocolate and candy to re-up my candy drawer (shut up, yes I do have a candy drawer) for the year, but also a helpful hint that I should fire up the babymaker and cook up some grandchildren. To which I say: chill out people. Let's tackle one major life milestone at a time. How am I going to chase babies when it takes me 5 minutes to walk up a flight of stairs? My mom's reaction when I commented on why she was buying me Christmas gifts from Thyme Maternity: "you better not put this on your blog!" Sorry, mom. In her defense, apparently maternity bras are nice and stretchy, which is handy when you're not...uh..."gifted" enough to fill an A-cup, but still require a little support. Apparently, I have been wearing them for years without knowing it. (Too much information? Too much information).

And how else did I spend Christmas? A whirlwind trip to Victoria, where I ate another turkey dinner (Pavement was describing me when they sang the line about "my heart is made of gravy") and hung out with my grandma, my aunty Sue and her family, and a ferry ride where I read Timothy Findley's "Famous Last Words," which is not the most Christmassy book in the world (it's about Nazis, metafiction and the complicated intersections between broad political events and individual lives), but is a kick-ass novel all the same. Seriously, the fact that Timothy Findley is not famous anywhere but Canada never fails to astound me. If you're looking for a good book and don't mind getting some brain matter on your favorite armchair because your mind will be blown a little bit, my faves of his are "The Wars" (I've read it three times this year), "Not Wanted on the Voyage" and "Famous Last Words."

Alright, enough blogging. Time to experiment with my new Macbook. It has bluetooth capabilities, y'all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Well, it's the night before Christmas and whatever sick fuck who does the programming for A&E has decided to show a marathon of "The First 48 Hours," which follows cops solving grisly homicides. I've got a newfound respect for A&E (excluding, of course, "Steve Segal: Lawmaker"). This is my kind of way to celebrate Christmas.

As it turns out, someone else had a similarly twisted idea of how to get the holiday season started. My mom came out this morning to find that someone had smashed in the window of her smart car. And what did they steal? Absolutely nothing. No money, no CDs, no Christmas presents, just a few reusable grocery bags. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. To add insult to injury, after my mom went down to ICBC to file a claim, she came home to find that our side door is broken again and she couldn't get in.

And so this is Christmas and what have you done? Answer: filed a break-and-enter claim, wrestled with a broken door and watched cops solve murders. Oh well. This evening, we're having people over for our traditional Christmas Eve Chinese-food feast. On Christmas morning, we're going over to Victoria to have supper with my grandma and my mom's side of the family. Here's hoping that Christmas picks up.

Merry Christmas, readers of Young and Hip (a.k.a. mom)! May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be free of minor crimes!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Must. Remain. Positive.

Well, it's a few days after the news from Dr. SecondOpinion that I probably won't be becoming a professional salsa dancer any time soon, and I'm doing my best to be positive, since a) it's the holidays and b) there's no point turning "Young and Hip" into "Deep Shit I Would Have Written In My Lisa Franks Diary Circa 1998 During That Phase Where I Used to Wear Capes And Once Composed a Poem Dedicated to My Eyebrows, Which I Had Recently Had Plucked For the First Time." It has, however, been a rough few days: disappointing news at the doctor's office; a close friend who is apparently tired of my endless barrage of bad medical luck and wants out; Christmas stress; oh, and I went to my family doctor today and apparently I'm also anemic. (I had been thinking that the redness in my face was fading nicely thanks to a new lotion I've been using, but, no, it's just a lack of iron. Every day, I seem to take another step closer towards becoming an laudanum-addicted Victorian socialite).

It's weird, though. Since I was 11, I've had a chronic pain condition and that moment during the arthrogram when they stuck freezing (translation for you Americans: numbing) in my hip and the pain went away for the first time since August of 1994, it felt like someone had turned off a radio that had been playing static so long that I had forgotten how annoying it was until it wasn't there. It's weird to think that the pain relief I only got for 45 minutes after someone jabbed a needle into my hip socket was what was supposed to happen forever, and for 95% of patients does happen.

It's also weird to think that it may never happen: that I may not have an escape-hatch for my disability anymore. Before, yeah, I was disabled, but only until the hip replacement. Now, if this surgery isn't successful, I guess I better finally invest in the gold-plated cane that shoots lasers I've been wanting because that thing will be by my side forever til death do us part. Kind of like a marriage...but without the 50% divorce rate. (Actually, 50% is the success rate they're giving my surgery).

And so, today, I took a walk to clear my head (and buy a Christmas present for my brother Denver). It all went downhill rather quickly when realized that I was playing Nick Cave's "People Ain't No Good" (I didn't mean it! Most people are very good!) and Ray LaMontagne, who I find hard to listen to at the best of times because I associate him with a moment I had a month or so after I moved to Champaign in 2006, driving with A. and R. in R.'s truck coming home from a party at the farm of the director of the MFA program, a moment where I thought, "hot damn. Life is good. It's all sunshine and lollipops from here on in. Ain't nothin' that could possibly go wrong."

Anyhow, long story short, I walked too far (in inappropriate pants, which kept falling down), wound up sore and had to resort to listening to the Phantom of the Opera to prevent me from feeling like I was in the sad part of a movie walking alone in the rain while emo music plays. I find The Phantom of the Opera endlessly cheering and not just because I know all the words and once wanted more than anything to play The Phantom (or the narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat...but strangely not Christine, who I thought was a wimp). After all, no matter how bad your life gets, at least you're not being stalked by a demented, hideously disfigured evil genius who lives in the cave-like basement of an opera house and is posing as the angel your father promised to send you before his untimely death. Silver linings, people. Silver linings.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"This sure here is a lot of shit happening"

A few minutes ago, I picked up the phone to hear someone say, "This sure here is a lot of shit happening." It was some carpet-cleaning guy calling, unaware that he'd already dialed my number and that I had answered, but it kind of encapsulated my day. Today, I went to see Dr. SecondOpinion. I was hoping that I would get an early Christmas gift in the form of, "No, you don't need surgery! A steady diet of jujubes and gingerbread will clear the problem right up!," but no such luck. Alas, it looks like I found myself once again on Santa's Naughty List because I just got handed a big old lump of coal in the form of medical news. Not the worst news, mind you, but not exactly what I was hoping for.

But first, the good news: Dr. SecondOpinion and his staff/interns enjoyed the X-ray Christmas cookies. His secretary was very impressed and if I've learned one thing from grad school, it's that secretaries secretly run the show and you should do everything possible to stay on their good side. Dr. SecondOpinion's response was particularly priceless: "Those cookies are really...imaginative," which made me laugh a little on the inside because it's exactly what you say to two-year-olds who show you their scribble drawing: "Oh, honey, that's a nice pony you drew...I mean, airplane. Yes, it's a very nice airplane. You're very imaginative." Anyhow, yes, if Dr. SecondOpinion thought I was smoking crack to have given him such a strange Christmas gift, he didn't show it. He even ate one.

My Freaky Cyborg Hip, however, refused to share in the Christmas joy. Since I don't want to rain on your holiday parade, I will keep it brief (okay...brief-ish): it's apparently really hard to re-attach the gluteus medius muscle and Dr. SecondOpinion only gives me about a 50/50 chance (at best) that the problem can be repaired. My socket might be loose (the test was apparently inconclusive...the only thing it proved is that I can swoon faster than a Harlequin romance novel heroine). If it's loose, they're going to repair it and give me one that's more "appropriate" (whatever that means). They're also going to make me an extra half-inch longer on my left side because even though I feel like I'm taller, I'm actually still too short. And, yes, that is the first time that the word "Arley" has been found in the same sentence as the phrase "too short" in the history of the universe. (Seriously, TLC better break out the cameras because by the time I get done with this crazy carnival ride, I'm going to be like 19 feet tall). Still no word on why my hip flexors are going all Rip van Winkle on me.

And when can all of this be done? According to his secretary, probably not for another 6 months. (This is not terrible news according to his secretary because the wait-time used to be 3 years, so I guess I should count my blessings on that front). Part of the wait is because the month-long cluster-fuck known as the Olympics is coming to town, which puts everything into a crazy back-log because they're not allowed to do elective surgeries during that time. (Just in case, you know, the entire German hockey team does a massive amount of steroids, gets avascular necrosis and all need hip replacements). The other part is that my case isn't technically an emergency and so I'm not high on the wait list. Now, you might think, "Wait a minute. Isn't your tendon flapping around in the breeze like the backdoor flap of an old man's pajamas?" Yes, this is true, but that shit isn't going to kill me. It's just going to make me walk like a heroin addict. Possibly forever.

At the end of the appointment, Dr. SecondOpinion asked if Dr. ___ would be performing the surgery and my heart momentarily skipped a beat at the thought of having to kick off my New Year with SurgeonWatch2010; (at least I know that I can stalk him at Starbucks now). Luckily, however, when I explained that Dr. ___ had kind of....uh...vanished....Dr. SecondOpinion agreed to do the surgery. I was so happy I could have made him 12 more batches of X-ray cookies.

None of this, however, explains what the hell happened in the first place. I'm not the most aggressive person in the world. To borrow A.'s phrase, I am "too fucking polite," possibly because I am "too Canadian." I am willing to ask a question, but I'm not willing to say, "Hey! Answer my question right fucking now!" Though Dr. SecondOpinion is a fantastic doctor, he doesn't really have time to answer the full page of questions I always write out. (That, to be fair, was actually a strong suit of Dr. ___'s. He didn't mind being peppered with questions). Seeing any surgeon is a little like releasing a genie out of a bottle, except instead of having three wishes, you maybe have time to toss out one or two questions before he dashes out the door to serve the next 12 people who are waiting. Since I knew I could probably only ask one or two, I decided (a good decision, I think) to focus on future-oriented questions, instead of "seriously, how did this happen? Like, seriously, who should I be directing the full force of my rage towards?" questions. This means, however, that I may never know exactly what went wrong: did Dr. ___ fuck up? Did I fuck up? Will I fuck up again during the next surgery?

I left the appointment in a bit of a tailspin. When my mom and I went shopping afterwards, however, there was a minor Christmas miracle. For the past 6 weeks, I have been looking for a pair of Olympic mittens for Karo. She's done a lot for me and I figured this was a small thing to repay her with. It turns out, however, that those Olympic mittens are rare as a sunny day in Vancouver because they tend to sell out 45 minutes after a shipment comes in. Seriously, trying to find those things is like trying to buy ketchup in the Soviet Union circa 1986. Vancouver has a case of mitten fever! To make a long story short, I thought I'd got the right mittens, but they were youth ones, so today I went to the Bay to see if I could find the adult ones. When I asked the clerk, she originally said that they'd sold out and I should try again on Wednesday. Just when I was about to leave, however, she said that she'd bought a pair for her grandson but since it's too late to send them before Christmas, I could have her pair. Aww! What a nice lady. I could have hugged her.

I came home all excited and went to my computer to see if I could find Karo's email asking for the mittens to see if she needed them before Christmas or not. For the life of me I couldn't find the email, which means that perhaps I'm on crack and hallucinated Karo's mitten-related needs, or perhaps someone else asked me for the mittens, not Karo. So Karo, let me know if you do need the mittens and when you need them by. I will send them your way!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...Craziness!

Another day, another cookie recipe, and the holiday baking bender express continues full steam ahead all the way to Crazytown. Yes, I took the advice of those of you who commented on my last post and decided to go ahead and make the X-ray-themed Christmas cookies for Dr. SecondOpinion. The cookies are a Mexican-hot-chocolate sugar cookie (chocolate plus cinnamon = delicious!), but unfortunately I had to decorate them with phony icing because buttercream doesn't hold up well enough that you can pipe with it and royal icing is a pain to make.

Now, there are a couple of ways that Dr. SecondOpinion could react to these cookies:
  1. He will be touched by the magical spirit of the holiday season and decide to re-attach my anti-ass immediately. There will be no need, however, because my Freaky Cyborg Hip will be feeling so festive that it will have magically healed itself. Then we will all hold hands, sway in a circle and sing that happy friendship song from "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." (And what happened next? Well in New West they say, that Arley's half-broken ass grew two sizes that day.")
  2. He will think I'm batshit crazy, say, "Thanks....cookies in the shape of X-rays....exactly what I always dreamed of having in my life....Listen, I've got to run but I'll call you soon." Then, he will pull a Dr. ___ Ninja stealth move and disappear into the sunset, never to be heard from again.
  3. He will think, "Damn, homegirl has way too much time on her hands, possibly because her current state of gimpiness prevents her from leading a fulfilling life, and I should therefore operate as soon as possible to prevent her from making me a life-sized human skeleton out of candy canes out of sheer boredom."
  4. (Most likely). He will say, "Gee. Thanks for the cookies." He will eat them. Nothing more than this will happen because if you're going to bribe someone, you should damn well pick a better incentive than chocolate-cinnamon cookies that resemble X-rays. I guess I will just have to give them in the spirit of the season, instead of the spirit of "please-fix-my-hip-I-will-do-anything-literally-anything-please."
Oh well. Whatever way it works out, at the very least I burned off some pre-appointment jitters. The more I bake, the less I compose extensive lists of questions that I will not get the time to ask. Everyone wins!

So, yes, over here in ArleyLand, the Christmas festivities are continuing fast and furious. Last night, I had a special Christmas dinner with Steph and 18 other people. Suffice to say that I have eaten my weight in turkey and all the fixin's. I have learned a valuable lesson and it involves the necessity of brining poultry; (hey, I'lll take life lessons wherever I find 'em).

So, yes, here I am modeling an oven mitt on the day of the big dinner and accidentally looking like I'm smacking my dad on the ass. Whoops! I've also posted some pictures of the X-ray cookies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Have Yourself a Merry Little Baking Bender

This holiday season, there will be a lot of things I can't do. Rockin' around the Christmas tree: out. Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh: the risk of ass-bruising is too great. Having myself a merry little Christmas: well, maybe, but in my experience I am more likely to have myself a merry little egg-nog bender and go to sleep at 8 p.m. There is, however, one area of Christmas where I can bring my A-game: Christmas baking. When it comes to cranking out the calories, I am like the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel. You want to fatten someone up? Come to me.

In this spirit, my mom and I did some holiday baking. We made:
  • Sugar cookies
  • Rice Krispie treats with toffee bits
  • Mars Bar square (like rice krispie treats, but with melted chocolate bars instead of marshamallows)
  • Nanaimo bars (a.k.a "those tasty, highly fattening squares that Americans can never pronounce")
  • an ice-cream cake
Later, we will also be making some weird cookie concoction that involves creating a sandwich out of gingerbread cookies and nutella and then dipping the whole thing in melted chocolate bars. Then we will make a down payment on a diabetic insulin reader because we are sure to lapse into a diabetic coma before Boxing Day (translation for Americans: the Canadian equivalent of Black Friday that occurs the day after Christmas. Traditionally, people would box up food to give to the poor. Now, they shank bitches who stand in their way of getting a good deal on a flat-screen TV).

Anyhow, today I was nothing if not highly efficient. I'm pretty sure that the latte-fueled baking spree probably averaged at least 2,000 calories an hour. Take that, sugar-plum fairy. Little kids should go to bed on Christmas Eve with visions of me dancing in their heads. Actually, I take that back. Me dancing in anyone's dreams would be highly traumatic.

The problem with baking, however, is that it's pretty difficult for me to stand for the amount of time required to complete a recipe. After a few hours of sitting and standing in the kitchen, my hip intervened to cut the party short. It probably remembered my surgeon saying that 1 pound of fat on the body is felt as 6 pounds on the hip and didn't want to lug around a lifetime's worth of sugar cookies well into 2010.

This reminds me: I have my big appointment with my surgeon on Monday. Would it be creepy to make him dark chocolate sugar cookies in the shape of X-rays with little hips piped in white icing on them? And then on one write "Have a Hip Christmas?" Your thoughts?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm Sorry, I Thought You Were a Traffic Cop, Not the Fashion Police

In the six months since my surgery, I've opened my mind and heart to the wonder of sweatpants. Because my hip flexors still don't work, it's impossible to get dressed without doing a Mr. Bean routine of spine-contorting ridiculousness, and if I put my jeans on without nearly falling on my face, I consider it a good day. When your hip flexion is so poor tht you haven't been able to wash your left foot in six months because you can't reach the stupid thing, you're willing to take anything that might make your life a little easier, even if you run the risk of committing a cardinal fashion sin. Sure, you may wind up on What Not to Wear, but at least you won't give yourself a concussion while trying to wriggle into skinny jeans. What I didn't realize, however, is that sweatpants can get you in trouble with the law.

This morning, I left my house earlier than normal (okay, the fact that I left my house is impressive in itself) so that I could pick Steph up at the auto mechanic's, since she had dropped her car off to get its brakes repaired. I dropped Steph off at her place, then headed to Starbucks to get a daily fix for myself and my mom. Because it was the ungodly hour of 10 a.m., (it's so hard to believe that this time last year I was getting up at 5:30 a.m. every morning), I was still dressed in my sweatpants and sweatshirt. And, ok, there may have been a small chance that my sweatshirt still had a bit of blue frosting on it from when I made Christmas cookies a few days ago. And I might have smelled faintly of garlic, due to the ungodly amount of tsatsiki I consumed last night at Steph's Greek night. And, yes, my glasses have been just a little bit crooked for the past 2 years because I sat on them and they can't be fixed because there's a hairline fracture where the....anyhow, it wasn't my most glamorous look.

I ordered the coffees without incident and left the Starbucks. Since I had one coffee in each hand, I had my cane slung over my arm instead of using it and was merrily gimping along, anticipating getting home and settling down to a delicious non-fat Americano misto (mmm....delicious American mist....), when I was passed by a police officer, who muttered something at me.

"Hm?" I said.

"What do those coffees cost?" he asked. "Like, 10 dollars a piece?"

"Uh....yeah....," I said, "It's highway robbery. You should investigate...."

The police officer gave me a weird little smirk and headed off to wherever he was going. I got into my car thinking, "Wow...that was weird." When I got home, I told my mom about the encounter and she was able to shed some light on the situation: Sherlock Holmes must have thought that I was a homeless person and disapproved of me spending my panhandling money on Starbucks instead of groceries...or meth. (I would say that it's better to have a Starbucks addiction than a meth addiction, but I suspect that meth is probably cheaper per hit).

See, this is the danger of sweatpants. If you walk like someone who injects heroin into their toes, you need to bring your fashion A-game or else apparently New Westminster's finest officers will mistake you for a homeless person. Sweatpants may be comfortable, but if you wear them without walking with the appropriate grace and charm, you just may be arrested for vagrancy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And So This is Christmas And What Have You Done?

Everywhere I go, I feel like I hear the world's most depressing Christmas carol: the one that goes "and so this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun." They should give a free sample of Xanax out along with that CD because that song is basically designed to give you a full-blown anxiety attack with a side order of quarter-life crisis. Like, shut up, Christmas carol. Don't judge me just because I've spent literally half of this year in bed nursing a semi-detached ass and a failed hip replacement and I have no long-term job/life prospects and not even a clue as to where I'll be this time next year. (Is it a bad sign that since I've laid up, TLC has had the time to debut four different series about midgets/dwarves: The Little Couple! The Little Couple Who Just Had a Baby! The Little Couple Who Run a Chocolate Shop! A Dwarf Adoption Story! Ok, TLC, you clearly have an embarassment of little-people riches, so can you please wake me up when you're doing casting for "The Very Tall Girl Whose Ass Fell Off?")

Anyhow, what have I done this Christmas? Well, my little black stormcloud continues to wreak a special brand of holiday havoc. When I first returned home from the U.S., the first thing I did was have a shower....which promptly caused a little rain storm in the kitchen below the bathroom. (My mom accused me of "showering wrong" as if I had been flinging the hand-held shower around with wild and reckless abandon and for a week I had to shower in my parent's bathroom, which meant nearly killing myself trying to get my gimpy ass in and out of a huge clawfoot tub). That was flood #1. I guess my black magic has a special love of destroying waterworks because today, just as I was about to bake sugar cookies, the garbarator backed up and spewed sludgy water all over the floor. I think I need to consider a career as a dowser because I have become an expert at finding new and exciting sources of water (water on the floor....water from the ceiling....).

Here's hoping that my little storm cloud takes a break over Christmas. We do not need to be celebrating this holiday season by building an ark.

Monday, December 14, 2009

All I Want For Christmas...Is My Ass Re-attached

It's 11 days until Christmas and I'm getting into the Christmas spirit the proper way: by lying in bed eating celery sticks, watching a marathon of "Intervention" and nursing my poor bruised anti-ass, which I subjected to cruel and unusual punishment yesterday by going on an exercise bike for the first time in months. This weekend, I went to Victoria with my mom to take care of my grandma, which was fun, but which meant that I took my old-lady act to new and unprecedented heights (or lows, depending on how you look at it) by spending my Saturday night watching old British murder mysteries, eating Werther's Originals (seriously) and dozing in a laz-e-boy. I have seen the future and the future involves the dry wit of British gentlemen-detectives.

Now that I'm home, it's time to kick my anti-ass into high gear and get ready for a visit from Old Saint Nick. I'm making my list and checking it twice. What am I getting my little feline destroyer for Christmas? A shot of antibiotics in the ass and a rabies vaccine. Two weeks ago, Mika threw down with a neighbourhood cat and someone took a chunk out of her hind quarters: (translation, she's got a minor case of anti-ass-itis...just like her owner). A. has been taking good care of her, but two weeks later Mika's wounds opened back up so she earned a quick trip to the Good Friends Animal Clinic. Mika will be fine, but her catnip budget has taken a bit of a hit. Homegirl better start selling Avon if she wants to remain in the lifestyle to which she's grown accustomed because she's got bills to pay.

And what do I want for Christmas? Well, if Santa could re-attach my ass muscle, I would be much obliged, though I know that Old Saint Nick's surgical training probably leaves a lot to be desired and I'm not sure how may gluteus mediuses the elves encounter at Santa's Workshop. If I'm making a wish-list, I should probably also request a dash of holiday magic. Since returning from my whirlwind tour of the Midwest, my spirit-of-Christmas-meter has been in the red. I will spare you the many emo reasons why I need a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past--having me hop on a fast train to WhinyVille benefits no one--but suffice to say that I could use a little holiday cheer. The good thing about Christmas, however, is that while there may not be much goodwill among men (hell, I'll take mild interest among men if it's directed at me), there is sure as hell a lot of chocolate. And gingerbread. Oh, gingerbread, you are a light in a dark, dark world.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

SurgeonWatch2009: The Dramatic (not really) Conclusion

For most of the month of October, I began a campaign I called SurgeonWatch2009, where I attempted for over a month to get a hold of my original surgeon, Dr. _____, who had mysteriously vanished after promising me that he would call the very moment he got the MRI reports the day after my appointment. After a month of the whole "don't call us, we'll call you" routine when I didn't even have an appointment date, I assumed that Dr. ___ had taken a little visit to Bermuda, gotten sucked up into the Bermuda Triangle, and was chilling out diagnosing early-stage arthritis on the Loch Ness Monster. Enter Dr. SecondOpinion.

In the back of my mind, I've always wondered with happened to Dr. ____. Did he think, "If I just ignore her long enough, her torn gluteus medius will repair itself in much the same way that a tantrum-throwing two-year-old will eventually calm down if no one fuels their rage?" Or did he simply forget and stash my case in the back of his mind behind the memo to clean the gutters and the reminder that the dog needs to get its anal glands squeezed? What miracle would have to happen for him to call me?

The miracle of Starbucks! Yes, on the way to see my neurologist, my mom ran into Dr. ___ at the Richmond General Hospital Starbucks. He didn't exactly come over for a chit chat, but the image of me gimping along the Richmond Hospital Lobby must have jostled something loose in his mind and made him think, "Gee....I feel like I know that girl from somewhere....I have this faint memory of saying, over two months ago, 'don't worry, we'll find out why you can't walk and fix you right up'...."

This must be why, today at 9 a.m., SurgeonWatch2009 came unexpectedly to a close. My mom received a call that went like this:
Secretary: Hi! Is this Arley or Arley's mom?
Mom: This is her mom....
Secretary: Oh, hi there! This is ___! From Dr. ____'s office!
Mom: Hi....
Secretary: Dr. ___ just got a report from Dr. Needles McNeedleson and he was wondering if you still needed his assistance or if you're seeing another surgeon....?
Mom: Uh....I think we're good....We're seeing Dr. SecondOpinion....
Secretary: Okay then! Take care! Bye!

It was exactly the conversation I wanted....two months ago. Now, the funny thing about this is that Dr. ___ received a report from Dr. SecondOpinion a month ago, so in theory should know that I've taken the Arley Dog and Pony Show elsewhere. I guess it's like when you're in high school and some guy you're interested in stops calling, and you don't hear from him for months until he sees you at the mall having a fro-yo with a new man, and all of a sudden he pops back into your life being like, "Hey, baby! It's recently come to my attention that you've got your shit together and are blissfully happy with someone else, which means it's exactly the right time for me to waltz back on to the scene for another round of my manly mind games!"

So, yes, my mom told Dr. ___ that he didn't have to worry: Dr. SecondOpinion has it all under control. Now here's hoping that Dr. SecondOpinion does, in fact, have it under control and won't send me back to Dr. ___.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Man Down! Man Down!

You know, there's never a dull moment when I'm around. If I'm going to have a hip replacement, it's not good enough to just get one of your plain, old vanilla "uncomplicated hip replacement that actually results in you being able to walk without looking like a swamp creature." No, I go big or go home (and then, you know, stay home in bed for months at a time). Same goes with routine tests. I mean, why just get a test, when you can get a test AND faint like a wealthy Victorian woman whose organs are being warped by her corset? Exactly.

First stop in the Neverending Needle Tour: a trip to see the neurologist for a friendly course of electric needles. When we got to Richmond General Hospital, I went to the washroom while my mom hung out in the lobby, where she witnessed a sighting of a rare and exotic creature whose presence has been endlessly speculated about but never confirmed: Dr. ____! Yup, after the many long weeks of SurgeonWatch2009 trying without success to get ahold of Dr. ___ and doing battle with his secretary, it turns out that the way to find Dr. ___ is to haunt the Starbucks at Richmond General Hospital. Yup, after a long day of working the orthopedic power saw, homeboy needed to recharge with a tall, skinny, nonfat cinnamon dolce latte. That's the power of Starbucks, ladies and gentlemen: bringing the people together.

Well, almost. Dr. ___ said hi to my mom, but by the time I came out of the loo, he had vanished back into his natural habitat with nary a trace. This is probably the best because I'm not sure what I would have said to Dr. ___ if I'd seen him. It would be like one of those awkward run-ins with your ex, "'s it going?'s been awhile....How's that monstrosity of a hip working out for you? Still causing you a world of pain and making you walk like a polio-stricken zombie?" or it would turn into a full-fledged Jerry Springer smackdown. It's a good thing I didn't end up going on those steroids, because I might have had to throw a few chairs.

After meeting one prick in the lobby, it was time to head to the neurologist for a few more; (sorry, that wasn't very nice. I don't mean it Dr. ___! I'm sure you're a very nice man). Yup, I had another one of those "being penetrated multiple times by an electrified needle plunging in and out of various muscles while the neurologist urges you to 'just relax.'" Yup, for about half an hour, I was sweating profusely, closing my eyes and thinking of England. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why so many people arrive at this site via a google search for "sex with needles." (You're welcome, fetishists...I can't help you with the sex, but we've got plenty of needles around here).

And the results of my needle orgy? The neurologist is again giving me the diagnosis of "WTF?" Apparently, my hip flexors are getting worse, but there's no reason why. Maybe my hip flexors are just lazy. Who knows? Dr. Needles McNeedleson is therefore sending me to another neurologist for more red-hot needle lovin'. Fun times.

The next day, it was time for a second date with the needles: this time, for another try at the nameless "big-ass needle in the hip joint" test. I'd tried this 5 days earlier, but because my body isn't a fan of the X-ray dye, we had to cancel the test and go back to the drawing board. They were going to give me steroids, but I guess they didn't want me howling at the moon and turning over cars (any more than I already do) because they found some magic MRI dye potion (which my radiologist informed me was literally worth more than gold) that wouldn't give me a case of the shakes. Crisis averted.

Well, almost. The test went off without a hitch. On the CT monitor, I got to watch the needle snaking its way into my hip joint, (which ranks right up there with some of the more awkward sensations I've ever experienced. I was frozen, so I couldn't feel pain, but I could feel the needle poking against the joint and stuff). It was actually kind of cool. They put in the special dye and you could see it leaking out where the tear was. Then, they injected some freezing and presto, I was done!

But the excitement of the day was not over. I got up off the bed and was walking around pain free (it was a Christmas miracle!) and thinking, "Man, that needle was not a lot of fun, but sign me up for this whole 'no pain' thing because this shit is good. Maybe radiology-needle guy can follow me around for the rest of my life, topping me up." As the doctor was giving me some last-minute instructions, however, things started to go black and I felt like I was going to throw up. It was a "man down" scenario because I had fainted faster than an opium-addicted Victorian lady in a romance novel.

This was highly embarrassing. I mean, I've had hundreds of needles filled with sugar water injected into my spine, been hung by doorframes as people tugged on my out-of-joint hip, stayed away throughout my hip replacement so I could see my old hip, and had countless electrified needles jammed into my ass. Did I faint then? No. But when someone takes the pain away, all of a sudden I'm swooning like a delicate lady flower. WTF, body? WTF indeed. I guess my body had had enough of the pin-cushion routine and decided to check the fuck out.

So, that was it. I had to hang out on a gurney for an hour hooked up to monitors to make sure I could remain upright and then I went home and slept for three hours straight. Hey, all that fainting is hard work!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Snark

I promised to return from my American Thanksgiving extravaganza with lots of stories possibly involving firearms. Well, I've finally carved out a slice of time in my fast-paced lifestyle of watching true-crime shows ("48 Hours" is my new obsession) while watching my sister's dog gnaw at bull genitalia (she's still at it) to write about my Thanksgiving experience traveling with A. to Michigan to spend time with his family there. Spoiler alert: what the experience lacked in firearms, it made up for in homemade cinnamon buns.

After months of wearing out the perfect ass groove in bed, I was excited to get on the road and check out some cool-ass truckstops; (I have an inexplicable attraction to American truck stops. They're endlessly fascinating to me: pizza ovens for your big rig! Plaster statues of dolphins! Little crystal figurines that read "In the Garden of Mothers You Are the Sweetest Rose!" Energy drinks available at the soda fountain! I could go on and on). Better still, we were cruising in A.'s Dodge Aries, which is built for comfort and offers the ultimate in road-tripping awesomeness. Even though I still have trouble sitting for long stretches of time and ended up having to recline the seat way back and make A. stop every hour or so to let me have a little walk, it was great to get on the road. (A. and I have a lot of experience in the road-tripping department, having managed to once travel across the country without murdering one another, and he's an ideal road-tripping partner).

Actually, I've been trying for the past week to write something about my Thanksgiving experience. The problem I've been having, however, is that is was just so....good. 'Young and Hip" deals mostly in snark and innuendo and my time in Michigan had none of that. It was amazing to spend time with A.'s relatives, who were hospitable and kind and such wonderful people that I can't describe the experience without sounding like a Hallmark card. It was five days of eating home-cooked food, playing with kids (a little three-year-old re-named three of her stuffed animals 'Arley'), being barfed on by a newborn and hanging out with A.'s family playing cards or talking. A.'s relatives don't curse and I actually surprised myself by going 5 days without saying anything that would get bleeped out on daytime television. And you know what? It wasn't that hard. It was actually refreshing to go 5 days without sarcasm or snark or fighting or swearing.

Well, this is all very good for me, but doesn't quite provide the blog with the dramatic tension needed to write an interesting post. Long story short, the day after Thanksgiving, A. and I were driving back home in the dark singing aloud to John Cale's "Paris 1919" and drinking truck-stop coffee and eating M&Ms and I, my hip may not be running on all cylinders, but I am pretty freaking lucky. I've been in a bad mood lately, sick of my hip not working and the aimlessness of my life now, so my mini vacation was just the exact thing I needed.

Ok, let's dry up this sappiness! Tomorrow I see my neurologist, which likely means more needles in my ass, and nothing gives me a case of snarkiness like a few well-placed needles in the ass.

Friday, December 4, 2009


In the next room, my mom is cooing at my sister's dog, "Is that a good bull's penis? Is that a good bull's penis? You get that bull's penis!" (Apparently, dried bull's penis is a delicacy if you're a mini American Eskimo). I am watching some woman give birth on one of those TLC reality shows and cursing the fact that the hours of work I put into a spreadsheet for my internship has been replaced by the phrase "we're sorry." (You better be sorry Google Docs because my eyes are going to shank you if they have to hurt themselves by staring at a computer for another 8 hours doing data entry). Ah, yes, jut another day in my life here in New Westminster.

I've written a lot about how I don't know very many people in New Westminster and how I'm a little hard up for social interaction. Last night, I had two choices for how to spend an exciting Friday night: stay at home watching the hit TLC series "Say Yes to the Dress" (a.k.a The "It's My Day!" Show) or go with my parents to a banquet for the Trial Lawyers Association. The choice was easy: at home, I would eat a supper of scrambled eggs and cereal with a handful of chocolate chips for dessert and watch my sister's dog gnaw on bull genitalia. At the banquet, however, I would get a six-course meal and the potential to mercilessly judge the cocktail gowns of middle-aged women (note to middle-aged wealthy women: if you are over 50, any gown that requires a roll of two-sided tape to strap yourself into is probably a fashion don't).

Most of my clothes are in Illinois, so I didn't have a thing to wear to the ball and let's just say that none of the mice around here can sing or use a sewing machine; (plus, the only chance of me fitting in to a glass slipper would be if it was a ballerina flat). Happily, I had recently received my Nana's dress and belt from the 1940s. My Nana is one of the coolest people I know. When I was 11, she wrote her memoirs and I was tasked with typing it up. Let's just say that she used the phrase "mad Russian love" more times than my innocent 11-year-old eyes were equipped to deal with. She even devotes a page to her beliefs on the french kiss; after an 85-year-old man dropped dead after she french-kissed him on his wife's grave, she notes "I need to cut back on the french kisses as they are a soul searcher and a deadly weapon when teasing someone, especially someone well past 80." Wise words indeed. Anyhow, I felt pretty awesome in Nana's dress, even though it's hard to get your mojo working when you're wearing something that smells like your grandmother.

Recently, my friend Karo sent me a comic with the caption "Hey, man! It's been awhile since I trapped you in a long conversation about my medical history." This is what I feel like whenever I go to a social occasion. The minute people see the cane, I have to rehash the entire story: had a hip replacement; hip replacement went tits up; hopefully all will be well soon; doctors are doing all they can. I begin to feel like that drunk chick at a party who corners someone to boozily lament about all of her wordly cares; (" left me for my sister's friend loved thought we had a connection.")

Luckily, however, I was not the only one with a cane. When you're hanging with the over-40 set, you're bound to not be the only one twirling an Air-Ride cane with an ergonomically designed grip. And, indeed, there were probably a 6 or 7 other people limping along in their tuxes and evening gowns. Cane friends!

Alas, none of these canes were attached to handsome, single lawyers. I did, however, get to enjoy a sumptuous feast: fancy rolls; chicken soup with puffed pastry on top; salmon with micro greens and asparagus tips; beef tenderloin with bernaise sauce and Alaska crab on top and seasonal vegetables and a dessert table that boasted pretty much anything you could stick buttercream or chocolate into. It was pretty fancy business when $2 you-call-its and bar peanuts are your idea of a classy get-together. Yeah, I may have to rely on my parents for social occasions, but at least I get to eat tenderloin while I do it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

'Roid Rage

If sometime around the evening of Dec 7th you find me out on the street lifting cars over my head and bending street lights into sculptural shapes while beating my fists on my chest, don't worry. Either it's a full moon or I've been endowed with super-human strength thanks to the dose of steroids I'll be taking. But Arley, you might be saying, don't you already have the strength of a lady ox? Why are you playing a friendly game of "Day in the Life of Mark McGwire circa 1999?"

Well, because nothing is ever easy when you're riding the Arley train. Today, I showed up bright and early to Vancouver General Hospital ready to have my hip socket receive some sweet lovin' from a big needle so that they could get a picture of what's going on with my Freaky Cyborg Hip. I changed into some sexy 18-sizes-too-big hospital shorts and limped off ready to steel myself, lie back and think of England. Soon, the technician came in to explain the procedure. He asked me some questions and everything was going swimmingly until I mentioned that I had experienced a freaky reaction to iodine contrast fluid a couple of years ago.

Long story short, when I was experiencing the world's most ridiculous case of mono, my spleen was so enlarged that you could see it poking out from under my ribcage and they did a CT scan to figure out what exactly was going on down there. After I filled out 8.3 million consent forms, they injected me with iodine to get a better look at my SuperSpleen, which was apparently cranky that it served only a minor purpose in the body and wanted a little more attention. I guess that SuperSpleen wasn't ready for its closeup, though, because a few minutes after the dye was injected, I turned bright red from head to toe and began to shake uncontrolably, which ironically wasn't one of the 8 million reactions listed on the consent form. The nurse gave me a big, old WTF, called a code something-or-other into the intercom and people started running around putting oxygen on me and hooking me up to monitors. Besides having to stay for an hour for observation (and being unable to drive my car home, which meant that A. had to come and get me), however, I was just fine.

Well, it turns out that sometimes when it comes to allergies, what starts as "shaking and turning red" could quickly turn into "big old heap of trouble" with repeated exposure. Long story short, they wouldn't do the test. Access denied! At first, I thought, "Well, darn, Arley. You should have kept your big, old mouth shut!" I realized very quickly, however, that it's better to postpone the test for a few days and be sure that I'm not going to have one of those "patient on 'House'" reactions.

So what's an allergic gal to do? Well, they're going to put me on a course of steroids and anti-allergy medications a day before the test and hope that the second time's a charm. Luckily, they were able to re-schedule me for Dec 8th, so the delay won't affect my appointment with Dr. SecondOpinion on the 21st. And, hey, maybe the steroids will make the rash I've had since the hip replacement clear up. Hey, a girl can dream.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wait. You mean talking about your sex life in front of 250 undergraduates is a bad idea?

After a 16-hour transportation pentathlon (car, train, walking in circles trying to locate the subway station, subway and plane), I'm finally back in Vancouver and right back to my old habits. Laying in bed: check. Watching the episodes of "House" I missed online: check. Chai latte: well, it was a half-sweet, nonfat caramel brulee latte because since I've been away from Vancouver for three weeks my yuppie street cred meter was in the red and I needed an extra dose of Starbucks-order ridiculousness, but still. It's good to know, however, that even though I'm now thousands of miles away, my legacy is shining brightly in Champaign-Urbana.

Case in point: two nights ago. A. and I wanted to see "The Road," but unfortunately it hasn't found its way to the thriving cultural metropolis of Champaign-Urbana yet; (you can, however, see "Twilight" pretty much any hour of the day). The only solution was to rent a video. When we were paying for the video, the cashier was looking at me oddly. I figured she must have just been dazzled by my Amazon-esque good looks or else was investing some major energy into figuring out why I was wearing two gloves on one hand and only one on the other (answer: my cane-holding hand gets cold because I can't put it in my pocket).

Just as we were about to leave, the cashier said, "I know this will sound weird, but did you ever talk at a human sexuality course?" Well, yes, that was me. Because of my herculean tolerance for embarrassment (it's kind of a super power), I was briefly the go-to person to talk about my sex life (don't laugh) in front of 250 undergraduates for the "Disability and Sexuality" panel every semester at one teacher's human sexuality class. I would talk about sex as a pain-control mechanism--I have actually had doctors tell me that I should have more sex for this reason, which was definitely on the top-10 list of "world's most awkward conversations" and a sign I should get out more (when your 50-year-old surgeon is urging you to have more booty calls, you just might be on a fast train to spinster-ville)--and various other people would talk about getting it on when you're a paraplegic etc. etc. In theory, this was supposed to enlighten the masses and prevent drunken college girls from having to boozily ask guys in wheelchairs at the bar if they it.

Now, see, the problem about me speaking at a human sexuality panel is that I tend to make jokes when I'm uncomfortable and it's not exactly easy to feel zen-like when you are staring out at a sea of 250 undergraduate faces hoping that none of these kids are also in your Rhetoric class while you try to explain that even though you'll never do the "reverse cowgirl passion pretzel," having a disability forces you to be familiar with your body in a way that able-bodied people rarely are and....You can see where this is going. Let's just say that I've walked out of several of these human-sexuality talks wondering, "Did I really just tell 250 people that I should incorporate myself as non-profit agency so that I can tell guys at the bar that having a one-night stand with me is tax-exempt under the charitable giving act because of what it does to my pain levels?"

I told the cashier that, yes, that had been me.

"Oh my God!" she said. "You were, like, the best thing about that class! People talked about you for weeks." (I'm sure they did).

"Thanks," I said. "I always walk out of those things suspecting that I've led people to believe that I'm a bit promiscuous."

"Yeah, totally!" she exclaimed. "You sounded like a total slut! It was so hilarious!"

I looked at A., who was biting his lower lip to keep from laughing and studying me in a way that said "why am I not at all surprised one single bit that this is happening?"

"Well, I'm glad you liked it," I said.

This exchange actually went on for a few more minutes, but I've forgotten most of what was said because I was too busy mulling over the fact that probably more people remember me for saying that I don't consider myself "wheelchair accessible" because most of the disabled guys I know are man-whores than they do for even my most soul-stirring speech on the importance of effective paragraph transitions.

Finally, as we were heading out the door, the cashier looked between A. and I and grinned knowingly. "You two have a good night," she said. I'm not sure, but I think she winked.

And you know what? I did have a good night. A good night of watching "Star Trek" with my cat stretched out on my lap. You know, like every good sexpert.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Young, Hip and Armed to the Teeth

Programming note: I am going on a little Thanksgiving road trip and will be away from internet access (and cellphone reception, possibly) for the next four days or so. Don't cry a million tears due to Arley withdrawal, though. The last time I celebrated Thanksgiving American-style, I got to fire a rifle (at a piece of paper, but still), so you can just imagine what sort of adventures my Freaky Cyborg Hip and I will get into. Hopefully, I will return with things to blog about that do not involve me whining or extolling the virtues of my cat/ my monkey slippers.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Uh, You Guys Did Replace My Hip, Right?

If you had asked me last April whether I planned to play wheelchair basketball again, my answer would have been a big, fat "hells no!" After a season of trying (unsuccessfully) to stuff my hip back in the socket every time it came out during a game and trying (unsuccessfully) to get through 15-hour bus rides when my hip prevented me from staying in any position other than rigidly upright and trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid having a pain-related meltdown on the court because my hip had been out of alignment for two freaking weeks and my leg wouldn't stop spasming, I was more burned out than a college student after a three-day Adderall-induced study bender. Someone should have stuck a fork in me because I was done.

Well, as the great Bob Dylan sings, the times they are a'changing. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder; (actually, it makes the heart obsessively watch NBA basketball and remember what it was like to actually do something useful with your life). A few months into my hip-replacement recovery, I found myself fantasizing about push-til-you-puke chair skills. Then, I was dreaming about wheelchair basketball. It was therefore no surprise that I did today what I said I was never going to do: I sat in a basketball wheelchair, even though I had told myself that I would never again get into a chair if I was still in pain. (This is not as body-smart as it sounds, since if I could play successfully with pain, I would be the first one on the court. The unfortunate truth, however, is that long-term pain causes me to suck at basketball and there's no point ruining your body for something that you suck at).

When I'm in Champaign, I still work out at the gym where the disabled athletes work out and when I came in today, everyone's basketball chair was lined up along a wall and were singing to me in that siren song that said, "Come on, Arley. You know you want to strap your ass into this chariot of titanium and go for a little spin. Before, you were a wheelchair athlete. Now you're just plain old gimpy. Don't you want to take a little push down memory lane?" I couldn't resist. A few minutes later, I'd strapped into my friend's chair and was cruising up and down the hallways of the Disability Resource Center. A few more minutes and I was dribbling up and down the halls and rolling the ball out in front of me to see if I could pick it up.

I was having so much fun that I didn't realize two things: 1) the hip replacement hadn't made one single bit of difference. I still couldn't bend past 90 degrees. I still couldn't pick the ball up on my left side. I still couldn't rotate well on my left side. 2) I was still in pain. Now, part of this is because the strap of the wheelchair rubs against the place where my gluteus medius should be attached, but the other part of it is that I hurt just as much as I did on my last day of playing basketball and the only thing that's changed is that I have a few pounds of cobalt-chrome where my hip should be and a tendon flapping in the breeze. I briefly wondered whether Dr. ___ had just lied about replacing my hip and had given me a hip-replacement placebo. (Somewhere, my dad is saying, "I'm high on placebos!," which is one of his catch phrases).

And how did I react to this news? Did I say, "Well, at least you tried and maybe you can try again after they repair your hip replacement?"No. Did I say, "I thought you hated this sport? Weren't you going to take up Paralympic swimming?" No. My very first reaction was this: "I could just move my strap so it wouldn't rub! I could put a piece of foam between myself and my chair! I could take off my side guards! Maybe I could still play! Maybe I could practice!" If you give a rat an electric shock every time he goes the wrong way in a maze, that rat will stop going the wrong way. I, however, seem incapable of translating "this activity hurts" to "I should stop doing this activity." Self preservation: you're doing it wrong.

So, yes, the chances of me successfully playing wheelchair basketball again are minimal. Hey, Paralympic swimmers, got any use for a 27-year-old, six-foot-tall chick who doesn't sink in water?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

These Boots Are Made for Gimping and That's Just What They'll Do.

When I started "Young and Hip" nearly four months ago, I rather optimistically captioned it "a 20-something's guide to rocking the hip replacement." My original plan was to chronicle my successful recovery and so prepare other 20-somethings for their hip replacements. Well, yeah, that didn't quite go as planned and the only "rocking" I'm doing these days involves me playing air guitar in the car while listening to Destroyer, and that's not so much 'rocking' as it is 'flailing my hands around while looking constipated.' In fact, a brief glance at my post labels will show you that there are 12 posts about my anti-ass (this could be why so many people wind up at this blog by searching for "ass massage" or "sex needle" (???)), 13 posts about 'disappointments' and only 5 posts for hip-replacement 'tips and tricks.' Sadder still, there are only 2 posts labeled "triumphs" and one of those triumphs was me getting a literary agent, which is not exactly hip-replacement related.

Well, let's make that 3 posts about triumphs because, after a week of experimentation with coat hangers (those of you about to make a back-room abortion joke should give yourself a slap on the wrist) in an attempt to go fishing for my zipper, I have finally achieved a post-hip-replacement goal that has eluded me for the past 6 months: I put on boots. You might be thinking, "wow. Gee. Congratulations Arley. Are you going to talk about your boots in the same excruciating detail as you talked about your monkey slippers because if so, I think I'll stop now and cruise on over to that website with the hilarious cats who can't spell."

Now, granted, this might not be a big deal for those of you who can touch your toes, but for those of us who spent 20 minutes risking great bodily harm yesterday in an attempt to cut their toenails, this is major progress. Being able to put on boots a couple of days ago would have prevented me from ruining my slippers and risking trench foot by walking 2.5 miles in the rain (ok, that was still a stupid idea, but it would have been a less stupid idea if done wearing boots). Being able to wear boots would have also prevented me from dressing up for my birthday in my skinny jeans and cool-ass stripy beat-poet-y sweater and then having to finish the ensemble off with a pair of old-lady running shoes complete with elastic laces (geriatric chic).

Well, my fashion woes are no more. I finally figured out how to put on my boxer-turned-domanatrix leather boots and I was so excited that I actually put on leggings (something else that's pretty difficult to do for me and involves the assistance of several pieces of furniture for support and a bed for a soft spot in case I fall) and a skirt. How did I do it, you ask? Simple:

  1. Take a few minutes to awkwardly put on your socks, lamenting the fact that you haven't put socks on straight since the surgery and so can feel the seam of the sock against the side of your foot and cannot. do. anything. about. it.
  2. Sit down in a chair that has legs (a couch or bed will not work for reasons that will shortly become apparent. This was the mistake that was preventing me from boot greatness over the past week).
  3. Take your boot in one hand and, with the other hand, lift your foot at attempt to guide it into the boot. Succeed in a) bunching up the sock and b) getting the tip of your foot into the boot by wiggling your toes.
  4. Take your foot (still part-way inside the boot) and pull it underneath the chair (hence why you can't do it on a couch or bed) while scooting your anti-ass forward, then reach behind you, underneath the chair, and put the boot on the rest of the way. If your body looks like a greater-than symbol ( > ) you're doing it right.
  5. Do the zipper part-way up, despite the fact that the sock is bunched up.
  6. Put your foot back in front of you and do the zipper up the rest of the way.
  7. Have a nap because that shit is exhausting.
Small victories, ladies and gentlemen. Small victories.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I have very few truly useful talents in life. If you want someone to make lace out of white Airhead candies, I'm your girl. Want a tasteful yet awkward yet kind of hot quadriplegic sex scene? I can do that. Want to insult someone's mother with an X-rated song about her sexual prowess? Done. (Long story). I do, however, have one skill that actually has positive effects in my life: a nearly limitless capacity for embarrassment, (which kind of explains the quadriplegic sex scenes and my hit song "Cobi's Mom"). When I was in France visiting my friend Doc, for example, I had no problems diving right in and butchering the French language (I speak only a bastardized, basketball-focused French, despite the fact that I am Canadian) if it meant that I might fit in with the locals. Sure, I made a fool out of myself 90% of the time (for example, saying "I demand pasta!" instead of "Can I please order some pasta?"), but I did learn a lot of French and I'm pretty sure the locals gave me an A for effort, even if I earned a "WTF are you trying to say?" in execution.

It was this capacity for making a fool out of myself that led me to try Contra dancing last night. My new roommate, M., plays in a contra-dancing band and when she noticed that I have a soft spot in my heart for fiddle music, (I'm Canadian; it's in my bloodstream), she invited me to come along. Contra dancing is kind of like square dancing, but not in squares. The caller teaches the dance and everyone walks through it, then the music strikes up and people dance their hearts out. Have you ever been to a Spirit of the West concert when they're playing "Home for a Rest" and everyone starts dancing in circles and linking arms and swinging each other around? Well, that's what contra dancing is like only more graceful and purposeful and complicated and not fueled by alcohol.

Now, I have a rather ambivalent history with this sort of dancing. I am from New Westminster, which is one of the few places (outside of the U.K, I'd imagine) that still celebrates May Day with folk dances and maypole dances. When I danced the maypole in Grade 4, my maypole got hopelessly tangled, (though I blame this on my partner whose name was Michael Rhodes and about whom, because he was kind of a jerk to me in the way that 10-year-old boys are often jerks, I had invented a truly mean song to the tune of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" that started "Michael Rhodes is like a boat ashore: totally useless," which was the beginning of my career as a writer of inappropriate songs).

Anyhow, there's a reason why the equation of "really tall" + "cannot move her hip in various directions" + "walks like a polio-stricken duck" + "was once forced to dress up as a foam-rubber dinosaur during her jazz-dancing recital as a child, even though I was able-bodied at the time, because I was too incredibly awkward to be trusted to perform the dance moves" does not add up to "should dance in public."I, however, thought, "what the hell? The only thing I have to lose is my dignity and I'm pretty sure that flew out the window when I spent 5 minutes this morning trying unsuccessfully to zip up my boots by going fishing for the zipper with a wire coat hanger."

So, I went contra dancing. When I walked in to the gymnasium and saw dozens of people who were very good at the dances and even had special shoes for the sole (no pun intended) purpose of contra dancing and special skirts (some guy was even wearing a kilt) for the purpose of having more fun while twirling, I wondered if I would be able to participate without the aid of a couple shots of whiskey. I wasn't even sure that I would be able to dance in my jeans (which, because of my anti-ass, generally fall down dangerously low whenever I move) and my runners. Sure, people are nice now, I thought, but it's all fun and games until someone gets a concussion at the hands of a six-foot-two uncoordinated Amazon who do-si-didn't when she should have do-si-do'ed.

I quickly noticed, however, that everyone seemed entirely unselfconscious. No one seemed to mind if someone made a mistake. No one said, "Get your gimpy, uncoordinated anti-ass back to Canada." People were helpful and supportive and not at all condescending and seemed excited about having a new person to dance with. When you've spent three years in a grad school bubble, it's really nice to participate in the larger community and hang out with people from all walks of life. Besides, there were brownies, and I'll do pretty much anything for a brownie.

Also, I'd been reading Barbara Ehrenreich's "Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy," the thesis of which is that collective acts of joy actually play a vital role in both our own wellbeing and the health of our communities and that North American society is sadly bereft of these moments of unrestricted movement-based happiness. (There's more to her thesis and the book is actually pretty fantastic if you want to check it out). What would Barbara Ehrenreich do? I asked myself. She would probably bust a move.

So, yes, I hopped right in and tried contra dancing and luckily my roommate guided me through the first dance even when I got lost and/or dizzy from all that spinning. At the beginning of every dance, I was really awkward (surprise) and sometimes accidentally harmed people by slamming into them because I turned out when I should have turned in. And, yes, it is difficult to move in a circle when you cannot bring your left leg out to the side (curse you, detached gluteus medius!) or to the front (curse you, mysteriously not-working hip flexors!). And, yes, I did have flashbacks of myself circa 1992 dressed up in a fluorescent dinosaur costume tripping all the tiny dancing girls with my long, foam-rubber tail.

But, you know what? I actually had a lot of fun. One of the things I really miss about basketball is the combination of exercising while thinking. Basketball is a really brainy game; you make more decisions during one basketball game than you will off-the-court all month. There's something about hopping on an elliptical machine that, despite the happy exercise-induced neurochemicals, feels a little hollow. Engaging your brain while you engage your body is quite fun, especially when fiddle music is involved.

So will I take up contra dancing as my next extreme support? Maybe. My hip was more than a little cranky about being forced into various positions that it cannot physically do, but maybe that's good for it. Perhaps the cure for my hip is a steady regime of dancing, kittens, and mint-chocolate-chip brownies.

Friday, November 20, 2009


For nearly two weeks, I've been chilling in Champaign waiting for various tests to be scheduled so that I can (with a heavy heart) book a plane ticket back to Canada. Well, I no longer have to spend my days drawing large question marks all over my daytimer because a plan has finally been hatched and it looks a little something like this:

Dec 1st: Fly back to Canada through some circuitous route that will require me to stop over in Phoenix for an ungodly length of time. (Total traveling time, not including getting to Chicago: 11 hours!). People of Champaign-Urbana, if you want to get your Arley fix, you better do it in the next week and a half because I am leaving on a jet plane (and, likely, a broke-down Lex bus) and I don't know when I'll be back again. Oh, babe, I hate to go.

Dec 3rd: Get a big-ass needle jabbed into my hip socket. (Spoiler alert: I will yell)

Dec 7th: See my neurologist, which will probably again result in the phrase, "Debbie, prepare the needle room!" which will translate into me getting more needles into my anti-ass. (You can see that I have a lot to look forward to up in Canada and why I'm so eager to get back).

Dec 21st: See Dr. SecondOpinion, who hopefully will have a Christmas miracle in store for me. (It's a miracle! You do not require surgery! Turns out that your hip can be cured by a few weeks of playing with fluffy kittens and subsisting on a steady diet of chai and gingerbread!) Barring that, hopefully he will give me a timeline for how to fix the Freaky Cyborg Hip. Here's hoping that timeline isn't "gimp around for another 2 years before I get a surgery date at which point my gluteus medius will have curled up into a little sleeping ball and will be impossible to wake up, which means I'll do the polio strut for the rest of my life."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Insert Fart Jokes Here

Today, my mom phoned with the news that they have finally scheduled my mysterious un-named "is your hip replacement broken" test, which will occur on Dec 3rd. (Thanks mom!) This is all sorts of good news, since it means that I can stay in Champaign for a week longer than I thought, which means that I might have a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving for the second time this year (for those of you who do not live in two countries at once: Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving at different times, hence twice the opportunities for turkey-based deliciousness).

So, yes, I can now book a flight, usefully plan out my life, and begin to fret about what this mysterious hip test will involve. The woman who booked the test apparently told my mom that I had to be accompanied by a responsible adult or they would not do the test, which is medical-speak for "honey, we are going to fuck you up in deeply serious ways. Snuff films will look like happy-fun-cuddle-sparkle sessions after we're done with you." If whatever they're doing to you during the test will leave you in a state where it is not medically ethical to release you out of the hospital on your own recognizance, you can be pretty sure that it will involve the phrase, "Now, we're going to try to numb you, but you will probably feel some discomfort. Just try to hold still."

The last time I had to have a responsible adult accompany me to a test was when I was having heart problems thanks to the world's worst case of mono (Super Mono!). I had to have (three times) something called a tilt table test, which is when they don't let you have anything to eat or drink, strap you to a bed, tilt the bed vertically and wait for you to throw up and faint. Sometimes, they give you some medicine to help the process along (though I never got any because I fainted 30 seconds into my first test). Not only did I have to have a responsible adult accompany me, but I also had to take a pregnancy test to make sure that no fetuses were going to be tilt-tabled, which resulted in me having to get a blood test from some intern who, after 15 minutes of poking around, finally stuck the needle in the side of my elbow and proclaimed, "Where the blood?!" (true story).

So, yes, whatever this mysterious test is, I know it involves a needle jabbed deep into my hip socket, and beyond that I don't think I want to know. It's best to focus on Thanksgiving and the prospect of eating my weight in candy corn. Besides, at the moment, I have other concerns. Yesterday, I mentioned that I'd been woken up by a man ferreting out the gas leak in my water heater (that's what she said). Well, last night I was cuddled up in bed reading a book when I realized that I had a terrible headache. Since I was not dehydrated or hungover, I decided to investigate the water heater, which my landlord had fixed. When I opened the door to the room where the water heater was, I was overwhelmed by the stench of gas. Apparently, the landlord needed to give the water heater a dose of Beano along with a new valve because it was hell-bent on causing a gas explosion. (Happily, my landlord is wonderful and competent and is already at work fixing the problem).

Though it was late, I called the gas company again and they sent out a very cranky man who had a red-eyed, ferrety face and was none too happy about being dragged out of his warm bed at 1 a.m. (which was the time he eventually arrived at). When he arrived, I said, "Thanks for coming," whereupon he responded, "Yeah, well, normal people are sleeping at a time like this" and gave me a look as if to imply that I had obviously caused a gas leak in my heater through some form of debauchery. Clearly, I had been involved in a devil-worshipping S&M three-way, the dark sexual energy of which had been so potent that it caused the water heater to burst apart at the seams.

For 15 minutes, ferret man stuck his gas-detecting wand into various dark crevices of my house (that's what she said), all the while complaining about being forced to be awake at this hour. I did not mention to him that he was getting paid to be here, whereas no one was paying me to sit up at 1 a.m. reading Philip Roth's "The Human Stain" trying to focus thanks to a massive gas-induced headache and wearing two pairs of socks because my floors are so cold and my boot-slipper-things are still drying out after my great "walking 2.5 miles in the rain" adventure, which is a recipe for ennui if I ever heard of one. Long story short, the cranky gas man turned off the water heater, wrote my landlord a note, and I finally fell asleep.

One of these days, I'm going to have to post pictures of my house, so that you do not think that I have been living in squalor. My place is actually pretty nice (working fireplace, hardwood floors, big backyard, huge living room, etc. etc.), it's just that the little black raincloud that follows me around apparently does not distinguish between Freaky Cyborg Hips and water heaters. Does anyone else get the feeling that I need some sort of "demon be gone!" ritual?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There is Power in a Union!

This morning, I woke up to the sound of a male voice only a few feet from my door. Finally, I thought. I've been beamed up into an alternate dimension where I am cohabitating with a male human being. Perhaps this means that my hip problems have also been cured and that I am employed. Yeah, not so much. It turns out that the mysterious male voice belonged to an employee of the Ameren Gas Company and he was in the process of discovering why our house was filled with natural gas. (I discovered this when the sweet nothings he was whispering were along the lines of, "Your furnace looks to be clear, so I'm going to inspect your hot-water heater" as opposed to, "Get up, my sweet darling. You're expected on the Oprah show soon to celebrate the fact that your book just topped the NY Times Bestseller List.") Turns out, our water heater had a bad case of flatulence (killer flatulence!) and the house had been filling with natural gas.

The fact that I did not explode thanks to the gas leak means that perhaps my luck is looking up. I decided to celebrate by bringing cookies to the striking grad students. Because the water heater was shut off, however, I had to shower at the gym and I also had to stop off at the grocery store because I'd eaten half of the cookies I'd made the night before and you can't show up to a picket line with 12 measly cookies and, long story short, I arrived at the picket lines just in time to hear a great amount of cheering. The strike was over. (There is power in a union!) My solidarity cookies had become celebration cookies and there was nothing left to do but go to Murphy's and drink a beer (after my pineapple tequila incident, I kept it civil and stuck to one beer). And ate a couple more celebration cookies instead of lunch.

So, yes, I'm now hanging out in the library listening to someone playing a computer game, because the library is a hell of a lot warmer than my house, which is currently at 62 degrees: something that my wallet approves of, but which leads me to quickly become chilly (because I am always cold) and dive under the covers for warmth, which leads me to fall asleep for excessive amounts of time, which is not conducive to getting work done. Despite the odour of the computer area and the fact that the paper towels smell weirdly of garlic, the library is actually not a bad place to be.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Consider Me Appreciated

It's the day after International Arley Appreciation Day and, believe me, I feel completely, utterly and totally appreciated. A. appreciated me by taking me to this kick-ass German restaurant in Gibson City (I believe I have written before about this restaurant and the peculiar experience of eating weinerschnitzel while being watched over by the protective gazes of dozens of taxidermied animals hanging from the walls and ceiling). Erin McQ appreciated me with funfetti cupcakes. The Aussies appreciated me (maybe a little too much) with pineapple-flavoured tequila and Miller Lite. Countless other friends appreciated me by dragging themselves through the rain to the bar for my birthday party. I am one appreciated (and slightly hungover) Arley.

So how am I spending my first day of being solidly 27? Using the wisdom I've collected in my 27 years on earth to end child poverty? Making appropriate life decisions befitting of someone who is closer to 30 than 20? No and no. I began the day by walking 2.5 miles in the rain wearing inappropriate footwear. See, I (wisely) chose to leave my car at the bar last night, on account of the pineapple-flavoured tequila. When I woke up this morning, my thought process went something like this: I should get my car before it gets towed. Maybe I should call a cab to take me there. Wait, do I have a phone book? I do not. Damn, this is a completely insurmountable obstacle that I could not possibly overcome by calling 411. Maybe I should take a bus. Damn. I do not have a bus schedule or any idea about bus routes. Another insurmountable obstacle. I know! I will walk 2.5 miles to my car! In the pouring rain! In a city where drainage problems often cause great lakes to appear in the middle of sidewalks so that you feel like some old-school explorer/fur trader portaging your way across vast and churning rivers! Even though I cannot put on any of my boots because I cannot reach the zippers and so will be forced to wear my slippers, which have a boot-like sole but are not actually anything remotely resembling waterproof! Even though walking 2.5 miles is a great recipe for spending the rest of the day sucking at life! It is clear to me that this walk is a fantastic idea and will help me brush off the pineapple-tequila-related cobwebs and leave me renewed with youthful vim and vigor.

You all can probably guess how this ended: me, limping badly, soaking wet, with my glasses all fogged up and my wool coat smelling of wet dog. When you check back with me tomorrow, do not be surprised if I am dying of consumption. (I feel like "consumption" is the new "swine 'flu" and I like to be ahead of disease trends).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy International Arley Appreciation Day!

If you woke up today wondering why your keys have gone missing, you have a sudden intense craving for a chai latte (tall, nonfat, no water), and you're walking like you've come down with a case of polio, don't worry. It's not a brain tumor; you're just celebrating International Arley Appreciation Day in style. (That ringing in your ears: probably angels descending from heaven to sing glad tidings of joy). That's right, today I am 27 years old, which makes me officially old as fuck. (At least when you're 26 you can consider yourself closer to 25 than 30. The main purpose of your 27th birthday is to make you think, "Hot damn. Do I really only have another 10 years of viable reproductivity left before my babymaker shrivels up? Shouldn't I at least have a paying job by now? Should I start going on dates? Should I stop using phrases like "babymaker shrivels up" so as not to scare off potential suitors?")

I am determined, however, not to let this birthday descend into another quarter-life crisis; (those of you witnessed my drinking-to-forget-and-winding-up-puking-for-three-days-straight 25th birthday will agree that's probably for the best). No, today is a day to look on the bright side and I am determined to remain cheery. For example, when I woke up this morning and opened my medicine cabinet to find a brown cockroach-shaped blur speeding off my toothbrush (!!) to hide behind my leave-in conditioner, I did not think that my 27th year was getting off on the wrong foot. Instead, I told myself that this was a chance to give myself a special birthday present in the form of a brand new toothbrush and one of those toothbrush protector cases. Happy birthday to me. I also told myself that going leave-in-conditioner free would just give my hair that extra hint of body (read: out-of-control frizz) that will make all the gentlemen swoon. And the fact that I went to brunch with friends and then ran into a former professor of mine without brushing my teeth: well, maybe they were so focused on my breath they did not pay attention to whatever social gaffes I was making at the time. See! Silver linings abound!

I do, however, have a lot to be thankful for. Yes, I might have a few cockroaches in my house, but my rent is so cheap that you have to expect to share the place with a few roommates...and that many of those roommates will have more than two legs. A few nights ago, I was sitting with A. on the couch eating homemade chili and garlic bread, watching the Utah Jazz lay the smack down, with my cat (who has somehow decided that the statute of limitations for being pissed off at me has expired) purring on my lap, thinking, "well, yeah, I still walk like a downtrodden 17th century peasant, am unable to sit for more than 5 minutes on a hard surface without significant ass bruising, have no career prospects or any idea where I'll be living in the next month, but I actually have it pretty good."

Part of my cheeriness is, of course, that I'm hanging out in Illinois and have been on a mission to cram as much socialization into the short time I'm down here as possible. Last night, for example, I went to see "The Men Who Stare At Goats" with Shawna and after the movie I was craving a nap. But when I found out that Amanda and Josh were going to a free concert at Krannert Art Museum (the band was called The Walkmen and they were actually pretty good), I thought to myself, "Arley, you can sleep when you're high as a kite on morphine recovering from surgery to correct your Freaky Cyborg Hip. Or, you can sleep when you're back in Vancouver and spending your Friday evenings catching up on the latest episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" and wondering, like oh my god, if the bride-to-be will pick the white dress or the other white dress. Get out there and see some live music." So, I did and got to spend a few hours listening to some good music and playing a friendly game of "Spot the Hipster." (A.K.A. "Are those shoes orthopedic in nature or just so incredibly trendy that they're beyond my powers of appreciation?") Then, even though I was tired, I thought, "well, I could sleep, or I could go out with Josh, Amanda and A. to a townie bar in Urbana until 2 a.m.," which is why, ladies and gentlemen, I have been in Illinois since Tuesday and am still firmly entrenched on Pacific Standard Time.

So, yes, I am having a great time and a happy birthday. If you live in Illinois, you should join me tonight at the Esquire (in Champaign) at 9 p.m. for a birthday celebration. If you live in Vancouver, you should wait for me to throw myself another birthday party once I get back because my ego is too big to allow my birthday celebration to be contained within one short day.

Oh, and to the GEO: there is power in a union!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

International Arley Appreciation Day

The countdown to International Arley Appreciation Day has begun in earnest. Okay, not really, but I did make the world's laziest Facebook event invite for a birthday party on Sunday, which is kind of a weird day to have a party on, but it's when the greatest number of people could make it. So if you are in Champaign this Sunday, you should come to my lazy-ass attempt at organizing a party (it's at the same bar I have my birthday at every year so that I didn't have to clean my house to make it guest-worthy or buy a few bags of chips to feed people and I am not even bothering to make a cake).

If you want to know what to get me for my special day, here's a hint: a teleportation device. There is no good way to get to Champaign-Urbana from Vancouver (and, believe me, I have tried them all). Once, I had a roommate from Sweden, (which is the reason I can say "I want you here and now" in Swedish, which is another story altogether), and she and I both left Champaign around the same time to fly back for Christmas. She arrived in Sweden before I arrived in Vancouver.

My day of traveling went like this:
  • Wake up at 6 a.m. so that my poor mom could drive me to Bellingham, which is just across the border.
  • Arrive at the Bellingham airport to find that all the computer systems have experienced a massive system shut-down and my flight has been delayed for at least an hour, which is problematic since I would miss my connecting flight and be stuck, since I'd booked the two flights separately, thinking I was being oh-so-crafty (it saved me $600).
  • Cancel my Bellingham flight and have my poor mom drive me to Seattle, then promptly fall asleep for an hour so that she didn't even have anyone to talk to because I am a bad daughter.
  • Get fondled by airport security since my Freaky Cyborg Hip sets off the metal detectors. (Though, granted, I'm probably due for a little groping).
  • Fly from Seattle to Phoenix, eat frozen yogurt while waiting for my next flight and eavesdropping on a group of nervous young army recruits, one of whom is telling the story of how a ghost followed him around on his last day as a construction worker.
  • Fly from Phoenix to Chicago and find that the combination of barebones low-budget airplane + long legs + no hip flexion = does. not. compute. I couldn't even fit my legs in the space provided and the minute the plane was airborne I convinced the flight attendant to let me move to a bulkhead seat.
  • Earned major side-eye from the blonde, fake-tanned, over-jewleried, my-jeans-cost-more-than-your-car woman beside me, who was clearly pissed off that she had paid to upgrade to the bulkhead seat and I had not. Contemplated telling said woman that, yes, she paid an extra $50 for the legroom, but I paid in having had my hip cut off, replaced, then (partially) reattached, so let's just call us even.
  • Landed in Chicago and boarded the Lex bus. On the plus side, the driver let me sit up front. On the negative side, because of a scheduling error we ended up chilling outside a Holiday Inn somewhere deep in the Chicagoland suburbs for an hour.
  • Arrived into Champaign at 1 a.m., where I was picked up by A. (thanks, A.!).
  • Got to my house to find that the locks had been changed, which was a Welcome Home present I was really not expecting (aww, you shouldn't have).
  • Spent the night on A's couch, waking up every so often to see my angry little feline positioned a few inches from my face, staring me down. (If it was a staring contest, she won).
Now, however, I am happily in Champaign. A. and I have already eaten our weight in meat products at The Black Dog and went to Le Peep, so my plan to not consume my weight in meat products so far not going so well.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Those of you wondering where your daily how-has-Arley-screwed-up-her-life-today fix has been for the past couple of days might be forgiven for thinking that I had been off kicking ass and taking names (if you could overlook the fact that the only way I could kick someone in the ass would be if that person laid down on the floor, picked up my leg, put it directly on their ass and moved it back and forth). No, the only reason why the blogosphere has been sadly bereft of polio jokes is that the only thing I had to say was "damn."

After the whole "missing the Neko Case concert" thing and the whole "my hip replacement might be loose and I'll need a new one and someone is going to have to reattach my torn tendon but Lord knows when that will be" thing, there was not a hell of a lot else to say. (I figured no one wanted another 'monkey slippers' update). Before, I had been thinking "only 4 more days until I meet Dr. SecondOpinion and maybe get an answer" or "only 8 more days until Neko Case blows my mind," but once those things passed and there was no timeline for any other appointments, it became too easy to look at the big picture and that big picture, yeah, not so rosy. I momentarily got sick of being unable to put on my socks or get out of bed without kicking one of my legs with my other leg or nearly falling over every time I try to put a pair of pants on without a grabber. Plus, I feel like my pain is increasing, though this could be because I'm now aware of the fact that there's a tendon flapping free in my body and waving in the breeze like some sort of sea anenome.

Eventually, however, someone had to give a "last call" to the pity party. I knew I needed to get out of dodge when A. called and the only remotely interesting thing I had to tell him was that when I went to the library, Borges' "Book of Imaginary Beings" was filed in the reference department between the "Oxford Book of Quotations" and "Make Your Wedding Great!" (Like, oh my god!). I found this fascinating because on one hand, the book draws from nonfiction sources, but on the other hand, is not exactly what you'd consider a "reference book" since it's a blend of fiction and nonfiction. A.'s opinion was that these issues of genre had stopped being interesting in the '80s and I conceded that, yeah, probably I need to get one of those things called a life I had been hearing so much about. (Is it ironic that I equate "going to a small college town in Illinois" with "getting a life?")

Plus, today was my last day of physio, so there was no longer a practical reason to stick around Vancouver, which is firmly entrenched in 5 months of soul-crushing grayness. It was sad to say goodbye to all these people who have helped me for four of the past five months. My mom made everyone handmade blankets and I bought cards to say, basically, "thanks for being the only people who gave a shit that I cannot move my leg in most directions." Even though I failed my physio exam (in my defense, the questions were hard: can you put on your socks? Can you go up and down the stairs unassisted? Do you have trouble getting dressed?) I proudly "graduated" and celebrated with a caramel brulee latte.

So now, it's time to fold up the recovery sweatpants, return the library books and all 5 House Season 5 DVDs (which took me a grand total of 2 days to burn through) and pack up a backpack because it's time to get on a plane. My parents can breathe a sigh of relief because I'm taking off for Champaign. Main goal: celebrate International Arley Appreciation Day without eating my weight in pork products. (Okay, maybe a few pork products). If you live in Champaign, you should call me.