Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Can't All Medicine Be Covered in Brownies?

In the interest of improving my hip, I have had electrified needles jabbed in my ass, swung my legs around in bizarre physio swings as 85-year-old men tried to look up my shorts, had ass massages and chilled out in MRI machines. Today, however, I finally had a treatment that didn't cause me post traumatic stress disorder. I've been talking about it for ages, and today it finally happened: I got to eat some delicious Coco Mero frozen yogurt: the yogurt of my dreams, the yogurt that I have been pining for in the fro-yo-free wilds of Vancouver. (Is it a bad sign that I can count "getting to eat good frozen yogurt" as one of the best things that's happened to me in months?) Today, however, E.C. and I has a frozen yogurt dance party (okay, maybe not dancing, but we did bob our heads to the blaring pop music) and I suspect that my hip will thank me for it.

In the frozen yogurt place, there's a big sign that lists all of the many health benefits of this particular frozen yogurt: improved digestion! Improved immune system! May possibly be tolerable for people with lactose intolerance! Good source of calcium! Low fat! (Source: the Yogurt Association of America, which makes me wonder if this association sends powerful yogurt lobbiest to Congress). If this sign is to be believed, then yogurt will straighten out my immune system, which will fix my rashes, then help my hip stay in place with its calcium, and improve my digestion to boot. Better still, I get to cover this immune-system-boosting, calcification-speeding-up, low-fat deliciousness with caramel syrup, white chocolate chips, sprinkles, cheesecake bites and brownie pieces, then draw a little happy face with chocolate syrup on top. (I wonder if my T3's would go down easier if they were covered in caramel syrup and white chocolate chips? I might have to experiment).

So here, for your viewing pleasure, is a picture of my fro-yo sundae. If you look closely, you can see the little chocolate-syrup face watching you, which looks more than a little evil in photo form. (In real life, it was less evil and more delicious). Try not to be too jealous.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's the End of the World As We Know It. I Feel Tired.

Have I mentioned that moving into a new apartment post-hip-replacement ranks right up there with "having more electrified needles jabbed into my ass" on the list of things I'd rather not do? Well, it does and if I ever consider moving again, you should probably beat me senseless; (I probably should not be saying such things when I'm going to have to move next year). While I was looking forward to going to Champaign, I was dreading moving in to my new place, despite the fact that A. and his boss had done most of the heavy lifting for me; (thanks, guys!). As I've said before, moving is not exactly hip friendly. There's something about twisting, bending and lifting heavy boxes filled with all your worldly possessions that makes you think, "Gee, I wonder if this is what my surgeon said when he told me I didn't fit the psychological profile of someone who will do well with a hip replacement."

Still, it had to be done (those 85 hand-crocheted blankets weren't going to move themselves and Lord knows that when the winter comes around I'll be needing them!) and I've spent the past few days trying to put the chaotic mess of all of my belongings into some semblance of order. This, however, is a tricky thing to do when you're in life limbo, since you don't know what to keep and what to discard. The more I sorted through the boxes and bags, the less my possessions seemed to fit my current life.

There was, for example, a time in my life when owning 70 T-shirts made sense, when I would wake up at 5:30 in the morning for basketball practice and think, "Damn. I wish I had more T-shirts." Then, I would do 10 loads of laundry in one sitting and annoy the other patrons of the laundromat while doing so because I would take over all of the triple-load machines in the place. Now, however, my days of training twice (and sometimes three times) a day are over, (okay, my days of training for anything but sitting on my couch are over) and having 70 T-shirts seems a little bit like overkill. Same with the boxes and boxes of assignment prompts, grade books, sample student work and other remnants of my teaching days. Same with the various remnants of my grad-school career and my fancy teaching clothes. I hope that the recycling machine in Urbana is hungry because I recycled so much paper that it's about to get the snack of a lifetime. (Tasty, tasty Rhetoric essays).

Well, I was not about to let a little quarter-life crisis get in the way of having a good time in Urbana. After thoroughly medicating my hip to make up for any moving-related trauma it must have suffered, I set out to socialize with all the lovely people I never get to see when I'm in Vancouver. A. taught me how to cast a fly-fishing rod in his front yard and I only hooked the line in the trees twice (okay, five times)! Mika pretended I didn't exist and made a show of cuddling up to A and putting her ears back whenever I came near! I ate K.'s delicious fudge and saw all the wonderful people from my former office! E.Mc made me delicious lamb shepherd's pie and sauteed apples and we watched "Iron Giant!," which by the way is one of the cutest robot-related movies I've seen in a long time! S.C. and I went to Curtis Apple Orchard and I had a minor heart attack at the thought of spending $11 for a bag of apples, then drank delicious hot apple cider and ate apple donuts in my car! It was a lovely, lovely day.

Well, it was a lovely, lovely day until my new roommate casually mentioned that, oh yeah, by the way, she's seen a mouse or two scampering around our new house. Right. Great. Apparently, I am the pied piper, because it seems that whenever I move into a house, rodents of all varieties follow me. Perhaps the tapping of my cane imitates some popular form of rodent techno and they're irresistibly attracted to the crazy beat. Oh well. At least when I move down there for good, Mika will join me. If there's any cat who can inform a mouse that its glory days are over and there's a new sherrif in town, it's Mika.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Great American Disappointment Company

Since I had an hour to kill in the Sea-Tac airport while on a layover to Chicago, I decided to suppress the urge to buy a $10 pre-made sandwich from the sandwich cart and ferret out some better food, since this would afford me another chance to get in my daily dose of walking; (see, Mr. Neurologist? Dedicated). I consulted the airport map and determined that the Great American Bagel Company was not so far away and I could snack on a multigrain bagel with some form of protein and delicious melty cheese to get me through the long journey to Chicago.

What I hadn’t factored in, however, were the facts that a) I do not have the fleetest of feet (the fact that I was recently out-run and cussed out by an 80-year-old guy with a walker should have alerted me to this fact, but didn’t), b) that I was carrying a backpack that weighed as much as your average competitive gymnast and c) that I was also dragging a little carry-on suitcase on wheels in an effort to avoid having the O’Hare airport lose my luggage for the 900th time. I also hadn’t factored in the several steep uphill ramps, which is problematic since the only way I can go up inclines is to swing my leg (and arm) in a ridiculous arc while pointing my toe in a near-perfect imitation of the Ministry of Silly Walks Monty Python sketch. (I do, by the way, have a “Ministry of Silly Walks” shirt, but I’ve stopped wearing it so much because whenever I do, people always come up to me and launch into the whole “dead parrot” skit, which always causes me to give them a blank stare and briefly wonder if they are insane because I have forgotten that I was wearing the shirt, which results in embarrassment for the both of us).

It turns out, as well, that what the airport map had depicted as a quick, breezy jaunt was actually a twenty-minute slog. On the way, I was subjected to a bizarre photographic mural of a magician and his assistant, both of whom had electrifyingly green eyes and these creepy grins. Now, see, murals of mountains and trees and skylines I can understand, since these remind passengers that there is a world outside of the concrete-and-fluorescence purgatory of airports and are also metaphors for life (take the road less traveled! The sky’s the limit! See the forest through the trees!) But what kind of acid was someone dropping when they were sitting around a table at a design meeting and deciding, “You know what will really cheer passengers up and ease their transition to new destinations? A mural of magicians! Doing creepy magic tricks and wearing top hats! And to really fuck with people’s heads, let’s get the photoshop people to give them glowing eyes so it looks like they’re staring you down as you stagger to your boarding gate. Wouldn’t that just be a breath of fresh air in a weary world?”

After twenty minutes and a little bit of magician-induced trauma, I arrived at the Great American Bagel Company with high expectations. I ordered a turkey sandwich on a multigrain bagel with roasted red peppers and cheese, toasted. I think the toaster must have been on the fritz because instead of toasting it, the machine only sucked out every last drop of moisture. The multi-grain bagel was topped with something that resembled chicken feed, and biting into it caused me to cut the roof of my mouth in three places, (which, if you’ve been following my great To Floss or Not to Floss? debate, could lead to a massive infection of my hip, and death by bagel is not exactly the way I want to go). The bagel was so hard that I could not bite into both halves at once, but when I got rid of the first layer, I found myself staring at the (unmelted and not-at-all-delicious) cheddar cheese, which was turning white from the water of the turkey and the roasted red peppers. I was about to complain, but the girl at the counter was busily tapping yellowed patties of pressed chicken against the cutting board (to soften them up? to defrost them? to determine whether or not they were actually food?) and I figured that her intervention might not improve the situation. Even though I had paid $8 for the sandwich, I could not choke it down.

Instead, I dined on a Snicker's bar. By this time, I realized that I was going to be late for my flight, so I booked it past the creepy magicians towards my gate and arrived, panting, puffing and thoroughly sore, with only a few minutes to spare, still hungry. So, if you’re listening Great American Bagel Company, I want my freaking money back. You should give it to me because there are few forces as formidable as quasi-cyborg with a lot of time on her hands and a fondness for composing scathing letters.

Oh, and in other news, some old lady just smoked me in the head with the door of the airplane washroom when both of us were coming out of opposite cubicles at the same time. I am not having good luck with the elderly today.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Out of My Way...Bitch!

Even though I am flying out to Champaign today, I got up early to get my exercises, a workout and walk in before my flight; (take that, Mr. "Are You Sure You're Working Hard Enough and Doing All Your Exercises?" Neurologist!). Since I had to get some American money out of my Canadian account, I took a stroll up to the local bank, figuring I could also hit up the nearby Starbucks for my pre-flight chai-latte fix. 

At first, the stroll seemed to be going well. I even out-paced a group of people on the street and had to pass them. Now, granted, this group of people were blitzed out of their trees and had actually slowed down to pass a joint and I suspect I got a contact high just from being in a one-mile radius. And, granted, they were morbidly obese and probably didn't do the whole "walking" thing too often and were complaining about being hung over from the night before...but still! I felt a little jolt of pride as I power-limped past them, my cane flashing brilliantly in the sun.

Alas, the moment of pride turned out to be short-lived. As I approached the bank, I found myself walking side by side with an elderly man--complete with sweater vest, hearing aid and droopy eye--using a walker. Every time I would try to speed up to pass him, he would speed up. I would speed up. He would speed up. It was like we were in the Olympics running the 100 meter dash...except very, very slowly and without spandex or bovine growth hormones. I've got to hand it to him: the old bugger had a lot of pep left in him. He was not going to be bested by some chick with a cane. I was just about to exert a final effort when he turned to me and said loudly, "Out of my way...bitch!"

Check. And. Mate. You don't mess around with old guys. They've got 80 years of resentment built up in them and unless you want to be on the receiving end of a shank made out of a back scratcher or a World War Two army rifle, you better step off. I slowed down (mostly out of shock) and the old guy jetted off across the street towards the Tim Horton's. Buddy was likely jonesing for some timbits and a double-double and I was standing between him and deep-fried, sugar-coated goodness. 

As he left, you could just see the gleam in his eye. He probably hasn't out-run anyone since the Reagan Administration and this would make a fine tale for his cronies back at The Elks Lodge or the care home. So, if you come across an old guy sitting on a park bench and trying to relate to you the story of how he put some young uppity girl in her place by showing her what true speed looks like, just nod and smile. Yes, that's me. Making old guys feel good about themselves since 1982. I'm kind of like the Mother Theresa of the Elderly Male Ego. It's just one of the many services I offer.

Ok, So Good Things Can Start Happening Anytime Now

If you know a magic fairy godmother (read: Oprah) or some dancing-singing-dress-making mice (all the mice/rats we have only make holes in the walls and cause me sleepless nights), you might want to put them on the express bus to New Westminster. Because, hot damn, after the day I've had, I could use a magic wand (or at least a batch of ginger cookies).

I woke up today with the sun shining, the birds chirping, and a film crew dumping bags of fibreglass-like white fluff all over the lawn of the house across the street to simulate snow (just another day in New West). I was all excited because a) I had recently finished a project for my internship that required me to create a database of every single lit mag in the known universe and I awoke with the knowledge that I would never have to look at a single rhyming cat poem or erotic horse-themed literary magazine for the rest of my life and b) because I only had one more sleep until my trip to Champaign and could almost taste the beef brisket.

The good vibes lasted through my walk up to the drugstore to buy more Extra Strength Tylenol. After a month of being off pain meds, I'm back on the meds...I suspect I have been watching too much "House" and have learned that people with canes are supposed to have raging pain-killer addictions, though the fact that anything even mildly narcotic makes me throw up does not bode well for my chances of developing a taste for the hard-core shit. The good vibes even lasted when I made the mistake of cuddling our cranky old tabby Mr. Chubbz and he lovingly kneaded several scratches all along my chest, so it now looks as if I had a massive rash there (because what I need in my life is another rash).

When I got home, however, I had a message on my answering machine from my Great Uncle. My grandma had been rushed to the hospital after her caregiver found her catatonic in her bed. Since my dad was at work--he hurried back from Vancouver as soon as he could--I headed down to the Royal Columbian Hospital, figuring that since I have become the Crown Princess of Hospitals lately I might be of some help. I therefore spent a couple hours hanging out with my grandma, who was curled in fetal position on the bed looking like a little bird since she must weigh about 75 pounds, and watching a woman flopping around on the floor trying to pass kidney stones in front of everyone, screaming, "I can't do this! I can't do this! Let me lay on the ground!" as the nurse gave her the side-eye and noted that she, uh, might not want to get too close to that floor because there's this little thing called a staph infection.

There's nothing like an emergency room to make you realize how lucky you are. I may walk like I have a moderate case of polio, but at least I'm not screaming in the middle of an overcrowded emergency room trying to squeeze stones through sensitive areas of my body as dozens of elderly people stacked nearly on top of one another in the hallway judge me. Luckily, it turned out that my grandma (who has dementia) had just suffered a mild quasi-stroke called a T.I.A and was sent home. I went home to see how our kitties are doing.

Poor Logan, who is my sister's cat, has not exactly been rocking at life lately. He was rushed to the emergency vet on Sunday night because he was hissing and shaking and was diagnosed with a severe infection of the pancreas from eating a sick animal, (which, by the way, wouldn't happen if he would direct his attention to the rats infesting our house, as opposed to eating whatever dead things he finds on the ground). Yesterday, I rushed poor Logan to the vet again after discovering a bulge on his side. The vet therefore had to shave part of his side--which is not the most attractive look when you're a long-haired ragdoll persian--and it turns out that once Logan's pancreas is back in fighting shape, he has to have the bulge on his side removed. I am happy to report, however, that today Logan is not only doing better, but he is the only cat in the universe who purrs while getting medication, since he's so happy to be touched. (Okay, so that wasn't a bad part of the day, just a part of the day that required me to get cat fur, tuna cat food and cat antibiotics all over my clothes).

Next stop on the failure express: book my bus ride from the Chicago airport to Champaign. I thought I'd put one over on the universe by getting a great deal on a flight, even though I arrived at 11:30 at night. No problem, I thought, since the bus company runs vans throughout the night. Yeah, it turns out that the bus company runs vans throughout the night...on every night but the one I was set to arrive on.
I therefore went through the following process:
  • Complain loudly for a couple of minutes, which looks way crazier when I do it here in New West since I don't have a cat to talk to (Logan and Mr. Chubbz are outdoor cats).
  • Phone A. and receive a gentle reminder about how I have to think things through and I can't just jump at every deal and now I'm going to have to waste money getting a hotel because I just don't think and all this could have been avoided if I would just think things through. I suspect he is still a little testy about my having lost his car keys for 2 hours the last time I was in Champaign. (In A.'s defense, he did soften quite a bit when he learned about my grandma).
  • Book a hotel on hotwire near the airport after thoroughly researching various travel options in a futile attempt to Think Things Through.
  • Go to book a bus ride at 7:30 a.m. the next morning, then discover that the 7:30 bus ride inexplicably costs $17 more than the 9:20 bus.
  • Book the 9:20 bus ride, then realize that by the time the bus gets in, Aaron will probably be off fishing and I will have to take a taxi then try to get ahold of my new roommate to get the keys to my place, which is not a big deal but will probably result in another discussion of my ability to Think Things Through.
  • Watch wedding shows for the next three hours in a deep funk, wondering why it is that potentially not being able to walk does not fritz me out as much as traveling through the Chicago O'Hare airport.
Well, at least I'll be Champaign soon. I think. I hope.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Get Ready, Champaign-Urbana. Here I Come!

I spend a lot of time on this blog complaining about not being in Urbana. Actually, I also spend a lot of time in real life complaining about not being in Urbana. My plan was to move back on Saturday and stay there blissfully strolling to Farmer's Markets and chilling with my cat. Alas, the Gods of Hip Arthroscopy intervened and it was not to be. I picked "walking" over "feeling like a functioning human being" and so I have another few months of marinating in Vancouver rain trying to inject some life into my hip. This is disappointing, sure, but since I'd already booked the ticket, I decided to sneak away for a week in Urbana of rest, relaxation and debauchery (oh, who am I kidding? My idea of debauchery is going to bed at 1 a.m. after having a drink or two).

I therefore may be a little inconsistent in the whole "posting" department for the next week. If you're wondering where I am, here are some possibilities:
  • Rolling around on the ground clutching my stomach out of sheer and utter fullness after having polished off half a cow at The Black Dog.
  • Rolling around on the ground clutching my stomach out of sheer and utter fullness after having polished off half a cow (and a serious amount of Midwestern buffet delicacies) at The Ribeye. (Actually, I think A. owes me two Ribeye meals. Bonus! You should expect me to be roughly 500 pounds the next time you see me). We will probably also spend time stalking celebrity U of I coaches.
  • Trying to convince my cat that she should not hate me.
  • Being rebuffed by my cat, who is clearly on "Team A." and even killed him a bird as a token of her affection, which she has never done for me.
  • Eating frozen yogurt at that fancy self-serve frozen yogurt place I have been talking about since I arrived in Vancouver. ("And the yogurt isn't overpoweringly sweet and is nice and tart! And they have a full buffet of cute little toppings to put on them, like cheesecake bites! And it's actually pretty reasonable if you don't fill up the cup, which is as big as my head!")
  • Hoping my car starts (crossing my fingers that A. drove my car while I was gone).
  • Trying to cram a couple of months of socializing into one week. Call me, people!
  • Staying out until obscene hours of the night with the Aussies and my other teammates, then going home to sleep while they have to go to chair skills or something equally sadistic the next day. Ha ha!
  • Trying to sneak into various gyms and pools around the greater Champaign-Urbana area in order to keep my hip in fighting (read: limping) shape.
  • Watching Bravo television at A. & K.'s place and trying not to consume all of the snack food they have laid out. (Failing at this. Devouring every last pretzel, M&M or tiny little lollipop).
  • Watching "Bones" with E.C. (read: squealing at the TV every time a semi-romantic moment between the protagonists occur, while shouting, "Why won't you make sweet love, Bones and Booth? Can't you see you're meant for each other?").
  • Getting my box of books out from behind K's desk (Thanks, K!) and stalking my former officemates. (Oh, room 248. How I miss you!)
  • Setting up my apartment.
As you can see, it will be a busy week. Luckily, given my two-week spree of wedding hectic-ness, I am well-versed in lack of sleep and the healing powers of Scotch. Bring it on, Champaign-Urbana. I'm ready for you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

But What Happened to the Old Men With Their Small Dogs?

There's nothing better than autumn in British Columbia. Ok, "walking without looking like I'm drunk" would be better than autumn in British Columbia, but let's stick with attainable goals. When I was a kid, Fall was my favorite time of year, since it meant getting new school supplies (oh, the joy of selecting the perfect pencil box!) and returning to the classroom. I was one of those kids who sunk into a deep funk when school ended and I would blow off excess mental steam by becoming unhealthily competitive in the library's Summer Reading Competition pool. (No one could accumulate those book stickers like I did and I was determined to out-read anyone in the New Westminster area and win the Library book bag, even if it meant padding my stats by breezing through a dozens of plastic bath books geared towards toddlers). Now that I'm no longer in school, I still love crisp Fall days.

Today, since the weather was perfect, I decided to go for a walk along the New Westminster Quay. When I'm in Illinois, the closest I get to a major body of water is when the intersection of Main and Vine in Urbana floods and I sit in my car and watch whatever moron has driven his vehicle through a few feet of standing water and is now watching his roof disappear below the surface. I therefore will take any chance to get near the water, even the Fraser River, which is likely so polluted that coming into contact with it would help me in my goal of glowing in the dark.

In 2001, I used to do cross-training for wheelchair basketball by pushing my chair along the quay. As I'd push along with my discman wedged between my legs and skipping whenever I went over a bump, I'd pass dozens of very old men walking very small dogs. The older, fatter and more Ed-Asner-ish the man, the smaller the dog. Occasionally, both man and dog would be wearing bright-coloured sweaters. As I'd wheel by, the dogs would yap (and occasionally try to bite my tires, which caused me to nearly kill a rather zealous chihuahua one time) and the old men would say, "Better slow down there, young lady! Don't want to get a speeding ticket, eh!" or "Look out, here comes Speedy Gonzalas!" Sometimes they would stop me to discuss what kind of "fancy machine" I was using and whether or not it had brakes (it didn't) or a seatbelt (it didn't), which was a great source of concern for them. After I'd completed a lap around the Quay, I'd head over to the marketplace and buy a frozen yogurt or some fruit, and then eat out by the water.

Well, things have changed in 8 years. For one, no one's accusing me of going fast enough for a speeding ticket. For another, the marketplace has shut down, so there are no more frozen yogurt stands or bakeries or rubber-stamp shops or bizarre little stores that seemed to sell only T-shirts with sexual slogans relating to Canada on them (mountie jokes abounded), which I always suspected were drug fronts. I'm not sure what they're turning the marketplace into (probably condos), but the whole thing is empty and swarming with construction workers. (The loss of the marketplace, by the way, is more proof for my theory that New Westminster cannot support a business that is not either a waffle house or a Starbucks).

More surprisingly, however, is that all of the old men and their small dogs have disappeared and the boardwalk has been repopulated by elderly women with fancy digital cameras. I must have passed 18 or 20 of these women, all of whom had large fanny packs with camera gear, and most of whom were either loudly lamenting the fact that digital cameras do not have viewfinders ("you have to look at the bloody screen! Like watching a little TV! If I wanted to watch TV, I'd watch TV!") or else having intense discussions about whether a bird sitting on a log boom on the river was a seagull or an eagle (for the record: seagull).

Many of these women also walked with canes, so I blended in to the landscape perfectly. It was strange to go from being the center of attention (the fact that my wheelchair used to make a loud clacking noise as it wheeled over the slats on the boardwalk contributed to this) to the invisible woman. What was even stranger was that the only people who would return my friendly nod were the women with canes, as if we were cane buddies, as if they had taken a brief look at me, seen my cane, and wondered if they'd seen me last week at the Jiffy Wiffy Waffle House (seriously, that's its name) ordering the liver and onions.

If the whole "moving back to Illinois and leading some semblance of a normal life" thing doesn't work out for me, it's good to know that I can always move to the Quay and hang out with my cane friends. I think I would fit in perfectly amongst retirees. Gray hair: check. Cane: check. Love of pancake breakfasts: check. Ability to talk about my cat for extended periods of time: check. Now if only I was actually retired and had the cash to buy a condo by the water.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

See What Lengths I Go to Rehab This Hip?

Today, I scored an A+ in the "rehabbing the shit out of my Freaky Cyborg Hip despite the fact that I'm making zero progress and even the 95-year-old guy who broke his hip gardening has finished with his physio while I'm still trying to master the 'clamshell'" department. Not only did I swim laps for the first time, but I also walked to Canada Games Pool and back. Ability win! Even if I'm still batting zero on the "grace" department, it's good to know that I am rocking the hell out of the endurance department...except when I have to slow down due to a weird pinching feeling in my groin (I haven't completely ruled out the fact that this pinching sensation might be my girly parts trying to give me a little wakeup call)...or because I begin to feel strange burning sensations all along my legs. Details, details.

A word about Canada Games Pool. I tend to avoid the gym there at all costs, though it's the only one within walking distance, and if I'm forced to go I try to go during the day when everyone else is doing that whole "working" thing. There are two problems with Canada Games Pool. The first is the clientele. Sure, you get the normal teenagers trying to build muscle mass by nearly rendering themselves quadriplegic by using the bench press bars incorrectly, and the housewives trying to burn off baby weight, but Canada Games Pool has always attracted some of the fringe elements of society. A few years ago, they had a bad case of Exhibitionist-itis and it was rare that you could get through a workout without getting up close and personal with some old guy's "man business." In fact, probably around half of the penises I've seen have been attached to creepy old men with their socks rolled up to their knees doing lunges in short-shorts while winking at me and assuring me that I "like it" when I suggested that they put the mouse back in the house (true story). To Canada Games Pool's credit, it's been a few years since I've been flashed, but if you've got a hankering for an obese man wearing a spandex wrestling uniform (thankfully with shorts overtop) revealing to everyone that he has waxed off all of his chest hair, then Canada Games Pool is still your go-to place.

The other reason I try to avoid Canada Games Pool is that if I go at peak hours, I always run into someone I went to high school with. Now, it's not like I hated high school with a burning passion (ok, I kind of did), but I wasn't exactly the prettiest flower in the bouquet back then (as opposed to the sex kitten I am now) and I used a confusing assortment of ambulatory equipment (canes, crutches, a wheelchair, a bright blue half-body cast) so for awhile there some of the meaner boys would play a fun game where they would kick my cane out from underneath me, then laugh at me when I fell and deem me a "faker" if I did not fall, thereby using a case of faulty reasoning not seen since the Salem Witch Trials.

I wouldn't mind running into some of these wankers at the gym if I was living a glamorous life, but right now I don't exactly have much to brag about. In fact, if I did run into someone I knew from high school, I suspect the conversation would go something like this:
Former classmate: Hey, you're Arley, right?
Me: Right.
Former Classmate: Yeah, you're the weird one with the crazy hair! Remember when you were walking across the stage during graduation and someone shouted, "Hey, Arley, lay off the steroids?" because your arms are so big? That was funny, wasn't it? Good times!"
Me: .....
Former Classmate: So, yeah, bet you've been busy. I've been busy! Got married, my wife and I just welcomed our second child, our first child is taking piano, violin, tai chi and flower arranging lessons and is fluent in Russian and Mandarin, I'm hoping to make partner at my law firm in the next few years, just bought a nice condo in Queensborough. So...what have you been up to?
Me: know...the usual!
Former Classmate: Are you married?
Me: Uh, nope.
Former Classmate: Have any kids?
Me: I have a cat...
Former Classmate: Have a job?
Me: Yeah, not so much...But I am interning at an independent press! It's kind of like work, just without all that pesky money business.
Former Classmate: Uh...That's great....So, uh, I hear you went to school.
Me: Yeah, I have a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
Former Classmate: That's...great. What can you do with a degree like that?
Me: know...write creatively.
Former Classmate: Oh, gosh, look at the time. I have to return to my life being a busy and productive member of society! You take care now.

And this is why my hip needs to get better. Until I live in one place for an extended period of time, I can't make any money. If I can't make any money, I can't brag about my life to the people I have not seen in 10 years and do not really care about. Come on, hip! Either I need to invent an imaginary husband and child or we need to start bringing home the bacon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Next Stop: Two-Headed Babies!

Today, I had an MRI and took another step towards fulfilling my life goal of being able to glow in the dark; (I figure that if my Freaky Cyborg Hip won't shoot lasers, I should have another superpower). Since I was 11, I have been X-rayed, CT-scanned, MRI'ed, bone scanned and ultrasounded. I have had 3D plaster models made of my hips and some weird X-ray that delivers video images in real time. My insides have had more pictures taken of them than Lindsay Lohan after a rough night. It's a good thing that I'm not doing the whole "childbearing" thing yet because I'm pretty sure that two-headed babies are somewhere in my reproductive future.

Alas, however, the neurologist needs to get to the bottom of why my hip flexors are still on vacation and that means doing an MRI. Since my Freaky Cyborg Hip has metal components, however, the MRI technicians weren't even sure if the MRI would show anything, and when I arrived at the office they were (true story) googling "hip replacement" + "MRI" in an effort to figure out what to do with me. (What did medical professionals do without the google? Perhaps they used a magic 8 ball).

I therefore spent a good hour trapped in a tube with my hip straight-jacketed into this little contraption and my feet tied (and duct taped) down, (one more thing in my life that sounds like it could be sexy, but absolutely isn't). The technician offered to let me listen to the radio, but I declined, since I didn't know of a station that wouldn't subject me to an endless parade of elevator music or weak-sauce pop. If there's anything worse than being trapped in a long tube for an hour, it's having to listen to that new Black Eyed Peas song while being trapped in a long tube for an hour. Besides, MRI machines create their own music. Anyone who's ever had an MRI knows that they make a rhythmetic clunking/whirring noise that sounds remarkably like techno. In fact, I amused myself for several minutes by singing that Fat Boy Slim "Funk Soul Brothers" song in my head, since it matched perfectly to the sounds of the MRI machine. I had to remember that the technician could hear everything I said, or else she might have come into the room to hear me getting my groove on, singing, "Right about now...the funk soul brothers check it out now..." (The fact that my only 'techno' reference is a 10-year-old Fat Boy Slim song is a sign that I am not exactly a fixture on the club scene).

After exhausting my mental catalogue of techo songs, I took a little nap. True, the MRI was not the most comfortable spot in the world, and true, the machine was blasting quasi-techno music in an effort to ferret out whatever's wrong with my "broken, damaged body," but at least I knew that if I drifted off for a few minutes, I wouldn't wake up to find a rat sitting on my chest, getting ready to eat my face off. All in all, it was one of the least traumatic MRI's I've ever had, and now I just have to wait for the results. I tried to pump the technician for information, but she would only tell me (rather tactfully) that they'd "found some information that might be useful." I will therefore spend the next few weeks wondering if "useful" means "we found something that has let us know with absolute certainty that you will walk like a zombie for the rest of your life" or if it means "we found something that is easily fixable, since it turns out that the doctor left his wrist watch/scalpel/glasses/shirt button/whatever in your hip socket" or if it means "everything looks hunky dory and in six months you will be more graceful than 60% of the people on Dancing With the Stars." I guess this is a step up from the last time I had an MRI, when the X-ray technicians began whispering, "Oh my God! She can walk. How do you think she walks?" when I got off the table. Baby steps.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Just When You Thought Things Couldn't Get Any Grosser

File this under: complete, utter and total grossness.

In my last post, I was complaining that I did not have anything exciting to look forward to for the next little while (unless you count getting suction-cups charged with electricity attached to your ass as exciting, which I personally do not). Well, the universe took pity on me and intervened on my behalf. After tonight, I am now counting the days until my house is no longer infested with rats. I have learned a valuable lesson: just when you think that your life could not suck any more, remember that there's always an infestation of disgusting, disease-carrying, slithery-tailed rodents hiding around the corner ready to take the grossness party to a whole new level. (Which, considering how much time I spend detailing my post-surgical rashes, is kind of a feat).

I am petrified of rats. Terrified. They rank right up there with "clowns" on my list of "Irrational but Overpowering Fears," (though both clowns and rats are potential carriers of disease, so I suppose my fears aren't completely unfounded). Even the sight of cartoon rats is enough to make me squirm. You can therefore imagine how I felt last night, when I was about ready to drift off to sleep after two sleep-deprived nights of wedding awesomeness.

Picture this in the theatre of your minds. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I can't get the little smudges of mascara off the bottom part of my eye because soap and water isn't helping and I don't wear makeup often enough to own my own makeup remover. I've spent the last three hours logging names of literary magazines into a database and being traumatized by a full spectrum of literary weirdness (seriously, how many literary magazines devoted to spanking does the universe need?). All I want to do is drift into sweet unconsciousness and log enough hours to remain at least semi-conscious for physio early the next morning. I'm just about to turn off the lights when I hear a scritching sound: a cross between gnawing and filing, the sound of some animal tunneling through the walls heading towards my bedroom.

My parents are sleeping and I can't exactly get down on my hands and knees and look for beady little rodent eyes, so I try to ignore it. The sound gets louder. I try to think, "Oh, it's probably something cute and cuddly. It probably has a cute little bushy tail." The sound gets louder. I think, "busy tail. Bushy tail. Cute little squirrly eyes." It gets louder. I try to hum that Michael Jackson song about the cute littel pet rat. It gets louder. It becomes readily apparent that whatever is making that sound does not have a cute little bushy tail nor does it have adorable little squirrel eyes. It has big fucking teeth and those teeth are hell bent on gnawing through the wall and attacking my face. (Norwegian tree rats can jump 6 feet. I am 6 feet. The math is not working out in my favour on this one).

I have two choices: spend all night staring at the ceiling waiting for a rodent to gnaw its way through the walls and scurry across my face (why it would climb up on my bed, I don't know. But still) or else wake my parents up and tell them that I'm sleeping in my sister's room and not to be surprised when they wake up to find my bedroom empty. Sorry, mom and dad, I had to go with option B. My mom and dad (being the infinitely patient and wonderful people they are) got out the flashlights and went on a rat-hunting expedition while I hung back ready to jump up on my bed in case the rat made a dash for it. If there's anything that can get my hip flexors working again, the adrenaline rush of fleeing in terror just might be it. My physios might just need to lock me in a room full of rats. I will either become instantly cured or else go bat shit crazy and never sleep again for the rest of my life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Going to the Chapel and We're Going to Make It To the Altar Without Becoming a Youtube Sensation!

If you do a search on youtube for "bridesmaid disasters" and "poor disabled girl does faceplant on the aisle and winds up with her dress over her head while a hundred people point and laugh," you will be disappointed because guess what? A videoclip of me won't be there. That's right, I made it through my maid of honour duties and fulfilled my wedding objective of not becoming a viral video on Youtube! Finally, my dignity can declare a minor victory over the forces of soul-crushing embarrassment! Here are some of my other wedding-related sucesses:

a) Not winding up in the hospital for any hip-related misfortune (and I even did the twist...kind of). Is it sad when your main objective when going out for the evening is to not screw up your body so badly that you need to undergo major surgery?
b) Not screwing up the poems I was reading by stumbling, burping, making any Freudian slips, throwing up, crying, choking, having the kleenex I'd stuffed down the front of my dress fall out, etc. etc.
c) Not getting hammered and winding up having a tawdry sexual encounter with one of the groomsmen in the handicapped bathroom. (Mostly because, you know, I wasn't asked...and because the drinks were $8 each...).
d) Not nearly concussing anyone while hugging them.
e) Getting through my speech even after a few Johnny Walkers (thanks J. and dad!) and making it through the night without reaching the "I'm so drunk. I'm SO drunk. I'm so DRUNK" stage of intoxication, which for me is after about two drinks because I am a lightweight.
f) Achieving the first post-surgical slow dance and, again, not concussing anyone.

For the past few months, I've been working extra hard at physio trying to walk normally enough to walk down the aisle without my cane. Alas, that goal ended up being one more thing that is apparently not in my Freaky Cyborg Hip's contract (I really should have read the fine-print before I hired this hip). Everything turned out just dandy, though, because on the way back down the aisle, the best man pulled out a cane and a top hat (and also had a feather boa for me) and we danced down the aisle together. It was a sweet way to make me look a little less freak-of-nature-y and J. gets an A+ for creativity and general awesomeness.

So, that was it. The wedding was beautiful. S. looked absolutely gorgeous. The food was so fantastic that I nearly threw up after eating 8 different desserts; (it had to be done). I had a great time. It is a little sad, though, that the wedding is over after all of this planning and anticipation. Now that my 10 Days of Wedding Insanity are over, I'm going to have to find something else to look forward to. And since it doesn't look like "walking normally enough to return to Champaign" will be looming on the horizon any time soon, I am on the hunt for new forms of distraction. Ok, someone needs to get engaged/married/pregnant so I have something to look forward to. Take one for the team, people!

Here are some photos of me walking (well, ok, "walking" is maybe a bit too optimistic a term) and dancing ("dancing" is definitely too optimistic a term) down the aisle.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Can I Blame This on My Hip?

Devoted fans of this blog (read: my mom) might be led to think that most of the ridiculousness of my life is hip-related. Incorrect! Before the hip replacement, I was perfectly capable of filling my days with chaos and insanity. The hip has just added an extra level of weirdness. Case in point: last night, at S.'s rehearsal dinner. Since the parking garage I had my car parked in closed at 10:30 (I thought), I left the dinner early with two British friends of S and A's; (we had bonded after being placed at the misfits table). After finally finding the parking garage, (which is a feat, given my stunning navigational prowess), I was surprised to learn that the garage actually closed at 10 and my car was locked inside. 

I therefore gave the two Brits an intimate tour of downtown Vancouver parking garages, as we broke into a construction zone and climbed over unpoured concrete, boards, rebar and mice (clearly, a hip-safe activity) in an effort to sneak into the garage and retrieve my car. We finally succeeded in this effort a few minutes before the security guard drove up to charge us $35 for releasing us and the poor Brits got a taste of the bottomless fury of Canadian security guards as they ran interference for me. (Thanks D & L!). I then gave them a taste of Cracktown Central as we drove home along East Hastings at night, (the area that my beloved Dan Bejar has referred to as a "fucked up Mardi Gras," which is one of the most accurate descriptions I've read of East Hastings). I finished up the evening by being unable to locate the address of where they were staying, resulting in us having to wake up the friend they were staying with to get directions. 

Alas, none of this I can blame on my hip, though I was planning on pulling the "I was too disabled to walk quickly and didn't get back to the garage in time" cripple card if I'd had to talk to the security guard. 

Next up, I will direct my particular brand of crazy to S & A's wedding. If I don't post for a few days it's because my trip down the aisle has gone terribly wrong and I've become a viral video on YouTube. Just do a search for "wedding" + "girl who accidentally smacked someone in the face with her cane while she was trying to be a bridesmaid" and I'm sure you'll find me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Moment of Silence for my Anti-Ass

A few days ago, I wrote about how my poor anti-ass was being put through the ringer with this whole recovery business. It's been bruised, massaged, jabbed with electrified needles and today, it again got man-handled within an inch of its life. Right now, my anti-ass is probably lodging a human rights complaint with the U.N. and trying to claim refugee status in Brazil (why Brazil I don't know, but when I was there I was impressed by the sheer number of women wearing spandex shiny pants, so I suspect they are a pro-ass culture).

Today at physio, I complained to my physiotherapist that I feel as if my ass bones (the fancy name for them is "ishial tuberosity") are out of alignment and that my hip's been really sore because of it. She decided to investigate. This investigation soon found me lying on my stomach with my underwear around my ankles (for the second time in three days!) as she "palpated" the area to see what the problem was, (which, again, was not nearly as sexy as it sounds). I was just glad that there were no electrified needles involved. As I squirmed and winced, she informed me that my ass was black and blue, probably because of the vigorous ass massage I received. Also, everything in the area was severely swollen and inflamed, which was inhibiting my ability to walk. You know how I thought that all my hard work had finally allowed me to grow an ass? Yeah, not so much. It was just swelling.

I therefore spent the next 30 minutes lying on my side with my pants down around my ankles with four suction-cups suctioned on to my ass, which were hooked up to a machine that sent an electrical current into the area to calm everything down. Unfortunately, the area was so sensitive that I felt as if I was being electrocuted in a very minute way. Now, I have four red circular welts in the shape of the suction cups all over my ass, which goes nicely with the bullseye-shaped rashes there. (Yeah, disregard that last post about wanting to get back on the dating market. I think this may take awhile). What's next for my poor ass? Waterboarding?

But the disappointment did not stop there. I've been ordered to stay away from the elliptical machine, which sucks the big suck because getting back on the elliptical machine was one of the high points of my recovery. Also, my physiotherapists do not want me to go back to Illinois. If I go now, they say, I will simply learn to compensate for my lack of hip flexors and I will never walk properly. (Also, they want me to stick around to get more tests on the whole "nerve damage" business). It's a tough call. 

At least, however, I will soon have a distraction from all this soul-crushing disappointment. Today is S's rehearsal dinner, tomorrow is our spa day (no more anti-ass massages!) and then Saturday is the wedding. My hip is going to have to suck it up because we're walking down the aisle whether it likes it or not...and we're catching that bouquet even if we have to do a nose dive on the floor and cut a bitch. Because that's how we roll.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And This, Ladies and Gentlemen, Is Why I'm Single

I've complained quite often on this blog about being deprived of conversation now that I've been living on Planet Recovery for the past three months. This is changing, (I can sit upright for more than 30 minutes at a time, which extends my range!) but I am still a little too eager to jump at the chance for any kind of social interaction. I feel like the social equivalent of a short, fat kid trying to suck in his stomach and stand on tip toes in the dodgeball line, every muscle in his body saying, "Pick me! Pick me! I promise not to disappoint you!"

For this reason, I was excited to go to Granville Island with G., who I met at S.'s wedding last weekend, to talk about MFA programs. Actually, she could have called me up and invited me to talk about the best way to peel dead skin off your legs with a shoehorn (which is a subject I incidentally know quite a bit about) and I would have been there in a heartbeat. I was just happy to be out in public, doing normal-people things and having normal-people conversations and not thinking about physiatrists and nerve testing and how my life feels like something out of a Bright Eyes song. (Emo!)

I had a great time talking with G., so much so that I ended up following her like a little lost puppy to work at the Vancouver Fringe Festival and watching a play. (She gave me the VIP treatment and put me in the front row). Then, we chatted again and I watched another play with G's husband and his brother C., who I'd also met at the wedding and who I had really enjoyed talking to, since he seemed very smart and was in a profession completely opposite of mine, which is not hard since I do not currently have a profession. (Though, again, he could have been talking about the intricacies of the mating rituals of Asian dung beetles and I'd probably be enthralled). Seeing as how all of the males I've met since my hip replacement have been either doctors or 85-year-old men at physio, I actually found myself sitting at the table at the wedding and thinking, "Wow, I am finally having a conversation with an adult male who's not trying to jab electrified needles into my ass. This must be some kind of progress."

Now, I have always been the Crown Princess of Awkwardness, even when I don't have the gait of an 85-year-old heroin addict. When I used to play on the national team, some women on the team designed the "I Learned From Lesbians Love Lessons" program, (which was not as kinky as it sounds), and would send me around to fulfill little homework assignments in an effort to help me get my mojo working. (It actually worked. Shortly after, I wound up in a long-term relationship, so perhaps I need a refresher course). I have been single for over two years, and this whole hip replacement and "going to a lot of weddings" business has convinced me that it might be time to put myself back on the market. (Previously, it was difficult to be on the market when there was a good chance that you'd have to ask your date to crawl under the table at the end of the night and pull on your leg to get your hip back in its socket, and I was happy to remain single).

Still, I am thinking baby steps here. I'm not looking for a one-night stand or a passionate fling. I'm not even looking for a date or a relationship or anything like that. Hell, I'm not even trying to flirt with someone. All I'm looking for is the ability to converse with an adult male who I do not know and remain at least semi-coherent. I wanted to start at the bottom and work my way up. Alas, this was not to be.

After the play, G.'s husband planned to go back home to work, G. was working until midnight, and I had high hopes that C. would join me for dinner, since I was so hungry that I wanted to eat my own face and if C. accompanied me I would be spared the awkwardness of eating alone in a restaurant, which is a pet peeve of mine. I figured, "Hey, if I can make an adult male interested enough in my personality to want to continue a conversation with me over dinner, even if this adult male has not an iota of sexual interest in me, then perhaps once day in the distant future I can manage a date." So I dropped subtle hints. No dice. I dropped not-so-subtle hints. No dice. I did not ask outright, since I did not want to put the poor guy on the spot, and it became clear that my mission had failed.

As we parted ways, G. hugged me and C. also went to hug me (or shake my was unclear). Unfortunately, when I turned to hug C., I was caught off balance and I ended up falling forward, smashing my face into his nose. Yes. That's right. Instead of impressing him with my effervescent personality, I maimed him. I am lucky that I did not fracture his nose. This is more proof that my life is like a bad Ben Stiller movie: There's Something About Arley.

As I sat on my stool in a trendy restaurant slurping my Thai chicken and rice soup, which I'd ordered so I would be in and out quickly and the serving staff would stop looking at me in that way that suggests they're thinking, "Look at that poor disabled girl. She's so brave to eat by herself at a restaurant," I felt incredibly disappointed, more disappointed than I'd been when I found out I might have nerve damage, more disappointed than when I woke up from surgery unable to walk. Here I was rocking my skinniest of skinny jeans (were they too skinny? Were they too tight? Was the fact that they were covered in dust and cat hair a deal breaker?), with my little quasi-biker jacket with the cool metallic details (was it too harsh? Did it say "she thinks she's so edgy" as opposed to "friendly person you could have a conversation with?"), and I could not even get someone to eat dinner with me. Was it my personality? Does the fact that I'm 6 foot 2 and have crazy hair and talk so loudly that my last boyfriend had a hand signal to tell me to lower my voice make me an inadequate dinner companion? Did I make too much eye contact? Did the muscular atrophy in my left leg subconsciously alert the cave-man recesses of his brain that I am in possession of a "broken, damaged body" (to borrow my G.P's phrase) and therefore have a reduced chance of offering him stellar genetic material to combine with his own? My God, all I wanted was some dinner-time conversation! It's not like I was planning on pinning him against my Jeep and having my way with him!

My emo pity party got exhausting quickly. After all, I hadn't really been rejected because I hadn't actually asked, and it's not like I'd pulled out my flirting moves. I drove home, listening to the new Swan Lake album, singing aloud to the part when Dan Bejar sneers, " one's in it for the long haul...Look here Kelly (?) no one's in it at all." So, alright, back to the drawing board. It's clear that I need more work in the social department. At least I should work on the "leaning forward while retaining my balance" business so that, when I finally land a date, I do not send them to the hospital. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nancy, Prepare the Needle Room!

So, say you've slept roughly 7 hours in the past 4 days, the (delicious) Triple O Hamburger you ate the night before on the ferry is sitting like a lump of molten lava in your G.I. tract and your emotions are racheted up to the highest power by wedding-induced "I-believe-again-in-the-power-of-love-but-worry-I-will-end-up-living-with-500-cats-who-will-eat-my-face-when-I-die"-ness. What's the best remedy? The Post-Wedding Medical Professional Triathlon!

And so, instead of sleeping in and recharging my batteries before I once again board the wedding train, I got up at 7 a.m. for three medical appointments in a row. First up: physio! This was uneventful. I managed to get through the session, even though I nodded off briefly during my "try to touch your ass with your heel" exercise, because I have been going to physio so long that I could do my exercises after a lobotomy.

Second stop: a neurologist appointment. Now, my neurologist is a nice-enough guy, but every time I see him I wind up lying on a bed while he pokes electrified needles into various sensitive parts of my anatomy, making me feel more than a little like Frankenstein (as if the lurching around wasn't enough). I wasn't expecting to get jabbed, since I was hoping that the neurologist would just pat me on the back, give me a gold star and send me on my way. Yeah, not so much. Instead, the doctor examined me and said the five little words I was hoping not to hear: "Nancy, prepare the needle room." You'd think they would call it something nicer. Like, "Nancy, prepare the fuzzy kittens and hot fudge sundae room." Or even, "Nancy, prepare the room where bad things will happen briefly but then will be mercifully over." Fast forward to the doctor plunging his needle up and down vigorously into my hip (it sounds sexier than it was) saying, "Well, that's interesting," which incidentally are the other words you never want to hear out of a doctor's mouth. "Huh. That's certainly interesting."
"What?" I asked.
"It's hard to tell," he said. "Can you flip over? This is really interesting."
Which is how I wound up on my stomach with my underwear down around my ankles with the doctor putting his electric shock needle repeatedly into my ass, which was also not as sexy as it sounds. You know what? My poor ass. This blog may be about my hip replacement, but my poor anti-ass has really been through the ringer these days: getting bruised on hard chairs and stationary bicycles, getting vigorously massaged, and now, getting jabbed repeatedly with a needle that conducts an electric current through your nerves so you can hear them like whale song. What a little trooper.

According to the neurologist, he can now see signs of damage on my hip flexors, though it's difficult to tell whether it's old or new damage, and it could turn out to be nothing at all. Or, you know, it could turn out to be nerve damage and I'll never walk properly again. The neurologist ordered more tests.
"You know, you really have to make sure you do the exercises," he said. "You really have to be dedicated. Are you sure you're doing the exercises every day?"
What I wanted to say was: "Right. Dedicated. Do you know what I was doing at 6:30 a.m. yesterday morning? I was in the B.C. Ferries lineup leaning over the hood of my car as if I'd just been arrested, thrusting my leg out behind me repeatedly, while hundreds of people stared slack-jawed at me while they shuffled off to get their coffee, because even though I'd pulled an all-nighter, and even though I was out in public, I wanted to get my damn exercises in. And do you know where I was at 11:30 p.m. of that same night, even though I was so tired that I was literally going cross-eyed and I hadn't slept for 41 hours? Right. I was doing my exercises. Even though I was so fucking exhausted I could barely remember my own name, I was still doing my clamshells and pillow squeezes. I have a fucking PhD in Dedication with a certificate in Not Getting So Frustrated That I Throw My Cane Through a Plate-Glass Window. Do not even start with me or I will cut you."
What I said was: "Yeah."
"Because you have to do them every day," he said.
"I do them," I said. "I'm not keen to walk around like the Phantom of the Opera for the rest of my life."
He stared at me for a few seconds, then patted my leg reassuringly and left the room.

Next stop: my G.P. My appointment was for 11 a.m. and at 1 p.m. (two hours and five magazines later) he finally poked his head in the door. After hearing that I might have nerve damage, his suggestion was to send me to a physiatrist, which I mistook for a psychiatrist when he first said it.
"No," he said. "A physiatrist specializes in broken, damaged bodies like yours. Their job is to make the best of terrible situations where the patient is never going to get better. They come in after all the rest of the doctors have given up hope and tell you how to get the best out of your broken, damaged body, even though it will never be the same."
Well, thanks so much. Now I feel a whole lot better. At least someone knows what to do with my scrap-heap of a skeletal system. Do you think he counsels other people this way? "Don't worry Little Johnny. A dermatologist will be able to cure that digusting mess on your face that looks like someone dumped bacon grease all over the rotting remains of some lasagna and then lit it on fire repeatedly. I mean, by the time he's done, your face will be so pitted that most women will still throw up a little in their mouths when they see you but, hey, let's make the best of a bad situation."

Yeah, screw the physiatrist. All my broken, damaged body needs is a fifth of whiskey (why do I keep talking about drinking when there are nuns who drink more than I do?) and the Collected Works of Sylvia Plath.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hijinx! Mayhem! Hilarity! Wedding Cake!

It's been a few days since I've posted to the blog and I know you all felt terribly deprived because you did not have an up-to-the-minute analysis of my position on various reality TV shows and/or the status of my Freaky Cyborg Hip. Well, dry your tears people of cyberspace because I'm back after a two-day spree of wedding-related awesomeness. (Actually, I'm back after a two-day spree of wedding-related awesomeness and a one-day spree of feeling like death warmed over and being unable to string more than a few words together into a coherent sentence while recovering from pulling an all-nighter, which is a sure sign that I am indeed getting old).

Allow me to lay out a rough timeline of the past 48 hours:

9 a.m: Arley, strung out on coffee, races to the craft store to buy fondant for the wedding cake she's making, still stinging from the Great Fondant disaster of the previous night, the front of her shirt still covered in melted marshmallows and icing sugar (that's confectioner's sugar for those of you from the U.S.)

1 p.m.: Arley dances around to Belle & Sebastian while applying small sugar pearls and dragees to her cake with jeweler's tweezers. Tries to avoid slipping on sugar pearls and dragees, which have rolled to the ground.

2 p.m.: Arley pronounces the cake finished, updates her status on Facebook to reflect this happy occasion, then gets her ass in the shower to try to scrub food colouring off her entire body. Wonders how she managed to get sugar pearls in her hair without any adhesive to hold them there and suspects her crazy hair was salting them away for a little snack so it can fatten up for the winter.

5 p.m.: After a hair stylist tames the ridiculousness that is her hair, Arley gets changed into her little black party dress, which she purchased when she was 19-years-old, and which makes her look a little like a high-end cocktail waitress circa 2001. Tries to figure out this whole "makeup" thing without looking even more like a high-end cocktail waitress circa 2001.

7 p.m: Minor wardrobe malfunction trying to cram the Freaky Cyborg Hip into a limo.

7:45 p.m.: Minor wardrobe malfunction trying to get the Freaky Cyborg Hip out of the limo (you're welcome, men of downtown Vancouver).

11 p.m.: Arley positions herself on the dance floor beside an elderly man wearing some sort of lace-trimmed, bell-sleeved tunic-type shirt, who is trying (read: failing) to dance with his much-younger (possibly mail order) girlfriend to the new Black Eyed Peas song. She hopes that this will make her own dancing look better by comparison, but since her own dancing involves moving one knee a fraction of an inch back and forward and moving her hand holding the cane from side to side the way Muppets dance, she is only minimally successful.

Midnight: The band at the supper club plays an '80s dance-party medley of "Phantom of the Opera" on keyboard while the lead singer wears a Phantom mask, which transitions into "Gloria." Arley, who did not think it was possible to have Phantom of the Opera sound even more '80s, finds her world rocked in a serious way. Arley's hip just wants to sit down.

3 a.m.: Arley finds herself in a busy bar on Granville Street getting her elbows up to avoid being crushed by drunken undergraduates. Hears that stupid Black Eyed Peas song for the 18th time. Watches young men check her out until they see her cane, then look momentarily confused and disappointed. Arley's hip is about ready to pack its bags and head to Mexico.

5:30 a.m.: Arley and her pissed-off hip arrive home. Arley gets changed, throws another party dress into a bag, worries that no sleep + wedding cake + inability to walk down stairs carrying 40 pounds of cakey goodness = disaster.

5:35 a.m.: Arley's dad wakes up and mercifully helps her out with putting the cake in the car (thanks dad!), thus avoiding cake armageddon. Arley drives slower than she ever has in her life to the ferry, hearing that stupid Black Eyed Peas song on the radio for the 19th and 20th time.

9:30 a.m.: Arley delivers the cake unscathed, does a victory touch-down dance, feels the weight of the world lifted from her shoulders, then heads to the coffee shop for breakfast. Changes into her party dress and realizes with great horror that she has neglected to bring a camisole for under the low-cut dress and will be doomed to spend the rest of the evening trying not to have the third wardrobe malfunction of the weekend. Arley's hip has given up complaining, knowing that it will do no good.

11:30 a.m.: Heavy winds + low-cut dress + not very talented in the chest department = third wardrobe malfunction of the weekend. Arley hopes the wedding photographer did not capture this tender moment on film. On the up side, however, S. and J. had a spectacular ceremony and Arley cried a little. Arley's hip cried a lot.

3 p.m.: The cake is cut! The pressure is off! J. and P.A. are playing fantastic live music! Arley is dancing her muppet dance! Touching speeches abound! Arley once again believes in the power of love! She is also in that hyper stage of sleep deprivation and finds everything exciting! So exciting!

6 p.m.: Arley stays for the afterparty and meets fantastic people and listens to more live music and tries to do one of those Jewish dancing-in-a-circle dances. Realizes that she is too disabled, goyish and uncoordinated to partake in said Jewish dancing-in-a-circle dances.

8:45 p.m: Arley waits for the ferry with the fantastic people she met and finds herself relating, with excessive hand gestures, the story of the bat in her apartment and hopes she did not scare the aforementioned fantastic people with her sleep-deprivation-induced exhuberance. Tells herself, "Ok, McNeney. Take it down a notch." Arley's hip offically gives its notice.

9:30 pm: Arley, who thought that she had a PhD in B.C. Ferries after the year she spent living simultaneously in Victoria and Vancouver, is stunned to see that the "Queen of" ferries have received upgrades and no longer look like Soviet battleships circa 1974. Also, they serve yam fries (!!).

11:00 pm.: Arley arrives home and falls into a state of total and utter unconsciousness as if under anesthetic, though somehow manages to wake up with that ridiculous Black Eyed Peas song stuck in her head and now, two days later, it remains there.

I've included some pictures of the cake.

Friday, September 11, 2009

International Utah Jazz Appreciation Day!

This has absolutely nothing to do with a hip replacement, but what the hell. Today, both legendary Utah Jazz player John Stockton and current coach Jerry Sloane were inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame (so if you were wondering what that faint cheering noise was today around 6:30 pm, it was the sound of millions of Mormons rocking the Casbah). I am a Utah Jazz fan for a couple of reasons:

1) The Jazz's star player, Deron Williams, is a U of I alum and Jerry Sloane actually spent a semester at U of I as well. (I-L-L  I-N-I!)
2) A., who is my main (read: only) NBA-watching compadre, is a Jazz fan and I was without a team to cheer for since, while I love Steve Nash, I refuse to root for the Phoenix Suns until they decide to play defense and the Vancouver Grizzlies are now hanging out in Memphis (sell outs). I jumped merrily on the Jazz bandwagon.
3) They actually run offensive sets, as opposed to, say, doing the whole "allow the star player to jack up an outside shot with 22 seconds left on the shot clock, then permit him to stop and have a small pity party and complain to the refs when he does not score, preventing him playing defense" play.
4) My godparents are Mormon (which is puzzling, since I was raised Anglican/Episcopalian...), so I consider rooting for the Jazz to be part of my religious upbringing.
5) Because I can get behind any team where announcers routinely complain about the ferocity of the fans. No one can heckle quite like Jazz fans (they are still punishing Derek Fisher for transferring to the Lakers so that his kid would be closer to good doctors for her cancer treatment) and watching these prim blonde women with their hair teased and sprayed into helmets around their faces and their little blue sweater-vests on going purple with rage over a missed call rocks my world in a serious way.
6) Jerry Sloane = hilarious in a crochety grandpa kind of way.

So, in honour of the Utah Jazz, Jerry Sloane and John Stockton, here is a photo of Utah Jazz center Andrei Kirilenko at a Halloween party. Though he is without a costume, I believe based on the expression on his face that he dressed up as Lurch from The Adams Family. Keep it classy, Utah Jazz. Keep it classy.

Bringing the Cake Magic

Today, another hip milestone: I am attempting my first post-surgical wedding cake. The fact that it's taken me three months to make a cake is sign of how truly laid up I've been, seeing as how I rarely go a month without a cake project. In fact, I had promised a friend of my mom's that I would make her a cake one week after my surgery. (One week post-surgery I was still hobbling around on my walker, getting dizzy if I remained upright for longer than 15 minutes and being barricaded from my bathroom in the hospital by an elderly Chinese woman, so that turned out to be just slightly optimistic). But today, I will finally reclaim my hobby if it kills me (or, more likely, if my mom kills me due to the mess I made in her kitchen).

You know those Food Network Challenges where bakers make three-foot replicas of Disney Princesses or whatever and their kitchens are always pristine because they get points for neatness? I'm not really one of those bakers. I'm one of those bakers who spills an entire box of cocoa powder then accidentally steps in it, creating brown footprints on a white carpet and severely testing the patience of her roommates. I'm one of those bakers who makes a wedding cake in a hotel room in Michigan (true story) and three hours after check-out time is frantically (along with the wedding photographer) trying to scrape frosting off the wallpaper and get cake out of the carpet. (Sorry, L!) If I don't get molten marshmallow and icing in my hair, I have obviously not been trying hard enough.

The problem is, of course, that baking requires a lot of standing. Standing is not one of my strong suits. It also requires a lot of carrying, bending, twisting, walking around with heavy objects and getting down on your hands and knees to mop shortening off the floor. None of these are my strong suites and most of them fall under the "danger" section of hip precautions. Still, I was not about to let S. and J. down by failing to produce a cake of epic proportions. I therefore rolled up my sleeves, tied back my hair, said a little prayer to the Gods of Hip Replacement, and set about bringing the cake magic. At least, I thought, I wouldn't be baking in a Michigan hotel room.

Fast forward to me, the next day, vibrating a little from the sugar buzz of sampling so much buttercream frosting, unable to get a glob of said frosting off of my foot because of hip restrictions, realizing that while I can bake, stack, level and ice cakes if I rest in between steps, I cannot clean up after myself. I just do not have the hip flexion. Responsibility fail! For that reason, my poor mom had to play Cinderella and pick up the slack, cleaning up after my sorry ass as I walked upstairs (with my feet filthy dirty) and laid down to recover. There are now little bits of cake and frosting in my bed and I'm not even done yet. I will add this to the 189,593 reasons why my mom is awesome.

So, while I finish the cake, here's a picture of one of my previous cake efforts: an entry into the Edible Book Competition last May. And, yes, I did spend the night before my thesis defense making lace out of white Airhead candies. Because that's how I roll.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Floss or Not to Floss?

My commitment to flossing has always been a little suspect. I'll be the Queen of Oral Hygiene for a couple of months, but when I run out of dental floss I always forget to buy more and all of sudden, whoops, three months have gone buy and now I really don't want to start back up because then I'll have to walk around for a few weeks with bleeding gums, making people think I have some terrible wasting disease. Yes, I know, my life is hard.

Usually, the question of whether or not to begin flossing would not require a blog post (my life is not yet that boring), but everything I do post-hip-replacement always comes with a side order of "extra complicated." When I saw my doctor last, he gave me a little note to take to my dentist saying that I should be put on a round of antibiotics before getting a checkup in case my gums bleed in the process. The idea is that the mouth is full of 200 different kinds of bacteria and if any of this bacteria enters your bloodstream via a cut in your mouth, it could zoom straight to your freaky cyborg hip and throw down a little "28 Days" action, resulting in the Joint Replacement Apocalypse.

Normally, I wouldn't be worried about this, because for over a week I walked in bare feet around a hospital and I'm pretty sure the bacteria in my mouth are the wimpy wanna-be kid brothers of whatever bad boys are creeping around the hospital floor. Also, I played varsity sports and managed not to be hospitalized for MRSA, which is actually kind of a feat. Still, the post-surgical rashes suggest that my immune system might not exactly be at 100%, so the question of whether or not to begin flossing again deserves at least a passing thought (and, hey, it's not like I don't have a little time on my hands).

I first, of course, turned to google. No dice. (Could it be? Something that the google doesn't know?) Though one website did tell me that patients should possess excellent oral hygiene before going in for a joint replacement (whoops), the only other website that looked promising from the google search results tried to give me spyware and I had to manually shut down my computer to prevent it from doing so; (here's to hoping that my Mac's immune system is stronger than my own). Of course, I could contact my surgeon, but I'd feel a little silly phoning him up to say, "So, uh, can I floss my teeth? And by the way, my hip flexors and abductors are still shitty and I still can't walk unassisted even though three months have passed. Is there anything you can do about that?" Also, considering that it took nearly 5 months of stalking him to even get a surgery date, I'm pretty sure that by the time he responded, I'd be scraping green moss off my teeth. On the other hand, however, Death By Flossing would be a pretty shitty thing to have on your tombstone.

I am therefore turning to you, oh readers of my blog (since at least one of you must have had a hip replacement and encountered this problem). Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just a Friendly, Medically Sanctioned Ass Massage!

The day before S.'s wedding, everyone in the bridal party is going for fancy massages and I've signed up for some freaky lymphatic massage that is supposed to get all the toxins out of your system, since I figured I might as well start fresh before I put all the toxins back into my system with my upcoming diet of Lean Cuisine, ramen noodles and bathtub-brewed grain alcohol. Plus, who knows: it might do wonders for my skin rashes, which (in case you were losing sleep waiting for an update on my never-ending post-surgical rash war) have evolved into hives that look exactly like little bullseyes. I know. Fancy.

Today, however, I can go ahead and switch my lymphatic massage to a mani-pedi because I am already getting a free massage at physio. One of my regular physios is off on holidays. Luckily, the physio who is replacing her is very nice and is full of good ideas. It's good to have a fresh set of eyes to evaluate me. After all, I have less than two weeks to get my gait pattern looking a little less "night of the living dead"-ish before I walk down the aisle, so I will take all the help I can get.

During physio, I was complaining (as I am wont to do) about how I am nearly three months post-surgery and still cannot do a move known as "the clamshell" (I'll spare you the details), which I could do before my surgery, even though I am busting my ass (well, bruising my ass anyhow) doing three hours of rehab a day. The new physio's suspicion was that my muscles are too tight to physically perform the exercise and that they needed to be stretched and/or massaged.

First, she hung my leg off the side of the bed. Before the surgery, this move would be cause for a Grade A Ultimate Hip Freakout Spasm Dance Party and I had flashbacks of becoming stuck while getting out of my car, wedging myself in a half-prone position over the seat while trying to free myself and having to phone J.B. to come and save me. (Thanks, J.B.!) While my leg dangled over the bed, the physio reefed on my good hip to provide a better stretch, which caused me to squirm with discomfort since, according to the physio, "I have absolutely not a single ounce of padding there." The stretched worked. I got looser, but still could not do the clamshell.

Luckily(?), the physio had one more trick up her sleeve. Cut to me, a few minutes later, writhing around on the table so much that one of my socks came off, as the physio kneaded her palm, first into my thigh, but then right into the muscle on my anti-ass. Passersby slowed down to watch me squacking and flapping around as the physio gave me a vigorous ass massage, as if she was auditioning for a role on "Physios Gone Wild." (Why is it that so much of physiotherapy involves me performing moves that I usually won't do without being bought dinner and a movie first?)

Now, I have a high pain tolerance. I once allowed a doctor to inject hundreds of needles full of sugar water into the ligaments around my spine (you know, for kicks) without complaint and I put up with my hip's diva antics. In fact, the pain post-surgery has been easy to deal with (my surgeon keeps reminding me that he hammered a long metal spike into my femur, so I probably should be in more pain), most likely because my theory is that if I'm not shaking and puking, it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be. Still, I will admit that when the physio was going to town on my anti-ass like it was a lump of bread dough and red-hot agony was radiating throughout my entire leg, I had to go to my happy place for a little bit. But, man, when she finally (finally) stopped and the pain went away, my hip felt fan-freaking-tastic. It was a beautiful day in the neighbourhood indeed.

I had to hand it to her: the medically sanctioned ass massage worked. At the end of her treatment, I could almost kind of do a quasi clamshell! Victory! Not only did I show a bit of progress in the hip-strength department, but I also can check "first post-surgical ass grab" off the list of post-hip-replacement firsts. Done and done!

The physio assures me that I can repeat the massage on myself by using a tennis ball. I know that I will be able to massage my thigh just fine, but I'm still not entirely sure how I'm going to perform a solo ass massage. So, if you come to visit and you find me up against a wall pressing a tennis ball into my ass and making groaning noises, don't judge! It's doctor's orders! Just be happy I'm not asking for volunteers.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, the ticket has been booked. On Sept. 26th, I will be returning to Illinois. That means that my hip has 18 days to get itself into the kind of shape that will tolerate my jet-setting lifestyle (and by 'jetsetting' I mean 'escaping to a place where I do not have to pay $1000 a month for the privilege of having junkies defecate on my doorstep'). My hip and I are leaving on a jet plane and we don't know when we'll be back again. Oh, babe, we hate to go.

My hip is in for a rude awakening if it thinks that life in Illinois will even vaguely resemble the high life we've been living here in British Columbia. In fact, the closest we're going to get to the high life in Urbana is Miller High Life...and that will be our fancy beer for special occasions, since we will only be able to afford PBR. (Is it a little disconcerting that I am still making a distinction between myself and my freaky cyborg hip? Does this suggest a lack of post-surgical adjustment?) 

Yes, hip, all the little luxuries will be gone. Instead of a Temperpedic king-sized mattress, we'll be sleeping on a twin Ikea mattress that cannot be put on a bedframe because it is too short and my feet hang off the end. Instead of showering our lazy ass while sitting down on a shower chair, we'll be performing tall-girl gymnastics trying to rinse off my hair in a shower that's over a foot shorter than I am, (though hopefully this will be fixed by the time I get back because my landlord rocks). Instead of sampling muscle-building protein from mom's delicious pot-roast, you'll be battling an onslaught of preservatives and sulphides as you try to glean some nutrition out of Lean Cuisine pressed chicken. And your daily chai latte: forget about it. We'll be making our own by boiling leaves and roots and stealing milk from those weird-eyed goats at the local petting zoo (okay, not really, but we will be buying chai concentrate at the store and mixing in the milk our own damn selves). Get ready, hip. Since I'm not teaching Rhet 105 anymore, I've been forced to write a syllabus for Slumming It 101....and I have only one pupil. 

And for those of you who live in Champaign-Urbana, if the tornado siren starts up in 18 days, don't worry. It's just the local authorities alerting you to the fact that Hurricane Arley is on the horizon and you should probably secure your house keys, car keys and any other hard-to-replace valuables before I lose them. And while your at it, maybe start locking your window, because I might be breaking in to watch the NBA on TV, since I won't have cable. Believe me, the last thing you want is to come home to find me hanging part-way in your window, since my freaky cyborg hip didn't have enough strength to boost me all the way through. Champaign-Urbana, brace yourself. You've been warned.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Day of Firsts

I don't have kids, (I have enough trouble owning a cat), but I imagine that if I was a mother I would feel the need to meticulously record every milestone in my child's life: baby's first facial expression that was not gas-related; baby's first gurgle that bears a passing resemblance to human speech; baby's first time not waking up at 3 a.m. allowing mommy to get just enough sleep to prevent her from having a fatigue-induced meltdown in the produce aisle of the grocery store because they are out of organic bananas. (I can tell that I am going to be an excellent mother). Anyhow, I have a similar reaction to record every milestone with my new hip. Even the most mundane expedition becomes exciting when you are doing it for the first time post-hip-replacement. First time walking on wet linoleum! First time getting out of a boat on to a dock without assistance! First time craving something sweet since narcotics and surgery screwed up my sense of taste! It's too bad my freaky cyborg hip is not as cute as a human baby because I would have filled about 18 photo albums with pictures by now of all its many firsts.

Happily, my mini vacation to Point Roberts provided more such firsts. First time being accosted by two large dogs while going up slippery steps! First time walking along the sand and seeing what strange footprints I leave behind because I am still putting too much weight on the balls of my feet! First time sitting in low wicker chairs, on low, hard chairs, on chairs around a campfire, on pretty much every manner of chair that does not comply to my hip restrictions! First time straddling a muddy ditch to pick blackberries and using my cane to bring down the high branches! It was all very exciting.

Unhappily, my hip is not a fan of trying new things. It is a fan of me sitting on my ass in bed, eating frozen grapes and blogging about my growing unhappiness with reality TV. It therefore wasn't exactly in a party frame of mind and decided to get a little sulky. I wasn't, however, about to let my freaky cyborg hip win. Sometimes you have to say to your hip, "Ok, look. I understand that the Old Crow bourbon I am drinking tastes like paint thinner. I also understand that it makes me stumble even more than normal because my alcohol tolerance is roughly equivalent to that of a 13-year-old's since I have laid off the sauce for so long. And, yes, this chair is ridiculously low and too hard for my bony anti-ass. Still, you need to put on your big girl pants and suck it up. We are celebrating S. and A's upcoming marriage and if you think I am going to stop sitting around this campfire trying to make s'mores without a marshmallow roasting stick, then you are sorely mistaken."

This, alas, made my hip throw a full-blown tantrum. I quickly realized that I was not going to add "getting through an entire weekend without my hip pulling a diva move and spoiling the party" to my list of firsts. I ended up going home on the second night, missing out of an evening of general debauchery and a morning of bacon-and-eggs hangover breakfast. Oh well. I have two weddings to attend in the next two weeks, so I'm sure there will be ample opportunity for hijinx and mayhem. My freaky cyborg hip better take a shot of bourbon because it's going to be a wild ride.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Long Weekend!

Well, thank goodness. It's finally the long weekend: a nice little break from the exhaustion of my busy life of unemployment and physiotherapy. (Shut up. I work!) It's time to escape to S.'s cabin for a little "end of summer/ single life" celebration. (Well, okay, it's just an "end of summer" celebration for me, unless any of you Americans out there are looking for a green-card bride. I kid, Homeland Security! I kid!) Seeing as how I spent my Friday night using the camera on my Macbook to "scan" photos of my cat when she was a kitten, then uploading said photos into a Facebook album...yeah, I probably need to get out of the house.

Since I will be engaging in some madcap hijinx south of the border (the American-Canadian border...not the metaphorical 'south of the border' for those of you with dirtier minds), don't be surprised if you have to go 48 hours without your daily dose of Arley. If you miss me, just spraypaint a clown wig black and throw it on top of the tallest telephone pole/broomstick you can find. And, to make your long weekend a little cuter, here are two photos of Mika when she was just a little bite-sized morsel. She will watch over the blog when I'm gone.

Friday, September 4, 2009

One Step Closer to Wedding Day Glamour

If you were thinking about jumping in your car and heading down to Metrotown to pick up some flat, silver, wedding-appropriate shoes, don't. Put down your purse and car keys and get back to the couch because I can tell you that I have scoured the 15 shoe stores in that purgatory of a mall and there is only one pair: and it's mine.

I've written before about how the hip replacement has interfered with my plans to be a sexy beast on S.'s wedding day. I've already complained about not wanting to walk down the aisle with my cane tapping out its own version of "Here Comes the Bride." (Still haven't quite figured what to do about that, actually). But little did I know that finding the appropriate shoes for the bridesmaids dress would be a three-week ordeal.

If you want high-heeled silver shoes, especially if their heels are made of lucite, then you are in luck. You can walk into any shoe store in the Greater Vancouver area and come back with strappy shoes with enough sparkle to blind someone when the sun strikes at the right angle. But if you want flat silver shoes, you will pretty much have to sell a kidney and the rights to your firstborn child, because those things are rarer than hen's teeth. You can find grey leather shoes, gray suede shoes, sequinned gray shoes, shoes with little silver skulls embroidered on them, wedges with silver snakeskin, silver crocs, silver flats with gigantic silver and pink bows on the front and silver rhinestone-embossed flipflops. In fact, most silver, wedding-appropriate flat shoes are of the sandal variety.

Now, anyone who's ever had a hip replacement knows that flip-flops are a big no no, since they're a tripping hazard. They also make a slapping sound when you walk, and the combination of the slapping of the flipflops and the tapping of the cane would be a little much. (Plus, you know, doing a face plant in the middle of the aisle, shattering my hip and having to watch the vows from the comfort of a stretcher is kind of a wedding don't. I've visited enough to know that anything that steals the attention from the bride is bad etiquette. Plus, one of my goals for the wedding is to not wind up on Youtube).

But luckily, I will not have to walk down the aisle with my feet spraypainted silver. Thanks to my mom's eagle eyes, we were able to find an appropriate pair of shoes in a store that apparently caters to dayshift pole dancers. My shoes were wedged between a pair of thigh-high red vinyl stiletto boots with tassles and these bizarre fur-covered lucite bad boys. Even though the store was having a massive sale and a pair of old Asian ladies were aggressively haggling over the price of some nurse's shoes (seriously, this store had everything), and even though the saleslady nearly broke one of her incredible fake nails trying to put the shoes on me, my mom and I perservered and emerged victorious.

So, even though I will be limping down the aisle leaning on my "Air-go Comfort cane," and even though I will probably take the shoes off the minute the ceremony is over, I am one step (no pun intended) closer to bringing an extra dose of wedding glam to the occasion. Here comes the maid of honor, b*tches, and she's ready to cut you for the bouquet!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Open Letter to The Learning Channel (TLC)

Dear TLC,

A few months ago, I had a hip replacement. There's a special boredom that occurs after you've had major surgery. You're too woozy with narcotics to do much serious reading, but you're feeling well enough to be bored, and you therefore spend innumerable hours either counting the glow-in-the-dark stars on your ceiling or turning to the kind of TV that does not require you to follow any sort of plot or even know the characters' names. "The Wire" with its complex characterization and thick Baltimore accents that require subtitles will not do. Neither will "Wheel of Fortune," since that involves spelling. No, you need the kind of TV where you can doze off for 15 minutes, wake up, and say, "Yup, ok, the Duggars still have a lot of kids. Oh, look! They're bowling!" In short, TLC, I turned to you.

But now, I'm sad to say that you have let me down. Some people have criticized you for stretching the whole concept of a "learning channel." Some people say, "How is showing six-year-olds strutting around in semi-pornographic attire learning? What am I supposed to be learning: how to use spray tanning to help my infant achieve that sun-kissed glow?" But I have always stood up for you. I have even contemplated writing academic papers on your clever use of old-school carnival freakshow tactics ("The Man Whose Arms Exploded!" "The World's Heaviest Toddler!" "The Man Who Turned Into a Tree!"). "Okay, so maybe it's not learning," I've said, "but look. That couple is very tiny and they have an equally tiny dog."

Besides, I've learned a lot from you, TLC. I used to watch "A Baby Story" during my spare block in high school in the cafeteria and you taught me what an episiotomy is, which terrified me into a very chaste adolescence. You also taught me that even the most mundane daily routines can be made interesting with the right voice-over. Sometimes, while going about my business, I've learned to jazz things up a little by muttering, "But Arley McNeney's bad luck didn't stop there. One Thursday morning, she made a terrifying discovery that would change the course of her entire day and throw her into a tailspin of self-doubt and regret: someone had put water in her non-fat, no-water, extra-hot chai latte. And that someone was going to pay."

But no more, TLC! I'm done! I stuck with you through endless freak shows, the explosion of Jon and Kate's marriage, and one entire series devoted to women who didn't know they were pregnant. Over the past few months, however, I have witnessed a rapid decline, one not seen since the fall of the Roman Empire, the kind of television that makes you think, "Wow, better stock up on canned food and bottled water, because this is obviously the End of Days."

Yes, TLC, you have gone too far even for my low-brow tastes. (And I watch "My Big Redneck Wedding," so this is saying something). You have a new series entitled "Truth Be Told" and here are some of your titles: "Truth Be Told I'm Obsessed With My Pet," "Truth Be Told I'm Addicted to Plastic Surgery" and, today, the final straw "Truth Be Told I Have an Embarrassing Medical Condition." I'm sorry. An embarrassing medical condition? You're devoting an entire hour to profiling the touching struggles of someone with chronic flatulence? Or incontinence?

It used to be that you had to do something remarkable to get on TV, like carry six babies to term inside your horrifically distended uterus or make six-foot-tall replicas of important landmarks out of cake. But now, it seems like everyone and their dog can have a TLC show. Can I be on your network starring in the hit series "Truth Be Told I'm a Cyborg?" Can the elderly lady who I see at physio have a show called "Truth Be Told My Sons Don't Call As Often As I Would Like and I Can't See Pictures of My Granddaughter Because I Don't Have That Facebook Thing And Last Night We Had Potroast For Dinner?"

Seriously, this has to stop! I remember when you used to have documentaries about neandertals narrated by that sexy beast Henry Rollins! If you're not going to be educational, can you at least bother to be mildly interesting? I will not sit idly by and watch Bravo kick your ass in the entertaining-but-mindless-reality-TV business. TLC: I'm putting you on notice. Stop being the low-budget sideshow of the entertainment world. Stop stealing other network's shows and making them suck more (I'm looking at you "Cake Boss"). I have a lot more recovering to do and I'm going to need to be entertained and I demand to hear stories I couldn't hear by riding the bus.

Sincerely yours,
- Arley