Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Young, Hip and Armed to the Teeth

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Uh, You Guys Did Replace My Hip, Right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Insert Fart Jokes Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There is Power in a Union!

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Consider Me Appreciated

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

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

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy International Arley Appreciation Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

International Arley Appreciation Day

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Girl With the Parking-Lot Eyes

If you live in the Greater Vancouver area and suddenly feel like a little black storm cloud is following you around, it's because a) you live in Vancouver. If there aren't storm clouds now just wait 5 minutes and b) I'm radiating an intense level of grumpiness because tonight is the Neko Case concert in Urbana and I'm not there. Perhaps, in some branching-worlds universe, some alternate-dimension Arley is putting on her skinny jeans and trying to apply mascara without stabbing herself in the eye and causing partial blindness while humming "Maybe, Sparrow" in anticipation of a night of musical awesomeness. In this universe, however, I'm laying in bed, watching an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" that was boring the first 2 times I saw it, and contemplating taking off my skinny jeans because they're aggravating the swelling around my hip.

I was, however, not willing to stay in bed playing "Margaret Vs. Pauline" (the only Neko Case song that I know how to play) on guitar while wearing a red wig in order to give myself an imaginary concert experience. Instead, I decided to bite the bullet and go swimming at Canada Games Pool. I've written before about my various bizarre experiences at Canada Games Pool (most of them involving getting a special glimpse of the man business of various elderly patrons), so you can understand my hesitation. But since our backyard pool has been shut down for the winter and my hip was too sore to do any land-based exercise, I steeled myself and hoped that my orange-tinted goggles would act as blinders to whatever strip-teases were going on around me.

I am happy to report that I had no X-rated encounters. I am also happy to report that I did not kick anyone in the head (either accidentally while swimming or out of a misplaced sense of rage at missing the Neko Case concert), that I did not pass out in the jacuzzi (though Lord knows what raging infection I will develop) and that I got my lap-swimming in even though it's possibly the most boring activity in the history of the world since you don't get the adrenaline rush of beating anyone, you don't get to listen to music and you basically feel like a goldfish without the benefit of the whole "3-second memory" thing. (God, that last sentence was a little Victorian-esque).

I must admit, however, that I've been spoiled by months of swimming in my home pool. Not only did I have to wear a proper bathingsuit, but I had to shower in front of old ladies (luckily, my athletic career stripped any sense of modesty I might have naturally possessed), navigate slippery tiles, find some place to put my locker key (I attached it to my cane), find some place to put my cane, get the side-eye from other swimmers as I tried to find a free lane, and get changed while having some young girl checking me out and not liking what she sees. Just getting in and out of the pool was more exhausting than the laps!

At the end of the day, however, it was mission accomplished. I put my hip through its paces with only mild-to-moderate aggrevation and burned off some of my seething disappointment. Now, it's off to Steph's to eat my weight in pizza. (Hey, I worked out today!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hip School Dropout

After the surgeon-related excitement of yesterday, you'd think I'd be spending today digesting the news with a little peppermint tea. Nope, I kept the hip party going because that is how I roll. Usually, people only need a good six weeks of out-patient physio before they "graduate" and stride limp-free into the sunset. I, however, have been at physio for nearly four months and am the recovery equivalent of that 20-year-old guy who's taking Grade 8 English for the fifth time and scares all the 13-year-olds by flexing his muscles and stroking his imposing facial hair (just, you know, without the muscles and facial hair).

Well, not anymore. After discussing Dr. SecondOpinion's news with my physio, we decided that I should become a hip school dropout and stop going to physio until I get some sort of medical intervention. After all, you can't strengthen a muscle that isn't attached and after four months of trying to get my hip flexors to wake the hell up, it's likely that there's not much that can be done for them either.

I don't mind physio. I like the physiotherapists, I like being forced to get out of bed early, and it does give my life a little structure. On the other hand, however, I was getting bit frustrated getting no results and my spot is better off being taken by someone who will be able to do a "clamshell" after a few weeks. So, yes, this means I'm going to have to find another hobby to replace the great amusement I used to get from putting on my ipod and cranking up really bizarre rock music (think Frog Eyes) while watching elderly people work out, so it seemed as if the 85-year-old lady balancing on the physio trampoline and the old guy swinging his leg in a sling were starring in some sort of fucked-up music video. Perhaps I should start knitting.

The fact that Monday will be my last day of physio means that once I get my needle-in-my-hip test and see Dr. SecondOpinion, I will be free to go down to Illinois for awhile. When that will be, however, remains to be seen. This means that I will indeed miss the Neko Case concert I've been talking so much about. I am a sad little hipster.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Well, At Least the Verdict Wasn't "You Need to Exercise More."

I wrote yesterday about my Rocky-esque preparations for my appointment with Dr. SecondOpinion. Well, it's a good thing I went all "Eye of the Tiger" making lists of questions and symptoms, debating what demeanor to adopt, and generally rallying my mental troops, because I have just finished running (limping) a medical marathon. Somebody put a medal over my neck and get my ass some gatorade because I am spent. After 4.5 hours inside the Diamond Pavilion at VGH, (which is new and fancy, by the way!), I can officially say that I have received enough attention from the medical community to counteract the months of silence from Dr. ___.

Going to see a well-respected, cream-of-the-crop surgeon often resembles being stuck in some role-playing video game where you have to conquer a series of obstacles/riddles/tests of physical and mental prowess in order to pass the level and be granted audience with the king. I don't mind this one bit. If Dr. SecondOpinion decided that walking over burning coals would provide an adequate assessment of my gait pattern, you can bet your burn salve that I would do it blindfolded.

I therefore happily put up with another hip X-ray, even though I have had 8.3 million hip X-rays (next stop: glowing babies!) and even though it was the X-ray tech's first time and there was a boss X-ray tech standing over her and saying, "Are you sure you want to put your label there? Are you sure you want her foot like that?" I was such a shining beacon of patience and good-humour that the boss X-ray tech even remarked that I was the ideal patient to teach someone on both because of my attitude and the fact that I'm "so skinny you can feel every single bony structure on [my] body." Flattery will get you nowhere, Boss X-ray tech! I only let people feel my bony structures after dinner and a movie.

Next stop: Dr. SecondOpinion's office, where I filled out an elaborate three-page form that I suspect no one looked at. (Which is fine, because understanding my medical history is kind of like reading "Ulysses" in that most of it is bizarre, it takes far too long to get through, and you come out more confused than when you went in, though unlike "Ulysses" my medical history does not rely heavily on scatalogical references). The problem is that there are 5 million question marks in my medical history: "so...I'm a carrier for pseudochlorinestinaese deficiency and had a really freaky locked-in thing after my second surgery, but I didn't require breathing assistance so it could have been a bad reaction to the muscle relaxant they gave me..." "Yeah, I had this excruciatingly painful back problem but was too stupid/ suspicious of doctors to go to the hospital even though my mom and a personal trainer had to load me lying down into the back of my mom's PT Cruiser as if I was a piece of plywood and when I finally got an X-ray weeks later it showed I had multiple bilateral fractures on L4 L5 but that's not typical for a 20-something and an MRI didn't show much..." It's best to not even go there.

After 40 minutes in the first waiting room, I chilled out in a fancy hospital gown for another 40 minutes when in walked Dr. SecondOpinion Lite: Dr. SecondOpinion's intern, who was responsible for doing the grunt work of listening to my complaints and preparing a primilinary diagnosis. It's a tough gig being an intern and many of them are testy and sleep-deprived and trying so hard to project an aura of doctorly arrogance that they sometimes go a little overboard. Dr. SecondOpinion Lite's expert verdict: I was fine, shit would work itself out, and the problem was clearly that I had not tried hard enough and should (and I quote) "do more exercise." Wrong answer, Dr. SecondOpinion Lite! You just got a big, old F on a pop quiz named Arley.

Just when I was thinking I was going to have to start unleashing five months of pent-up rage and frustration on poor Dr. SecondOpinion Lite, he disappeared and Dr. SecondOpinion showed up to save the day. Dr. SecondOpinion sort of has this shimmery aura of brilliance with a general's air of efficiency. The man has hip replacements down. You could wake him up in the middle of the night and say, "Quick! Name me the muscles around the hip from back to front!" and he'd be like, "You want them in alphabetical order and do you want me to throw in the nerve pathways while I'm at it?" Homeboy is good. Doesn't have much time for questions, but he's good.

And the verdict: the torn gluteus medius is indeed wreaking havoc. When he pressed on my greater trochanter, (where the medius is attached), I indeed experienced what all of the medical reports I had been reading described as "exquisite tenderness." (Translation: stop-touching-me-there-right-now-I-will-kill-you-dead-I'm-dead-serious). After examining me, Dr. SecondOpinion noted that I walk "like I have polio," which is literally exactly what I have been saying. We're simile twins!

Unfortunately, he also suspects that my hip replacement has come loose because he could see some line around the prothesis and when he cranked my leg to the side I felt pain deep in the socket. (Not "exquisite tenderness," since when Dr. SecondOpinion Lite did the same motion on my leg, the pain was not so bad and since he didn't ask if it hurt, I didn't mention it). If the prothesis is loosened, that would explain the clunking and clicking I've been feeling.

Anyhow, Dr. SecondOpinion was really thorough and really patient with the fact that I really have to concentrate when someone asks me to move a particular muscle. The theory is that I spent so many years trying to disconnect myself from my lower body because I was in pain, I now have a hard time naturally making connections. In essence, I'm body stupid. But, Dr. Second Opinion was very patient and was good at isolating particular muscles and showing me how to make the connections.

So, what is Dr. SecondOpinion going to do? Alas, he says I need to be patient while they run some tests: a blood test to rule out infection, a spinal X-ray to see if my hip flexor problem is caused by my back, some freaky-ass test where they're going to jab a needle filled with anesthetic into my hip and see what goes on (spoiler alert: I will yelp), and possibly a bone scan. Problem: all this will take time. The end result is that I will probably need surgery, but it's unlikely that I'll get it before 2010. Sigh!

At the end of the day, the good news is that someone is finally giving a flying fuck about the fact that I walk like a heroin-addled zombie. Tests will be performed! Results will be achieved! The bad news is that I have gotten served another buffet-sized helping of BePatientAndWait pie. I thanked Dr. Second Opinion and got ready to go get some blood tests and some spine X-rays. After Dr. SecondOpinion left, Dr. SecondOpinion Lite (who had been chastized when he expressed his view that I should just do more exercise, much to my smirky delight) popped his head in the door. "You didn't tell me you had pain!" he said. I noted that a) actually, I had told about the pain around my ass and scar and b) he didn't ask if it hurt me when he twisted my leg and it wasn't wince-worthy.

So, yes, I wandered off to get some blood tests and pay another friendly visit to my good buddies at the X-ray department to get my spine examined and Dr. SecondOpinion Lite sulked off, pissed that I had gotten him in trouble with his boss. Maybe if he just tried harder and did some exercise....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Young and Hip!

While International Arley Appreciation Day is still a couple of weeks away (Nov. 15th, mark your calendars), today is another important milestone: "Young and Hip" turns 3 months old. If my blog was a human being, it would be able to recognize people by face and scent (I can't do that some days), squeal, gurgle, coo and do a "mini pushup" (something I also probably can't do). When "Young and Hip" first started, I promised A. that my blogging career would not last longer than a few weeks, since I would quickly get better and be back on my feet in no time (after all, I started "Young and Hip" when I was about 6 weeks post-surgery, which is about the time it takes 90-year-olds to start doing laps around me in physio) and run out of stuff to write about. Clearly, I was not anticipating my own ability to write 500 words about monkey slippers, or the fact that...well...I would be 19 weeks post-surgery and still walking like Rush Limbaugh after too many Vicodin cocktails.

And what am I getting "Young and Hip" for its birthday? A visit to Dr. SecondOpinion. Yes, tomorrow I will finally see an orthopedic surgeon. (Granted, not the one I've been trying to see for the past few weeks, but a surgeon all the same). And, believe me, I am taking this shit seriously. I'm a motherfucking general when it comes to preparing for doctor's appointments. I pretty much make D-Day look like a flashmob event. So, yes, I've written out a list of questions and typed up key symptoms and a rough timeline of the problem's history and prepared a file with my MRI CDs and the MRI report. Dr. SecondOpinion, I'll see your Type A personality and raise you a touch of OCD caused by 19 weeks of ass bruising and frustration. I am ready to fucking go.

Basically, I work from the assumption that my doctor is going to assume I'm an idiot and it's my job to at least pretend that I'm a competent giver of medical testimony. Nothing ruins your credibility like forgetting how many weeks post-surgery you are or whether your or not your grandmother had cancer (in my defense, when you hear the word "colostomy bag," you tend to tune out pretty quickly). I'm also working from the assumption that Dr. SecondOpinion and Dr. ____ are buddies and that Dr. SecondOpinion will side with his fellow colleague. (I picture them in a room with dark wood paneling and the stuffed heads of various jungle predators mounted on the walls, smoking cigars and talking about the Empire).

A delicate touch is therefore needed (and, if you haven't noticed, "delicate" and "Arley" are not often found together, hence the need for planning). It's an issue of balance. I want to be polite but also somehow answer the question, "So, what does your original surgeon think of this problem?" truthfully without saying, "he doesn't seem to give a fuck." I must be be empathetic but firm. I must respect his authority while still demanding answers. Perhaps I will say, "I know I'm not ordering food from McDonalds here and that a thorough diagnosis takes time, but..." Perhaps I will smile and be appropriately dressed and reference my Master's degree and Paralympic bronze medal and the fact that I'm only 26 a few times. Above all, however, I will be cheerful and open-minded. I've actually been seen by Dr. SecondOpinion when I was 16 and we didn't get along so well, though I'm fully willing to admit that I didn't get along with most people when I was 16. (I was listening to a lot of Hole and Bad Religion at the time). I have, however, heard from a lot of people that he's actually a nice guy and that he's one of the most respected surgeons in Vancouver, so I've decided to go into this appointment with a clean-slate mentality. My goal is to seem so mature yet so filled with youthful vim and vigor that he will forget the surly 16-year-old I was.

After all, I only get one shot at this. My biggest concern is that Dr. SecondOpinion will give me the old, "Oh, you don't walk that badly. Just start working at some surgeon's office who specializes in post-polio syndrome and you'll fit right in!" The phrase "give it some more time" or "these things usually take care of themselves" will absolutely devastate me. I have given this hip 19 weeks of time, which is roughly double the length of a Hollywood marriage. These things are not taking care of themselves. I know that surgeons are not miracle workers, but my hope is to come out of the appointment with a clear course of action and the knowledge of whether or not I can pop down to Illinois for a few weeks.

So, yes, tomorrow I will be rallying my mental troops and preparing for my Freaky Cyborg Hip's big day. What's that saying? Hope for the best but prepare for the worst? Bring it on, life. I'm prepared. (Just wait: my next blog post will be titled "Okay, Maybe Not"). And, now, I am off to go knock on some wood.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You...In Your Dreams

It's the day after Hallowe'en, which means that I've been chilling in bed eating package after package of Popeye's cigarettes (my costume was delicious, as well as cheap) and watching 8 (update: 9) episodes of "House." As I've said, "House" is my recovery porn: bad shit happens to people, shit gets worse, test after test confirms nothing, but everything works out in the end and, also, everyone is very good-looking. Also, the doctors tend to psychoanalyze their own motivations in agonizing detail, (resulting in such clunky lines as, "When you run out of questions you don't just run out of answers, you run out of hope"), which is an intellectual exercise I wouldn't mind if Dr. ___ engaged in every once in awhile. Also, somber music plays whenever something bad's about to happen, which would be handy.

Last night, I had a dream that Dr. ____ was refusing to call me because he's been reading my blog and is pissed off by my snarky analysis of his doctoring abilities. (The fact that Dr. ___ has infiltrated my subconscious suggests I'm perhaps putting in too much effort into SurgeonWatch2009. I somehow doubt that Dr. ___ is waking up in a cold sweat wondering why he can't stop dreaming of his zombie-walking patient trying to eat his brains while chanting, "Cure me....cure...me....fix...my...gimpy...leg....").

Anyhow, if Dr. ___ is reading this blog, then a) he obviously has too much time on his hands and should invest a little more interest in the whole "me not walking like a polio-stricken zombie" business in order to alleviate his boredom and b) he should be aware that while I am certainly snarky, I try my best to be fair. Do I direct my snark superpowers towards my physiotherapists? No. Why? Because they're doing their jobs with competence, compassion and empathy. Do I trash talk any of the other surgeons I've seen? No. Why? Same reason. If Dr. ___ wanted me to stop complaining about him, then there's a very easy solution. I'll give you a hint: the answer is not "keep avoiding me at all costs."

My "House" marathon has taught me one thing. In the show, patients are often in comas, rendered incapacitated by tumors, speaking in tongues, seizures etc. If they're not in comas, then they're generally hinderances to diagnosis, prone to refusing treatment because they have misgivings or becoming emotional at inopportune moments. One physician remarks that the average doctor only listens to a patient speaking for 18 seconds, since tests tell them everything they need to know. Another complains about patients and their boring lives. Only biopsies and CT scans and MRIs and bloodwork and surgery can be trusted.

So, despite the fact that I'm probably one of his few patients who does not smell like Werther's Originals and Ben-Gay, it's no shock that Dr. ___ wants to get rid of me. What he doesn't seem to realize, however, is that we both want the same thing. I would like nothing better than to hop out of bed and stop spending my life looking at the Facebook wedding albums of people I don't know or eating my weight in Popeye's cigarettes. If I never have to hear the phrase "You have reached the office of Dr. ____. I am either on the other line or away from my desk. Please note that office hours are..." I will be the happiest of happy campers. Until something happens, however, I have to keep being annoying/snarky/full of seething rage.

So, Dr. ___, if it turns out that I've been blessed with dream-based psychic abilities and you are reading this, the solution is rather simple: if you want me to stop complaining, then give me something else to write about.