Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Strange Victories, Strange Defeats

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

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Elementary, My Dear Watson!

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

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

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

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Must. Remain. Positive.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

"This sure here is a lot of shit happening"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 20, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 18, 2009

Have Yourself a Merry Little Baking Bender

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

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

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

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

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

"Hm?" I said.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And So This is Christmas And What Have You Done?

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

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

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

Monday, December 14, 2009

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

SurgeonWatch2009: The Dramatic (not really) Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Man Down! Man Down!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Snark

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 4, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 3, 2009

'Roid Rage

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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