Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's the Final Countdown

Things have been a little quiet over here in Young and Hip-land. Part of the reason for this radio silence is that I'm working full-time while doing an internship while traveling for work while trying to write another novel while attempting to have one of those so-called "social lives" I've heard so much about while trying to give the cat the amount of attention she requires so that she will not destroy my shit while trying to coordinate my move back to Vancouver while....while..... drinking a lot of coffee. A lot of coffee.

The other reason, however, is that there's been very little to write about. All of the changes in my hip have been incremental and I wasn't about to subject anyone to a post on my newfound ability to lift my leg a fraction of an inch higher than I could before thus enabling me to wash my left foot for the first time in months. (Though I did privately celebrate this milestone). I'm still walking like a drunken extra in "Night of the Living Dead." Rolling over in my sleep on to the place where my gluteus medius is detached still hurts enough to make me dream that someone has sliced my hip open and I'm staggering around bleeding and being like 'damn, I should get me to a hospital.' My hip still clunks and shifts to a degree that often makes me cry out in surprise, (not in pain, really, just surprise), which I'm pretty sure has led people to believe that I have Tourette's Syndrome.

Today, however, I have news the report. I finally got my surgery date. On June 24th, I will go back under the knife to get my ass put back on, my leg length raised and possibly get a brand spankin' new socket. This means that I've got about 6 or 7 weeks left to live in America. This is good news on the "getting my ass put back on" front, but you don't need a weatherman to know that there's a weather system called Hurricane Getting-Deported-And-Operated-On-In-The-Same-Week on the horizon. You know what's not a great way to get your new life off on the right foot? Spending the first few months of it in bed eating frozen grapes and rubbing BioOil on your various scars. (That's also probably a bad way to start a E-Harmony profile. Note to self).

It's interesting to note the weird cyclical-ness (that's not a word) of this surgery. My first hip replacement was on June 23rd 2009. My second surgery will be on June 24th, 2010. Here's hoping this will be the last deja vu I'll experience, since I swear to God that if I wake up from this surgery saying, "Hey, shouldn't I be able to move this leg?" I will literally start shanking bitches with my IV needle.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Things To Do In Denver When You're Gimpy

On this blog, I do my fair share of complaining ("My ass isn't attached!" "I walk like a broke-down marionette being operated by someone who's high on paint thinner!" "America keeps trying to break up with me, despite my clinging harder than Jessica Biel on Justin Timberlake!"). When you break it right down, however, my life is pretty sweet.

I mean, a few days ago I was hanging out in a hotel room in Denver with L.T., who plays for the Australian national team. The last time I saw L.T., we were in a cafe on the streets of Paris eating dainty pastries and speaking the kind of French that made actual French people ask me if I was sure I'm Canadian, since don't Canadians speak French? (In my defense, I took Chinese in high school). L.T. remarked on how great it is to have the kind of lifestyle where you can hang out in Paris with someone a few years back, get drunk on pineapple tequila shots with them in a bar in Champaign Urbana, then chill in a hotel room with them in beautiful Denver, Colorado. I mean, who else can say that? Who else has that life?

Yes, I am indeed lucky. Right now, my two passions (wheelchair basketball and writing) have come together in Denver. (Denver the city, not Denver my brother....which is a source of endless confusion). My former wheelchair basketball team the Fighting Illini are playing today in the national championship (I-L-L! I-N-I!) and there's also a huge creative writing conference called AWP on. It's like someone designed a weekend just for me.

Now, I tend to be a pretty shy person. I was 20 before I could look people in the eye and, even now, meeting new people tends to give me the same symptoms as overcaffeination/ meth addiction: talking quickly! Making large hand gestures that occasionally cause me to hit people in the face or knock steaming cups of coffee into my lap! Slight tremor of the hands! (The fact that I am usually overcaffeinated on top of this doesn't help matters). For that reason, AWP gives me the cold sweats. Not only are you supposed to talk to people, but those people are generally anti-social writerly types like yourself, who are equally nervous and overcaffeinated but who suspect that their entire writing career might rest on their ability to charm someone at the conference into publishing their brilliance. (The fact that half of these people confuse "writer" with "someone who wears outlandish clothing in a bid to get attention" is topic for another day).

Until last night, the only new person I had met at AWP was the woman who also walked with a cane (cane friend!) who I met in the registration line-up. We bonded over our mutual gimpiness and our taste in canes (she had a sleek fold-up model with a little hook on the end so you can prop the cane up against tables and stuff and it won't fall over on the people and cause great injury and embarrassment) and the fact that we were wasting our walking time standing in line. Luckily for me, this Cane Friend was not afraid to tell the woman in charge of registration that they should have a special line for people who had trouble standing and got us to the front of the line, saving us at least 30 minutes! Go Cane Friend! The registration lady obviously didn't want to face the wrath of two angry chicks armed with metal poles.

During the conference, however, I tended to keep my head down. Like, what was I supposed to say to people? " you like words?....Because I like words...." "So....are you wearing that fedora ironically?....." " you also find the bookfair filled with thousands of people whose sweat smells like raw, unbridled ambition a little disconcerting?"

Luckily, however, you don't need social skills when you have good friends. Last night, M. and I hit the town and stumbled upon a fiction reading at a cool little bar. M. is a social butterfly and quickly made friends with tons of people, dragging me into the conversation with her. Long story short, we ended up at a party in a house/gallery talking to all sorts of writerly types about writerly things. Thanks to M.'s icebreaking/wingman skills and the assistance of some Coors Light (hey, when you're in Denver drinking Coors is practically a requirement) and Fat Tire, I ended up speaking words to people I did not know! This is progress, considering that most of my social skills were learned when some of the lesbians on the Canadian national team got sick of watching me blush and stammer my way through interactions and took it upon themselves to teach me how to pick up men (I know, I know) and would give me little homework assignments at tournaments (talk to 5 people, find the "sole mate" of one of the single-leg amputees on the team, etc) in attempt to hone my skills. That, however, is a story for another day.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Freaky Cyborg Hip ENGAGE! Power up! Attack!

In the 9 months since my surgery (has it already been 9 months? Is it a bad sign that it takes longer to fix my hip than it does to turn a speck of genetic material into a fully formed human being?) I have been waiting for my Freaky Cyborg Hip to wake up and go rogue. My new hip's not too great for the whole "walking" thing, so I figure it probably has other strengths: like shooting lasers...or destroying Tokyo...or even just re-enacting the Pink Floyd Laser Light Show. Who knows?

Well, today my Freaky Cyborg Hip got its chance to power up. I was in the security lineup at the Vancouver airport and after a mild bout of security-sanctioned groping, they asked me if I would like to step into the full body scanner. I jumped at the opportunity. (And by "jump" I mean "gimped over in the direction of the scanner in my socks hoping that the fabric of my socks was tough enough to ward off the swamp of foot fungus that must be on those carpets"). I mean, first of all, any day when I get off easy in the security-line groping department is a good day. (Those of you thinking that beggars can't be choosers need to check yourselves). But second of all: stepping into a weird, pod-like scanner and being pelted with lord knows what rays seemed like a good way to engage the Freaky Cyborg Hip. Isn't that how it happens in the movies? The hero steps into a pod and thanks to the Miracle of Science gets transformed into a cyborg?

Standing on the little footprints in the body-scanner cylinder and raising my arms above my head as the machine scanned my body, I felt like a freaking Power Ranger or Clark Kent in the phone booth or Iron Man or that guy in Avatar. I could almost hear the voice over: "She thought she was the recipient of a malfunctioning hip replacement. She thought she was heading to a small midwestern college town. She was wrong. This April, one woman learns that a journey of a lifetime can begin with a single, gimpy step. Arley McNeney stars in....Hip To Destruction." (What? You don't narrate your own life in the voice of Don LaFontaine?)

Any moment, I suspected, the cyborg in me would be activated and go on a rampage. And frankly, seeing as how the customs guy was going through Every. Single. Thing in my backpack and inquiring as to whether my Moroccan Hair Oil was "medicine" (I told him that it was, if bad hair counts as a medical condition), I could hardly wait. I was like, bring on the lasers, Freaky Cyborg Hip! Let's get this party started!

Not so much. I gimped out of the body scanner and was so busy trying to get a peek at what was shown on the monitor (spoiler alert: they don't show any nudity) that I bumped smack into an attractive guy. I apologized. Then, while putting on my backpack, I hit the same guy in the shoulder. I apologized. THEN, I turn to grab my cane, it slipped and I hit the guy AGAIN! With my cane! This poor guy thought he was going for a friendly vacation and I end up beating the shit out of him in the customs line!

Instead of activating the rambo switch on my Freaky Cyborg Hip, someone activated the "romantic comedy" switch! This is not quite the destruction I was looking for. Instead of destroying Tokyo, I reminded myself why I will probably die alone in a small apartment and my 57 cats will eat my face. Psyche/ self confidence destruction doesn't count! Worse, it was all the romantic comedy embarrassment without any "falling in love and living happily ever after" business. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I want my money back.