Well, This Sucks

I have been silent for great gaps of time over the past two years, and PTSD (Post-Trump Stress Disorder) is responsible for a lot of that, but after that, there has been the pain. It took up my whole head some days and it didn’t really seem like something one ought to be blogging about and bringing other people down.

But goddammit.

So, against all logic and conventional symptomatology — turned almost entirely on its head in this case — what turned out to be happening is, both of my hip joints are completely destroyed, like you read about, and have to be replaced.

No one has a very good explanation. At least two people from divergent walks of the health care spectrum have invoked “genes,” which I believe is a graceful way of saying “We have no fucking idea.” The best anyone can do is to note that this is a thing, that people from time to time have both hips go to hell from some putatively auto-immune malfunction that selectively burns out only that joint. The rheumatologist X-rayed everything; I probably glow gently in the dark. I’ve been tested two and three times for all the autoimmune markers, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, you name it. Zilch (whew). I have the bone mass and  general joint integrity of someone easily twenty years younger. Just this.

I am still trying to figure out where I fucked up.

(I know where other people fucked up. When I went to my longtime chiropractic colleague, Dr. Bill, with the dislocation I incurred in 2011 — it was slight and just felt like a little strain to me — he completely failed to recognize it, and got his ass on his shoulders when I figured it out after ten months and had the Engineer yank it back into place. When the pain got worse again after an interval of a few years, eventually migrating to the other leg as well, he simple kept shoving my legs in directions they didn’t want to go, until one day I hobbled into his office and he asked with a creepy little smirk “Have you tried sitting in a bath with Epsom Salt?” I dropped some f-bombs, and we haven’t spoken since.

Go figure. Twenty-seven years I depended on the bastard’s diagnostic acumen and uncanny ability to refer patients to the specialist they might need if something was out of his league; I saw it over and over, but it wasn’t there for me. Yes, the pain manifested in a way almost opposite to most hip arthritis, but ferfrigsake, this guy’s wheelhouse is identifying skeletal origins of pain; it’s all he does, all day, every day. I have no idea why he hung me out to dry, but screw him.)

One under-appreciated perk of my profession is that you get to see the work of surgeons progress in real time. I’ve worked on pre- and post-op knees, shoulders, hips, spines; I’ve seen the disasters and the gold-medal jobs. So I am booked for February 5th with a surgeon who did hips on two of my clients in the past two years; unlike the surgeries you’ve probably seen, he goes in from the front, hauls the muscles aside without cutting them whatever, using retractors he designed himself for the purpose, places the new joint — a cute piece of engineering designed to let the bone grow into its surface layer, sort of like a Chia Pet — both by eyeballing and with a fluoroscope, and sends you home in a day or two. I am advised I will be able to do one flight of stairs a day right away.

Despite this and other predictions of far less impairment than you usually expect, I have been inundated with dire admonitions: buy a new chair, don’t stand up, don’t sit down, don’t get out of bed, lie flat all the time, don’t put on socks and shoes, don’t put on pants, don’t wipe your own ass, GODDAMMIT PEOPLE just let me talk to the surgical team about precautions? It’s worse than when women announce they are pregnant and immediately get regaled with everyone’s childbirth horror stories. I am considering an embargo on any and all helpful advice, enforced with a whack from my Alpine poles, which I have to use now to get anywhere.

This is because there is apparently no cartilage left. The surgeon — a fairly laid back type, with the confidence of several years and several thousand surgeries worth of experience doing this one method — eyeballed my X-rays, recoiled slightly but visibly like a cat that has just sniffed a glass of whisky, and said “These are very bad.” When I asked about the state of the labral cartilage that holds the joint snug, he said “You don’t have one.” This explains why I keep feeling as if I’m going to be dumped on the floor if I put my foot wrong.

At least I can work, because the job description pretty much involves leaning my weight on the supine client. And I can lift, if I can pole my way to the weight station, which has to look hilarious as I clamber onto a bench and then blow up a couple of forty-pounders handed to me by the Engineer, who has been a saint. I did have to give up squats. The surgeon says those will come back. He operates out of a sports medicine clinic, and he’s used to insane people like me.

Everyone says I’m going to be fine, my stomach is upset, my heart rate is up and I had a terrifying bout of classic anxiety palpitations (fortunately the day after getting a clear EKG), I spend all day and night thinking of things that could go wrong, and I still have Post Trump Stress Disorder.

Maybe I can live tweet the whole thing.

 

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homenaje a rosa

I don’t reblog often, but this is a small jewel that the fabulous Azahar shared with us.

There can be so much history, beauty and thought in an old person’s face. I tend to be allergic to “feelgood” stories, but this is a good one, and you don’t need to understand the language.

casa azahar

I can’t find a way to embed this so you’ll have to click through to this twitter feed and watch it there – it’s worth it! Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you will understand it. Rosa and her husband have had to leave their home of 40 years in Jerez, due to her husband’s failing health. She said she was leaving her beloved barrio with a heavy heart, until…

Homenaje a Rosa

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A New Year’s Visit From Spain

I should have put this on the stereo. Well, you always think of these things later.

A bit before Christmas, I got a call from someone who wanted to know if I was home to take a delivery that day. Fortunately, working from my house, I am generally home to take deliveries, although Federal Express has a stunning track record of arriving in my absence when there is a package that needs to be signed for. (I think FedEx and I are going to end up in the MMA ring eventually, after the month’s supply of cat food that someone stole off my front steps because the deliveryman couldn’t be arsed to put it inside the porch as directed; then there was the sixty pound crate of kitty litter that blocked me in when I tried to leave the house… but I digress.)

So I answered the door a bit after seven in the evening, and there was Vanessa, looking about twelve (I noticed more and more that everyone looks about twelve), holding out a beribboned gift bag containing two bottles and telling me that it was a gift from… well, from the miraculous Az.

(Click that link. You know you want to.)

See, Az is one-half the reason I am even on here still after nearly ten years. No one has heard from Stiletto, the blogger who tempted me onto WordPress, in a dog’s age, but it was Az who caught my attention on the also defunct blog of one Frontier Former Editor, a journalist and aviation fan who pun-wrestled me to a draw in a contest with a World War II Luftwaffe theme. There she was, represented by a blog icon of a black kitty — her familiar of blessed memory, Azar — kibitzing and well, a kitty, and the rest is history.

Since then I’ve gotten me a live-in Engineer who’s a culinary genius, and she’s built an astounding business leading travelers around the tapas bars of Seville, and become a dear-God certified sherry educator, meaning that when I asked what we should eat with the sleek twin bottles of Palo Cortado and Manzanilla, I got an e-mail screed that took me three days to read through at leisure. And will have to go back to.

So here is what we had for New Year’s Eve:

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For the Manzanilla, Marcona almonds, spiralized vegetable bird’s nests, and marinated olives;

For the Palo Cortado, deviled eggs, mushrooms stuffed with herbed (out of my front yard) goat cheese laced with port, vermouth sec and garlic.

Everything else at random. The Brussels sprouts were best with the Palo Cortado. Yes, Brussels sprouts are edible.

We ate divinely and re-watched the hilarious and wonderful Man from U.N.C.L.E. remake and entered the New Year with, nearly, hope. Because I have had Post-Trump Stress Disorder for over a year and it has been hard to hope, this night’s experience was not small.

And not least, it convinces me that whatever anyone else says about the Internet for good or ill, the Web ranks as one of the Machineries of Joy so termed by Ray Bradbury in a short story published when I was ten; an invention of human cleverness that can connect the lonely, exalt the spirit, expand the human family and its reach into the cosmos.

I believe it is the golden Azahar’s birthday tomorrow, or where she is, today. I raise my glass. Full of Oloroso, which she taught me about last year.

Bis hundert zwanzig.

And because I can’t go for five minutes without thinking about opera, here’s Manzanilla in music:

 

 

 

 

Can We Talk About George?

In the fire-hose of stories about men (well, mostly men, there was Mariah Carey, who I gather is a popular singer) abusing their social and professional leverage to inflict themselves sexually on relatively underpowered members of the gender of their choice, the George Takei story seems to be provoking wind in the grass, and crickets.

It bothers me. The story, the denial, and the silence. Briefly, a model and actor named Scott Brunton suddenly went public with a story he claimed to have “been telling [privately] for years,” in which Takei secured his phone number during or shortly after a breakup Brunton was enduring, later invited him over for drinks, and then, while Brunton was in an intoxicated haze — seeming to suggest a Cosby-like drugging — committed what we shall call manual sexual interference. Brunton says he pulled himself together, resisted, objected, and left.

Takei’s response is right out of a familiar playbook. He is “shocked and bewildered,” he has “wracked his brains” trying to remember who Brunton is, and such conduct is “antithetical to his nature.”

I want to believe Takei, the creator of a beloved sci-fi character, snarky gay activist of a dozen PSAs, hero of the Resistance to Trump’s America. But I can’t wriggle away from the observation that he sounds like the Mayor of Casablanca here. Or like scads of men with moral, social and political leverage who have discounted accusations of sexual bad behavior.

Let me hasten to remark that the world is not black and white. In my teens, I was a little on the ruthless side. The Bard College Campus Christian (we only had one) could have lodged a complaint against me for sexual harassment. His evangelizing was obnoxious and his bony frame was toothsome, and he oozed dick-in-a-knot sexual thwartedness at every pore. But really, it would have been classier not to put the blocks on him after he said he wasn’t interested, even if he kept sending mixed messages. On the other hand, I was nineteen, and had imbibed the myth that all men really, really want to get laid, just as some men have apparently internalized the idea that all women really want it. I grew up.

Takei, at the age when this allegedly happened, was forty-two or -three. At that age I was going through a divorce, had had a lot of time to grow up, and would not have forced myself on a carrot.

So if the story is true in whole or substantive part, even if it was half a lifetime ago for Takei, and something he would never repeat — part of a past self, say — it is something that a man should own. Maybe it’s not true and Brunton is an opportunist or has been put up to it, but then, that’s what Roy Moore says about his accusers. Maybe I will be able to go on enjoying my fondness for the man who satirizes homophobes and inspired a terrific musical and fenced his way through the Desilu sound stages. But I don’t like the story so far. And no one is covering it past the moment it broke, not even to the extent of the apparently well loved Kevin Spacey’s misdeeds (seriously: contemporary pop culture has long gotten away from me; I know he was something in something). This should not be the case; we love it when a Christian tightass founders, but a hero of social justice? Sorry, all flesh is grass.

The comic Louis CK — another showbiz person I wouldn’t know if I sat on him — issued a mea culpa that resonated over Twitter and hence into my news feed, to the effect that yes, he’d been an asshole; yes, he realized now what damage he’d done; yes, he was going to retreat and reflect. I don’t know if that’s redemptive, but it at least amounts to owning your own shit. Again, I don’t know the facts of the Takei case, but I may be the only person to react (on his Twitter feed) by saying that an apology of this sort would be the best stance if there is any truth in what Brunton said.  It all seems to be either “we love you George” or “you are a lying POS.” Meanwhile, most media seem asleep.

We live in a moral jungle, in which people are told that their sexuality is wicked and damning — the more so if they are gay or otherwise nonconforming — while other forces demonstrate the wink, the snicker, the implication that everyone says one thing and does another. Shit like this is going to happen until we have a social order in which an enthusiastic Yes is okay, a definitive No is respected, and everyone has learned the responsibility for seeking and abiding by the distinction.

George, I want it not to be true. But if it is, fricking own it. No one gets knee jerk exoneration, not Roy Moore, not Donald Trump, not you.

 

Philosophers on Farting

I am a longtime fan of the Bookshelf Battler, whose blog originally featured head to head combat between geeky books for space on his bookshelf, hence the name. He has branched out into both fiction and philosophy, and the eleven-year-old boy in my soul is still braying with delight at this post that I just caught up with a few days ago. In these dark times, dear Goddess, we need all the erudite yet puerile humor we can get.

Bookshelf Battle

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Think before you stink.

Hey 3.5 readers.

I surveyed the following philosophers on the topic of farting.  Here is what they said:

Socrates – If you want to know whether or not you should fart, ask yourself if you should or should not fart.  The answer to this fart question dwells within you and by asking yourself about farts, you will draw out the answer about farts.

Plato – Before you are born, you get to chill out in Heaven, where there is a mold of everything in the world, including farts.  You forget about that mold after you are born, but the knowledge of that fart mold is still in you deep somewhere, so think real hard, and you will come up with the answer about farts.

Aristotle – The answer to a fart question isn’t with you but it does lie within the world somewhere.  Study farts and…

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Better Living Through Technology

My phones have been screwed for a week. I’m actually starting to enjoy it, even though it obliges me to conduct a daily work-around of checking the Verizon voicemail box to see if anyone’s called the landline. Some days no one leaves a message; most people want to text or e-mail, which I don’t mind. All my clients who might need to connect quickly have been advised. I hate the sound of that damn thing ringing, which it seems to do all day long. As a semi-blind lady I long ago adopted speaking Caller ID, so I don’t have to run over to the phone and squint at a teensy little screen that tells me I am being called by Organizing For America or someone’s campaign committee or the Fraternal Order Of Police, or any one of a hundred charities, causes and scams whose phone-bank representatives will, if I am so foolish as to pick up, address me by my first name with obnoxious familiarity and ask how I am today before trying to shake me down. Now I just get to hear a robot voice tell me these things.

Robot voices are big these days. In fact the only calls I have gotten in two days, on either cell or landline mailbox, are from the Verizon Robot Lady who advises me primly that “you recently called about trouble with your phone line. We believe the problem has been resolved. If your problem is resolved, press 1. If you are still encountering problems, press 2.” Then the mobile phone screen goes blank and I can’t get it back in time to press 2 and the robot lady hangs up on me and calls again later. I am mightily fed up with the sound of her voice and would like to sic Barney the Dinosaur on her, if I could find either one of them.

Every day or so someone tells me that they gave up their land line years ago and don’t miss it yada yada. I get the point, but this number is on business cards that have been floating around for years, and sometimes after a twenty-year gap people have found that card and remembered the great massages they got at Spa Lady back in the day and they call up. Plus, cell phones are no good for talking. My stepmother, Vacuums-With-Snakes, likes to call and chat every so often and I can guarantee you the call will drop twice before we are done because she only uses a cell.

When my dear friend Dorothy died — she had unexpectedly listed me as next of kin — I was left standing in my office with one client leaving and one arriving, waiting for a Fairfax County cop who had found the body in her condo to work his way out of a cellular dead spot so he could utter a complete sentence before being cut off.  That is crap. (I always thought that when people died and the police needed to notify you they actually sent an officer in person, but I guess this is better living through technology. At least they could use a real phone.)

Anyway the first time we could settle on a service call is Saturday, so I can count on a few more days of luscious silence around the house. The text message noise is a polite little triple plink, down a perfect fifth and back up. I can live with this.

Notes From My Absence

I really have to come back. I have not missed a workout, but since the US election I have been sleeping a lot and throwing up sort of regularly. Not a joke. Really throwing up.

Life goes on nonetheless.

Do Not Drop Shit On Yourself

This is really good advice for anyone. On Election Day, after voting

img_20161108_1039061, I looped around to the gym for a chest and back workout. Lately I have been hucking a pair of 45#s on my last set and for some reason, that day, the weights went down cattywumpus and the left hand dumbbell decided to teeter and crash onto my pinkie finger, the one where I always wear a ring, since like forever, long story, but the latest ones have been adjustable copper rings on account copper leaches into your system and supplements the enzyme that blocks Substance P, which is a pain neurotransmitter… oh well. Some pain got transmitted. The ring flattened into a narrow oblong,

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one end dug into my flesh, I managed to wrench it off, and double-timed up to the front desk to ask if there was an ice pack available.

Great kerfuffle ensued and one of those gizmoes was produced that, on sufficently vengeful smashing, turns into an icy gelpack which I wrapped around my pinkie while the gym manager worked his way down a form. “Were there any witnesses to the incident?” he read off the sheet. “Buggered if I know, I just dropped a weight on myself because I’m a klutz, I didn’t look around,” I said.

“Do you want an ambulance?” he asked gravely.

“The fuck?” I responded.

“I have to ask, it says here,” he explained.

We finished the form, and I went back and finished my sets.

That is sort of an omen for life going forward.

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For the curious, I worked every appointment I had booked, it actually doesn’t hurt, unless you squeeze it. Periosteal bruise is my best guess. The ring either saved me or savaged me.  I’m keeping it on my desk.

Tough Redheads

My passion for Star Trek led me to a CGI animated fan film whose hero is a badassed redhead prone to starting fights (with Klingons, even). I can relate. I am in a mood to start fights right now.

I Had A Birthday

I am now, by US law (for as long as it lasts) eligible to collect a pension should I choose. I am really kinda good for some years of pummeling butt, so I didn’t apply, but it is awesome to be recognized by people like Azahar,  who engineered the provision of a buttload of incredible sherry through the agency of the store that, funnily enough, in its earlier incarnation offered my first shit-job out of college forty years ago.

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We drank it with a birthday dinner that followed a late-afternoon screening of Dr Strange, hey, Benedict Cumberbatch stripped to the waist, what’s not to like? I think I am going to be hiding in a lot of fantasy universes for a while, such as…

Fantastic Beasts

I hate Thanksgiving, that American holiday sacred to gluttony and familial teeth-gritting, but the day following (having evaded gluttony and gritting) we did enjoy this.

You get adult (in the best sense) ideas, and a Polish Jew in 1920’s New York who can bake, and the Thunderbird. The one who belongs in the sacred lands of the First Nations. I wept.

I even refrained from starting a physical altercation with some yuppie twat who brought her toddler kid into the restaurant where we had settled on our pre-film dinner, fired up her FaceTime app and indulged in a loud kid-assisted conversation with some distant family cohort. Hello, asshole. The whole restaurant does not want to hear your Precious Sneauflake blatt or your relatives blather.
But, y’know. I could be watching the movie or I could be in the police station across the street, trying to think of magical ways to erase these philoprogenitive scumsuckers from time and history.

Hanging in for a future. Watch this space.