Friday, July 29, 2011

Home

This week is our anniversary. We've lived in Tucson for 5 years.

In that time we've learned to tolerate extremes in temperatures and political opinions.  We've tasted Sonoran Hot Dogs and tepary beans.  We've gone nearly 100 days without rain and we've been unable to leave our neighborhood because the access roads are flooded.  It snowed here that first February, while I was wearing shorts on Long Island.  It's certainly a place with pointy edges.

Hardly anything that grows anywhere else I've ever lived can grow here... unless one is willing to invest constant care and attention and irrigation.  I thought I might be that person, but after killing the magnolia tree within a week of bringing it home that first August, I changed my mind.  I was in floral lust and I needed those thick green leaves and that fabulous white flower and the scent.... oh, the scent.  But I forgot that this was not Marin or Chicago or New York and I didn't realize that here in Tucson it would need to be watered thoroughly two or three times a day. One windy, hot afternoon it reproached me with its death.

That was the last time I invested in a non-native plant.  The most successful newbies are the volunteers, those dropped from coyote fur or pooped by mourning doves or ground squirrels.  I'm experimenting with rooting plants in containers set into the raised vegetable bed, taking advantage of the irrigation system already in place, but thus far my efforts have been fruitless.

Yet I persevere.

I've been asked to write a piece on why I love our town, following up on the letter I wrote on January 17th and I'm having a hard time quantifying the wonderfulness that is Tucson. Today, for example, our lunch companions asked us to differentiate it from Scottsdale.... where should we begin?

We are sophisticated but not pretentious. We are fully capable of dressing to the nines but there's never any pressure. As long as the relevant body parts are covered, Tucson Casual is whatever works for you.

We have a world class university with a world class medical facility (and I'm the one to speak to that issue, thank you very much) and the local magazine is wondering if we'll be at the top of the Pac-12in football as well as basketball. It's true that our airport allows me to fly to no where I want to go, but that's a small price to pay for swimming in March. In my backyard. With no grass to mow.

How can I stand the high temperatures, you ask? Without humidity, there's breathable air and less perspiration. I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for it, but the practical implications are that, for 12 months of the year, I can open the door and be greeted by warm air. There's never that blast of frigid-icy-slicing-through-your-pores slice of the great outdoors that makes you wonder why you are living above the 35parallel.

"It feels like a small town," she said while paying for our lunches today. "Do people still recognize you?" he asked as we were leaving the restaurant. I turned to the waitress and asked her the question and her "Of course!" came with a giant smile and a loving nod of her head.

Are we sorry we moved here? Not at all. Bullets perforate me and Tucson heals me.

There's nothing more to be said.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

She Hates Her Chair

I'd spent one too many nights in the Emergency Room with her. This was the second time she'd gotten caught in the blankets and rolled off the couch. Enough. Finished. Comfort be damned (kinda sorta) - a change had to be made.

Brother and Niece, the Youngest and I took her to Lazy-Boy and bought the top of the line, fully automatic, helps you stand up, reclines nearly flat electric chair. It's blue, like her eyes. She thought it was fun..... in the store.

That was a month ago. Since then, I have written a variety of notes hoping to explain the UP/DOWN toggle switch on the chair's remote control. It's counter-intuitive.... or opposite.... or obvious..... but it's just not working for G'ma. It's not entirely her fault. See if you don't agree.

UP means the foot rest goes up and, when it is fully extended, the seat back reclines. DOWN raises the seat back, lowers the foot rest, and raises the seat-back-assembly to assist you as you stand up. If you concentrate on the action of the foot rest, it's all copacetic*.

However, should you want to stand up and consequently push UP (which, if you are G'ma, makes perfect sense) you will sink further back and your feet will rise to meet your nose or that's how it feels anyway and then you drop the control because you're really surprised and kind of scared and the damn thing falls over the edge of the chair and now what do you do?

This is an especially bad situation if the reason you wanted to stand up in the first place was to make your way to the bathroom.

The caregivers at her pod-castle have been mentioning that she hates her chair. They have tried, each in his or her own way, to instruct G'ma in the finer points of chair-usage. They have demonstrated it with her in the chair. They have demonstrated it while sitting in the chair themselves. It makes no difference. She will not learn it.

I get where she's coming from. Mrs. McGuirl taught adding and subtracting fractions on the 2 days I was absent from school for a Jewish holiday. I remember her telling me that it was my choice and I should live with the consequences. At 11, I knew that was wrong, I knew she had an obligation to me, I knew I wasn't going to tell anyone what she'd said (this was 1963, after all, and we respected our teachers, who knew all and were all powerful), I knew I was mad and I knew I wasn't going to listen to a thing she said for the rest of the year. And I didn't. And I still don't do fractions. It's just too hard.

So, I have some sympathy for my maternal unit, from whom I obviously inherited this ability to ignore important parts of life if figuring them out would be a chore. If there's a way to get around it, we'll find it. But neither one of us is willing to acknowledge that we would have to invest a little bit of effort in teaching ourselves a new trick. I tried to remember this as my fury mounted.

This was not an inexpensive purchase. She liked it in the store. She could use it in the store. She agreed that the couch was proving dangerous and that death by rolling off the sofa would be an embarrassing way to go. There was no question in our minds - the couch was out, the chair was in.

And she can't figure out how to use it.

She has, of course, compensated. She's moved her coffee table in front of the chair, and rests her tootsies on the lower or upper shelves depending on her mood. She rebuffs all efforts to remove the table and help her with the footrest- "Why bother? I'm so comfortable already."

I'm reluctant to ask the staff to escort her to her room after lunch and set her up in the recliner. Should she need to escape she might become trapped in a never ending series of ups and downs and lifts and that just wouldn't be fair.... though it might be funny to watch. Don't feel abashed if you are laughing right now; G'ma and I had a good long giggle over this scenario on Monday.

And that's when I realized that this was a problem of my own making. Safety is one of the issues I have reserved to myself when it comes to making decisions for my mother. She can choose her own outfits, select the spot on the wall for her granddaughter's graduation photo, pick our lunch destination or which tv program she wants to watch. But, in abdicating the responsibility for her well-being to me, she's also given up some of her rights..... like the right to total comfort.

Horrible Woman, I hear you screaming at me right now. She said she was comfortable; why couldn't you let well enough alone? The answer is simple - it wasn't well enough. She was in danger. And, just as I wouldn't let a child near a hot stove, I can't let my mother near a couch with a blanket.

It's a bizarre analogy, but it's a true one. Once again I am reminded of the fact that my mother is "reverse aging". The numbers are getting bigger, but her behavior is getting smaller. Her interests, her curiosity, her sphere of influence and interaction are ever more limited.  She used to go all day; now, like a pre-schooler, she needs her afternoon nap.  It's not a 20-minute-power-nap, either.  It's under the crewel-worked throw she made, with her glasses on the night stand and her head on the pillow.  It's deep, restorative sleep.

And now she's awake in the afternoon and she's upright.  When the lovely Russian activities therapist invites her to play cards there's no question that she's too comfortable to move.  That chair isn't an enticement; she's willing to join the party in the rec room.

She was the last person to leave.

Perhaps I ought to let go of the guilt and recognize that she is better off in the chair than on the couch.

I'll let you know how I do with that.  For now, I'm going to work on being comfortable with the fact that her safety is more important than her desires.

Sigh.
*****

*According to my professor in class today, "copacetic" was coined by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who would create his own words when the erudition of his fellow actors/dancers became overwhelming.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Random Thoughts

Big Cuter mentioned that he really liked these posts. After all these months of feeling guilty for foisting snippets upon you, my willing readers, my kid tells me that he thinks they are some of my best posts. Really. Is it because they are like spending an afternoon with me, my brain flitting from one subject to another, with my listeners barely able to keep up since I don't announce when I am changing paragraphs?

Apparently. I'm perfectly clear on where I am and where I am going and yet the men in my life often have issues when they try to keep up. Seret and The Bride and I once sent TBG into the bedroom with a headache.... we never finished a topic before moving on to the sidebar which was more fascinating at the time and yet we always knew what we were talking about even if he didn't.

They are just wired differently. That's all. No judgment implied.
*****
I'm wondering why the world hasn't exploded. Economic chaos is predicted and yet no one is worried. Why am I the only one who's stockpiling bottled water and canned goods and matches? I have my battery radios and my hand crank radios and my cars are never less than nearly full of gas.

When I told my kids that bad things would happen if they didn't act in a civilized fashion they knew that I meant it.
I believed Mr. Obama when he told me that my fan was about to be covered in excrement. Now, it seems that there might be some wiggle room and he wants me to complain to Congress. I want leadership and I'm watching political maneuvering.
*****
I'm in a bit of a pickle, because I have no representative in Congress at this moment (sigh) but it doesn't seem to matter. We're being held hostage by pipsqueaks, and the grown-ups are afraid to get involved.

Perhaps they ought to move to Tucson and see how it's done.
*****
I don't understand why no one is explaining in plain English the connection between the dysfunctional family approach to economic planning currently being practiced In Washington, the jittery financial markets and perception of the credit worthiness of the USofA... yes, someone should take those pieces and show those who think we shouldn't raise the debt ceiling just how quickly their variable rate mortgages and credit card interest rates and car loans and student loans start to cut deeper into their cash flow as credit becomes tighter.

It's all connected, people.
*****
The Norwegian shooter who solved his problems with weaponry instead with words killed to avoid the Muslim invasion of Europe. He's Norwegian born. He's every bit as blonde as you imagine him to be and no I won't be writing his name or showing his picture because he doesn't deserve any more notoriety. One thing he is not is Muslim.

These facts did not stop American news outlets from warning me that Islamic terrorists were on the rampage once again.

Or not.

You'd think that after 9/11 and 1/8/11 I'd have learned not to trust the first reports on any crisis. Speed will trump accuracy every day. But getting it this wrong must set some kind of record.
*****
I don't know how I manage to keep a smile on my face as I consider the sorry state of America today. Perhaps it has something to do with being here to see the sun rise.

I recommend that as an attitude if the situation gets you down.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Silliness

JannyLou called today. She told me that she was having fun for the first time since January. There was lightness in her voice and a joy behind the words that has been absent of late, given shootings and chemotherapy and such. But this morning she was filled with glee.

JenniJazz returned from Vegas to find good news on all the many medical fronts she and Mr. Jazz are facing. Her post about the adult playground and her ability to enjoy herself was inspiring and encouraging and real. She's been sharing her sad times, too, y'see. I tend to believe the happy as much as the blue. It seems only fair.

Diane Lane's Penny Chenery Tweedy has an epiphany while washing Secretariat it shows up at 2:15" into this video,which, if you don't want to invest 2 hours in the movie itself, shows all the highlights, including John Malkovich's plaid shorts at around 1:30".

 

She moves from chaos, worry, loss and confusion to perfect peace, with a smile on her face and confidence in her soul. She and Secretariat really do have a moment, a moment I'd snickered at in the theater. Last night, I found myself smiling. I found myself perfectly willing to believe the transformation. I wasn't bothered by the religious overtones. It didn't seem sappy or absurd or heavy handed. It felt right.

Who am I these days? Who's JannyLou or JenniJazz? Teparyis a survivor who walks with a cloud of angel dust surrounding her. The pleasure of her hug is falling into the warmest embrace imaginable. What is it that we are sharing, we women who are contemplating our mortality and smiling along the way?

Tepary calls herself an optimist and a worry-wort and I think the same applies to my girlfriends and me. We've lived long enough to have experienced our own full measure of disasters, and we're not going to let this recent incarnation of crap disease dysfunction it win. Whatever it takes to get us through - laughter, love, faith or giggling - we are alert to the opportunities.

Silliness is called for in the darkest moments, it seems. At least for us. At least right now. I'm making no pronouncements, not alerting the media, not exhorting you to tickle yourself. I'm merely reporting an observation which is true here, this summer, in the desert Southwest. We are all good people who've never done anything but help others, who love our families and our community and put our time and our efforts as well as our money where our mouths are...... and we encourage others to do the same. Yet here we are, dealing with the unthinkable, managing to get through the day without screaming (more often than not, anyway).

How? Because we are honestly peeved about the whole situation and we recognize that there is nothing we can do about it. Optimists and worry-worts, we gather facts and rely on our loved ones and we find the humor in the situation. Yes, JannyLou has a cap for every outfit and she's proud of it. Look at me galumphing across the floor, prancing and flinging my arms because it hurts to move any less broadly.

We are ridiculous. We are laughing. We are healing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Do I Miss the Sympathy?

Sometime in February, TBG surprised me by asking if I was prepared for the day when I was no longer the center of attention.

He didn't have evil intentions in asking it that way, though I can see how you could read it that way. He was merely speaking the truth. I was the center of attention whether I asked to be or not. I'd been shot and my friends and family needed to look at me and reassure themselves that I still existed in this world.

After that, there was a universal need to protect me. Some had an easier time than others in letting me fend for myself, but no one ever minded bringing me a snack or recharging my phone or handing me the flowery paper gift sack that held the stationary and pens.

It was nice for me to ask because people really wanted to help. When I didn't ask, they tried to find things to do on their own. Heidi reorganized my closet. The Ballerina and I got our nails done. Reggie walked up and down the aisles of Target. The list goes on and on. I was read to and fed and listened to with a look that told of intense concentration.

I'd come very close to not being there . We weren't missing any opportunities to share the love. We were very together, my SuziSitters and I.

I could retreat into the background as long as I didn't inhale too sharply or readjust my position or change the expression on my face. People were worried about me and their eyes were always on me and after a while it became commonplace when a pillow appeared behind my shifting back, or an eyebrow was raised in my direction as I took a deeper than usual breath.

I never felt smothered. I could always plead exhaustion and escape to my bed, pulling the softest blanket over my legs and leaving the real world behind. Oxycontin is wonderful for this. When the pain is severe, the medication goes right there and swallows it up. Totally and completely, the pain is replaced by a pleasant warmth and my mind no longer needed to concentrate on ignoring frightening sensations. I was at peace. I felt safe, because someone was always right there. No, it wasn't smothering, it was love.

If my spirits were low, I had only to wait til 4:30 in the afternoon. Dinner was delivered and there was small talk and a bit of the outside world came to visit. I worked on accepting help with grace, and I allowed myself to revel in the sympathy, the encouragement, the attention. As I was complimented, I stood up straighter and wobbled a little less. If a week had passed since my visitor had seen me, she invariably noticed my remarkable progress. It didn't matter that I noticed no changes. An outside observer had noticed them so they must be real.

So, Yes, I will miss the sympathy because it has helped me move forward but No I won't really at all because when it's gone I'll be closer to being me again. A little less snarky, a little more careful, but me all the same. I got here because of the sympathy, because of the love, because everyone was watching and I couldn't let them down. If I'm not limping, if I'm not grimacing, if I am carrying my own groceries in from the garage then I don't really need sympathy, do I?

In its absence I'll know that I am healed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Today I Took a Walk

I slept like a baby last night. No alarms were needed to wake me because my first appointment of the day wasn't until 9:45am. I like to be well rested before Marcus the Master Manipulator gets his hands on my psoas; it makes the pain more bearable somehow.

I am constantly reminded of the fact that rehab is hard. It is unlike my normal workouts. I usually push myself to the very edge and then I stop. PT involves finding that edge and breathing through it to the other side. The fact that crossing the boundary involves deep, piercing, sharp, oxygen stealing sensations seems to be of concern only to me, lying and moaning on the table. Marcus just keeps pulling or pushing or stretching or holding, a quirky little smile in the right corner of his mouth as he reminds me to breathe.

If I could reach him, I'd push him away. But my body is glued to the table, trying to relax as my psoas is massaged and pressed and prodded and released and then Marcus stands back, crosses his arms over his chest and says "Walk".

And I do.

I glide across the gym, no pain, no limp, no effort. Marcus is right when he says that the legs and the arms are merely incidental to walking. It's the spine, twisting and turning, using that psoas to propel your torso forward. I try not to spend too much time wondering if I'd be doing any better had I known all this back in February, when the drugs started to wear off and I pretended to do my exercises. There just didn't seem to be much purpose in them. If I'd only known.

I'd say "Next time" but.......

There was a depressing discussion of leg length (still shorter) and lift height (at a certain point they no longer fit inside the shoe) but the new me just felt the tug of sadness and moved on. Wherever the old, snarky me is lurking, I hope she stays there for a while longer. Before getting shot, this kind of thing would have started my juices flowing in an all too familiar, all too useless, all too angry outburst directed at whoever happened to be standing in front of me at the time. The doctor promised my husband that this wouldn't happen. A month ago you told me yourself that it was lengthening. Pilates only sees a small difference; why are you adding another pad to the lift?

Today, I sighed as I wondered why doctors have such difficulty telling hard truths to patients, and why orthopedic surgeons seem to be the most egregious offenders. And then I moved on. I really did. Being angry won't make my leg grow. Hating that this happened to me won't improve the quality of my day. I marveled at these platitudes as they floated through my brain; who am I these days?

I took that attitude off the table and around the gym and I left with one new exercise which I should have written down because I can't remember what it was right now but that's okay because I followed his second instruction to the letter. He said "Take a walk. Go for 20 minutes. Forget about swinging your arms. Just walk." And I did.

I drove home and kissed TBG's post-spin-class-exhausted-self and then I grabbed my cell phone and water bottle and headed out the door. There's almost .2 mile of flat pavement in front of my house. Go much further north and the road heads down hill precipitously. It was a hard ascent before I was injured; I wasn't pressing my luck this morning. They are rebuilding the main road at the south end of our little street; no way was I taking my damaged self over construction debris.

So, back and forth I went, chatting to Little Cuter as we discussed The Burrow and BlogHer '11 and the fact that I was walking never really came up in conversation. She went back to work and I kept on walking.... I am stopped, dead in my typing tracks, denizens, as I look at that last sentence. I kept on walking.... not just a few steps inside, or leaning on a grocery cart at WallyWorld, but really and truly walking, one foot in front of the other, arms hanging loosely at my sides, swinging freely as I walk.

I walk.

My film class next Wednesdayis focusing on dance in the movies. Thinking about Fred and Ginger, about Vera Ellen and Gene Kelly, about moving fluidly across the floor... all that made me a little sad this semester. But now, now that I've shown myself that I can, in fact, take a walk, well.... bring it on. Skinny white boys in hoodies can't stop me... and neither can self-propulsion.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Other People's Kids

Seems like this is my summer of other people's kids. I have all of the joy and none of the worry. I have all of the love and none of the angst. It's really kind of perfect.

Mr. 5 is now Mr. 6 and Mr. 7 is now Mr. 8... as they remind me with ever increasing ire as time passes and my brain refuses to make the change. They're not babies any more; they are school kids, with all the attitude that implies. When not enveloped in a video screen, their willingness to confide and share and tease includes me in their family circle. They may not be mine by blood, but their mother is my person here in Tucson and that must count for something. It certainly does as far as they are concerned.

They are no longer easily distracted with Leggos; me just searching the box for missing heads or weapons isn't enough any more. We play games with rules - Uno, Guess Who - and I am a full participant. It's more challenging than reading a magazine as I made a desultory effort to locate a tiny sword or a flag. It involves actually hanging out with them, being fully in the moment, being engaged. I'm no longer doing it to give their mom a break; I'm doing it because it is really really fun.

I'm watching them change before my very eyes. Mr. 6 is still a lady-killer and Mr. 8 is still precise, but the edges of their personalities are beginning to develop some interesting nooks and crannies. A bit of fiendishness is creeping into Mr. 6's loving heart. Mr. 8 is more willing to forgive and forget, more apt to let a slight gloss over his shoulders, more willing to compromise and apologize. They'll be in 2nd and 4th grades next month - definitely school kids.

I spent yesterday afternoon with one who has a while before that appellation will be appropriate. Not quite nine months old, this is the happiest baby I have ever seen. He's able to amuse himself; how rare is that? Gnawing and drooling and looking for the next adventure, he stood by himself for the first time right there in the back of his mom's Honda Odyssey in my driveway; how cool is that?

His plastic piano played the first 32 bars of 3 annoyingly familiar Mozart melodies which are now stuck in my head like gum to the bottom of a shoe but the new, less snarky me is able to make them become the background to a movie of his cheeks and his laugh and his insistence on mouthing the remote control. What is it with males and those devices? Obviously, it's hard wired. The kid has yet to experience his first autumn and he's already needing the thing to be under his direct control at all times.

Good parents leave nothing to chance, so naturally my charge came equipped with a not-so-very-portable play pen, a brightly colored plastic booster seat, a lunch box, a diaper bag, a car seat and a set of instructions. Perfect - I didn't have to think, I just obeyed the schedule. Nap time didn't really happen, and I didn't mind at all. He was too luscious to have out of my arms for more than a moment or two. We rolled around on Douglas and I tickled and he giggled and mom came to collect him all too soon.

He'll be back. I'm insisting on it.

Friday, 13 year old Elizabeth and I are spending the afternoon together. I'd originally thought about the Tucson Museum of Art, but I've had a change of heart. Her blogonym references Elizabeth Taylor, the screen's most voluptuous star when I was a lass. Alas, this Elizabeth had never heard of her. Not even in connection with Elton John and AIDS. Sigh.

That fact, coupled with my need to make clear the difference between voluptuous and fat,prompted me to check out Cat On A Hot Tin Roof from the library this afternoon. We're going to get comfortable on Douglas and watch Liz and Paul Newman and Burl Ives and James Farrentino holler and opine and impose and transform as we eat turkey sandwiches and drink soda out of the can, with a straw.

I'll ferry her to Jesse for a haircut and a repair of the help she received from Amster while they were on vacation. The woman's intentions were good.... the kid had a lot of hair..... nobody's mad at anyone and I can feel like a hero..... win win win.

I so love other people's children.



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tucson Bloggers' CPR Meet Up

Let me start by reminding you that the entire concept of social media is beyond me these days. I've never tweeted nor read a tweet and I only know about them because they make the news. Something I was doing was a good idea for a flash mob and that began to creep me out .... my behavior is mob-like? I'm not the mayor of any of my favorite haunts and I only joined Facebook so that I could see the pictures of the kids' vacations. The fact that I attended a Meet Up thrills me no end

Then, of course, there's Becca,

mother of 2, owner of a brand new fancy camera, and guiding light behind these Tucson events. The last one was painting Ben's Bells and I carried the glow with me for weeks. This one was another way to improve our community and ourselves and Amster and Elizabeth and a few other friends and I were in, $10 for the certification card included.

Our instructors were connected to Save a Life and they were perfect.
This retired fire fighter is showing us how to brace an infant and then use two fingers to gently move the lungs. They are so little, my mouth fit over the doll's mouth and nose at once.
If I were ever inclined to turn my back on a child near a pool, that thought is now banished from my mind.

 CPR has some fun parts.  First you give orders
which is right up my alley.
You send someone to call 911 and someone to find the AED.
Those boxes are on the walls of malls and museums and the instructions are written so that a 6 year old can follow them... and they have done so successfully.  Don't be afraid to help with one.

Next come the chest compressions.  Considering how I feel about skinny white boys in hoodies since January 8th, I'm fairly proud of myself for getting up close and personal to the training dummy.
It's 50 compressions in just the right place on the chest (you have to take the course... this post will not teach you!) with elbows locked out and a fast and steady rhythm.  Then you take a breath and begin again.  After 4 sets of compressing and breathing you've done about as much as you can do with the air that was in the body before the patient stopped inhaling. That's the goal of the Carver Method - to utilize the oxygen already present to maintain a healthy brain.  The compressions move the aerated blood through the body, simulating the beating of the heart.  It feels very cool.

At this point you put your ear to the patient's mouth and listen, hoping to hear him breathing on his own.
Despite what we wish for, that rarely happens.
So, you place the face mask
or pull up the patient's t-shirt and cover the mouth.
You don't do this to protect yourself from disease.
You do this so that if the patient vomits you don't inhale gunk.
(Sorry if you are eating breakfast right now.....)

And then you breathe - sending your life force into another person's lungs.  .
You exhale until his lungs expand and then you do it again and then you become his heart again as you start all over.

I didn't expect it to be a spiritual experience,
especially after I shook the baby and its head exploded
oh, please, don't ask......
but it was.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monsoon

We had rain. Lots and lots of rain. Marcus saw a rainbow but no lightning and his parched ground has not received a drop of water all month. This is what it is like to live in Tucson in the summer.

You don't call Tucson your year-round home if you hate the heat.

Upon typing that, I thought of the one exception I know - my manicurist, who loves her husband who lives here with his extended family, but that's as far as she'll go. Along with the heat, she's not that crazy about his family, either. For some reason, she prefers the humidity and marginally lower temperatures of her native Viet Nam. Her OB gave her pills because she's not drinking enough water to keep her and her fetus well hydrated. I brought her a Camelback. Along with our purple Christina-Taylor bracelets and our turquoise Gabby bracelets Tucsonans sport another accessory - bottled water.

It's a different kind of dryness when the temperatures are well into the triple digits and the nearest body of water is at least a state away. You don't perspire, let alone sweat. You become one with the air as you feel your flesh begin to sizzle. Just a little. Unless you are G'ma, whose 88 years on this planet have depleted her body's supply of collagen and left her with the thinnest skin either she or I have ever seen. It's soft and transparent. We keep her out of the direct sun as much as possible. No one wants to watch her spontaneously combust.

There's absolutely no walking barefoot outside. Beyond the usual desert detritus of cactus spines and sharp stones, the ground itself, be it pavement or dirt, is hot. Egg frying hot. Make you dance on your tip-toes hot. Hot enough that a person with a gimpy leg does a very funny dance as she makes her way back from the mailbox. It's hard to skip when your psoas is stuck and your acetabula (the socket where the hip and the leg bone connect which lives beneath that psoas) is in no mood to cooperate, either.

It would have been funny if it hadn't hurt so much.

Strange things happen if you are foolish enough to venture outside for any length of time at all. I was ennervated after retrieving the newspaper this morning. Watering my pots must wait until the sun is out of the frame. I know they'll be happier if I douse them in the morning, but the thought of lugging the hose from the bib to the flowers is just overwhelming. I have the physical strength by now; it's the emotional piece that sends me scurrying to the air conditioned splendor beyond my front door. Sorry, vinca. Your time will come when the sun goes behind the house.

The Schnozz told me that it was 1010 outside his frame - and this was in the garage at 9am. The drive to physical therapy wasn't long enough to cool the interior; by the time I returned after my appointment the air was un-breathe-able..... I was just gasping as I typed it and remembered.

thanks for the image to cafepress.com
The ubiquitous cartoon is right - it is a dry heat and it sucks the flesh right off you.

A friend once wrote that she could feel the moisture being sucked right through her pores as she walked between classes at the UofA here in downtown Tucson. Dessicating was the word she used, and doesn't that even sound like the right word?

We slather on sunscreen, and no one complains, not even the kids. We become cranky when there are clouds in the sky, on those 10 or 15 days a year when the weather is not perfectly clear. We wonder when the monsoon will begin.*

It may not be perfect, but it's home.

*****
*Here's my original rant on NWS and the monsoon:

The National Weather Service has decided to take charge of our monsoon season.  Up until 2008, the monsoon season began after 3 consecutive days with the dew point over 54.  In 2008, the National Weather Service decided that that was too much to deal with, and they set June 15th as the official start date.  Too bad that it's still dry as a bone.  Too bad that their own data shows that the average time for the start of the monsoon by the old standard, the one based on actual facts and science instead of bureaucratic comfort, was sometime in July.

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/twc/monsoon/dewpoint_tracker.php
It's just another example of our government at work.  The world is going to hell in a handbasket, and they are trying to control the weather.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Aiming is Crucial


It was 0-0 at the half. By our count, the US had taken at least 12 shots on goal, a dozen or more opportunities to score over the shorter Japanese team.  Yet the score was 0-0.

There were set pieces unconverted and headers hitting the poles.  I hear Little Cuter's Hungarian coach shouting banana as he cued them to line up in front of the corner kicks, just as the US team was doing on the small screen before me. She shoots, they move, and the score is still 0-0.

This just should not be. Scoring opportunities are rare in soccer; to have had so many and completed so few boggles the minds of spectators and commentators alike.

Perhaps it was due to the ice on Lauren Cheney's ankle as she hobbled out for the start of the second half. When one of your strikers is playing on a bum wheel you might be less likely to score. Perhaps there's no need to worry. Alex Morgan ran onto the field with her fresh young legs beneath her but even then the ball refused to go into the net.

Soccer is a physical game as Little Cuter used to tell her opponents as she ran, sharp elbows akimbo, dribbling the ball down the field. The US is not shy about fighting for every ball, and we were watching a fair amount of pushing and shoving when we began sitting closer and yelling louder as the US took another shot .... and missed.

That's one of the fun things about soccer. Your mind can wander as you watch the players fly over the field and then all of a sudden you are riveted to the screen. It's a beautiful game. The ball is big enough to see - unlike golf - while it's in play. The announcers add to the fun, "wondering what is afoot here" as the balls react like wood to flubber, recoiling from the goal without the help of a keeper.

Following a series of corner kicks from both sides, all of which went astray, the obdurate Japanese defense (I do love the announcer) was weakened when their coach replaced two of them with the team's top strikers. The US raced down the field with a big kick which was picked up by 22 year old Alex Morgan and G-O-A-L !!.

Unfortunately for the US, there was still time to play in the game. Playing keep-away in front of our own goal proved to be a less than stellar strategy as Japan put one past Hope Solo and tied the score with 11 or so minutes to go. Corner kicks were denied, the Japanese increased their shots on goal and it was a good thing that they couldn't aim any better than could the US. Both teams made runs at the goal and each time the ball ignored the net.

President Obama and his girls sent the team a real-time picture of them watching the game. It's funny that I don't miss Little Cuter more right now, but maybe that's because we have no history of watching televised soccer together. She was always on the field; I watched her. Seeing Abby Wambach head an assist into the goal took me right back to the McKegney Green, looking at the mother of the girl who'd just scored off a similar header for our traveling team, both of us shaking our head and ruefully smiling as we agreed that there go some more brain cells. Those balls are hard.

Unable to hold on to their lead in the OT, the US gave up the tying goal and the match went into the Penalty Kick phase. This name has disturbed me since I first encountered it. It has nothing to do with penalties. It describes a location rather than an event - the shots on goal are fired from the PK lines. It needs new nomenclature. It also needed a better performance by the US women, because they were outscored and out blocked and the Japanese went on to become the world champions after 3 Americans missed their penalty kicks.

Was this match uncharacteristic as the announcer had it? Or was the outcome in the hands of the gods? I'm going for the latter explanation. I'm seeing Hera and Zeus and Apollo and Aphrodite playing with the outcomes of those balls which should have gone in but didn't. The US was Hope-less (blame TBG for that one, please) and the Japanese were ecstatic and though I felt sorry for the American players, I really wasn't all that upset.

The Japanese were rubbing faces and hugging shoulders and laughing and grinning and I was glad for them and for their country. I know all too well how much something like this helps. I know how the big gestures and the unexpected happiness can turn an awful day of dealing with tragedy into a time where the bad stuff just doesn't seem so awful. After the tsunami and the nuclear disaster, after such loss and such trauma, it seems like the gods grew tired of testing Japan and sent some joy their way.

That's got to be a good thing, and I'm happy.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Random Thoughts

Baseball is a sport which should be played outside.  Watching the All Star Game (or The ASG as the cognoscenti would have it) at Chase Field was cool and comfortable and weird.  There was a small city under that roof, with chairs for everyone who lived in my hometown.  There was grass and there was dirt and there were birds and we were inside and comfortable and it felt very strange.

Of course, I'm not sure that we'd have been at the game at all had it been outside; the temperature hit triple digits when we entered and was not much cooler when we left
*****
I haven't seen G'ma in a while; I forgot that she was my destination yesterday afternoon and ended up at the grocery store instead.  


I think I'm avoiding dealing with her electric chair.  The caregivers are amused by the fact that she forgets about the footrest and the reclining back.  They find her sitting upright with her feet propped on her walker.  She says she's comfortable.  She doesn't want to disturb herself and practice with the controller.  They are at a loss.  I now have something new over which to obsess: I gave away my mother's couch and now she's even more confused than before.  

Sigh.
*****
I'm wondering when the Democrats will stop eating their young.  President Obama has had 2 years to clean up a mess which took 8 years to build (okay.... 16 if you want to blame Bill Clinton for thinking that everybody should own a home).  Sure it's a jobless recovery.  Sure people are out of work; I am related to many of them.  But think about the alternative:



Not only does she think that the Founding Fathers abhorred slavery, she demonstrates an epic fail here in her attempt to tell Fox News that President Obama is audacious.  Of course, any New Yorker - Jewish or not - could pronounce chutzpah with the appropriate throat gargle, but listening to Michele Bachmann choo choo choo her way through it shows that she certainly can't.  
*****
Betty Ford was laid to rest in the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

I do not want to spend eternity in a museum, and I am surprised that my favorite-until-I-met-Michelle Obama-first-lady-of-all-time thought she'd be comfortable there.  Perhaps she liked the  idea of being around people on a regular basis.  I always imagined that she'd be a great girlfriend. I know that besides demystifying addictions and breast cancer and being comfortable with the fact that her kids smoked weed, she gave the best marital advice I've ever heard:
Give 70%.  Expect 30%.  
*****

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Won't Go There

I could write about crying on television.... once again.... with feeling... or about the loss of Christina and the strength of her family.  I could write about ripping band aids off slowly healing emotional wounds.  I could.


But I'm refusing to walk down that path today.  The sun is out, the road construction crews are still letting us leave the neighborhood, my Art History and The Cinema class was outstanding and the USA has advanced to the final round of the Women's World Cup.


Life is good.


I walked all around Chase Field yesterday, from the player's parking lot through the rotunda and down to our seats and then back up for snacks, and that was after Imelda gave us the grand tour of her work place, and I showed nary a limp at all.  My hip was an after-thought, not the center of attention.  That's something new since the 8th of January.


I don't need my left leg to lift my right leg onto the bed anymore.  I can do squats and I can balance on one leg and Kyria says I can join a group pilates class in the Fall because I am recovering more rapidly than she had imagined I would.  Marcus the Master Manipulator is still convinced that he can lengthen my leg, and I'm putting that thought on the happy side of the ledger, too.


Little Cuter and SIR ironed their CTG memorial patches onto their softball team jerseys and then went on to win for the first time this season.  Big Cuter is in the middle of reading A Dance with Dragons, the latest of a series and for which he has been waiting 6 years.  I have a shelf full of novels of my own choosing, having finished all the paid reviews in my queue.  


With all this good stuff going on, I have to wonder why I was appalled by the classmate who asked me how I was doing, emotionally, with all this stuff, today.  What was her problem?  Was the fact that I wasn't lurching or carrying an assistive device indicative of inner joy?  I had just met her; did that give her permission to inquire about my mental health?  Luckily, the elevator arrived and whisked her up to her car.  I didn't have a chance to respond.


But "Rotten" was my reply to the closing door.  "Absolutely rotten."  I can't get over the loss of my little friend.  I won't get over it.  I don't want to get over it.  I do want to find a place to store it with fewer jagged edges than its current resting space.  I'm still conflicted about avoiding the anniversary celebrations last week.  The shoulds are hard to ignore.


And then I remember the words which accompanied a big hug last night at the All Star Game.  One of the heroes of January 8th was seated behind us.  As always when we meet, she enveloped me in her arms and held me and we sniffled a bit and then I began apologizing for not attending the events and she interrupted me, looked around to be sure we were not overheard, and then told me that she was glad I had not gone.


She said that the yellow caution tape the promoters had used reminded them of the crime scene tape of that Saturday morning.  She said the bagpipes and the memories were more than she could bear.  She was delighted that I had protected myself and stayed away.


And that's when I knew that this funk will not last forever.  My instincts are leading me down the right path.... if I can remember to follow them and to forgive myself for not being everything to everybody.  I cannot stay stuck here because the people who love me will not allow it.  They will gently turn me toward the sunshine, holding my heart in their hands until I can move away from the gloom.


I could write about the sad.  Today, I am choosing not to do so.


It's a step.  A small step, but a step nonetheless.  One foot in front of the other..... I'll get there .... eventually..... with time.


Sigh.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The American Spirit

(Written Tuesday morning, on the way to the All Star Game.)


The last time I felt this down, this overwhelmed, this burdened by events, the President hugged me and urged me to look for our better angels.  When I cried that I couldn't imagine how anyone could be so angry, could perpetrate such a horror, Mr. Obama encouraged me to turn my back on that fury and rage and hate and to look for the America which Christina saw.  

Then he went to McKale Center and said the same thing to the rest of the world.

I began to realize that I was at the center of something really big.  The American spirit was center stage.  Who we are, how we cope, what our actions say about us ... the events of January 8th brought all of that into focus.  

I don't have a need to consider the shooter.  He is who he is and what will be will be.  Vengeance gets me no place, that I know.  It can't be pleasant to be him right now.  I don't wish anyone ill, even he who should be slapped.  I just want to be kept safe from further harm, and that seems to be happening.  There must be punishment and restitution and judgment will be passed, but none of that will help me to recover.  None of that will bring CT back to join her parents at the All Star Game tonight.  All of that is necessary but irrelevant.  My life goes on, regardless.

But my life goes on in a truncated fashion.  I can't really trim the lantana which is overgrowing the pool patio; bending hurts and I'm making mistakes.  My neighbors are walking the subdivision with their dog and, though I am invited, I can't join them; I don't think I have the endurance.  I'd like to be in Ithaca today, learning about Zionism and sleeping in the dorms for a week while I attend Cornell Adult University, but, once again, the need to cover long distances on foot precluded my attendance.  Yet all these things exist in my world - the flowers and the friends and the learning - and, though I might not be able to enjoy them the way I'd like to right now, they are there, waiting for me when I am ready.

But sometimes it's hard to stay happy.  Sometimes an anniversary will spark an internal discussion and the world begins to look dark and gloomy.  Sometimes I feel like bad things happen all the time and no one seems to care.  

And then I get a great email from Bud Selig and Major League Baseball and I feel good about America all over again.  Look forward, celebrate your strength and resilience - these are American qualities which stand me in good stead as I move along.  

I had that all in mind on Sunday morning as TBG and I plopped down on Douglas and watched the Women's World Cup match.... another boost for the American spirit.

As the male talking heads on the sports channels agreed, it was a game worth watching.  Period. Paragraph.  It didn't matter that the players were female or that the game was soccer.  It was great sports.  Team USA never gave up.  No matter how much the referees screwed them, no matter how far down nor how late in the game, they never lost their cool  Ever.  They tied the score in the 122nd minute of a 124 minute game.  That is playing til the final whistle blows.  

To me, it was the American spirit writ large. Big Cuter may call it jingoistic nationalism as he writes USA USA USA on his Facebook page, but I prefer Pia Sundhage's take on it.  She is the Swedish born coach of the US team.  Interviewed after her team won the game, she called her players' performance the best of what it means to be an American.

As we draw down our troops abroad, as our embassies are attacked and our government inches closer and closer to default, it's nice to have something to admire.  Sure, there will be pitching and certainly there was passing but in amongst the outstanding athleticism and the patriotic whooping and hollering on these very big stages, there is a larger lesson, I think.

Perhaps we should all find our gloves and our bats and our balls.  Perhaps we should all head out to the playground or the ball field or the backyard or the quiet summer street.  Perhaps, in playing America's pasttime we can rediscover the fact that we are all in this together.  Perhaps we can heal ourselves and one another by looking to that which we share instead of focusing on that which divides us.

All I know is that I am loving the band aid that MLB put on my aching heart.  It's going to be great to be a part of the All-Star Game tonight.... even if all I do is wave.  I will be waving to all of you, to Christina-Taylor and Gabe and Dory and Judge Roll and Gabby, and to everyone who has sent me a prayer or a wish for recovery.  This is who we are.  This is what we do.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MLB - Almost a Wedding Planner

We had a fine morning, Little Cuter and I, laughing and planning for her wedding.


How odd it is to type that sentence.  The big event has been a headache as venues and expenses and dresses and menus are considered and rejected and fretted over and wondered about.   She's not looking to be the center of attention.... which is a problem when you are the bride.... and he wants everyone they love to be there and celebrate with them.... and everything costs more money than is reasonable to spend for one evening's entertainment when there's a house to be purchased and a life to be planned.  


But this morning was different.  This morning was fun.  Thanks to Major League Baseball the subject was exciting and giggle-filled and, for a moment, until it wasn't, it was solving a problem in a way that would put a smile on everyone's face.


I'm getting ahead of myself, though.  I haven't told you how MLB became involved in party planning.  


My inbox is filled with emails from the Department of Justice and the Pima County Attorney's Office.  Usually they are telling me of a rescheduled hearing, or reminding me where to send my uncovered bills for payment.  The events to which I am invited are usually memorials or ceremonies or medal bestowings.  They honor the worthy souls who did good deeds.  They make me sad.


But Friday's inbox had a different kind of message.  Forwarded from The Office of The Commissioner, TBG and I received an invitation to MLB's All-Star Game.   For me, it was a perfectly worded note:
Like all Americans, I have been touched by the manner in which you have valiantly responded to the tragedy in Tucson last January.  You have embodied the American spirit with courage and dignity in the face of such trying hardships, and you have my utmost admiration.
Well, now.... Bud Selig thinks I am special.  I've never been admired by a Commissioner before.  I'm thrilled that he thinks that I have been valiant and courageous and dignified, because those are the things that I've wanted to be.  I've wanted to avoid self-pity and ungainly falls and to show strength and determination and I guess if a total stranger can see it I must be demonstrating it somehow.  Still, it's nice - very very nice - to see it in print.  


Mr. Selig goes on to talk about the spirit of America, and his
great hope that the American way will echo at Chase Field in Phoenix on July 12th...
when TBG and I will be sitting in the seats next to the National League dugout.


And this is where my notoriety and wedding planning and MLB collide.  Little Cuter and SIR are die-hard Cubs fans.  They are the only couple on Facebook whose mothers both displayed profile picture of themselves clad in Cubbie's gear, I am sure.  They each brought a life-time's obsession with the team to their relationship, and the confluence of these two streams of familial loyalty and a lover to share in it have only fueled their passion.


My brain went into overdrive - could she kidnap him and marry him in public?  Was I overstepping my good-mother-in-law-ness boundaries by suggesting this as an option?  Would it seem heavy handed?  Would they be thrilled?  I brought up the subject of our invitation in my first email of the day and within 3 seconds the phone rang.  


"Jealous!!!" was her only comment and then we three shook our heads once again at the amazing consequences of my getting shot.  The President and First Lady are still at the top of our list, but being introduced at the All Star Game is pretty impressive, too.  Rocking out with musicians from my past impressed me more than it did her, apparently.  The fact of this game and our proximity to the NL dugout and potential autographs and being up-close and personal to the field, sitting on the first base line, well, it was just more than her heart could contain.


Given her receptive mood, I seized the moment and wondered aloud if she thought SIR would enjoy having his ceremony on the roof of that dugout.  After reiterating the fact that starting her marriage with a ruse might not be the way to insure future bliss, she got into the swing of things as we imagined and planned and TBG rolled his eyes.  


The National League dugout - where the Cubbies' players chosen for the team will be resting between at bats and fielding.  How perfect would that be?  And, we would be rid of all the planning and worrying and searching and agreeing that would be needed if the wedding were anything more normal than this.  


We weren't being serious as we discussed outfits and the obtaining of rings and whether they would be back at work on Wednesday morning and then suddenly we were quite serious and I was deputized to contact MLB and see what might be done.


TBG thought we were nuts, but she and I knew we'd kick ourselves forever if the question were not asked.  So, I left a  much-too-long message on the answering machine of MLB's Senior VP for Special Events (no regular ordinary VP for me, it seems!) and followed up with an email asking if the kids could fly down and tie the knot in front of the zillions of baseball fans who've tuned in to see their favorite players vie for home field advantage at the World Series.  


No pressure.  I knew it was last minute.  Eloping to the All Star Game appeals to the groom and the bride will, as I said, do just about anything to avoid being the center of attention just for being pretty in white. She would 
allow a worldwide audience to demonstrate its solidarity and support,
as Commissioner Selig promises, and I can't think of a better way to start off a marriage than with an international audience wishing you well.  After all, the engagement was announced on national television (fast forward to minute 4:06); why shouldn't the wedding be an even bigger event?


TBG went off to the gym and I was alone when, 20 minutes after I'd hit Send, my Senior VP was back in my inbox, apologizing for the fact that we couldn't use their venue to hold our event but that the kids were welcome to come to the game.  "Just let me know" she said, and I felt that familiar rush of warmth enveloping my heart as I felt the love.  


She didn't know me until yesterday.  She offered me a gift and I responded by trying to grab for more.  I was outrageous and presumptuous and a mother in love with her daughter and my Senior VP knew it and understood it and let me down gently.  Yes, she was demonstrating (her) solidarity and support, even if she couldn't let the kids walk down the aisle... okay, jump up on the dugout..... and get hitched.


Commissioner Selig wrote that
the All-Star game is a celebration not only of our national pasttime, but - far more importantly - of the American spirit, which has risen up in the wake of this tragedy
and  I couldn't agree with him more.  There's a generosity in the American psyche that seems to need to do good, to share the things we have with those who might enjoy them, to celebrate resilience and love and civic engagement.  


It's nice to have MLB in my corner, too.






Monday, July 11, 2011

Anniversaries

Anniversaries are strange things. Sometimes I wish I didn't notice them, but then I realize that fence posts give us boundaries in this fertile life field that we can safely stay within, or vault with gleeful defiance.
Thank you, Nerthus, for that epigram.  It's exactly where I am right now.


I could not go.  I just couldn't make myself get in the car and drive there.  


Others were there; I saw them on tv.  I love them and I know they would have hugged me and comforted me and made me feel strong and powerful and happy to be alive.  But I could not go.


The 9/11 flag is in Tucson as I sit here at my desk.  I could have been in the Safeway parking lot at 6:30 this morning to watch it fly from a hook-and-ladder.  Pat and Colonel Bill and Faith and Roger were caught by the cameras and the reporter mentioned that Pam was in the crowd but I couldn't do it. I couldn't get in the car.  


There was a private, no media invited, flag folding ceremony near Christina-Taylor's statue up in Oro Valley after the fire truck was finished with the fabric.  It was designed to honor the first responders.  I really should have been there but I couldn't make myself go.  It was my plan to attend.  I'd told my personal heroes that I'd be there. I was dressing and preparing and I stopped.  I couldn't do it.


Right now, at this very moment, heroes are stitching the proper fabric onto the remnants of Old Glory.  I ought to be here, smiling at the woman who staunched my bleeding and called my husband and kept me calm and smiling and alive..... alive....


(Pause.... I'm too teary to type right now.)


.... but I can't make myself drive down to the University and meet her.


"Your job is to heal."  That was the advice from the social worker at UMC.  Nothing else was to rise to that level of priority, he instructed me.  "You have one job and one job only"  he said, and that's been the backbone of my recovery over these last 6 months.  I give myself permission to leave early from parties and dinners to protect my aching hip.  I sit when others are standing.  I have scaled back my expectations as I wait for my body to catch up with my mind.  And today, I allowed myself to say "No."


I have never had the big cry, though I have certainly had my teary moments.  I've never held my head in my hands and wept for C-T, my favorite 9 year old.  I've not wailed and ranted and screeched at the heavens for the tragedy that fell on my short-but-sturdy shoulders.  I've not allowed the slightest crack in the wall I've constructed around the sorrow that I know is lurking inside.  I don't know why, but I haven't.  I'm safely within Nerthus's boundaries, I guess.


I don't want to go back to the scene of the crime.  I won't learn from it.  It won't teach me anything.  It will not enhance my healing.


I don't want to go backwards.  The legal wranglings over medications and prison policies will go on and on and on.  Reporters will call and ask questions and want me to turn my thoughts back to January.


I just don't want to do that any more.  I want to let the tears flow and then I want to move on.  My yogi was quite stern with me this morning,  exhorting me to move forward and don't do it if I don't want to.  My classmates were hugging me and giving me permission and my guilt was overwhelming but I listened and I learned and I relaxed into the healing.


I'm going to stop typing now and find a comfy chair and feel sorry.... for Christina-Taylor and Gabe and Gabby and Dory and for me.  I am going to wallow and let a therapist hold my hand.  And then I am going to follow all those fingers pointing forward and I am going to walk.... not lumber or limp ... I am going to walk, one foot in front of another.....into the future.... without CTG or an unperforated body or a sitting Congresswoman.... but with grand expectations and an open heart.  


That is, after I go through a box or two of tissues.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What I Know... 6 Months Later


I know that the sun comes up each and every day. It pays no attention to how I feel. It's there, daring me to do something other than participate in the world around me.

I know that progress is never as fast as I want it to be. Worse, over time it is measured in smaller and smaller increments.

I know that other people are much more impressed with my abilities than I am. It's fortunate that three of them are as invested in my recovery as I am : Marcus the Master Manipulator and world's best physical therapist; Kirya Sabin, who learned from the master who learned from Joseph Pilates himself; and TBG, husband extraordinaire. Not one of them is inclined toward false compliments. 

I know that I wish it were easier to believe them

I know that the people who told me that “in 6 months you'll be fine” were right.... as far as they went. I am not great, but I am fine. I can do anything I want to do, albeit slowly and cautiously. 

Of course, I also know that my wants have adjusted to my capabilities.

I know that over the course of 6 months the sun continues to move in a northerly direction, hitting the pillars outside in a gradually turning arc that makes you notice the world on its axis. I have a special relationship with the late afternoon and this living room and Douglas and Nellie the Netbook and you who are reading these words right now.

I know that you've helped me heal by letting me vent and sending your love and your strength when I needed it along the way.

I know that TBG is right when he says that writing organizes my thoughts in a way that talking to me does not approximate. I'd take him at his word, denizens; he's been listening to me for 41 years. 

I know that publicly sharing my words has been cathartic in a way that having others write or speak about me has not been. Not at all. Sometimes the media is accurate, sometimes it captures the moment, but all too often it's a little bit off. Not that anyone would notice, but I do. It's about me after all.

I know that while it's fun to notice Mike Taibbi on NBC's Nightly News and think about the fact that he's been in my living room, it's weird to have another station's anchor refer to me as someone close to Congressman Giffords. Unless he was speaking literally – I was 10' away from her when the shooting began – it's just not true. I'm still waiting to shake her hand for the first time. But it's out there, forever and ever, uncorrectable and false. It's a good thing that

I know
  • not to sweat the small stuff anymore.
  • that I will heal
  • that the justice system cannot give me what I have lost
  • that crime does not pay and vengeance serves no earthly purpose
And I know that I'm glad to be here to enjoy the sunrise..... each and every day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Being Needed

"I need you to come over right now," she said and I turned off the flame under the pot on the cooktop, said goodbye to TBG and The Schnozz and I were on our way.

I did what needed to be done and stayed as long as I necessary and I reassured and comforted and then I came home to Douglas and a turkey sandwich and a warm feeling in my heart.  It's nice to be needed.

I've spent the last 6 months being tended.  I've been fed and driven and hugged and sheltered and cosseted and today I was able to do the same for a friend.  It's nice to be on the other side of the equation.

It wasn't particularly convenient for me to leave when she called.  I was in the middle of cooking dinner and I hadn't written this post and Big Cuter was going to call and none of it mattered because she needed me and I was able to respond.  Had this happened two months ago I'd have been useless.  I'd have listened and offered advice and a shoulder to sob on but getting up and actually helping would have been out of the question.

Tonight my body didn't get in the way of my desire.  I was able to do what needed to be done.  I could help a friend.

I'm well on my way to being fine.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You'll Be Fine

Fine.  It's an interesting concept, the notion of fine.  I am fine right now, ensconced on the bed with comfy pillows supporting me and the fan stirring the over-heated air above me.  I don't hurt too much and I have a post all ready to write for you and the dinner ingredients are in the 'fridge and I feel fine.

Of course, I didn't go to Pilates Mat class today because I can't get down on the ground without grunting.  I didn't take the shovel and scratch out the beginnings of an irrigation trench outside the pony wall early this morning because digging is still beyond my abilities.  I didn't run in to see how G'ma is doing with her new electric chair because getting into and out of the car was more than I was interested in doing after running an errand or two.  None of that is fine.


I'm not invited on hiking trips I couldn't manage anyway - I suppose it's fine that I wasn't asked along, I suppose they were trying to spare my feelings by not tantalizing me with something just out of reach, but it's not fine to feel excluded.  I walk past my hiking poles as I enter the garage and I sigh.  I'm fine if it means going to the grocery store; anything more strenuous is a mental struggle.  My definition of fine includes more than errands.  The fact that I am upright at all is wonderful, but it's not fine.

Just being alive isn't enough any more.  I am still grateful, thankful, surprised and amazed that I am here to see the sunrise - no way that feeling is ever going to dissipate.  But I am not obsessed with the fact of my survival anymore.  In that sense, then, I am certainly fine.  But accepting that I am alive seems to have given me permission to consider the quality of the body I am bringing back to this life and for some reason I want it to be perfect. Just the way I remember it was before I became perforated.

Was it really perfect before January 8th? Hardly.  But both my legs were the same length.  I could clamber up and down and over and through just about anything.  I was always ready to go another mile, to lift another set, to keep going.  I was fine.

I know that I'm on my way back there. I am more motivated to try harder as my pain lessens and my progress becomes more obvious. I can do a small squat standing on my damaged leg - a very small squat and only one of them at that but a squat nonetheless.  I can turn around while cooking dinner and open the oven door without thinking about the body mechanics and whether I am up to it.  I'm fine in the kitchen these days.

But the pantry is still suffering from the effects of 10 different women putting things away while they were Suzi-Sitting.  My desk top is messier than ever and my closet has three baskets of items which need to be carried elsewhere and dealt with appropriately. I have neither the energy nor the stamina nor the tolerance for the pain I'll feel when I tackle that project, or the desk, or the pantry.  Fine?  Sure.  Back to normal?  Not hardly.

But one day last week I realized that I was gliding across the living room, pain-free and shoulders perfectly parallel to the floor.  I'd gotten up from the couch and maneuvered around the coffee table and there I was, walking like a regular person, in my own house, not even 6 months after being shot... 3 times... and then, right then and there, I did feel fine.  Very fine, indeed.

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