Thursday, November 29, 2007

About feet again

Remember this, "Induction ceremony"?

I was just told I had huge feet. I am still reticent to admit that my feet have spread and grown a little since my lithe sixteen-year-old 7 narrow days, but I'm still only a 7 1/2.

Peculiar woman: "Christine, you look like you have small feet. What size shoe do you wear?"

Me: "7 1/2."

Peculiar woman, laughing hilariously while slapping knee: "That's HUGE! Oh my god you have such big feet!"

Me: "No, I don't."

Peculiar woman: "Yes you do!" still laughing.

Me: "I believe 7 is average."

Peculiar woman: "I wear a 4 1/2," she said with pride.

Well, I got midget feet beat. They don't make many 4 1/2 women's shoes, but there sure are a lot of 7 1/2's! Joke's on you, peculiar woman.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dear Christine, (part one)

I received a Q&A request from a fave reader (shout-out to fellow Kentuckian and librarian! Holla!), but I’ve been too sick to answer. Turns out I had an infection and it was giving me a fever. Not that I’m trying to use the Q&A as a bitch session, but just wanted to update why I’ve felt so crappy and haven’t been blogging. Two rounds of antibiotics later, I’m feeling much better.

From Jason:

i've been following your hair chronicles online. what's the process for getting dreads? i'd always heard, "let it get really nappy. don't wash it. maybe pour some coca-cola on it." i saw your flickr pics, but i still don't understand what the hairdresser does. care to explain (either on the blog or in an email) professionally-done dreads? i'm just curious.

also, tell me about your job.

Well now, for question one, Jason, let’s start with a visual aid:
X-tine's Dreadlocks
Sumner has delicately partitioned my hair into agreed upon segment size and locations. He then used a very fine toothed metal comb and back-combed my hair while occasionally twisting the hair slightly. You’re a boy, do you know what back-combing is? It’s also what girls would call “teasing” the hair, basically. Back-combing is combing the hair in reverse direction toward the scalp to intentionally knot or tangle the hair together. In that picture, Sumner is pushing my hair toward my scalp while hanging on to a foundation piece of hair to give it something to knot to.

After six hours of this tedious process, my neck was exhausted from the constant tension of the pull on my hair. But I was not nearly as exhausted as Sumner, whose hand was numb by the end of the day.

To complete the dreadlock-ification, Sumner used a special beeswax blend to put into my hair and help it take shape. He put a little wax on his palms, which heated it up, then rolled each dread in his hands, just like the way your kids will soon roll Play-Doh into strings.

Dreadlocks are washable. Sumner didn’t recommend a particular brand, but said chemical and conditioner-free shampoos were the way to go. Nothing that would leave deposits on the hair. I first chose Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap in Baby formula for its absence of perfumes and dyes. Plus I knew from experimenting with that soap before that Dr. Bronner’s dried out my hair and made it stick together. I didn’t really dig it though for washing the dreads. Just didn’t feel right.

I turned to for products. I ordered the beeswax balm Sumner used, the leave-in locking spray that encourages knots, and, my new favorite, dreadlock shampoo. I love the shampoo more than I love the other products. I feel so clean after I use it, even better than Dr. Bronner’s. My scalp feels fresh and my dreads smell like nothing but clean hair.

As you know, I’ve been on bed rest for the broken leg for a few weeks now. I got my locks nine days before I broke my leg, and bed rest has not been kind to my locks. They look pretty scraggly. It takes at least three months for the dreadlocks to really lock and not look crazy, but bed rest has set me back by about three months, I think. I have a penumbra of loose hairs all over the place. In a ponytail, I just look scraggly. Hair down, I look homeless and possibly insane.

I’ve never heard the “pour coke on it” urban myth, but in high school when I first wanted to dread my hair, everyone said linseed oil. Can you imagine that? That’s a freakin wood varnish. In college, not knowing what I was doing, I tried to dread someone’s hair. We started out with wee tiny braids and then he didn’t wash his hair at all. He got dandruff from the pressure on his scalp from the braids, and it turned out he had oily hair so the braids kept coming out anyway. We abandoned that after a pretty short time. I don’t know how everyone in the world gets dreads, but so far the only results I have seen have been from back-combing. And Sumner has quite the portfolio of clients.

I would also conjecture—not based on experience or fact at all—that not washing your hair and letting it get nappy wouldn’t work. It seems like oily hair isn’t that good for dreads since it ends up lubricating the hair, thereby relaxing the dread knots. Plus, the dreads would have no rhyme or reason as to size and location and would look mighty silly, in my opinion.

I hope that answers question one enough. As for question two, I’m typed out and I’ll get back to that one. Or that two.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

All apologies

I have a Q&A request to reply to, but I'm not feeling so good. I had a doctor's appointment this past Friday to see if I had a blood clot in the broken leg. I don't, so that's good news. Two bad news though. They put me in a new removable cast and it weighs a ton and it's huge and hard to drag around behind me. I'm supposed to go back to work this Tuesday, but, Dear God, the thought of lugging my leg around the library exhausts me just to think of it. Second bad news: the doctor is afraid I'm not healing right. I get a full CT scan of my ankle region on Tuesday to determine if I need surgery.

I'm just exhausted from all this. Nothing has gone wrong (yet), but just the physical act of going to the doctor's then the ultrasound clinic wore me out for days. Or my body is just catching up from all the nights I stayed up too late reading romance novels, I don't know. Either way, I'll catch up soon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pace yourself

Matthew gets up every morning, walks the dog and feeds her, feeds me breakfast, then goes to work. On his lunch break, he comes home and lets the dog out and feeds me lunch. In those in between times, we debate what to do with the dog. Crate or let her roam? She can’t get into the bed with me because she’s too heavy and rough to be near my broken leg. If she’s out, though, she really wants to be near someone, so she tries sneak attacks on the bed which result in yelling, or, she walks her route.

When she’s not in her crate, and one of us is gone, she is really lonely for the missing person. On days when we leave the dog out of her crate, she starts in my bedroom, looks at me and begs, then walks down the stairs, sniffs the door, cries for Matthew, then comes back upstairs to cry at me and beg to get in the bed. She repeats this cycle ad infinitum.

She annoys me so much that I’ve basically conscripted her to the crate if Matthew’s not here, no matter how short the time is. Her toenails clacking up and down the stairs and her nose whines are enough to drive me nuts. Today I agreed to leave her out, and she seems to have actually laid down to rest somewhere out of earshot. It’s nice when we get a peaceful family working like this.

Frustration island

My dad asked me tonight if I had been blogging about my experiences having a broken leg. I told him, “There’s not a lot to say. It hurts, I can barely get around, I’m confined to the second floor of our house, and I fall down every time I try to practice walking with crutches.” I think I’ve covered all those topics so far. If not, there you go; you’re up to date.

My friends who know I’m a frustrat(ing) novelist all ask, “How is work on your great American masterpiece coming along?” I know how much they mean well, but, honestly, it stings a bit. I am frittering away my bed-ridden hours watching endless movies, back to back. I’m up to at least 20 movies, over the course of exactly 8 days (as of writing this, not as of posting). Does that tell you how uninspiring having a broken leg is for me? I can’t even read, and god knows that has always been my refuge. No, TV is my snuggle blankie now.

I tried to act out the movie Rear Window and spy from the window right by my pillow. All I can tell you is that the three palm trees need their dead branches trimmed and the back fence neighbors do a very poor job of taking care of their yard. I quit looking after two attempts and no changes. Matthew told me he keeps expecting to come home and find me sitting at the window with a pair of binoculars and ask him to come quick and look. Nope. It’s nothing like Chicago here, where I could have seen a million things from my window (if I had one to look out of), but, here, it’s just pretty quiet and slow. No crime to spy on and investigate.

This did just give me a thought, though. Maybe I’ll start a photo project. If I can get the screen up on my rear window, maybe I can document my three palm trees at different times of day and over the course of the season or something. Or maybe that’s mega dull. Do palm trees ever change? Are they evergreen? I’m too new to Florida to understand nature’s intricacies. I always thought I was a good Southern girl, but then I moved really south and discovered how Midwestern I actually was.

I did have one nature surprise two nights ago. Three times, several minutes apart, around three a.m., I thought I heard an owl. But I thought I must be nuts—are there such things as palm tree owls? I thought owls were like an endangered Pacific Northwest anti-logging campaign or something. Today, Matthew confirmed my observation. He came back from the evening dog walk and told me “Two interesting things just happened on our walk.” The first was irrelevant and involved a near-fight with our neighbor’s cat, who smartly retreated rather than take on her majesty, hunter supreme, Blanche DuBois Wy. The second was relevant: “I just heard two hooty-owls,” he said, with his eyes wide in his silly way.

I told him, “You mean there really are owls? I thought I heard one the other night, and I thought I must be going nuts.”

“No, it was real.”

Then I admitted I thought owls were Pacific Northwest etc, etc. He assured me that owls are everywhere.

“So, what are they? Are they Palm Tree Owls?”

He didn’t think so.

In truth, I recognize that there are also an abundance of large, ancient, delightfully crusty live oaks here in St. Augustine. They are probably Delightfully Crusty Live Oak Owls. I also imagine that, like the squirrels here, they have adapted to have smaller bodies because of some sort of heat ratio aspect thing. Thermo-dynamics, you know.

I guess I should turn the blog’s attention to matters of laughing at the injured Ms. Wy. O, if only our heroine’s misadventures were more humorous, instead of calamitous.

Whenever I decide to test walk my crutches for the fifteen feet from my sick bed in the cat’s room to the bathroom, I make sure Matthew is here, and I make sure I’m feeling mightily strong. Without fail, I get exactly half-way between destinations and lose my balance. I fall flat, splat on the floor. Since the crutches actually slow my descent, I have time to swing my right bad leg out of the way, and I generally land on my back, which I assure hurts much less than landing on my front. Matthew comes running up the stairs, poor guy, and I lay like a frier hen laughing hysterically on the floor. “I’m not hurt, Matthew; I just can’t get up.”

The carefully executed maneuver necessary to lift me off the ground is difficult and awkward, you know, whole right-foot-can’t-touch-the-ground thing. I like to push off the floor with my right arm, and have Matthew pull me from the left arm while I push up with my left leg. I swear my left leg has done more in the past eight days than it has since I was in high school and I liked to rock climb.

The other confluence of Special Christine Circumstances is that I have combined forgetfulness with my injury and become more illogical than usual. I can’t walk five feet on crutches, but I promised my boss I’d be back to work at the end of ten days (I reneged on that promise today). I carefully devised an excellent plan to use the night librarian’s designated parking spot as my handicapped spot so that I could be right by the door, then remembered it was my right leg that is broken and I can’t drive anyway (I hatch this plan anew every two days.). I also think how fun it would be to sew since I have all this time off, then I remember that I use my right foot for the machine controller, and I have no ability to press with my right foot (I also think of this one every two days or so.). Then I thought that maybe I could get my library friend who lives in a retirement community to see if any of her neighbors could loan me a wheelchair for a few weeks, then I realized I’m a germaphobe, and I hate touching things other people have touched, and it would take a lot of sani-wipe-downs before I’d be able to touch it without rubber gloves. It’s a difficult, circular logical place to live in Christine’s mind. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had the brilliant plan to drive to get Oreo cookies only to remember half-way off the bed that I can’t drive (or walk).

I actually had a painful stumble today, which was weird because it was absolutely the least dramatic of my broken-leg-fall-downs yet. I was getting off the bed, pulling myself up with my old lady walker. This requires getting the left foot firmly on the floor to push, and all four legs of the walker squared up on the floor and perpendicular to my body. As I push/pull up, I then have to swing my right leg behind me for safety, ballast, protection, what have you. Critical failure achieved at push/pull moment. I didn’t have my left foot down properly and it gave out on me. Since my right foot wasn’t behind me yet, this meant I pitched forward onto the walker and wrenched my right foot. Ouch. How does a person bend her leg out of whack again when it’s already in a cast? Easy answer: That person is Christine Wy There you go, I’ve just written a riddle for you. Feel free to use it at cocktail parties; everyone will love it.

So there I am. Day seven feeling like one day I’ll walk again, despite my continued failure with crutches, day eight feeling like I’ve just re-injured all those sore tendons and muscles. I count my blessings that it doesn’t feel anything like when I first broke my leg, so I’m praying I haven’t done damage to the bone healing process.

I guess there really is more to my story, like Dad thought. I can actually think of a million things more I’d like to say, but I feel like I’ve said enough for now.

Not to end on a downer, but I’m lonely. If you have my number, call me during the day, just for a quick chat. If you don’t have my number, you know how to e-mail me to get it. Of course if you call while I’m taking Tylenol 3, it’s a toss-up whether you’ll get fun, wacky Christine, or whether you’ll get “I’m a zombie let me sleep now” Christine. The choice is yours, if you’re up to the challenge.

Also, let me know in comments or by e-mail if you’re interested in all the movie reviews I’ve been writing. I’ve tried to keep them short and sweet, and I’ll publish them here if anyone cares.

Ta-ta Christine lovers.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Updated on the busted leg

So far I've been called "gimpy," "cripple," and "Hop-Along." I'm keeping "Hop-Along," I like that one.

Having a broken leg sucks for sooo many reasons, where shall I ever begin?

My pain pills have been cut off. They said I should take Ibuprofen. I went from Tylenol 3 to Ibuprofen. Does that seem right to you? Not me. My foot doesn't generally ache like it did before, but now all the twisted muscles and tendons that got injured in the fall are chiming in with their own special chorus. And no Tylenol 3. So I can say the pain has improved somewhat. But definitely not enough.

Also, the rest of my body is killing me. I have to use a walker to get the ten feet from the spare bedroom to the bathroom. This means keeping my balance on one leg while pushing the walker ahead, then using my upper body to pull and my left leg to hop to close the distance. My wrists are killing me and my poor left knee isn't very appreciative either. I have been keeping myself too dehydrated probably, just to avoid the grueling trip to the bathroom.

I'm also missing out on all the action that's happening on the first floor. I could be getting my own cheese crackers, but, no, instead i have to beg for three slices of cheese to be carried up at earliest convenience.

Forget the outside world. Even now, with my window closed, I can hear all the fun of the annual neighborhood street festival. Now come on, that's cruel. I should totally be there. And I'm going on a rampage if they have funnel cakes and I'm not getting one.

I'm also incredibly dirty. I'm actually ashamed to admit this, even though I'm the first person to laugh at how gross I am. It's next to impossible to bathe, and even then I don't feel particularly clean. I'm also in too much pain to go looking for clean clothes every day so so far I'm managing a semi-clean ensemble every two or three days. Now remember that I'm spending 24 hours in these grubby clothes, including meal times, and think about how much this adds to my misery.

The good news is that I'm catching up on all my really questionable movie watching, and my boss dropped off four romance novels from the library to keep me entertained. Bless his heart. I put on a bra in case he wanted to come up and say hi, but he was in a hurry. I was sad because I wanted him to see me suffering.

My current dilemma is unpaid sick leave versus temporary disability. And I can't get in touch with the HR dept. Am I staying out too long and using all my sick and vacation days? Or do I need to stay out longer so I can qualify for temporary disability?

The only happy person in all this is my cat, Loki. Since I'm in his bedroom, he gets to spend 24 hours a day with me, and he couldn't be happier. Right now he's laying on his back, curled up to my bad leg, his feet up in the air, looking at me with one eye--sheer feline bliss, let me tell you. When the dog comes into the room to check out what's going on, the cat takes defensive battle station in preparation that he might need to defend Fort Mommy from canine intruder.

And yep, that's all the excitement. The pain, the gore, the dirt, the dilemmas, the animals--that's my world.

Feelin the love from y'all,