Thursday, August 21, 2008


My first Florida natural disaster rains around me: Tropical Storm Fay. We laughed at Fay. The meteorologists told us that at any moment we were in for imminent demise, but it never came. Some cloudy skies, maybe this is it, then nothing. “OK, OK,” the meteorologists said, “This is what might happen with Fay…” I joked with my family, “There’s nothing I’m too worried about saving anyway.” Such a cavalier statement for such a non-event as Tropical Storm Fay.

Guess what? Fay went out over the ocean, picked up water, and is heading directly toward St. Augustine. Fay didn’t bounce and scud away as she looked. She didn’t make landfall and lose momentum. No, Fay defied all by delaying her grand entrĂ©e into First Coast Society, and by possibly upgrading herself to a Level 1 hurricane.

We have renter’s insurance. We have hurricane insurance. We have auto, scooter, life happens insurance. But what if we really did lose it all? What if all our camera gear and computer equipment drowned? What if I lost all my data? What if I lost my wedding photos? What if I couldn’t catch my cat and it was time to evacuate?

Not so cavalier anymore. I sat in my living room tonight, looking around, “What is most important to me to carry upstairs?” “Do I need an evacuation kit that has a change of clothes?” “What about my hoola hoops and the man-hours and monetary investment in my home business?” Most importantly, “Can my cat survive if we leave for a few days?” “What if it floods and the dog is locked in her crate?”

Now that Fay is not just a cute name affecting people so far away in Fort Myers, I sit in bed helplessly and wonder, “What can I save?” Not much. Fay happens. No matter how much insurance we have, there’s no coupon to clip for lifestyle rebate.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Triumphant return

Matthew's back. We begin right where we ended, and it feels so good. We went to the beach and sat on the shore with the dog, and now we're rinsing off the sand in our shower. So good to feel like home again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Setting turned to "off"

It turns out I’m useless without my husband. He’s been in Colorado for a conference for way too long.

I’m late to work because there’s no one to push me out of bed. I lay on the couch watching TV and have no one to talk to. I’m unmotivated to make hoola hoops and stare at my materials blankly.

I love the guy—I do truly—but I had no idea how necessary he was to my basic survival skills. I’m bored with eating. There’s no reason to cook. I went to the grocery store to buy milk and turkey without him. It’s been awful. I bought a tube of cookie dough to make me feel better, but I haven’t even been motivated enough to eat that. How sad is it that I can’t eat cookie dough? This is truly a terrible time in my life.

I call his cell phone three times a day. “I miss you. I wish you’d come home.” And then I imagine the other conference-goers not having such whiny spouses. Matthew has to answer the phone and whisper, “We’re eating dinner; can I call you back?” I be no one else has such a clingy mate.

And all this makes me wonder if I’ve become co-dependent. If I need him so badly, is this love and feeling absence, or is this medically an issue I need to deal with and learn to allow separation?

I think of my mantra, “Clementia,” which is the feminine form of the Latin noun meaning compassion. I am supposed to use clementia to learn compassion for others, and thereby learn compassion for myself. Somehow I feel this is a “clementia” moment. I need to feel the compassion for Matthew to let him be academically professional, but I need to feel compassion that I have a longing for his presence.

Or, is it co-dependent? At least I have new fodder for my therapist instead of the whole “I’m depressed, and I broke my leg” skipping record.

Clementia. Even if it is co-dependence, I need to feel compassion that I have something to deal with.

Big meanie

I looked at a hoola hoop picture, and I said, "Ach! She has the same tattoo as me!" And then I looked again and saw who the picture was actually of: "Oh, it's Annie, I don't have to hate her." Hoola hoops simultaneously bring out the best and worst in me. Probably a metaphor for my life somehow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It’s the big things in life

I’m taking a stick-on skin patch anti-depressant. It’s supposed to cause fewer side effects than its oral equivalent because the medicine enters your blood stream directly instead of having to go through the digestive system and the liver and stuff. The anti-d comes with strict instructions, which include six pre-approved application sites and the warning to never apply to the same location twice in a row.

My first week I was in a panic. I wanted so much for the new medication to work for me and for the patch to save me the side-effect problems I’d heard rumors of, but it wasn’t sticking. This, of course, made me more depressed. Which is what an anti-depressant is supposed to do, right?

My final two location points were girl one and girl two. It worked! I couldn’t believe, but I could finally get the patch to stick and alternate!

Today I had my follow up with my p-doc. I pointed, laughing, “The only places I could get the patch to stick were here and here.” And I totally got my psychiatrist to look at my boobs. Definite highlight of the day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I got kicked out of physical therapy for leaking

You should break your leg. Really. I highly recommend it. You’ll not have short-term disability so you’ll use all your vacation and sick days for the fun of laying in bed in a sweaty cast that stinks like hell. Maybe you’ll get a fungal infection between your toes. I am so serious, this is fun. You’ll wear garbage bags, you’ll take painkillers that render you senseless but don’t actually kill the pain, you will look forward to your feeding times when your warden can skip out of work. It’s a blast.

Now, let’s not forget months of physical therapy. There you’ll have so much fun you won’t believe it. Your ankle will pop every time your physical therapist touches it. You’ll limp. You’ll do the stationary bike whether you want to or not (three minutes or more!)

Then there’s the surgery. Since none of that other stuff worked—the cast, the bed rest, nine months of physical therapy—someone somewhere will finally say, “I think surgery’s a good option for you.” You’ll heartily agree.

Fortunately, surgery will be less invasive than planned, and it will instantly begin relief. But let’s not forget complications! Don’t get carried away thinking this is finally the light at the end of your tunnel!

Now you’re leaking synovial fluid from your stitches. Yeah, I said it, synovial. It’s the goo that makes your joints move without pain. And your wound is gushing fluid so bad it seems like your body is pressing it out as fast as it can make it. Guess what? That awesome alleviation that came from the surgery is poof gone because now your joint can’t move without friction and squeezing out the goo.

Back to post-op physical therapy:

“I’m leaking synovial fluid.”

“Eesh. Lemme see.” Shoe comes off, sock is stained yellow—through bandages. “Wow. We can’t do any physical therapy if you’re leaking synovial fluid like that. Any pressure we put on the joint is just going to force the fluid out more, and you need the fluid for your ankle to be healthy.”

“What do I do?”

“You just need to rest and keep it elevated. You see your surgeon Thursday? He might want to go in and put stitches in the synovial membrane and then re-close your leg.”

Excellent. Surgery to fix surgery.

Really. Break your leg. It’ll be the time of your life. You won’t lose a year of your life to complications at all.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Somewhere, on a scrap of paper

In Winesburg, Ohio, a doctor writes bits of poetry and words on tiny scraps of paper and puts them in his pockets. They stay in his pockets so long that they form tight little balls. He packages the poem balls and gives them to a hypochondriac patient as placebos. Poetry sustains the patient’s soul.

I wish my paper scraps were nearly as mystical and useful. Everywhere, I write random odds and bits, sometimes filling pages, sometimes on the tiniest piece of almost white paper on a Netflix cover. Each has its importance. I always say to Matthew, “Where is that piece of paper where I wrote…?” He’s given up answering. Months later my placebo scraps turn up and are meaningless.

Right now, I am looking at a page of paper that says things like “Jerry Solano Oct 4 Breast Cancer TWThr.” This is in a box, so I know it must be important. Near it is “Cococrickets Noelle-pink and orange yellow base Amerivespa.” This will shock my husband, but I actually know what these two things mean, except for “TWThr.” That obviously means “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,” but, why? Normally my scraps lose significance quickly and I no longer remember why I wrote “Feazell Friday 12:00” and then scratched out all but “Feazell.”

Also on this page are “Chromeo MGMT.” In a circle. I know what these two mean. They are bands whose CDs I want to get. But where is the scrap of paper with that other guy described as “Prince meets so-and-so with a touch of something else.” The ad had me at “Prince.” And clearly that’s the only part I remember.

Who is mystery performer? Where is he written down? As I look for something else, what tiny ball of paper will I find in the bottom of my backpack, unroll, and wonder, “What does this mean?” when really it’s at last the name of the mystery performer?

I wish my paper scraps were placebos to feed my own anxieties, but, instead, they create new problems. Endlessly I ask, “Where is that scrap of paper where I wrote…?”

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On a positive note, for once

In the movie Amelie, my favorite scene is where young Amelie gets revenge on her neighbor by cutting out his cable. She sits with a radio on his roof, and every time his favorite futbol team gets close to scoring a goal, she pulls his cable wire so that he can’t see it. He screams and flails about. I smile. As I said to a friend, “I am a naughty gnome,” mostly ineffectual but craving to cause chaos.

My friend’s favorite part of Amelie is when she lists people’s favorite things, no matter how odd they are, like plunging your fingers into a bowl of dried beans. Of course, I don’t remember this scene at all because it’s always the naughty bits I remember, but how it affected my friends is inspiring me.

Here are some of my favorite things:

Drinking water poured from gallon jugs of purified liquid absence—it tastes deliciously like nothing.

Kissing my husband goodbye—so much sweeter than hello because it pines.

Watching my dog roll over on her back and wag her tail at my husband’s feet, no matter where they are in the house or what he’s doing.

The smell of new electronics—the scent of potential.

The third track on my Sleepy Time CD I burned to put me to sleep every night. I know it’s a good night when the last thing I hear is track three.

All of my retired Puffalumps. I love you, and I’m sorry I loved you to pieces. I’m even sorrier that Fisher-Price no longer makes you.

Waking up just a little bit when my husband comes to bed.

Tell me what you love--those little things or those odd things that fit so perfect.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Internet romance

Matthew approaches me from behind and wraps his arms around me, "Baby, you are good enough for a garbage bag," he whispers in my ear and kisses my cheek.


I had a friend. I thought I had a friend. My first real Florida friend, a Cuban immigrant with all the stereotypical warmth and exuberance you can imagine.

She sews like a madwoman, cranking out amazing creations from found items, left-overs and yard sale salvaged gems. I can’t believe the things she comes up with. Her creativity astounds me. I asked her to make me a bunch of bags and gave her my own material to use for it, saying I’d always meant to use the fabric but she could do it better than me.

We chatted online and e-mailed all the time. She got busy on my purses and said she loved my fabric. I told her she could keep anything that was left over since I knew I’d never use it. We double-dated, and she gave me all my amazing bags. I was overwhelmed. They were so perfect and stylish—later everyone would compliment me and ask where I’d gotten my bags. I loved them.

She made one veiled reference to having a hard time asking for money. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I waited for her to come up with a price. She never did. And we never really spoke again.

I dragged her up and down St. Augustine with bags full of her sample purses to consign all over the city. I even got her her first job doing while doing this. I felt it was only fair I repay her this way since she’d done me such a favor.

Then things unraveled.

Poof. She was gone. No more email chats no more talk of fabric no more plans to get together. She was just gone from my life as quickly as she’d entered. I thought we’d had something special. We were both sewers and crafters that were underemployed, and we were both new to the area and got along so well. But then she disappeared.

I’ve always wondered. Was it the money? Did she get busy with her job and not have time to sew and write? Did she blame me that the first job I got her didn’t work out? Did her consignments not sell? Was it all that work she did for me, and she felt unreciprocated?

I don’t know. I’ve never been able to talk to her enough since that halcyon time and find out what turned her off. When she first quit talking to me, I bought her four yards of cool looking fabric as a peace offering. It never got through to her somehow.

I just had to pick up a few of her purses at my friend’s store where she consigned. The purses didn’t sell, and my friend was ready to use the space. I took the opportunity to comb through a very limited selection of my mountain of fabric and pull together some colors, patterns, and textures of material I think she can use. I called her husband to arrange another possible double-date and a definite drop-off, telling him about the purses but not about the fabric.

I don’t know whether we’ll ever resume the friendship I thought we had, but giving her what I can will give me the sense of closure I need. I’ll know I finally did my part and that I gave her my best. The rest will be up to her to piece together.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tub time

“Will you get me a garbage bag? I want to take a bath.”


“I’ll also need scissors and duct tape.”

Matthew returns and proffers a Target bag, smiling, “Here you go.”

“That’s not water-tight.”

“Sure it is.”

“It is not!”

“We use them to pick up dog poop all the time.”

“This is different!”

“Then use two,” Matthew holds up a Walgreens bag.

“I am good enough for a garbage bag!”

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I went North and all I got was this lousy sunburn

How is it that when I leave Florida I always get sunburned? Isn't it supposed to be the opposite? Doesn't one come to Florida for a sunburn? Yet I seem to get them when I go north of Jacksonville.

I've been wanting to write a treatise on the fun I had in Chattanooga and the resulting sunburn, but I just can't seem to get myself together to do it. Here's the reduced version:

Went to Chattanooga for major scooter rally. Fun time had by all but parking attendants. Sunburn. Bought amazingly fast, heavy, and lethal scooter. Car trouble at U-Haul trying to load lethal scooter. Christine breakdown. Demanded new car. New car was had. Surgery. Outpatient orthoscopic. Little preparation made because of Chattanooga and new car procurement. Painkillers. Horrid, horrid painkillers. No painkillers. Annoying, nagging pain. First bath. Tired. Typing this.

And now I want ice cream and chocolates. Preferably a crate of Klondike bars. The problem of having surgery and little on-hand support network is that you can't call your father and say "Please bring me as many Klondike bars as you can carry. Hurry." Because he'd totally do it. He understands the need of a Klondike bar. "What would you do-o-o?" Not much to be done, in my case.

Where is husband? Telling me I'm fine. Maybe I'm more fine than I'm afraid, but I'm not as fine as he seems to think. He's forgetting the no painkillers part. Ugh. How can people be addicted to those terrible things?

Reduction sauce of Christine. So many things to tell, so many little fingers not wanting to type.

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