Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Five-second soul-mate

“Sorry, I just have to talk to everyone--it makes my sister so mad.”

My heart sped up a little: “Me too! It drives my husband crazy!”

“But, you have to talk to people.”

“I know; you never know who you’re going to meet.”

“Mm-hmm. See you later.”


Stunned, I’d just met the parallel me. I was so happy with my discovery that I couldn’t even share it with Matthew. I had to hold in the savor just a little longer.

She’ll take 12 inches of cock, or, A dog’s best day

Yesterday was vet day for Miss Blanche DuBois. Vet day involves lots of things Blanche loves: car rides, attention from strangers, and random treats. Perfect! The only thing that makes the vet even better is all the AMAZING smells outside to pee on. Every inch, there’s a wonderful new aroma that needs to be marked. I usually leave ten minutes early just to walk the ten feet to the vet’s door.

In the vet’s, Blanche wagged her tail through weighing, ear and eye checks, three vaccinations, and a tartar tooth scraping. Never stopped the happy tail once. The one thing she didn’t like? Getting her blood drawn. No tail-wagging for that.

In what I just realized is a theme for our pets, Blanche has kinda crummy teeth. She’s more prone to plaque and tartar than other dogs and has receding gums on her canines. I asked the vet, “If you think she doesn’t need a full dental cleaning, what should we do to help keep her teeth clean?”

“Well,” he said, “that dog treat you just gave her is actually tartar control dog food. You can buy a bag of that and use it as treats and not food. Does she have any chews at home?”

“We were giving her meat bones, and she would eat the whole thing, which was keeping her teeth clean, but she quit chewing them. Now she chews the meat off and leaves the bone alone.”

The vet said, “You could try a bully stick. We sell them here, and they’re great for teeth.”

“Oh really?”

“They’re actually dried bull penis.”

He said more intelligent things about bully sticks being tough to chew and great for the teeth, but my brain stopped at “dried bull penis.” I thought I might die of laughter. “We’ll take one,” I said, with nary but a little chuckle.

The vet tech brought in a foot of shrink-wrapped dried penis. I still couldn’t get over this, but I kept my cool. “So this is what a giant dehydrated penis looks like?”

When we got home, I gave Blanche her 12 inch cock. She ate it non-stop in about 8 hours. I think it was supposed to have taken her a couple of weeks gnaw. Blanche loves penis.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bang-banging my head

I deleted this because my mommy said I should. It was too close to being about my workplace.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bang a gong

I deleted this because my mommy said I should. It was too close to being about my workplace.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

OK, so I’m doing it

I had no intention of blogging about my political views, but Matthew said it was obligatory. He planted a bug in my ear, and now I feel like I’ve got to get it out via Christine Wy.

Yesterday I joined a (useless) Facebook group, St. Augustine college for Obama. I semi-publicly declared myself Obama-ite.

I wish I had a deeply heartfelt and insightful reason for voting Obama versus the typical Dem v. Republican rhetoric, but, no, I ain’t got it. What I can say is that I like him. I just do. He oozes like. I guess that is deeply heartfelt, but not very insightful, I fear.

When Fox shows Obama accidentally stammering over lines in a speech, I feel sympathy, not the resentment I feel toward Bush. And McCain? Is the guy a robot or what? OK, here’s an insightful (if obscure) metaphor. McCain is like that episode of Futurama where Bender hallucinates that he’s on the island of obsolete robots who refused to be upgraded. McCain is totally the wooden robot that runs via water wheel.

There it is interweb. Enjoy my pointless political offering.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An inhale and half an exhale

I just started doing my dramatic interpretation of Samuel Beckett's 1969 play Breath, when I realized I was sitting publicly at the reference desk. I'm not afraid of looking silly or unprofessional, but I don't think my boss would appreciate complaints about "the creepy chick who works Sunday nights."

At least I got a breath and a half in before I aborted my performance piece.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Travis Barker, I secretly hate you

In case you hadn't heard (and I don't know why I did), former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker is in critical condition after a plane crash. Do you know what I thought when I saw his slick Hollywood picture with the announcement? I took a quick breath through my nose, and thought about how I will never afford to be that tattooed. The guy is probably in intensive care, and all I can think is that I'm so jealous I sort of hate him, thereby confirming the suspicion that I'm a bitch.

But it's OK because you know I love you. I only get kinda jealous when you have a tattoo I want.

Do not remove this tag under penalty of law

Update: Right leg saga installment number 5001.

I finally got the hot pink cast off, but, honestly, I was a little sad to see it go. It was pretty cool to have a hot pink leg. I need to figure out how to replicate that. Leg warmers? Hmm. But, now I’m free to at last exfoliate the bound leg and remove the fungal-like dead skin covering my right leg. Ew. The goo that sloughed off from between my toes last night was epic.

When I got the cast off, the nurse gently removed my stitches. She put some sort of surgical tape over the stitch-hole. “If the tape falls off, here’s some extra.” OK. Cool. She bandaged it all up with an ace bandage type thing (but way cooler), and I was released into the wild.

The problem? I had assumed I’d get a walking cast, so I hadn’t brought a right shoe or sock. The nurse made me a sock out of tubical gauze used for building plaster casts, and I flapped on the little plastic shoe protector I had been wearing over the hot pink cast. The result was me walking with a floppy limp, begging Matthew to stop at the house and find me a shoe. I’d survive with the surgical tube sock, but I needed my shoe. Fortunately, he grudgingly indulged and found my shoe. I can only imagine what I would have been like to flop around in the plastic over-shoe ten sizes too big while at work. Scrape, flop, drag, limp. Scrape, flop, drag, limp. “Christine is coming.”

Last night was the main event, the first shower since getting the cast off. I removed the stretchy bandage, and looked at the surgical tape. “I guess it comes off for a shower.” I started to pull, but it had the tenacity of a pit bull clamped onto my leg. I had already started though, so it seemed too late to turn back. I got to the stitch holes. My god. Such pain as the super-magic-cling-ultra-serious tape began to peel off my stitch scabs. I wanted to cry. But, I had come so far, there was just no way to re-adhere it. I stopped half-way over the stitch scabs, knowing I had to go on. I screwed up the courage to pull. The sharp stinging pain was like thousands of tiny needle points grinding into my delicate ankle hole. But I did it.

I got the rest of the tape off, and looked at the tape. My skin and all the scabs clung to it in a perfect formation of where the stitches had been. Echoing through my mind: “If the tape falls off, here’s extra.” What she meant was, “Don’t remove the tape.”

I looked at my leg, and there the poor delicate skin was raw and exposed again. I felt set-back, and at my own doing. I finally told myself, “Oh well. Scabs will grow back.”

As soon as I finished the shower, I reapplied the surgical tape. This time, it’s not coming off until it falls off on its own. No more stitch scab shadows.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crying conscience

"You! You are obsessed with germy keyboards and hand-washing! And you’re letting the cat lick your hamburger?” I’m going to have to learn new words to describe the way Matthew talks to me because incredulity is just part of it. Exasperation? Is there a word that combines incredulity and exasperation? If so, that’s the way Matthew was yelling at me—incredurationed.

Giddily, “Yeah!”

And indeed, Loki was standing to my right licking the hamburger I proffered him. The crotch-licking, cat-poop-walking love-machine was licking my hamburger. I giggled more. Loki grew adventurous and took a little bite with his one remaining front tooth.*

At that point my memory of exact events gets bubbly. I started laughing hysterically as Matthew fumaroled at me about the imprecations of letting one of our pets share the food that was about to go into the mouth of his germ-obsessed wife. I was laughing because Loki actually did it, he actually took a bite, and Matthew was completely right that I am a germ-phobic tightwad.

Loki ran away when I started laughing. He doesn’t do well with loud noises, surprises, or sudden movements. I definitely fell under the “loud noise” category, as tears started to well in my eyes I laughed so hard. Loki running made me feel bad since he’s my special baby, and I really enjoyed being wicked, so I wanted him to come back and eat hamburger.

“Loki,” I called soothingly. “I’m sorry baby.” He loves me so much he came back right away. Instantly he was back in my lap.

Matthew said, “It really is ‘I Can Has Cheezburger,’” and we chuckled at that. Then, sweet, innocent Matthew went back to his own sandwich. I turned to Loki and proffered the other side of the hamburger. He didn’t waste any time grabbing a hunk or wait around to find out if I was going to do that evil thing where I scare him away. Oh, no, Loki ate wolfishly like one hounded by higher pack members.

I tried to hold in the laugh, I did, but it was too much for my little pea brain. I laughed again, though not as hard, not wanting to attract Matthew’s attention. Matthew finally looked, but he misinterpreted my merriment as the continuation of the first insult against feline-human germ relations, giving me the freedom to laugh harder. Now I’d fed the cat hamburger twice AND duped my husband, and the tears just spilled down my cheeks.

That cat. My greatest fears in life may be E. coli and taxoplasmosis gondii, but I can deny Loki nothing.

* Loki has severe periodontal disease and has about three teeth left. It’s not our fault, and he’s not that old. Life hasn’t always been kind to my dearest pet, which is why I always am.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Too many tear drops

I cried. My latest adventure in leg surgery has broken my spirit. I can’t quit crying and whinging over it. I do mean literal tears. I retreat to the bedroom, turn on the air conditioner to be comfortable while I wail, and let it rip. Totally in the gutter over this. Demoralized.

I have felt like my life will never be pain free or normal for a year now, but surgery has taken me to new depths. At least when I limped and had terrible pain, I wasn’t leaking bodily fluids. I physically felt better after surgery, but the risk of infection and general grossness was not worth the improvement. I needed it desperately, but I sincerely regret it.

And what if this doesn’t work? What if under the pink cast there’s an oozing wound still dribbling clear fluid? I won’t do it. I won’t do more surgery. I don’t care if it means I won’t walk for a year, I won’t do this torture anymore.

Or is the leaking the torture? At least the leaking didn’t hurt. It may have been disgusting and inconvenient, but at least I could live my life. I want to take a sledgehamer to my life right now, but lives aren't made of cinderblock, they're just air, so that would be useless.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now there’s jitters

I suppose I have mostly recovered from last night’s particularly bad “I hate me” attack, but now I have butterflies. I phone interview soon, and I want to be good enough, and I want them to be good enough. Both sides of the equation must be equal. Or it’s one of those logic problems: If A and B then C. If they like me, if I like them, then we’ll get together. I’m nervous for both going according to plan. Or for a total backfire because they’re awfully far away. I don’t know what I want from this exactly, except magic. My life needs more magic. I must need to find a Wiccan.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mental discord

I’ve hit my maximum output for the day. It’s that time of night where my daily allotment of self-esteem has evaporated. I’m left with the brain-gnawing grudges, angsts, and self-flagellations. I had a psychiatrist who called it “negative obsessive self-talk.”

Every night--the precise time shifts from evening to evening--I reach the witching hour of negative obsessive self-talk. I’m starting to think of it as like a wind up clock, and my self-esteem just needs recharging.

I hide from Matthew during these black moments, knowing I’ll only start a fight. It won’t be his fault or anything he’s done, but, he’ll be there, and I’ll want to sharpen my claws on someone other than me for a change.

Instead, I try to remind myself that this is my Brain Dysmorphic Disorder talking and that tomorrow I’ll wake up as Christine as usual. I try to make jokes with myself. Imagine how ridiculous I would sound to say what I was thinking out loud. Maybe that’s one of the tricks one of my therapists tried to teach me that I didn’t quite learn: say it out loud to hear how preposterous it is.

My current therapist tells me to listen to the negative self-talk and say to myself what I would say to a friend. “That’s not true, and you know it.” “It will be OK tomorrow; you just need to sleep on it.” “Maybe you’ve made some bad choices at times in your life, but you’re still here, and you’re still thriving.” “But think what you learned from that mistake.”

Tonight was a bad one. It was another bed rest day. I tried to be as active as my leg would let me, but it stopped me and firmly said “No.” I listened to it, trying to be sympathetic. If you aren’t depressed before you lay on a couch for an entire day, you will be afterward. Or at least I always am. Laying around never solves any of my problems, just makes me wish I weren’t laying around.

Surviving today’s couch-surf, I hear the swirling waves in my head telling me … such horrible lies. “Tomorrow is another day.” I’ll sleep it off, and I’ll start the whole process again, each day, a new self-esteem tide rolling in and swooshing out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finding enthalpy

In therapy and in my friend-talk unofficial therapy, one of my big crisis points is tidiness.

I am a slob. I know I am a slob. It’s physically evident, and therefore very difficult to deny.

My specific disorder is untidiness. I do not leave dishes out or food bits laying around, but all the beads, hoola hoops, itinerant papers, purses, candles, toy cameras, and my endless stream of flotsam is strewn about like a cyclone around me. I’ve literally always been this way. I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t supposed to clean something up.

In therapy, I’ve worked on recognizing this as a behavior and not an innate flaw of my being. Being a slob not a definition of who I am as a person.

My best friend has watched me mentally fight the wave of untidy, trying to keep my head above the papers and toys. She said to me, “Instead of fighting it, maybe you need to accept this as part of how you live.” Brilliant words. Instead of hating myself at being a miserable failure at life because I can’t move the perfume bottle from the coffee table to the bathroom vanity, accept that in my mind the place for the perfume bottle may be the coffee table.

I fight the untidy self-loathing, and feel like I am winning, until a little someone in my life reminds me … I don’t live alone.

My roommate, my best friend, my husband. He reminds me, “But I don’t want to live like this.”

Notice I said “roommate” first and “husband” last. I never lose sight of my husband, but I forget that he has to live as my roommate amidst the swirling tidal pool of my works in progress. And he doesn’t like it. When I met my husband, he was a tidy bachelor with a few belongings and a penchant for video games. Now he’s caught up in my entropy, and he’s gotten some untidy habits as well.

Lately, though, I’ve seen him breaking free of me. He keeps his clothes neater in their drawers and in his closet. He has organized a motorcycle gear area. He has a desk/office I’m essentially not allowed to touch.

He’s climbing out of me. I watch him fold his t-shirts and open a drawer to put them away, and I feel a skeezy red neon sign above my head weakly flickering “LOSER.” I’m back in the judgment. If Matthew can be tidy, then I am a failure at life because I struggle to be tidy.

Matthew just wants a balance between the entropy and a little enthalpy. Isn’t that what some theorists think the universe wants too? Pushing and pulling to find a cosmic balance between entropy and enthalpy? The magnetic influence of Matthew’s tidiness needs a stronger pull to get me into balance. But I’ll try. I’ll try to reverse polarity and find that even space.

I hope. I hope to try. I may be coming to terms with being a slob, but my husband doesn’t want to. I hope I can come to terms with living with my roommate, my spouse and come to terms with my character traits.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Transformation 99 percent complete

Florida has changed me. I leave indoor crap on the porch, I wear flip flops in public, and spaghetti strap tank tops are de rigueur. Now, I’ve nearly made the full-on deep-South transformation—trailer park queen. I bought a nightgown, but before it even saw the bedroom, I discovered it was the best house dress ever. Now, I get home from work, look for shorts and a tank top and remember, “Ah! House dress!”

I don’t think I’ll ever make the full conversion, though, because my house shoes of choice are Birkenstocks. I may be trashy, but I’m well shod.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Don't avoid kittehs

more animals

I chose left.

How’s life in the slow lane?

Dear Diary,

This most recent surgery hurts quite a bit, but hopefully it will be my last. I saw the surgeon last Tuesday, exclaiming that my incision continued to weep synovial fluid. He asked me to come in for follow-up surgery the very next day. He said he would read up on it to see if anything new had come up on synovial issues, and I thought of him studying for an exam and my leg the test.

I awoke from anesthesia much better this time, and didn’t rage that I was mentally ill so I couldn’t handle the stress of waking up. That’s a relief, because I was quite embarrassed later by the things I said while in a stupor. I’m also embarrassed I had such a hard time breathing on my own, but I don’t know why I’m embarrassed about that. It’s hard coming to after you’ve had a tube down your throat for so long.

Anyway, this time the surgeon changed his tactic on my leg hole. He opened the incision wider, and as the surgical assistant would later tell me, they found exactly what I described: a wound tract leading straight out for the fluid to weep to an opening in my skin. Opening the incision wider, the surgeon added additional stitches deeper in my tissue then sealed the whole thing back up. And he’s serious this time.

This time, the surgeon took no chances on my one-in-a-million odds status and completely immobilized my leg in a plaster cast. I got to choose my color this time, and my right leg is adorned with stylish hot pink synthetic fibers. I’m proud of my pink cast in my own weird way, because at least I had control over the color. Matthew and I want to write “LOL” on it so that it will be a “LolCast.” Approximately five people in the world will think that’s funny, so I have not had the courage to follow through with it yet. I have also considered having everyone I know draw a flower on it instead of signatures, but the cast comes off in a week and a half so that seems too excessive. If I get a second cast (which they are threatening), I’m definitely going ahead with the flower concept. It’s just a shame I don’t have more friends. I’ll have to sneak in a lot of my own flowers.

Diary, this surgery has sucked, even though I was the most prepared for it yet. Since I never tidy up, everything was pretty much already in “go” mode from the last surgery. I did need a new DVD player though. The pink one I bought last time may have had the advantage of being pink, but it skipped, so I went with something less pink this time. It’s awfully dull, but it works.

Anyway, this surgery sucks because it hurts a lot and I can’t move without the aid of my two buddies, the crutches. Or my BFF the walker. It’s the hurting part I can’t stand. Or the lack of mobility I can’t stand, I don’t know. I did have an excuse to buy new sweatpants though, so that made it kinda fun.

Oh, Diary, that reminds me! Matthew and I got to have a good time at Target because of surgery leg. I tried to use the electric wheelchair, and just laughed and laughed. It’s no wonder the people in those things seem so angry—the electric carts are hard to drive and frustrating as hell. Matthew coaxed me out of the electric wheelchair and into the regular push one. One which we’ve used before and it’s kind of broken.

The problem with the push wheelchair is there’s no basket. So I had to hold everything in my lap. I ended up with a coffeemaker, my new sweatpants, coffee, and some other sundries in my lap as Matthew pushed me with one hand while the other held an eighteen-pound bag of dog food over his shoulder. I decided this was the time for comedy. I decided I was going to try with all my might to pull the most miserable looking mug I could for the rest of my trip in Target, instead of smiling at how silly we are. I really put the blackest parts of my heart to work at frowning and hanging my head.

Guess what? Other people don’t make eye contact with people in wheelchairs. All that emotional strain of staying in character for nothing. Not a soul looked at me, which is a shame because I know we were comic gold. I gave up and laughed at my own joke. I’m funny enough for me.

I’ll add that to my list of mantras, Diary: “I’m funny enough for me.” I like that.

Good night Diary. Cross your fingers for no more surgery.

The title of this post comes to me courtesy of Monya's ever-humorous e-mails, when she enquired after my post-op health. The answer to the question is "Slow."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Words to go to

At my therapist's office last week, I excused myself to use the restroom. My therapist's office is in an old building, dating from I'd guess late 1800's to early 1900's. The bathroom reflects this. Tiny stalls made from marble slab and closed by solid hardwood doors set the time period well. Even if the cramped space makes me feel like I'm in Lilliput.

Because of the original wood's antiquity, there is no way to gauge the age of graffiti. I sit and ponder it, wonder what soul was here when and wrote that little summary of their life.

I tried a new stall last week during my therapy appointment. I sat, and directly in front of me were the words, "Practice charity without thought of reciproc." My first thought was to take a pen and add "ity" to the last word, but my second through two million thoughts have been about the content.

Who would write such a gracious and caring message? Who would graffiti such a gracious and caring message? When was it written? Given the piety of this town, was this from a sermon? Actually from the Bible somewhere? Wait, who knew that this was the message I needed?

"Practice charity without thought of reciprocity." Isn't that what I've been working on in therapy the last year? Clementia? Mercy? Compassion? And now graffiti reminds me.

I mentioned it to my therapist. He laughed and said, "Is that still there?" He went on to say, "Don't you just want to correct the spelling of that last word?" Yes, yes I did. And, don't worry, he's not a bad therapist. We discussed the graffiti in the context of my life and the lessons I struggle with.

"Practice charity without the thought of..." "Practice charity..." Yes, "Practice charity without thought of reciproc." Questionably spelled words to ponder in life's restroom.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Category: things that only happen to Christine

We have an unspoken arrangement that I’m not to go to the ocean without Matthew. We go to the free beach, Vilano, which also happens to be the surf beach. I am no match for the waves. Numerous times Matthew has dragged me up by the arms as I lay fighting in six inches of water.

Today, nothing could motivate me. Not even the second cup of coffee. So many things to do, yet I couldn’t do them. I decided that the only thing that could motivate me was the ocean. But Matthew wasn’t at home.

I felt a surge of adrenaline as I pulled on my bathing costume, knowing I was doing something wicked (me, the naughty gnome, ineffectual but giddy). “This is just what I need,” I thought.

I got in the car wearing only my swimsuit—no cover-up for today’s foray—and I looked up to see a spider. It was the size of a dime, total, but its body was disproportionately large to its legs. The spider was black with yellow or green stripes—I couldn’t quite tell. I looked around for one of my half-used tissues, deciding to kill it. I jabbed, it jumped. I poked, it scurried. The spider moved much faster that the initial languorous pose I found it relaxing in.

Shocking me, the spider fell from the roof of the car and landed in my lap. I jabbed again. It dodged and landed on the floor, but I felt searing pain on my thigh. The spider bit me! Sitting in my car, a tiny black spider bit my leg. I don’t blame it. If someone were trying to jab me with a half-used tissue, I’d bite too, but it hurt quite a bit.

I drove to Vilano anyway, all of this having happened in our home parking spot, but the bite didn’t quit stinging. The ocean fixes everything, so I figured my little wade would solve the problem. It did not.

The bite now looks like a mosquito sting with a red ring about it, and it still burns. I’m trying to decide if I’m going into anaphylactic shock (something I’m fortunately familiar with the symptoms of from my allergy to chicken), and I’m trying to decide what a neurotoxin would feel like. Would I know to call 911?

I’m at home. I can’t find the spider picture on the web (har har), but Matthew read me some of the physical symptoms I should look out for. But, still, a spider bite in the car in the driveway? Come on. It sounds like some sort of put-on, but, no, this falls under the category of Things that Happen to Christine. I should be a Jeopardy column of questions. “On September 1, what poisonous encounter did Christine Wy experience?” Answer: ferocious mystery spider attack.

He also walks in his own poop

I want to say something, anything, about how I’m feeling, and not sound desperate and repetitive. Why does the leg saga continue? I leak synovial fluid, I get to the doctor’s office, it stops. “Call me if it leaks again.” I leak synovial fluid, I get to the doctor’s office, it stops. This weekend takes us to synovial siting the fourth, for those of you counting at home. And, yes, brilliantly my leg started leaking on a holiday weekend.

For some twisted Christine reason, I blame myself for leaking. “I shouldn’t have hula hoped so much.” “I shouldn’t have gone to the ocean.” “I shouldn’t have lifted those objects.” “I shouldn’t have actually stood up.” How are any of these sensible? I don’t know how many times both of my surgeons said there is no reason to hold back and to be active absolutely as soon as I feel like it. The sooner the better, within a couple of days of surgery. But, somehow, in Christine brain, this means, “Except the hula hoop. Except the ocean. Except lifting. Except standing.”

Wait. Standing? How is “standing” my fault? When did it become medically inadvisable to stand when given the direction “be active as soon as possible”?

There’s reality, and then there’s Christine reality. I know that we can argue the relativity of reality til the cows come home, but my nearest and dearest will eagerly agree that I’m a bit off the mark. Christine reality is a gift when I see something beautiful about the way pink, aqua and lime can be wrapped together to make art, but when it comes to interpreting the physically quantifiable (“By the way, your leg is leaking.”), Christine reality gets all fun-house mirrors. Suddenly, “Hm, your leg is a bit of a medical anomaly,” becomes “I knew I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed for two weeks even though they said I could!” It’s paranoid, it’s delusional, it’s twisty and distorted. I have BDD-Brain Dysmorphic Disorder.

My cat is twirling around my legs as I type. He purrs. Do you know what he’s saying? “Yessss Mommy dear, yes. More surgery, Mommy. More surgery, and then bed rest in my room. Just you and me, Mommy, you and me. Sssssurgery.” My cat may be eerily right (and not for the first time), and maybe my leg hole needs to be surgically resealed. And then maybe extra bed rest this time. My cat may be more biased than my doctor, but he loves me more than any surgeon ever will. Maybe I need to take more medical cues from cats.

Turbulent on a quiet sea

Originally written last week on a date I could possibly count backward to.

Wednesday morning, I tried desperately to think of a word when writing an e-mail to a friend. The perfect word, I could describe the word to you in paragraphs and talk about feelings and emotions this one word stirred. But not the word; I couldn’t think it at all.

A Germanic root word, two words put together. Archaic grammatical structure. Uncommon in contemporary usage. Nautical. But the word. What was the word?

Tonight: “Matthew, will you bring me the new William Gibson novel?” Of course he did. I married some crazy angel who thinks I’m ginchy.

I began Pattern Recognition, knowing I’d be in for the best read I’ve had in a while, but Gibson stopped me cold by page ten. He used the word. The word. In a sentence. In a paragraph. In a book. Did this mean I couldn’t use the word now because I’d be ripping off Gibson? Did Gibson own the word by his right of having gotten to it first?

“No,” I finally persuaded myself. Gibson can write as masterfully as he chooses, but no one owns each individual word. I can use it too. So, deep breath, here it is … becalmed.

We’ve been in St. Augustine a year now. My career path didn’t exactly trip lightly through the sun-dappled forest like I had imagined it would once I arrived here, and it’s taken me that year to find a groove, and discover new areas of my life that can be stimulating outside of work. In that year was the heartache of the never-ending broken leg, but then hoola hooping through the pain, and starting make hoola hoops for others filled a niche in my heart that had been aching.

In still better news, I was offered a chance at leg redemption through surgery. I jumped on one leg at the chance to get repaired at long last. But then the leaking. All that synovial fluid that just didn’t want to stop, remember that? All hope felt lost. The synovial fluid quit leaking, and I was given the go-ahead to hoop my heart out since it was great physical therapy and would help my recovery. Excellent!

News improved even more. My hoops caught the college intramural director’s eye, and he saw possibility. He wanted me to do a hoop dance demo to raise interest and for me to teach students hoop dance basics. Not only would I get paid to do something I’ve been giving out for free at the farmer’s market, but I’d be given the chance to offer hoops for sale to students. My heart’s hobby looked like it might be sprouting golden fleece to reward my days of tedium.

Now, I am a sailor, becalmed.

“Becalm.” Almost seems like such a lovely, fetching word. “Calm.” Sounds like “palm.” Which makes me think of “palm trees.” “Calm palm trees” sounds like a meditative place of perfection formed in one’s mind in utter peace. “Becalm” nautically means the palm trees are a little too calm. It means one’s boat is trapped—hopefully temporarily—by some uncontrollable sea force that has stopped one’s progress.

I am becalmed. The intramural director brought so much more hope into my creeping little life, and I could just see the good work I’d be doing and the happy place from within myself where it would grow. I made detailed lesson plans. I put together hoop dance workout music sets for different phases in the workout and for different sessions. I made fifteen hoola hoops from scratch with only a scant prayer that they return on their investment—all for this beacon. I was willing to give it my all, and I have been doing so.

I mentioned the hoop dance demonstration. I haven’t really hooped in a year, not since breaking my leg. Getting back up with the hoop and expecting my body to remember how to move was apparently more than I should have asked for. I’ve had to gradually rekindle the body memory of each new old move, syncopated, and coax them into transitions enough to consider dance. So I took my bag of the few moves I had time to pick back up, mixed them up, added some good music, and I’ve been rehearsing for my big hoop demo ever since learning about it a month ago.

“Go ahead,” more than one doctor said, “there’s nothing you can do to hurt your leg at this point.”

They were wrong. Tonight I started leaking synovial fluid again. Six days from my big campus debut, and I’m leaking. Again. I am, truly, becalmed.

I feel like a twitchy sailor trapped in an unreal bubble of inaction. What is the ocean but action? Yet, when becalmed, the sea becomes a glassine place where no one can act because of nature’s lethargy, all while you know that just outside that entrapped dome life zooms on. I feel angry, resentful, restless—anything that makes you want to lean overboard and just scream at the top of your lungs at the sea. No words, just primeval screaming at the height of human frustration.

Finding my sea voyage at last, I am becalmed. “Becalm” itself may be the perfect word. “Be calm.” Isn’t that what you say when the theatre catches fire?