Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chris' Summer Reading List

Okay, so it's halfway through summer and I've just issued my reading list. Well, to be honest, can you blame me? Everyone crowded around Memorial Day as though Summer Reading Started Then.

We all know Summer Reading Begins After School Lets Out.

However, I was knee-deep in planning a wedding. So, I give myself a pass.

Now that I am healing from a broken foot, Carole has given me a suggestion that has saved me from the brink of insanity: read. Don't worry about what needs to be done around the house. First of all, that's what David is for. (Okay, she didn't say that last part.) Second of all, exactly when will there be another excuse like this one?

"I'm sorry I can't vacuum, but I can't hop on one leg for that long." (Though David did jokingly suggest it, even pantomiming the Chris-hopping-action. We laughed.)

"I can't change the sheets. I just can't stand it."

"Mop? On one foot? On a wet floor? Honey, do you have a life insurance policy on me I don't know about?"

Long story short, it's time to read.

Here is what I plan to read this summer (and not exactly in this order):
  • 20th Century Ghosts. Little by little I finish this very good collection of scary short stories.
  • Ahab's Wife, or the Star-gazer. Carole loves the first line. Can you blame her?
  • Dark Angels. I borrowed it from Karen. She needs it back at some point in the future. Why not now? Anyway, I had picked it up at the library this past winter and never got to it, so now is as good a time as ever.
  • The Garden of Last Days. I still haven't recovered from The House of Sand and Fog, and yet I reach for Dubus' latest novel. What am I thinking?
  • The Golems of Gotham. I loved the title, so I bought it at a library sale a couple of years ago. Re-animating the dead as golems? In New York? As if I could resist.
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty. Carole will soon review the Gemma Doyle trilogy, which she and Corinne loved. I read the first chapter and liked it — but was lured away by Neil Gaiman.
  • Mistress of the Art of Death. I purchased this book a year or so ago and never got to it. Now it has a sequel. Maybe I'd better start the first one....
  • Sheer Abandon. Penny Vincenzi is a Must-Summer-Read.
  • There Will Never Be Another You. Kathy loved this one. I hope to, too. I want to read her autobiography as well. (Carolyn See, not Kathy's — though I'd read that one, too.)
  • Unaccustomed Earth. I started this book as soon as I fished it out of the Amazon box. I set it aside, however, because I wanted her stories to linger. I have enjoyed both of her other tomes, and I will pepper my reading with these wonderful stories.
  • The Year of Pleasures. Another Kathy pick. She hasn't steered me wrong yet!
Does this seem ambitious? Probably. However, I have time on my hands now that I'm not on my feet. Plus, if I get David to row out to the middle of the lake, I get to see him and read. I promise to make the best of this situation.

Wish me luck, and let me know if you can think of any other not-to-be-missed novels!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Crutch Girl: Lookin' Good

Well, the good doctor had good news this morning. I am healing well.

The bone appears to be intact enough to heal without intervention, as do the tendons. After exposing my foot to X-rays again in a week or so, I shall prove that while I'm an over-achiever when it comes to breaking things, I also know how to mend like a champ.

I have to learn patience and limitations, however. Despite multiple offers of assistance from family and friends, I found myself in need of carrying something tonight. And what did I do? I tried to carry it. Getting to the car wasn't too hard, but getting out of the parking lot at home with a couple of books in the grocery bag was.

I only bounced once off Suzie's car.

I didn't dent it, but I managed to bruise a knuckle I need for my crutches (which I tossed, but not far -- I was not that dumb at that moment, but slowly coming to the realization of my folly). I put the bag back in my car (for David to collect when he got home), slammed the door and hobbled up the stairs, swearing softly under my breath.

I managed to make it upstairs and actually change my clothes and straighten up the kitchen before I got too full of myself again. While trying to avoid sitting (and slipping) on the pile of newspapers on the couch, I hopped around to miss it.

And whacked my "good" foot hard enough to make it bleed.

That's when I sat down. Two parts of my body that I need for transit were in disrepair. I was positive I was going to do more damage, so despite my need to wash my hands and go potty (and not in that order), I stayed seated.

I could have scooted up the stairs, crawled to the dryer, folded the clothes and found a way to put them on top of the dryer, then pulled myself up on the washer to reach the soap and fabric softener to start the next load. However, I bet the washer lid would have landed with a solid and sickening crash on my unwounded hand, thus ruining all my other functional limbs and really pissing me off.

I was tired of having to ask for help. I wanted to prove I can take care of myself. The thing is, I can take care of myself: by asking for help.

Now, if I can just avoid hurting myself between now and then, I might survive this ordeal with a little of my dignity intact. I think I learned my lesson tonight. I suggest you all start a pool as to when I will forget it.

Update: For those who started a pool, whoever chose "instantly" won. I do believe it was later that night that I tried again to do more than I should. I warned you.....!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Crutch Girl: Time

You'd think a woman who has no mobility would be blogging and reading her brains out.

You'd think.

Somehow, that's not how it has worked out lately.

I can blame some of it on MySpace. I have posted a lot of photos for family and friends on that site. If you have a MySpace account, send me a notice to "friend" me.

The rest of it is just time. And boy, can things take time!

Take, for example, a shower. Last month, showers — complete with a dab of makeup and a mostly dry head of hair — took about 15 minutes from lights-on to lights-off. Now it takes me nearly that long to get the in and out of the shower stall, with some sudsing in between. (Pulling the ceramic soap dish out of the wall takes a little more time, but not a lot.) Part of it is caution of wet floors. The rest is getting annoyed at getting sweaty again at the exertion of it all. Summer has nothing on hopping for bringing out the sweat.

Leaving the house is a little more time-consuming as well. For a short while longer, there will be no more grabbing my purse and rooting around for my sunglasses while charging down the stairs.

Traveling downstairs is a challenge because crutches and gravity are a scary team. The hopping isn't too slow, but the crutches (being carried or used) add a level of complexity the judges should include in their scoring.

When hopping upstairs, it's just gravity that slows me down. That is, when David has a hold of the crutches. When I'm on my own, the crutches again require management. Vicky has suggested I borrow hers to put at the bottom of the stairs, and I very well might. Plus, let's be honest: by the time it's time to hop upstairs, I've already spent most of my energy on, oh, maneuvering around people not paying attention and waiting for a few elevators because seemingly able people prefer to keep their spot rather than share it with the tired crutch woman. (Don't start me on last night's elevator-full of people laughing because I stood waiting for the next car. Twice. Not a wheelchair, crutch, cane or elderly person in the lot. They laughed when I couldn't get on. Laughed.)

So, Speedy Gonzales I am not. I'm already chronologically challenged, so this does not make my life any easier. Every day brings new discoveries and challenges, such as, "What's appropriate to wear to work that will accommodate my boot?" and "Don't tell me I left my right shoe upstairs!" After a while I decide I don't care who can see through my skirt, I'm not going upstairs one more time for my slip. (Okay, I did go upstairs for the slip, but it was my third trip up the stairs, thus a tough call.)

Long story short, my time is spent doing things that I used to do in a quarter of the time. I'm about to go make myself a bagel for breakfast, and it will entail an elaborately choreographed dance. I'll hop across the room to retrieve the crutches, crutch into the kitchen, step over the cat who will get his soft food first, lumber between the bread basket and the refrigerator, decide I can't carry a drink then finally pull the stool into the kitchen so I can eat at the counter and near the tea. (Bottling the tea and carrying it into the dining room has merit, but not always.)

I'm grateful I'm strong enough to do it. However, it really is a pain. I can't wait to see what the doctor says tomorrow about how long this will be my life. I really hope he doesn't throw in any more surprises. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happily Married Ever After

Ladies and gents, the cast of thousands helped bring off the Event of the Century: David's and my wedding. It was fab and fun and I'm thrilled for two reasons: because now David and I are married and because it's behind us.

I had a great time and I heard the guests did, too, but it was juuuuuust a little stressful. I'm not sure why. Everyone else had the tough jobs. I just had to make sure I showed up on time.

And I did, dressed and ready to go. David was there in Kitty Pozer Garden waiting for me, looking more handsome than ever. He stood next to Jackie, who wrote the most beautiful ceremony and vows. She did a couple of really nice things: first, we had a chance to look behind us at our friends and family who came to the wedding; and second, she had us promise to honor each other's dreams.

And in the end, we had a great event. The food was great (thank you, Cheryl!), the company was great (thank you, everyone!) and Old Town Hall was beautifully decorated with the most lovely flowers (thank you, Louise!).

There are lots of photos out there, and I'll let you know when they're posted.

In the meantime, we had a great couple of weeks honeymooning. Manhattan was fabulous and Florida was a great family vacation. I did manage to mix things up with a broken foot as we returned to DC from New York, so the trip to Club Med was a little more sedate than I anticipated. David and I will celebrate the removal of my cast in September with a dip in a pool (location to be determined).

Now, life begins again — for David, right away and for me, after a trip to the orthopedist.

And now begins the best part of the wedding: the marriage. (Woo hoo!)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Crutch Girl: Top Five Kindnesses

As I begin my second week on crutches, I have discovered the true nature of people: they are thoughtless.

And by that, I mean they do not think. Their actions are rooted not in intentional rudeness or cruelty, but in the very act of not thinking about the consequences of an act.

Here are the top five kindnesses able-bodied people can do for someone who is less mobile or flexible than they are.

1. Don't hover.
Ladies, you know what I mean. Public toilets are a fact and necessity, and women use them by not touching a thing. As a result, sprinkles, splashes, drips and drops are found in great abundance around the toilet, sink, trash can, door — everywhere.

Without two good legs and balance, I need to touch the very places others avoid. I can't tiptoe around messes and I need to lean or balance against the sink. My feet/crutches/wheels need to find purchase on those wet floors. Most importantly, I need to sit.

Despite rumors to the contrary, no one ever died from touching facilities in a public bathroom, so use the facilities the way they were intended and clean up as you go, so to speak. Like in nature: leave nothing behind, especially a mess.

2. Hold the door. I know you're in a hurry. I've been there. However, it costs you 15 seconds to hold the door open for someone whose hands are otherwise occupied on crutches, wheels, gears and the like. If the door is electronic, hit the button, and wait to make sure the person makes it through. You have no idea how important this kindness is.

3. Hold your horses! Yes, I might be less steady on my foot. Yes, I might be slower on my wheels. It may take me a moment to get re-situated while conducting my business. (Try standing/hopping on one foot the entire time you are in line to pay for your groceries.) However, darting in front of me "real quick" to get your business done is rude and disruptive.

Just wait your turn. It may cost you 15 seconds, but unless you're performing CPR, that won't cost you your life.

4. Pay attention. Everyone is in a hurry — including, surprisingly enough, the person hobbling or wheeling through the cafeteria or bookstore. That individual with limited mobility is slower or moving more cautiously for a reason, such as injury (possibly with pain).

I may be slow on my crutches and focused on my path, but I am excruciatingly aware of everyone and everything around me. I can avoid swinging bags, arms, feet, etc. only so well. The rest is up to you. Know what you are doing around a person with limited mobility and possible injury, and actively give them wide berth.

5. Relax. The time it costs to live and let live, so to speak, is infinitesimal. Just for fun, stand still for 30 seconds — it may feel like an eternity, but you will quickly see it really is not that long. Most importantly, it could mean the world to the person next to you.