Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I was looking for sinks, I swear

I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone when I say that I am not the most experienced fellow in the world. But google's image search just showed me how naive I am and perhaps opened unexplored but icky avenues for me.

I was looking for photos of wheelchair-accessible sinks. In fact, I was going to write all about my search. I found a few ones I like, especially this one.

Then, keeping in mind that I was searching for wheelchair-accessible sinks, I came across a picture of two scantily clad ladies engaged in some behavior that their mothers probably would not approve of.

I was intrigued -- they didn't look like plumbers to me -- so I clicked on the photo and was transported to a hyper-disturbing world, where one can see, for a price, photos of many things that mothers do not approve of. One category of such things is for people with a wheelchair fetish.

I just read a blog post from a woman in a chair about this and learned that people fake being in a chair or dream about being in a chair to float their boats or others' boats.


If Dad hadn't just taken a shower and depleted the hot water, I think I'd take a shower. Oh God, now these freaks are probably turned on by that image. Ick, ick, ick.

It isn't that women in chairs are objects of attraction -- I know plenty of hotties in chairs. But speaking as a guy in a chair, I would like nothing better than to take a sledgehammer to my chair, except than I could not get anywhere. It doesn't seem that you could build much of a relationship when the thing one person likes is merely a tool the other person uses because they must. Plus, it's just a piece of metal.

I also learned from my one-hour crash course in wheelchair fetishes that it is mostly men liking women in chairs. I feel a little safer, just a little disappointed

Monday, December 29, 2008

Trapper Matt, MD

My brother who also has Friedreich's ataxia once wrote that he wanted, early in life, to be a surgeon because of the doctors of MASH. The FA made him change career choices more than once and now he is an ass-kicking peer counselor.

I liked MASH, too, but never once thought about being a surgeon. Sticking my hands in someone? Gross! I just wanted to be a wise-cracking skirt-chaser.

I do think I crack plenty wise; I crack myself up. The skirt-chasing? Not so much, damn FA.

I have rarely thought that the medical field might be a good one for me. I am pretty sure that hypochondriacs should not be doctors. Imagine this conversation:

    Patient: Doctor, I have had this weird cough.
    Me: Does it sound like this? [Coughs] Because I have had that cough for weeks. What do you think I should do? I am thinking it might be a bronchial embolism. Any advice?

I could not be a disease specialist either. Bad news makes me sad and you can't make jokes about cancer ... Well, you aren't supposed to; some people don't appreciate my talent there.

And if I specialized in a body part or system, that would be trouble, too. I am uncomfortable around way too many body parts. I could be just looking in someone's nose and I would just start to giggle and not tell my patients they were OK.

Even in research there would be trouble. I'd likely cause the resurgence of typhoid by accidentally dropping a sealed sample.

The worst might be Matt as a nurse or a technician. I am thinking of me about to administer a local anesthetic and I sneeze and the local goes in my skull but I can't feel it because I am anesthetized. The patient just looks horrified and I am like: "What? Where is it?"

I think we can all agree I am not cut out for medicine, but this does not stop me from feeling guilty I have shunned a medical career. Whenever someone I love is sick, I start thinking I could cure that. If I had gone into medicine, instead of wasting it in liberal arts, we would have no cancer, no paralysis, no late-night calls that someone is in surgery.

Yes, I am cocky and unrealistic. I am not that smart. But at least I'd be doing something. And who knows, maybe an MD could out-duel FA to make skirt-chasing possible.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Goddamn geese, you have made the list

I have been meaning to start an enemies list. I don't think I have any actual enemies, though.

I did tell someone at work that she could tell people she was on my enemies list if I ever become infamous like Nixon, but that was just because people seem to be so proud of being on Nixon's list.

At the top of my list, at least today: Wild geese.

They overrun work ever winter. Normally, the company hires the Geese Police to "get the flock out." They chase the geese with border collies, who really excite Claren. They haven't been around in a while, though. I am afraid the Geese Police may have fallen under the budget axe.

I pointed out to a guard at work that it was only a matter of time before people start saying I smell. It won't be me. It'll be my wheels because they are covered in goose poop.

This morning I wheeled up the driveway to give me more space to avoid the nasty green landmines. I could tell the sidewalk was an impasseable mine field.

It didn't help. When I wheeled away from my desk, I saw Claren start to sniff at the little green streaks.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Don't you think I want to stand?

Mass promised to become quite interesting this morning when the priest walked up to the altar with two hand crutches.

He, however, made a long explanation that he had just injured it skiing, and Mass quickly seemed inaccessible once more. The four steps up to the altar, the very words at the start "Let us stand."

This is part of the reason I am a Christmas and Easter Catholic.

There is also my poor hearing and my need for sleep.

It is not that I don't believe in God. I am certain God exists. It is just that I am not always sure God cares for me and I am even less certain that I care for God. We talk, or I rage. God is not too loquacious.

I wish I was certain about God and me, or even pretty sure. It seems to provide an overwhelming sense of peace in a maddening world, one where we went to church and my sister-in-law was OK, we came and she was in surgery, and by evening she seemed to be improving.

Mom told me years ago that she would believe God loves me until I was able to. When will that be?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas story

I was on the family room couch after dinner listening to Mom talk to my brother who is still in an Atlanta hospital with his wife who seems to riccochet between good and bad and leave of us those who love her dizzy.

This brother has Friedreich's ataxia, and his heareing is worse than mine. Mom's hearing is not great either. The point being: Mom needed to concentrate for this call.

I had other ideas.

I had to get up, so she noticed and took the dinner plate off my lap. I did not need her to do that or any of what followed. I am 99% sure I'd have been fine.

I then stood to get in my chair and slipped. I didn't fall and was recovering OK but Mom got up to help me while still on the phone. I then was up and pushed against the couch to go back into my chair. This would have worked except my arm slid past the cushions of the couch and I was stuck in the couch. Finally, I managed to free my arm and sat back in my chair with Mom's help. But I came into the chair at too low an angle so the cushion folded in half under me. I didn't want to stand back up so I put both feet on the couch and lifted myself up to get the cushion to unfold. It finally did, with Mom's help.

Then I left her to talk to my brother, whose wife is better today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oh Holey night (for any bad guys)

In what can only be called a stunning PR gambit of galactic proportions, Darth Vader and the Empire have donated an AT-AT Walker to watch over the nativity this year. By helping defend against Herod's slaughter of the innocents, perhaps the Empire is hoping to put a kinder face on Darth Vader, who had his own slaughter-of-the-innocents issue with the little Jedi.

This is the fourth year of Matt's nativity, I believe, when toys fill in for the Nativity figures I don't have, which is everyone but the Big Three. (Here is last year's.) This year, though, most of my toys are in storage awaiting the new home next Christmas. So this year there'll be no Borg or Buffy, no Superman or Spirit. The AT-AT was too big to store easily. For various reasons a few other toys are at Mom and Dad's to choose from so without further ado, here is my nativity:

Obviously, there is the AT-AT, which provides firepower as well as shelter if it turns rainy. Joseph will probably need to keep an eye on it, though, to make sure it doesn't turn bad. If it does, it should not be too hard to trip. Those things are really cool-looking but look wobblier than I ... almost.

The Big Three are obvious but new to my nativity since mine is also in storage. I realize they are a little big and perhaps render the whole thing a little unlikely. I mean Joseph is almost as tall as the AT-AT, so I apologize for asking you to suspend your idea of reality.

Starting from the far right, there is Strongheart the Paladin and his trusty but wingless bronze dragon, among the last characters to avoid storage. We needed to glue the dragon's paw so he came to Mom and Dad's. My only fear hear is if the dragon eats some of the farm animals. Bronze dragons are, as everyone knows, lawful good, but they are carnivores. And a dragon dinner would cast a pall over things. "Hey, baby Jesus, nice swaddling clothes; don't mind the dead cow. Bronzey got hungry."

Professor X, in front, is almost a staple in my nativity, being the coolest guy in a wheelchair (sorry, Stephen Hawking but he is played by Patrick Stewart). I figure if some shepherd starts belly-aching because he had too much mead and wants to see some miracles, Prof. X can mind-smack him. The tiny version is the only one I kept out for the time at Mom and Dad's.

One of the few new-to-me toys is Iron Man, who came to me when a friend was getting rid of things. If the shepherds are too much trouble for Prof. X, he'll do some mind-smacking of his own ... with a repulsor blast or two.

The Penguin, also new to me, is there in case of rain. He has the umbrella anyway. Mom questioned his place in the nativity because he is so mean-looking. There is that, but he is obviously symbolic that the kingdom of God is open to all, even sinners. i guess the symbolism would work better if I had a prostitute action figure. HINT HINT.

The Shogun Warrior will shoot of his fist at the sign of any trouble. It might not be the most effective offensive tactic, but I doubt Herod, muggers or wise guys will stand a chance this year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I need to be worried about

My sister-in-law is sick, and I am not happy about it.

I like when my family can mainly worry about me. God knows, I give them enough fuel.

Despite my physical problems and enormous load of emotional issues, I suspect I can survive. I can fall and laugh thinking about how it will freak my family out to tell them. And if I do die, why the hell should I care about that? I'll be dead.

But when somebody else is sick or in some kind of distress, I am robbed of the certainty that my family's worries are nothing to worry about.

Now I admit that it is a bit cocky to assert that under normal circumstances I am the one my family worries about, but it's kind of true. Even when things are unusual, I am screwed up enough that people worry about me worrying about the other issue. In fact I just got a call from a sister asking if I was all right.

I am rotten, I told her. I am sad, scared, worried and mad. I am listening to Handel's Messiah and about "the good tidings to Zion," and my brother's wife is on a ventilator.

She needs to get better and fast. Falling is less funny when people have other, legitimate worries.

Monday, December 15, 2008

lf I had a set of wings, man, I knew she could fly

Now I am not in the habit of referring to either of my chairs as a she. Not unless "goddammn piece of crap" is feminine. But today at lunch it was so windy, we were ready to take off, so the title seemed appropriate.

I had to bring my manual chair today because the van's muffler needed fixing. Personally, I liked the throaty growl that escaped from the Dodge Grand Caravan, but no one asked me.

I realized what I hate about the manual chair is not that I can't move cars or break elevators or the exercise. It is the slooowwwwwwwwwnessssssss.

I feel like it takes a year just to go downstairs at work.

Despite the slowness, it was worth it to use the manual today and feel the wind blow me along.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Back in the driver's seat

I have my latest wheelchair project for oldest nephew.

This is the same nephew who helped me rig up a sail on my manual wheelchair so I could glide effortlessly across the deck at a rented beach-house.

We attached the sail (a towel) at the top of the chair to get the most wind. Unfortunately, some idea of physics eluded us, and we neglected to consider that this would make the chair real top heavy, which it did. It did glide a few feet, then it flipped me over backward right in front of the big window where most of my family was sitting.

I say physics eluded us, but to be fair it eluded just me. He was like 10. I was near 30.

I can't say physics is on my side this time either but I just read about someone doing this: I want to move a vehicle with my power chair.

In the classification of rare diseases with familiar ones, Friedreich's ataxia is Muscular Dystrophy's cousin, and I could not ask for a more generous relative. Well, I could but that would be ungrateful. The Muscular Dystrophy Association gives me money to refurbish my chair annually, it holds clinics and they send me a magazine.

I generally just flip through the magazine, make sure some medical miracle has not been discovered (it never has, slacker doctors). But I always make sure to read the first-person columns they run by people in chairs. I admit that mostly I read them so I can think "dummy. I am so much more clever, cooler and less sappy than that."

That probably is not true in general, but it definitely is not true of the last column's author. In fact, I may have a new crush: Angela Wrigglesworth, the writer and, I just learned, a former Ms. Wheelchair Texas. She has spinal muscular atrophy, which isn't relevant, but one of my sisters has a friend whose daughter has SMA, so I had to give another sucky disease a shout-out.

I'd link to her story, but the magazine, Quest, doesn't post its stories in a linkable way. But it is here, on p. 64, the "Rolling with Laughter" column.

In the story, Ms. Wrigglesworth sees a broken-down car at rush hour, persuades the dubious and obnoxious driver that she can push his car with her chair, and then does - all the way to a service station.

I guess the only question now is: What kind of car to start my pushing career with?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

When you gotta go ...

Fortunately, this is not about me.

I took Claren for a walk last night because when I had the chance to take her out in the morning and at lunch it was raining.

In this neighborhood of unfriendly or absent sidewalks, I just walk in the street and that's fine.

The problem is picking up after Claren. If she goes near the curb, no problem. But farther into the grass can be an issue. I have a few spots where I can reach or there are workable curb cuts nearby so I can get into the grass easily.

Of course, she had no interest in going at the first two designated spots. Then halfway to the third, she jerks me into the grass. I jerked back but then saw she was clearly uncomfortable, so let her back in the grass, where she proceeded to poop between two and three feet from the curb.

No curb cuts nearby. I guess I could have gotten on the ground and crawled into the grass. How would explain that, though, to the people whose front yard I was crawling through. Plus, I would have gotten soaked.

Instead, I called Dad to come up a block and a half to pick up after my dog. He did. Pretty humiliating. Pretty loving, too.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

And another thing ...

Besides not having room to accommodate my dog, a twin bed has other liabilities.

I cannot easily take my shirt off in bed. For instance, if I were getting busy with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and tried to pull off my shirt, I might just tumble right out of bed and if it did not kill me, it would probably kill the mood.

In reality, I was just trying to pull off my long-sleeve shirt so I could snuggle deeply under the covers for a long winter's nap. And I fell into the wall, not off the bed. I don't like to brag but I am pretty good at aiming my falls. That's something, right?

And it was a long winter's nap. I slept till noon. I had wanted to go to a memorial service for a co-worker at 11, but the idea of getting up at 8:30, showering, dressing up was pretty overwhelming. The final straw was when I realized the service was in an auditorium with stadium seating and the only place for me, or any wheelchair user, is behind the first section. That would mean that unless there were enough people to fill the first section, I would be alone. Or someone would feel obligated to sit back with me. Or someone would try to bounce me down the steps into the first section. None of those ideas sounded good, so I slept in.

I hate giving in to my Friedreich's ataxia like that. I would have gone if not for the chair and crap, and I don't like to let them stop me. Not that I knew the guy well at all. But death bothers me, and so I wanted to go to show support, but I think it was a good call to sleep in.

I dreamed of the new house last night. It will be awesome, if my dream house is any indication. The only problems were that I did not have my shelves for toys and that the sinks were too high, I could roll under them fine, but they came up to my chest. Well, one of them did ... the first time. But when I tried to point it out to the architects, who were actually IT people form work, the sink was the right height.

And I really hope that the bidet in the real house is not blue, made of wood and about a foot in diameter.

Stranger in the same land

Surveyors are in the field working, the first step in the transfer of the fields to a builder. I guess signing the contract was really the first step, and Mom did that last week.

I am surprised at how rotten it made me feel. Not just because when I tried to play with Claren in an alternate spot, she rolled in poop.

I had tried to play in the ten we have for Claren and it was OK, but Claren just lay there chewing on her ball. We went to the side yard by the garden, and Claren found a tiny bit of poop that was big enough to smush all over her cheek.

We could have played in the field, I know, and I could have just thrown the ball into the garden, but I figured Claren would not really understand that and would want to run in the field. Maybe it would bother the surveyors. I don't know.

It would have felt like I was trespassing.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Like the dog who thinking he is going to get tutored

I saw this guy on his way out of the cafeteria as I was on my way in. Not to eat, of course, just to reach the outdoors to take Claren out. I eat at my desk.

He said "Matt!" and started talking. I knew we knew each other, but I was blanking on who it was. And as usual I couldn't hear what he was saying. I think I smiled and said something like "yeah" or "wow."

He said thanks and then said he had a book coming out in August and his teaching gig, so he said he had a lot of irons in the fire.

I suddenly realized he was telling me he had been laid off and I was smiling at him like a moron.

As I was leaving work, I saw the desk of one of my co-workers was empty. Cleaned out empty, no pennant or other personal effects. He told me he was worried.

Layoffs just seem like such a horrendous proposition. Now the people who are left feel maybe lucky, maybe guilty for being lucky, definitely overworked.

And those of us who can't hear well live in dread: Did you say we're inspired or fired?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let's spend the night together

I didn't sleep well last night. I was awake, it seemed, every hour. I was sure I was sick or something.

What made it bearable was that Claren slept most of the night with me.

I told Mom this morning that I didn't sleep, and she said that maybe it was because you had a big dog in your bed.

If it was, it was worth it.

Claren seemed dubious when I told her to get in the twin bed first and then got in and scootched her over. Actually, the hardest part was pulling up the covers because she was lying on them.

It really felt nice to have her there next to me, even if she did jump off at 4 a.m. and use my crotch as a takeoff point.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's my bathroom and I'll cry if I want to

If I was not so grossed out by my hemorrhoids or fissures or whatever is chafing my butt, you would have to agree that I am the toughest and baddest man in the whole damn town, no, the whole world.

Alas, I am too grossed to give the blow-by-blow of how I get medicine up in my cute little tushy. Suffice it to say it involves a lot of groaning, heroic grips, Plastic Man-like wrapping of the Super Pole and more.

I had to wait until after all the post-Thanksgiving party left before attempting this Herculean feat of medicating myself. For one thing, I didn't want to scare them off with the grunts and groans (I am reading a story about zombies and have decided that the chilling moans of the zombies probably sound like I do when I am doing anything.)

The other reason, and high on my list of why a house full of people can about knock me out: People close the bathroom door after leaving. It is hard enough for me to knock on a door. It is way too much to expect my deaf ears to hear a response. With just a handful of visitors, I can keep track of people and know when the bathroom is free by keeping an eye on everyone.

I suppose we could rig up something like plane restrooms have that would say "Occupied" in red above the door. But again if someone just left the door closed, I would see the "Occupied" sign for hours and finally rush outdoors to solve my issues.

But the medicine would be in the unoccupied "Occupied" bathroom.

Maybe sensors in the floor would work. Or we could hire a bathroom attendant for when we have parties. And the attendant could also help me put on the medicine. I am unsure whether we need to hire a supermodel for this task.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where is the book teaching backward driving?

My brother is a librarian and I love books, but I haven't been to a library in close to 15 years.

I went a few times when I lived in North Carolina so I could satisfy my Alex Cross fetish without having to buy those big honking mystery thrillers. The thing I remember most about that library was that they did not charge fines for returning books late.

I went today to the local library here and soon realized why I am not a fan.

I found the first book I wasted easy enough. World War Z by Max Brooks was right where it should have been and I only had to kick out of the way one of those rolling step stools. I am pretty excited by it, not only because the author is Mel Brooks' son. I started it and it is neat.

It was the nonfiction books that presented the problems.

First of all, our supposedly superfunded library was without any titles by this author recommended to me. They did have several works by esteemed actor and star of TV's Wonder Years Fred Savage.

Instead, I decided to go with a book by Sarah Vowell, who makes me laugh. It was in the 932 area of the nonfiction. I rode the elevator down to the nonfiction and stopped.

The aisle numbers, which are at wheelchair height, do not correspond to the Dewey decimal system numbers. I found right aisles and by chance glanced up and saw at eye level for standing adult was the Dewey stuff.

I could not find my Sarah Vowell book. (Yes, Mom, I should have let you write down the numbers.) So I went to the end of two long aisles looking. On the way back out I took a book or two or five with me.

I am actually not proud of this. There was no room to turn around, and while I wish I could back up straight, the skill eludes me. And the odd-size books just hang off the shelves, asking for a smacking.

Bearing the brunt of my wheeled attack was a book about the Mayan ruins, IN COLOR, it shouted. I picked it up, saw the black-and-white photos and decided it deserved it.

I suppose I could find books via the Internet and have Mom pick them up, but that kind of defeats the purpose of browsing in a library. And perhaps worst of all: Getting caught in a library after it closes so it is just you and the books, that is kind of a dream of many book lovers. But now, being caught would really mean caught. I'd probably get trapped and the staff would find my withered corpse one day.

Knowing my luck, I'd have gotten stuck in an aisle about fashion or women's health issues.

In other news, I go back to work tomorrow. today my company announced coming layoffs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Give me a sign

I realized last night while watching the "World Famous" Lipizzaner Stallions (the quotes are theirs) that I am going to hell.

You can read about the horsey stuff here.

This next thing is not something I didn't know; it is just something I am finally admitting in public.

I am totally infatuated with sign-language interpreters at shows.

Is that wrong?

I could hardly turn away from them last night. Their faces are so expressive and they always look friendly and even if you don't know signs and can hear (sort of), you can sort of follow along.

It really helps if the interpreter is cute and into the show, as she was at Bruce Springsteen's Rising concert. I can't hear "Land of Hopes and Dreams" without thinking of her swaying back and forth signing "whores and gamblers." Yowza!

P.S.: If any family member thinks perhaps that this is more than you needed to know, think about me when my 19-year-old nephew was telling me how cute the new Bond girl is.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where's the intolerance when you need it?

I read email from the mailing list, INTERNAF, about ataxia, and I just wind up feeling wretched.

It is not that the list is bad or mean -- not like the good old days in the Wild, Wild West of the Internet 10 or 15 years ago when a simple "Merry Christmas" would elicit a two-week, red-hot flame war between atheists and religious people. But people have become more tolerant on email. SIGH. Those were good times.

Now, I read posts from people trying almost any new drug to find something that might cure them. I don't do any of that. I took Coenzyme Q10 for a while, but it made my stomach feel yucky, or it was at least a likely suspect, so I stopped. I took a multivitamin, too, but I read stuff that said they were pretty worthless so I gave up on them.

Or there are the posts from those who work out incessantly to preserve as much of their muscle as possible. Other than throwing a ball with a lacrosse stick to Claren, the only exercise I might do is bend over at my waist and slowly sit up. And that is a might.

Especially in the cold. Even thinking about riding my trike makes me want to take a nap under an afghan.

I suspect that I am less active in pursuing medical solutions is because I am in better shape than some people with Friedreich's ataxia. Maybe the exercisers, too, have more time to work out because they can't work. I can't shake the feeling, though, that I am just a lazy good-for-nothing.

I think I'll write a saccharine-sweet post about how God loves us all and the FA is just God's way of showing us we are special. See if we can't lower the level of discourse. I'll feel better.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

They shall be carried

I went to work about 4 today, a day off, so I could get a ride to a friend's goodbye party at 5:30. I was a little worried that if I just went from home at 5:30, i might bail on the whole thing because it would be dark out and because I am a big wuss.
e and got in. The first odd thing was the guy who drove me decided between the time he let me out and the time I got in to not come in himself.

The bar had a nice automatic door to get in but the gathering was up several steps. A guy I knew came in while I was thinking about what to do. He found the party and brought back some other guys to carry my chair up the steps.

I am conflicted, as always, about being carried. For the most part, it is freakin' awesome. But there is that nagging part of me that whines: "But you can't leave if you want easily; you are dependent; haha, you suck." My inner nag is a mean bastard, huh?

Actually, I could have used the easy way out.

Claren was acting real clingy and fawning. I was pretty sure she had to be excused, but we were kind of stuck. She held it like a trooper but did take the first opportunity when we left the bar to make her colon gladder.

It was, of course, wonderful to see my friend off, wonderful and sad to hear someone say they'll miss you, and even pretty cool to be carried.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Take that!

I just completed Day 2 of my week off. I could really get used to staying up late, sleeping, playing with Claren and goofing off.

Of courses, hassles intrude. The loose arm on my wheelchair finally got replaced today. Now it is sturdy. Yes, sir, so sturdy, in fact that it does not really move unless you put some muscle into it.

The real problem, the one that makes me feel like barfing, is that I just signed up for health insurance next year. They dropped my old plan, and the only one that still had my doctor available was a stupid health fund account program. It seems so stupid to sign up for insurance that is essentially a gamble that I won't get sick. Hello, I already am sick, way freaking sick. But I had no effing option. A less-kind person might wish adult-onset ataxia on every single executive in the health insurance business. I just hope they break their FUCKING legs.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I finally used my tortellini

When I lived in my condo, I used to buy big things of chicken tortellini and Mom would divide it up into meal-size portions and put it in my freezer. Not that I cooked tortellini that often -- filling a pan with water to boil was never that easy. Then I found some you did not need to freeze, so I used that.

Long story short: When Mom cleaned out my freezer she brought home a packet of tortellini that had been in there for years.

Last night I was watching the Redskins choke against the Cowboys and I got up to excuse myself. I had to go kind of urgently so I didn't flip my chair off. Mistake. I stood up and I guess my sleeve caught the chair's joystick.

When the irresistible force of a power chair meets the immovable object of a porcelain toilet with my leg between, guess what happens? PAIN!

Serious pain. So I was in a state of minor undress (unzipped pants), my right hand was keeping me from falling, my left leg is being crushed by the chair, and my left hand was flailing about trying to grab the joystick.

I managed to croak "Mom" loud enough for her to hear and Dad, too, who had gone to bed. When she got out to the bathroom, I also was able to tell her to move the chair. (For the record, I am fairly certain that if calling for help was not an option, I would have survived somehow. I did here.)

When she did back the chair up, the relief I felt almost made me throw up. Really.

One good thing: The searing pain in my leg did totally remove the urgency to pee. I am not sure I'd recommend that as a solution to urgency problems, though. But it was a good thing because I did still have to go (just not urgently), but the nerves in my leg were firing all at once keeping me from putting weight on it. That and the confusion from Mom and Dad about what the hell I was doing still at the toilet kept me from going immediately, but I did go and returned to the game because I am a player (not a wuss like certain Redskins).

I then told Mom that "I didn't think anything on my foot was broken" but I wanted her to look at it. She did and found a big angry bruise, so even though my feet were freezing we put the frozen tortellini on the bruise to keep the swelling down. At first, my nerves kept my leg bouncing but eventually it relaxed, and the tortellini even worked. No pain today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cujo Claren

When I was growing up, one of my uncles had a dog that was part Labrador retriever and part Rottweiler. Ragweed was a wonderful dog, but she had a smile that looked vicious and she no doubt scared off plenty of people.

I guess Claren can look fierce from the right angle; mostly, I think, she is kind of goofy-looking, especially when she is playing (Imagine this object just rolling back and forth).

She apparently did not look harmless and goofy to a kid this afternoon – she was more Cujo than cuddly. It's my fault, but I am not sure what I'd do different next time.

Claren and I were out by the edge of the driveway, playing ball in the field, which is our property even if it is sort of seen as a park. I saw this man and two kids approaching, so I stopped throwing the ball and just waited. They got up to me and introduced themselves, and at some point Claren must have decided the little boy wanted to play because I looked up and she is loping after him and he is running. I thought everything was good until the dad yelled something like, It's OK, and the kid was crying.

The kid disappeared into our garage and the dad went in to comfort him. My little sister came out to settle things down and I took hold of Claren's collar.

I guess I could have grabbed her collar as soon as I saw them, but Claren does not make the first move. But I did not see the kid try to grab her ball or suggest somehow he wanted to play. Maybe if I could hear well I would have realized that the kid was not having fun and could have yelled at Claren.

Several relatives have said they came in to our yard. While that might work legally, I need Claren to be better than a regular dog. And I need to be a better-than-a-regular-dog-handler. One of us is falling down on the job, and I don't think it is her.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I don't know what I have been doing at the meetings with the architects and when looking at the plans the past few months. The last couple days I actually started thinking about how I'd get dressed or where my clothes would be. I realized the plan needs some changes.

Fortunately, Mom and my little sister were able to make it work within the space we have, but HOW STUPID AM I?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where were all my helpers?

Almost every day at lunch I pull out my A&W Root Beer and am scared it spilled. You see the can is decorated to look like a mug overflowing with root-beer-y goodness.

Today, though, I did not need to imagine it. I spilled my drink.

It was sitting on my desk to the left and I just knocked it over. I have a brace on the left side of the chair to hold me straight. It does that, but it also keeps me from leaning over to the left.

I'll tell you, nothing quite as helpless as watching a can slowly pour out but you can't reach it.

I did eventually right the can, but most of the root beer was now on my desk.

Then I had to clean my desk off sticky root beer. I know I have said I can clean my desk, and I did, but it really sucks.

I got root beer all over me, I got stuck with my wheelchair controller pushing into the desk. But I did get it all cleaned up and hopefully not too sticky.

I know I am totally stupid. I whine when people help me and when they don't.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Look at me

Everyone who has a service dog can tell you how people see the dogs first and then them. A big selling point for service dogs is that they attract the attention that might normally go to one's wheelchair or whatever. And I sure don't mind when people say hi to Claren first.

But when they ignore me or act disappointed to see me, I have to draw the line.

There is a woman at work who asked me once if she could say hi to Claren. I said she could, thinking we'd never she her, and mostly we don't.

Today was one of the days we did.

As we were getting off the elevator with her, she said, Bye, Claren. I said bye because I was 99% sure Claren wouldn't (You can never be certain with Claren; she'll fool ya). The woman responded, Oh, bye. It sounded like she was saying: "Bye, random person who I wasn't even talking to."

Maybe I just need to be less offended by possible subtext.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can I get an autograph?

I hate being given a birthday or get-well-soon card to sign at work.

It is bad enough that I have to sign things when I can hardly write. After seven years, my boss gets this. He asks if he can write the note and I'll sign it. On my review, he dated it for me. Our section's old office manager did that, too.

Neither was around today when I got a get-well card for this guy who I know but quite casually. I didn't dare write a long note because he'd never be able to read it, but at the same time I did not just want to sign "Matt" for fear he'd be like: "Who?"

To make things worse, I was one of the last people to get the card, so if I did write a note it would have to be front and center. Other people already took the less conspicuous spots. And even though it is illegible, I don't write small.

Finally, I decided to just sign Matt and to hell with it. I did not want to take up half a page writing "Get well soon." And I found a nice inconspicuous spot on the back that was just big enough for my signature. Actually, I spun the crossbar on the two t's a little out of control and that went into another note.

But I wasn't done yet. I had to find someone else who had not signed it and give it to them. It wasn't so hard with the get-well card because the recipient was not at the office. But with a birthday card, you need to whisper and surreptitiously find someone who hasn't signed it. I don't do surreptitious.

I eventually just gave the get-well card to the office manager to redistribute as she saw fit. Maybe I can teach Claren to write.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Better than nothing, I guess

I a m not sure it is worth losing a friend to NYC, but I came home today with books and comics and graphic novels.

My friend who is relocating cleaned out her desk and invited me over to take whatever looked good.

I went over once and she wasn't there so I didn't take anything. That would have felt weird.

But she told me to come back and she went through her boxes hunting for stuff I'd like. That was pretty awesome. She seemed quite delighted to find some thing, and I look forward to giving them a read. She is less into superheroes than I am, but her recommendations are rarely boring.

I kept the Iron Man figure by my computer at work, along with the handy but very girly case to hold all his accessories.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I decided this morning to be safe so I got my slippers on before I got in my chair this morning. I actually tried to put them on before I got out of bed, but I fell and Dad put them on my feet when I was on the floor.

I somehow survived falling into the 10-inch gap between my bed and the cast iron radiator next to it. Except, of course, I was kind of wedged in there pretty good.

I got Dad to help and quickly followed the "Hey Dad" with an "I'm OK" so he wouldn't freak when he saw his son upside down and bent in half.

He didn't, at least outwardly.

I can't say as much for me.

My little sister dropped off her kids just after the fall. "You look shell-shocked," she said.

I was. I had used up all my adrenaline less than a minute after getting up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wheel-under sink

The top of the controller for my chair sits probably 36 inches off the ground. The sink at work is a roll-under, and the bottom edge is about 35.5 inches. I can get under to wash my hands fine, but normally my chair cannot go all the way under the sink.

All bets are off when I yawn, though.

Like all the other response reactions -- a sneeze, a cough -- yawning is trouble for me. It is, perhaps the height of idiocy (at least for tonight and yes, I am talking to you, God) ... the height of idiocy that these common everyday reactions involve risks of life and death for me.

Tonight, it was just my chair. I yawned, and remember thinking: "It's all right; there's nowhere to go." You see, I knew already that yawning is dangerous. My arms seem to move on their own and they move very sharply. My knees arch up of their own volition.

There was nowhere to go, I guess, except for straight under the sink. My hand just stretched out and "floored" the controller. I heard several cracks (to the chair, not the sink), and then I was stuck under the sink. Once you get past the 35.5-inch bottom, the sink opens up underneath.

After I banished nightmare images of firefighters having to cut away the sink to get me out, I worked myself out.

My chair remains in one piece, quite damaged, though. I am quite damaged, too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Back when spam was good

I have started scanning my spam folder at work regularly these days because some of my emails have started going in there. What I have noticed is how boring the subjects have become. All of the subjects mention dieting or sexing yourself up.

A few years ago, that was when spam was good. Here is a poem I wrote then taken from spam titles.

By lose go catnap
and draw as rattlebrained burdock
I shut he railway ecumenical
I play at semantics
Do sleep do clothier splatter
As give do persuasive boozy
Be open is salmonella
I take on coriander
That leave my windowsill filly
But wait a wold
In fly a imposter
But go an riparian prodigious
By study a unfaithful layman
The sleep it miry soap
Go spend no ragamuffin debilitate
To study a sizzle truculent
Are complain my thin suspenders
Re: My fill of active corset

I'd stack that up against any free verse poetry. The only problem is it doesn't rhyme.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Not even an "astounding, outstanding" annual review has been able to snap me out of a funk today.

I am sure it is because it is getting dark early now and will get dark even earlier for a while. My schedule is going to be flopping around through the end of the year, too, which makes my stomach do flip-flops just thinking about it.

Plus, I told my boss in my review that it would be hard to top. He not only agreed but suuggested I probably wouldn't.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Goin' up the country

As I was wandering down the hall to the elevator for the second -- the first time I had to go back and drop off some papers --all I could think of was the lyric "gonna jump in the water, stay drunk all the time."

And I don't drink. Never have. I don't like the taste of alcohol; I don't like what it does to some people. I am just not a fan, let's say.

But on the way out of the office tonight, I was ready to go "where the water tastes like wine."

It was a hard day at work; we have been short-staffed this week and were shorter today. And of course, there was as lot to do. So I did it and got home too tired to walk Claren or do anything but watch TV.

The day began poorly, too. This morning, I did not feel like crying when I looked at the shower chair but I did when my feet slipped out from under me when I stood to transfer to it.

I slid forward till my shin hit a corner and the other foot caught on the door. I had to call Dad in to help me up because I could not get my feet under me. I can't really blame Dad for not shutting the door and watching surreptitiously until I was safely in the shower chair.

Tomorrow's Friday, so that's something, I guess.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Claren the comedian

I don't think she did it on purpose, but I will give Claren the benefit of the doubt.

In dog training back when I got her, the trainers told us that dogs are really attuned to their owners' mood and that dogs will know when their owners get depressed. The trainers said the dogs react in two ways: They try to cheer their owners up or they get depressed right along with you. Claren is usually one of the latter.

Today was not a great day to begin with. This morning, I had the energy to breathe, I was not sure if I had any else. I looked at the shower chair and wanted to cry because it was going to be hard to transfer into it. It wasn't and I survived, but it was that kind of day. And it frustrates me that I had four days off to recoup, but Monday wiped all my energy completely away.

I don't think she did it on purpose, because Claren does the same thing most days. When I call her out from under the desk to go home, she comes out, stretches, then rubs her face on the rug, flops on to the floor and squirms around with a silly look on her face.

Tonight, I was running late; I was tired; I just wanted to go home. Claren had other ideas. She flopped on the floor once and again and again. I would wheel toward her and she would pop up, make sure i had stopped and flop down again. I got madder and madder until I just gave in and started laughing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Elmo sitting in Darth Maul's lap

It is almost biblical, isn't it? Like the lion laying down with the lamb? The boy was dressed as Elmo, the furry red muppet, and he was with his dad, who was dressed up like Star Wars villain Darth Maul. Maybe that is why I like Halloween. You can see the fantastic.

At least you can at a big neighborhood party a friend throws every year. It is huge. A moon bounce, a potato bar, s'mores, a fortune teller. Best of all, there is an outdoor fireplace, and it is wonderful.

Continuing my social butterfly weekend, I went to this party this evening. I saw several friends and their dressed-up children. And I saw the parents of a friend I went to college with. I am not sure if I saw the dad since we joined him on spring break in Florida to watch Spring Training in my fourth year of college.

I need to figure out a good way to eat when I am not at a table. Plenty of people offered to bring me food, even people I don't know. But I don't feel balanced enough to eat on my lap.

But it was fun, and for once I stayed warm.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Surviving a reunion

My little sister said to me that I could not be upset if people at the reunion were not all that crazed to see me. It seems, she said, that all the people going are still friends and so our gathering might be a more of just a night out at a bar.

My little sister is silly.

Everyone was happy to see me, starting with the gal who screamed "Matt" when she saw me. Then there were the people I did not recognize who gave me hugs and talked with me. What was particularly nice was that some people sat down to talk to me, so you know, I heard 75% of what they said. I hate trying to talk or listen to people who are standing. It is too hard.

I don't think anyone asked me to wear a puffy shirt. I wouldn't swear it, though.

I felt bad for dragging Claren out to a loud, crowded bar. I don't think she really minded but every time she got settled someone's foot nudged her. That's OK because I did more than nudge a few feet in my travels through the bar. People were nice about it, though.

Actually, what I felt bad about mostly was leaving early. Well, that and the fact that my indeliable memory of someone singing "Sweet Dreams" at a talent show was disputed. And I know I am right.

Friday, October 24, 2008

... Touch me, heal me

Now I know that everyone is breathlessly awaiting my recap of tonight's St. James Rocket Reunion, but as with a fine wine, I need a little time to savor the bouquet and digest the evening. But I am not one to leave my horde of readers thirsty. Here is what I was writing before the butt-breaking incident.

I went for a walk at work the other day and I came upon one of my co-workers.

She and I had talked a bit the day before about all the bad news out there. She said it was hard t to follow and said she had spent the night before watching Monty Python on Youtube with her son. She had asked if I was OK and I said I was tired.

When I saw her on the walk, she looked at me for a second and then just patted my shoulder.

It took me by surprise and made me feel so good.

Well, 60% glad, 40% jealous.

I don't dare try to spontaneously pat someone on the shoulder. I might hit their ear or if it was a gal, maybe I'd get arrested for accidentally copping a feel.

I actually had a friend who was going through some hard times a few years ago and I remember telling Mom how much I wanted to pat her shoulder, just to let her know I was thinking of her. I finally did, but only after I told her I wanted to so my stiff arm moving cautiously toward would not freak her out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm such a hard ass

I was writing something else just now, when I had to get up and go to the bathroom. I did, although I did not want to. Mom's prayer group is out in the family room and the bathroom I use is just off there. It is not particularly private.

It's not as if I had a choice, though, so I went out there and went in. I was mostly worried about my crazy grunting.

Oh, I needn't have worried about that.

I am realizing that in the new house, I want the toilet next to a wall on the left side. I am not as good getting on to the toilet when the wall is on my right, like it is here.

Tonight I went down with a thud and a crack. When I got up, I saw I had cracked the toilet seat with my butt.

I did not grunt or anything; the only weird noises (other than the loud crack) was me laughing as I thought about explaining it.

Monday, October 20, 2008


A Facebook friend from grade school found my diatribe about people friending after they had been mean to me. What struck me -- after the "omg, I've been found out" moment -- was that she talked about "sharing good times" with me.

I just don't remember good times related to grade school.

How pathetic is that. There must be some.

There was the time in Great Books when this guy hauled off and hit some girl in the stomach, but that was more weird than good.

I had a crush on my fifth-grade teacher, I guess. That's good, right? Of course she moved to San Francisco at midyear. I mailed her a little 49ers pennant, but she did not come back and pledge her undying love to me. Maybe she could be my sugar-mama now?

My brother and his friends let me play with them, so those were good times.

Have I have just blocked out the good times that involved grade school? I am meeting some of my former classmates for a reunion Friday. They can set me straight.

Oh, I remember one. We were at a class mass and the priest, during his homily smacked the Bible. Some kid muttered, you should treat the Bible better. The priest heard. That was funny.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cold crap

It has been fall-like for the past two days. Nice weather, except I can't feel my feet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

i pity me

A growing contingent of co-workers is advocating that I dress up like Mr T for Halloween. By contingent I mean two. By growing I mean that yesterday it was 1.

We can wear costumes to work, but I have asked them both what other people at work will be wearing while I am in a Mohawk, vest and gold chains. One of them at least had the honesty to answer appropriate work clothes.

This started because a girl at work, on the young side of 25, did not know who Mr. T was. Others told her, but I suggested that I be Mr. T, given my last name.

I am still not sure what I'll wear, but I just found out that another good friend won't be there to see me. She will stay with company but move to NYC. A hard time gets harder.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why would I want to be friends with jerks?

I am Facebook friends with 10 people I went to St. James grade school with, nine of them are girls (women now, I guess).

It goes back to the friend request I accepted from some guy who was in my high school class. I don't think we ever talked in high school or if we did, he was making fun of me. He was one of the beautiful people then. I have never been in with the in crowd.

I am not sure why he friended me, and I have always felt moderately untrue to myself for accepting. I am too kind to sever the friendship, though. I will just suck it up ... this time ... But I decided that people who were unkind to me 30 years ago are not people I want to associate with.

That explains the female majority. The girls were as nice as boys and girls ever are in grade school, but at least they weren't jerks,

In sixth grade, for instance, we did Kris Kringle. I got nothing, and the last day before break when everyone else in the class got their "big" present from their Kris Kringle, I got an explanation from my teacher: So-and-so forgot your present, he'll bring it in after the holidays. What I got finally was a regifted CHiPs motorcycle model, which would have been fine but the jackass opened it and lost some of the pieces.

Granted they may have changed, but you know what: I don't care. People in my family laugh about me missing an average of 30 days a year in grade school. With the crap I put up with, I should have stayed home 300.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I have some issues

Here was my dream from last night:

I was back at UVa, watching a softball game between work friends. I was in my chair and had Claren with me … sort of. It wasn't the living Claren but a taxidermied copy, kind of like Rowdy from Scrubs or if she had been the victim of the Impedimenta curse.

I was watching the game kind of surreptitiously from the outfield because I did not want people to think I had nothing better to do with my time than watch non-athletes play softball. It started to rain lightly, and there was a structure with a roof near home plate. Again, though, I was afraid people would think I was a loser if it became clear that my sole reason for being out near the field was watching them.

Instead, I wheeled past and went down the path to a bridge over Emmet Street. At least it was supposed to be a bridge over Emmet Street. Instead, the street was a huge river and was up above the bridge at some points. I turned around and went to another bridge and it was even worse. This other bridge had no railings or anything, just little lips on the sides. As I turned around again, a biker went past me without warning and zoomed over the bridge. I think I was going to head back to the game, but as I turned my two front wheels went up on one of the lips of the bridge. I had enough time to see two people on the bridge and shout "Help! Help!" And I had enough time to think I am buckled to my chair so I am going to die when it sinks. Then I started falling into the river. I remember nothing more.

Unfortunately, it is a fairly true representation of things. No, I have not drowned, but yes, I do feel odd taking too much of an interest in sports people play for fun. They can be interested because they are playing. I feel like some people would think I was odd to watch.

But I promise I won't have Claren stuffed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Boy barking

The second we get home from work, Claren rushes to grab her ball. When she drops the ball, the barking starts. She is reminding me that the ball is on the ground, that she is waiting for me to throw it and that I should hurryhurryhhurry.

If I really try, I can keep her from barking, but I enjoy it and she deserves. She is quiet all day and must have so much steam to blow off.

How I envy her.

I didn't have the energy to go to a farewell party for one the top dotcom folks at work. It didn't help that some people were thinking of going out afterward to a bar up some stairs. Plus, if I don't let Claren run around in the late afternoon, I risk death taking her out at night. It is so dark around here and the sidewalks stink.

I have gotten no new hits on the condo, and I work in business news. The news gets worse every day. I look at the stories and just want to cry. It may have been exciting for a while; now it just makes me weary.

It is just so hard, and that isn't a shock. I just wish it could get easier, or even not harder. Maybe I need to take up barking.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I am a wimp, but not a hypocritical son of a bitch or an ascetic

That headline is really the only way I can figure to unite three unrelated tales.

The wimp

I have wanted to go to SPX for years, this year in particular because I wanted to meet a writer. Not a huge deal but it has been in the back of my mind. I had told a friend months ago that I'd be asking her for a ride.

But I went to the comic book store last week and realized that SPX is nearly upon me. It is tomorrow.

I went to talk to my friend about a ride on Tuesday, but she was not there, then I got bogged down at work. I was getting worried, too: What if she stays longer than I want? What if I can't fit Claren in her car?

On Thursday, my boss was going out of town and he asked me if I could be on call if anything happened over the weekend. I thought of SPX, but heard myself saying, sure, I'll be around all weekend. I think I was looking for a reason not to go.

But not a hypocritical son of a bitch

I don't use those disposable toilet seat covers.

I am not opposed to them, but they'd need to come with sticky tape to stay on when I sat down. And then there's the whole careful placement of them. I know it would only be a matter of time before my hand slipped when putting the cover on and I was suddenly up to my elbow in toilet water.

I also don't think they are that worthwhile in normal restrooms anyway. Filthy ones, OK; my office restroom, I doubt they're needed. But whatever. If they make someone feel a bit safer, then awesome.

Less than awesome, though, is going into a stall and finding a seat cover still on the toilet. I have to push it into the toilet myself and the thought of touching someone's toilet seat cover grosses me out more than touching the toilet.

Also, it is so freaking hypocritical. "I am too hygienic too touch the toilet, but I will make you touch my toilet seat cover." Thanks, jackass.

Nor an ascetic

For the staff that works later in the day, Doughnut Thursday is Cookie Thursday. The office manager puts out a bunch of real cookies on a filing cabinet.

I have never had any of the cookies. Maybe that is fair, as I have a doughnut. It's not because I never want one.

The real reason: The cookies are at head level, and they are too hard to reach.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Amongst my sorrows …

I was reading a chat by a USA TODAY personal finance reporter and she said she is "hearing lots of stories about ordinarily unemotional people bursting into tears" on Monday.

I admit the financial mess makes me feel the same way. I am not sure why. Maybe because greed is its root cause, and those greedy people aren't going to be hurt as much as normal people. They already got their billions, and it is now stashed in some comfy tax haven like Luxembourg.

It also might be because the future, which has never been exceeding bright for me, began looking dimmer when I glanced at my 401(k) and saw it was down 30% this year. Mom and Dad won't always be around to take care of me. My siblings will say they will but they'll be old, too. It seems unfair to rely on nephews and nieces to care for me – they'll have their parents. In fact, it took much cajoling and explaining just to get my 3-year-old nephew to agree to take care of me. He was more interested in flashing people.

It also might be because this nasty patch may be why my buyer backed out of the contract for my condo. Of course, I may never know because it seems like the other agent is too busy to pick up the dang phone and call mine.

Then there is the pain in my back, which is probably from sitting in my wheelchair at my desk working so hard. It went away over the weekend so I am fairly certain it is the wheelchair computing. It still hurts, though.

Work is painful in more ways than one, too. We have taken a few hits to our morale.

Finally, the worst thing about work is a friend is leaving. She is one of three work friends in my entire career that I have told about a fall. Granted, all three are from the past five years so one could argue that I will find others. I don't know. She was really my only nearby friend, someone who helps me and Claren with water when my boss isn't there.

As I was writing this, I was thinking of the Spanish Inquisition, really, and how Michael Palin's character kept coming up with more weapons. That is how it was when I was thinking why I felt bad.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back on the market

I signed a contract to sell my condo less than a week ago. Today, it is back on the market.

The buyer wanted out is all I know. I don't know where it was the result of the stock market plunge today, the lack of a financial bailout or what.

It was such a relief to sign a contract and now I am back where I started.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Poor dog, poor lady, poor Matt

I decided to take Claren for a quick walk tonight because the house was a little too crowded for me.

Tonight was a party to remember Gram's death two years ago, and it wasn't at all bad -- I just wanted to be alone for a moment or two and relax.

Instead, I am now torn between empathy for a woman and empathy for her dog. And I am not sure which should be paramount: the woman because she is a human being or the dog because it is totally innocent.

As I was walking down the bike trail, I saw at the other end the local crazy woman and one of her dogs: a black Lab. Claren saw them, too, and started to pant as she does whenever she sees another dog.

I turned down into one of the exercise areas on the bike trail and let Claren go to the bathroom, planning to stay in the exercise area till the lady passed.

But when I turned to pick up after Claren, she started pulling on my leash. I looked over and the other dog had run up and was sniffing. That other dog was still leashed and had a choke chain, but the woman had let go for one reason or another. Luckily, the dog was only interested in sniffing.

The woman finally caught up to her dog, and mumbling to herself she dragged it off.

I resumed picking up after Claren when I heard god-awful screaming from where the woman went. It sounded like a little girl and it often wasn't words, just screaming. The woman was screaming at the dog to walk and the dog had dug in its paws, wanting, I guess, to play with Claren.

Do I call the Humane Society or something on her? She has had a hard life, I know, and I imagine her dogs are the only friends she has. But on another walk the same thing happened. She let go of the leash, allowing her dog run at me and Claren, either because she couldn't or didn't control it. That time after she dragged it off, I saw her kick the dog.

I hurt for her -- how alone she must feel -- but the dog is the real victim. All it is doing is being a dog, and for that it is punished cruelly.

I am honestly not sure what to do. Plus, I feel guilty because I realized that Claren has had no other dogs to play with in months. But, even though I get lonely a lot, I can just email a friend -- something I doubt this woman has.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Phantom fall

One of my co-workers asked me if I had hurt myself and he pointed to an area next to my right eye.

In fact I had hurt myself, and the killer is I don't know how.

I was in the shower yesterday morning when I realized the area outside my right eye was tender. There is also a little scratch.

I hate that I have been reduced to not remembering falls or injuries unless there ae blood or doctors involved.

Friday, September 19, 2008

But I love my job

I really hope I do not subconsciously hate my company and have decided to drive it into bankruptcy (Chapter 7 type). I am wondering, though. There is, of course the five-figure elevator disaster, which has still not been fixed, and there's today.

I was actually thinking that maybe my luck was changing because I rolled over a bag or Claren poop, but the bag did not break and get on my wheels.

Then I went to the bathroom. On the way out, I clipped a wall and with a horrendous crack (which the guy in the stall must have heard), a corner tile came off, along with what appeared to be a pound of plaster. This is not even the bad part.

I bent over to pick up the tile to throw away, which was silly -- why didn't I leave it on the floor or put it on the sink so it could be re-set easily? Anyway, in bending over I was conscious of the sink in front of me. I put my hand on it to guide me down. Then I put my forehead on the same sink with such force that I was sure it was cut open and that side eye was squeezed shut for a while.

I like my job, the company, too. I mean my boss dressed up today for Talk like a Pirate Day. Now, I am worried: Will I have to walk the plank or get keel-hauled?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

btw: Wheelchair user

I'd really like to blame Facebook because it made it so easy to interact with people you have not seen since grade school. But truth be told I have had similar problems for years: How do I tell people who have not seen me in a while that I use a wheelchair?

I have tried to be cute. I told someone in an e-mail that I was walking my dog at work, and that I was not lying: Claren comes with me because she is a service dog and I use a chair. I never heard back from that person.

My boss once told a partner to e-mail me and the partner told me she got the impression I used only e-mail and wondered why. I told her and we remained friends. She had special-needs kids so it was probably nice to e-mail a special-needs adult.

Recently, someone on Facebook mentioned a planned get-together at a downstairs location. I just told her I couldn't use stairs, not why. For all she knows I am scared of stairs.

I looked up someone who has written a novel and started lots of programs. In short, someone who has done much more than I. I told him that he embarrasses me, and he replied thanks, what have you been up to.

What was I supposed to say? I am not my wheelchair, but at the same time it is responsible for a lot of turns in my life. Mainly, I wanted to mention it so I'd have a good excuse for not being as successful as he.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What if he gets a dog?

I was in the bathroom at work washing my hands when the automatic door started opening.

This is not that unusual because lots of people use it, not just me. But then no one came right in like normal. Finally, when it opened all the way, in rolled a co-worker.

Yes, that's right, rolled.

Another wheelchair user at work. I immediately no longer felt unique.

He works in another section so I am not too worried about being mistaken. Also, he looks like an aging member of the Lincoln Avenue crowd. For the legions of readers who aren't related to me, that means like an aging biker. (A brief aside: Mom and I were discussing whether biker was a good description. I said I didn't think many had bikes, and Mom quickly responded: Oh, they had bikes.)

Finally, I think he only has one leg. I say think because I did not want to stare ... Strike that, I very much wanted to stare but knew it would be freaking rude. Plus, then he might have said: "Take a picture; it lasts longer." And if I am involved in a conversation where that phrase is used, I want to be the one who says it.

I can no longer say on the phone to co-workers I haven't met: "I am the guy in the wheelchair."

I do not expect to find a wife/sweetie/whatever, a true love, so work may have been my only chance to be a one and only. Now, it is ruined.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My love-hate affair

It is amazing, that's one word, that I can hate with a passion an object that keeps me from being one of those 600 pound bedridden people. I am, of course, talking about my wheelchair. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! Every day.

Today I was looking in the mirror at work, but I could not get close enough to see what I needed. I got close to the wall-length floor-to-ceiling mirror and just got a glimpse of me in my stupid chair. It crushed me for some reason.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I have meaning to write this since Thursday, but have not really had time. Thursday I was lazy and last night I sat around listening to the Shrek album with my niece (she also likes the "Hong Kong Phooey" theme) until 9 and did not have the energy. Granted there were other people around, but she really likes "Bad Reputation."

Anyway ...

On Thursday, we went to see the architect again and he has done what will be a beautiful house, but I left feeling sad for, I think, three reasons.

I had originally envisioned a suite with a bathroom, bedroom and sitting room. I know I will spend a lot of time in the main house, but for those days were I need privacy or my sister's family wants to be alone, the sitting room idea seemed pretty key. Even a bedroom big enough to hide my bed and maybe have a fridge and sink would be fine. That way, if I invite a friend over, it would not have to be like: "Let''s go hang out in my bedroom." I am afraid that could lead to some uncomfortable situations.

The plan didn't have it and while he will add some space in, I hope it is enough. I know it will be, but when I saw the plan I guess I spent most of the time figuring out if I could survive without a sitting room or private area. And then how it would be.

The architect mentioned a hang-up he has about dead ends. He apparently doesn't like people going back the way they came so most rooms have two entries. It is a pretty awesome design.

But I only have one way to get in and out of the house. For me every way but one is a dead end. I didn't expect anything different and am fine with it. The problem at Mom and Dad's is there is only one way around the house to reach the exit for me because of a landing. I think it was just hearing about his dead end issue and realizing my dead ends.

The final problem is that as Charlie laid out all the other floors, I thought, "Damn, that is great. I want to see that." And I know I that I can hoist myself up the stairs at least once. But it's not the same.

My only real problem is being addressed so no longer feel sad. We'll see what he comes up with and if it isn't right, I'll tell him and he'll fix it.

I guess I should be like Hong Kong Phooey: "When the going gets tough, he's super-tough with a Hong Kong Phooey chop! Huh!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Almost 3

My little sister and her family went to a PTA ice cream social or something last night. They did not invite me, just yelled and whooped at me as they drove by me in my wheelchair. Later, she told us about it.

My 3-year-old nephew had to go to the bathroom. She got him there and he had to decide which position to assume because apparently he has different positions. Well, he decided on one, then the other. but he was too late with the second one, so there was mess in his pants and the stall. Yuck.

I had this calamity in mind this morning as I sat on my wheelchair footrest and the floor of the bathroom at work, still having to go to the bathroom.

I am not at all sure what happened, but the chair and the toilet form an L in the bathroom. Claren lies down in the L, and this morning I joined her.

Luckily, nothing came out of me, I wasn't hurt and did not crush Claren.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

All clear .. for now

The dentist was OK, no cavities, and they were able to clean my teeth despite my jaw. It has felt better all day. The dentist, who is great, suspects that it may have popped back in and now just hurts because it is healing.

Be sure to read my comment on the shooting spree.

Monday, September 8, 2008

From the town of Falls Church, Virginia ...

I am trying to decide what I will do when the straw that breaks my back falls. I know it is coming.

I dropped out of my horse show this month because my jaw makes it hard to talk to my horse and encourage her. Plus, I do clench my teeth when riding because I concentrate so hard. This morning the hot water did not work. After a plumber came, Dad now says that I was turning it the wrong way, but I have been doing it for months. Why would I suddenly go wrong? And I have been so hunrgy from not eating because of my jaw.

Obviously, when that final straw falls, the big desire will be to go on a multi-state shooting spree, maybe get a song written about me.

But I dislike guns and violence, and neither Claren nor I drive. My shooting spree would probably be me rolling down the bike trail with a supersoaker water gun shooting bikers who pass with no warning and other jerks. I picture Claren beside me pulling one of those Little Tikes wagons filled with extra ammo. Incidentally, this may be the coolest playset ever.

I could go on a drinking bender, but I dislike the taste of things alcoholic and I would probably just pass out or barf. Same goes for food, although I like it.

Perhaps the most attractive is spending all money on toys and comics, but let's be honest here: When do I hold back as it is?

Tomorrow I go to the dentist. Will headgear be the final straw?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Just jawing about the jaw

I had quite an educational day today. Actually, it started last night when I learned that a sneezing spell or just taking off your shirt can really hurt a tender jaw.

I had what seemed like an endless and very vicious sneezing bout starting at dinner and continuing for a while. At one point I asked joed to grab me a kleenex and he said sure, wandered out to where they were, looked right at them for a while, then brought back a magazine. Fortunately, his sister hooked me up with a tissue, and he did go get me one when we told him specifically what I wanted.

Like I said it could have been the sneezing that re-hurt my jaw or it could have been when I was taking off my shirt and it got stuck on my jaw. But it was popping like crazy when I went to work. I forced down one muffin, ignoring the pain, then tried the other one but had to give up.

I called Mom and asked her to call my dentist as it hurt to do anything that moved my mouth. When Mom called me back I learned the next fact: My dentist has a nice life, working four days a week. He probably works four 10-hour days, but nevertheless, he's got it good. Mom then got me an appointment with the physician's assistant at my doctor's office.

My dentist did have an emergency number, which Mom called and left a message, and when he called back I got some new mandible facts. He told Mom that there is a disc of cartridge between the two parts of the jaw and the popping of my jaw is the muscles trying to get it back in place. That made all kinds of sense. All morning it had felt like the jaw was misaligned and the pop would hurt like hell but then it would feel better for 30 seconds before it slipped out of place again.

He said to take Advil regularly and don't eat hard food and come in Tuesday like I was scheduled. Suck it up, basically.

I went to see the PA next. I told her what the dentist said and she agreed. I learned here that the doctor at the workplace clinic isn't the only one worried about my neck. She was feeling all over my neck, poking and squeezing. Finally, satisfied my neck was OK, she turned her attention to jaw. She asked me to open and close and when it popped said, Oh yeah.

She then told me that the jaw muscles are getting stretched by all this, so they are sore, too, and she said they are really powerful, more powerful than one's hamstrings. She said they tell you in med school never, ever to stick your finger in someone's mouth unless you don't want it anymore because the jaw muscles are powerful enough to bite a finger off.

That is about all I learned. As we were leaving the office, she said to a co-worker: Isn't that the cutest dog you have ever seen? But I already knew that about Claren.

Oh yeah, last one: Even if you are really hungry but can't eat anything because of pain, don't eat electric-blue Pez and a roll of Smarties right before you see a doctor. She is going to wonder why your tongue is blue.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

No choice of chairs

I got my power wheelchair back Saturday, but I was without it today at work and will be again tomorrow. The van's engine light is coming on, and while it is probably a glitch in a sensor, no one wants that car to break. So it at the shop. This means I use the manual, which can fit in any car.

It isn't the energy I use to propel myself or how much harder it is to use the manual than the power chair. What kills me is how slow I am. I have to leave for meetings five minutes early and I am still late. I don't go see my friends on the other side of the building, not because it is tiring but because it takes so long.

It seems like an opportune time to try the shuttle bus, but I am in charge in the mornings this week so it really is not a good time. New things for me too often translate into lateness.

It wasn't that long ago that I was using the manual regularly. I really got spoiled fast.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I am stupid

Well, I know what's wrong with me these days, or at least I have a pretty good idea: Out at lunch today, a dead lead made me teary-eyed. So I suspect it is the season thing.

When I feel sad or unhappy, it becomes harder to talk to friends who would surely cheer me up. I want people cheer me up, but it doesn't seem fair if they just cheer me up without seeing I am sad. I have never said, and will never say, that I make sense.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Where do I exaggerate?

Note: I just read an article from the New York Times in which David Sedaris says he exaggerates for effect, especially quotations, saying, "Memoir is the last place you'd expect to find the truth." I was a little disappointed, like someone telling a kid that Santa Claus does not exist or telling a certain wheelchair user that doctors would never cure Friedreich's ataxia. Was the rude American in "Picka Pocketoni" really the spectacularly rude American that made most of my family cry with laughter as we each read the story on vacation? But then I felt liberated and unconstrained by such silly concepts as truth. In fact, given that he is a successful writer and I am not, maybe I should be constrained to exaggerate.

I did not escape unscathed from my fall last Friday night. A few days after the fall, my jaw started to hurt and pop every time I opened my mouth, whether to eat, talk or yawn. With the help of Advil, I made it through those days, and now it only pops 10% of the time. It still hurts, though. And my teeth are not lining up properly. I thought I had a dental appointment tomorrow so I could get it checked out then, but it is not till next week.

I think Mom suspects it is more from clenching my teeth, which I admit I do a lot. I myself would be skeptical because of the delayed onset of the pain. But I ate nothing after the fall that would create the problem, and a fall is always a good cause.

I could go to the doctor at work, but he would only be interested in whether I broke my neck as he is whenever I visit after a fall.

Your cut eyebrow looks fine, but are you sure your neck doesn't hurt? Even a little? he asked last time I went.

When finally assured that my neck was not sore, he asked how old I was. I told him, and he said: Oh, it probably will be. Your body's not young anymore.

I wish I were exaggerating any of this.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm itchy and I don't know where to scratch

I have no doubt the above title, taken from a blues song on a tape one of my uncles gave me, has a very high sexual connotation. But this is Matt we're talking about. Get real.

Surprisingly, I am not referring to the many bites from the f---king mosquito horde that lives around here. I cannot remember getting bit in such odd places before, fingers, thumbs and other places with essentially no blood.

But no, that wasn't it ... unless the damn mosquitoes have figured out a way into my body. My heart or brain have felt all itchy since Friday. I haven't felt like sitting still and writing (It is taking a lot to write this. I have already gone online to find the song, then download a few from iTunes and listen to them.) I haven't really wanted to watch TV either. I want to do something, go somewhere, be with someone or a group.

This is the challenge: figure out how to invite people to do something when I do not have a home really that people could come to and when I do not like to go out because it is so freaking hard to go out. And I am having to fight against my FA and almost 40 years of shyness. Plus, maybe internal mosquitoes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Of all the bathroom stalls ...

Two people stopped to make sure I was OK when I was waiting for my ride outside the garage. One offered an umbrella because it was spitting drizzle; another actually sort of offered me a ride home. That sure was cool. Why was I outside waiting for my ride?

I left work 10 minutes early to go to the bathroom on the way out. I got there and found some joker in the wheelchair stall. In his defense, there were only five other empty stalls. I actually contemplated saying to Claren, "No, I didn't really have to go to the bathroom." I didn't, though; I just went outside to await my ride.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How to get clean

I spent most of this morning trying to figure out how to get clean without having to get out of my chair or expend any energy.

Calvin once suggested a vacuum cleaner, but I don't think that would do much for the stinky, dirty feeling. It also would not be the answer for removing dead skin cells.

Garrison Keillor recently wrote an essay about being bathed. This had some appeal, but I'd still have to get out of my chair and out of my clothes. Plus, I might kick my bather and she would also be rendered into a quivering pile of jelly by the cut of my jib.

So I went to shower. What could happen, I reasoned.

Famous last words. I fell getting into the shower. Well, no, not really. I do not consider it a fall unless I lose my grip on whatever I am holding. I never did. I just missed the shower chair, wound up on the floor of the shower and had to call upon my herculean reserves to get into place, then spent a few minutes catching my breath.

I may need to take a second look at the vacuum cleaner idea.

P.S. And later, in the same bathroom, I broke the controller off my wheelchair.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday night's not all right for crying

I can recall really really crying just three times in my live, not counting sad events like Gram's death. I don't mean getting teary-eyed. I mean weeping and moaning, uncertain the crying would ever stop and not really caring. Not surprisingly, they all were because of Friedreich's ataxia.

Very surprisingly, last night did not become the fourth.

When living in Winston-Salem, N.C., I lost it while on the phone with my oldest sister and once with Mom. That was awful. I kept saying I'm sorry and taking deep breaths to calm down, but the breaths let sobs and wails escape. My sister claims she owes me because I used to talk to her on the phone while she was having a miserable time in grad school. She has more than repaid that debt.

Mom ... I just hope she never tries to collect on me. She bore the brunt of crying spell No. 3. That one, at my condo in Herndon (still for sale by the way), came about as I cursed the concept of fairness.

I am not sure how I held back Friday. I know I was so afraid that if I did start crying I would never stop. I couldn't stop the tears, but I did my best to ignore them and the anguish.

I fell. Not that shocking, but it was. I haven't been falling much lately, but I did this week in the bathroom at work and then Friday night.

And it hurt. I was getting into my chair in the living room from the floor, and I was standing in front of it with my legs bent. I remember thinking, Now just straighten your legs, then it all went to hell. Maybe my legs did straighten, just too fast. Who knows? Before I knew what was happening, I fell against this big old armchair. My head bore the brunt. The left side smacked the arm and the back rammed into the wing. I was just lying on the floor when Mom came in to check on the noise. I knew I was OK, but the insides of my head felt all sloshed around and it was just so damn frustrating.

I told Mom that you think you can get used to FA and deal with it, but you really can't. I can't anyway. I guess that is why I have people I can cry with.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What does Mom know?

Last night as I was going to bed, Mom brought up this cheery thought: Have you given any thought to making a will? (She really did.) She suggested that it would be a good idea to prevent issues with the house my sister's family and I are building.

I guess she has a point, but we're not there yet. Not that it is my fault.

We had our second meeting with the architect, and let me just say: I am in the tank for him. The house he proposed was like a cross and my room were in one the arms. I told him he could start tomorrow. My sister and brother-in-law had some changes in mind, though, so we aren't starting tomorrow. Jerks! (Just kidding.)

I always thought the big issue for my will would be who gets my comic books. I mean the Mego action figures could cause a minor ruckus, but just a minor one. I was content to let these issues sit unsettled because I just didn't know. But now I will have to lay everything out. And I'll have to name heirs and beneficiaries, even though I don't feel 37, let alone near death.

I will have to apologize to my brother for removing him as my 401(k) beneficiary. We were each other's beneficiaries, but then he went and got married. Who knows if I am still his beneficiary?

Who gets my bitterness?

Monday, August 18, 2008

I could be cool

With my nephew on his way to college tomorrow, I wonder how my own life might have turned out if I had answered one question differently.

My first night, I was in the bathroom, and one of my party-hearty neighbors asked me what i was doing. I did not know at the time he was a party-hearty guy, just that he was a neighbor asking me about my plans.

I told him I was just going to go to bed after a long day. He said he understood and we went our separate ways: Me to a college career where it took me almost two years before I started enjoying myself, him to drunken parties, fraternities and girls.

I have always wondered: What if I asked him if I could go out with him.

Friday, August 15, 2008

You know how hard it is not to stare at breasts?

Actually, not too hard, but I wanted your attention.

I have mentioned my blessing and curse of being in a wheelchair, which puts me at eye level with gals' chests. But a new trend is developing.

Thanks to a confluence of fashion, bad hearing and a cute dog I have found myself recently on the receiving end of more than women want to show me. I assume.

The women, wearing loose shirts (the fashion), bend over to talk to me (the bad hearing) or pet Claren (the cute dog). The result is that all of a sudden my eyes are now staring down the inside of a loose shirt.

Being a gentleman, I don't look, but it is hard not to stare at breasts. Not that way. But just try obviously not looking at something. I feel like it is crystal clear what I am not looking at and I feel like a buffoon. It is like Austin Powers with Fred Savage's character "The Mole."

I swear, breasts are nothing but trouble.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

MMM, doughnuts

One problem with people doing things for you on a regular basis is that when you don't want said thing done, you have to explain why.

For instance, today is doughnut day at work. Each Thursday morning my boss brings me a maple frosted doughnut from the box that is brought in for everyone. The only time he doesn't is when he has to bring doughnuts, then I get a chocolate frosted.

He brought the doughnuts today so the first time I saw my boss was when he dropped the chocolate frosted off at my desk.

The only problem: I did not want it. I am having issues with my stomach this week. It might have something to do with the early shift I am working, or any of the other ninety-leven issues running through my brain (a condo for sale, a house to build, Friedreich's ataxia, a dog who is having sympathy stomach issues or maybe I am the one having the sympathy issues in some twisted O Henry dealie).

Whatever, the last thing that I really wanted was a big honking doughnut no matter how tasty. But if I tell my boss that I don't want it, he will ask: Do you feel OK? If I say yeah but I am not in a doughnut mood, he won't believe me. He knows me well. And if I say no, then I am a pariah at work ... like Typhoid Mary, even though FA is not contagious.

Stomach be damned (it already is anyway); I ate the doughnut.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My bowling shirt

My little sister was mad at me for not writing more about my bowling evening. Here is something: Everyone liked my T-shirt.

Lucky Strike Lanes has some weird attire rules, including one banning motorcycle club colors. But I threw caution to the wind and wore the T-shirt my brother and sister-in-law gave me for my birthday. Unlike the disputed podiatry exam, the T-shirt was my sister-in-law's idea. That's what she said.

It is from a company called Apparelyzed, and it shows a picture of a handicapped parking permit. It says "I'm only in it for the parking."

The website has a bunch of other good shirts: "I'm disabled, not deaf," "If you can ssee my butt, please put me back in my chair" or "Hop on, Baby."

I also like "Keep staring, I might do a trick" but that one is really close to being bitter bitter.

Your sin is forgiven

Mom and I went for a walk tonight and she was telling me how she still feels guilty about not picking up some dog poop when she walked my uncle's 20 years ago.

We were walking/rolling down Greenwich Street, when I looked down and said: "Speaking of poop." I had just rolled through a pile of the stuff, which was sitting in the road. Of course, it smushed into my wheels.

I guess that is what they mean about the sins of the parents being visited on the son. Except Mom was the one who cleaned it off when we got home, Mom and my little sister. I think it at least absolves her of her 20-year-old sin.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Too old for this

I went out last night with a handful of folks from work. I was easily the oldest ... probably by close to 10 years.

It was fun. I didn't bowl but turns out I could have. Everything was surprisingly accessible.

Afterward, some folks, me included, just sat around at a bar table in a pedestrian mall and talked. And talked and talked. I missed a lot but still enjoyed it. I had to leave because I was so tired. They were still going strong.

Friday, August 8, 2008

She must have been really good

A friend of mine says that if you are good, in the next life you come back as a dog. If you are really good, you come back as a service dog.

Claren, like most service dogs, leads a beautiful life. She gets to go almost every where with her good pal and alpha dog, me. She spends a lot of time napping or playing or eating. And she is so adorable, people chase us down the street just to meet her.

Mom and I were walking around the block, and coming down Highland Avenue we passed a house where a whole family was out in the yard. We kept walking and while we were crossing Pine Street this woman came up behind us holding a little girl about 3. Can we meet your dog, she asked.

Claren was not wearing her service dog vest so I said OK, and the woman put down her daughter and went to say hi in the middle of Pine Street. I kept moving till we were near a corner and had Claren sit and then the mom and daughter just pet her and said how pretty she is.

I assumed Mom knew the woman, but then Mom said, do you live around here. The woman said yeah and that they were the family out in the yard and the girl saw Claren pass and wanted to meet her.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Buy my condo

My condo went on the market today. I saw the pictures and almost regretted moving. It looks nice. I just hope it sells super-quick, like tomorrow. Then I can buy Mom and Dad an anniversary present.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Do I move to Nevada?

I have perhaps an unhealthy interest in Nevada's ladies of the evening.

But come on, prostitution's legal there. A crime in 49 states is just business in Nevada. How crazy odd is that?

One of the victims of this obsession is my friend who lives in Reno.

I IM'd her once to ask if "hookers" is proper terminology for a legal profession. "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig" was her reply. And when I saw a story about high gasoline prices hitting Nevada brothels, I naturally had to express my concern for her state.

I am sure it is all old hat for her, but to this naive little East Coaster it is just lunacy even though I know it is not like there is a brothel inside the local McDonald's. It's still like that Seinfeld where George does the opposite of everything and gets a job with the Yankees.

My friend got back at me, though.

She told a mutual friend who was visiting Reno recently to tell me that he had not seen a prostitute in his tour of the city. He did tell me ... along with a handful of other people on an e-mail list.

He did, however, get asked by the cab driver on the way from Reno's airport if he liked to party and wanted to go to the Wild Horse, "one of Nevada's classiest adult entertainments resorts."

How crazy is that?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Christmas comes early for Mom

Mom has been badgering me for a while now: Why don't you go to the podiatrist to get your toenails cut? Your brother does.

I love my brother like, well, a brother, but he is only going to the podiatrist because his wife is making him.

My brother, who also has Friedreich's ataxia, also has health insurance. Don't get me wrong, I have something that pays some of my medical bills, too. It just isn't very reassuring to me.

It costs $40 just to go to a specialist, any doctor other than my primary care physician. That's $4 a toenail.

Mom bought that argument but said I should then let her cut my nails. Whatever, Mom.

She said I could really hurt myself, but I use clippers not scissors or a blade.

I finally gave in, though. I could not think of anywhere to cut them myself in my folks' house. I hope Mom is happy and is not expecting a Christmas present now.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Even asleep, I am f---ng clever

Even Mom knows the phrase "get [the hell] out of Dodge," a reference to Dodge City, Kan. Gunsmoke's Matt Dillon was the lawman in Dodge and he used some version of the saying on bad guys.

I dreamed last night that we were on a family trip in the wheelchair-accessible Dodge Grand Caravan. We arrived at Busch Gardens and people were getting out. One of my nieces was not paying attention so my little sister said to her daughter: "K tell E to get the fuck out of the Dodge."

I don't know who was more shocked when I retold it this morning: Mom when I used the f-word or my little sister for retelling it in front of Mom.

Into the danger zone

My little sister pushed me far outside the comfort zone yesterday, but it worked out well and was fun even if I missed the Dr. Who season finale and had to stay up till 12:30 to watch the rerun.

It was sad, too, leaving me teary at the end as all the Doctor's friends went off with others and he was left alone but soldiers on.

The evening started with what was just a little get-together at my sister's (yes, right next-door to my parents), two other couples with their kids. Nothing big, my sister had told me, we'll just order pizza.

And we did, but then one of the couples had to leave to put their kids to bed. They live like three houses away so everyone else was like: Oh, we'll just bring the pizza to your house.

I said OK, I'd go but even as I said it I was getting scared and worried. I am using my power chair a lot nowadays so I was thinking: What if the backyard is inaccessible, what if I get bored, what if I have to go to the bathroom, will I get to see Dr. Who?

No one seemed to worry, so we went. The backyard was no problem, but people were up on a deck that was up six stairs. My sister offered to run home and get my manual chair so the guys there could lift me on to the deck. I did not want to, thinking I might want to leave to see Dr. Who.

That seemed OK. People sat on coolers or the steps or broke out lawn chairs and we sat in the yard. People brought me pizza, Claren water, and just made me feel comfortable.

I did not even go home early to watch Dr. Who even though it would have been easier to hear the Doctor and his gang; they have close captioning.

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