Thursday, September 30, 2010

I do not want the legal pad

No one will believe that my first restructuring was actually worse than the one in Office Space, but it was and I keep thinking about it these days.

I had been on the job only a few months when consultants were brought in to help us reorganize. The scuttlebutt was that the consultants had never worked at a newspaper before and took the job to learn. We copy editors had to fill out forms with every story we read, telling whether it was a shirt, medium or long story, whether the headline was simple, medium or hard, etc. It was kind of a joke.

The day before the cuts were announced, a bunch of us were sent to learn some new task. I was among that bunch. I'll never forget that another guy was not in the group ... until he asked if he should be. The boss said OK and he came running up with his yellow legal pad at the ready.

The next day he was fired, and I have always suspected that the reason he didn't get invited to learn the new task was because someone knew he would be gone the next day.

I have never been a big meeting person. I hear poorly, so I don't go. But now I see a meeting at work and then see me holding the yellow legal pad. Symbolically, of course. I never bring a writing pad or pen to meetings.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who was the upright man?

I was in my sister's yard this afternoon after work. Claren was studiously ignoring me while chewing her ball, so I decided to stand up using the picnic table as a brace.

My sister walked up after I was seated again and said she looked into her yard and saw someone standing in front of her picnic table and was pissed off that strangers were in her yard.

I thought she was going to say she was pissed off that soon after I stood, I leaned forward and did a face-plant on the table, with a loud CLONK.

She didn't know that until I told her, and she made sure to show Mom and Dad my bruised head.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I love my love seat

My oldest brother was here over the weekend, and one of the things he did with my little sister was get my love seat out of storage.

We had been talking for a while about replacing Mom and Dad's old sleeper sofa with the love seat, but we never did anything about it. No time and no pickup truck.

But my brother had both this weekend.

It is so Nice. more comfortable and a lot taller. It is nearly equal in height to my chair so it is easier getting on and off the couch.

The only thing that is harder is sliding to the floor to brush Claren and then back up. I may make that Mom or my niece's job for a few months.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back to the pool

Apparently, swimming could not some fast enough.

I was so tired in the pool today and now I hurt. Well, the parts of me that aren't really, really tired, they hurt.

My right knew did not want to bend either. I don't like that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friedreich's ataxia really kind of sucks

My little sister came into the dining room tonight after dinner to tell us how her son, after using my bathroom, was dancing a jig on the floor-to-ceiling Super Pole next to my toilet.

I am jealous. Not just of his dancing skills. Mostly, I am jealous because he had such a successful trip to the bathroom.

Last night, I had to use the bathroom. I slid my foot off my footrest -- also know as my wheelchair, and my shoe came off.

I did not really want to try to stand up without my shoe, so I tried to get it back on. But I really had to go, so I just left the shoe on real loose.

I managed to begin my transfer to my chair safely, but my butt kept getting hung up on the top part of the cushion.

I managed then to raise myself high enough to get in my chair. I lost my shoe and started toward the bathroom. I got in and decided to sit down on the toilet rather than try to stand up with one shoe off.

I managed next to stand up and turn around, slamming my big toe on the shoeless foot into the wall. But I could not get my right knee to bend properly.

Finally, I managed to sort of collapse onto the toilet. I was sort off only on one side, but, you guessed it, I managed to slide over onto the seat. And this is where my nephew again comes to mind.

Ask most people what the tuck rule means, and they will probably say something about football and the quarterback. Not me. I think of my nephew who often needs reminders to push his parts down so stuff goes into the toilet, not the floor.

I need to remember this rule. Actually, after sliding across the toilet, I did try to tuck myself down, but I had to go quite urgently.

And goddammit, after managing all the f-ng things I managed just to get there, my pee went all over my clothes and the floor. It is just so frustrating.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not accessible

A friend invited me to her house-warming party this weekend. It is way out there -- near where my oldest uncle lives -- but I procured a ride. I was set, even though I'd have to get lugged up some stairs.

Then I asked about bathrooms. You probably won't fit, I was told. Dang.

I'm not going.

I do NOT blame my friend or her house. It just really sucks to have to ask questions like that, to be unable to take anything for granted.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Swimming or maybe rock climbing?

Swimming started yesterday, but I did not go. The co-ordinator called last week and said they were moving the 4 p.m. class to 5 for the first four weeks. A 5 p.m. start means I would not be home and changed until nearly 7 (yes, it takes me that long). Plus, there might be opportunities to rock climb on Sundays, and that is really fun. But it is hard to get together the people needed.

I decided not to swim until they brought back the 4 p.m. class.

But the swimming teacher knew nothing about the time change. No one told her until I e-mailed her. She told me she is still there at 4, whether the class starts then officially or not. Come on out, she told me, it'll feel great.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Home alone

Now I am not at all saying i want to live alone again, but it is nice to be totally by myself this evening (well, with Claren).

Mom and Dad had a TEAMS meeting and the D's went out for some "forced family fun," my sister called it.

I had mac and cheese for dinner and watched a really cheesy horror movie on SyFy during dinner. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End did not win any Emmys, but I had forgotten the joys of bad movies, this one starring singer Henry Rollins. It also makes me want to see the original Wrong Turn, which apparently features the same cannibalistic inbred family plus renegade slayer Faith. Good stuff.

Now I am off to read book 2 of the Dresden Files. I had another book, but it was a book for adults, and I know I am one but I have not felt like it recently. So I asked Dad to pop out to the library and get Fool Moon.

The tagline to the series is enough to demand a reading: "Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The wrong side of the door

Guess who just asked his struggling company, which is planning layoffs, to spend money on him?

That's right, this guy. And in perhaps a good sign as far as the layoffs go, my company is working on a solution.

We rented some unused office space to a tenant, which is good, and they are building a door to separate us and the tenant, which is fine.

But what is not good or fine is that the six-stall bathroom with an accessible door will be on the tenant's side of the locked door.

I will still have the small two-stall restroom, but folks already use the wheelchair stall there. (They use the wheelchair stall in the big bathroom, too, but rarely.)

I got the email about the building plans, and immediately replied to my boss, the sender and others that I need a backup restroom with an accessible door. I am sure it will be settled OK, but it is just something else to worry about.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dog walks girl

My 7-year-old niece has decided she likes Claren. I understand this because Claren is awesome.

Claren is cool with the new-found attraction because it means someone else to play with besides me. I am her dad after all.

Claren also likes it because it means someone to take advantage of. Not like I am a drill sergeant with her, but I make her walk next to me and not follow her nose wherever it goes.

My niece wanted to walk Claren last night and since I'd be there, too, I let her.

Wow, did Claren take advantage. She walked my niece, who to her credit never let go of the leash, through the front yards of all the new houses on our block. She then wandered all around the yard of a neighbor with Dachshunds. Claren never dragged my niece exactly, but just went where she wanted and my niece followed.

From the street, I would call at Claren when she got to far away and she generally changed her direction, but did not always come.

A mother who was out with her kids watched us carefully and asked us if we needed any help.

I told her no, thanks, and we didn't need any. I can recall Claren in an emergency. Mainly, though, I was having too good a time watching the whole episode.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Is it ever not a time to cry?

Fall is coming.

I don't know this because I wore a long-sleeve shirt to work Friday, Or because my feet are cold when I go to bed. Or because ragweed is driving me crazy.

I know fall is coming because of how inexplicably sad I am lately.

It must be the change of seasons.

There are things weighing upon me: a mean world, uncertainty at work, the new house, allergies, occasional falls, what will happen with the stolen DED device on Eureka. But nothing new (except Eureka and I am sure that is not it).

I know that I will be fine eventually. But I hate worrying that at any moment I may feel like crying. I wanted to blame the generic Effexor XR I just started taking, but I felt rotten before that.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Just yuck

I told a friend at work that I imagine that I am pretty low on the list of people you worry about running through the building with a shotgun. Not because I can't run. More because of my dislike of violence and guns.

But, I told my friend, a few more days like today could make me reconsider my non-violent stance.

It wasn't really that awful. There were just like 37 people asking me to do 37 things, and all 37 needed doing.

Plus, I slipped in the bathroom. Not that bad, but enough to remind me that I am in a wheelchair in an unfriendly body,

There is little, unfortunately, that doesn't remind me of this. I sit outside with Claren after work at home. I am sure I could grab her ball and play with her if I was stealthy and speedy. Neither of those adjectives describe me, not even a little.

One thing that doesn't remind me of my imperfect body, at least lately, is rock climbing. Even though I need a lot of help to climb, a lot of people can't do what little I can. It is a little like horseback riding was at the beginning.

I found out last night we were going rock climbing tomorrow night but then we had to reschedule. That was rotten, too. I was looking forward to climbing and seeing friends.

And my hayfever is killing me. Goddamnit.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Job or exercise

I figured out how to exercise every day: I just need to quit my job.

I read about other people with Friedreich's ataxia, and they talk about how much they exercise and go off on "use it or lose it" ideas. I am not sure they work full time.

I rode my handcycle for maybe two miles today on the bike trail. It felt really good, especially on the fourth trail when I looked at my odometer and it said 13 mph.

Granted, my odometer is generous to me. It tells me I have gone a mile when I know it is only about two/thirds of a mile. So 13 mph might be more like 10, but it still felt cool -- wind in my face, pavement rolling beneath me. Heck, I was hardly pedaling.

Then, I realized: If I can go 13 without pedaling going out, pedaling back is going to suck.

It did.

I was pretty exhausted by the time I got to my pit team of Mom and Claren who were sitting in the shade at the end of the third trail.

One of the things I don't like about the handcycle is that it is hard to have Claren run along side me. My hands are pedaling so I can't hold the leash, and the trike is higher than my recumbent was and it is not real easy to pick up after Claren.

That is the main reason Mom comes. She walks Claren and I ride past her and then return to her. But it is also nice to have someone to stop and chat with while I catch my breath. Or someone to give me a subtle push when needed.

After I got back, I basically napped the rest of the day.

This is where quitting my job comes in.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Not sure about the cigarette trees

I made sure to listen to "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" today in honor of Labor Day. I guess it is really about hobo life not unions, but I always associate it with Joe Hill, who has his own page on the AFL-CIO website.

Actually, for years I didn't associate it with hoboes or unions. For me and my siblings, too, I imagine, "Big Rock Candy Mountain" was the red 45 that had a small hole in the center like 33s.

For the younger set, I'll explain: 45s were records of singles. They generally had a 1 and a half-inch hole in them that required an adapter to fit on record players. They were usually black. Our copy of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" was a 45, which referred to the speed the records were played, but it was red and it had a small hole, so you would not need an adapter.

Not very bitter, huh? I am struggling with a bit of writer's block these days, but I am off tomorrow and will try to write again. Anyway, happy Labor Day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Who needs comfort in a fire?

After 9/11, firefighters were the coolest people around. Their luster may be fading a bit: No one believes me when I tell them the firefighters told me to stay in the stairwell at work in the event of a fire. Rather, they believe that I was told that; they just don't believe the firefighters' claim.

I don't know fire procedures and safety, which is why I asked the fire chief when he came to our building. He told me that the stairwells are fire secure, and fresh air gets forced into them so I will be able to breathe. Just wait there for us, the chief said. We know how to get people in wheelchairs out safely.

This makes sense to me.

On the actual 9/11, a co-worker carried me down 10-15 flights of stairs on his shoulder. Another lugged down my chair. This was at our old building, and it was a rather panicked evacuation that left me a little uncomfortable, but much better off than the guy who carried me down, whose nickname is Thor.

By my desk, we have a stair chair, with treads not wheels, so it goes down stairs, but the fire chief said that while a stair chair is great to have but just wait for us.

We are only on the third floor, too, so I am cool waiting. The stair chair is not super comfy. My boss waits with me.

Today, the fire alarm went off. It turned out to be a false alarm -- I went in the break room and it smelled like burned cinnamon Pop-tart so that may have set it off.

Afterward a friend asked me what I do in fire drills and I told her that I wait.

No, she said, if there is a real fire, I'll get you out.

It would be more fun to get carted out by a friend than a firefighter anyway.

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