Monday, January 30, 2012

Life imitates Robocop, unfortunately

We  watched Robocop this weekend.

I say we, but I think I was the only one who sat through it all. The old married couple I live with were fast asleep. Even my college-age niece dozed, but I think she just wasn't into the movie.

I, on the other hand, was in heaven. Cyborgs, really bad guys who get their comeuppance, the totally awesome Peter Weller.

I hadn't seen Robocop in years, but I remembered all the scenes -- like the one where Bob Morton is talking trash about Dick Jones in the executive washroom. Everyone but Bob realizes Dick is in the stall behind him, hearing everything, and everyone rushes out. One guy even cuts his pee short and leaves the bathroom with a huge wet spot in his crotch. HAHAHA

Turns out, as I learned today, having that kind if accident is not so funny.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

People like me

My brother-in-law put up my last two pictures yesterday -- a painting by my sister and this one.

It was just in time, too, because friends from USA TODAY came over yesterday afternoon, friends who had signed the picture.

It was a really fun time.

I still find it surprising and so lucky that such awesome people are my friends.

I know that changing jobs was the right thing to do for me, for countless reasons. Still, USA TODAY was an amazingly special workplace I am not sure I'll find again.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Me and my big mouth

I had to go downtown today, and while Claren was better behaved, I may have gotten in trouble.

I got to the main Interior building early and was chatting with the head of our division, who is from Alaska.

I told her that I had talked to a co-worker who works in Alaska, and now Alaska is on my list of places I want to go.

I expected her to say, yeah, it's lovely.

Instead, she says, yeah, we can probably make that happen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You're killing me, Bruce Springsteen

When Bruce Springsteen announces tour dates, as he did yesterday, I agonize. Every Springsteen concert I have seen this century, I swear it will be my last.

Tickets are costly, but mostly it's because of my worsening hearing. Except for well-known anthems like "Badlands," I spend the first minute of almost every song trying to figure out what it is. Then I try not to lose track of the song.

But to be there! To feel a part of something, a rock 'n' roll exorcism, I believe Springsteen calls it. It is pretty amazing.

Springsteen has such a gift. He can sing about cars and driving, and someone who hasn't driven in years can swear he is really singing about wheelchairs and disability crap.

But I can't hear anything he says in concerts, and I feel so wretched for not understanding some of my favorite songs.

And if he plays from his newer albums, I am totally screwed. It's not that I don't like them, but he really seems to drown out his words with the music, especially on Magic. And the first release from the new album Wrecking Ball does not sound promising. I can hardly hear the words.

I know my hearing is getting worse. I somehow mistook the name of my nephew's Pinewood Derby car as "Felix Jaguar" when he told me the name "Joe's Jaguar."

In my defense I knew it wasn't Felix Jaguar, but I swear to you that is what it sounded like.

I sort of blame the Seeger Sessions concert for my anguish. That is the only recent tour I have skipped. It wasn't going to be convenient to get to and I thought my hearing made it not worthwhile.

Of course, the Washington Post reviewer wrote of that show: "It was the best live show I've seen in at least five years. (And I've seen a few.)"

Tickets go on sale Saturday.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Swimming is super-cool and really cold

It felt good to get back in the water. I get in via the children's pool, where the water is warm to hot.

The problem is, though, after we left the kiddie pool, it felt much less good.

I still did about 30 minutes of exercise, doing the backstroke for five pool lengths, walking for two and kicking for two. But most of it was just to keep my teeth from chattering.

Not sure how I'll survive without a wetsuit, which might look too odd.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Exercise: Who has time?

I am going back to swimming tomorrow. I am not sure it will be enough, though.

My legs are quite useless, worse than they were even a year ago. I have started modest exercises, by which I mean exercises that don't take up hours.

But when I wake up in the middle of the night, I can hardly straighten my leg. And it's not because Claren is sleeping on it or anything. It is like the comforter is too heavy.

I suppose I could exercise if I were wealthy and didn't need to work. But not sure how to fit it in otherwise. I could start exercising, not napping, after work. Of course, the naps are needed for the same reason the exercise is: I am so disabled.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Claren is 10 today; in dog years that means she's freaking awesome

Actually, I think it makes her like 75 or 80. Yikes! But she still has a lot of years left, I suspect, especially since much of her down-time is spent like this.

Jesus changed the calendar from BC to AD, or if you prefer BCE to CE. Claren has had that effect on my life, which went from BC -- "Before Claren" -- to AD -- "After Dog." It also works to say the "Claren Era" and "Before the Claren Era."

I don't really remember my life in years BC. It was certainly less hairy, less fun, too. I had better control of my body, but I was sad a lot.

AD is better, even though my body is worse. I fall more and face way more challenges but I do not face them alone. I now have a partner who, if nothing else, will shed all over those challenges.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A break from the cold

Everything was fine until I called Mom to tell I was not taking Claren for a walk because it was too cold.

She said OK and asked if everything was all right.

It was so I said so, but then I started thinking: Is it?

I started feeling so rotten. I decided too walk Claren, even though it was cold, to see if it would make me feel better.

It did a little, and it was't that cold.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A good egg

My family does remarkably well in anticipating my needs and helping me in my life.

You know who is amazing at it -- my niece who goes to college nearby.

I lived with her family for a summer when she was 2, but mostly I think it is just innate compassion. Sure, she has a mouth that would make a mule-driver blush, but her mother has spent her life in a newsroom.

I can't wait to see what she, and all my nieces and nephews, grow up to be.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bright lights, big city gonna set my soul on fire

Claren and I trundled downtown today to meet with the director of Fish and Wildlife. Actually, there was not much trundling, we took the shuttle.

We were headed to the main Department of the Interior building, which we refer to as MIB. Before I knew that acronym, I thought it was kind of cool that so many people wrote on their calendars: "MIB for birds" or whatever. Birds could use the Men in Black.

Alas, it is just a building.

The shuttle has a chair lift in the back and about 15 rows of seats. Claren got on OK and when I was loaded in, I called her to come back to me. She stood up from the second row where she was, looked around and went outside to look for me.

Sharpest tool in the shed? Probably not, but she is cute and fun.

The driver brought her back onboard, and she took her spot in the second  row again even though she saw me.

We got to the meeting OK, and the director was making some good points. But no one was paying attention to Claren so she started pawing the director's chair. He laughed, which was good, because I didn't feel like correcting her in a meeting. I may have to, though, if she keeps it up.

We went for a walk after the meeting and the only grassy area was a park where the grass was set off from the sidewalk by a three-inch metal wall. Instead of pooping near the edge of that wall, Claren did her duty about as far as possible from the wall.

I had to loosen my seatbelt, edge out as far as possible and then just managed to snag it. I made quite a sight. I was surprised no one offered to help. I guess I wasn't that amazing today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good, but just for a moment

In a bit of good news, I have concluded that the fall did not make me sad. So I can fall all the time, which is a relief because I already do.

I decided it wasn't the fall because I can't really remember it, but I still feel sad.

It's not like I am drowning in despair. I have had fun with relatives this week -- my oldest sister came down from near Boston to take her daughter back to college and her oldest son joined her. My middle sister was here for a bit, too.

Let me say for the record that I am very glad my niece goes to school near me.

I went to the mall with her and my little sister and had fun. I also learned something odd. All the purse manikins in Nordstrom were naked. If I had no clothes, the first thing I'd buy would be underwear, not a purse, but whatever.

But it is like someone tosses me a life preserver that works great for a little while. But as soon as Game of Thrones is over or the last joke is told, I start sinking.

The bad thoughts overwhelm the good ones. I am not sure why, and I don't like it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

One fall is not the same as the others

I fall fairly regularly, and while I rarely get hurt, I never know how a fall will affect me.

I fell this morning. Claren was only too happy to speak for help -- since it meant she'd get fed earlier. And my sister came down and helped me up readily.

I was fine -- no injuries, no unwanted pee, no problems. But why then has the fall stuck in my head and left me feeling so sad?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Independence is overrated

Dad volunteered to pick me up from work today because it was cold out.

He did the same yesterday.

When he said I'll pick you up because it is supposed to be really cold, part of me wanted to say no, I'll get the subway.

But then I thought, I really hate the cold; a ride would be nice.

I don't know if it makes me a bad disabled person to embrace help so often. I don't even try to do some things anymore because I know if I wait, someone else will do what I need -- usually more quickly than I could.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Needed: Masseuse

I need to marry a masseuse.

My left shoulder hurt over Christmas. I blame an ergonomic keyboard I was trying out.

I went back to the regular keyboard, which helped, but what would have really made things better -- other than a massage -- is not using my left arm for a few days.

That isn't really an option when you use your arms for just about everything from movement to standing to communicating.

As the pain in my left shoulder eased, it didn't disappear. It just moved to my right shoulder, I assume, because I was not using my left shoulder as I normally do and was compensating by overworking my right shoulder.

Now the pain has moved again, to my neck. This time, I assume, I have been compensating for two underworked shoulders.

I'll survive -- I always do -- but it would be ore fun to thrive with my masseuse wife.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Nice neighbors, too bad I can't visit

Of the seven houses have been built on Gram's property, ours is the only accessible one.

The others aren't just inaccessible, they are downright wheelchair unfriendly. They all have significant stairs to get to the doors or right inside the doors.

And fairly narrow stairways so two or three people cold not carry someone else in a chair in. Big elevators would be needed to get into them.

When we sold the first four lots after Gram died, Mom asked the architect is he ever gave thought to wheelchair users. These houses sell, she was told. In other words, no.

Of course, accessible houses would sell, too.

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