Day 13: The Year of Surgery

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As the years roll on, each seems to assume an identity, or at the very least they take on some strong character traits, which then get imparted to me as Life Experience. For example, I have taken lessons from Bad Hair ’95 and Was I Really At My Dad’s House for Three Whole Years in the Mid-2000’s? and applied them appropriately:

  • NEVER cut or color your hair as an immediate reaction to a break-up.
  • Yes, staying at your dad’s for three whole years while you were trying to start every part of your life over is fine, BUT, …no wait, no buts. That was all the way it was meant to be. Carry on.

I mention years as markers because once you are smack in the middle of life, they no longer feel like the largest, most never-ending measurement of time fathomable. They pass on at a steady clip, seemingly going faster each year, piling up the experiences and stories along side the ark in some vast warehouse of memories, photos, and boxes of receipts. Events get compressed and classified by year, and the older we get, by decade. (If you have kids, well then, you have some extra weird human-time machine living in your house to also contend with, who is constantly pulling you into the future with all their growing and changing and learning.)

Last year, and now seven months into this one, are going to be known as Oh, That’s When I Wasn’t Running years, because, like all active people, I have been injured and trying to heal. 2014 will be, The Year of Surgery. In 13 days, on Friday, 1 August, I will be having a fairly extensive arthroscopic hip surgery on my right hip (see my MRI above!) to remove bone spurs and repair a torn labrum caused by my acetabulum impinging on the top of my femur, which in turn is caused by the way my hip sockets and pelvis are formed genetically, a weak right side, and repetitive motion, AKA, walking, hiking, running, skiing, yoga, sitting, standing, AKA being alive.

That surgery is in 13 days is both daunting and exciting. I have a to-do list a mile long from prepping my house for recuperation and lining up friends in a schedule to come check on me, to buy plane tickets for Christmas, as if I can’t do that, say 17 days from now while I am laid-up with a computer in my lap. That is the funny thing about time and getting things done. Once we are contending with a massive project (surgery in this case), we tend to go into overdrive trying to get all the shit done we have been not doing over the years… like throwing out those boxes of receipts! While my focus is of course on my health and putting my most ardent energy into healing my body, the life experience I am taking from this past year and a half is:

  • Do the annoying/daunting chores or tasks a little bit a day as much as possible. Then before you know it, every photo album is filled, and you have space to have a little meditation room! (And no, these are not done yet!)
  • Demand an excellent physical therapist. Figure out which side of your body is physically weaker. Do the required, annoying, repetitive, constant, sometimes painful, daily exercises and stretches to strengthen and balance it. Don’t avoid massages because you deem them frivolous. Do these things. You will then rule the world.

Updates to follow, thanks for the support, and any surgery prep/recovery tips are most welcomed!

I Heard There’s This Place Called Summer

Last summer's list... full disclosure: much like the blobbed word on the ball, it didn't go so well.

Last summer’s list… full disclosure: much like the blobbed word “FUN” on the ball, my summer didn’t go so well.

The Summer of 2013 is decidedly not the Greatest Summer of All Time pour moi. Oh, oops, I slipped into a bit of French there, maybe because every single human I know well (not to mention the semi-knowns I follow on Instagram) is in f’ing Paris right now. Oops, sorry, I am not cursing Paris. I know it to be a beautiful, inspiring city teeming with art and culture, and its meta-clichés of chic bike riding women whose baskets carry actual baguettes and flowers, whizzing past lovers making out at every café and park bench is actually charming and delightful and from what I remember of the one time I was there over 10 years ago for four days makes you feel that… je ne sais quois… oh, there I go again. Having that not-summer summer.

There are 467 thousand valid reasons that I am unable to take a summer vacation this year and the same list applies to why I could not take one last year. However, there are none that are stopping me from enjoying the season here at home on weekends and long, late-setting days. But there is this issue: I’m fixed in an ironic struggle that has me so exhausted I can’t relax, but the more I don’t relax the more weary I become. And even though summer is famous for it’s call to slow down, I have been deaf to it. (Except in French.)

This morning I made the executive decision to take a whole day off this coming Friday. The only way this counts though is if I go DO something summery a.k.a. touristy/cultural/fun etc. I have been so far down the stress rabbit hole that I could not even process making those types of plans, and then, by the grace of the one brain cell I have left, I remembered…

I put “Start A Mediation Practice” on my Life List.

Good thing I had that written down and posted online! And even better that I live 30 minutes away from two world renowned spiritual retreat and mediation centers! And triple word score for the fact that one is having a Morning Meditation and Yoga Class on Friday morning AND it has a sliding scale, something my budget requires! So, there it is, I will be turning off my electronics for the better part of the day, and meditating my way into summer.

A votre santé!

(The post also appears at Go Mighty!)

Fight or Flight

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I can’t remember the first time I heard a story about super-human strength, but it was definitely when I was a kid. I feel certain I saw it on TV, on “That’s Incredible” or “Real People.” (Note, we now have the Internet and a thing called You Tube, all but putting these types of shows out of production.) A person rescuing another from a harrowing situation and the lifting of a car or the ripping of a door off its hinges Hulk-style was the general gist of every story. Once, a row of lockers fell on a friend while we were horsing around after gym class, and I lifted the lockers off of her… so I know these feats are true. Soon after, I learned about the endocrine system, and that a rapid burst of adrenaline is the magic juice that enables our muscles to effortlessly lift steel lockers off a friend. Even knowing the science, I was still fascinated with these tales of survival. It did not just happen in movies or to Wonder Woman.

And then, I got older.

Age brought with it life experience, which seemed to have more stories about people getting hurt, maimed or dying than of adrenaline-fueled survival. And these were sometimes people I knew. Worse still, people were getting sad, or hopeless, or addicted to all manner of distractions. And because it can always get worse, I saw that people isolated themselves. I was one of those.

Last fall when I went to Camp Mighty, I started to connect that very idea. That in the face of a long series of fairly large failures, disappointments and setbacks over the past nine years, I was choosing isolation as a coping strategy for far longer than I intended, and that now, if I wanted to get done all the things on my Life List let alone just live my life the way I wanted to, with perhaps some joy and even some love, I would have to find some of that super-human strength to do it.

I got back from Camp raring to go: work was great, the Giants won the World Series, and then, over Christmas break, while in my hometown, I found myself in a room with a man I’d been enjoying getting to know, when his ex-girlfriend walked in unannounced. Everyone was fully clothed; I was still in my coat and hat in fact, but yeah. There I was.

Being lied to. Again.

During Christmas. Again.

I walked out. I calmly, maybe almost too calmly, just got my bag, put my sunglasses on and walked the fuck out.

When this happens to you, and I hope it does not, there is no huge scene, or, regrettably, all the phenomenal and witty comments and comebacks of so many great movie scenes. No writer is feeding you lines like, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” and you’re definitely not shoving all his belongings into his BMW, dousing it with gasoline and lighting it on fire.

Nope. Not for me anyway. I just walked out.

(Later that day, I lost my mind with rage and hurt. Unfortch, I don’t like to eat or drink when I get upset, so I could barely even get the sorely needed booze down my throat at the parties I had to attend later that night. Again, no screenwriter in their right mind would have a just-dumped character not go on a bender. Not very cinematic.)

A pause now in this part of the action to jump ahead to this past Wednesday morning.

There I was, in my bathroom, freshly showered, naked, worried about missing the ferry while hastily putting body lotion on, when I came face… to another face in my bathroom window. After two full beats registering that there was a FACE LOOKING INTO MY BATHROOM WINDOW, I screamed an enraged terror scream that would have made the hair on the back of Jamie Lee Curtis’s neck stand up. The face disappeared, I grabbed my robe and ran out the front door to look for the bastard who I then computed to know, was the boyfriend of my upstairs neighbor. How did I know this? My other neighbor had reported to me that she caught him looking into her windows in much the same way a couple months ago and I remembered it in that split second and so went after him to try and catch him running away.

I. Was. PISSED. I screamed his name and yelled for him to get back here, which did not happen. I went back inside, put my Ugg boots on, grabbed my key and locked the door (in case he came back and hid in my apartment?) and marched upstairs to confront the girlfriend, my neighbor. I was yelling. I was shaking. I was breathing hard, near asthma attack levels, being out of shape from no running. It was 7:15 in the morning.

The confrontation with the neighbor/girlfriend did NOT go well, in that she was in full denial that this was really happening, and basically started to sass me, and gaslight me, telling me I was over-reacting, imagining it, and oh, by the way, he’s moving in here over the weekend.

Oh no you didn’t.

This whole situation WAS full movie scene, from that pervie punk skulking around to peek into my window, to my blood-curdling scream and running outside after him, to the bitchy, reality-show cast member finger-wagging of the 21 year-old girl accusing me of having an “erratic” personality. Are you FKM as they say?

He then CAME BACK to admit he did it and apologize to me, to which I said directly to his face, “You violated my privacy and my personal space. There is nothing normal about what you did. You have a problem. You are not welcome here. I never want to see you again.” Holy shit did that feel good.

The only thing missing was me calling the cops right then and there, which, thankyouverymuch, I did later in the day. He packed his shit and is not moving in. She’s leaving within weeks. If he shows up here, I will call the police again.

Calling on my inner-Taratino, one more flashback, but this time, to a few weeks ago, at an intersection while stopping for a red light.

I was rear-ended by man driving a Range Rover. Totally low speed, a couple scratches to my bumper, but definitely, his fault. We pulled over to check on each other’s well-being and to exchange information. I was shaky from the adrenaline spike and trying to calm my breathing and gather my thoughts. He immediately started telling me the whole accident was my fault and that as such, I should “be reasonable” about the repair issue. “Which means what?” I asked. Did he think I would take less than the full amount for the repair for damage HE caused? Apparently he did. He started to tell me that my car was not in pristine condition anyway, so why should I even care? “Look at this, this dent on your front bumper,” he said, “are you telling me that you drive around with this, but that you expect me to pay for this tiny scratch that my car only caused because you did not go through the yellow light?” Oh my f-ing God. That is how this arrogant, Range Rover driving a-hole was speaking to me. Was I suddenly caught in a hidden-camera stereotype experiment?? I could feel myself crumbling a bit, feeling like maybe he was right, I did have to stop fast, but wait, the light was turning and I was not going to run it… UGH, I was drifting a bit down that hole of not thinking my feelings let alone the truth mattered.

After I reached out to a friend who calmly reminded me to call my insurance, especially since this guy was such a jerk, I did just that. I was thrilled to find out that he was as consistent an asshole with them as he was with me, and that I was not just some special weakling  in a sensible compact car he chose to harangue. He was an equal opportunity ass. (Oh and his insurance accepted liability and car will be getting repaired shortly. Front bumper I have to save up for!)

Back to the scene in December.

I would not change it. Because if I had not calmly walked the hell out of that house with my dignity intact, then had the emotional breakdown even as messy and hurtful as it was and then recovered from that, I would not have gone after this creepy spying schmuck and his abusive girlfriend for violating my home and privacy and sense of security AND been right about it.

I’d likely not have stood up to the jerk who hit my car either.

Superhuman strength, or what we call the fight or flight response is autonomic. We cannot control it. Not even Oscar winning screenwriters can control it, so that is why everyone is always lifting cars and saying awesome shit. But, we have powers beyond a witty line. When we pay attention to how we react, and understand that the only thing we can control is how we react and deeper still how we THINK about how we react, that’s when we do become heroes.

PS,

Dear Universe,

I am pretty sure I get it now. So that thing how you split the ass out of my pants on Friday, I mean, really was that necessary? I totally laughed, because split pants, like unintended loud farts, are totally funny. But Universe… really? You’ve read my Life List right? Please get back to work on that. I promise, I am in good humor. I just would like a nice boyfriend (#59) and a bit more financial freedom too (#14) would be great! Thanks! ;-)

Um, Ommmm?

It’s on the Life List 2013: Start a Meditation Practice. So, tomorrow, Monday 11, March, 2013, I am going to attempt to start to try to learn how to invite the practice of mediation into my life, maybe hopefully, but it counts, right?

It totally counts.

Am slightly terrified.

And I just took a deep breath to calm that fear.

Annnnnyway, I am going to join Oprah and Deepak, and if you want to try to, here is the link to sign up for the class. If I flail or fail, I will just regroup and hit up Spirit Rock.

But this is a start.

Camp Mighty Recap: Five Things

In the great tradition of telling the story backwards, here are my Five Things. I plan on explaining what that means and why these are the things, but it’s way fun to give the sneak peek. One tidbit: this necklace was a gift to me and all the attendees from Camp Mighty to symbolize the Five Things from our Life Lists we intend to check off in the coming year. My other most meaningful jewelry was happy to meet it.

Gonna Get Mighty

OMG.  Big lunch time over here.  I am signed up for Camp Mighty.  It takes a village to send a girl to camp, so big thanks to mom for the first assist.  More to come…

Wanna join me?