Blood. Gore. Triumph.

Been awhile, hasn’t it?

I’ve been busy building a company while working full time, too busy to keep this blog at the level I need it to be.

But all that busy-ness will come to a crashing halt next Wednesday as I’m wheeled into the operating room for a total knee replacement. This time my left. My right follows suit after the first one heals.

First surgery. First experience of staying in the hospital. Then a longish three month (minimum!) recovery.

I’m excited about walking pain free and cane free. Eventually. I’m curious about the surgical procedure-the plan now is to avoid a general anesthetic and do it via a spinal block and a “cocktail.”  I told them to make it a double. And I can’t imagine what having an entire three months or more to focus on getting better is going to be like. I’m the woman who dictates emails to Siri from the shower. I’m writing this during my commute. I’m accustomed to doing at least three things at once.

Focus on me? Seriously?

Thing is I’ll need an outlet or two, for recording this journey, for thinking aloud, for pondering what comes next.

And while what I have to say may not always be joyful–or at times loud enough to be noise, you’re welcome to stick around to how the story goes.



Dishing on disability

My dad was in a wheelchair—due in part to the disease I’ve inherited—for the last ten years of his life, so I thought I knew a lot about public reaction to a disability.

I’ve had my share of yelling matches with perfectly able-bodied jerks who park in the handicap zones, stared down serving staff whose sensibilities were ruffled by the presence of a wheelchair in their section and apologized for accidentally steering him into store end caps. What I learned from him is screw them all, do what you want and be where you want to be.

My love, whose own father was challenged with Parkinson’s disease, was good at grabbing my dad by the back of his belt and hoisting him out of our then very low to the ground Mustang. I’m sure there were times he was nearly spitting cotton, but it didn’t matter. He was enjoying an outing. He was having fun.

But it turns out there is so much more to learn. Nothing about my recent education would be news to anyone who has had to deal with any sort of physical, mental or psychological challenge, but it’s all new to me and therefore a little fascinating. Here are just a few of the things I have picked up.

This may be racial profiling, but young women of Asian and Middle Eastern descent are my best friends on public transportation. I have had young female Chinese students race to give up their seat and once a teen girl in a hijab nearly cleared the entire front of a bus for me. She yelled, people scattered. I think it might have something to do with their upbringing and cultures that actually value aging relatives who might need a little extra consideration now and then. Makes me wonder—when we talk about diversity and tolerance—many we should be taking about how much these new Canadians have to tolerate from us.

Like anyone else, I appreciate you holding the door for me. It’s definitely preferable to getting hit in the face with it. However, understand that you are making a commitment and you should do so graciously. I’d rather open my own door when I get there on my own time than feel the need to step up the pace to get that disappointed look off your face.

Understand that no matter how close you walk or stand behind me, it’s not going to make me more flexible or quick. Doesn’t work like that. If it did, I would hire someone to walk very close behind me just to keep me in motion.

Don’t give me that look when I eschew the stairs for the elevator. Yes, I look healthy, relatively young for my age, I’m usually fairly neat and well dressed and I don’t use a cane or any other sort of aid. I’m not lazy, seeking sympathy or feeling sorry for myself. Trust me, attempting those stairs is going to ruin my night.

Yes, I do know you’re in a hurry and you want to get around me, but try not to dart left and right; just pick a path and go. Whether I see you coming at me, or feel you behind me, I can’t react to your sudden motion and it makes me freeze in place. Which does neither of us any good.

And to the several people out there who seem disappointed that I’m still working—get over it. Currently, the toughest thing about my workday is getting my tights or stockings on—and that’s only because the bend-ability of both knees is less than ten percent of what it should be. Summer, with cute dresses that can be flung over one’s head and wriggled into, along with bare legs and slip-on flats sans socks will make the mornings much easier. Besides, it’s my brain that makes the money—and as long as I can limp, wheel, crawl or roll up to a laptop, I’m working.

Take note—there will be times when I am simply not myself. Dealing with even low grade chronic pain can cause brain fog, mood swings and feelings of frustration and exhaustion. The pain pills can sometimes cause headaches or stomach woes. All temporary. It all could be so much worse. It’s not cancer. It’s not dementia. It’s not any one of many other horrible things one can get. It’s just hurts to walk. Sometimes. But only until the doctors and I figure out how to fix it.

And that point is never lost on me.


I’m going under (between?) cover(s).

I’ve come to the conclusion that if timing is everything, then I’ve got nothing.

Which is to say I usually get the best ideas to start something new at the worst possible time. But I also believe that if you wait for the “right time” to do something, you’d never do anything at all.

So in the midst of working full time at a fairly demanding job, consulting some on the side, two physio appointments a week and beginning a run up to surgery—along with all the usual stuff like housework, dentist appointments, getting Team Z to various vet check-ups, making sure we eat, have clean clothes and prepping for tax time—I’ve decided it’s time to start working on a book.

Actually, it’s not my decision. The story won’t leave me alone. It interrupts my showers, my commute and my sleep. My handbag is stuffed with scribbled-on index cards. The main character keeps downloading strange books for me to read. She whispers to me when I think I’m alone in my head. She tells me jokes. Normal people would make immediately go see some sort of specialized healthcare professional to make these encounters stop. But if you’re a writer, this is what passes for normal. And it means you might be on to something good.

So for the next year or two, whenever I have a spare half hour, I’ll be crawling into the skin of my narrator, a “(wo)man in black” who works for a covert government agency that investigates conspiracies. She also happens to be psychic. And figures out that we’re all in big trouble. Yeah, she’s got a hard row to hoe and a lot of evil to tap down. But I like her a lot and I’m looking forward to spending time being her. Or at least being along for the ride.

Problem is, when you travel in my circles, “I working on a book” can be one of the most joyous lines you hear. It can also sound like one of the most pretentious, depending on tone. And intent.

I’m a big believer that you get more writing done when you actually write, instead of talk or write about writing.

Which means entries to this blog may get few and far between at times.

What I will do though, is once I’m far enough along that the story makes some sense if you’re not me, I may share a sneak preview chapter or two. Could happen. Might.

For those of you who know me personally, if, in the near future, I start a serious discussion about Area 51 or the Illuminati or our reptilian alien overlords, remember, it’s not me. It’s my character. But never forget, Fox Mulder said “the truth is out there.” Or I could just make it up for a good yarn.

And yes, for the skeptics among us, I do think I’d look quite fetching in a tin foil hat.

My knees. My needs.

The facts. For the past year or so, I have had pain in both the back and front of my knees that ranges from “oh, ouch,” to “when did it get so hard to put on a pair of tights?” to “God, don’t let me fall down on the train tracks.” I tried to rationalize it, because if I can find a way to intellectualize something, I can avoid involving my feelings. I shaved off a few pounds. I blamed bad shoes, a too heavy handbag, various chairs and other forms of seating and when I was cranky and fatalistic, old age sneaking up on me.

But I knew it was none of these and I would be called on my lying ways eventually. My dad was in a wheelchair for the last ten years of his life and died a very difficult and painful death from complications of arthritis. I didn’t want to go there.

My doctor noticed the swelling a few weeks ago during my annual check-up and sent me for x-rays that afternoon. And last week, I got the diagnosis. Turns out I really am my daddy’s girl. I have fairly severe osteoarthritis (happily, not rheumatoid, the other kind that slowly kills your immune system) in both knees, with a host of complications like joint damage, and “loose bodies,” which are tiny shards of bone that float around the knee area and hurt like crazy when they come to rest on a nerve. My once rather cute kneecap is totally AWOL and the level of swelling officially makes shorter skirts out of the question.

My doctor told me surgery—either to “scoop” out the bone shards (I immediately pictured getting the procedure done at a Baskin Robbins) — or to rebuild the knees in total is pretty much inevitable. But to buy me some time and help to manage the pain until…well, I can’t manage it anymore, I am now, for the first time in my life, in physiotherapy and a rehab program (I always thought if I ever wound up in rehab, it would be for something more pleasurable like excessive consumption of chocolate or a video solitaire addiction.)

My assessment was this past week and not only are my knees totally trashed, to compensate for the pain, I’m messing up my hip. But the exercises seem to help (not that I needed another hour of activity added to my day), the hot vibrating mini-electric chair thing-gummy they hooked up to my knees felt great (once it stopped making me howl from the tickling) and I’m starting to think that maybe this physio thing isn’t the quackery and insurance grab (and I am so well insured!) that I initially suspected.

So I do this. Two sessions a week and two to three sets of exercises a day. Until I can’t do it anymore.  My doctor says I’ll know when we get there. And that I’m the boss of this.

But none of this is the point. The point is something I’ve learned about myself that I’m more concerned about than the pain in my knee, the eventual surgery (five days in bed to read and drink London Fogs from the Second Cup in the lobby. Sign me up!) or what the future holds for my mobility and independence.

Here’s the thing. I got my love through major surgery and the possibility of cancer—that wasn’t, touch wood. I nursed my mother through a triple bypass. I can navigate hospitals, doctor’s appointments, medication and therapy; I can take time away from my busy schedule to deal with any kind of health issues—for everyone else.

But I’m really having trouble getting my head around taking care of me. I’m trying to balance physio appointments to make sure I don’t miss meetings at work. The very idea of taking time for two rehab sessions a week—I talked them down from three—boggles my mind. The exercises aren’t difficult and I feel better having done them—but just the same, locking myself up in a room to lie on a mat on the floor, move my legs this way and that, squeeze a small beach ball between my knees 30 times and balance a pillow up to the wall for a while (Isometrics. I don’t get it, but it seems to work.) feels somehow selfish. And the idea of being post-surgically laid up, dependent and unable to complete the daily race-cum-endurance contest-cum-high jump event that is my life—well, I’m sorry but that just won’t compute.

I have to make this clear; no one is “making” me feel this way. No one is telling me I’m not worthy.  My love, my friends and everyone at my place of work have been fully supportive. Coddling even. This is totally and completely my own baggage.

I wonder how I picked up the message that everyone else’s pain and problems are serious but mine aren’t. That through my superhuman strength and remarkable endurance threshold, I don’t need time or space or care. That I can will or ignore my own needs away. And frankly, since I’ve never exactly been the long-suffering selfless doormat type—really I’m not—I don’t know how or when these feelings came about. Maybe they snuck up on me when I was busy doing everything else—for everyone else.

Trust me; this has been one of those turning point moments.  I’m angry that I’ve been treating myself with such little regard. But at least now I’m aware of it. I’m thinking of the revelation as a slap to the head by my own knee (oh, if only I could do that). And I’m hoping that by going through this process, the future holds not just pain-free dancing, stair-climbing, getting the wiggle in my walk back knees—but also the recognition that I am fully deserving of a little attention now and then.

From me.

I suspect I could fool them…

This week, America’s fundamentalist “Christian” right continued to show its hand with laws that are based on segregation, discrimination and—let’s cut to the chase—hatred.  Clearly the human evolution is running backwards for those who feel the need to pass laws that reduce the rights of one group or another. Coming on the heels of a federal decree that married gay and lesbian couples should be treated like…well, married people…Indiana has voted for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, while Kansas and Arizona have decided it’s perfect legal and within the rights of endangered religious business owners to refuse services to gay and lesbian couples…or those they suspect might be.

I could write pages and pages about ignorance and prejudice and the crazy hypocritical bible-thumping theocracy that America is becoming. But why would I? I don’t live there, I’m not subject to those laws and really, what difference would it make? I could rage against this particularly petty and heinous kind of bigotry until my fingers fall off from typing. And all I’d gain is a smaller glove size. Just like one can’t fix stupid, I’ve come to the conclusion in my later years that you can’t solve hatred. It’s just there. The small-mind, the ignorant, those lacking in confidence and independent thought, those needing the crutch of religion on which to base their choices will always exist. They have forever. These are the same people who burnt witches and tortured heretics and gassed Jews and Gypsies – as long as humans draw breath on this earth, there will be those who fear and loathe what (and who) they don’t understand. It’s the dark underbelly of human nature. We should have lost it as we travelled the evolutionary trail, along with our gills and second stomach, but it just didn’t happen that way.

But what I’d like to know is how does one come to the suspicion that someone is gay or lesbian? It’s not like we wear signs. And not everyone looks like a butchy female gym teacher or a swishy male hairdresser–and don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of these people who can wear their difference so honestly and naturally. But still, while maybe the rest of the world hasn’t got their heads around diversity, but we have.

I used to make jokes that I only looked like a lesbian when my lover walked into the room. I spent years trying to convince my sapphic sisterhood that I was a real true for-sure lesbian, not a tourist, not experimenting – because when I came out in the late 70s and early 80s (and yes, it’s a journey, not a destination), I wasn’t really all that good at giving the appearance that I was “in the life.” Granted, my hair has been short most of my life—because it’s very fine and quite wavy and a short fluffy cut is the only way I can leave the house half presentable without spending hours in front of a mirror—that was my most obvious “tell.” That and a studied expression that married a sneer and pout that I used to practice before heading out to bars. The rest of me is all wrong—or at least it was in 1979 and for some years after that. Sports bore me. I’m built with too many curves and too much roundness to ever be confused with the archetypical skinny tomboy type. I like skirts and sweater sets and flowing scarves and dangly earrings and, before I finally had to admit that I was slowly crippling myself, heels that practically make one require extra oxygen. I have drawers full of lipstick and closets full of purses and shoes and hats. At nearly 54, I’m still a raving clotheshorse, who just picked out three sweet little dresses to add to the summer repertoire.

That’s me. That’s permanent.  Even when it’s time to go into the light, my earrings better match my sweater or I’m not going until I get changed.

The point is…would I be suspect? Would I be served by these legally sanctioned religious fanatics? Not that I’d drop one thin dime in their holy establishments? But would I pass? Would I totally make a fool of them all?

Unless someone comes across a couple in the act of making love—which I presume wouldn’t be happening in a bakery or car wash or shoe store or whatever kind of business in question…how would someone become suspect for being gay?

Years ago, when my love and I would shop for groceries, the two of us would put the groceries out on the belt and stand together and wait. The cashier would get flustered trying to figure out where my love’s groceries ended and mine began. Clearly two women couldn’t be buying food for one household–lock up your daughters! It was amusing but telling. But that was twenty-odd years ago… it would never happen now.

“Suspected of being gay or lesbian” is probably the craziest aspect of these ugly laws.  Anyone can suspect anyone of just about anything. But unless you can prove it, you best keep it to yourself. Or someone’s going to court. Granted, I’d rather be suspected of being a lesbian than of being a problem gambler or a closet kleptomaniac or for that matter, a bat-shit crazy Christian fundamentalist. But that’s me.

Basically what these laws mean is the legal sanctioning of shunning. Isolated, now-extinct societies did that to keep the community pure. Sects do that when they feel they have a deviant in their midst. It’s nothing but a control mechanism designed to create fear and division and a sense of us against them. Group bully mentality. And in the year 2014, it’s a travesty.

I don’t write in this blog about being a lesbian very often. But I also don’t write about being white or right-handed or grey-haired, that I have brown eyes, or that I have never been able to correctly pronounce the word “aluminum.”  That’s just who I am and frankly, I don’t feel I have anything to prove or defend or any need to convince anyone that who I am and I what I am is right. I left the more militant politics behind because I felt being gay was only one aspect of who I was and there were so many other things to explore.

But the way things are going, I SUSPECT I’m going to have get more vocal and let my inner bad-ass radical out to play.

Oh me of little faith

“Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism’. I’m afraid, based on my own long experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.”

Sen. Huey Long

I’m not great with the idea of faith.

Both faith in the sense of religious belief and to have faith in the things I’m told. Actually, the two concepts aren’t that far apart. Both require a suspension of rationality and an absence of proof.

I’m finding lately that I’m gloomy over the news, want to throw shoes at CNN, and I’m having trouble facing all the left-leaning publication that post on my Facebook news-stream. They keep telling about all the horrible things that are happening to my human and civil rights. And not a thing about what can be done to stop it.

Let’s face it folks, things aren’t looking so good these days.

But then again, faith in “the system” is something I’ve always struggled with. I was raised by two people who often showed an open contempt for authorities figures. I was taught that there wasn’t anything particular special about people in places of power other than they’d found often unappetizing ways getting in that position and staying there – and that far too many of the professional order keepers were studies in hypocrisy.

I think that’s possibly why I have what would be considered in some circles, an unhealthy interest in conspiracy theories. Who really shot JFK, Chemtrails, UFOs, 9/11 Truthers, all of it. Granted, I’m not quite at the tin foil hat level. The underlying reason for my interest in these thing is that I admire people who with sufficient independence of mind to conclude that they’re being snowed and are willing to risk ridicule in their search for the truth. The conspiracy nuts don’t bother me—in fact I feel a certain questioning kinship with them. I don’t believe the government or the media either, particularly not in the last decade or so. What I fear are those who are either so gullible or apathetic that they can continue to swallow the stories they’re being fed. I think it’s become painfully evident that we’re not getting the whole story. On just about anything.

When Julian Assange embarrassed the U.S. with Wilkileaks, there was a certain amount of bitchiness to it—people in high places saying nasty things about other people in high places. It was interesting, surprising for some, but remote. But when Edward Snowden broke the news that the NSA was spying on…well, everyone…I felt that kind of information should have sent the entire population out into the street demanding justice, revenge, a massive upheaval of the entire corrupt system.

But it didn’t.

I learned a few weeks ago that CSIS in own country, meek, mild Canada was monitoring metadata from people using the free wifi in the nation’s airports. Frankly, I could never get it to work and quite honestly, I’m not even sure what metadata is, but if it comes from the cellphone or iPad that I bought and paid for, it belongs to me. And no one has the right to invade my privacy without just cause—and a warrant.

So it’s safe to say that whether American, Canadian or just passing through as a tourist, you’ve been spied on. Your rights have been trampled. George Orwell was prophetic, Big Brother is watching (and listening) to you.

The big question is what else are they doing that we don’t know about. And might never know. Doesn’t anyone else find that terrifying?

I don’t understand why—knowing the things we’ve learned recently, the Internet hasn’t come to a near standstill from the bulk of complaining emails sent to elected official. I don’t understand why there aren’t so many people protesting that one can’t get within blocks of government offices at every level. I don’t see how we can function as citizens knowing we’ve been lied to and treated like criminals in our country. I don’t know why we’re not all mourning the loss of our rights and why we keep believing night after night that whatever the news is telling us is the truth.

So what’s it going to take? What would happen tomorrow if we learned that we’ve been lied to, explicitly or by omission about other things? What if 9/11 was an inside job, designed to turn up security at home and bring acceptance of foreign wars? What if all the UFOs people report are really secret weapons, reverse engineered from Roswell, with technology costs that explain why the government says they spend $25 on bolts and $400 on toilets.

Too far out? Fine. What if we find out that Snowden has only leaked the tip of the iceberg and nefarious organizations here in North America are plotting to do much more than just monitor our communications. What happens when we get asked to report on the anti-government sensibilities of our neighbors on a 1-800 hotline? What happens when we started being stopped on the street or in the mall and need to show our ID? What happens with the smart meters and smart appliances we’re being sold start reporting data and images  of our daily lives to some anonymous authority?

Don’t think for a moment that it couldn’t happen.

The term fascism is going to come across as overdramatic to a lot of people—but the basic definition of fascism is merely a system in which the government has all the power. No jackboots required. At least not at first. You’re either with them or against them…and being against them is to be in a dangerous place. It begins when our rights and basic expectation of government, like honesty and transparency, slowly erode, one by one, until we no longer recognize the country we live in.  I think too, it takes two sides. Fascism comes by implicit agreement, a contract if you will—the government of the day decides the people no longer matter, that they should no longer have power, no longer deserve rights and freedoms—and the people play into their hands by being too unaware or apathetic to recognize and protect the power they could have.

One act couldn’t happen without the other.

So do I have any faith in the future at all? The big, we are the world future? Frankly, not so much. I’m hoping the Occupy movement was a dry run. I’m hoping intelligent people see that whistleblowers like Assange and Snowden may be our only salvation, not the traitors they’re being painted to be by the governments whose secrets they’ve revealed. I want us to stop trusting a docile media that’s owned for the most part by the corporations whose existence is dependent on keeping corrupt governments in power and the people on their knees. I want us to see sports and reality TV as the distractions they’re supposed to be. I want people to confront and complain and question everything they are told by those in authority. I think we need our own “fill-in-the-blanks spring.”  We need to rebel and revolt and say, “no, we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.”

But sadly, while I have absolutely no faith in the powers that be—I’m starting to lose faith in a citizenry–all of us–that is too easily allowing their power to be pulled away.






When I am old(er): A manifesto of sorts.

As one ages, people tend to ask what does 50 feel like, or 40 or 25 or whatever number they can’t quite get their head around. Thing is, we baby boomers seem younger in our aging process that any generation before us.  My grandmother seemed very old at 53…at least older than I am now. But maybe that was just my perception, as someone much younger.

Sometime in the 1990s, I found a book in a Provincetown (MA) bookstore entitled When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple Humm, I thought. Being a 30-something dyke in the 90s, purple was my gang color, the genderbending mid point of pink and blue. Leafing through it, I loved the premise of how aging offered women a chance to shed their inhibitions, stop playing by the rules. By losing value to society, they gained freedom. But had I known that the title poem would spark the Red Hat Society—well, clearly they didn’t get it. I hate the spectacle this group makes of older women. The emphasis on the wrong things, the portrayal of aging women as comical (and color blind) stereotypes. Besides, you don’t need a group to tell you how to celebrate your individuality. Think about it.

As I have written about here before, my love and I are in the process of looking for a home that will suit us as we grow older. One floor, requiring little housework, walking distance to stores and not too much space to stuff things we’ll never use again. We want to be free of all that. But it’s made me think about the fact that old age may be the only stage of my life I get to consciously plan. Childhood is not a choice; adulthood is generally thrust on one after leaving school. And I don’t mean retirement planning. Hopefully there will be a little Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security left for us — we did pay into it all our lives. Plus I’ll have a small pension from my job and someday our investments will start to grow again. Besides, sailboats make my queasy, I don’t ski, I don’t play golf and I never liked sitting on a beach when I was young, so why would I want to do it when I’m older. I’m talking about planning how I will age, what kind of older woman I’ll be. And I think I’ve got the basics covered.

When I am old(er):

I will not ride public transit at rush hour. I have all day.

I will avoid bingos, casinos and Tim Horton’s. They are time and money wasters and I won’t have a lot of either.

I will continue to work for as long as I can, even if it’s just a day or two a week or one project at a time. It will keep my mind active and my pocket a little fuller.

I will have weekends. Real weekends. I will do what chores and errands that need to be done a little at a time during the week. To me, this is the freedom retirement brings. Getting off the clock.

I will go to movies. In the afternoon.

I will not mall walk. They make claws for ice and snow and even if I only get around the block, it will be in the fresh air.

I will not knit, crochet or do crafts. Never liked doing that stuff. I doubt that will change.

I may however, join a church group. I’m not at all religious but they have the best bake sales and I like to show off.

I will not purse my lips so tight they eventually disappear.

Further to that, I will wear lipstick. But not old lady colors.

I will continue to wear jeans. Real jeans. With real pockets and zippers. Not mom-jeans and not that awful dark wanna-be stretchy denim with visible seams. Not denim pant suits. Real jeans.

I will not make fun of fads or fashions I don’t understand, keeping in mind the toe socks and pet rocks of my youth.

I will not go to the bank when it opens or at lunch hour. I will not take a place in line from people who have to rush back to work.

I will not wear floral prints or anything bearing the image of a cat. I will continue to wear my black arty-boho-preppy combinations until they put pennies on my eyes.

I will give away things of value before I leave this world. I won’t need them and the last thing I want my legacy to be is a fight over a teapot or some folding chairs.

I will eat right. I will wear a warm coat. I will get the sleep I need.

I will not bitch about the weather.

I will continue to nurture my sexuality. It’s good for my health and my self-esteem. And if my “little deaths” bring on my big one, think of the laugh riot my memorial service will be.

I will not guilt younger people into visiting me. We all have lives.

I will wear comfortable shoes. But they don’t have to look that way.

I will continue to talk like a sailor. Particularly around those who will be the most scandalized.

I will retain my love of things innovative linear and post-modern and not develop a fondess for doilies or poultry-inspired kitchenware.

I will keep up with the latest technology.

I will care for my love and myself as long as it is reasonable to do so. Then I will cheerfully go to a “home.” I will not allow my aging to impact the lives of others. I will not surrender my independence to anyone.

I will continue to plot, plan, scheme and dream.

I will, in as much as possible, face the end with dignity and courage. Realizing it is those I leave behind who will be saddened. Not me. I’ll be off on an another adventure.

And if at all possible, I will come back to see how things are getting on without me.