The World is Good

So I’ve been on crutches since mid May, when I broke a few bones in my leg (she says, casually). It’s hard, it hurts, I’m clumsy, bitch, moan, blah blah blah. Then…there’s the other part. People are so darned nice to you when you can’t walk.

I went to the Bay Street Apple store in Emeryville yesterday to get a new power cord for my iBook. This was the first time I’ve driven myself anyplace. The Lovely Laura has been doing all the driving, and I’m starting to make a test run here and there in preparation for my return to work. Anyway, I’m a klutz on crutches.. so getting out of the car, strapping on my backpack, pulling the crutches out, hobbling to the back of the car to get my laptop out of the trunk…it didn’t go particularly smoothly and I set off the car alarm. Nothing to see here folks, go back to your homes…

I lock the door and crutch, crutch, crutch my way across the street to the Apple store only to notice two long-ass lines stretching out of the store and down the street. I asked the iManager womanning the store if those were iPhone lines. “One is for iPhones, the other is for everything else.

Even if you just need to get a new power cord?

“Yessss.”

Even if you’re here to buy a new Mac?

“Fraid so.”

Even if I want to buy 25 new Macs, all with cash, I’d have to wait in that line?

“Yup.”

Shit.

I tell her I have a broken leg and it wasn’t easy getting here. “Yeah, I can see that…” she said, and told me to have a seat on a folding chair right inside the door. In five minutes, one of the Mac clerks came over (heck, I was willing to walk to the cash register in the back of the store…) he took my iBook and broken power cord into the back; and returned a few minutes later with all my stuff, a new cord and some paperwork for me to sign, and I was on my way. Danggggg, as Baby Luke would say.

Crutches seem to bring out the compassion in people. Last weekend I was waiting outside the Home Depot with my cart full of stuff when a man walked over and asked if he could take it to the car and load it up for me. No thanks, my daughter is about to pull up, she’ll do it. And no, he wasn’t a mass murderer, his wife was with him. I think she told him to help me. Ditto in Target, earlier that day when I was in the motorized scooter they lend to the immobile…I was gazing up at the high shelf when a man walked over (again, urged by his wife) and said “Can I reach something for you?”

People gas up your gas tank for you. Okay, so it’s the law when you’ve got a disabled parking placard. But I didn’t ask for the help, I was about to do it myself when the really sweet Costco worker said “No, no, sit in the car, I’m happy to do it for you…” Happy? Seriously? He looked like he meant it.

I dunno. Maybe it’s just simple civility and I shouldn’t be so surprised. But seriously, I’m touched. It’s just so damned nice when people are so…so… you know, so nice. My daughter thinks it’s proof that people are mostly good, and the world is an okay place. Having come off the day I just had, I’m inclined to agree.

And I’m really happy (and a little shocked) that a kid I raised actually believes the world and the people in it are inherently good. To anyone who knows me (and my neurosis) I ask: how the hell did that happen?

(Smiley face goes here)

xoxo, Rebecca

ps: Although I’m pretty sure my other child, if he reads this, will refute the premise and once again urge me to stop blogging and if I feel a need to keep my writing skills honed during recuperation, start writing term papers to sell to students or some similar enterprise. Hi Ben.

The honeymoon is over

It’s been brought to my attention that I suck as a blogger. Okay, maybe my blogs don’t suck so much as my attention to blogging sucks.

I’ll tell you what happened. The moment I made a commitment to blogging, it felt like… ummm… a commitment. And you know how it is with commitments. Suddenly that swooshing noise I heard was the magic being sucked out of the room. Before I knew it…what had once been fun and exciting began to feel like an obligation. It was like I needed a literary Viagra just to set my fingers to the keyboard. Ideas for blogs eluded me. The notion of actually writing something new was greeted by my heart with the enthusiasm usually reserved for bill paying.

Woe was me.

So…we took a little break from each other, the blog and I. It wasn’t a legal separation or anything. It’s not like either of us moved into a new apartment. It was just… a little break. Pretty soon I found myself wanting to call, just to say hello. I began reading other blogs, a little misty eyed at what they have (and I don’t). One day, in Walgreens…I thought I saw the blog coming down the office supplies aisle with someone else. I have to admit, that was a shocker. The kind that makes you think long and hard about the direction your life has taken. The kind that makes you reassess your reluctance to commit.

So…here I am. I’m back. A little humbled, definitely focusing on what I have instead of what I don’t, and no longer expecting a constant diet of erudite commentary. It’s what life is made of, right? Beans and rice and the occasional filet mignon. Instead of daily fireworks, we can get comfortable together, right? I mean…who can sustain the constant passion, the high-energy zeal, the 24-7 intensity, right? Right? This doesn’t mean I’m settling or anything, nor do I expect that of you. I’m just going to…blog without judgement or expectation from now on. It’ll be a warm and loving blog based on friendship and mutual respect, with the occasional hot moment thrown in now and then.

(would’ve been easier to just say I got lazy for awhile, eh?)

xoxo, rebecca

Rip VanWinkle (gets tear-gassed)

The last day I worked was May 15th. Gas was approximately $3.80 a gallon. I know this for two reasons. 1-One of my daily duties (at work) involves gas prices. I am given a sheet of paper listing the “lowest” gas prices in the San Francisco Bay Area. I look at that list and read it aloud, twice a day. 2-The last time I went to a gas station was the morning of May 15th. In fact, that’s the last time I drove my car. If you’re just joining us… I broke my leg that evening, got scooped up by an ambulance, had a four hour surgery, spent four nights in the hospital (such symmetry) and have been home on sick leave- in a cast- ever since. My daughter now does all the driving. That is, when I go anyplace. Which is not often.

Today, we went out to lunch. We drove by the “cheap” gas station, the one with the lowest prices in Oakland, where regular is $4.50 a gallon. That’s an increase of 70 cents (which may as well be a dollar) in just five weeks.

Yeah, I read the papers, I listen to the news, I pay attention to the market, I watch the price of crude, blah blah blah blah. Still, there’s nothing like going to sleep when something costs less than four bucks and waking up when it’s almost FIVE.

I almost want it to hit five dollars a gallon just to see what happens. I know. Heretical thing to say. But don’t you kind of want to see it? Riots in the streets would be great, although I guess we won’t. But don’t you wish we would? The best part is, the rioters would be ordinary people, not radicals. People like my mother and father. People like me, my neighbors, the mailman, waitresses, teachers, the checker at the grocery, nuns, babysitters, students, bus drivers, salesmen, mechanics, realtors, accountants, librarians…

I mean…we keep saying “this is ridiculous, we’ve had it, we’re mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore…” Well, maybe not exactly that. But stuff like that. Yet… we don’t. We don’t riot in the streets. Ever since I was a little kid (growing up during Vietnam protests and Black Panther riots) I thought the only way to really get stuff done (when the men in charge don’t share your feelings) is to hit the streets.

I’m no radical or anything. I’m as mainstream as the next guy. But c’mon…you can hold Capitol Hill hearings until they’re blue in the face…and things aren’t gonna change until some cars are flipped over and set on fire.

I’m just sayin…

The cheapest gas I ever bought was 56 cents a gallon. I learned to drive during the oil crisis in the 70s. I remember we could only gas-up the car on odd days because our license plate number was odd. The big hubbub then was OPEC jacking up prices on us because we were on Israel’s side during the Arab/Israeli war.

I’m amazed I can remember any of this stuff. Truth is, I barely can. That was a lonnnnnnnng time ago when I was 15 years old. But I remember the newscasters reporting crude was something outrageous like almost four dollars a barrel. I know. Makes you want to laugh, doesn’t it? Or cry. By the time I got my license (November 24, 1974) crude was 12 or 13 (sorry, not much of a numbers person) or 14 or 15 dollars a barrel, four or five times as high as it was the year before. (I guess I could look this stuff up and try to be accurate. But I’m on disability. Leave me alone.) The point is, it was high and climbing fast. And the country was freaking out about the numbers. I remember this well because I had just started driving and you pay attention to those things when you’re using your own money that you earn bagging groceries (I really did) to fill your tank.

I’m going back to sleep.

xoxox, Rebecca

RIP Tim Russert

NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” died this afternoon of a heart attack at the age of 58. That’s really sad.

But here’s the really pathetic personal part. I am home, off work, and off my broken leg right now, right? So what did I do as soon as I found out about his death? I texted and emailed everyone I could think of who would care: Ben, Laura, Al (but not Amy because I knew Al would tell her), Walter, Helen, Jamie, Nick P. & Nick D, Dory & Tom (because they’re off work) and Sue.

You think they can revoke my disability pay for this?

Someone once said of me that I would go door-to-door being the town crier, if I could. Instead… well, instead I do what I do. Which leads me to this: there are two kinds of people in my business. People who want to be “famous” and people who are ridiculously committed to the dissemination of truth. The latter would yell from the rooftops even if we weren’t paid to do it.

I envision myself years from now…as a somewhat addled 93 year old, hobbling down Market Street stopping people, handing them a decades old business card, barking headlines at them. “Water rations have been lowered to 10 gallons per person starting next Friday!” or “The governor is proposing that citizen ID cards be revoked for anyone owing an unpaid debt to The Community for more than 6 weeks. Violators will be held at Citibank’s Debtor Detention Center!”

I bet Tim Russert was the door-to-door type, RIP.

xo, Rebecca

Sunshine break

No one told me that failing to blog for a few days would feel much like neglecting a toddler. Not that I’d know what that’s like…

Back soon.

xo, R

Hey, wait a minute…

The day I got crutches, the daughter and I decided to go shopping at Target. Target provides a cool little motorized scooter for handicapable shopping. Which makes for a quite fun shopping trip. Except for one thing. The clothing aisles are not quite wide enough for navigating in the scooter. Which means you have to back up now and then– especially embarrassing with the loud “Beep Beep Beep” of the reverse warning alarm. Hell, the thing goes so fast, it ought to give a warning when you’re going forward. (Although I’d love to take part in an obstacle course race on one of those.)

Anyway, I was having a little trouble cornering around racks of clothes. My front or back bumper would snag the rack…and I’d end up dragging it away with me. When I apologized to a 20-something mother for inadvertantly dragging a rack of tank tops away from her, she smiled sweetly and said “Oh it’s okay… we’ll all be there one day.”

Say what? We’ll all be there one day? What the hell?!?! I’m not old, I’m just lame. Can’t you see my leg is broken? See this cast? Encased within is a broken leg! Two broken bones and a torn syndesmosis!! Do you plan to break your leg eventually? Because then…sure, you’ll be here one day. But I highly doubt everyone will be here one day.

Don’t walk away when I’m talking to you. Do you hear me? Hey! Come back here, I’m still talking to you!! I’m not old. Do you hear me? I’m lame!! Hey, you… in the teeshirt and jeans…get back here, I’m talking to you! I’m not old. Hey… hey you…

xo, Rebecca

ps: if you’re still listening, go with the lavendar tank top, it flatters your coloring.

Gross

I lifted this off http://www.mybrokenleg.com, a website for people with broken legs. (Yes, I know…)

I mean…it’s good that my bones will heal. But reading about the process grosses me out the way it makes me sick to watch my blood being drawn…or eat a fish after I caught it and saw it die. Yuck.

“Bone healing is the process that occurs after injury that restores continuity and function of the tissues. There is a gradual replacement of the injured and necrotic tissue by living tissue which then differentiates into bone, muscle, tendon etc.

Basically there are 4 stages:

Inflammation: The damage to the bone and muscle, as well as the bleeding sets off an inflammatory reaction. The bleeding from the injury stops when the blood coagulates forming a blood clot. The early clot stimulates the growth of small capillary blood vessels from the surrounding normal tissue into the damaged area. As the blood supply increases the area swells and hurts. The vessels bring with them cells which lay down collagen fibres. (0-7 days)

Soft Callus: The volume which was originally blood clot and dead tissue is replaced by scar tissue, collagen fibres laid down in a random fashion with a rich blood supply and nerve supply. Cartilage tissue may develop in soft callus. The rubbery tissue is strong enough to keep the bone fragments together as long as it isn’t stressed too much. (7 days to 6 weeks)

Hard Callus: Some of the cells in the soft callus differentiate into bone forming cells which produce bone mineral. This is laid down in the scar tissue to stiffen it. The result is “woven bone” bridging across from one fragment to another. It is 80% as strong as normal bone. (6 to 12 weeks)

Consolidation: The woven bone is gradually remodelled into compact bone around the circumference of the bone and a medullary cavity is reformed. As a result the bone recovers almost all of its pre-injury strength. Remodelling is stimulated by stressing the bone moderately. (3 months to 18 months)

(glad you asked?)