Tales From the Cast(ing) Couch

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Think about the worst nightmare you ever had as a child, or Tolkien’s orcs. Now multiply that by 5 million times, and imagine it’s attached to your body… That’s what was under my cast, and my exact words were:

Holy mother of sweet crispy fried chicken fuck.

I wish this thing was a movie prop. My left ankle is three times the size of the right; the sutures are still healing, and what I thought was an indentation from where the cast pinched my heel is actually the size my leg should be. What’s more, I have a scary-looking water blister on my foot and, when I took a bath earlier, I swear there was more skin in the tub than what was left on my leg (I probably could have even made myself a new leg- if only that’s how it worked).

Right now, my leg looks like a feral ghoul from the Fallout franchise took a bath in acid and was left to bake in the sun for a few hundred years, blown up, and stitched back together. Like Frankenstein’s monster, if the parts were set on fire.

Due to the extensive ligament damage, the surgeon was going to put me back in a cast for another month. But he must have noticed my  I’m-about-to-jump-into-a-bathtub-with-the-nearest-toaster face and said, “well, as long as you don’t put any weight on the leg, you don’t need another one”.

Speaking of bathtubs, I think I’ll go jump (rather, contort myself ) into mine.

Without the toaster. For now.

Maybe.

By Our Powers Combined!

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Through some combination of witchcraft, yoga, and sheer stupidity, I washed my own hair tonight. Not an extraordinary feat in itself but, since being in a cast up to my knee=no showers or baths for months on end, I feel as though I just won an Olympic gold medal.

Since my operation, I’ve relied on my husband for everything. He fixes my meals, helps me with sponge baths, and washes my hair in the sink once a week… all on top of working full-time at the city newspaper and looking after his elderly parents. He’s run absolutely ragged and, though he assures me otherwise, I can’t help but feel like a burden every time I ask him for something.

Any good relationship should be (as my mother says, ‘give-give’). I’ve lived by that mantra for years and will swear by it until I die; but I’m not bringing anything to the table, or anywhere, these days. Hubs is a one-in-a-million guy, but I can’t take care of him like this. Hell, I can’t even take care of myself, and it’s driving me crazy… which brings me back to the start of this post.

I’m not sure why I decided to wash my own hair. Given my physical limitations, it’s dangerous and I could have gotten hurt; yes, it was stupid, and I should have waited for Hubs to come home. But perhaps I did it to prove that I can still take care of myself, that I’m not weak or a burden to the person I love, for whatever that’s worth.

It’s been the longest 2 months of my life, but this giant hunk o’ plaster is finally coming off next week (hopefully for good). My months of gaming and eating gummy worms and reading Jane Austen novels- all things I once enjoyed- are finally at an end, and I’ll have the most badass cane this side of anywhere (since my dad, who designed the dragon tattoo in my Gravatar pic, is making it).

My aunt recently told me that there’s a reason for all of this. I’m not sure what the reason is, though I’m leaning toward 1) using my cane to score the best seats in class once school starts or 2) maybe it and my bionic leg will become plot devices in my future bestseller. There’s also the added bonus of shaking the cane and yelling at kids to get off my front lawn… even though I don’t have a front lawn or kids to yell at.

Oh, the possibilities!

Too Old and Too Sober For Your Sh-

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It’s true: I’ve joined the ranks of the elderly, and I’ve got the walker to prove it.

I’d been 30 for less than a week when I slipped on some ice during my study break and shattered my ankle in 3 places. I had an operation, spent 5 days in the hospital (and a few weeks high as a kite on pain meds), and have been housebound ever since.

The result: I have to repeat an entire semester and won’t graduate on time. I also have to do ~8 weeks of physiotherapy, meaning no pretty dresses for me this summer because I’ve got scars the size of a soft-drink straw on both sides of my leg and I’ll have one leg that’s twice the size of the other (yay, atrophy!)… which is depressing as fuck.  And there’s not enough alcohol in the world to drink that shit away.

We tell ourselves that beauty is only skin-deep, that scars are a sign of bravery because “you’re stronger than whatever tried to hurt you”. With that many stitches, you have to become confident based on something other than what you look like, but I’m not sure if I believe any of that stuff anymore.

Will prospective employers see my cane and perceive me as a liability? Will people glance at the scars on my leg with pity or revulsion? Will those close to me assume that I can no longer care for myself and treat me like a child?

We’re taught to be grateful, to thank our lucky stars that it wasn’t worse. Am I glad that it was my ankle and not my neck or something? Sure. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to undermine the pain I’ve been in since my accident. This idea that our suffering is somehow less than everyone else’s makes me want to tear my hair out. If you think for a second that I should be happy about any of this, think about how happy you’d be if I punched you in the throat.

(But it could have been worse, you say? Please, tell me how life’s all butterflies and rainbows because I only punched you in the throat instead of ripping out your spleen with my bare hands!)

Call me selfish, for indulging in a bit of self-pity, but I’m sick of pretending to be so upbeat about the whole thing. I’m afraid to leave the house, sick of being stuck in it, and this cast is squeezing the sweet crispy fried chicken fuck out of my heel.

I’m fucking miserable, and there’s nothing brave about any of it.

 

30 DoF #14-17: Finally, Some Good News!

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Well, it’s official: I’m a university student. And to think that my post-secondary education was somehow the catalyst for this whole experiment; I finally did something without being afraid of failure, and it paid off in spades.

So I’ll be hitting the books in September. There’s a lot of work still ahead (like essays, assignments, and being approximately 10 years older than most of my classmates), but it’s work that, for once, I’ll enjoy doing. If it involves books, I will do it with pleasure.

Real life commanded my attention for a few days, and so this was a much-needed silver lining on the proverbial cloud. The crack addict-like high I’ve been on since I got the news has probably exhausted everyone in my life:

-my (wonderful, supportive, and gnerally awesome) boyfriend, who I woke up this morning by jumping on the bed and squealing;

-various family members whose phones I spammed with uncharacteristically cheery voicemails;

-even myself, since I did about a week’s worth of cardio running around my house like a crazy person.

But things this awesome definitely don’t happen often, and I’m sure they can deal with me running around like an iced coffee-swigging toddler for a day (or two, or 10).

Also, I killed another spider by drowning it in the bathtub. I’m awesome.

30 DoF #14-15: If Zombies Chase Us, I’m Tripping You.

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The past couple of days have been interesting, to say the least. Since adding to my collection of meds, my cabinet sort of resembles a pharmacy, but at least I have some energy back and am no longer tired all the time.

Yes, it’s nice to do something other than nap. But the constant fatigue has been replaced by a sort of nervous energy- the university I applied to finally received the transcripts I sent, and I’m a kid in a candy store. As a writer I admire once said, “it’s like Christmas and my birthday and the Apocalypse all at once”.

I also spent some time (and a bit of my newfound energy) reconnecting with some girlfriends I hadn’t spoken to in a while.While they didn’t know the extent of what had transpired, I was honest with them and, thankfully, they understood that I hadn’t been ignoring them because I don’t care or forgot about them. Au contraire: I love both of them dearly, hence they didn’t deserve to be dragged into my issues- I would have been terrible company, and an even worse friend.

Sometimes, we all need to refocus and take the time to work on ourselves before returning to the world of the living.

30 DoF #12-13: A Rose By Any Other Name.

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Rejection sucks. But so does having a day job, meaning that the former is definitely the lesser of two evils, which brings me to today’s post.

According to some research I’ve done in the past, studies show that people with ethnic or unusual names are treated differently than those with “normal” names. For example, if Margaret Turner and Li-Mei Chen turned in identical term papers, Margaret’s mark would be up to one full letter grade higher because her name is familiar. But the differences aren’t always so disparate. Let’s say that John Smith and John Almassizadeh are both applying for the same job- all other qualifications being equal, Smith would still get the nod for the same reason.

Now, you may think that this can’t be good news, especially for a writer whose surname looks and sounds like ‘velociraptor’. In fact, I once submitted a piece under my real name and, after it was selected for publication, was promptly told that, “you have to change your pen name to something normal”. I quickly weighed the pros and cons. Then, deciding that it was better to be published under any name than not at all, I ignored the part of me that wanted to fax in my birth certificate and gave them a pseudonym to use instead.

But wait, there’s more!

I’ve always pitched and queried under my real name. But, after the unceremonious rejection I received, I’ve spent the past couple of days concocting a little experiment. I’ve submitted the exact same piece to two different publications, one using my legal name and the other with an North American-sounding pseudonym. Depending on the results of my literary adventure, I may study this further.

This should be interesting.

30 DoF #11: Still Fearless.

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Well, I  finally heard back about that short story I submitted last week-ish. It didn’t get accepted, but the editor was very nice and wished me the best of luck finding a home for it- not the outcome I’d been hoping for, but it definitely beats 6 weeks of no response.

Rejection hurts. It’s as though a scarlet R has been branded onto your forehead with a white-hot poker, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. For a while, you’ll feel like a complete failure. But it’s the nature  of the industry, and persistence is key.

Do I want to crawl under a rock and die? Sure. But this isn’t my first rejection, and it likely won’t be the last- all it means is that my Mr.”Write” is still out there, and I’ll just have to keep looking until I find him. If my soulmate could wait until I was 27 to make an appearance, perhaps my future publisher just hasn’t been born yet.

Stay fearless, friends!