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Friday, March 31, 2006
No thrilling details, alas. But for the record, here is How Jane Got Her Lovely Concussion [taken from an e-mail to pal Nik]: I was riding Big Red (17.2 hands tall) in a collected canter around the outside of the arena. We passed Gina, who was riding Benny--the horse that Red had already kicked out at earlier in the hour. Red took a two-footed kick at him this time, which shot me forwards onto the pommel. He then bolted forward, which slid me completely BEHIND the saddle. Apparently I rode on his haunches, with no reins, yelling "WHOA!" for three or four long strides before I rolled off backwards and whacked my head on the ground. It made a very loud "thunk", I'm told, bringing people in from the stables. Anyway, I was unconscious for three or four minutes, then totally argumentative. I insisted on getting back on Red, but was luckily refused. I insisted that I would NOT go to the hospital and did NOT need a doctor. The barn crew ignored me, again luckily. Apparently I was similarly argumentative with the ambulance staff. Not to mention that I was repeating myself every couple of sentences. Makes me wonder if they taped me down--I certainly have enough adhesive markings on my arms to show for it.
So: nothing heroic to report. Just clutzy and loud-mouthed. There's a bulletin.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Damned if I know what happened. Here's what I remember of Saturday morning: The usual home activities, including dog-walking and breakfasting. Driving to the riding stable. Going out and bringing Big Red back in to be groomed and saddled. Taking Red through his paces. At one point, asking Gina (who was aboard Benny) not to ride too close behind Red, since he was prone to kicking out. THEN: Nothing. There are dream fragments of horses and riding. Then I became aware that I was in an emergency unit. And that I was in a bed, dressed only in a "johnny." And that occasionally doctors would come and ask me questions. The time: 2:10-2:15 p.m. That's funny, I thought. The riding lesson ends at 10:00 a.m. Hmm. By 3:45 p.m. I've been discharged and am phoning people to come and get me. No answer at Fearless's place. No answer at Vinnie's. I talk to SuperBeryl for a bit -- then, hah! Vinnie calls me on my cellphone. She and Schmuke are sterling pals: they get me from the hospital, take me home so I can put on real clothing (the sweater I'd been wearing was cut off by the emergency staff, and wearing it would have been like wearing a mop-head), THEN drive me out to the stables to pick up the van (which Schmuke drove) and the understandably distressed dog. Soon I am back at the condo, not quite all there mentally, but feeling much better. My field of vision is blurred, my left hip is terribly tender, and my head clangs if I stand up too quickly. Perhaps a nap. Ah. First I talk to Fearless onna phone--she explains that she'd been out when I'd called earlier. I explained that, despite being brain-injured, I'd actually figured that one out for myself. Soon I am left to the mercies of Saturday night TV. I doze. But what's this, I wake up to a voice and see that Fearless is in my living room, looking at me with concern! She'd talked to her surgeon/dad, then tried phoning me back and didn't get an answer (I was definitely fast, fast asleep at the time), so assumed the worst, and came over to identify the corpse. But there I was, still among the living. So Fearless, who is also the sterlingest of sterling chums, stayed the night, waking every couple of hours to rouse me and do an alertness check. I took her for Pho and doughnuts to say thanks on Sunday, but it wasn't enough. I gave Vinnie a bottle of chardonnay as a thank-you later on that day, but again, not nearly enough. How do you thank people who disrupt their lives awfully just to make sure you haven't kicked the bucket?
Post-concussion syndrome is kinda' weird. I mean, I feel pretty good, though not really alert or on top of my game. It would be pretty easy to beat me at any board game right now. Most of all I can't wait to find out what really went on at the riding stable. My theory is that the horse did something absolutely normal, like coughing or shaking off a fly, and I lost my balance and landed on something unforgiving, like a fence rail. I'll post details as I have them. Right now I'm at the office, looking at a simple task and thinking how I'd really rather have a nap. Question to self: how long can I milk this Post-Concussion thingey?
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Norwegians. One nutty goddamned crew. Calgary just finished hosting the World Cup All Around Speedskating Finals, where I was pleased to witness my favourite speedskater, Cindy Klassen, break her own world record in the 1,500 metre race and demolish the competition in the 500, 3,000 and 5000 metre events. More bling for the nice Mennonite girl, right, Jean?
Anyway, I was volunteering in Access Control this time, not the usual Doping Control (now pointlessly known as Anti-Doping Control, a title as redundant as Anti-Crime Enforcement). And as an Access Control stooge, I was able to watch plenty of crowd antics. I always thought the Netherlands fans were the wildest and funniest, turning entire seating sections of the Olympic Oval orange, cheering boisterously, singing joyously--almost the complete opposite of the more sedate Canadian fans. It's not just a sporting event for the Netherland fans, it's an excuse to wear ridiculous clothes and carouse with abandon, no matter how old you are.
Then there are the Norwegian fans. Sure, there's flag-waving and lusty cheering. Those are the wimps in the gang. The hardcore Norwegians have 40 oz/750ml bottles of hard liquor under their seats, prop open the emergency exit so they can go back and forth from the barbecue they've fired up outside, grilling sausages and reindeer, until they figure the hell with it and bring the damned grill INSIDE the Oval, whereupon the drunker among them decide it's high time for cigarettes. Outraged Access Control operatives just make the Norwegians even jollier. The smokers act surprised that there's no smoking allowed in an athletic venue. The drinkers quit hiding their big bottles of hooch and start swilling openly. So much for that Nordic reserve I've read about. These guys are completely batshit about speedskating and even more insane when they celebrate.
Not to be outdone by a bunch of berserker Norwegians, on Sunday the Netherlands fans brought their own cook with a portable weinie grill. He politely waited until the ice was being resurfaced halfway during the men's 10,000m race, then set up camp and started handing out the sausages. Access Control didn't even bother this time, just phoned Security to come and keep an eye on things.
The Rodney Dangerfield of Volunteering. Access Control doesn't get much respect. Asking to see accreditation gets you a lot of annoyed "tsks" and "tut-haws" from coaches, athletes and media. Oval staff who've forgotten their accreditation act incredibly insulted when you won't let them enter restricted areas. Parents of competitors will try to run you down. And the musicians, who aren't supposed to be anywhere backstage without an official escort, are simply impossible. There was an added complication on Sunday with two senior citizen volunteers who tended to let everybody through, causing havoc down the line. "Whaddya' mean I can't go through here? Those people let me in, and now you're telling me I have to WALK BACK?" And once again I was highly amused by how lazy people can be--the requests for directions to the elevators were heard from people who just couldn't face the 18 or so steps back up to the concourse area. "Why aren't there public washrooms at the ice level?" I was asked about 10 times. I explained that it was part of a fitness conspiracy and that they should contact their local MP. Note to self: some people are going to believe you, so make sure they know you're joking.
Incredibly brave of her, really. I've been enjoying a rare visit from me old pal Nikki Tate, in Calgary doing research on the 18 or so books she's currently writing. Last night she skived off and actually didn't write a book, but rather drank wine and helped me with my monologue. She didn't even blench at the normal condo disarray. But then Nik's always been brave that way. The pets thought she was wonderful--I came out for a drink of water at about 3:30 a.m., and saw them sacked out in front of Nik's door, their snouts pressed against the bottom. Nik is wonderfully encouraging, as she always has been, about my creative efforts. I pledge to try and get published (obviously what I do for a living doesn't count) in the next 12 months. And bless her, Nik's even going to sit in on the acting class tonight--truly above and beyond the normal duties of a friend. Perhaps she'll glean some valuable novel fodder from it.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I am needed. Consider the following, written by the client: "The typical types of goods and services typically required include...etc." No mere ballpoint is sufficient for this. Get me the red laundry marker. I want this correction to bleed through to the last page of the proof!
Monday, March 13, 2006
Heart attack? Cop out. It would have been so much more fitting if Slobodan Milosevic had died of something like, oh, I dunno, premature autopsy, rather than natural causes.
Killer dog update: The ferocious Piper actually had a very good week on the leash. I've started practising the basics again with her: Come, Sit, Stay, Off, Down, Leave the Cat's Bum Alone, Drop That Sock, etc. So my spirits are buoyed once again.
The Tale of Two (or possibly three) Bad Mice: Because our new office used to be an old warehouse, it's a little lacking in the hermetic sealing department. Mice have discovered this flaw, and the designers have been less than thrilled to discover little droppings on and around their workstations. Out came the battery of mousetraps this morning. It's only a matter of time before one of us trips one accidentally--we've put them under the sinks in the washrooms and lunchroom, near the freight elevator--anywhere the little bastards might use as entries/exits. I was actually thinking of tripping one on purpose so I could use the resulting owie as an excuse to get out of a meeting this afternoon. Our resident vegan health-freak designer has been flipping out about Hantavirus all day, of course, which adds to the general hilarity. I wonder how she'd feel if I rigged up the Drown-em Mousetrap, i.e., the bucket of water, the pencil taped to the side, the string dangling from the pencil, the bait tied in the string? I'd offer to bring Martini in, except she'd only lie down and meow as mice walked over her head to get to stray crumbs.
Friday, March 10, 2006
How did this happen? Er, um, well...I realized after Tuesday night's acting class that I seem to have fallen for one of my classmates, a quiet older man who's an absolute marvel onstage. This, despite a lifetime's abysmal batting average that should have firmly dissuaded me from such ventures. Oh, hah, "ventures." The word connotes action, and thus is inappropriate here. I falls in love with 'em, I doesn't let 'em know, that's the thing. Otherwise there's the requisite horror, rejection, etc...and frankly, who needs it? I'll just enjoy this sweet undercurrent while it lasts. No, I won't go into my usual detail overload. No name, no measurements, no "and then he saids" -- nothing like that. I'm only recording it out of surprise--I haven't been in love for nearly five years. Thought it may never happen again, actually. So anyway: have at it, heart o' mine. Go nuts.
The Pencil Crayons storm Hollywood! Taking a look at good old this morning, I notice that two of the top five movies at the box office are Ultraviolet and Aquamarine. Which leads to the question: When are "Chartreuse," "Chestnut Brown," and "Burnt Orange" coming out?
The Princess and the Muckrake: A Cautionary Tale. For the last couple of months I've been taking an extra riding lesson on Wednesday nights, chiefly because, unlike at Saturday's lesson, I'm not the most experienced rider in the class, and so am inspired to improve my technique. Also because Joyce lets me ride the big buggers, like Spartacus the Hanoverian (17 hands high), Big Red the Thoroughbred (17.2 hands) and Lucky the Moose (16.3 hands). I've become quite good friends with a couple of the other riders in the class, both women who have ridden all their lives and now want to start show jumping. They're down-to-earth, unassuming, and encouraging to riders of lesser talent. That would be me. They also pitch in and help out in the stabling area whenever necessary, without being asked.
Then there's Princess Lindsey. She didn't so much show up as barge in a few weeks ago, clad in the latest riding togs and shiny boots. She announced that she wouldn't ride any horse under 16 hands high--"My legs are just too long to give the proper aids to a short horse!" Lindsey's also been riding and jumping for years. We know this because she tells us. She fails to win us over when she consistently shows up late, interrupting whatever we're doing when she rides into the arena.
Did I mention Lindsey is a princess? She doesn't mind riding horses, but anything else to do with them, well, that's what menials are for, n'est-ce pas? The rest of us pointedly clean up after our horses, muck out a stall or two, and sweep the barn floor before leaving for the night...all lost on Lindsey, who condescends to returning her horse to its paddock, that is all, before waving a breezy farewell and floating out the door to her SUV.
Last Wednesday the other riders and I had had enough. I watched as Stephanie held out a broom to Lindsey. "Could you give us a hand with the sweeping?" Lindsey looked startled and said, "Oh, sure, but I just need to talk to Joyce first," before disappearing into the arena. Minutes passed. Jody, my other friend, had to leave, but implored me to keep up the onslaught. I noticed with satisfaction that Big Red, Lindsey's mount for the evening, had left a few manure piles on the floor. Five minutes, ten minutes...then, at last, Lindsey strode back into the barn, heading straight for the door. I did a Kramer-like slide in front of her, manure rake in hand. "Would you mind cleaning up after your horse?" I asked. "It's a barn rule." Our eyes locked briefly. She snorted a bit, then forced a smile and snatched the rake. She did the most sarcastic job of shit-raking that I'd ever seen, leaving most of the "apples" strewn on the floor. "'Kay, byeeee!" She handed me back the rake and marched out, leaving the door open.
It's a start.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Sorry 'bout that. I was having a few days of delectable self-pity and neglected to update the blog. In other words, I spared everyone who reads this the director's cut of the recent travails. Now for the Reader's Digest version, about 10 words shorter than the director's cut.
  • The dog. Oh, the dog. She was perfect in a situation that I was sure would have her mental, i.e., sitting in on my drama class last week when it was too cold for her to wait in the van. There are some pretty shrill characters in the class, one or two of whom I'd like to bite myself, so I figured if Piper could take them, she must be getting a little mellower. On Saturday I even brought her into the office, and there were many strange adults around, and she was great with all of them. See? I said to myself. She's over that awkward patch.
    Sunday, out of the blue, she nipped a jogger and tried to attack one of my coworkers. Yeah. So much for getting all that copywriting work done. Back to the van with the dog, back home to consider whether or not I am going to have to have my beloved varmint put down. Decision: no more off-leash jaunts in the city. No more coming into the office without her muzzle on. [Yes, Vinnie, I should remember my own muzzle while I'm at it.] Let's see how it goes for the next couple of weeks.
    A dog trainer I know quite well said that Piper's intense herding drive needs definite boundaries set on it. Hence the leash while on walks. And be damned if she wasn't right. Piper occasionally tries to bound off, but she's much calmer within the radius of the 10-foot leash. So she's not going to take the final walk just yet...but as much as I love her, if she's going to be dangerous around people continually, I'm going to have her euthanized.
  • Up early on Tuesday for a platelet donation. Everything goes well until the first return cycle, when the red blood cells and saline are sent back into the vein. Ordinarily you just feel a little cold sensation in your arm. This time, the pain is incredible, like someone placed a live coal in the bend of my elbow. But what's this? I'm fainting? Huh! I just manage to stay conscious, only just, as two nurses festoon me with ice packs and compresses. I'm okay in about a minute, but have to sit there another 10 to make absolutely sure. What went wrong? Interstitial bleeding from the needle going through the vein. Most common cause: donor dehydration, which causes the vein walls to collapse a little. Yes, I was a smidge dehydrated and a little low in iron. The faint was caused by (a) losing about 300ml blood, (b) sudden vasoconstriction that kept blood from going up to the brain where it was wanted, and (c) not liking the sensation of burning coals in the bend of my elbow. Anyway, I'm deferred from donating until early May, at which time you can be friggin' sure I'll be hydrated and brimming over with hemoglobin.
  • Let's see: I sucked at picking the Oscars (11/24 correct), I got hosed on Brokeback Melon martinis to the dismay of my hosts and fellow awards-watchers, and--well, that's about all, I guess. Hardly the catastrophes that make self-pity so delicious.
Shakespeare update: The lispers and malapropsters are flourishing mightily in this class, and I have decided to enjoy it all immensely. The woman who can't read very well still pronounces "thane" as "thine," and still says "EYE faith" for "i'faith" despite being corrected on them every class. Lisper No. 1 is now working on a monologue from Henry IV, where he denounces "Hot-thpur." Lisper No. 2 has come "to bury Thaesar, not to praithe him." Meanwhile Jane convulses silently in the audience.
But wait! Just to show you that I am aware of my own shortcomings, here's what I'm doing these days: I've been cast as a 35-year-old pregnant housewife in a trailer park in one class, and in the other I'm working on a monologue wherein I portray Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife, as well as a Spoon River Anthology piece where I'm a 96-year-old spry ghost. Am I any good? No, but damn, I sure am enjoying myself. And I don't say I'm no good out of false modesty. Just the plain old truth. I'faith.