Monday, January 20, 2014

Velma and Aunt Dixie

Got my hair cut today. This is a pretty exciting event for me, because I tend to put it off so long that by the time I go it’s dull and lifeless, and I look like someone who forgot to perform basic upkeep. I am someone who forgets that, but I do shower regularly, so I’m not altogether awful yet.

I don’t do appointments well. There are so many things I need to schedule and make time for and keep in an appropriate time slot that when it comes to my hair, it’ll get there when I get there, and that’ll be when I feel like it. So I walk in to my normal place and get in that afternoon.

After I was done, Mr. C decided to get his hair cut as well. This was probably because I looked so good, and because he’d put off his routine maintenance as well. This works well for him because his hair is all curls, so as it grows it just gets curlier, and at night while he sleeps I can play with the ringlets. But today he decided to get his cut too, so while I waited I sat in the mall and waited.

When I went back he wasn’t done yet, so I sat in the waiting area, where I could see him and we could talk about his hair, which was turning out way shorter than I had planned.

In another chair across the aisle (on a chair means one is sitting on it, in a chair means one is having their hair attended to) was an older woman, 70’s, probably, though I’m not good with age guessing. Her hair was untouched, as yet, and her stylist was the guy who cut mine last time I was in, a young guy with huge hoops in his gauged ears. He did a great job with my hair last time.

He was gesturing above Velma’s head with some enthusiasm. I’m pretty sure her name was not Velma, but I have to call her something other than the older lady. Velma’s hair was a short blond fluff, not colored but not colorless, not grey, and she wanted it colored. Jack, or whatever he was calling himself, was explaining about older hair, and color, and how it didn’t take quite the same way as hair that’s younger and still in possession of its natural hair color. Velma seemed peeved, then understanding, and Jack kept talking. I’m not sure what color she was hoping for, maybe a fire engine red, or a deep chestnut, or maybe just more blond. Blondes have more fun, right?

My stepgrandmother (which is an awkward phrasing) had a sister, our Aunt Dixie, with red hair, the sort of bright red hair not seen in nature, and even as an older woman she wore it that way, with bright red lipstick to match. My stepgrandma had lavender hair, something her grandchildren all found quite amusing. Once, when I was 12 or so, I was visiting Grandma, and she and Aunt Dixie and I went out for Chinese food. I choked on something or other, something which I’m still quite good at, and the two of them pounded it out of me.

Velma reminded me of Aunt Dixie, except Aunt Dixie would have never allowed her hair to fade to that barely blonde shade. But she wanted what she wanted, like Aunt Dixie, who would never back down in a fight. I wouldn’t want to tell Velma she couldn’t have what she wanted. Every so often she would grimace, as if Jack weren’t living up to his end of the bargain, or as if she couldn’t believe the gall of this young punk.

Or maybe he was her grandson. I don’t know.

Mr. C was finally done, and I had to deal with the shock that his hair no longer had curls. They were all gone, and his hair now needs to grow out a bit. I was so shocked that I didn’t have a chance to find out what Velma was going to have done to her hair, and now I’ll never know.

The last time I saw Aunt Dixie she was living alone a couple of hours north of where I was living, and I’d driven up to see her. She had a fusty mobile home, her lifetime fitted into the nooks and crannies. She insisted on making me a dry bologna sandwich, though I said I was fine and in no need of sustenance, especially since the previous visit when she’d forced one on me. Aunt Dixie was not taking no for an answer.

Though her hair was no longer red, but pure white, she was still the same Aunt Dixie. She showed me some of her artifacts, one of which was a nude pencil drawing of her a boyfriend had made when she was much younger. She had, she told me, lots of admirers then, and lots of boyfriends. “I was really something then,” she said. I laughed with her and ate the dry bologna sandwich and warm glass of water, remembering that Aunt Dixie was young once, her whole life ahead of her, the world a giant box of surprises to be pulled out, one after the other, until the surprises are gone.

If we’re lucky, there’s always just one more surprise left though, just one more glittering package of wonder to open, before we’re done.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Totally Minor

So minor I feel like a dolt for even mentioning it, but this is what I do: I mention things. Whether said things make me look bad or make me look good, I mention them. I like to think they mostly make me look bad, or at least self-centered, because that seems only right – I have my awesome moments, but it’s not cool to talk about them.

Someone once told me it was totally uncool to say I was smart, because that was supposed to be for other people to say. That’s a nice theory, but sometimes one can wait days or years before that happens, especially if one isn’t that smart to begin with.

But I digress.

When I saw the surgeon, it was in a sterile environment, with tongue depressors and cotton balls and a handy exam table. He saw me also, it wasn’t a one-way sort of thing, but though I attempt to make the conversation about more than just me (“So, how are you today?” I’ll ask, and they respond, but don’t give me a lot of information to continue the conversation in that direction), it’s all about me. This makes me uncomfortable.

Dr. Surgeon (which is not his real name, but I forget what it is) said, “This may not work.”

“I know.”

“Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

“I know.”

“I just want to make sure you know that it’s not guaranteed.”

“What is?”

That’s a rhetorical question, obviously. There are never guarantees, even when there are guarantees. Life is what it is, no guarantees, no promises.

Once Dr. Surgeon was assured that I had no grand illusions he was all on board.

But I’ll tell you this: I expect this surgery to solve my immediate problem so I can move on to the next problem. I expect it to work.

Millions of people have this every day. It’s nothing, it’s a gallbladder, it’s an unnecessary piece of me that I suspect of being the culprit of this daily pain that starts in right underneath my ribcage and extends outward.

And damn right I expect the removal of it to work.

Because I can’t dance anymore, not since it started with a severe pain two months ago, a pain that I’d had before but that had gone away after a short time. This time the pain subsided into an ache, and then spread to my entire right side, and that’s where it’s been, pretty much, for two months now.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “I didn’t know you could dance!”

Well, I can’t. I’m a child of the 70’s, so mostly what I do is flail, but I do it with great energy and happiness. There’s nothing graceful or artistic about it.

It could be, as the surgeon was quick to notice, just my fibromyalgia, or it could be nothing at all.

Nothing at all. Isn’t that like saying I’m a hypochondriac? Whatever.

This is going to work, because I’m missing out on some really great stuff and I can’t keep missing stuff. Life’s too short, there’s too much to do, and being as there are no guarantees and no promises, I have things to attend to.

Sometimes I want answers and guarantees and solutions, and sometimes there aren’t any. It’s the uncertainty that’s hard to deal with, the idea that anything can happen at any time. But that’s how it works, and that’s why it’s fun, because otherwise, without surprises and the unexpected, it’s dull. I have to constantly remind myself that sometimes the unexpected can be the best things.

Or the worst.

Whatever. In two weeks I’ll be recovering from my very minor surgery and taking full advantage of the situation to read whatever I want and figuring out plot devices for stories I’m working on. Then I will be returned to my grand good health and will return to dancing whenever I want. Before then, I need to get all my work caught up, so it’s fortunate my work is not dependent on my ability to zip around or up and down.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Counting My Blessings

I don’t sleep well when I’ve had two pain pills, and last night after a long day I had two pain pills. I don’t notice much about how they make me feel, but the pain eventually drifts off, and my body starts to feel like mine again, and not some sort of alien body I’m trapped in. With two pain pills instead of one I also tend to babble, amusing my husband and myself. And then when I go to bed I don’t sleep, or I do sleep but then wake up, and I’m restless, so I play with my phone, my Kindle, my iPad. But my eyes don’t want to stay open, even though I can’t sleep, so I fall asleep with my electronic device on my face, and then I wake up minutes later and it’s still there, and so is Ash, snoring above my head.

I try not to do this with the iPad because it’s heavier and I don’t want my face smashed when I fall asleep.

Last night I downloaded an audible book onto my phone, thinking that then I could close my eyes. However, a soothing voice talking while I’m in bed puts me to sleep, no matter how good the story, and besides, I’ve had pain pills, so hearing the book isn’t really an option. I’ve listened to some really good books in my sleep, and I’m sorry I’ve missed them, but I still have them, so I can retry until I get it right.

The book was good, I’m sure, but I don’t remember any of it. This is quite normal when I’ve taken pain pills. When I woke up this morning I had two sets of earbuds in bed with me, and I have no explanation for why I would have two sets, because I only have the two ears.

My bedside is an electrical paradise. Cords for my phone and my Kindle and my iPad, because they like to charge overnight, multiple ear buds, and a non-working night light I’ve kept there because it’s a large red globe.

I’m very frightened of going to bed without something to entertain me should I wake up with nothing to do. Then I’d be forced to stare at the ceiling and count my blessings.

Not that this is a bad thing – I have so many. I’m surrounded by them as I sleep, or as I lay awake thinking about sleeping, and when I wake up, and I go about my day. Blessings are everywhere, as if I’ve accumulated all the blessings and kept them all for myself. This is silly though – there’s enough for everyone, I’m not really hoarding them.

Some days, if I’m really careful, I can get away with no pain pills. Usually one pain pill is enough, and when it’s just one or none, I sleep well, unless I wake up in the middle of the night in pain.

I even sleep well despite having a dog who seems to think going outside in the middle of the night is a good thing to do. I don’t mind – he’s a good dog. We go downstairs, he goes outside, I have an Oreo or a sugar-free chocolate mousse, he comes back in, begs for a Milkbone, I say no, and we go back to bed. He’s back asleep within minutes, and me shortly thereafter.

One night I was far too tired, and I asked Andrew to get up with him, and so he did. Usually asking him to do it is far more trouble than it’s worth, because he’ll say, “Sure,” and then turn over and go right back to sleep, as if saying he did it is the same as doing it. I have to be desperately worn out to ask him to do it.

Nights I can’t sleep I’m still blessed, because I have the means to make the pain better. There is not one thing about my life that I would change, other than the deep-seated self-loathing that I’ve mostly relegated to a dark dusty past, but even that just makes me try harder. I don’t know where it comes from, and it doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters about it is that I know it’s unnecessary, and probably stupid. Certainly uncalled for.

Sometimes I might wonder why I’m so blessed, but that’s not for me to answer. It’s certainly not worthiness, nor earning it. It just is.