Sunday, July 31, 2011

How My Life Was Saved by a Neuro-Chiro Who Looks Just Like a Renaissance Cherub

I used to think chiropractors were all hippie quacks who pummeled their patients to karmicky pulps and dipped them in vats of patchouli oil.   Even when my lower back began to explode and “real” doctors proved to be utterly—and I mean utterly to the point of immorally-- useless, and my sister urged me to at least try a chiro, my suspicions of anything hippie-related made me, even while yelping and clutching my  back, stick to my fascist guns and resist.

But when my sister discovered a NEURO-chiro, a field I’d never heard of before, I caved. Lifelong insanity and the occasional (okay, just one so far, that I know of) brain tumor have made me wild for anything Neuro. And since this Neuro-Chiro did not, per his website, look (or write) the least bit like a hippie, last February I went in to see him.

The Cowboy, whose love will elude me unto my death but, oops, more to the point here, has been pretty much crippled by various industrial accidents and the odd horse standing on his foot for two days, warned me that any Chiro I saw (and he has seen millions, though none of them Neuro) would take all my money and leave me in pain.

As it turns out, he’s only half right. Thanks to the evils of health insurance, my Neuro-Chiro has indeed cleaned me out but here is the thing:  I do not even care.  

I do not even care because, and I know how vile and suspect this sounds, the man has removed the pain in my back.

And, as if that weren't enough, he's fixed my neck too, a neck which I had not even realized no longer turned, but which I can now spin around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, if I should want to, and sometimes I do.

As for the Neuro part of it all (the right side of my brain does not seem to exist, so we feed the left with eyelights and such), he tells me I’m far less hysterical than I was when we first met lo these pivotal five months ago. And though I still feel completely hysterical (the cowboy, the moving, the aging, the longing) I think my behavior might look less hysterical, which, for an hysteric, counts for a lot.

Have I fallen in love with my Neuro-Chiro? 

Well, Duh, and No Kidding.  For one thing, he looks like a Renaissance cherub.  For another, he’s acutely present, kind without being the least bit insipid, witty, funny, and screamingly smart. 

But the person with whom I’m truly in love is my Neuro-Chiro-Cherub's receptionist.

The first few times I came in I begged her to turn down the music because it was literally hurting my brain (a reaction my Neuro-Chiro says is not uncommon for people whose brains are missing right sides) and she graciously did.  Later, when she asked me if by "down" I really meant "off" and I said "but of course" she did turn it off.   I'm not kidding you. She turned it OFF.

And-- talk about being not just Personally Accommodated but Thrillingly, Almost Maternally Anticipated--from that day forward she has turned it off the second she sees my hideous car careening to a stop in their parking lot.

And does not turn it on again until she sees for herself that it's careened right back out.

Which is just one reason I'll never stop going, no matter what that mean cowboy says, and damn his eyes anyway, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Des Moines or Death? Six Weeks Will Tell!

So my landlady tells me she’ll be putting the house (her house, that is, under which I have hidden for nearly eight years) on the dreaded market at the end of this month—but (she assures me) for only six weeks.

If it sells for the price she is asking by then, I will have a new landperson, one who will surely evict me, if not actually stab me for briefly blighting his new festive landscape. And if it does not, I can stay where I am.

I know I should banish all thoughts of moving until I know for sure what my fate is to be.  But in fact I cannot because: (1) I’m scared and obsessive (2) legions of men are outside my door racing to finish new stairways and decks, and, most importantly: (3) my fourth Pretend Husband just barfed in (and not merely on) our nicely appointed marital bed.

It was this copious mountain of Friskie-filled barf that made me aware of a Horrible Truth: I can't move.  I can't because however imperfect (or, let's face it, inadequate) this place may be, it gives me what no other place I can afford to rent will: my very own washer/dryer.

Into which I can hurl, without having to schlep them, barfed upon sheets as soon as I find them.

And this, to me, is the apex of luxury. Never mind that both washer and dryer live inside one machine, which, like shampoo and conditioner that live in one bottle, pretty much means that neither one works.  What do I care if a napkin takes six years to get dry? And not even dry so much as less wet? Whatever keeps me out of the laundromat works well enough. 

Only now there’s a problem: I can’t give it up. My new place, if I do have to find one, has to come with its own washer/dryer because if it doesn’t, I’m going to die.

Which brings me to yet another Horrible Truth: I have to move to a non-seedy neighborhood.  Eight years of living with well-tended greenery and mostly mute neighbors have left me so spoiled that anything less looks like Crystal Meth Drive.  And if I have to schlep my poor barfy sheets to the Crystal Meth Laundromat, I’m really but really going to die.

If I were even partially sane, I'd switch my focus from what I might lose in a move to the happier prospect of what I might gain.   Like a real kitchen with an oven and stove instead of a one burner hot plate that even a character from some Jean Rhys novel would probably find too depressing to use. 

Or a bedroom bigger than Michelle Bachman's brain.  

Or maybe a bath tub in which I can, at last, soak, and later on cower when my next door neighbor, Crystal Meth Joe, finally decides to march in and kill me.

The real problem is that now that I'm a hundred years old, and still waiting for the Cowboy to realize he loves me, which he will not because he does not, I am no longer willing to live in a place that doesn't give me the things (things, mind you, not a Non-Pretend Husband) that I want.  That's right: I am no longer willing.  I'm an aging diva, a cadaverous brat, a fed up thrower of odious tantrums. 

Of course, the most horrible of the Horrible Truths (that the mere prospect of moving makes me confront) is: I can't afford to get what I want.

Except, wait a minute, maybe I can!  

Yes! I can either: (1) move to Des Moines or (2) go through what's left of my dwindling funds as a grasshopper would instead of an ant.  That is to say, I can rent an entire house if I like, a house that comes with a washer and (separate) dryer, a guest room in case I ever have guests, and, if I should need it, a sordid jacuzzi. 

My accountant says I can live there (without eating too much) for 2.5 years (after which I can't live at all) but truly, you know, it's a thing to consider.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why Is Moving The World's Worst Thing and Why Do I Keep Having to Do It? ?

Since I’m under not a few doctors’ orders to devote what’s left of my purposeless life to the Assiduous Avoidance of Stress, you can well imagine my horror when I noticed the workers outside my window.

I don’t mean office workers, which would be odd indeed, but men who are pruning, planting, paving and pounding--you know, beautifying the property. Not my property, since I of course have none, but the lovely three-bedroom home and environs that belong to my lovely landlords. If their home were a bridge, I’d be the troll who’s been living beneath it (in the proverbial tiny in-law apartment) for the past seven, nay, almost eight years. And the mere thought of having to move (which, if and when the house sells, is surely my fate) is about as appealing as going to dinner with a bipolar cobra.

Which, trust me, I’ve done, but just--never mind.

The real problem—besides finding a place I can bear to live in and also afford--a feat I can pull off only by robbing a bank or giving myself a thorough lobotomy—is that Moving is one of life’s Major Stressors and Major Stress is my Major Enemy.

Granted, it’s everyone’s enemy, and, granted as well, going to jail (which surely must count as the worst move of all) is a thousand times more stressful yet, but oh my god, I cannot even tell you how thoroughly I do not want to do it. 

It’s not the tedious purging and packing, it’s the being uprooted and dropped alone into the unknown.

What I’m thinking—and I know this is just as whiny as it is obvious-- is that when you move with someone, it’s not so upsetting because you’re bringing a Known into the Unknown. 

Which in itself makes the Unknown more Known and therefore less frightening, hence not quite so heinously stressful and likely to undo all the hard work of your doctors and meds and send you flying into the abyss. 

But what I’m also thinking, because I just must, is that the only thing worse than moving into the unknown alone--especially when you’re of a certain age which only keeps getting more and more certain--is moving into it with a bipolar cobra who will make the rent cheaper but ruin your life.

And that, Dear Readers--if indeed you're still there--is what I like to think of as Positive Thinking. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Facebook, Fecesbook, and Most Importantly, Mr. Blakely's Revenge

Facebook is kind of like Judgment Day: Both maketh the earth to split open and spew forth The Dead—the one difference being that Judgment Day is slated to do this just once while Facebook does it continually.

Sometimes it spews forth the Actual Dead, when a Friend surprises you with the obit. Other times it spews forth someone you’d merely prefer to be--well, if not necessarily actually dead, at least evermore dead to the fact that you’re not—and when such a nightmare occurs you stop referring to Facebook as Facebook and. if you're me, insist on calling it Fecesbook.

And every once in a fabulous while it spews forth someone you feared might be dead, but fervently wished and hoped to be not, and you’re so delighted to learn they’re alive that you go back to calling Fecesbook Facebook—on a temporary basis, of course, depending on whom it speweth forth next. 

This very thing just happened to me when a girl I’ll call Rose--a brilliant, edgy, hilarious girl whose chutzpah I worshiped throughout junior high until she moved on at the age of 15--left a message on my proverbial wall and let me know that she was still living.

Emails ensued, followed by phone calls, all of which hurtled me back to eighth grade when Rose was the only girl in our blond Republican trust-fundy school to dare come to class wearing beatnik black tights. She even wore them to English which was taught by the meanest man in the world, who was also the homeliest man in the world, the relentlessly mocked and maligned Mr. Blakely.

I didn’t have Mr. Blakely for English but I had him for homeroom which meant I started each school day studying his unfortunate head and, when I could manage to look away from his head, his equally unfortunate body which was always encased in an ancient, ill-fitting and sad, tattered suit, which was always in desperate need of a cleaning.

Feeling not so attractive myself, I actually ached for his homeliness, which was sort of a combo of Ichabod Crane and an aging decrepit Alfred E. Neuman if Neuman had just come back from the wars. Mr. Blakely actually had come back from the wars, or at least World War II, and, though of course we knew nothing about such things then, suffered from PTSD and off-putting tics that included a penchant for hideous humming.

One day, when class was about to begin but Mr. Blakely had yet to arrive, Rose found herself standing up to perform a spot-on imitation of Blakely, complete with the frightening buzz of his humming. Everyone laughed and of course Mr. Blakely lurched into the room just before she was finished. And Rose, who ran in horror back to her seat, wondered why he took it in silence instead of sending her off to the dean to be sentenced to several years of detention.

Ten minutes later she was still wondering. 

Fifteen minutes later she sort of stopped wondering and began to relax and even enjoy this unexplained but still vital triumph.

Twenty minutes later Mr. Blakely stopped reading The Red Badge of Courage and, with an abrupt change in lessons plans, lurched to the blackboard to teach the class to diagram sentences. He always, of course, looked worse standing up, when you could see him in his homely totality with his uneven gait, bald and yet greasy comb-over head, and stooped tweedy shoulders spattered as ever with several years' worth of old and new dandruff.

Clearing his throat even while humming, Mr. Blakeley wrote on the board, in giant letters lest somebody miss it, this somewhat atypical sentence:

The girl in the black tights looks hideous. 

Every eye swiveled  to Rose’s black legs, making her slump way down in her seat and, as often happens in the eighth grade, die a slow and distraught inner death.

A subtle and silent revenge, slyly doled out by a tormented man.

Almost fifty years later it warms me with hope.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Slouching Toward Cadavercise

Exercise: we’ve all gotta have it, but where do people with shattered nerves get it? Take me for just one crazy example: I joined Pervs (aka Curves) with all good intentions but had to quit because of the hideous, pulsating music. After that I joined a gym and had to quit THAT because of, no kidding, the hideous music.

That’s when I realized I needed an exercise class designed specifically for the shattered. Or the closest thing to it: the geriatric. A class whose teacher would understand that a vicious bass beat might very well kill off her tottering students. A class whose teacher might well play a harp. Not an actual harp, but the soothing sounds of a harp’s gentle strings emanating from some harmless boom box. Music to Not Want To Kill Yourself By. Music they play in tea rooms and Heaven. And, believe it or not, I looked on line and I found it.

My Cadavercise class is held, as it most certainly should be, in the bowels of a hospital, and the first time I went there I felt out of place. Since I feel out of place in my living room, this is hardly worth noting, and yet I must note it because this “out of place” was notably different: I was either the youngest one there by ten or more years, or simply the one who’d treated herself to the most plastic surgery, or possibly both.

When a woman of, say, 75 sidled up to me and asked if I wasn’t “too hot” in my outfit, I realized I was the only one in the room (besides the 30-ish teacher) whose arms weren’t fully covered by sleeves. Was she accusing me of wanting to show off my arms, never mind that they look like twin mortadellas? Or was she just put out because I wasn’t old enough yet to want the heat turned up every minute?

Either way, I figured she was trying to tell me that I wasn’t quite senior enough to be in the class, that I was not merely an impertinent interloper but the worst kind of young snotty whippersnapper.  So I quickly informed her that, even though I still colored my hair, I was a person “with issues.” The main one being the benign brain tumor that took half my hearing and half of my balance, the other one being that even at birth, and no doubt before, I was way too shattered to strengthen my biceps to the shrill screams of “Funkytown"---i.e., that I was Born Old and, thanks to the tumor, now qualified as Officially Ancient. She seemed to accept this and sidled off again back to her mat.

It's been a few months now and I can honestly say that I truly love my Cadavercise class. It meets twice a week for an hour and if I had my druthers, it would meet every day. I relish the slow easy stretching, the slow easy squatting, the crazed pelvic tilting, and yes, the lifting of weights to the sounds of the harp. Of course I have to sit two inches away from the teacher in order to hear even one thing she says, but that is true wherever I am, and my fellow cadavs don’t seem to mind.

Indeed, some of them have been so inclusive as to try to engage me in small talk, but this never goes very far because, naturally, they tend to talk about family, and naturally, since I don’t have one, I tend to talk about Anthony Weiner. 

Which, since I’m pretty sure they’re all rich Republicans (or merely people who take lots of cruises), you’d think they’d enjoy, but I don’t think they do.  Perhaps it's my youthful delivery.  Or my occasional  lauding of Genius Bill Mahar.  Not that it matters.  The point is they allow me to stay and have not, to date anyway, tried running me down in the parking lot.