Monthly Archives: March 2014

Writing Do, Living Don’t

I always tell my writing classes that their stories need to be full of conflict and drama. “You want your life to run smoothly, but your story has to be full of hurdles and problems,” I say. Now I know first hand how true that is.

Right before surgery Selfie.

Right before surgery Selfie.


After my recent knee surgery, I felt great—even the crutches weren’t that difficult to use. It was a boring story—the kind you want to live. But then conflict and drama came in the door with the houseguests my husband had invited to stay.

The houseguests are wonderful people—it’s just that it’s difficult to be a hostess on crutches. My husband was a great host, though. He showed them around—took them to Malibu, took them boating, took them to breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’d leave at 9:00 and be gone for most of the day. My husband told them that I wanted to be alone. (Really? Someone on crutches really wanted to be left alone on the second floor of a house?)

Then I got a charley horse in my calf. When I called the doctor, the PA insisted I go to the hospital for an ultrasound. She thought I was probably overdoing, which would cause the leg to cramp up, but she wanted to make sure there wasn’t a blood clot. Blood clot? Blood clot! Blood clots travel to the lungs. They travel to the brain. Oh my God! I could die! But I was fine there, by myself, on crutches on the second floor. Sure I was.

I was to be at the hospital at 2:00. I called my husband. No answer. I called our houseguests. No answer. I guess they were out of cell range as they made their way to Malibu. My husband called at 12:30 to ask what kind of fish I wanted with my fish and chips. Really? Was I hungry at all? But especially for fried foods?

I have to admit I was angry. But then I told myself that the anger would not help my blood flow, which could affect my clot, existent or not. I did a 15-minute meditation, which was very helpful. My husband got back at 1:30. By then, I was reaching for the phone to call my son or daughter-in-law or a cab.

We got to the hospital on time. I did a silent meditation in the car, ignoring the Formula One race my husband was driving on the freeway. Once there, he left me off to go park the car. It was a long haul on my crutches from the sidewalk to the Information desk. Four people offered me encouragement as I gimped along.


“Slow and steady wins the race,” one man said as he sprinted around me.

I vowed, then and there, to be kinder to people on crutches or using a cane.

I’d almost made it to the desk when my husband approached me from behind with a wheel chair.

“Get in,” he ordered.

I maneuvered into a sitting position, but didn’t know what to do with the crutches. I finally put them in my lap and my husband took off at what seemed like warp speed. He did a 360 around the Information desk and then zeroed in on the Admissions office. We took off towards it, me wondering if I were going to get motion sickness. The doorway was narrow and at the rate of speed we were doing, it would have been a miracle if we didn’t crash. I wanted to get down on my good knee to say a prayer when he slowed down enough to navigate through the door.


The ultrasound went fine and when we left the hospital, my husband wheeled me this time to the curb. It was terrifying to be totally under his power. “Stay there,” he said and took off at a run.  I realized he’d left me on a decline as the chair began to roll toward the street. I called out to him, but he was gone. I started to put my foot out to stop the chair, but then realized this could compromise my knee. I fiddled desperately with levers until I found the brake. My husband didn’t know why I had sweat on my brow when he returned.

The houseguests left the next day. By then I had a terrible headache and was kind of achy all over. No wonder, you might think. But it turned out to be the beginnings of the stomach flu. It was a terrible stomach flu–TMI to tell you the details, but I was sicker than a dog. The only silver lining is that I am closer to my goal weight than I have been for 10 years. Today I graduated to scrambled eggs and toast. So far, all seems well in that department.

Only one other mishap to report: The earthquake Monday set off our alarm. I jumped out of bed, forgetting about my knee. The alarm would not shut off so I hobbled quickly down the stairs to the main box. The dog was doing wheelies by then, so I opened the front door to let him out. A man was there in a tree, trimming it. Really? Branches littered our lawn where Bogey makes his daily offerings. He wasn’t going near it so, of course, I had to take him for a walk. Just a short one. Nurse Ratched wasn’t there—he was playing golf.

An hour later, my knee blew up to the size of a grapefruit. No exaggeration. I go to worse case scenario in these situations. Really? You say? You hadn’t noticed. But with ice and elevation it calmed down.

Now my stitches are out and I’m on the road to recovery! Yay! The dramatic arc is complete.


Where’s A Stop Watch?

Time is flying by so fast that I do believe the earth is spinning faster. Often I feel I can’t keep up. A definitive measure of this phenomenon is not only that I am now married to a man in his seventies, but that our children and grandchildren are getting so old, too.


My daughter-in-law recently turned 45. That’s about the age I was when I met her! We’d moved to California and I know I felt old, then—I wore bifocals and dowdy clothes. My children were both in college and my parents were getting older. I was in the middle of the sandwich generation and I juggled many people’s needs in my air. I also thought I knew it all. I thought I could control what happened in our family and that I had the wisdom and right to do it.. Boy, did I have a lot to learn.

Zoom! Twenty years have gone by. My parents and all my aunts and uncles are gone. My brother and sister are fine, though we all have our issues, but many friends have passed on and many are sick. Just this year has taken a heavy toll. No wonder Medicare is paying for a lot of anti-depressants.

One of the delights of our lives is our grandchildren. They brighten our days and keep us off of Prozac. Each is different and endearing in his or her own way. I keep trying to lasso time, trying to get it to slow down, but no way. I remember playing Little Red Riding Hood with Quinn when she was three. We played in our front yard and she had many roles as well as being the director. I remember thinking that I better hold onto this moment because it would soon pass—she’d be too old to play this sort of game.

A year later, she announced that she was four-and-a half.

“Slow down, “ I said.

She looked at me with all the wisdom in the world, and as if I were silly. “I can’t,” she said.

Now she’ll be twelve in June. Costco had nude lip glosses for sale and I bought them for her, asking her mother’s permission first. Yesterday I took her shopping at the Mall. She was looking for shoes for Cotillion. “I can get a little heel,” she confided, her eyes shining.

She was dressed in a skirt with tights, two camisoles and Converse tennis shoes. Her long hair was in a braided pony tail. She looked like a dancer and moved like one too. Definitely not a four-year-old anymore.

We stopped in a store called Papaya—a teenager store—and we bought her a t-shirt.

“Where do you want to go next?” I asked.

She tilted her head, thinking. “How about Build-A-Bear?

“Really?” I asked.

She nodded. “I could make a Ballet Bear and put her on my bed.”

So that’s where we went. The cool pre-teen faded away as Quinn went through the store and created Tondue.

That, I knew, was a moment to be treasured. That afternoon she was EveryGirl on the cusp of womanhood, still a child for a short while longer.

We left the store with her carrying the Build-a-Bear box in one hand, her Papaya bag in the other.