Livin’ La Vida Lefty

I screwed up my arm at work.  After soldiering on for weeks like some kind of optimistic martyr, I finally got the diagnosis and a very quick surgery date.  The nice thing about the surgery being scheduled so suddenly was that it barely gave me time to convince myself that I would die on the operating table, or slip into a coma and wake up to find the world overrun with zombies with no sign of my wife or best friend Shane (Please excuse the Walking Dead reference, there won’t be any more, I promise).

If you've been under general anesthesia and never considered the possibility that you'd wake up weeks later to a world filled with zombies, maybe you'll consider the possibility next time.  (Image from dailymotion dot com)
If you’ve been under general anesthesia and never considered the liklihood that you’d wake up weeks later to a world filled with flesh eating ghouls, maybe you’ll consider the possibility next time. (Image from dailymotion dot com)

In any case, the surgical repair of my distal bicep rupture has left me down a hand for the summer.  My right arm has turned into an aching, worthless piece of  luggage filled with mismatched socks and tightey whiteys with the elastic shot out.  Much as I’d like to abandon it on the baggage carousel, I’m sure I’ll need it eventually.

No need to tie ribbons on the handle to recognize this beast at the luggage claim.  It won't fit in the overhead compartment either.  (Image from community dot autoclubsouth dot aaa dot com)
No need to tie ribbons on the handle to recognize this beast at the luggage claim, and no, it won’t fit in the overhead compartment. (Image from community dot autoclubsouth dot aaa dot com)

I managed to avoid wasting precious pre-surgical time fretting about my potential adverse reactions to anesthesia by scrambling to get as many two handed jobs done around the house as possible.  I moved a bunch of furniture, fixed some drywall, caulked the tub and cleaned out the gutters (Handymen and -women might point out that caulking a tub is a job which can be done one handed, but in my case, I can barely manage it with two hands and 3 or 4 rolls of paper towels).

Caulk gun, you are my nemesis!  I smite thee and thy wretched tubes of goo.  (Image from ehow dot com)
Caulk gun, you are my nemesis! I smite thee and thy wretched tubes of goo. (Image from ehow dot com)

Luckily the surgery date was so soon that I was spared cleaning out the basement or alphabetizing the garage.

The novelty of my one-handed reality wore off nearly as rapidly as the pain meds.  I quickly discovered that nearly every pair of shorts I own have drawstrings.  I also realized that my selection of slip-on shoes is severely limited.  There’s a possibility that I could tie a bow one handed, but it would not likely be a very good one, and could take hours.

I realize that most six year olds can ties their shoes, but to be fair, the vast majority of them have two hands and lots of unused brain cells.  (Image from efficientlifeskills dot com)
I realize that most six year olds can ties their shoes, but to be fair, the vast majority of them have two hands and an abundance of unused brain cells. (Image from efficientlifeskills dot com)

Brushing my teeth is not difficult, and floss sticks work great one handed.  The rest of my bathroom activities however, are more of an adventure.  In the spirit of discretion, I’ll spare you gentle readers any specifics (Unless you read the caption for the photo below).

I explained to my wife, who should already know me better than this, that I draw left handed, but do athletic things right handed.  After she stopped laughing, she demanded to know how I could classify wiping my ass as an athletic feat. (Image from en dot wikipedia dot org
I explained to my wife, who should already know me better than this, that I draw left handed, but do athletic things right handed. After she stopped laughing, she demanded to know how I could classify wiping my ass as an athletic feat. (Image from en dot wikipedia dot org

For the time being, I’m still in the ace-wrap, rigid splint and sling ensemble I wore as I left the surgery center.  Fashion critics agree the basic little black sling is accented perfectly with the ecru bandage – it’s  elegant without being pretentious.  Soon, I go back for the dressing change and possible wardrobe upgrade.  I’m tingling with anticipation, or maybe it’s just nerve damage.

 

Silence Everyone, I’m Writing My Book!

“I’m writing my book

I can’t think of a more wildly pretentious thing to say.   For extra snooty points, I should always refer to it as a novel.   Either way, it’s certainly way more hoity-toidy than saying “I’m working on my blog post about Gilligan’s Island”

Hey numbskull, I’m thinkin’ here! Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk (Image from 1Up.com)

That being said, I’ve been working on a novel for several years.  For the record, my “work” on it has been sporadic at best.  It’s not unlike someone buying oil paints and a canvas and proclaiming that they’re “working on a painting”.  The canvas is all set up on the easel, the tubes of paint are laid out next to the palette, the brushes are ready and willing.  Six months later, the entire tableau sits there inert and is covered with a thin coating of dust, the canvas still about as blank as Sarah Palin’s resume.

Last week, I went to the beach for my annual 7 days of vacation.  I told myself that since it was a vacation, I would not be writing my blog.  I was going to spare my family the sight of me hunched over the laptop all day and night typing some annoyingly self-absorbed blather and then forcing them all to read it.  Besides, it’s nearly impossible to work on my skin cancer and type at the same time, I’d end up with white frown-wrinkles running across my rather expansive forehead like elevation lines on a topographical map of Mars.

I opted for a more noble pursuit during vacation, I’d work on writing my book – I’m sorry, my novel.

I typically start my vacation days up by 5 A.M., standing knee-deep in the Atlantic watching the sun come up while not catching fish.  This year, I managed to forget my fishing equipment entirely in the frenzy to pack everything else we own into the car.  Not to worry, I’d still get up at 5, but spend my quiet morning hours writing instead.  I pictured myself out on the deck, the cool morning breeze swirling the steam from my nearby cup of coffee as I wrote chapter after chapter.  When the rest of the family eventually stumbled out of bed, I’d click “save”, shut down the laptop and start cooking breakfast, changing diapers and putting sunblock on them – the family members, not the diapers.

Sounds positively romantic doesn’t it?

My first morning on the deck proved to be less than successful.  It turns out when you’re situated two blocks from the ocean to the east and two blocks from the bay on the west, there’s lot’s of condensation on the furniture at dawn’s early light.  I went back inside on tip toes and found towels for the chair and table.  I sat myself down and flipped open the laptop.  Sadly, there was enough early light in the sky by then that I got lots of glare on the screen, and more than a few bugs.  If you want to see a “no-see-um” just have them land all over your computer screen.

I shifted to Plan B – moving my coffee, laptop and funky-bad-self into the living room.  I got cozy in a large armchair, propped my feet up on the ottoman, took a sip of coffee, and opened the file.

I knew better than to think that I’d just start writing, so I busied myself reading what I had so far.  Before long, I had found some redundancies and inconsistencies.  I reworked a few awkward sentences, moved some things around.  As for putting new words on the screen, I didn’t get to that before the rest of the family started getting up and requiring my attention.

The days ticked by as I tried unsuccessfully to get some actual writing done.  I had switched from the upholstered chair to the dining room chair with the computer on the table top.

Finally, after four days of trying, I was able to write a little bit.  Not multiple chapters, but some pages.

I realized what actual writers already know; writing is work.  It’s not supposed to be relaxing or something you do because you have some free time.  It’s not necessarily easy to do.  The end result will hopefully appear fluid and engaging – the effortless telling of a story – but there’s sweat behind it.

Unlike many pursuits, like boatbuilding or biomedical research, writing a book is something that anyone can say they’re doing.  Go steal yourself a legal pad from work, or open a new Word file.  Name it “book project”, hit save, and you’re a self proclaimed author.  On some level, that’s exactly who I am.  More correctly, that’s who I was.  I am vowing right here before my massive population of blog readers  – all 16 of you –  to not tell anyone that I am writing a novel, until I have actually written at least 3/4’s of one.

I’m going to hit “publish” now and rid myself of this post so that I can focus on my novel.

When I’m done with my novel, I’m considering taking a break from writing to try my hand at boat building or working in oils.

Excuses Excuses Excuses

No one, including me, likes to hear an excuse.  I’m fairly sure that reading them isn’t much more enjoyable.  Yet, here I sit, poised to write a post which is absolutely littered with them.

After a string of several weeks putting up 4 or 5 posts, I’ve fallen off the radar.

In truth, it’s not for lack of effort.  I’ve actually got a few things in the works, but none of them are quite ready yet.  The last thing anyone out there needs is an under-cooked blog.  They don’t digest well and will leave you readers with a funny taste in your mouths – bad funny, like getting hit in the privates, not good funny, like someone else getting hit in the privates.

Here are a few of the excuses I’ve been kicking around, followed by the reasons they suck:

Excuse  #1 – I’ve been really busy with work.

This excuse sucks because: Everyone gets busy at work, or worse yet, some readers may be among the scores of unemployed or under-employed and resent the hell out of me for having a job (actually, I have 3 jobs, but bringing that up won’t likely endear me to the unemployed)

Would it help if I mentioned that one of my jobs is working at a soup kitchen handing out croutons and extra napkins? (Image from untoldentertainment.com)

Excuse #2 – I’ve been saddled with family obligations.

This excuse sucks because: Everyone gets saddled with family obligations.  Feeling put-upon by the responsibilities of family life is one of the main reasons many of us write in the first place!  Writers in dry spells will envy my having family issues and obligations.  To be honest, my big family obligation was driving my daughter to Pittsburgh to help her move from one college dwelling to another. That’s not exactly like having a painful, dramatic intervention to get Aunt Tilly off the booze and pills.  Sorry Aunt Tilly, but making light of your addictions was for your own good (and it filled a void in my post)

Excuse #3 – I had to drive to Pittsburgh and back.

This excuse sucks because: Pittsburgh is a happening city filled with a delicious mix of culture and kitsch.  Driving there and back actually got me out of New Jersey for 3 days.  By the way, if you ever want to kill your liver and gain 10 pounds all in one weekend, let me know, I have some Pittsburgh attractions you won’t want to miss.

Excuse #4 – I was busy begging people to vote for me to win the “Gluttony” chapter of k8edid’s 7 Deadly Sins Challenge

This excuse sucks because: Even though I was busy begging, and I actually succeeded at winning, I now have 6 more deadly sins to write about and I have to make a good showing or I’ll look like a one-post wonder.  (By the way – Thanks for voting everybody, I’ll try not to let you down)

Excuse #5 – I was busy watching the NCAA men’s lacrosse playoffs.

This excuse sucks because: It’s not entirely true.  While Pittsburgh has no shortage of trendy bars and restaurants, I couldn’t find any bartenders who wanted to change the channel from tractor pulls or the replay of the Penguins most recent Stanley Cup Championship.  Though its popularity is growing by leaps and bounds across all demographics, many people still consider lacrosse the bastion of affluent, snotty rich kids.  With that in mind, maybe you’d enjoy watching the guy who will eventually receive a 7 figure bonus for moving your job to Sri Lanka get cross checked into the turf.

When the dude in the red shorts reorganizes your company and you end up on the soupline, you can look back fondly on this humiliating hit. (Image copyright – Hung Tran Photography)

Excuse #6 – I was expending all my creative efforts writing my rant for the people in my Survivor pool at work.

This excuse sucks because: Writing this blog is the excuse I gave to my work friends for doing such a lackluster job on the Survivor rant!  Let’s be honest, this season pretty much went down the toilet once Colton had to quit with menstrual cramps.

Excuse #7 – The sun was in my eyes.

This excuse sucks because: Everyone knows I do the bulk of  my blogging under cover of darkness.

Excuse #8 – I’m a perfectionist – you just can’t rush true art.

This excuse sucks because: Have you read my blogs?  Perfectionist?  Seriously?!