Thursday, January 31, 2008


For the past 5 years I have had chronic back problems. It used to be centered around my lower back, but lately it's migrated north, much to my displeasure. I do yoga (not often enough), which certainly helps. But I haven't yet found the silver bullet for back pain. I have found acupuncture though and let me say, it's changed my outlook on things.

About 5 years ago I was working part time as an ice cream scooper and that was when the trouble began. The constant lean forward, bend down, scoop frozen solid deliciousness motion really did a number on my back (not to mention my waistline). As the pain was building and building, it finally came to it's totally unglamorous, somewhat humiliating conclusion the day before Easter 2003. I left work early with my back in total spasm, thinking that if I walked to the subway, the walk would help alleviate the pain as it had in the past. The pain never let up and by the time I got to the subway I couldn't actually get down a step to get into the subway. Okay then. Maybe a taxi. I hailed a cab and found myself unable to physically get in the backseat. crap. So I continued walking to Jamie's place in Ft. Greene, which was quite a walk for someone with a spasming back. But as some of you may recall, Jamie's old apartment was upstairs in a beautiful old brownstone and there were at least 30-40 steps to manage. It took me over 20 minutes to get into his apartment and tears were just pouring down my face. When I got there he wasn't even home so I went into his bedroom, managed to get myself onto the bed and I waited and prayed. I don't remember how long it was before he got home, but I remember squeaking out a little moan to announce my presence. It was a very long night of not sleeping and not knowing what to do, as I'd never experienced anything like that before. The next morning, after one of the longest nights of my life, Jamie called a car service. It took about another 20 minutes to get me down the steps and into the car, but we did it and I went to Methodist Hospital on Easter Sunday. I remember the ER doctor saying he was going to give me a shot that was going to hurt a lot. When I told him I didn't really care, he emphasized, no really, it's going to hurt A LOT. I'm convinced that the shot is so painful so it will take your mind off whatever the primary pain may be. But after about a 1/2 hour I started to feel some relief and we were able to go. The ER gave me 4 or 5 cyclobenzaprine pills to use as heavy duty muscle relaxers during the healing period.

Flash forward to last Tuesday. I woke up with a sharp pain around my left shoulder blade. Over the course of a week, the pain got sharper and more noticeable. Finally on Monday of this week I was in some pretty serious pain. I had tried stretching, ibuprofen, heat, etc, but nothing had even made a dent. On Monday night I was in intense pain and attempted to go to bed. I was completely unable to find a tolerable position and after 2 hours I got up and went into the living room. I found my handy traveling neck pillow (which I would love to just wear all the time as an impromptu napping accessory), my heating pad and tried to find a way to rest sitting up on the couch. No dice. Maybe a hot shower. At 4 o' clock in the morning. Again, no relief. I attempted to make my way to the floor with the hope that elevating my feet (and being horizontal) may help. But then I couldn't get myself to the floor and was afraid that even if I did make it to the floor, I'd never be able to get myself back up. And I've learned from experience that when I'm on the floor for the purpose of exercise or stretching, mobility is key with a stinky breathed dog and a flat, soft surface loving kitty in the house. I could just picture Jamie waking up to find me immobile, Ruthie making biscuits on my stomach and Arlo using my neck as a pillow.

So I waited for the sun to come up and I called my work to let them know I wouldn't be there. I then called my acupuncturist and left her a message about getting in for an emergency visit. By about 11 am I couldn't stand the pain and the lack of the sleep and decided I was going to rifle through our medicine chest for anything I could find. Arlo's pain meds; fine. Whatever. This is what doctors refer to as drug seeking behavior. And what do I find, but one single, beautiful 5 year old cyclobenzaprine! Within an hour I was asleep in a more or less horizontal position and I slept for 4 glorious hours. I woke up feeling a little bit better, as I know my body needed some rest to begin healing itself. When I woke up my acupuncturist called to say she could get me in the following day.

I went to work yesterday and then went to see her and I came home last night feeling refreshed and fairly well healed. Of course, I woke up this morning feeling stiff and sore again, but not like I was. I'm going to do some yoga today and stretch it all out and hope for the best. And I've vowed to see my acupuncturist every 4-6 weeks to help prevent this happening again. And do yoga more regularly, since those are the only 2 things that really seem to make a difference.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This is my kitty. Natalie Dee understands.

natalie dee

glasses are sexy, no?

Tonight while I was talking to my mom she asked me to change the background template of this blog because the dark color was causing her eyes to freak out. She said she was able to read it just fine, but when she would try to look at something else she couldn't see properly for 5-10 minutes. I am a little hesitant to say this, but I get it. I am by no stretch old or even older, but lately my eyes have been giving me a bit of grief. I haven't had my eyes checked in 8 years and they have gotten considerably worse. Recently at work I was trying to read something and I actually had to hold it in my partially outstretched arm. Are bifocals in my future? I can't remember how old my mom was when she got bifocals. What was it, 50's? But I also think I started wearing glasses about 20 years before she did.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

there's no way to discuss this usual

I was talking to my dad two days ago and once again, he managed to surprise and horrify me. He lives in Columbia, SC most of the year and goes up to Ohio for the summers. He frequently asks me inane questions like "How do you get to work", to which I've had the same response for 7 years. He still thinks NYC is the most dangerous, crime infested place a person could be. When I pointed out to him that statistically speaking, it's far more dangerous in Columbia than in NYC (see crime stats below), he proffered up this tidbit:

Dad: "Well, that's why I never leave the house without my 9mm."
Me: "What??!!"
Dad: "It's completely legal. I have a concealed weapons permit."
Me: "Jesus Christ, Dad. Is that really necessary?"
Dad: "Well, one time I was just about a mile from the house and I pulled up to a 4 way stop. There was a van and a bunch of people got out and started flashing their gang signs, you know, challenges to each other. Well, I wasn't sure what was going to happen so I stepped on the gas and gunned it. If they hadn't jumped out of the way, I'd have run them all down. And ever since then I don't leave the house without my 9mm."

So that apparently is all it takes to make an already paranoid, nightmare having Vietnam vet tote a loaded weapon around under his shirt. Unbelievable.

Stats courtesy of

Crime in Columbia by Year

Type 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Murders 141215101518157
per 100,000 12.410.712.78.412.715.212.75.9
Rapes 7440628358745656
per 100,000 65.835.552.769.748.962.347.547.1
Robberies 510493442497461464381375
per 100,000 453.2438.1375.4417.5388.9390.6323.1315.4
Assaults 860955781949808961859852
per 100,000 764.2848.6663.2797.2681.6808.9728.5716.5
Burglaries 1,2901,2091,4261,6391,3951,7031,3321,254
per 100,000 1146.31074.31211.01376.91176.91433.51129.71054.6
Thefts N/A6,5086,8636,2135,9076,7505,5135,086
per 100,000 N/A5782.95828.25219.44983.35681.94675.64277.2
Auto thefts 748750985916825819837654
per 100,000 664.7666.4836.5769.5696.0689.4709.9550.0
Arson 514729N/A15272627
per 100,000 45.341.824.6N/A12.722.722.122.7 crime index (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 280.8) N/A710.7697.7724.0654.8741.9629.0576.3

Crime in New York by Year

Type 1999 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Murders 671673587597570539596
per 100,000
Rapes 1,7021,6301,6891,6091,4281,4121,071
per 100,000 22.921.020.919.917.617.413.1
Robberies 36,10032,56227,22925,98924,37324,72223,511
per 100,000 485.9420.3336.8320.9300.9304.6287.9
Assaults 40,51140,88034,33431,25329,31727,95026,908
per 100,000 545.3527.7424.7385.9361.9344.4329.6
Burglaries 40,46937,11230,10228,29326,10023,21022,137
per 100,000 544.7479.1372.3349.4322.2286.0271.1
Thefts 140,377139,664129,655124,846124,016120,918115,363
per 100,000 1889.51802.91603.71541.71530.81489.91412.9
Auto thefts 39,69335,84727,03423,62821,07218,38115,936
per 100,000 534.3462.8334.4291.8260.1226.5195.2 crime index (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 281.9) 447.7408.5334.2313.6295.4285.2268.5

And just because the ratio seemed so narrow to me, I've included this pleasant statistic. Welcome to South Carolina folks:

"According to our research there were 677 registered sex offenders living in Columbia, South Carolina in early 2007.
The ratio of number of residents in Columbia to the number of sex offenders is 177 to 1."

It probably isn't fair to include that, since I can't find a comparable stat for NYC, but whatever.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

one way ticket to loserville

Tonight I had to stay to work an author reading/signing for Neil Strauss, the fellow who wrote The Game and who now has a new book called Rules of the Game. When The Game came out Balgavy loaned it to me and while I found it funny and entertaining, I couldn't imagine who would actually take this kind of crap to heart. I mean, this guy spawned Mystery. yecchh. Basically it's all about being totally sleazy and disingenuous to get women into bed. In some ways, the author would disagree with this, but that is how a lot of what he proposes has been skewed. I could only imagine that this event was going to bring in slimeballs, jerks and dorky guys trying to learn the techniques. And guess what? That's exactly who showed up.

It was a big event for our store; probably 300-350 people. And being one of the 10 women there, I was forced to indulge these losers all night. "Can you please take 2 steps back? Seriously, back off. " All. Night. Long.

But it was all worth it when it came to the signing part of the night. I got the awesome job of going the length of the line and asking people if they'd like the author to personalize their book inscription and I then write on a post-it with a sharpie so the author doesn't have to fuss with spelling and the post it spells it all out for him. Easy enough. The beauty is that in The Game, he recommended that each man create his own PUA (Pick Up Artist) nickname ala Mystery. So as I'm asking these guys to whom their book will be inscribed, I'm barely holding it together. A sample:

Guy1: Steve aka Ironman
Guy2: John aka Ramrod
Guy3: George aka Aries
Guy4: Sean aka Sex Machine

But this was the best:
Guy5:"First word M-U-F-F, second word D-Y-V-E-R, third word D-A-N. Pretty funny, right?"
Me:"Uh huh."

So as I am back up at the table where the author is I am telling our Event Coordinator, a middle aged British woman, that Muff Dyver Dan is coming up on the right. When he gets up to the table, she takes the post it, puts it on his book and says in the most upper class English accent, "Muff Dyver Dan, pleased to meet you."
It was brilliant.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

the long slog through a boring book

I finished reading Atonement today. My landlord and I swapped about a half dozen books probably a year ago and it's been sitting there ever since. What with the recent buzz around the movie, I figured, what the heck. I don't know what you may have heard about the book and/or the film, but I kept reading things about how Ian McEwan wrote this amazing book with a stunning plot twist at the end and that the movie, while very good, perhaps even great, is not the same as the printed word. Yes, yes, nothing new in that type of review.

So my experience was that for whatever reason, during the pivotal part of the story, the part upon which everything hinges, my mind immediately went to a different place, a different character. The result of this was that when the big reveal came at the end, the jaw dropping twist, I had assumed it to be so for the entire book. No big reveal, no plot twist for me. Just a book where I found myself skimming over entire paragraphs because he couldn't stop spending 3 pages describing a summer day. What a drag!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

it would be funnier if it wasn't so creepy/depressing

Some of you may recall when I described a man I work with that I refer to as Count Chocula. Over the past year this man's complete and utter insanity has come to the surface, in occasionally hilarious, often unsettling ways. Like the time his robes had become really ratty and dirty and he knew that I had a friend who was handy with a sewing machine. He asked if she could make new robes for him and when she was unable to do it, he made them himself. He looked just like Charlie Brown in his holey Halloween ghost costume. He eventually found someone to make some robes for him, but seriously, if you're a priest, wouldn't the church provide you with clothing? Following is a partial list of some of the gigantic lies/fantasies which he tells us. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Zelig:

-That he is a cardinal and answers only to the Vatican. He insists that he be addressed as Monsignor.
-The time I walked up and he picked up the phone on the desk and said "Hello? Rome?"
-That he voted on the most recent Pope.
-That he was thrown in Chairman Mao's communist Chinese prison for 2 years for preaching.
-That he was thrown in Castro's communist Cuban prison for 2 years for preaching.
-That he was tortured by African "natives" and they shoved wood splints under his nails. For preaching.
-That he was the president of a university.
-That he speaks fluent Urdu, but couldn't understand when someone asked him (in Urdu) his name.
-That he was the medical director of a major hospital.
-That he spent 2 years in a concentration camp (always with the 2 years!)
-That every morning at 4am he personally says the mass for every priest in NYC.
-The latest, and certainly funniest, that he has had an ongoing affair with Tom Selleck. Tom is currently mad at him because he didn't go to LA last summer to visit him. Apparently we have "no idea how firm" Tom is; except for his face, which is withered from years in the sun.

I'll pause there to give you the opportunity to throw up in your mouths.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Brooklyn Cobbler Update

A couple of posts ago I was talking about taking my 2 favorite pairs of shoes to the cobbler to be resoled. Here is what ended up transpiring.

I was told to give it 10 days. No problem; they are fall/winter shoes and it was summer. I went back 2 weeks later and he told me that the guy he uses on the lower east side for the mid soles was on vacation and it was going to take a bit longer. Again, no problem. I went back about 2 weeks later and the gate was down and there was a hand written sign saying that he was on vacation for the month of August, with a return date just after Labor Day. Um, alright. So after Labor Day, every time I went by he was not open, causing me a little concern. I called the number on the sign and it just kept ringing, so that was no help. Finally toward the end of September I went to the Polish deli next door to his shop and asked if they had seen him. They said that they hadn't and that I wasn't the only one looking for their shoes. So then it's October and my favorite shoes are nowhere to be found. I walk past the shop one day and see that the gate is down and padlocked, there are multiple notes stuffed into the gate and the place is for rent. Are you freaking kidding me?? No phone number to call, no sign of the shoes, no nothing. My landlord told me that she heard that he may have moved to Florida.

This is the type of thing that makes me feel like I am living in Seinfeld's world. It reminds me of the time that Jamie and I ordered 2 cans of seltzer with our Mexican food delivery order and instead received 2 containers of salsa. Seriously.