Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Day, Another Doctor's Appointment

I went for another follow-up today. The doctor said the swelling is about 99% better than any other patient he'd seen with the surgery. (Swelling is a major problem with foot surgery, as the blood can just flow and pool down there). I told him I was elevating it as told, and using a foam wedge.

"What do you mean?"

"Those things you get for GERD, a wedge. I figured it would elevate my feet without putting strain on my knees like if I just used pillows."

So he called in another doctor to look at my foot. They both agreed it looked great. So he asked about the wedge more.

"It goes from about here," I said, pointing to my hip, "to my foot, a gradual incline so I don't put stress on my joints."

"That's the problem with pillows," the other doctor said, "It puts stress on the joints."

"And people kick them off," my doctor said. "Most patients don't elevate their feet at night because of this. Dr. - go look up these foam wedges, we have to start selling them as foot wedges."

"And you're going to reccommend them to other patients?" I asked.

"No, I'm going to make them mandatory from now on. Every patient should have them after surgery."

I feel like a dork. I assumed he knew about the foam wedges for the bed. He asked more questions about it, and thought it was wonderful. Now he's going to buy them and resell them to his patients (probably having the insurance pay for it) and make even more money and from my idea which I assumed was common sense - if you have to put your foot up, use a gradual incline. He'd been having his patients use pillows. That's it, I'm asking for a cut of the profits.

On the plus side, my idea is going to help others heal better and in a more comfortable manner. In the end, I don't think this surgery was nearly as bad as it could be. Granted, it's not over yet and still hurts, but more from the crutches than anything else. Though the physical therapy will be a bitch I'm sure.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Family Reunion? No Time Soon

I'm back to no photos. I know. I'm tired, weak, and damn if my hands don't hurt more each day.

I've been thinking about my brother a lot, since even before seeing Stop-Loss. I don't know what I want from him, honestly. Somedays I think it would be great to reunite - but he was so far gone last time we talked, I think it's dangerous.

"So what do you think will happen?" my therapist asks.

"I think he might talk to my mom about me."

"And what does that matter? It's not like she has control over you."

"Yeah, but I don't even want her to know how I'm doing, to try and take pride in what I've done."

"But you won't even know."

"But I'll consider it a betrayal, another act of him running and telling mommy on me."

Basically, I want nothing to do with her, and my brother is an extension of her. Just like I'm the reflection of our history, the reason he doesn't want to see me. I'm the keeper of the memory, of the pain of our childhood.

I called my aunt and grandma today. The whole act of reconnecting. Not easy. My aunt said she wanted to come to NYC and see me. I told her I'm not ready. I haven't seen her in over 12 years and I haven't had a family since maybe age 7, maybe age 9, I can't put an exact date on when I realized how emotionally alone I was. Family is foreign to me.

"You know what?" she told me. "After every card you send, every time you call, I immediately call your dad and tell him how you are doing."

It was like the breath was sucked out of me. Betrayal. I don't want him taking any pride in what I've done. The last time I saw him, when I was nine, I climbed up the stairs to a slide, looked down on his head, just starting to bald, and realized I hated him. I spat on him. I can't help but run my finger over the scar from when he punched me and my tooth went through my lip even as I type this.

"He's very proud of you sweetie. He knew you'd be the one to make it. He doesn't care about your brother, but he loves you."

My brother, despite all that my father did, despite the 'alleged' molestation, the pornography, the violence, the horrendous gas that had my brother and I run to our rooms and put towels at the bottom of the doors, always wanted to love my dad. Just like I wanted to be loved by my mother.

"He's been married for 25 years now you know."

He told my brother, in a letter, that he had a new family, a new son, and didn't want him to contact him anymore. That he wasn't his father anymore. Yet my brother didn't learn. He cried and he cried and I could hear his heart crackle like ice on a warm summers day. But goddammit, he still tried.

"I gotta go, my foot's acting up." I said.

"We love you, you know that."

"Yeah, thanks, I think I have to ice it."

"We do, we've always loved you. It's terrible what your mom did. But she kept you from us."

"She kept me from everbody," I replied, "Not just you. Even from herself. I really have to ice it."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Here are some things I've learned in this past week:

  1. Limited Mobility Sucks

  2. The smell of Icy/Hot makes me really sick. Seriously, the headaches and nausea are not worth the limited muscle releif

  3. We put a hell of a lot of pressure on our feet. The way my palms hurt after a week on crutches, I'm pampering my feet way more in the future. They're literate, they read that and are happy.

  4. The following are dangerous to have at the same time: Free time, the internet, good credit, the Victoria Secret Clearance Catalogue with codes for the free Very Sexy Lip kit with any sweater purchase.

I went to the doctor today. They said it looks good. It reminded me of one of Chewy's paintings. There were the white cross-hatches of the cotton, then a big yellow splotch of abstract colour. Then, as the layers were peeled away a ruddy/rust brown splotch dominated, with the yellow fading away in the background (but still with the white lines throughout). Of course, that was drying blood, iodine, and the gauze. But it was vivid and had form. Once all peeled away, my poor frankenfoot was iodined yellow with purple lines (the stitches) on the side of the foot where they went in to screw the bone together. Two more weeks of crutches.

I think I aggravated the doctor. He said it looks fine and without any signs of infection. "You mean, like MRSA?" I said. He told me not to even say that word. "Oh, well, I was also thinking gangrene, or should I not say that too?" and he shot me an evil look.

"No, don't say that either."

My shoulders kill from the crutches, which keeps me from writing more than I would like.

Thanks so much for all the well wishes!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Johnny Appleseed

While I'm arghing over foot issues and how I'm going to shower, I remembered this:

American folktales were big in my childhood. It was one of the items in our curriculum that my mother was good at and reinforced at home. Fables. We learned about Babe the Big Blue Ox and John Henry and, was it Coyote Bill? Yeah, Wild Bill Hicock, raised by the coyotes the same way I was raised by cats.

But my favorite was Johnny Appleseed. He walked barefoot across the United States planting apple trees. He had callouses on his feet so thick that he couldn't feel the cold or heat and walked across snow and the desert.

Of course, thinking back with my history, it's no wonder he was my hero - a person so calloused nothing could hurt him as he accomplished his life's mission.

The danger of such stories is this - from that moment forward I was determined to get big and calloused. I walked barefoot as much as possible. It'd built up my immunity to the snow walking barefoot through it, minutes turning to hours. This went on for a long time. By highschool I walked home barefoot. R. thought I was nuts. There was snow/slush on the ground and I was in my big winter boots. But, as hand me downs, they were too big. So I just took them off and walked those 5-10 blocks home through the snow in just my socks.

Of course, I have frostbite on my ankle. It never goes away. Now, whenever it gets cold that spot pops up again and burns. The area permanently damaged. But, I still have some good callouses on the bottom of my feet and the heels.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Day After

Surgery went well, so said the surgeon. My foot is warm and tingly, maybe a little sore. Other than that - even just these few hours with mobility issues has me feeling blessed - although I might be cursing at the end of the week as i realize how inaccessible my apt. is. I can't get the mail, and am no good with crutches going down my hill covered in wet leaves - almost fell last night so was driven to the door. Also, the landlord redid our front steps in the same craptacular way he 'fixed' my window - so they are uneven with ledges that even w/out crutches I trip over.

But, seriously. I have good friends, sore shoulders (from the crutches) but otherwise good health, and good health insurance.

Off to ice my foot again.

Oh yeah - my best friend and I are such a comic team together, all the nurses were laughing. That always means good service, and the good anesthesia (full, I was so knocked out! omg). I did notice more than one HIPAA violation (hospital information privacy act) which I hate, I used to do quality assurance for hospitals, so I'm sensitive too it. I was able to pick up a chart and start reading it. Don't worry, of the ones open for everyone to grab I just grabbed my own. I was showing my friend how to read it and what my surgery was going to be. But it was never questioned by all the nurses who came by.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tomorrow. . .

Is the day. If all goes well that is. I hate not having it set in stone. My doc still has to fax over the clearance forms, and the surgeons put down too different dates for my return to work (obviously, I want the later one!)

Interesting note - clearance forms require a pregnancy test. I told my doctor, "Knowing me and my beleifs, if that came back as positive, what would you do?"

"I'd start going to church a helluva lot more often."

So in the end, she said it's part of the patriarchal aspects of medicine that she hates, that they never take a women's word about her sexual encounters, or lack there of, and thus I wasn't tested. Yeah! I like a doctor that realizes I tell the truth about my body. For some reason, that whole pregnancy test thing ALWAYS offends me.

I can't eat after midnight tonight, but surgery doesn't begin until around 2 pm and I'm not expected to be able to go home until around 6! I'm hungry just thinking about it.

So, if I'm not on for a few days, it's because of the drug cocktail. (I've got sooooo many now, 3 for my stomach (but only take one of them, the others if it gets extreme), 1 for swelling and that will irritate my stomach, an antibiotic, and some codeine derivitive, plus other random stuff should these not work).

Monday, November 12, 2007

What Would Jesus Buy

Image from

Not to turn this into a film blog, but I got the chance to see an early screening of this film on Sunday. This the latest film produced by Morgan Spurlock (the guy who ate a lot of McDonald’s). In it, this performance artist Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir go around the nation in a bus to preach out against consumerism. As he says, it isn't about stopping shopping completely, that is just to get people's attention. It's about shopping responsibly, realizing what you need and don't need to buy, and realizing where your goods are coming from. In light of all the recalls from China, the increasing coverage of the dehumanizing conditions of the sweatshops, among other things, it's a timely message. The rev. takes his choir to places such as Disneyland and the Mall of America to sing out their message.

To be honest I will say that the first half was funny, and then I fell asleep toward the end. It's kind of a one note movie with a message. It's not like the tension escalates, or there are escalating beats. It kind of just is what it is.

But, it's just good that it got made I suppose. I'm so sick of the commercialization of holidays, especially Christmas. I'm tired of love being tied with money and presents of increasing 'value' when really, everything depreciates in value the minute it leaves the store. I know the wise men brought Jesus gifts, but one each. I have nothing against giving gifts at Christmas, just about Christmas being only about giving ginourmous gifts and the stress and anxiety that creates.

To quote a song we had to sing in the good ol' Salvation Army:

Christmas is all about love
Love from the Father from above
Christmas is all about peace and joy-

Friday, November 9, 2007


Picture lovingly borrowed from

Not much today. I saw the film Stop-Loss last night. It will be on everyone's lips when it comes out in March/April, or should. Stop-loss is when the government sends back shoulders who finished their committment with them and should be, in essence, free to go back to civilian lives. I guess it's also called the 'back-door draft.' People who serve their country can be forced to go back, and then jailed if they refuse. It also dealt with soldiers trying to reintegrate after the trauma they've suffered through.

I could go on, but I'm still processing it.

The Director/Writer, Kimberly Peirce was there. She also wrote Boys Don't Cry. I liked her a lot, she was very gracious (gave me her seat in the theater, I was initially up front and being that close in a war movie, my stomach was churning) and stayed to talk to the audience afterward. She is also just gorgeous, and so smart and articulate. My friend and I hung on every word, especially as she talked a lot about the act of writing and making the choice between writing something as nonfiction (she comes from a military family) or fiction.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who seems to act in a film about every family tragedy I've lived through (Mysterious Skin was so incredibly hard, so moving, and he did such an amazing job) was stunning in the film as a soldier who just can't live outside of war but is dishonorably discharged. Reminded me way too much of my brother. He was also on hand to answer questions from the audience.

It tired me out so much, I'm still pretty dazed. A lot is going through my mind right now. I figured, with a film on such subject matter I'd be jarred, and I'm already on edge. But, sometimes it's worth it. Sometimes, when I jar myself so much, a little bit of truth, a little memory, a little understanding ekes out.

I'm so not spell-checking this.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Something Different - Writing Stuff

For some reason I feel like this post should be in the form of a letter:

From the Desk of Victorya Chase

To Whom it May Concern:

Attached please find excerpts from stories I will probably never finish writing. In fact, both of these are the same story. I just can't figure out how to tell it. I tend to lose steam by page five or six, but how much does that matter?

You see, one of the defining moments, if I was to beleive that one moment can define a person, which I don't, but society (or at least television) seems to think it's all one moment that changes a person, not a thousand little ones that get lumped together by a mind that would rather remember one thing than a thousand, was when a friend and I ran off with the circus. I've always wanted to mine it, to see what happened, to go back and answer those literary questions - what was my motivation? How did the protagonist (that's me) grow? If the world doesn't revolve around the protagonist (me) then how come in memory prophetic fallacy (or is it pathetic fallacy?) seems to be so evident. It's sunny when she's happy, when I remember riding in the car. Then there are periods of rain.

At the risk of making this a long letter, one that probably has already been tossed by your interns anyway, please read the attached.


Victorya Chase

enc. 2

(sorry, this will be a long post. I saved up all the words from my photo posts apparently. Actually, no, I'll post the second version another time.)

Version 1 excerpt:

(Note, this is about the third or fourth paragraph in)

We lived on a small side street across from the college – Mother, Johnny, and I plus two stray cats. Johnny and I were scared of Mother – secretly calling her “Marine Mama.” She was a living Golem – hard as clay despite her girth and always speaking the words of others. She took the Bible literally when it came to discipline – we had welts sprouting like weeds from our legs and arms. There is no arguing with stone, nor any chance for understanding. Her cold poured forth like the vapors from an open fridge and there wasn’t a place Johnny and I knew where we could hide from her. There also wasn’t any reason for us to think this wasn’t how a parent was supposed to behave. This was the way life had always been.

Our father was left behind in Arizona when I was seven. I never knew him to begin with, though the scar on my lip reminded me there were some people in life we don’t need to know. Johnny was still pining for his father, but family secrets spiraled around their history. He dreamt of a father that loved him and could save him, but Mother would always come around with the court papers at such moments to show him why this dream was a fantasy, and fantasies were against the Bible. Still, Johnny cried when he received word that our father wanted nothing to do with us, the words slipping from Mother’s tongue.

* * *

(This is the last of it so far, I'm skipping to the sixth page, when I'm sent to go work outside the circus tents)

The heat was so strong you could smell it, though I’m sure I was really just smelling the animals that paced on the pavement and the sweat glistening on every worker in the circus that dutifully put up tent after tent and pole after pole. Each of them worked, eyes cast down to the pavement to avoid the sunlight. None of them had hats on, and their skin was baked a golden brown. Every once in a while I caught a glance in my direction. My shirt was reflecting the light as quickly as the asphalt was absorbing it. It shone with each movement, I had to be careful – light had already bounced into my eyes and green circles now dotted my line of vision. A couple of people had filled out applications while asking me questions about the circus. They were regulars – someone could fill out an application every thirty days. Sometimes I let them do it earlier, if I had a good premium, and would just hold the application until the system would accept it again. In this heat, the soda was the best premium we’d had – a whole six-pack too.

I had to use the walkie-talkies twice before lunch-time, the heat was unforgiving.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

No One Anticipates - the Spanish Inquisition!

Yesterday I had to sign all the consent forms for my surgery. Friday are the blood tests. Next week are more tests, and then at the end of the week, surgery! Unfortunately, one of the people who was going to help me out has family sick duty, as her father fell and broke his hip. I think my anxiety is rising, as I don't want to do anything I should (like totally clean and disinfect my apartment, any NYers want to have a cleaning party this weekend?) or even do upkeep on this blog.

So I will sit here, at work, drink my 'Perfectly Protein' Vanilla Chai which for some reason reminds me of egg nog, and see what else I can put off doing.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Write Stuff

I’ve been trying to write my memoir for a long time. I think the first version, which was absolutely horrid and about 100 pages, was written in college. I called it, “Why I Hate My Mother,” and thought it was brilliant, a nod to David Peltzer whom I never read because I was still too close to my past to see it in other’s writing. I really wish I had a copy now. It was on a disk, somewhere, and none of disks from those days work anymore. Corruption.

Over the years I’ve written fiction that were thinly veiled stories of my past. A mother and two children, a girl who tries to make it on her own, is forced to become an adult by the time she can walk. Thankfully, in terms of real fiction, I’ve worked past that although similar themes show up throughout.

I started this blog as a way to get back to writing my memoirs, to figure a lot of stuff out as I go through therapy, to search for evolution of myself and my writing. But it’s the cohesion that’s eluding me.

Recently, knowing that in a couple weeks I’ll be homebound a bit, I enrolled in an online writing class. I’ve taken classes in this particular school offline in NYC, so felt confident in it. The previous instructor really helped me realize the rut I was in – that of creating a passive observer as a central character. That is – me- the child who lives internally which, while good for a bit, can’t sustain the action needed in a story.

That’s the part that gets me, thinking of my life as a story. Granted, I always have. A fairy tale, a fable whose moral I’m trying to still figure out. Something written by someone else, like the Book of Life. I dream somewhere is a giant library with a book for each and every person and I so want to break in and read the author’s notes to my book. I want to read the interviews, see what, or if, that person was even thinking of. (Yes, I saw Stranger Than Fiction and really liked it.) But where does the protagonist act? Where do I act in life? What did I do besides watch and retreat? Is that in any way interesting? Where is the narrator now, as she reflects on the story?

Maybe I’m not ready yet. I keep stalling. When I really sit down, when I really concentrate and think of all the literary devices to use, when I think of form and structure I lose it. Not mentally, I just stop a few pages in. When I stop thinking I realize I don’t want to think about such things. I’ve got bits and pieces all over. I’ve had opportunities to write, recently turning down a fellowship to go to the backwoods of the Deep South to write for four years because I felt all my writing was a lie. But I push it off. I'm afraid. It's a tough business.

This was all supposed to be a preamble to something else, but it looks like this took over.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Has Come and Gone~

Photo copyright:

The test is over. It didn't go all too well, didn't even finish it. Honestly, I don't think anyone did. One person walked out w/out even answering one question. Just looked at it, then handed it back to him.

For the first time, I'm not going for the A, but just for the C so I can get my 750 refunded.

The above was taken at the farm, one of the more elaborate costumes made for the parade - Icarus. There are controls for the wings. I wish I could have seen it in action, rather than be taking a test.