I say, “give a horse a cell phone, and try to take a shower.”
The Rolling Stones…? Suits…? Can I be hallucinating?
Last Monday, I got wacked on the head. This turned out to be quite useful. Not in a concussion-y sort of way (That part sucks), but in an: “I know! Blogging with a concussion is a GREAT idea!” sort of way.
After declaring the ER doc incompetent (TWO WEEKS recovery? Is she nuts? I’ll be fine in a couple of days), I set about dealing. I lay there in the dark: no reading, no sound, no TV. Nothing but me and my internal horseman’s alarm clock, which says I can recover from anything in 24 hours.
I do everything the doc says for the entire 24 hours.
Then I wobble out of bed, fling the curtains open, and..fall over, from the searing, blinding brightness of a blackened, rainy sky at 6 am. Luckily, the bed hasn’t moved. Shaun flings the curtains shut, shoves me under the covers and says, “Do NOT make me sit on you.”
I hit the snooze button on the “I’m Over It” clock. Doctors can be right? Who knew?
The reason I have a concussion isn’t all that important. You know the drill: there was a horse nearby. The ground tilted up, ambushing me. A pipe corral panel leapt in and whacked me on the noggin. I was not wearing a helmet, since I was not ON the horse. Strictly a ground-attacking me with a pipe sort of thing.
The good news: with friendly encouragement (you know who you are…Thank Youuuuu) and complete willingness to totally suck at blogging, here I am.
Bonus: I get to see my brain on a concussion is pretty much the same as my brain off a concussion. (Minus the nausea.) Good to know. I’ve had some episodes of misreading stuff. Before I got bonked.
Driving home from work, pre-concussion, I passed a dilapidated barn with a giant sign:
BRAIN SALE, Saturday 9-3. EVERYTHING MUST GO.
Brain sale? Whoa. Creepy barn. Because I’m picturing this:
Another day, I stopped for coffee, and read bulletin board flyers while waiting in line. This one caught my attention:
Local ATHEIST COMPETITION! Are you Atheist? Come join us in friendly competition. Many sections! All levels welcome! FREE!!
This is my non-concussed thought process:
We had a time of high anxiety a few months ago. Christmas was sick. We had to leave him at the vet for testing and observation. Finally our vet called back:
“I’m afraid your dog tested positive for pancakes. We’re starting him on IV fluids right away”
(Christmas is fine, no need to worry. Or send syrup.)
Then, post-concussion, I read this sentence in my blog spam:
“Remember, before going into the castle, you must knit every Zombie, or you will die.”
Uh. A video game in which you knit zombies…? Huh. Knitted zombies. Could be cute?
Today, there was a news-ish post in my Facebook feed, with this headline:
“Cinderella over time: tracking the glass spider through the centuries.”
Much slower than I like to admit, I got some traction:
I’m sure by now all of you have figured out I passed a barn sale, saw a flyer for an athletic competition, our dog had pancreatitis, one tends to knife zombies in a video game, and Cinderella didn’t have spider issues. (That would be Miss Muppet.)
Forget the status, I just need traction. I better get over to the brain sale.
Anyone else want to come? We can listen to Bob Marley on the way over. I like a rousing human rights song about food shortage.
Who knows all the words to Stand Up For Your Rice?
I have a pathological inability to remember people’s names the first time I hear them.
It’s like my brain has installed a panic button that overwrites the spoken name with static, while the person is still speaking.
I have zero chance of hearing the name, let alone remembering.
if you are a horse, dog, cat, goldfish, lizard, turtle or hamster, I will never forget your name. if you are a horse, not only will I know your barn name, I’ll probably know your six-foot long registered name too. I’m cursed with a strictly human name memory malfunction. Unless you introduce yourself like this:
Awkward doesn’t begin to describe it when I coo over Bug the Pug – I’ve only seen photos of him on Facebook – but can’t remember my newly born niece’s name, a FAMILY member, that I’ve met, held, and delightedly played with for six hours….yesterday.
I try the memory tricks: creating an association based on fascinatingly long ear lobes or a strange rhyme. This is a particularly bad idea, as I discovered, after addressing “Ginny” as “Voddy” because she had a red nose and I remembered just enough to get in trouble: her name was something alcoholic and off beat.
Because there really are people in the world named Vodka, right?
Sundays were a relief: I figure I’m in church, so people will be forced to forgive me. Sort of goes with the territory. I can explain as we introduce ourselves: “I have trouble with names. I may need to hear yours a few times before it sticks, but I won’t forget YOU. Welcome to our church.”
This worked pretty well. Turns out people are slightly more indulgent after a sermon on cheek turning.
Here is how that stopped working for me, and may have made the pastor request I stop greeting people. Which then may have been followed by a suggestion to hide near the back pillar. Or not come back.
In the desperate hope that writing a name down would help me remember, I volunteered to work the Label Table near the entrance. I’m feeling intoxicated by the feelings of petty bureaucratic power (I’m in charge of Magic Markers! “Hello My Name Is” tags!) when a woman I’ve never seen walks up.
Gah! Mayday, Mayday!
The woman waves off my attempt to helpfully slap a HELLO MY NAME IS…in front of her. Mildly worried, I give my “I’m terrible with names, but I will remember your very special self.” spiel.
The woman assures me I absolutely won’t forget her name. Too distinctive. Which not only slams my panic button, I become completely deaf and unable to hear the next few sentences out of her mouth. But I do manage to laugh appropriately when she does. I assume we laughed at how absurd it would be for me to forget her name.
Whatever it was.
Oh God. (In church. So counting this as a prayer.) Unless her name is “Bug” we have a problem. Did she have a squashed nose? I can’t remember.
After the service, she wanders over during the coffee hour. I elbow my memory for her name. It ignores me, completely clueless, and continues contemplating how Amazing Grace would sound if sung by Elvis Presley. Oh hey, what if Metallica performed it?
Wait. is her name Grace?
I’m not going to chance it. I politely invoke my pre-emptive: “I might forget your name, but never you”.
She laughs heartily, as though I’ve just told the best joke ever. EVer. It’s the first time my pre-emptive strike hasn’t worked. Susan? Jill? Tanessha? VODKA? Oh lord, it must be Ginny. What do I DO?
She stops laughing abruptly, and stares at my face.
“But we laughed about it, remember?”, she says, quite hurt.
Of course I remember laughing. I was covering up the fact I couldn’t hear what she was saying.
“I’m so sorry”, I say, miserably, “remind me, please?”
She looks at me for a long time, certain I’m messing with her.
Finally, she turns to toss her paper cup away, and says with utter disbelief and disgust,
“Jane. My name is Jane. NOW do you remember?”
Because I’m me, I think I’m off the hook. Why on earth should I be expected to remember THAT name above all others? It’s not like she’s named Jesus or anything. Shoot, why should her name be familiar…it’s so unfair to expect…uh…um…
The other Jane is making a bee-line for the pastor.
I mentally cross off church number six.
We live near Temple Beth Ami. I wonder how hard it would be to convert?
This comes from a post-a-day prompt thoughtfully provided by WordPress. What questions do I hope a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist NEVER asks me?
We all know Jane is never going to be interviewed by anyone other than a very obscure journal called: “Women Who Eat Too Much Sugar and The Horses Who Get Miffed By Rider Weight Gain”.
If she’s lucky.
This is what I don’t want you to know.
Questions I wish someone would ask me:
What the heck. Let’s go for it.
1. Do you have an imaginary friend?
No. I do not have an imaginary friend. But really, we should let Sir Doodelus and Lady Cramplebug weigh in on that. They have a problematic love child that is a cross between a green beetle and…something glittery…who is in a completely unsuitable relationship with a hairy bumblebee named Ferdinand. Their lives are complicated and involve way more drama than I am comfortable with.
2. What is on your bucket list?
“Bucket List” makes people think of Zip Lines, and Jumping Out of Airplanes, and traveling to Obscure Countries without proper inoculation. I am not a “Bucket List” person. I find movies terrifying. My brain understands my body is just sitting in a room watching light flicker, but my soul is certain I will die a horrible death when that car being riddled by bullets from a semi-automatic sails over the guard rail, bursts into flame, and plunges 1000 feet down into a gorge, end over end.
Not that I’ve thought about it.
Fine. I’ll go over the guard rail. The Bucket List:
1. Reading with Goats.
This is Jane’s speed. That pink blob is the neighbor sitting out in her field, reading with her goats. While we don’t appreciate Goat Trees, we do love to see our neighbor reading in the sun, surrounded by happy goats. This is the back of the neighbor’s home. The properties abut. If the neighbor wasn’t some complicated distance away off another road and a couple zillion random driveways, Jane would have already knocked and asked if she could come read with their goats. And we wouldn’t be hearing from her, because she’d be locked up some where.
2. Listen at least 100 more times to David Sedaris reading his story “Jesus Shaves.”
3. Spend even more quality time with certain friends:
4. Explore my Native American Heritage.
Being a Native American is hilarious. We tilt-ily rode lime green dinosaurs, without a saddle or bridle. Who knew?
5. Keep My Horse Off Twitter
This is turning out to be surprisingly difficult.
6. Hoard, I mean “Rescue” a bunch of these guys.
And look, he clips!
Enough of the Bucket List.
3. How many times did you lie to your mother about her Mother’s Day Card already being mailed?
Too complicated. I’d have to do the math. How old I was when I started mailing Mother’s Day Cards times the guilt factor (Number of times I repeated, “No really, it should be there by now!”) minus the times I didn’t even pretend I’d mailed it on time.
Waaaay too complicated.
What are the questions you ARE NOT GOING TO ANSWER?
This is no ordinary willow tree.
We’ve ridden past this tree every single day without incident. But I know now that was because it’s fruit take a loooong time to ripen. A year maybe.
The reason we have the tilty, blurry photo of the sinister tree: I was taking the picture while Hudson was in the first phase of a cow horse one-foot spin and bolt. Or, if we prefer in dressage lingo, a pirouette at the hand-gallop.
Something WAS wrong. The tree looked like one half was attacking the other half. There were a lot of branches bending, bobbing, whipping up, wildly thrashing…this was one heck of a freaked out tree.
I got off Hudson and we walked cautiously back. The tree stopped moving.
Uh, trees do not stop thrashing around when they hear hooves. I suddenly realized no breeze had made it thrash around in the first place. The air was utterly still.
Cue spooky music. Forget Hudson. I was ready to jump out of my skin.
I get back on, we tiptoe past the tree, which remains perfectly still. Hudson’s ears swivel back questioningly: What the heck was that all about?
I pat him on the shoulder: Don’t know. You sure were good though, thanks.
I can feel his mental shrug, and we go to work in the arena. Once he’s done for the day, and settled back into his paddock with The Worlds Largest Happy Meal, I walk back to the access road. I want to see if I was part of a mass hallucination, or the tree is perfectly ordinary.
It’s not. The willow is wildly attacking itself. Is there a gap in the time/space continuum here? Did we fall through a worm hole? Other than tree noises, there are no sounds. No children are playing in the greenery.
Suddenly, a large roundish white thing falls out of the tree with a loud thud. Bizarre fruit? Branches tremble above where it landed. The tall grass rustles and I hear the unmistakable sound of tiny hooves scrambling as a small white goat launches itself back into the branches. A second later, a gray round thing falls out, scrambles, and leaps back into the tree to continue play fighting.
An hour later, I see a herd of little goats quietly grazing in the tall grass near the tree. The willow was able to completely camouflage 15 tumbling, rambunctious goats.
A Goat Tree. I love my life.
I told Hudson goats grow on trees. And that our Goat Tree had fruit just about ripe enough to start falling to the ground, and goats being goats, they thrash.
He gave me a dubious look.
“Could be worse?”, I say. “They could have planted llamas.”
It started with The Magic Window.
After years of completely ignoring Shaun’s Giant Magic Window, Christmas has turned nightly TV watching into a vigorous aerobic exercise affectionately named “Save the Television.”
Bye Bye delightful Couch Potato-hood.
Can we claim we thought our homeowner’s policy stated coverage for “Acts of Dog” before we signed?
Christmas was severely malnourished when he adopted us. We made the (in hindsight) disastrous decision to provide top quality dog food. His vision dramatically improved. How could this not be good?
Here’s how: he now understands we have a Magic Window.
(We barely saved the TV from the eagle incident.)
We tried Dog TV, mistakenly thinking he might enjoy watching dogs do stuff. Disastor. Mega Aerobic Dog Tackling session. Apparently we are a single dog family.
He has favorite programs:
It makes me sad he doesn’t like to watch The Big Bang. It’s my favorite.
There is one thing he loathes above all others:
The other night he woke me up at 3 am to go out.
He didn’t want to use the facilities. He marched into the living room, plopped down in front of the TV, and turned his head to look at me, both imploring and impatient.
Turn it on please.
It took all I had not to throw the remote at him. (Afterall, he might learn how to use it.)
I’m afraid he’s going to discover the computer…
Daisy sent me a dad’s response to his 7 year old’s outrageous Christmas list.
Yeah, I don’t think I’d give a seven-year-old $1,00 bucks either.
But it did remind me of Hudson’s last outrageous Christmas List. This year’s plan: don’t ask.
I repeat, Hudson: I AM NOT BUYING YOU A STEER.
So let’s here from all the horses out there! What would you like your human’s to get you for Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Yule festival, Solstice…or just BECAUSE?
If your horse writes you a paper letter, email a photo to email@example.com, and we’ll post ’em. OOoo…send a photo of your horse too!
Part One: in which I have a birthday near the end of October, and get many appropriate presents, and one randomly inappropriate present that everyone else wants…really really badly.
My birthday started well.
The two candles: my mom didn’t have a fire extinguisher handy to deal with the potential blow back of my real age. (Or my mom likes to remind me I’m really only two, and could grow up?)
Shaun gave me pajamas. With ZEBRA socks. Pink, fuzzy, happy, zebra socks.
And…the birthday gift that keeps on giving. Hudson. Thank you Shaun, Micah, and Lee Lee!
Bella, Daisy, and Alice got together and made me cry. On purpose. And I liked it.
My favorite things in the world. Frosting, Family, Friends, Familiars*.
Being loved is the best gift of all.
*Familiars: couldn’t think of a positive word for equines that started with an F. The only thing that came to mind rhymed with “trucking”. Hudson developed a terrible case of mud-less scratches that need a lot of staring, poking, soaking, drying, patting and rubbing of 6 different creams in a weekly rotation. Horses. I’m avoiding the word…”truck”.
My body decided to jump into the gift giving Fray. (Hey look, I’m on an F roll.)
Ta Da! Below is how Jane’s body sings “Happy Birthday to youuuuu.”
I couldn’t seem to make myself worry. Who the heck has ever heard of Elbow Cancer? Shaun Googled the crap out of it, and tried not to look totally freaked out in front of me. I pretended not to notice the stealthy Googling and I Am Not Freaked Out – No Really, look on her face.
Luckily, I didn’t have to pretend not to care about the lump.
It’s just a lump. I can live with a lump. Heck, Hudson lives with a lump.
Fine. Fine. I promised Shaun I’d go to the doctor. Then I promised the trainer, who poked the lump, said “I think it’s bigger than last week…?”. Then I promised Daisy, Bella, Carlos, and Alice I’d go to the doctor. Promising to take care of it bought me a lot of time to ignore it completely.
Denial. My favorite method of self-care.
Doctor said, “Huh”, looked me in the eyes, then back down at my arm, “only you.” She pushed on the lump. “Does it hurt?”
Oh goody, I can rack up another bullet point in Jane’s “Let’s Not Slice Our Body Open” PowerPoint presentation:
“Nope. Doesn’t hurt at all”, I say, “It’s fine”.
Doctor looks at me. “Lumps of unknown origin are NOT fine, Jane. Probably a cyst from synovial fluid. You sure you didn’t bump your elbow?” Pause. “Hard?”
Denial is so….passive. Suddenly remembering a blow hard enough to cause a lump the size of a golf ball is not passive. I’d be actively lying. Even if I substitute the harsher word “lie” for the innocuous sounding word “prevaricate”. Hmm…could I work with actively prevaricating…?
Maybe my mom was right: two birthday candles sort of sum up my emotional age. Don’t look at it, don’t touch it! It’s not THERE! It’s nothing!
Damn. Have to get it checked out.
I didn’t bother to take Shaun with me for the ultrasound. They’re not allowed to tell you results. The plan: I’d go, stay happily in denial, and pick up a latte on my way home.
Um. Yeah. About that. How many of us can read the ultrasound while our vet is still running the wand over our horse? Right. I knew instantly it wasn’t fluid. Solid tissue. I watched her do density scans.
The tech nervously leaves to: “check with the doctor that the films are clear and shot from the correct angles and stuff.” Even I know that’s technician-speak for: “Uh Oh. Must find DOCTOR.”
Denial is great. I shrug. Decide my body couldn’t handle all the frosting I was ingesting (whoops…my bad) so it helpfully created a nice frosting lump behind my elbow, where it wouldn’t be noticeable.
Heyyyyyy…It’s a buttercream tumor! On my funny bone! I can’t wait to tell everyone: it will be a piece of cake to remove. It has to go, because it’s on my Last Nerve! HA HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha….um…niggle niggle…ha?
I go back to my detective novel.
Dr. Radiologist comes in. “Can I…see…it?”, she asks tentatively, sounding nothing like the professional doctor she obviously is.
Oddly, she has the voice of a woman in Tiffany’s asking the saleslady if she could just look at a gazillion carat diamond ring.
“Uh. Sure”, I say, and poke my elbow into the air.
“Can I…touch it…?” she asks, in – I swear – the reverent voice of a woman asking to TRY THE RING ON.
“Sure?”, I say. She’s not going to try to take it, um, out of the box, is she?
I hear excited whispering outside the exam room door. “No it’s in there. Just wait. Maybe we can see it!! Shhhhhh!!! Did anyone tell Meghan…?”
My unusual lump started an epic odyssey of specialist surgeon visits, MRI’s, blood tests, and immediate surgery scheduling. Not a fatty tumor. Apparently a tumor so rare, most specialists never see it in their life time.
I don’t do immediate. I’m not good with ch*nge. I tried hard not to panic when the first surgeon said, “Let’s see, today is Friday…Sue call St. Mary’s and see if we can book an OR for Monday.”
MONDAY? As in Saturday, Sunday, MONDAY??? This whole time I’d been thinking…January…was doable.
I needn’t have stressed over immediate. The medical community was jazzed. I felt like I was…correction…I felt like my tumor was about to hit the talk show circuit, and possibly end up with its own Mercedes. I waited in endless green rooms, doing coffee shots and waiting for the signal it was time to thrust my elbow in the air in front of an all white-coated crowd. Wait for the collective gasp. Oooohing and Ahhhing. If I could have sent my elbow to the appointments without me, I would have. It started begging me for celebrity sunglasses, hip-hop style.
I was lucky. The best nerve trauma surgeon in the country (referred to in medical circles simply as: The God) swept in and said to the other bickering neurosurgeons, “Neener neener, sorry about your luck underlings, it’s MINE.”
I raised my hand. “Yes?”, he said.
“Uh. Can I come too?”, I said.
I was feeling a little unclear on the concept: does the famous tumor go in, and the (thankfully) unimportant mother of the tumor wait outside?
“Sure”, he said, and smiled a killer Hollywood surgeon-smile, complete with tooth twinkle.
Tooth twinkles: a sure sign that things are not what they seem.
…to be continued.
(Spoiler alert: I’m fine. We don’t need to worry.)
I’m sure “Hudson-Caused PTSD” is a valid diagnosis that can be found in the DSM-5 , the go-to book for all psychiatrists. Hey. I wonder if the DSM-5 comes in a “For Dummies” version? For the psychiatrist who can’t understand Shrink-Speak either?
The wacky guy on all the “Dummies” covers is kind of the perfect promotional tool for making psychiatry accessible.
Please hold while I Google irrelevant but now imperative question. And…no DSM-5 For Dummies.
But I did find this:
Well. That’s settled.
Back to Hudson-Caused PTSD. Being a good friend, I texted Bella to let her know I accidentally broke Phil. And I had every intention of superglue-ing him back together again:
Thanks for letting me ride Phil. He was great. FYI: He’s afraid of hay now. Sorry! There’s 10 lbs of carrots in your garage if he gets hungry? Will fix. Promise.
That night I lay awake in the dark, staring at the ceiling, trying to think through some sort of Phix Phil Plan. There was one imperative, non-negotiable variable that revolved around Hudson: He can’t know anything about whatever phix I phigure out.
Plan A is an exercise in Magical Thinking. Still, it was fun to visualize before I crossed it off:
Plan A: Yell at Hudson. Make him apologize to Phil and take it back.
Nope. Don’t see this happening.
Plan B: Outsmart Hudson into taking it back.
I’m kind of into Plan B. I like to imagine I am at least as intelligent as my horse.
Tricky. Hudson obviously outsmarted me on the “Let’s Make Phil Deathly Afraid of Hay” thing.
How can I make Hudson show Phil the hay barn is horse manna? I plot. I pretend I’m Hudson. Ah-ha. Got it. Though I see a potential problem. However, it’s a problem that Hudson has brought upon himself… It wouldn’t affect Phil… This could work.
Just before the dinner cart makes its rounds, I tack up a hungry Hudson…and active the Phix Phil Plan. (Code-named, because all tricky plans need code names): Gotcha. There are three phases.
Phase One: flattery. I tack Hudson up first, spending lots of time getting ready. When he feels good and important, I ask him if he’d rather walk alone, or pony Phil.
Hudson: I believe I’d like to
boss pony Phil around today.
Jane: Whatever. I’ll get him.
Phase Two: temptation: Before getting Hudson, I opened the hay barn doors and angled an open bale of alfalfa so it was barely sticking out into the road. I also did a scariness check: nothing spooky. Bonus: there’s a trash can full of baling twine, that Hudson will believe might contain grain.
Phase Three: deceit. (You were already with me at hay-happens-to-be-in-the-road, huh?
I mount up, pick up Phil from the tie-post. We make one round of the access road, including passing the hay barn. Hudson ignores it nearly completely. His nostrils widen at the scent of alfalfa. I pointedly angle my body toward the road, away from the barn. His ears signal minor disappointment. Phil snuck past the hay barn, and is flooded with relief when it didn’t jump him. Hudson has better things to think about than Phil. Food.
On to round two.
We pass closer to the hay. I abruptly angle away, as if I’ve made a grievous riding error.
Hudson buys this. Completely. Well, geeze. He could at least FAKE astonishment at my terrible riding.
Round three. Hudson wanders through his shoulder toward the hay barn. I sigh as though giving up. He gleefully buries his head in the alfalfa.
Phil jumps out of his skin, and has to be coaxed to stay with us.
We do this several hundred more times, with Hudson drooling in anticipation, and Phil trying to find a way out of the crisis:
FINALLY, Phil takes a bite. I have an excellent grip on the reins, to keep Hudson from warning him off.
Oh. This is FOOD? CRAP! Did you hear the noise it made when I tore a bite off? It was like a rifle shot! Can food shoot? (chew chew chew) Hudson seems fine. I’m brave. I think I can handle this…
Ha. I tricked Hudson into giving the message: “Hay Barn Good. Nom nom nom.” Message received. I rode Phil – alone – past the hay barn. He wouldn’t go up to eat, but he didn’t shrink away from it either. Phew.
I text Bella: We’re good. Phil is fixed. You can ride him past the hay barn again.
Can you guess what problem I created in this trade-off of trickery?
Hudson now believes it’s perfectly acceptable to attempt to trot to the hay barn for food, with every rotation of the access road. Because I subtly encouraged his glee and ‘misbehavior’.
The next day I was able to call “one-time freebie!” to Hudson, and he accepted that answer.
I sure hope he doesn’t spend time thinking over the “free hay day”. If he figures out I tricked him, it’s cement horse shoes for me…