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stranded in stamford

Thanks to tonight’s MEGA WINTER STORM (#avery #winterstormavery #whydowenamethestorms) I am stranded at a Sheraton in Stamford.  Because, obviously, when a storm hits, one wants to go for as much alliteration as possible when seeking shelter.

I had to go on my last ever trip to my Connecticut based bank client today.  This required driving, because I had to go to “Real America”, aka Not NYC.  And despite my best efforts to leave sooner, I found myself on I-95 right as the storm hit the area around 4pm.  I watched as my time to home on Google Maps went up…and then refused to go down again.  Despite two hours of driving, the time to home stubbornly stayed at over three hours, just with a continuously later arrival time.

Eventually traffic just…stopped.  I sat there watching the snow get heavier, and realized: I was equipped to drive in the worsening conditions in the SUV I was upgraded to this morning at the rental car location.   The other vehicles around me might not be as well equipped, and my SUV would not be immune to other cars or trucks sliding into it.   That was when I gave up, pulled off the highway, and sought a hotel.

It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to be able to do this.  First of all, I can likely expense this back to the client since I was asked drive to them on the day of a major storm.  Second of all, if the client is not amenable to the expense, I can afford a $200 hotel room.  My time getting home also isn’t critical: I have my husband to take care of our son so I’m not needed at home until I can get back tomorrow, and even if Paul also got stuck in the storm, Ben could go to any of a half-dozen neighbors or friends locally as part of our Brooklyn child raising village.  I have the sheer luxury of being able to put my own safety and wellbeing first and procure a hotel room instead of slugging through the storm.  I’m grateful that my path in life put me in a position to be able to make a night like this a little easier on myself.

Also: I left the house yesterday!  I did a bunch of things that reminded me of what it was like to have kinetic energy, instead of being dragged down by inertia working at home.  I even managed to socialize a bit, seeing a dear friend for a quick catch-up and then going to a Canadian college alumni event to say hi to the two or three people I knew from other Canadian gatherings,  and pick up the latest UBC Alumni swag:

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I’m not sure when my alma mater started handing out swag notebooks and pins for an alumni association, but I’m happy to have it as a conversation starter in work meetings.  Why yes, it’s a real school!  

Sadly when I go to a college alumni event, it’s difficult to share memories of university.  UBC is huge, and the experiences differ radically.  I have yet to meet anyone who has even a Venn diagram overlap with my memories: most of the alumni I meet at expat events are younger than I am, and many are Business school graduates, not Arts majors.  I  also graduated in 2003, and the defining event of my last two years was my participation in the Arts Undergrad Society and Arts County Fair.  With that major annual event having been defunct for (yikes) eleven years (shut down in 2007), I haven’t met a lot of fellow alumns who share memories of it.

However, there are still plenty of things I’m sure I could talk about with UBC alumni.  Memories of the old SUB, for example!  The many drinking establishments on campus!  The wide range of actual academics!  Vancouver in general!  I mean, how lucky were we to go to school in such a beautiful setting, attached to such an incredible city?  But last night I was just so tired after a day of being outside of the house, from having taken Ben on a school tour, gone to the office, gone to the dentist, met a friend for coffee, done a spin class and walked the ten blocks from the gym to the event…now that I think about it, no wonder I lacked enthusiasm for reminiscing about UBC.  I’ll have to try again at the next expat event on Monday.

Meanwhile, I’m rapidly running out of energy, here in my now cozy hotel room in Stamford.  Being warm.  Having unlimited access to heat.  Also something I’m thankful for.  May all people be so fortunate on a night like tonight.

still benched

I went to the doctor on Monday to check in on my foot, which continues to go from Fairly Normal at the start of the day, to Bloated Puffy by the end of the day.

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First thing in the morning, minimal puffiness.  Or puffins.

On Monday, by the time I got to the doctor at 4:30pm, it was puffing out of the top of my ballet flat shoe like rising dough. I took it to the specialist I saw back when I first sprained the ankle, and he pressed down on the swelling with a concerned expression. “Hm. This shouldn’t be,” he said, and I felt my heart sink.

“So the swelling isn’t normal?” I asked

“Nope. Let me just see how you’re healing. This may hurt,” he said, and then poked my ATFL tendon, where the tear is, connecting my leg to my foot. I winced and exclaimed, “OW!”

“Yep, that’s the ATFL we talked about. This isn’t recovering as much as I’d expect for six weeks in.” He asked if I had been doing the exercises he suggested, and I told him I had, and showed him the range of mobility in my foot. That was actually better than expected, as the doctor was quite pleased with my ability to rotate and flex my foot. He asked me to walk across the room and stand on one foot, and I did. Then he looked at my foot critically, and said, “I’m going to prescribe you an AirCast”

“Oh,” I said, “you already issued me one.”

“Then why aren’t you wearing it?”

“It was slowing me down?” I said, and then started laughing. The AirCast was making it hard to walk quickly, but I did wear it for the two weeks I was supposed to wear it. Now I’m supposed to wear it if I’m leaving the house, again. I’m also supposed to ice my ankle (which I’ve been doing!), elevate it at night (ditto), and wear a compression sock (which I already own). And, most of all, I have to stop pushing myself into activity and telling myself I’m “working my ankle for recovery”. I did manage to regain a lot of mobility doing that, but not a lot of actual healing has taken place.

So yesterday, Tuesday, I dutifully put on my compression sock and AirCast and went to fetch my son from school and take him to a dentist appointment for a chipped tooth. I took Lyfts when we could have walked (we did walk a few blocks here and there, but less than we usually would). I THOUGHT that would be the end of the physical stress on my ankle for the day, and settled back in to work, ankle propped on a stool under my desk, while Ben worked on a school project.

Then Ben managed to slice open his thumb with a knife cutting a carboard box – and I ran with him to Urgent Care, a half mile away. It was only after the adrenaline wore off that I realized how exceptionally bad an idea it had been to run with my bleeding son, his hand compressed and elevated in a dishtowel, across Prospect Heights.

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I got him to urgent care for stitches within twenty minutes of the cut!  Parenting win!

Now I have re-trashed my ankle. Even if I wasn’t committed to resting it and getting better, I would be now because it hurt more today than it has in weeks. The bright side is that it actually isn’t puffy at all: the compression sock and the rest for the past two days has actually reduced the edema. The original ATFL tear, however, is still there. There will be no hiking on Mount Misery this weekend (it’s quite pleasant despite the name!), but there may be a trip to the MRI if it doesn’t improve.

 

Return of the Cankle

My wedding night, I was six months pregnant. I still danced until my feet gave out. I remember after a night of celebrating, both ankles were so swollen that they had disappeared into my calves, a phenomenon charmingly referred to as “cankles”. Today, I didn’t even get the fun of dancing but still, after walking a mile and sitting at a desk, here we are with one cankle:

I still went to the gym tonight, but only to swim. Being in the water meant activity without weight on my ankle. I kept it to 20 minutes on the pool, 200 yards of laps, just enough for me to feel like I did something and to see if that negatively impacts my recovery at all. The ankle hurts, especially since I went off my painkiller/NSAID medication this week, but it’s a pain I can live with.

Also, it was nice to get the swim time in. I have to do some sort of cardio to keep my endorphins up. In my toolkit of Ways I Manage my Brain, cardio is one of the tools I don’t reach for enough. Then on nights like tonight when I do use it, I remember it’s extremely helpful and I should pick it up all the time. It would be smart of me to do more cycling and swimming while recovering enough to run. I just need to get back in a daily habit of prioritizing that time.

Also, I got to see how my new Fitbit tracks swimming! The answer is: in stalker like detail

Like most people, I have a bad habit of dithering time away on the unimportant, which means work takes longer, which means I don’t get to the gym until after 7pm and then end up heading back to the office to take a Scout planning call instead of getting on the subway, which means in turn I don’t get home until 11pm on a Wednesday, which means I can’t get up early enough to work out because I have an 8am appointment to get my bangs trimmed in SoHo. This has nothing to do with my sprained ankle of course, and everything to do with bad habits, the kind of habits that allow me to put off self-care and fitness time under the guise of work, which in turn has been dragged out by a lack focus. Which is why I’m on a subway at 10:30pm on a Wednesday.

In the interim, I have bloody cankles, and my entire right leg is twinging with the effort of balancing on one leg this evening as part of my requisite physio recovery process. But at least I went swimming. I got the start of a better habit in place. I prioritized that activity even if it wasn’t well planned. The cankle will eventually go away, but maybe, just maybe, I can use this time of recovery as impetus to be more mindful and deliberate in my physical activity.

where is the nostalgia club for xennials?

I love going to decade specific nights at the Bell House.  It has a huge dance space in the concert/event “big room”, and at least one Saturday a month they through a decade specific dance party.  Usually this takes the form of Party Like It’s 1999, the 90s dance party, at which I can relive all the greatest dance hits that I didn’t like the first time they were popular, but at least now are laced with nostalgia!  (The DJ once played almost all of “Out of Time” one time in the first hour before the club filled up though so I can forgive him constantly trotting out “The Boy Is Mine”)

More recently, the Bell House has seen a rise in popularity for DJ Jane Elizabeth’s “Tainted Love” nights.  These are described as “building on a solid foundation of New Wave” but in reality, have turned out to be far more esoteric.  Here’s the playlist for the 4/21 edition that Paul and I went to:

When we walked in, my first reaction was that, unlike the 90s nights, I was on the younger side of the Tainted Love crowd.  At 90s nights, even though I graduated high school in the middle of the decade, the Millennial “baby boom” that started in 1983 outnumber those of us born earlier.  Therefore, the DJ plays more late 90s songs to appeal to the millennials nostalgia, instead of sticking to the good half of the decade.  We all know that the back half of the 90s sucked for music because it was all downhill after Kurt died.  (see also: shitty pop punk, rap-rock, overproduced R&B, boy bands, girl bands, etc).  This means that by 1am, I’m totally over the music that appeals to people who are only a couple years younger than I am and feel like yelling at them all to get off my lawn because they are kids with no taste in music, as if there’s a real generational divide there

JUST PLAY VS AND CALL  IT A DAY

My second reaction was that this was an audience looking for older mainstream 80s music.  I am nostalgic about the late 80s from having been a child, and nostalgic about dark 80s from being a goth.  But I am too young to have seen John Hughes movies the first time they came out.  Paul isn’t even old enough for that kind of nostalgia (1975), and neither of us have any nostalgia for Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” outside of Bootie.  The crowd around us was gleefully screaming along “JUST A SMALL TOWN GIRL, LIVIN’ IN A LONELY WORRRRRLD”, so at that moment we felt like we’d fallen into the wrong soundtrack.

Then DJ Jane Elizabeth put on “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” and i was placated.  First of all, see above on Early 90s nostalgia from childhood.  Second, BLACK MIRROR!  That’s literally the soundtrack to the only happy ending episode, which is about finding your True Love (SPOILER IN VIDEO)

I’M NOT CRYING YOU’RE CRYING

The irony goes layers deep here, people: “Heaven Is A Place on Earth” is now a song associated with a show that correctly identified our culture’s desire to spend eternity in an artificially created nostalgic environment, and it was being played in an artificially created nostalgia environment that I just didn’t have to upload my brain into in order to access.  Also, I would like to spend eternity dancing my MY true love as well, but Paul and I both agree we would have to go to the evil club in town, which was playing Paul’s favorite band (the Pixies) and honestly, just looked like Bar Sinister (Why does the evil club always just look like Bar Sinister?  Honestly, most goths are HARMLESS)

Still, I’d kind of like a club night that skews to my age group.  Not those Nickelodeon watching kids that came after me, not the mainstream-80s nostalgia, but someplace that would hit people in the Xennial band.  It would run from the late 80s through the Britpop craze, and cut out the worst parts of the late 90s.  But because I fall in the 1977-1983 gap between the Xers and the Millenials, I don’t think my subset of people have the numbers to make it happen yet.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to lean on GenX nostalgia to placate me until I can either upload my brain into a 1996 environment for nostalgia therapy…or these millennials take their stupid Third Eye Blind and their stupider Blink 182 and all the other awful bands with numbers from the 90s and get off my lawn.

 

 

 

 

 

whoops!

I sprained my ankle on Monday night:

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I bounced off the curb outside my house, landed wrong, and immediately went down on the pavement.  You can see the scrape on the side of my foot where my rolling foot hit the rough gravel of the street fill material, directly above my ballooning ankle itself.

Obviously, I was on auto-pilot, focusing on getting to the car to help Paul unload groceries, while talking to my mother on my Bluetooth headphones.  So I suppose the lesson I’ve learned here is BE MINDFUL OF THE STUPID 3″ CURB.

After going down, landing on my side, and being grateful I didn’t roll into an oncoming car in the process, I just started yelling ANKLE ANKLE ANKLE while gasping for breath from the pain.  Paul helped me up, and then I hobbled, slowly, up the 16 stairs to my apartment.  I still had the presence of mind to grab a bag of frozen vegetables before  collapsing on the couch:

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When Paul came back in, he brought me extra pillows and a bucket.  Why a bucket?  BECAUSE THE PAIN WAS SO BAD I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO THROW UP.  Thankfully, after elevating and icing the injury – and four Advil – it subsided a bit.

I then proceeded to throw any work I had planned to do out the metaphorical window and watched Netflix for two hours.  The Toys that Made Us was surprisingly distracting from the pain!

It was especially enjoyable because the women of Mattel were badass.  Recommend for anyone who has Netflix and was born in the 70s.  Certainly better researched than the Robot Chicken equivalent.

I woke up Tuesday to slightly less pain and the ability to hobble.  After posts from nurse friends on Facebook convinced me to get my ankle checked just in case, I managed to hobble down the stairs, outside to a car, and into my local doctor clinic.  The swelling was slightly better by then:

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I had hoped that my local clinic doctor would look at my ankle, declare it a normal sprain, and send me on my way home again.  Instead, he agreed with my nurse friends that it could be a fracture or tear, and suggested I go for X-rays and a specialist diagnosis.  He then proceeded to kindly call four podiatrists before finding only one that had both imaging equipment on site and walk-in availability: a doctor at Weill Cornell on the Upper East Side.

From Fort Greene to the UES is a long way, but I managed it.  I hobbled down the subway stairs, clinging to the railing and side stepping one step at a time.  I took my two trains, taking full advantage of the mid-day space to sit down.  I took the elevator to street level at 63rd and Lex, and then flagged a taxi to get me to the medical facility.  That was where I realized, this wasn’t a clinic, it was New York Presbyterian, a HUGE facility I would have to hobble around for the next few hours.

It turned out to all be OK though.  My main fear wasn’t the pain itself, but rather, any damage I might be doing by hobbling around.  Pain I can handle, anxiety, I cannot.  I got my X-rays, saw the specialist, and got a great look inside my ankle on the ultrasound machine:

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(Image courtesy of Anatomy Physiotherapy, this is not my actual ankle)

The doctor kindly explained what we were seeing: the bones, the ligaments, the tendons.  Ultimately, he found a small tear and told me that it was between a 1 and a 2 on a scale of 3 in ankle sprains.  No fractures, no tendon separating or anything weird, just a plain old sprain.  He prescribed me an anti-inflammatory and an AirCast:

 

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And  now I’m thankful to have the opportunity to WFH for the rest of the week until I travel to Toronto on Friday.  I can walk a little better today than yesterday: I can put more weight on my right leg, and I can walk with my foot forward.  Yesterday, I walked with my foot to the side, dragging my right leg and keeping it straight in a way that allowed me to hobble through the streets of New York City without turning my ankle at all.  Today is much better already – even if it is still hard getting up, and I wish I had done more pistol squats before this happened

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Had I done more of these, getting up off the couch would be a breeze!

Obviously, many lessons have been learned here, not the least of which is to be grateful that this should be healed within 1 – 2 weeks.  The doctor suggested doing single-leg stands starting next Tuesday the 1st, as well as some simple physical therapy exercises I can do at home to get mobility back in the ankle once it’s released from it’s Aircast prison.

This has also reminded me to be grateful every day that I have a completely healthy and working body and to take advantage of it by going for a walk.  Being unable to freely walk around makes me regret all the times I didn’t take a break to go outside.  Go outside, people!  It’s spring!  Your ankles work!

 

 

 

two much needed days of brain health

Sometimes, I have to take a couple days of not accomplishing goals, not doing work, not…catching up on the omnipresent treadmill that is my existence, just taking care of my poor beleaguered brain.  So that’s what I did for the last couple days.

And, yes, in there, I did work towards some goals in that I went through all my old journals from the last couple quarters and looked for either information that I needed to hand off, or that I will need moving forward, as I transition accounts at work to take on new clients.  But I also took some much needed brain rest time to:

  • go on a four mile walk around the park while it was nice yesterday
  • continue working my way through Parks and Rec on Netflix
  • go out to Music for the Masses, the darkwave 80s party in Greenpoint last night

And last night’s M4tM playlist, which brought me much brain-healing joy to dance to, is here:

I have learned this year that once in a while, I have to just…stop pushing quite as hard. I will have to take days when I do “lite” versions of what I’m used to, where I don’t rush from one thing to another but rather, stop, contemplate where I am, and adjust accordingly. I will have to rest my brain. I will have to take care of myself, especially when I know I have a tough month coming up. (As I do this April, with new clients and a Seattle trip and camps and everything else.)

So that’s what I did this weekend, instead of spending Easter with my extended in-law family. I took the time, at home, to prepare myself for the spring season to come. And as much as I missed being with the family, it was time I needed to ensure that I don’t break myself again in the next few weeks.

running season

 

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I am not a runner by nature .  At least, no more than any other human is a runner: we are, after all, evolved to run long distances.  Still, growing up as the “fat girl”, my mentality has always been that sports and running are “not for me”, that physical activity was outside of my capabilities.

I’m not sure what prompted me to even start trying to run a few years ago.  I’ve always been a fair cyclist, which has been my preferred mode of movement.  I suppose I thought running would help me lose weight.  I don’t believe it actually does, since as with most forms of cardio, it just makes one hungrier and causes increased caloric intake.  Instead, I discovered that running actually makes me happy, and that’s why I’ve kept it up.

There’s been a few factors driving this:

  1. Pride in accomplishment: I like seeing my time per mile go down over the course of a season.  I start running around a 12 minute mile, which is slow – but usually get it down to 11 within a month or two.  (The screenshot to the left was walking the last mile, hence the higher overall minutes per mile time)
  2. Being outside: I love being outside in the park.  I love Prospect Park.  it’s one of the best things about living in this part of Brooklyn.  Being able to go through the trees, past the lake, and eventually up past the Long Meadow, through the familiar forest and fields of Brooklyn’s backyard, makes me extremely happy.
  3. Gamification.  I use Zombies, Run!, an app that mashes up running with storytelling and gaming.  Each day, I set off on a “mission” as Runner 5, a runner for Abel Township, a collective of survivors in a zombie apocalypse.  I hear the story come through as commentary from other runners and from the dispatcher, both as the town moves forward in the war against the zombies, and as background on how the apocalypse came about.  The narrative aspect is enough to motivate me to hear what happens next, and the game itself also offers a series of rewards through items collected on the path that can be used to build up the town, Sim City style, in the app.  The app also tracks my distance and, if set to “Chase Mode”, sends the occasionally shambling pack after me, requiring a running sprint to evade them.

So now, I run, 2 – 3x a week.  And then last year, it was suggested to me that I actually train running, as part of a possible triathlon effort.  And I thought, why not?  I like all the modes of movement involved, I just need to get faster at running and swimming.  Now, I run for joy in the short term, and for the end goal of eventually running a triathlon in the long term.  I may not get there – prioritizing training is hard when so much else is involved in my life – but at least I know I’m working on it.  And in the interim, I’ll just keep outrunning the zombies and fortifying Abel.