Becoming a Toilet Southpaw

In just a few short weeks, I will be undergoing shoulder surgery for a busted rotator cuff.  Because nothing says “Happy 40th Birthday” better than surgery.

Back in December, I tweaked my shoulder trying to act younger and stronger than I really was.  The lesson I learned?  I’m old.

Toilet Southpaw

While I iced my shoulder religiously after the injury occurred, I never fully got rid of the pain.  After a round of physical therapy and months of rest, my right arm still doesn’t have full range of motion.  While I’m no longer in Yelping Out In Agony pain, this injury has certainly puts some limits on my lifestyle.

Taking off a bra results in wincing and muttered cursing.  Upper-body weight-bearing yoga postures feel unstable and shaky, like I’m trying to twerk but doing it wrong.  If I thought my throwing was pretty pathetic before my injury, it’s downright embarrassing now because my arm resists the follow-through.  I aim for my son, but the ball ends up in the bushes.

I’m over it.

An MRI revealed that I have a high-degree partial tear in one of my rotator cuff tendons.  And there’s probably a bone spur swimming around the pool party.   The options I were given were:

1. Just learn to deal with it

B) Get injections for years, or

III) Opt for surgery to repair the tendon and clean the shoulder out.

While this surgery isn’t required, I’m at a point now where I’m tired of feeling gimpy.  I want to be able to do fun activities with my kids like rock-climbing and not stress out that I’ll one day tear the whole tendon apart.

I worry that if I don’t take care of this now, it will only get worse as I get older.

So, August 16th I’ll be getting arthroscopic surgery to repair my tendon.  Afterwards, my shoulder will be immobilized from anywhere between one to four weeks.


I’m hoping that with my incredible strength and youthfulness (note sarcasm here), recovery will fall in the short end of things.  But I won’t know how bad things are until they go in and take a lookie-look around.

Basically, I might just be useless for a while.  I won’t be able to drive, and luckily my husband won’t be traveling and will be available to help out with the kids.   The bonus?  I get a free pass on cleaning the house and will take a hiatus from my current title of Sherpa.  And I might be able to skip out on wiping my daughter’s butt for a while.


But then, I realized, how will I wipe my OWN BUTT?

I’m right-handed, and that delicate matter is handled by my dominant hand.  I have never, ever even attempted to wipe with my left hand.  Is it awkward and unsuccessful?  Will I need to resort to screaming on the toilet like a potty-training toddler?

“I’m DONE!!!!”

I’m close to my husband, but that is territory I’m not willing to embark upon together for at least another 30-40 years.

So, for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to have to start practicing performing that job with my left hand.  Because I like to be prepared.  And because I don’t like to ask for help.  Especially with my underwear around my ankles.

I will become the switch hitter of bathroom breaks.  The Ambidextrous Ass Wiper.  The Toilet Southpaw.

Ditto goes for brushing my teeth, eating, getting dressed, and generally feeling like a functioning human being.

I’m dreading giving up control over the cleanliness of my home.  I’m afraid my kids will get tired of me not being able to play with them.  I’m not looking forward to asking for help with simple tasks that I’ve been used to doing on my own for over three decades.

And having someone wipe my ass for me?

I’d like to feel youthful again, but not that youthful.


The art of aging ungracefully…

agingI turn 40 this September.  4-fucking-0.


There are certainly things about this body I’ve inhabited for four decades that I wish I could change.


Certainly I’d trade in my cottage cheese thighs for firmer skin.


I’d have moisturized early on and frequently like my mother and grandmother warned but I ignored.  I have the hands of a 70 year-old woman.  My hands could get a discount at the movies and score the early bird AARP special at IHOP.


And then there are the wrinkles that adorn my face.  Both the “parentheses” around my mouth and the “11” in between my eyebrows, like a walking footnote.  Ditto that advice I didn’t head about moisturizer.  And wishing I’d started wearing sunglasses sooner in life.


Luckily, the appearance of wrinkles has coincided with adult-onset acne. Awesome!  And Bacne, even better!!


I never really broke out when I was a teenager. Sure I might have gotten the occasional cute little teenager zit, but nothing that made me want to put a bag over my head and sprint to a dermatologist.


Then I turned 27.


A couple of days before my now-husband was to come to New York to visit me on our first “date,” I awoke unable to open my left eye fully.


Thinking maybe it was a sty or something getting in the way of my vision, I stumbled to the bathroom to check it out.  Then I looked in the mirror, and I’m surprised it didn’t crack by the sight of this….thing.


It was a lump the size of Montana.


Right smack on the left side of my nose where the bridge meets the eye, impeding my eyelid from opening all the way.


Sexy, right?


It was hideous.  Except that I didn’t know what it was.


A woman I worked with used to be a nurse, so I had her take a look at it.  Upon inspection, she grimaced, then turned away and uttered over her shoulder “it’s a cyst.  Better go get that thing drained.”


Then I googled “cyst” and resisted the urge to lock myself in my apartment.  It’s a fancy word for Large Ass Zit.




I made a quick call to my physician, who referred me to a dermatologist.  His only advice was to wash my face with a solution so full of benzoyl peroxide that it stripped the color off of my pillowcase.  Then he injected that goiter with a steroid and sent me on my way.


Two days later, my cyst was still so bright and red that it could have guided Santa’s sleigh through a blizzard.  There was no hiding it behind concealer or trying to mask it with bangs or glasses.


But I had a plan.  A plan that involved remaining on Jon’s left side.


I met Jon at the bus station at Port Authority with a very choreographed hug that came in from the left, so he’d only see the right side of my face.  Feeling like a paranoid idiot, I skirted over to his left side as we walked over to the subway area, wondering how long I could keep this game up.


And then, we got to the subway car.  Ever the gentleman, he gestured for me to sit down first on the empty bench.  Then he sat down.


On my left.  I was screwed.


I battled internally at this point.  Do I just acknowledge this growth and get on with it?  Explain about it and hope he doesn’t bolt off the train at the next stop in a move of repulsion and nausea?  Or do I just sit still, ignore it and hope he doesn’t notice?


I chose to point it out.


I mean, he was bound to notice it at some point, right?


So I awkwardly apologized for the zit, trying to play it coolly, as if it was no big deal. Jon listened politely, laughing sympathetically with me about it and shrugging it off.


Then he named it “Cecil”.  My new friend and roommate.  With it’s own zip code.


If he’d done this now, in my antsy and stressed-out stage of motherhood and insecurity, I probably would have crumpled in a ball and cried.


But back then, lighter-hearted and blinded by utter infatuation, I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard.


Jon was able to make me feel better about something I felt so weighted and embarrassed about.  He saw the humor in the situation and ran with it.  Not in a way that made me feel stupid or hideous or at fault.  But in a way that made me see how insignificant things were.


It was the first in many moments I knew I’d met my match.


Since then, I’ve received a more than a few surprise visits from Cecil’s relatives, gotten more lines and creases and saggy parts, and sprouted way more dimples on my thighs than when we first met.


Years later, I hope he still finds all of my imperfections no big deal.


Because there aren’t enough names to bequeath to all of them.

Driving an Old-mobile…


Until we moved to Denver seven years ago, I had never owned a car.

Wait, I take that back.

I drove my parents ancient ’80 Chevrolet Cavalier the last five months of my Senior year in college.  It was on the edge of reliable, overheating when the Texas temperature reached over 85 degrees.  I quickly learned how to adapt to zero air conditioning, and became adept at recognizing when my car was about to boil over so I could crank up the heat to avoid blowing up my engine.

Dwelling in NYC, it wasn’t necessary to own a car, and the bus system in graduate school did the job for me, so I never needed secure transportation until we moved to Colorado.

My first automobile, a Volkswagen Jetta, was practical and compact and let me zip around town without feeling like I was driving a land yacht. However, it performed horribly on icy roads, and since I was carrying precious cargo, when it came time to renew the lease, we turned it in for my husband’s company car, a Toyota Prius.

The Prius? Very cute.  And efficient.  I loved how I hardly ever had to fuel up.  And I felt like patting myself on the back every time I got in, as if I alone was saving the environment by driving a hybrid.

But again, it slid around on ice and snow worse than a greased monkey on a slip and slide.

So a couple of summers ago, after much shopping around and vehicular deliberation, I chose my adorably sporty Toyota Venza.

It had everything I was looking for in a kid taxi.  It was substantial enough where I felt like I wasn’t going to get crushed in it, yet small enough for my height-deprived viewpoint to feel confident in parking it in our garage.  I could get all-wheel drive so that I would feel safer in snow and ice.  And it looked hip enough that I didn’t feel like I was driving a station wagon.

And then, Toyota changed up their marketing.

About six months after we purchased it, Jon and I were watching television and saw our first commercial for the Venza.  In it, they show some parents, out living it up with high-octane adventure excursions or big nights on the town, while their kids are at home ranting about how concerned they are that their parents have lost their quest for adventure, their hipness, their will to live.

And then you see them.  The Parents.

Empty Nesters.

Driving MY CAR!

Seriously?  Did I really just purchase a car that was being touted as THE car for the AARP circuit?

Here I was, thinking that I had dodged the Colorado mom-mobile bullet that is the Subaru Outback, and now? My beloved car, the one that still smelled new inside, was being advertised to folks way older than my demographic.

Had I really gotten that old? Did I really have that questionable of taste? Did I just lose my street cred?

Even now, a couple of years later, I take cold hard looks at the other drivers of Venza’s I see around town.  Except for the other parent at school that drives one, all the other drivers of my automobile are pushing 60. And over.

So I ask you, does this car make me look old?

venza 3



Dorothy the dancer…

We spent last week down in Orlando, visiting Jon’s family for a big celebration.  His grandfather turned 90 years old and his grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.  There was a big party filled with all sorts of relatives in a beautiful garden.  Let me tell you, nothing makes you appreciate your youth more than spending New Year’s Eve with a bunch of octogenarians.

Photo by Melanie Holtsman via Flickr

Photo by Melanie Holtsman via Flickr

Since we were down in Mickeytown, we hit up some parks, but avoided Magic Kingdom because we’d heard the crowds were ridonkulous with the opening of the new Fantasyland.

Lest we let our kids suffer character withdrawal, we compromised by making a reservation at Cape May Cafe for a character breakfast our last morning in town.

Say what you will about buffets, but I love the food here.  Little mini-waffles shaped like Mikey Mouse!  Five different types of egg dishes!  Buttermilk biscuits so rich they’ll give you a coronary!

The kids loved stalking Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy and went nuts every time one of them passed by.  I feel fairly confident that Miss P goosed Donald in a effort to get his attention.

But my favorite part of the experience?  Meeting our waitress.

Dorothy. photo-2This little old lady with a hearty New York accent who bent over backwards giving us refills and letting us know when a character was on his way.

As I got to talking to her, I discovered that she was a retired dancer.  And the former nerd Specialist in me jumped out and started prodding her with all sorts of questions.  Hearing her story. Wishing I could have lived that life.

Working in the stacks of one of the most prestigious dance collections in the world, I came across some pretty amazing people.  Sure, I ran in to some crazies too.  But the older dancers had such fantastic backgrounds.  Some of them came in to volunteer, and once they’d start in on their tales, I couldn’t help but listen.  Even if I’d heard that story a few times already.

The dancers of that generation seem to have had a blast.  There was more work.  Work that took them places.  Places more exotic than the L train to some sketchy loft-turned-studio in Bushwick.

Living here in Ohio, the dance community seems so spread out, so sparse, so disconnected.  I long for that feeling of community.  That satisfaction of working.  And, to some degree, the aches and pains that come with working your body too hard for too long.

One day, I’ll finally be able to let go of this feeling that I’m a shell of a dancer. An imposter.  A fake.  A phoney.  Either I’ll find motivation to jump back in to the studio, or I’ll feel ready to say goodbye.

Whatever happens, whenever that is, I hope one day I’ll come across a stranger 30 years younger than me and find out we have this art form in common.  That she may want to ask me questions about my career.  And that I’ll be able to answer her with a smile on my face, a fond look in my eye, and have the warmth to take a photo with her.

T-minus two days…

K’s show opens on Friday, and we were in the theatre all day yesterday for our tech rehearsal.  It went okay, but brought out some of the usual drama that accompanies performance week.  I consider myself a pretty level-headed performer.  I don’t get extraordinarily nervous or anxious, and love the energy that comes with performing.  But I can also get sucked in to all of that Other energy.  The kind that comes from folks who desperately need attention, either good or bad.  I mean, I puked my guts out Saturday night and spent all day Sunday supine on the couch trying to recover, but you don’t see me making a big fuss about it.  I just wish folks would just do their freakin’ job and leave the other stuff at the door.  It is events like this that make the think it’s not dance I’m tired of, it’s all of the other shit that comes with it.  I still adore moving.  But I’m also feeling too old to deal with some of the politics of dance.  Perhaps I need another venue.  Or maybe just a total career change?  But as I approach 40, is it too late?