Thursday, January 21, 2010


I took to falling down last week -- last week! it feels like years ago.

Once I stubbed my toe on an uneven sidewalk. I went down on my face, nicked my forehead, bruised both knees, grazed my hands. Two nights later I got my feet tangled in a hump of bad sidewalk and did it again, bruising my chin. The night after that, I got tangled between two cars and fell hard to my knees. There was a snap. My left ankle plumped out like a sponge. I could feel my right knee bleeding. It was a difficult walk home.

It was clear I couldn't walk Daisy let alone my usual coterie of dogs. She went off to Uncle and Auntie's house the next afternoon. Boomer's mom brought ice packs and groceries and the name of her podiatrist, then walked me over on Tuesday.

The x-rays did not show a fracture. It's worse: a very very bad sprain. I'm in a boot that I'm allowed out of to shower -- and no weight on the foot in the shower -- and I'll be in it for a month. The doctor was very stern: if I don't wear this Frankenstein foot for a month, I'll be in the hospital.

And I can't afford the hospital. That's why I waited two-and-a-half days to have it treated: I can't afford the ER either.

For a day or two I enjoyed being at loose ends. I'm making friends with television. I have a lot of sedentary work to do. Marian Keyes's new novel comes out today.

Right now, however, I would kill for a nap but am afraid I'd be too groggy for the AOL podcast I'm doing at four. I should be working on my book proposal but I'm oddly shaky. Is it restlessness channeling as nervousness? Post-morning dose of vicoden jitters? Yes, but it's more because I have a dangerous lump in my throat.

I miss my dawg! I miss her friends! I know I can't walk her yet and I know it would not be good for her to come and visit only to be towed away again. She's such a mama's girl that way. Much as she misbehaves for me, she freaks out when anyone else holds her leash, even when I'm right there. She would be depressed if she had to go away again.

My father isn't helping, either. Saturday night, when all I wanted was his take on whether my ankle was broken or not, he wandered off into an announcement that he thought he'd buy a foreclosure house in the Phoenix area and rent it to me. I'm seriously considering moving there so this was a lovely piece of news. By Tuesday he was announcing that he's selling his house in Arizona and moving permanently to back Montana. My head is still spinning.

Were my choice of geography up to me, I'd be moving to Seattle. I have a lot of friends there, and a lot of relatives. It's a real city. It's beautiful. The weather, while dim, is not often given to extremes.

Phoenix became real at Christmas. I could help my dad out. It's inexpensive. I know some people in the area. There is someone I'd like to know on a more consistent, lazy basis. As soon as I proposed this consistent lazy -ship and was not, to my dismay, discouraged, I wanted to A) vomit, and B) move to Ballyhillion on the northern most tip of Ireland. I'm frightened of being hurt. I'm frightened of myself -- of needing anyone, of my jealousies, of my insecurities, of my conviction of lesser-than. I'm afraid of being shipwrecked in the desert.

And that's just me. What's on the other side waiting to be frightened of???

Having a house seemed like a nice reason to go to Phoenix. I could board dogs and grow roses. I'd be near my father and old friends. A house seemed to equal something like a Life, making a -ship less loaded and back to lazy. I'm bereft at the loss what never was, at my father's move back to Montana, at...this thing I don't trust will leave me unscathed.

Then again, not having the obligation of being a tenant makes me free to pick up and flee to Seattle whenever I want.

Right now it's compounded by working on a new book proposal. I want to write essays about the non-weight side of my life. Funny essays. I need at least one to put it in my agent and editor's hands. I'm working on a piece about my father, who is a very funny man and a very quirky one. Unfortunately, I'm not finding him funny today. I feel betrayed both by his Saturday announcement and by the thought that he'll be in Missoula. The relationship I've had with him is about to change all over again and I'm finding that hard to cope with in the wake of losing my mother, losing my dog, losing my foot and my dread of losing a friendship to a -ship.

This blog is a procrastination, meant to keep me awake until I have to call AOL and productive while I ignore "Pa de Deux". Ironically, this is very painful to write and the essay is about how my father lives on his own planet. I'm calling this hoped-for collection Me: A User's Guide. If I do a good enough job, it should serve as a handbook for how to get money, tears and keys out of me. I hadn't intended for the piece about Dad to do more than entertain and teach a reader about what it means to be a Kuffel. I hadn't intended to work on it while feeling the earth shift under my one good foot.


Anonymous said...

I hope you do move to Seattle, someday. I'm down the highway in Portland and I have followed you since your book "Passing For Thin" first came out. You give me hope and I'd like to meet you.

Lori G. said...

Frances, it's possible that your dad may change his mind once again about what he's going to do. He's still figuring out himself what his life is all about without your mom -- just like you are. I suspect that he's all over the place with decisions too. There's also the danger that he's not well and can be easily manipulated but even so, there's not much you can do.

I'm sorry about the ankle. I had a similar injury in high school and the doctor said it would have been better for me to have just broken it in some ways. Please take the podiatrist's advice and get some crutches. (I can vouch crutches provide an awesome upper body workout!)

I might tell you once again what a great writer you are -- I keep rereading the last sentence again.


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Anonymous said...

Did someone ever tell your dad that he shouldn't make any major decisions until he's been without your mom for a year? That's always good advice--although he may not want to hear it from his daughter.

What got me was your post about not being able to afford a doctor's visit, or the hospital. I know writing is no bonanza (boy do I know!) but it strikes me again that I've never had to worry about this. Taking time off work would put me into debt, sure, but the doctor's visit and the x-ray would cost me nothing. Try moving to Vancouver, BC--it's not too far from Seattle.

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F. McButter Pants said...

Too bad about all your spam. I read your book as while ago, maybe 3 years ago. I loved it. The that you used OA to loose the weight. Do you still go to OA?

Too bad about the ankle. Guess they can't get that health care bill passed fast enough for you.

Hope your dad can figure things out. For both your sakes.

Marian said...

My father did all sorts of unfathomable things after my mother died. Within a year, he had my childhood dog put down without telling me. Within two years, he had married the woman who lived across the street. (He was of the generation of men who just could not take care of themselves, at all.) Your father could well change his mind. Also, Montana is not THAT far from Seattle ;-)

Leslie said...

Hi Frances,

I was utterly, completely, truly and honestly thrilled (really and seriously, also) that you wrote a comment to my blog post where I'd talked about being somewhat triggered by Passing For Thin. It strikes me as very generous of you to have taken the time to comment. Interesting to know that I'm not the first to experience that sense of being triggered toward food by the book. But to be truthful, it doesn't take much to trigger me towards food.

I have about 30 pages left, and then will get into AFG. One of the things that really intrigues me is that I'm suspecting the 12 step program you attended was not OA, but Food Addicts in Recovery. I dabbled with that fellowship 3 summers ago for about 8 weeks, until I got upset that a known Type 2 diabetic who was clearly in a hypoglycemic episode was told by her sponsor that if she couldn't have any extra food that day. The nurse in me just wanted to wring the necks of both sponsor and sponsee.

Your writing is excellent - compelling and incisive. So to read this post and know that you're planning another book is good news! I'm going to be one of your groupies now. I hope your foot is well on the road to complete healing so you can again walk the pups. My currently screwed up knees is preventing me from walking my beloved Lou, and he and I are both upset about it.

My very best to you.

Regina said...

Sorry I'm just getting around to reading this. I broke my foot Jan 18th, after trying to step back into the slip-on shoe I had stepped out of. Very Jerry Lewis of me. I was hoping it was just a bad sprain, but I broke the fifth metatarsal. The cast is supposed to come off Thursday.
I hope your ankle is healing well. Those cam walkers are big; the one I was wearing before I found out my foot was actually broken was huge! Like Herman Munster's shoes!
I'm sorry to hear about your dad; it is true that he shouldn't make any big decisions for about a year. But you can't stop him. Best of luck with both your ankle and your father.