Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Better Gathering of Six Things

I was fairly short and vague in my post, Six Things Tag. Other people did a much better job of coming up with six things that others may not know about them, and at the end of my post, there were some questions. I decided to elaborate on those things I was vague about and add some new ones that might help people get to know me better.

1. I used to be a song writer for an all-male rock band and then an all-female folk band. My connections to each of these bands were individuals who I knew in college. I had one foreign language class with the male band friend, so I'm not sure how we made the decision to start writing music and lyrics together. He was the lead singer and songwriter, but wanted my help with the songwriting since I was a poet. I'd go over to his house every Sunday and we'd sit side-by-side at his grand piano working out ideas. It was great until his girlfriend showed up and had a spaz over him being at home alone with another woman, though nothing was going on between us. His girlfriend broke up with him and he got so depressed that he lost interest in song writing. I guess I'm officially a home-wrecker, though I didn't mean to be.

The female band member was a friend who worked with me on editing our university's literary arts journal. She wanted to make some of my poems into songs, so she wrote the music and mailed them to me via cassette, and then reported to me on how her band was doing. I've lost touch with her.

2. I nearly died when I was 30-years-old from post-operative complications. I had been getting fairly fat in the belly and bloated all over. My gynecologist found at my annual visit that I had a massive tumor growing somewhere in my reproductive tract. She couldn't tell exactly what it was or where it was growing from with her tests, so she just had to perform surgery. It turned out to be a massive cystic terratoma growing off an ovary. She had to remove the ovary along with the tumor. The good news about this kind of tumor is that it is not cancer. The bad news is that it does have a 50% chance of coming back, and it grows very fast. It is essentially the unconcieved attempted growth of a baby, only it's just a blob of skin, hair, teeth, nails, bones... There was a boy in a third world country who was "pregnant" with his twin brother. His belly kept getting bigger and bigger, because the tumor was living off him like a parasite. When they removed it, it looked like a young child rolled into a ball, but it is not actually another human being.

Anyway, here's the interesting part: After the doctor found the tumor and before my surgery, I had a dream in which I was inside of my own body and I saw two big, red balls of blood. I heard a voice say, "On Saturday you will die at 1:14 AM." After my surgery, I told this to a nurse and her eyes got all big. She promised she'd keep a close eye on me. The first time she got me off the catheter and up to the bathroom, I looked down at the bathroom floor after she closed the door and saw blood everywhere. I said nothing, but she must have known something was wrong because she threw open the door and carried me back to my bed.

The next morning I woke up to find my doctor standing beside me saying, "Look at your hand." She lifted my hand for me and I saw that it was sheet white. She said, "You lost over half your blood supply when two hematomas burst at the same time, and you nearly died last night. You were in critical condition, but just now I upgraded you to stable." Yes, I nearly died at 1:14 AM.

3. I was a fashion model for one day. I was working as a secretary for a foreign entertainment firm, and a Chinese fashion designer approached me to compliment me. I was very interested in fashion design, so she asked if I would like to be one of her models. She said I had a cute body and a pretty face. I told her I was a klutz, but she encouraged me to give it a try. When I showed up for the first rehearsal, all the professional models stood a head or several heads over me (I'm 5'5"). None of them seemed to be particularly good looking. In fact, some were downright ugly. However, once the music was switched on and they began strutting, they transformed into swans. Their gracefulness was amazing. I was so intimidated that I sat on a bench and didn't participate.

The fashion designer showed up and sensed my apprehension. She pulled me aside and handed me a white skirt she had designed and hand-sewed the night before. She said to wrap it around my waist, walk down the runway, turn this way and that, and then remove the skirt in a spin. (I guess it was a skirt that goes over a bathing suit.) I was wearing jeans, so I didn't mind doing that at a rehearsal just to show her what a klutz I was. I walked like a nerd, did my turns, and during the spin managed to trip and step on that beautiful white handmade skirt getting my dirty tennis shoe prints all over it.

I was so embarrassed that I wadded the skirt up into a ball and stuffed it back into the fashion designer's purse. Her eyes got bigger and bigger with shock. She was clearly taking this as an insult, while I was just lacking in maturity and tact. I realized I had better quit the job before she fired me, so I apologized, told her I just couldn't do it, and left. I saw the actual fashion show later, and was astounded by how stunning each of those models became with a little make-up and nice clothes. I learned that being a model is not necessarily about natural beauty, but about natural grace.

4. I once was a fairly well known poet around these parts, but got tired of everyone psychoanalyzing my poems. Sometimes people make art for the sake of art. I had a habit of taking only a tiny piece of true experience, and making up the rest of it for the sake of creating a better poem. However, I found that my audience and readers always assumed everything that I wrote was autobiographical.

When I was a parenting educator, I had a tendency to write about child abuse from all perspectives, that of the abuser as well as that of the abusee. One time one of my abuser-perspective poems got published (after all, I did counsel the abusers, so I knew more about what was going on in their minds), and people started calling me and writing me letters loaded with parenting advice. I realized that they thought the poem was about me abusing my own children. I got scared thinking about how I could end up being arrested and separated from my children simply because someone misinterpreted something I wrote from the POV of first person in order to make the writing more powerful. That was the turning point when I became hesitant about publishing and doing public presentations. Eventually, I allowed fabric art and horses to take up most of my spare time in place of writing. I still occasionally write and publish, but only when I know the subject matter can't get me into trouble.

5. I have a mysterious tremor that I take medication to control. It mostly affects my head. I didn't know that I was shaking until one of my first grade students said, "If my answer is right, why are you shaking your head no?"

I asked the other teacher if I was shaking my head, and she said my head had been shaking for as long as she had been working with me. She thought I knew. So, I saw a doctor, and he diagnosed me with Parkinson's and referred me to a neurologist. The neurologist laughed at the Parkinson's diagnosis, and said I have a head tremor possibly brought on by head trauma in a recent car accident. He experimented with treatments, but they all failed to control the tremor.

Flash forward twenty years and my tremor is much worse. Waitresses ask me if I need anything, see my head shaking, and walk away before I can answer that I need a napkin and refill. I'm also fed up with people always asking why I'm so nervous. So, I see another doctor, and he diagnoses me with Tourette's Syndrome. He tells me that my head shaking is voluntary. Say what???

He sends me to another neurologist who poo-poos the Tourette's Syndrome diagnosis and tells me that my tremor is a genetic disorder. My mother's head and hands do shake slightly, but not anywhere near as bad as mine. So, I call my brother who I haven't seen in twenty years, and find out that he too has developed this same spasticity that I have. This neurologist was able to find a drug that calms the tremor, but doesn't get rid of it all together. It also takes care of my back pain, so it's worth it because I can ride my horses with less pain and in a more relaxed state.

6. When I was younger, I wanted to race in the Indy 500. My father and I often travelled to Ohio and Indiana for me to race in soap box derby races, and had taken a bus ride around the Indianapolis 500 Speedway with my family. When we hired a professional to paint sponsorship lettering on my soap box derby car, we found out that he had also painted the Indy cars of a famous driver, whose name I will not mention. The painter told us about the various ways in which the drivers and pit crew cheat to win. I was so disgusted with the fact that those drivers don't play fair that I decided not to go into professional racing.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm glad you elaborated on your six things.That's kind of spooky about the blood and the time you almost died. All in all a very interesting six things.

OnTheBit said...

I am so glad you went into more detail! And that you didn't die...that one is by far the scariest of the 6...yikes!

Callie said...

Wow, thanks for clarifying. Totally interesting!

Twinville said...

I'm sorry you have to deal with the annoying tremors. Does it cause pain, too? Did it happen before or after your life/death experience.

I'm glad that you survived that experience. But how bizarre and like a miracle it was. Wow!

What sort of poetry do you enjoy writing the most? I used to enjoy poetry when I was in high school, but somehow lost interest as I got older.

That's scary how some people took your poetry as your personal reality. I wonder if famous authors, such as Dean Koontz, have to deal with people who confuse fiction with non-fiction.

Thanks for sharing so much about yourself. It was really nice getting to know more about you :)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Twinville - The tremors don't hurt, but when my head shakes a lot it is hard to me to read. When my hand shakes a lot, it is hard for me to write. I get stressed out when shopping because of the crowds, so I'm glad I can just slide a card now-a-days rather than writing out a check. I almost have to live in the country in order to stay calm so I don't shake as much.

I write mostly free verse with as much "music" in it to make up for the lack of obvious rhyme. I also like Sestinas and Pantoums.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Twinville - Oh, and I almost forgot, the tremors started around the age of 23, while the post-op complications occurred at the age of 30.