Falling from Grace: When Gravity wins


Toddlers fall. Drunk people fall. Even temperatures fall. But when you as a functioning, sober being with a sociably acceptable level of agility fall down, it’s an event. Forget the humiliation, its dealing with the damage as you age that makes the blow harder. We walk around with a false sense of confidence thinking we figured out life, and all it takes is one losing battle with gravity to realise that we are just bags of bones with occasionally malfunctioning brains.

As we age, we learn how to do more and more things in auto pilot mode. We drift off mentally when we drive, we have conversations with people in our head while we do chores, and we certainly don’t spend every step we take assessing distance, quantum mechanics and Newton’s 3 laws of motion. But just when you think you have mastered something to perfection, gravity gives you a rude awakening, reminding you that lulled brains can lead to bruised knees, elbows and egos.

I’m a 40 year old mama. I think by now I’ve experienced enough in the way of accidents, with a wide range consisting of car bumps and getting peed on. But taking a serious fall in the middle of the day, on a very crowded street in town, certainly threw me a curveball. After falling as elegantly as a drunk and dyslexic swan could possibly hope to, my first thought was literally “What? Is my body still doing these?!”

People gaped, no one helped (lucky me) and to save face, I tried to clamour up as quickly as possible. But of course, I’m injured, so I looked like I was auditioning for one of the zombies on The Walking Dead. So I shot up as quickly as I could manage and began “walking” when a searing pain in my knee basically crippled me dead in my tracks. When you fall down, the adrenaline or shock or embarrassment basically hide the full extent of your injuries. So you get up thinking all is well and that you can resume your normal walking duties when your body lets out several screams and you have to CSI your own blood to the source of the injuries. 

As the hours went on, the bruises revealed the anatomy of said fall. My knee had taken a good smashing and by nighttime looked about nine months pregnant. In addition to serious skin scrapes, my elbow and whole left side were badly bruised, making normal every day movement as challenging as Calculus.

Falling at 40 is not like falling at 4. It’s not only that you are carrying significantly more mass, it’s also that your body has been existing for much longer and has developed some wear and tear, with a much slower ability to recover. I remember my childhood was filled with spills and scraped knees, but I don’t recall missing any thrilling Duck-Duck-Goose games because I couldn’t bend a bruised knee anymore. It was a sad realisation knowing that my very young spirited brain now needed to recalibrate and align with its much more mature host.

The fall really made me realise how important it was to be in good physical standing, with my full spectrum of mobility available. Picking up my 13 kg toddler with only one good leg? Not fun. Trying to bend down to fetch the keys? As pleasant as a visit to the proctologist, with similar sound effects!

Unfortunately, these accidents are unavoidable. There is literally nothing you can do to stop such calamities other than hide in an idiot-proofed cave for the rest of your life. And even though it really hurts the bones and mind when gravity chooses you out of a whole street full of potential victims, the bright side is that you do get to appreciate what your body can do and make efforts to care for it better. Until the weekend comes. Then it’s just you versus your liver, but that’s another story.


From ABC to OCD

Ah, the beautiful carefree spirit of children. They play, they swing, they run amok in all sorts of nooks and crannies. They kiss each other on the mouth, they start their meals with an aperitif of boogers and have absolutely no qualms with grabbing moving insects off the ground to cleanse their budding and innocent palates. Of course this doesn’t last. As we age, we put less and less things in our mouth (some of us, anyways). And invariably, many of us grow into less and less tolerant maniacs. So why does this transformation occur? Are we doomed to climb an upward slope with our placidity until we rot?

I was a messy, messy child. I was a messy, messy young adult. I’m still messy today, albeit less, but I have developed a touch of OCD in weird things and I can’t reconcile this with my character. For instance, if you come over and eat a cookie in my house without a plate, I will literally silently stare and try to memorize where each baked boulder lands, while I plot on disemboweling your loved ones. Then I will spend the rest of the evening with a fake smile, trying to count the nanoseconds till you leave and I can find said bubonic-plague-spreading morsels.

If I visit a public bathroom, I cannot touch the doorknob to leave. I need a tissue shielding me from the cold metal protrusion, from which I am sure I can visibly see creepy crawlies jumping up and down, touching themselves and yelling “Come on sugar! Bring your unsuspecting paw! I just want a ride baby!” Not ten years ago, this was absolutely no issue for me (the doorknobs, not the molesting bacteria, if I had known about those fuckers then, things would have been a whole lot different). Now, if the bathroom is out of tissues, I will literally wait till someone comes in to make my escape. How has this happened?

How did I go from someone who would share a beer with any sort of mammal to a person who cringes when someone takes a sip of my drink? There are very, very few people who I can tolerate sharing any body fluids with, and they include me. Is this a sign of insanity on the horizon? Is this one of many mental disorders that is fated to cloud my future days?

According to research, the shift towards intolerance in older age is linked to the epoch you grew up in as well as atrophy of certain parts of the brain. Additionally, some research shows that “intellectual curiosity tends to decline in old age”, which could support us becoming more and more closed off to certain behaviors. I take offense at that. Partly because I don’t want my intellectual curiosity to go down, and because I don’t agree. If I leave cookie crumbles to rue my house, it is not a sign of the degradation of my intellectual curiosity. Just because I’m not curious as to how many bugs will fester in my furniture doesn’t mean I am any less curious then I was in my 20s. I never once saw a child stuff a bug into its mouth, and while they sat there drooling with one twitching insect limb poking out did I think to myself “Oh what a wonderfully curious creature! Bless it!”

No, kids are stupid; they eat shit off the floor because they don’t know how to live without adult supervision. Many people are bums, and I don’t like cookie shit on my floors because I don’t want to host a free buffet for grimy guests. I like to think of my developing OCD as a glorious sign of my budding character, not a hindering consequence of my greying hair.

Ultimately, change is inevitable and it is a beautiful part of the life cycle. Even if it means you will invite less people over to your house. If you too are showing premature signs of Jack Nicholson levels of OCD, fear not, the road ahead is not all bad. You may end up with less friends but you can relish in the fact that you have less insects and disease in your life.

Also, there are just as many sources that say we become more mellow with age as there are that claim the opposite. The uptake from this is that: 1) we know research doesn’t count for shit and 2) your older days could really go either way.  I say embrace the tide, let the slobs cry over the corpses of their loved ones, let the bacteria keep longing for your skin, and do not go gentle into that good night!

 

crazy-cat

 

 

 

Ode to Idiot

There’s a lot to be said about your inner idiot. It’s a side we all have, and one that society needs, really. Let me differentiate off the bat; I’m referring to the fun loving, let-me-make-an-ass-of-me-self, yes I’ll have 18 more shots, sure I’ll squirt lemon in that lion’s eye-kind of idiot. I am resolutely not talking about the authentic Grade A idiots; the ones that believe everything on the internet, think that a plant in the desert can cure cancer, or the ones that think that their face massager is fooling anyone. Clear distinction. An easy way to tell off the bat is that real idiots don’t laugh at themselves, take themselves more seriously than science, and generally illicit a lot of gore and violence in us awesome folks.

Now getting back to the former kind of idiot, here’s why society needs this awesome guy. I’m sure most of us agree that what we do during the week does not represent who we truly are. We work hard. We smile at people we fantasize about stabbing with pens. We show respect to people we wouldn’t pee on if they were on fire. It’s a five day cycle of repression and spirit breaking. Well maybe not all days and all weeks are like that, but a big part of it is.

Luckily these cycles of hell are dotted with 2 day breaks where you can escape the asinine meetings and bad breath to escape to a world of friends, intoxication and expression through dance. While I don’t condone destroying your health every single weekend, there is something to be said for the therapeutic value of indulging in your idiotic roots every now and again. I recently celebrated in the desert and I absolutely let myself go. I distinctly remember the moment. I was surrounded by strangers, I was way too many shots in to care and the tension I had been nurturing from the office was making the muscles on my back cramp. And I said to myself “tonight, I let go. Tonight I don’t give a fuck. Hide your kids.”

As soon as the decision was made, I descended into the abyss of madness. It was glorious. I spoke of STDs, I ran amok with dogs, I made racially questionable statements, I harassed the innocent bystanders, I flooded my vicinity with screams and howls and I let it all hang out.

The next morning, when I regained consciousness, I felt a tangible difference in how relieved I was, physically, mentally and spiritually. Sure I lost my voice and my dignity, but I was reborn, rejuvenated and ready to face more clashes with the Grade A idiots that I was bound to encounter.

Returning back to society was discernibly easier; it was akin to bursting through the womb. I had to gasp to take my first breath but despite being covered in amniotic fluid, I was physically ready to climb the ladder of life. It made me realize; we all need to nurture our inner idiots once in a while, for our own and society’s sake. You can’t conform to a dysfunctional societal structure without breaking the norm sporadically and mooning strangers. So in the interest of humanity, the next time you encounter an idiot raving about, give them a hug, and hide your butt while you walk away.

inner idiot

New Year, Old Me

I don’t know if it’s my age or not, but having celebrated 30-something New Yearseses, the event is really starting to lose its thunder for me. Even more deflating are the annual declarations we make called resolutions, which are ultimate assurances of failure. Come January first, all forms of communicable media is gushing with messages of how to improve, enhance or further yourself into that gleaming shining star buried deep within your flaws. Read here for 6 easy steps to tightening that neck. Click this for the secret to building muscles on your eyelids. Why are we so drawn into that lure of bettering ourselves? What could possibly be wrong with the way we are now?

Every New Year, I head out and join throngs of intoxicated homo sapiens to count down, drink, scream, and inhale in the new year. And surely enough, once the celebrations have died down and we have located our abodes and dignity; there is always that talk of resolutions. It’s really funny when you see people who in the span of 12 hours go from trying to inject tequila and sniff detergent to singing up for Tai Chi and yoga retreats.

There is a fine line between what our perception of ourselves is and what we actually are. If asked to describe ourselves on a sheet of paper, I’m sure many of us would use words like “kind, smart, creative, funny” where in the same instance, we wouldn’t dote these adjectives so freely on other people and might opt for more expressive terms such as “genetically challenged” or “religiously bound to idiocy”. Point is, even if we think we are better than we actually are, the project of improving yourself is tantalizingly exciting and too hard to pass up.

Unfortunately, the resolution system is inherently flawed. The sheer fact that you need to wait until a specific date to adopt better practices for your health and life carry the same risk of failure as “I’ll start my diet on Monday”. If you can’t say no to those 400 snicker bars now, chances are you’re not going to magically acquire the strength to stop licking butter bars on a certain date. It’s an old cliché but the “there’s no time like the present” has stood the test of time because of its veracity. If you decide on December 3 that you’re going to quit smoking on the first, this means you are going to spend the better part of the month over indulging in a bad habit; trying to suck up cancer through every hole in your body. And unless you’re one of a few talented females in Thailand, I don’t think you can pull off that trick smoothly. Nevertheless, not only will you smoke more, but you will also probably just hold up the resolutions for a matter of nano seconds, so you might as well have not made the damned resolution in the first place, and saved yourself a charred asshole.

While it might be fun to reinvent yourself come January, remember not to pour too many resources into a project with such a high failure rate. I mean, let’s face it, if you had kept all your resolutions, you would be God by the time you were 28. This year, the only thing I’m resolving is to stay as fabulously imperfect as I am. The only thing that will change is the date. I’m going to greet 2017 with the same love handles, renegade grey hairs and copious cursing that have colored my glorious days. There’s a good chance you will too so throw in the towel now and join me in my quest for un-resolving to change.

 

The Medicine of Meat

When I was a kid, it was a very noble claim to aspire to be a doctor. After all, doctors were the healers of dreams, the saviors of lives and the experts of health. That was 30 something years ago. I don’t know what happened in the last 3 decades but apparently something changed allowing all kinds of idiots to become “healers” and embark on long fruitful careers of endangering lives, scribbling reckless prescriptions and becoming agents of a scary trend: the profitable business of health.

It’s very unfortunate but it seems that there are no more “good doctors”, rather very differing and subjective experiences. You walk into a clinic with a mild fever and suddenly you are prescribed antibiotics by the truck load for treating bubonic plague. You suffer from pain in your back and up jumps the man in white walking you through a surgery where they will implant metal rods into your spine because let’s face it, everything is solved with a metal rod up your… back. Your nose is running? Holy shit, it’s a sign that your brains are turning to liquid and unless you swallow 75 kinds of multicolored pills, you will surely turn into a zombie and be responsible for the destruction of humanity.

The pharmacy industry has made great strides in giving us wonder drugs, sure, but it has also intruded on a sacred trust that anyone should be able to have with ANY doctor. Technically, it is illegal and immoral for any doctor to push pills to honor any sort of agreement, but with the rate of over prescription seen with so many cases, one wonders if the clear cut line has not faded into an indistinct gray.

When you’re sick, it’s a shame to run into one of these representatives who have completely eliminated the “care’ from health care and replaced it with “business”. It’s a shame when instead of asking a few follow up questions, the person immediately scribbles drug notes, while avoiding eye contact, for all sorts of ailments you don’t suffer from. A while ago, I visited a doctor because I was suffering from a horrible cold. He examined me and said “I’ll take a swab of your throat but if it’s a virus, there’s no point in taking antibiotics. Just drink plenty of fluids and rest.” I was amazed and extremely saddened by the encounter. This great man should be the norm, not the exception!

We do have one weapon on our side though: easy access to knowledge thanks to the internet. And when I say knowledge, I don’t mean blogs, promoted websites, Wikipedia (http://www.bbc.com/news/health-27586356) or astrology consultants. I mean WebMD, NHS, and medical association sites. While it’s always a good thing to do some research on your own, bear in mind that no amount of reading will make you a doctor and you cannot diagnose that mole as cancerous because of an image you saw online. Resources are there to help, not diagnose.

The world has changed and so have doctors. It seems that nowadays just about any idiot can enter and pass med school. Maybe standards have gone down, maybe this is the price we are paying for having too many idiots in the world, maybe somebody fell asleep at the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though it’s sad that many healers have evolved into pill pushers and incompetent assholes that get to wear white lab coats, the good news is that when you do come across a horrible experience, it is well within your right to give this person a piece or two of your mind. By keeping silent, we are relegating ourselves to the shelf, like quiet pieces of meat in a factory. And whether I’m wearing a hospital gown or a skimpy dress, I am no piece of meat.

Running away from jogging

“Do you run or jog?” This is one of the most infuriating questions I get slapped with whenever I mention the sport I’m into. At first I used to answer “a bit of both” because frankly I didn’t know the difference and I didn’t care to ask. The question always annoyed me for several reasons, one of which was it seemed as imbecilic as asking someone “Are you a couch potato or a lazy lump of breathing mass?” or “Do you masturbate or molest yourself?” or “Do you breathe or live?” The list could go on, but I digress.

At some point into my craze, I looked up the difference between the two, officially. Many modern sources have stated that the difference lies in the pace, with running obviously being the faster of the two. However, an interesting source named the origination of the word “jogging “as a playful British term that entered the scene in the mid seventeenth century (http://runrunlive.com/the-difference-between-running-and-jogging), to describe movement.

In the 1970s, jogging became a term associated with non-competitive running, and the rest is history. Here’s my issue: when I think of jogging, I picture couples dressed in matching 80s track suits, flitting through park lanes, smiling and chatting about last week’s cocktail party. I don’t know where this comes from, but I have a feeling it all started with ads for track suits. So I blame the world of advertising for ruining the connotation of something that should be beautiful (not referring to track suits themselves; those belong in the past and/or hell’s fire). When I run/jog, I come back home red, sweaty and in pain, all of which don’t fall in line with the picture of the track suit wearing couple.

Even the sound of the word works against it. It takes your mouth longer to say “Jog” thank it does to say “Run”. Run is associated with so many states of emergency. For example, when you’re in danger, you ‘run’ for your life, hence the seriousness of the term. No one ever jogged away from a tiger or charging hippo. Let’s take another example: Diarrhea. We’ve all been there; don’t roll your eyes just yet. There’s a reason it’s called the “runs”; if it was a jog you would have time to stroll to the bathroom with your dignity intact, instead of charging like the previously mentioned hippo to avoid standing in the middle of your office, covered in feces, with everyone pointing at you, laughing and uploading your misery onto social media. Also, people don’t jog away from their problems; the expression is clearly “running away from your woes”.

Despite all this, it needs to be said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with jogging. As a term referring to movement for the movement’s sake, it stands for something great, and the only thing ruining it are the idiots that ask for the distinction. I am proud to say that while I do run, I will henceforth have no issue being labeled a jogger. However, if you do ask me which of the two I do, prepare to jog away for your life.

jogging

Of Nice and Men

I’m a firm believer in the power of Nice. Life could be much better for most of us if we were just a little nicer to each other. This is much easier said than done, however assuming we are rational animals capable of evolving, it is within reach to brighten up our world just a tad.

When I was younger, I remember our teachers and parents telling us we should play nice and be polite. Fast forward a few decades and suddenly everyone in the corporate world is baring their fangs, throwing daggers at any exposed backs, and behaving like packs of mindless, rabid dogs. What the fuck happened? Where did the tipping point occur? When did it become ok to evolve into bloodthirsty, smartly dressed corporate whores?

Sadly, it’s not just the workplace. Driving to work, we have all faced that one idiot in the morning that either won’t get out of the way, or is driving so close you can examine his teeth. Then it continues; there’s the angry security guard who thinks “if I act tough, people will forget I don’t have a gun or any real authority”. Or the hundreds of passer-bys, that scowl and growl.

All these angry specimens around me made me wonder at where this aggression originated from. And while some people are just bad apples, I have narrowed down a few causes that can make most of us lean to our darker side.

Lack of sleep: yes, it’s not just burping and pooing babies that get cranky when you interrupt their Zs. Many adults need their 6-8 a night and tempers flare easily when they haven’t dreamt enough of your demise in lala land. Better to be lynched in REM than real life.

Hunger: ah, the starter of wars and the catalyst to our own fantastic (?) evolution. Like lack of sleep, hunger makes you angry and mean. Unfortunately, many people choose daily to ignore science and skip breakfast. By noon time, tempers are hot and chances for a squabble are significant. If you notice someone in your home or workplace that seems to be short-fused for no real good reason, try throwing a cookie in their vicinity and see if that helps the situation. This trick has worked wonders for me. Sometimes said idiot will refuse to eat because they are on some irrational diet. If they refuse the cookie but are visibly hungry, keep some greens at hand for them to graze on.

Sexual frustration: I strongly believe that most cases of anger and cruelty are linked to a sheer lack of sex. When you have that physical closeness with someone, the intimacy nourishes your inner good side. Actually, that may be bull. I think it’s the incessant pounding and head bangs on the board that beat you back into a pleasant submissive state. And whether male or female, if you notice someone slouching around with an aura of hate around them, you should look into hiring a few hefty Nigerians to fuck the nice back into them.

Apart from these basic reasons, some people just think that being mean gets you further in life. This belief, apart from being archaic and stupid, has no real basis or foundation. I think it’s time we shed these old notions and make a clean break, with more tolerance and free smiles. I’m not advocating the other extreme though. I don’t think you should flit around life, skipping and singing, and thanking everyone who spits in your coffee. But it wouldn’t kill you to let that car pass, smile at the security guard, or let those Nigerians finish what they are doing to you.