My friends hate that joke, but I maintain that it should still be funny at least through January, possibly even to President's Day. In this case, however, it is true. I literally have not been on the Internet since December 29 of last year. In fact, I virutally haven't been outside this year.
Let me give you a brief update:
Most of you know that on September 30 I was forced to flee my home in Canada and try to get over the border into America, a process made extremely difficult due to the fact that "people" (and I finger-quote) were looking for me. I was forced to take refuge in an Outlaw Camp which barely had the rudimentary essentials, such as indoor plumbing, reliable internet connections, and TV. (Or, what I now call--and I finger-quote--the "Good Old Days.")
[By the way, as a brief aside, and only because I know how much Tracy Lynn LIVES FOR my brief asides, I wrote about much of my time in said Outlaw Camp. You can find it over on the left side of this page in the Archives. If you are new to the Institute, take some time to catch up and find out why Hyperion can't walk through a nursing home or a Girl Scout Jamboree without getting panties thrown his way, and yes, in case you were wondering, I too am unsure which part of that sentence was more disturbing. Back to the misery, I mean update.]
I eventually made it over the border, a harrowing and exhausting experience that I have still yet to write about, and ended up in Georgia, waiting for circumstances to change. (We're still waiting.) Through connections, we ended up staying in singer Keni Thomas's house while Keni was in Iraq with the U.S.O.
Never heard of Keni Thomas? He's an up-and-comer in the country-rock music scene, and even had a song on the movie SWEET HOME ALABAMA. Here, check out his home page.
The extended family was meeting for Christmas in Lexington, Kentucky, and since we had not spent time with many of them for 6 years we drove up 12 hours to spend 3 days there, then 12 hours back. (I mention this for a reason; be patient: I'll get to it.)
On December 31, which also happened to be Hyperion's birthday, we were forced to move out of Keni's house and into a motel.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE MOTEL
Imagine a motel that had a "couples' rate" on the marquee. Why would you want or need to advertise the rate for two people on the marquee of a motel? I'll let you think about that for a moment. If you can't figure it out yet, ask someone smarter than you, which, is likely to be anyone, since it should be friggin' obvious by this point.
This motel is right next to an Army base, and is surrounded by "gentlemen's clubs," pawn shops, dollar stores and other such reminders that not everyone is currently living the American Dream.
So, imagine that motel. Then imagine a trailer that wasn't good enough for that motel.
We're in the trailer.
The Trailer (of which I have yet to come up with a good nickname for, but perhaps you can help me with that), is directly behind the "pool." I use finger-quotes yet again because I can only assume that at one point in time people swam in this pool.
Then again, at one point in time Rome ruled much of the Earth. Things change.
Now the pool is covered in green and brown sludge. But that's not the cool part. If you stare at the pool long enough you will see a ripple go through, and if you're lucky, perhaps just the faintest outline of scales.
Yes, friends, the pool next to our trailer is inhabited by a sea monster. Not only is the last sentence 100% true, it's not even remotely the strangest thing ever to happen to me. Not even the strangest thing this year.
Yet, I do not want to seem like I am ungrateful. Profoundly not so. At many times along the way friends and family have stepped into help me and mine from tough circumstances that continue to deteriorate. In many ways the trailer has been a godsend, and while not ideal, I can honestly say that if some of the recent events had happened at the Outlaw Camp I simply would not have survived. I don't mean that glibly. I'd have been done, and never returned to you. Also, we are staying in the trailer free of charge, and for the first time in a long while I have TV! Yes, friends, Hyperion is once again connected to the world. I even have my own phone number in my room. More on both of those things in a bit.
Now, as to why I haven't been on ye olde internet regailing you with tales:
The Outlaw Camp was difficult, at best, and the sub -30 temperatures that came and seemingly would not leave did much to sap both physical strength and emotional reserves. The trip down here, which required me to drive with a bad back and two bad ankles took just about all I had left. In all honesty I shouldn't have done it, but we took two cars, and I had to drive a good chunk of that. I'm not heroric or anything (at least, not for that), but we've all been in situations where it sucks but there simply is no other option.
I did it. Then a few days later I reprised my role as Car Trip Man up to Lexington and back down again. For the 5th time in about 3 weeks I moved our stuff (or what's left of it, as most is still up in Canada) to the trailer (on a birthday that I would gladly trade with the time that I had a Darth Vader birthday cake and Valerie Mark picked her nose and seemed to put the booger on my piece of cake and I'm not sure whether she did or not but I DID NOT want to eat that piece of cake but was forced to and since then have not really been into cake), but that was it.
January first came and I got to the point where I could not stand for longer than about 2 minutes. I'm no stranger to pain and I think I handle it pretty well, but this was something different. I simply couldn't do it. I don't know if a disk was bulging or what, but I was literally unable to stand.
However, Bear was in Atlanta for a few days--hadn't seen him in several years, and I needed to deliver my brother some of his Christmas presents that ended up with us, so a couple of days after that, knowing I shouldn't, I drove two hours up to Atlanta to see my brother Achmed and Bear.
Actually, it turned into an impromptu Monkey Barn meeting as Bear, Koz, Sea Hag and I all ended up in a 24 Hour Chick-Fil-A. Then I drove all the way back.
The next day my left ankle, perhaps angry over being eclipsed in the Pain Olympics by my lower back and head, struck back, and did so with vigor. In a matter of 12 hours it went from minor pain to swelling the size of a softball, and I basically have not been able to walk since.
It's the two-pronged attack that gets me. Walking itself has been pure agony. A simple trip to the bathroom (located not three feet from my room) would take five minutes of planning and at least that long to get there. The combined pressure on my back and ankle to stand there long enough to pee would nearly make me pass out, and I would pay for the entire event for at least the next hour by shuddering or moaning in pain.
(In a cool twist, I also had the added excitement of incontinence. Obviously when going to the bathroom is that awful you wait as long as you possibly can. Unfortunately, by the time you force yourself to go, you REALLLLLLLY have to go, and the jolts of pain running up your leg with each step make the experience no small challenge and a virtual coin flip whether you will make it to said toilet before your bladder just completely gives up.)
I don't write all of this to make you, gentle readers, feel sorry for me. Trust me, I do enough of that myself. It really hasn't been all bad. For one, there's the Television. I'll get into this more another time, but I believe with all my heart that television--and not for the first time--has played a crucial role in saving my life. Besides the whole "I've not been able to watch anything since September" euphoria, TV gives me a reason to get up each day. You'll never understand that last sentence until you do, and if you don't let me just say I hope you never have to, but it's true nonetheless. Most importantly, TV is a distraction. It gives me something to concentrate on other than pain and trying to mentally "will" the ceiling to collapse on my head. I haven't been much for reading. (Can't get to a library, and most days couldn't concentrate on it anyway), and until the last couple of days writing on my laptop seemed just as far-fetched. But TV? In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Sister, Mother; Secret Lover."
So, what finally got me here to you today? Three things.
One, Kaida. She's been bugging me for days to get out of that trailer. I don't consider this nagging, but merely cheerleading. She knows that even though I will pay a butcher's bill for tonight's trip, the mere act of sitting here writing cheers me up immensely. (And it has.)
Two, I needed an excuse to force me to take a shower. This sounds crazy, but I haven't had one in over three weeks. The reason? That should be obvious if you've followed me this far. Most of those days I couldn't have even gotten in the shower, and I damn sure couldn't stand there long enough to get clean.
Add to that preceding paragraph (which you're probably telling yourself you didn't need to know, but if you think that's bad, I'm about to top it), the fact that when we moved in the air conditioner in my room didn't work. This means that for the first two and a half weeks I sweated in my small stuffy room.
Part of it was the heat/humidity. Part of it is the pain, which does weird things to your body's temperature control, but I got to the point where my own smell might have been killing me. To undertake tonight's trip I knew I had to shower. I may or may not have been able to drag my body to the car, and somehow drive to a hotel where the WONDERFUL night clerk lets me use the Internet, but there was no way I could go outside in public without being clean.
So I forced myself into the shower. I have gotten to the point where I can limp around without too much strain for short--very short--distances, so getting to the shower was no problem. Standing there was, but I got around this by stepping out 5 times and sitting down until the grinding pain subsided. Of course, it wasn't all beer and skittles. Because of the small size of the shower, and the need to stand stiff-legged to keep my ankle from going out on my and causing horrific disaster, I was unable to bend in any way, and thus unable to wash ANYTHING below my waist. (I know you're all sitting there thinking "My god, I would rather hear "The Aristocrats!" joke from a nun than have been told that, but think about how my dad and sister took the news when I announced it to them after the shower. Good times.)
Third, and perhaps most importantly, at least as far as THIS being the day I undertook my mission to reach you, it is Tracy Lynn's birthday. As you know, besides having her own kick-ass site, Tracy Lynn is an important part of the Hyperion Institue universe. She was my first Evil Kitty of the Realm (code name: Calico.) She is a valued member of Monkey Barn, and has done International____Day several times. Plus, Tracy Lynn and I created Ask H.A.T., an advice column we used to run. (And will do so again one day soon. This fine and pleasant misery can't last forever.)
So, here I am world. I have no idea when I'll be back on the old Internet, but this hotel does have a computer with a 3.5 inch disk drive, which means I could write on my laptop and if lucky, upload my stuff to the net, assuming I eventually start getting better, at least well enough to try this again. I have gobs of things I would love to tell you.
In the meantime, sorry I haven't answered your emails. (There were over 1500 emails waiting, but very very few were of a personal "have you died?" nature. I'm not accusing you all of not caring. But I'm thinking it.) Bear with me on that, as I really don't know when I'll be back on schedule there.
In the meantime, I realized something profound the other day when a tornado ripped through Alabama and Georgia. If the trailer had caught on fire, I would have gone down with the aluminum siding. I literally could not have gotten out of the place before toxic smoke took me away forever. Because of this, I am no longer hiding from various people wanting to kill me. Heck, at this point, it would give me someone to talk to in person, which would be cool.
And, I'm all for conversation and mail. I am staying at the Colony Inn in Columbus Georgia. I have room 69 all to myself, and like the rest of my life, I am not making that up. If you have enough Internet skillz to figure out where it is, feel free to send me beef jerky or naked pictures or a manuscript you want me to help you with. I'm not going anywhere for awhile, and it'd give me something to do. (I'm not sure, but I think there's a project over on Monkey Barn for this: check it out.)
You also have my permission to call me. Any time. I'm virtually always there, if and I'm not, I'm just in the next room and will be back soon. Remember: Room 69. Just one thing: tell me who you are right away. Don't make me guess. I mention this because on more than one occasion I've had calls from some of the working girls in the motel, thinking I was their..."business manager." I don't want to confuse you with a ho.
Speaking of which, did I mention it was Tracy Lynn's birthday? I have no idea how old she is, but from her picture (and her impossibly gravity-defying bodacious rack), one would have to guess about 25. So, happy 25th, Tracy Lynn!
In honor of her day, and in view of her, un, uniqute talents, I have compiled a Top Five List of things
Tracy Lynn Should be in Charge of:
#5 The Cartoon Network - Who here doesn't think TL could overhaul it and throw out the crappy cartoons, and possibly split the Channel into a Kids' and full-time Adult version? I for one would pay HBO prices for a Cartoon Network run by her.
#4 Bitch-Slapping Idiots - When I rule the world, this will be a full-time cabinet level position. First up: those idiot parents of that poor boy they found last week who keep dragging him on every show imaginable. Cock your wrist, TL.
#3 Finding bin Laden - It's the perfect bait: If the Bocacious Rack can't draw bin Laden out of hiding, nothing can.
#2 Running Haiti - Seriously: someone needs to help those poor people. I can't think of anyone with a better combination of compassion/tough love than our girl.
#1 Ninja - Every since Diana died the Ninja have been leaderless. The time has come, Tracy Lynn. Now more than ever, the Ninja need you. Will you accept the call?