Being a Man Again: Strokes, Power Tools and James Bond.

So, last night, I took on a big project.  Sorting out winter clothes, random clothing rearrangement, and hanging an uber-mod hook from the wall for hanging scarves.  All  while Beth took a well-deserved break at yoga, so there were to be no falls or putting a screw through one’s hand.  Going into any new task, I’m finding that one of the hardest things is modulating my expectations.  Walking to Methodist from 15th Street?  No problem.  Getting along a single row of seats at the Barclays Center?  A little nerve-wracking.  A couple of months ago, when I was still clearly broken, any task completed was a clear triumph.  Now that I’m coming to resemble Ricky Brown again, tasks that can’t be completed in the style of pre-stroke Ricky feel like defeats.

Beth talked me through the project, which I kind of got by the third go-through.  The initial problem was simply getting my body in the positions it needed to be in to organize the stuff that needed organization.  The refrain of October (“Why is there always something [hard and pressing against me in an agonizing fashion] on my left side?) has now been replaced by “Why is everything below waist level?”  All the compensation I’ve been doing to, er, compensate, for my weak left leg, including the weeks of hyperextending my left knee, has left my body complaining about bending over and crouching.  I was even moved to raise this with Ranjan, the visiting physical therapist, the other day.  His response was encouraging: the hyperextension should ease off when my leg muscles are stronger, and moving to out-patient rehab in midtown, where they have weight machines and the like, should help with that.

Nonetheless, the clothes sorting is fairly tortuous until, eventually, I’ve done what I can, and move on to hook-hanging.  I don’t make this easy for myself, but follow my usual routine, utilizing spirit levels, support plugs, electric drills, a pencil, and so on.  This goes swimmingly, though holding a pencil, a screw and a plug in my claw-like left hand simultaneously does lead to a couple of drops.  But I don’t feel too bad: I’m using a power tool like I’m a grown man, damnit!  But I still have to admit, I’ve spent the evening working at the limits of my organizational, physical and anxietal (and that’s not even a word!) limits and I’m glad when time comes for me to press “send” on the Chinese food order Beth set up and settle down for her return.  A little bit emotionally on-edge, even.  But Beth, as is her wont, is able to calm me in short order.  I’ve done a good job, look how far I’ve come, etc.

When we’ve gotten ourselves together, we watch Skyfall (or, per Mark Kermode, “Skiffle”), which has been on the list of things to do for a while.  It’s good, but not the “best Bond ever” I’d been led to expect by the reviews.  Nits?  Replacing David Arnold as the composer was probably a mistake.  The music just ended up being another part of the film that was “post-Nolan”.  (Aside – if you like John Barry, try his late album, unconnected to any film, The Beyondness of Things.  Music review word: elegiac.)  Seeing Finney’s always a pleasure, but his “Hoots, mon, welcome to Scotland, laddie; Donald whaur’s yer troosers? Jings!  Crivvens!” line was a travesty.  Apparently, they considered Connery for the part, but felt it would be a bit much.  Ralph Fiennes as Mallory was an unalloyed success, though.  But where’s the stroke hook? you ask.  Well, Beth was the first one to be affected by the sight of Glencoe, in all its terrible, rugged beauty.  But as soon as she was off, I was away, realising how close I’d come to never seeing the beautiful country of my birth again.  Of course, there’s the argument that in that case my lights would have switched off too quickly for me to even be aware of the loss.  But, y’know, Scotland, man.  It’s good to be alive, and have Glencoe, Arthur’s Seat and St. Kilda in my future.

Because, you know what?  Everything’s below waist level, but everything’s OK.

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