Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Imagination of Criminals

Where I live, crime is only limited by the imagination of the criminals. I got mugged about 10 years ago by three men with two guns (one of which turned out to be plastic.) It felt real enough when they came up behind me put a hand over my mouth and hold it to my back. Then  they shoved me to the sidewalk and ran their hands through my pockets -- but since I was lying on my belly and my pants have deep pockets, they didn't get the $17 and credit card I was carrying. They also checked my ears and neck for jewelry (I wasn't wearing any) and tried to take off my wedding band. I've gained weight since my wedding, and that ring isn't going anywhere. 

All they got was my cloth grocery bag full of manuscripts. I was returning from a writers' workshop. I guess they could tell none of those manuscripts was worthy of a Nobel Prize because they dropped the sack before they got to the corner. Not only did they get nothing for their efforts, they mugged me under a street lamp while Town Watch was across the street.  Town watch tailed them for eight minutes, all the while talking on their cell phones telling the police which way they had gone. All three were arrested, and after Iwent to court 14 times, all three were convicted.

I got skinned hands and a skinned knee. They got 2 years of evening and weekend jail.

Last week, when I went to the ATM to deposit some checks, I encountered a robbery in progress. The bank has a card-reader swipe gadget that is supposed to block entry to people who don't have ATM cards. But it was broken. Anybody could open the door to the room with the money machines.  A young man shoved a woman out of the way and took her ATM card as it came out of the machine.  He did this in full view of the surveillance camera. I tried to explain the camera to him.  He played keep away with the card. The woman stood there saying, "I don't believe this!"  I stood in front of the camera and yelled "Help! Help!" The young man got bored with his keep-away game that nobody was playing and shoved me aside as he made his exit. I continued yelling. Two men on the sidewalk heard me. They called 911. This time the police showed up almost as soon as the woman was done calling her bank to cancel her card. The woman whose card was taken got into the car. One of the men on the sidewalk told the officer which way the thief had run.  I don't know if he was caught. But I do know his image was caught on the camera and the card he stole was canceled. 

The next business day I called the bank to tell them the card-reader was broken. They transferred me three times and then said they'd call me back.  That was a week ago.  They have not called back. I've got another deposit to make today. I hope it is less eventful.

Criminals here seem to be very short on imagination. Robbing old ladies doesn't pay.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Biceps Galore

When I posted the photo of myself holding 5-lb weights, I started getting email from folks who know my secret identity.  It seems we have something else in common.  Biceps. All through high school, I wanted biceps. But gymnastics and swimming just don't build them.  I was in my 40's before I discovered free weights. Today when I went to yoga class, one of the women asked about my biceps. How do you get them?  And suddenly we had a room full of women in their 60's bragging about their biceps and their favorite exercise tapes. My emails let me know that most women are using 3 to 5 lb free weights, and they are proud of their biceps.
Unfortunately, they are largely for show.  Yes, I can lift 5 lb weights easily.  But I was out bicycling in sub-zero weather  and my brakes froze against my back wheelrim.  The tire would not rotate at all.  If I'd been thinking clearly, I'd have locked my bike to the nearest traffic sign, caught a bus and continued my journe.  But NO! I carried that bike 5 blocks to the nearest gas station where they let me bring it inside for a few minutes until it warmed up. Then I rode it home, put it in my living room, and went out and caught a bus.  I'm paying for it.  Those biceps aren't really strong enough to carry a 30 lb bicycle for 5 blocks.  But they are nice to look at. And they are good for some of the more strenuous yoga asanas. And they are good for bonding with other women -- they're even more popular than pictures of grandchildren.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Microcurrent is Dangerous

Microcurrent is a new physical therapy tool.  You can read about it at where they train practitioners and sell the devices. It stops pain. It can increase flexibility. Don't get me wrong -- these are good things!
I had microcurrent for 2 months as part of my physical therapy for osteoarthritis. In just two treatments, it restored a useful amount of flexibility to my hip joints and it stopped the pain for about four days after each treatment. For a while I was its biggest fan.
But after about a month, I lifted my bicycle, laden with groceries in the saddle bags and felt excruciating bone-on-bone crunching in my left hip.  The bike with groceries weighed about 50 lbs. I told my PT about it.  She explained that microcurrent weakens the tendons and ligaments around the joint that usually protect it. She promised that the exercises she was giving me would make the joint even stronger than before.  But the pain in my joint didn't stop. Recently my rehab doc diagnosed the joint pain from the bicycle lifting as bursitis. I'd been lifting my bike with groceries up the stairs 2 or 3 times a week for the previous 12 years. That's over 1000 times without problems. It takes about 3 seconds to lift that bike up the three steps from the sidewalk to my front door. In three seconds, I created months of pain. My rehab doc suggested acupuncture to treat the bursitis. It's working. It's also expensive and time consuming.

My PT checked the strength in my legs before beginning the microcurrent treatment. She checked again after 1 month and after 2 months. After each checking, my legs tested progressively weaker. I had no idea how weak they had become (after all, who does heel raises and has people press their knees down on a regular basis?) until I went on vacation and tried to climb monuments. I've climbed monuments and hills on vacations for as long as I can remember. Suddenly, I couldn't.  I needed to use a cane and hoist myself up with upper body strength.

When I got back from my vacation, I refused any more microcurrent and asked for a different PT who would give me exercises that work.  The rehab doc and my PTs all insisted that microcurrent couldn't have caused the weakness in my legs.  They were sure something else must have caused it.  

My left leg used to be my stronger leg.  It got more microcurrent and it is now my weaker leg. In my normal day, I do two hours or more of exercise. I ride my bike everywhere (6 to 10 miles a day). I walk my dog about half an hour each time, twice a day. I swim 1/3 of a mile 3 times a week. I do exercise videos daily (the 15 - 20 minute kind). I live in a house with stairs and I go up and down stairs all the time. Plus my PTs have given me about 45 minutes a day worth of exercises. And my 2nd PT has me taking yoga and pilates classes at my gym 4 times a week. That's another 4 hours a week, plus the extra biking time to get there and back.  This adds up to about 4 hours a day of exercise.  Half of it is to recover from the weakness caused by microcurrent.

My rehab doc agrees that the additional exercise is making me stronger. He says most people who come to him aren't as active as I am.   I guess that is code for "They wouldn't miss the strength. They don't want to climb monuments."

But nobody warned me that the microcurrent would weaken my joints so I couldn't lift my bike with groceries on the back. And nobody warned me that it would weaken my legs.  I think one week of microcurrent was worth it to get some flexibility back quickly. But everything beyond that was addictive because it stopped the pain and debilitating at the same time. And if I'd known about bolsters (see previous post) I don't think I'd have needed the microcurrent at all.

I can't go back. My right leg is now almost as strong as it was before microcurrent.  In 2 more months, I'm hoping I can say the same about my left leg.    I'm publishing this warning because nobody else is. My rehab doc and my PTs still aren't convinced that microcurrent caused my weakness. To me, that's the simplest explanation.  They've given me theories about having a spasm that I didn't notice, or an electrolyte imbalance without symptoms and other far-fetched theories. If you are considering microcurrent for osteoarthritis, my recommendation is try bolsters first. And if you still want it, get as few treatments an you can to achieve your goals. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What It Means to be Old

It doesn't matter how much exercise I do -- there are some things I can't do any more. I just discovered another one today.  I was bicyling to my physical therapist in sub-zero weather. No biggie. I can bicycle in sub-zero weather. I just have to remember to wear knee-high socks, thermal underwear and a good jacket.  But then the brakes on my bike froze. This is not an artistic metaphor. The brakes froze to the wheel and the wheel would not turn. I used my cell phone to call my physical therapist to explain the situation.  I told him I could carry my bike to the bus (about three blocks) but I couldn't guarantee the bus schedule, so I'd be anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes late for my half-hour appointment.  We both agreed that missing 20 minutes of a 30 minute appointment wasn't worth it. After I hung up, I decided to carry my bike 5 blocks to the nearest gas station where it could warm up and then I could free the brakes and ride home. Then I could take the bus to my next job without the hassle of lugging my bike on and off that bike carrier rack on the bus.  Five blocks used to be nothing.  My bike weighs about 30 lbs.  Again -- not a big deal. I carried my children when they weighed more than that.  But not any more.  
In retrospect, I should have locked my bike up at the nearest traffic sign and take the bus to the PT. My time schedule had included the fact that I walk slower when I'm carrying my bike. But the fact is that it never occured to me to lock up my frozen bike and go on without it.  The projected high for tomorrow is above freezing.  I could have gotten it home tomorrow.

Now that my body won't cooperate, I need to train my brain to remember what my body actually can do. And to accomodate where it can't.  And I need to soak in a hot bath.  Carrying that bike made me ache like an old person.  It's hard work learning to be old.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Acupuncture Shop in Chinatown

I've walked and biked by the acupuncture shop in Chinatown for nearly 17 years, and never thought about going in. It's just a narrow glass door labelled 931-933. Signs on the wall above it list many shops hiding behind this one doorway, including the acupuncture shop of Dr. Xu.  My friend Ima went in when she was diagnosed with heart problems. She came out happy. But I didn't have any health problems and I didn't know what acupuncture could do.

My rehab doc who works with osteoarthritis told me that part of the pain in my left hip is bursitis, not arthritis.  He made this diagnosis based on the location of the pain. He says that pain in the outer hip is bursitis and pain in the groin area is arthritis. He tried to talk me into letting him inject steroids into my outer hip joint.  No way am I going to let an addictive and debilitating drug into my system. He tried two months in a row to convince me -- just one shot -- actually two -- one of lidocaine to be sure it's the right spot and then one with steroids.  After my second refusal, he suggested acupuncture.

Coming from an MD, I was surprised. I thought MDs totally avoided alternative medicine. I told him I'd consider it. That evening I looked up acupunture and bursitis on the web.  Acupuncture has a high rate of CURING bursitis. It's not a pain treatment, like steroids. It's a real cure. It usually takes 5 visits.

I called the acupuncture shop and made an appointment. 

The shop isn't at all what I expected. You go up a flight of dimly lit stairs to a small office on the 2nd floor. The door is painted a shade of white that looks like an old newspaper. Everything is genteely shabby. The doctor is a young man -- maybe 30. He charges $60 for the first visit and $50 for subsequent visits. He is the entire staff. He has two treatment rooms and they seem to be busy almost constantly.

Just like at an MD or DO office, he had me strip down to my underwear and put on a silly gown that he pushed out of the way to get at the place he needed to put pins in.

It was a fairly simple procedure. The doc asked where it hurt. I showed him. He pressed on the area to confirm that he had the right spot. Yes, that hurts. OUCH. Then he poked very thin needles in. Since these needles go in the back of my hip joint I couldn't see what was going on, but from the sound, I think he used a hammer to get them in quickly.  The first visit, I just lay on my belly with needles sticking in me. Afterwards, the doc told me to go to my gym and use the inner and outer thigh exercise machine with 30 lbs for 20 reps each inner and outer, every other day and come back next week.

I didn't feel like anything had happened when I left, but by evening, the pain in my hip joint was definitely less, and I had greater flexibility. I could now get my left leg into yoga eagle asana.

I'm writing this just had my 2nd treatment.  This time, after putting the needles in, the doc attached something he called electricity. Again, I couldn't see it. But it made the needles wiggle around. It doesn't feel good, but it doesn't hurt as much as pressing my finger into the sore spot. It hurts a lot less than being examined by my rehab doc.

And afterwards, I told the doc that 30 pounds is nothing. I can press more.  He told me to try 40 lbs and work my way up to 80 if I can.  Okay! Geezer-chicks press weights with every part of their bodies.

And it pays to be stubborn. Eventually the universe will give up the information we need to get well.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Communicating for Peace

I have a correspondent who loves to forward stories about scary world events. When she can't find a suitably scary piece of news, she sends me rumors. I sat down to send her a curt email asking her to stop forwarding stories to me.  Instead, an amazingly thoughtful message came out of my fingers onto the screen. I wouldn't call it channeling. I thought about every word as I typed it. Still, the therapeutic value of this message surprised me.  The act of putting fingers to keyboard seems to enable me to contact a valuable part of my brain that is otherwise hiding.  

Here's what I wrote to my friend:

In my view, world peace begins in every remark we make to other people. Is that  remark designed to uplift that person, to soothe that person, to help that person feel  strong enough to carry on? That is the goal of communication. This is both the little view and the large view. We are not powerful figures on the world scene. We cannot talk to warring parties. We can  only talk to each other. Our words can foster peace where ever we go. If everybody did  this, we would have world peace. We can lead by example, even though we are not leaders. This is not naive. This is all we have and all we are.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Refuse to Play Croquet with the Queen of Hearts

I was recently called for Jury duty. My arthritis makes it painful to sit for long periods of time, so I bought my stability disk to sit on.  The constant wobbling makes sitting much more comfortable.  Getting into the Jury Room requires going through security, much like at an airport.

The woman scanning the x-ray of my bike-bag asked “What is that big round thing?” fear obvious in her voice.  “That’s a stability disk. I sit on it because I have arthritis.” Her fear turned to curiosity.  “Where can I get one? I’ve got some torn ligaments and I can’t sit, either.”  Most sporting goods stores have them.

I’ve had odd questions about my stability disk at airport security, too. But never a potential sitting companion.

Once inside the Jury Room, I put the stability disk on a chair and waited to be called.  While waiting each potential juror is given a form to fill out.  One of the questions on the form is, “Will you accept the Judge’s interpretation to be the meaning of the law?”  I marked NO.  Supreme Court decisions aren’t unanimous. Judges disagree with each other all the time.  I can’t promise to agree with a judge without even knowing what the issue is.

When I was called for a jury pool, the case was a sad one.  A woman was suing her son and husband because her son’s dog knocked her down and she broke a bone and had to have surgery. The lawyers asked the entire pool if we thought it was legal for family members to sue each other. They asked if we owned dogs. If we had ever dog-sat. And then, they called us in for individual questioning.  Again, one of the lawyers asked, “Will you accept the judge’s interpretation for the meaning of the law?” And I told him what I’d put on the form.  “I can’t promise that without knowing exactly what the issue is.”

The lawyer said, “It’s not going to be ‘Off with her head!’”

But that’s exactly what the issue is.  If the judge can make up the rules as she goes along, then the issue is indeed “Off with her head!” That’s the epitome of a judge’s capriciousness. 

The lawyers were okay with this.  But as a citizen, in a society where we have trials with a jury of fellow citizens, I think it is a citizen’s duty to keep a watch on sanity in the courtroom as well as in society. If I can’t do that, then I may as well play croquet with the Queen of Hearts.  

I was not selected for that jury.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Joy of Bolsters

“Support Equals Release.”  Rama says that over and over on her Svaroopa Yoga videos. “Support Equals Release.”  All of Rama’s asanas use rolled up blankets to support joints and body parts in comfortable positions to make the yoga possible for any body. Rama says, “Even if you’ve never tried blankets before, try them now.”

I had seen other people using blankets in yoga classes, but I had no idea why. And besides, I’m strong, I should be able to do yoga without props.  Just like all the yogi’s on the web. You never see them with blankets propping up their knees or hips.  It’s kind of like a modeling show. You never see normal-looking people modeling clothes you might want to buy. The photographers only pose the people who are strong enough and flexible enough to do those yoga poses without support.  Blankets are for real humans.

But that was not enough.  It’s great to be able to get into yoga poses by using blankets.  But what about the rest of my life.  My hips hurt. Particularly if I angle my knees outwards as I do for sex.

During morning meditation, I suddenly had a great idea!  “Support Equals Release.”  I could support my knees with blankets. Not just any blankets – not the soft blankets that I use on my bed.  I need tough tightly woven Mexican blankets that really give support. I roll and shape the blankets make a triangle to put under my thighs and knees.  

If I lie like this for about 40 minutes, I can have sex without support, and I have more freedom of movement in my hip joints for the rest of the day.  But there’s no reason not to use support during sex. Blankets are washable.

I can meditate for the 40 minutes while I lie on my back with my legs propped up, or just lie there in the morning under the covers when I’m just sort of awake – between 3 and 4 AM – and daydream.

Support Equals Release. My PT asked what I’ve been doing because the range of motion of my hips and knees has increased and he knows none of the exercises he gave me have been working on that.  Yay for bolsters!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Standing on Tip-Toe is Hard

It seems everything that stops pain comes with side effects, or collateral damage.

As part of getting microcurrent treatments for my arthritis, the Physical Therapist  keeps testing my strength.  Before starting the first treatment, she had me raise my knees and then she tried to push them down. She couldn’t. She had me do a series of tip-toe stands. She had me stand on one-foot-at-a-time for 30 seconds (or maybe it was longer – it felt like a long time.)  I could do all that. No problem. If I’m proud of anything, it’s being strong.

At the second testing, standing on tip-toe was difficult and I couldn’t raise up as high as before. My legs had become wobbly when I stood on only one at a time. And it was no problem to push my knees down.

In addition, I could no longer bike up the 21st Street incline. I was grabbing the bannister in order to go up or down stairs. And I became tired walking up the hill to the Art Museum.

But I had flexibility in my hips – which was what I had asked for.  And the microcurrent does stop the pain for up to 4 days at a time.

When I told the rehabilitation doctor that  the microcurrent was making me weak, he insisted that was impossible. 

This was not just my subjective opinion. The physical therapist’s own data showed that I was weaker. The clinic’s testing confirmed my experience.  But the PT talked about maybe my previous strength was from spasms in my legs.  What? I had spasms for 60 years? I’m used to being strong. Spasms hurt. My only pain was in the hips – not the entire legs.

Then my PT found an article that said microcurrent lengthens muscles and the same strength in a longer muscle won’t be as effective as it was in a shorter muscle.  So, again, I asked for stronger exercises to get my strength back.

According to their tests, I’m still stronger than most people my age, so they don’t get it.  Most bike-riders avoid the 21st Street incline.  I love to bike it. Biking up a steep hill feels good when my legs are working.  Most people don’t mind grabbing the bannister. And so what if I get tired walking up hill? I guess they've never encountered somebody who wants as much activity as I do.

It’s my life. I want it back. All of it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Life as an Amusement Park

One thing the Seinfeld show got right – my body is my own personal amusement park.

I don’t like pills and I absolutely dread needles. I get high on exercise. Not just sex. I love lifting weights, jumping on a trampoline, swimming, doing yoga.  Bodies make fun-sensation drugs when you whirl around on rides at a park, or when you work out. In truth, I am an exercise junkie. 

I was on both the gymnastics team and swim team in high school.  I wasn’t the best, but you don’t need to be the best to get high.  I suppose winning gives you an extra chemical boost – an adrenaline rush.  I’ve won stuff – the adrenaline rush is followed by a crash.  I’ll take an exercise high any day - that’s a high that lasts. And if it starts to wane, I know exactly what to do to get my fix again. I don’t have to wait for a contest, and competitors.

My living room is my gym. I have exercise videos that last from 15 to 20 minutes: Pilates. Yoga, Toning. Aerobics. Svaroopa. Tamilee Webb, Kathy Smith, Donna Richardson, Rodney Yee, Gin Miller. Christa Rypins.

I tried to explain this to my Physical Therapist. I may have arthritis in my hips, but I still ride my bike to therapy and there’s nothing wrong with my biceps. But all she gives me are baby exercises and she doesn’t want me lifting weights or doing lunges.

So, hah! Everything can be modified. If she says, “lift your arm.” I can stretch my arm up. If she says do 10 reps. I can do 30.

I wouldn’t call it recovery from arthritis if all I could do were baby exercises. That's no way to run an amusement park.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Woman Without a Bicycle

I really thought I was going to escape.  Everybody grouches about getting old.. But I was fine – biking around the city, swimming at the pool, running to catch the bus.  Then I turned 60. For the first time, I was in pain. I couldn’t lift my leg over the back of my boy-style bicycle. I couldn’t get into my favorite yoga poses. Simple acts like swinging my leg sent a flurry of snap crackle pops that felt like somebody snapping rubber bands on my thigh. And worst of all, I hurt. Not just ached – hurt. Especially, my hips and thighs hurt during sex.

Trying different positions is out of the question. I don’t like them. My first thought was – maybe this will go away. I’ve been achy before.  But instead, the pain just got worse.

My boy-bike was 12 years old and had plenty of miles on it.  It had long since paid for itself in saved bus fare. I could justify buying a new bike. I went to the bike store and bought a girl’s bicycle so I could continue riding around town. Biking is essential to my lifestyle.  There’s no place to park in my inner city neighborhood. I ride my bike to clients’ homes where I fix their computers. I ride my bike to the grocery stores, where I fill up my saddle bags several times a week. I park my bike in my living room - it’s just 3 steps up from the sidewalk.

When I listed my old bike on Craig’s List, I explained – there’s nothing wrong with the bike – I’m getting old -- I can’t get my leg up and over it any more.  That was the hardest part of selling the bike. Saying, “I’m getting old.”

It felt like telling the world – I’m mortal. I’m a geezer. Next thing you know I’ll start calling young people whipper-snappers, and rhapsodizing about the “good old days.”

I went to my chiropractor. He’d helped me before when I was in pain and feeling crippled.  He adjusted my spine. He tried ultrasound, which means smearing gooey stuff on the skin of my hip, and rubbing a warm thing that looks like a hair dryer over it.  It didn’t help.  I went to my massage therapist, who worked for two hours loosening up tight muscles in my legs and pelvis, but still, my flexibility was gone, and I was in pain.  I went back to my chiropractor who suggested an x-ray might tell him what was going on.  I didn’t want one, but nothing I’d tried was working.

At the radiology clinic, the technician asked me to rotate my knee outward.  “Is that all you can do?” asked the technician.  “That’s why I’m here,” I answered.

The technician gave me a printout of the x-ray which I took to my chiropractor.  He looked at it and said he couldn’t read it and needed to talk to the radiologist.

The good news – no broken bones.  The bad news – osteo arthritis. Both hips and my spine. 

My massage therapist recommended I try microcurrent.  Go to and find a trained practitioner near you.

I found a physical therapist who is trained in microcurrent only 3 miles from my house. That’s an easy bike ride.  It turns out that in Pennsylvania, you need a prescription to get microcurrent. The PT got me an appt with a doc who would write the prescription.

I went for the appt with the doc.  The receptionist told me to take off my jeans.  “Why?” I asked.  “The doctor might want you to move your legs.”  I told the woman I can move my legs just fine in my jeans. I rode my bike to the appointment. She shrugged her shoulders and left. I did not take off my jeans.

The doc agreed to let me try microcurrent, if I would promise to do the exercises the PT gave me.

Microcurrent involves having sticky patches placed on your body, connected by wires to a box with batteries in it.  The PT warned me that I might feel high or warm. All I felt was itchy from one of the patches, so she moved it.

She ran some programs on a little box that lasted for about 40 minutes.  Then she had me try walking.  Walking felt normal. She asked if I had any questions.  My questions concerned what my body could do now – nothing I could put into words. Only experimenting would give me my answers.  I sat on the floor, put my feet together and rotated my knees out.  They moved.

My PT was shocked.  But prudery has no place in getting my life back.  


Monday, February 9, 2009

I Slipped and Fell in the Bathroom

It’s all about my sex life.  There. That should be a good controversial opening for my new blog.
It’s amazing how many things impact people’s sex life. Things you never read or hear about. 

I woke up, as usual, and nibbled my husband’s shoulder. Then his arm. Down to his elbow. And I wanted to have sex with him.  But lately, I haven’t been able to rotate my thighs outward.  They’ve become stiff.  You can’t buy DMSO any more as a pain relief drug, but you can buy it as a solvent.  Remove spots from your clothes and relieve stiff muscles, too. I got up and applied liquid DMSO to the entire 360 degrees of my thigh where it joins my trunk.

I’ve tried wintergreen cream on previous occasions, but oooh does that stuff sting when it gets on endodermal tissues! Everything for treating pain seems to have collateral damage or side effects.  After I put on the DMSO, I felt woozy, like low blood pressure had set in.   And I needed to use the toilet.  By this time, my husband was on the toilet near our bedroom. So, I climbed the stairs.  Try that with low blood pressure. I barely made it.

I remember wiping myself. I remember standing up. Perhaps too quickly.  

The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor with a bump on my head, covered with sweat and desperately thirsty. And I was no longer in the mood for sex.

I went online and bought roll-on DMSO so I could apply it in much lower quantities.

Within an hour, blood had drained from the bump where my forehead impacted the door jam, and I had a black eye.  Then, I had to go vote. I don’t wear makeup. Or an eye-patch. And I don’t box or practice martial arts. I live in a neighborhood where people feel free to ask personal questions – it’s considered neighborly. In this case, telling the truth, would not be neighborly. I decided to give them the short version: “I slipped and fell in the bathroom.”

Suddenly I became the recipient of everybody else’s stories of slips and falls.  I wonder how many of them were covering, too.