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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
Recent Activity
Tomorrow I'll be 42. With a broken leg. Although I suspect it's not really broken anymore, just faking it so I'll slide up and down the stairs three times a day on my butt just so Fate can laugh her ass off. When I first reported my injury, my friend Stacy exclaimed, "Think of the books you'll read!" She was right. I have read great books. I've come back to the revision process on PARKER CLEAVES after hitting the surgery wall. I've learned to stand up from the ground on one leg. I've learned why people get addicted to Oxycontin because it's an amazing drug. And I'm so ready for this to be over. Yes, broken leg, you've taught me patience the hard way and that I can carry almost anything in a backpack. I get it. I learned my lesson. I look on 42 as the year I learn to walk and run again. Please? Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
You have time. You do. NORWAY 8K from Martin Heck | Timestorm Films on Vimeo. Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2016 at Surrender, Dorothy
"I don't feel funny anymore. I've started to wonder if I've changed," she said. She's one of the funniest people I know. I'm sure she hasn't lost her wicked talents. But grief is pain and pain is work and she's not done with the work yet. I don't doubt, though, that she's changed in a different way. Pain -- physical, mental, spiritual pain -- changes us. This winter I've lived in a physical house of pain. I broke my leg before Christmas and had surgery to put in a plate and five screws on January 6. The physical limitations of crutches also brought on a lot of emotional pain. They robbed me of my main anxiety coping mechanism, exercise, as well as my freedom of movement. I can't carry anything using my crutches, I have trouble with stairs and I can't drive. After my surgery, I had a nerve block for the first eighteen hours. The doctor told me to start taking the Oxycontin before I went to bed because the block would wear off during the night. It did, and not even the Oxy could touch the flames shooting up my calf. I ended up calling a pharmacist in the morning and asking if I could take anything else on top of it, something that blew my mind since normally I don't need much painkiller at all. Two Advil on top of Oxy later, I finally fell into restless sleep. That whole next day passed in wave after wave of red-hot burning pain where the plate was. It felt like labor contractions, only in one little 3"x2" area. I willed myself to just bear this part, because at least the surgery was over and the path to healing finally seemed clear. I'd get through this post-surgery week, then I'd... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at Surrender, Dorothy
When I write, I usually listen to headphones even if I'm alone so the music can go straight into my head without mingling. I remember when an old boss gave me an iPod shuffle as a Christmas bonus. It could hold 100 songs, which at the time seemed an insanity of musical abundance and variety. My current writing playlist has around 500 songs on it, and yet I still hear a lot from Bryan Adams. The last few times I heard "18 Until I Die" (a song most helpful when you're 41 and writing fiction for the 15-23 year-old set) I wondered if Bryan is yet 18 going on 55, like the song says. I just looked it up. He's 56. With the cultural and artistic icons we've lost this month, I (like everyone above a certain age) have become acutely aware of the mortality of my youth, of being a young old person on the shallow end of my forties. And yet I still listen mostly to the music of my youth. I still identify better with 18 than 55, even though I'll be 42 in about two weeks. Thirteen years from 55, 24 from 18. Holy shit. Better get out of this cast and get both feet in it. Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2016 at Surrender, Dorothy
33 days since I broke my fibula. 14 days since the surgeon put a plate and 5-6 screws in my leg to fix the unstable break. Yesterday I went for my surgery follow-up appointment. The PA and I talked about how putting screws in bones was pretty much like hanging a flat-screen TV -- you better put the screw all the way into the other side of the bone or you're not sinking it into the stud. I stared at my X-rays in horror and fascination. They took out the stitches. The skin puffed around them like flesh pie crust, rather inhuman. As I left with instructions to come back in three weeks and start moving my feet around three times a day, I both cursed another four weeks on crutches and thanked God once again this is injury and not illness. I view injury differently than illness, and I'm not alone in that. I'm reading THE UPSIDE OF IRRATIONALITY, by Dan Ariely, who at 18 was burned over 70 percent of his body in a military accident. His experience gave him an interest in people's ability to tolerate pain and the events preceding their tolerance. He hypothesized, for instance, that those who had bad injuries could tolerate pain longer because they would equate it with healing. He and another researcher set up a study in which they recruited folks to stick their arms in hot water for as long as they could stand it (they had to pull their arms out before they really hurt themselves). However, they forgot to exclude people with illnesses from recruiting and ended up with a few who had diseases. The ill people had a lower pain tolerance than the control group, while the injured group had a higher pain tolerance. He wrote: "I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2016 at Surrender, Dorothy
(Editor's Note: Thanks for taking time to check out this guest post from my farming friend Diana Prichard of Righteous Bacon. I've known Diana for many years now, and I've always been impressed by her dedication to farming and agriculture and her moral compass. I know I recently enjoyed Making a Murderer on Netflix and believe documentaries are one of the easiest ways to educate a lot of people in a little bit of time about complicated issues like the American judicial system or how we get our food. Immigration is not a pet cause of mine, but I fully support the part all immigrants play in the success of small businesses and small farms. Beyond dollars and cents, I personally believe America should open its arms to immigrants and refugees.) From "The New Colossus," a sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus, which is mounted on the base of the Statue of Liberty: Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" I distinctly remember the first time it really hit me what was at stake in making a documentary about undocumented farmworkers. I had just finished filming and photographing the wedding of the couple featured in the documentary and was following the bride,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at Surrender, Dorothy
I had never used crutches before I broke my leg, and I've learned a lot. I'm on quite a bit of Oxycodone at the moment, but I wanted to write this before I forgot the desperation someone might be feeling if they stumble upon this. Feel free to share! Three weeks ago, I broke my fibula (smaller bone in calf) and got crutches. On Wednesday, I had surgery to get a plate and some pins, maybe a screw, really not sure. Here are my tips for crutches and broken legs when your pain is low and when your pain is high. High Pain 1. When I first broke my leg, I was only in high pain for two days before I could stop taking Hydrocodone and just hit normal Advil. This surgery has been a game-changer. I am still in high pain, though I'm hoping it will start to ease this weekend. If you are in high pain, pay very close attention to taking your meds on time. I was shocked that 10 mg of Oxycodone was not enough, but I called the pharmacist and my doc and they all said it was fine to also take Tylenol or Advil. I'm not exceeding the max dose per day of either so I will need to sub in some Advil for Tylenol today. If you're in high pain, don't move. Keep the leg up way high, drink water, ice the back of your knee if you can't feel it through a splint or cast and sleep. You're just sucking resources right now. You can make up for it later. Low Pain 1. Be in decent shape to begin with. I'm no Olympic athlete, but I could raise myself from sitting to standing on one leg before I hurt myself. HUGE. As... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2016 at Surrender, Dorothy
Thanks, Alexandra! I may have to check in on the library thing. I put a ton on hold but I read fast.
Toggle Commented Jan 5, 2016 on Unintended Bling at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Good advice! I have used the scooters twice when I got yoo tired at the end of a say if errsnds. Definitely humbling!
Toggle Commented Jan 5, 2016 on 2015 in Books at Surrender, Dorothy
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I have been reading anout learning to walk again, which is intimidating! So relieved to hear you are running. Thanks for the encouragement!
Toggle Commented Jan 5, 2016 on Unintended Bling at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
It's been 17 days since I broke my right leg, and the healing clock starts over on Wednesday. That's the day they are going to put a plate and some pins in there! I'm really trying not to think about this surgery too much because I don't like the idea of having things screwed into my bones, even if it does mean they'll heal properly and I'll be able to run again ... someday. Right now that day feels very, very far away, my friends. Right now even being able to leave the house by myself in a car feels unattainable ever again, though that's dramatic and I know it. Still, one of the fun things about being an adult is being able to get the hell away from other human beings if you want to because no one is the boss of you. Except ice. And snow. And crutches. And an aircast on your driving leg. I spent the weekend vacillating between pity parties and rocketing myself around big-box stores on my crutches just because large, wide walkways are something I don't have in my house and they feel decadent. I never thought I would beg to be taken to Target just for fun without giving birth to another baby. It turns out if you want to recreate that longing for freedom breastfeeding induces, all you have to do is break your driving leg. Who knew? I've decided to take a hiatus from working on THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES until after the good drugs wear off from my surgery. It's been nearly a month since I took a Library Tuesday, and I fully intend to demand someone drive me there for an hour coming up soon so I can continue to write. I was getting close to being... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2016 at Surrender, Dorothy
Haven't read that one yet. Thanks for stopping by-I got this widget from Goodreads.
Toggle Commented Jan 2, 2016 on 2015 in Books at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
(Editor's Note: Not sure why it keeps embedding "it was amazing" or how to make this prettier. But I like it anyway.) WHAT I READ IN 2015 it was amazing it was amazing it was amazing it was amazing it was amazing really liked it it was amazing it was amazing it was amazing really liked it Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Toggle Commented Dec 29, 2015 on People of Walmart at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
I spent two hours yesterday like this. Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Compact, episodic dreams packaged neatly into before and after I wake up with my leg aching dully but purposefully: I am a violent sleeper, and my dreaming body doesn't know I broke my leg until my the pain reminds it. In the first dream, I'm wearing a silk fifties-style frock and I'm riding a train into a large city with an older man who is not my husband but in the dream I understand I will be ousting his current wife. We arrive in the city and walk a long way until we enter a building that looks abandoned on the outside but inside has been remodeled as a chic Hollywood agency. I am given a combination office/studio apartment and a new silk dress. The old wife's office/studio is next door. I have new earrings but there is a hall in the back of my studio that is dark and dank and I suspect it leads to a sewer. I wake up and wonder if I should stop watching reality television before bed. Take the Advil. Close my eyes. In the second dream, I'm part of a team tasked with standing upright for forty hours. We can walk around to make it less boring. I get in line to take a series of physical challenges in an old water park, and when I finish and towel off I'm elated to hear at eleven my forty hours will be up and as my prize I get to ride a dolphin. I've been awake now for six hours and still remember this, though beyond the water park the rest of the forty hours are now gone. I also forget whether or not I'm displaced by a third wife in the office building or what was in the tunnel. Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Thanks for all the advice! My husband will be traveling for work soon, so I will have to figure out how to survive on my own.
Toggle Commented Dec 26, 2015 on Just Like That, It Changes at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Having spent the Christmas holiday hobbling around my relatives' houses from crutches to rolling chairs to recliners to shower stools to my parents' bed because then I don't have to take the narrow stairs and am steps from a bathroom, I now understand why old people constantly talk about their health. Especially with people who knew them when they were younger. Using a shower stool and having to sit on the bathroom floor to put on makeup has been humbling. As has asking my seventy-year-old father to shovel the steps so I can hop my way down on one leg with breaking it, too. I want to call everyone I knew in college, all those people who knew me when I was young and strong and capable of staying up for twenty-four hours, all those people who knew me when I was invincible, and scream, CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT? This was not supposed to happen. We were not supposed to ever use shower stools or get cancer or develop auto-immune diseases. We were supposed to stay forever the age we feel inside. We were supposed to stay invincible. When I look at my sister and cousins, if I cry it's because you knew me then, and what if that's gone? I mean, I know it is and if it's gone for me, what if it's gone for you, too? How do we figure out how to float to the top now if it won't be physically effortless? How do we cling to the awesome we have buried somewhere under the doctor appointments and gauze? If I feel that now after a broken leg at forty-one, I get it why old people drink coffee and blink at each other as yet another friend announces evidence of her mortality. We were... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
thank you!
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2015 on Just Like That, It Changes at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Thanks for your sweet comment! I am much better at asking for and accepting help since my husband took this job which requires him to travel so much.
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2015 on Just Like That, It Changes at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
On Friday night, I was going to put my dishes in the dishwasher and head to bed. I stepped from the carpet of the living room onto the tile of the kitchen floor and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor on my ass with a broken glass in my hand. I sat there in total shock and pain as my husband cleaned up the broken glass and asked me if I was okay. I ended up hobbling to bed. He brought me ice and I put a compression sock on, thinking I'd probably sprained my ankle and would deal with it in the morning. It didn't hurt that bad at the time. I fell asleep with the ice on my leg. The next morning, I could feel the weight of the blanket as I lay in bed. I really had to pee. I could tell none of the next steps were going to go well. I couldn't put any weight at all on my leg, so I hopped to the bathroom, took care of business, brushed my teeth, put on deoderant and some sweats and took the stairs on my butt, toddler-style. Then I called for my husband to drive me to urgent care. As we were trying to get in the car, he wanted me to lean on him but that hurt too bad. As we drove, he said if it was just a sprain, leaning on him wouldn't have been an issue. I started to get worried. At urgent care they took some X-rays and told me I'd broken my fibula. They gave me a splint and some crutches and told me to make an appointment with an ortho doc. Today I went to a walk-in ortho clinic and got a stress X-ray, which... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
Turning the lights out. Checking to see the doors are locked. Kissing the cat's furry head, watching as he shifts in his sleep and sometimes (if I'm lucky) sighs. Pausing at the bottom of the stairs, listening, for what I never know, but I always do. Stopping into the playroom to peek at the almost ten-year-old hermit crabs whose claws clack against the glass of their tank as they make their way about their business. Feeling my way over stuffed animals, paperbacks, discarded clothing and hangers to the bookshelf at the edge of my daughter's bed. Blindly groping for the sharp corners, the desk chair, the air cleaner and anything else that could injure me as I make my way to the head of her bed and kiss her sleeping cheek. Turning on the bathroom fan and the shower with two different hands at the same time. Tossing clothes in the hamper and shuffling around for what passes as pajamas depending on the season. Stepping into the steam and washing off the day, rubbing tea tree oil conditioner into my scalp, rinsing off bubbles and wrapping myself in a towel. Staring in the mirror as I wash my face with the special old-lady soap that's supposed to reverse the effects of one too many peeling sunburns in my youth. Brushing my teeth with the fancy electronic toothbrush that plugs in and works way better than the hundreds of dollars of battery-operated ones I used to have. Slipping on a tshirt, padding to the bed, tossing off extra pillows, setting the alarm. Sliding between the covers and adjusting my pillow and concentrating on relaxing my neck muscles, my tongue, my forehead. Sometimes realizing the moment my body heat begins to warm the air pockets I intentionally make around my shoulders on... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2015 at Surrender, Dorothy
She says she already gave it to me but I asked for it again!
1 reply
Arnebya, I'm sure we can bridge the divide and not let our food texture preferences drive a wedge between our grammarly sisterhood. Look at all we've been through together, after all.
Toggle Commented Dec 10, 2015 on Holiday Food I Hate at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply