Wednesday, November 15
the meteorite is the source of the light*
i can, however, tell my own story, as i have done well upwards of forty times so far - in person (mostly to various hospital personnel), on the phone, in e-mails and via g-chat (though not txt) - and i think again find something new in it, rather than simply rehearsing the raw specifics once more. first though, importantly: don't worry: i am okay.
and i will only get better from here. look, here i am typing! and here i am smiling:
[there are lots of photos from this adventure - ben was documenting the whole time in the hospital, and kate took pictures of the sidewalk scene - but all i have access to now is alyssa's mirror-flipping computer camera. here's a few more; first flickrpix from me in over a year]
(story begins without explosion...) i woke up, on monday the 13th, alone, on the couch in angela, robert, and robin's charming (and hopefully somewhat more charmed - 2nd time's the charm?) astoria apartment, as ang was leaving for work. i watched the opening minutes of koyanisqatsi, to get the flavor, and the entirety of black narcissus (which was enjoyable and gorgeous to look at, but underwhelming - i was hoping for something closer to the emotional intensity of the convent.) i ate some leftovers from the previous night's lovingly prepared meal - spaghetti with sauce and meatballs from the randisi family recipe (robin is vegetarian except for those meatballs, and with good reason), and the preposterously rich cheesecake-oreo ice cream (a.k.a. cookies and cream cheese) that angela and i made. i listened to a litle of the punch the clock bonus disc, took a shower and dried off under the heat lamps, and headed out into the agreeably warm astoria noontime.
on the way to the NW, made vague plans with josie and rachel c., and slightly firmer ones with kate [flutter], before returning to my just-burnt pre-copy of ys. but first i had an appointment to keep at academy. results of the visit visible on the left - okay-but-not-great haul, with some pretty good 99¢ grabs. immediately afterward, i ran into audrey chan on the street, with her bf, rockin' a fresh new look (specs; 'do?) - this is mostly remarkable because she lives in l.a. (!) (where i was tentatively planning to be at some point this week or next.)
then met kate and her friend avi on the inside outside southside westside of union sq., and headed north towards great buttons, which more than lives up to its name. while k8 browsed buttons and then, down the street, ring blanks upon which to mount them, i contacted ben about what i thought were our well-established dinner plans. it turned out those plans were called off because benster were to have a special fancy dinner to celebrate their engagement. that was understandably confounding, but all was explained eventually (i got both rather detailed sides of the story later that night from the side of my hospital bed.)
it was now some time after five. the evening was only just beginning. kate picked up some sandwiches from pret. tara called from philly. it started to rain. we walked down 7th ave to 23rd street, discussing popstars and shoe shopping. stopped into a mexican/pizza hole-in-the-wall and had just finished ordering a torta de la casa when ben called again to say his and ester's dinner plans "had fallen through" (not sure how that works with two people, but okay) and would i come meet them. and so i cancelled the order and we walked on, pausing in a david z's, overshooting by a block south on university place and turning back north from 11th and broadway. coming up on six o'clock. we crossed on the south side of 12th, and then again, north across 12th, to the strand. introduced kate and benster on the NW corner, just outside the bookstore. b+e crossed W; kate and i lingered to say our goodbyes. she turned and walked S; i waited for the light, then moved to rejoin benster, to have a quick meal (vietnamese?) before the reading and the concert and
a few steps into the crosswalk, i noticed the car coming. a smallish black car, in the outermost lane, going south on broadway. i remember thinking it was surely going to stop - it had a red light, after all - even though it was going pretty fast. but i wouldn't have thought that if i wasn't confused. because then i realized that it was going too fast to stop in time, and that it might actually hit me - and then that i couldn't get out of the way, and it would definitely hit me. i half remember thinking: i have no idea what it will be like to be hit by a car. there was still time - it could only have been a fraction of a second - for me to think: i have to at least try to get out of the way. but - in that instant - i couldn't decide which direction to try, and i couldn't move either way -
and then i was being pushed. it was a little like being on an insane, dizzying roller coaster, hurtling completely out of control into a violently unstable phantasmagoria of sounds and colors - simultaneously thrilling and terrifying, but either way a complete surrender - happening way too fast to process, let alone respond to - i had the sensation of being upright as i was being propelled. at least initially. but i can't say for sure what was really happening, just that, scant moments later, i had stopped, and i was sitting on the sidewalk.
then i was confused. from the moment i first landed - on the sidewalk - i was immediately aware of commotion - people shouting and screaming and milling about frantically - a generalized sense of chaos around me, even though my attention was focused inward. i knew that i had just been hit, and i was reeling. but i felt...okay...i thought...i was in pain, and dizzy, or disoriented, but i thought i could stand up, and so i tried - and i did! - but then i decided it was a bad idea, and i sat down again. at first it was impossible to isolate the specifics of what i was feeling - it was all i could do to respond to one thing at a time - and people were continually shouting things at me, asking if i was okay, and i just kept saying "i'm okay...but...it's kind of hard to see..." - my glasses had fallen off, but i could tell that my vision was getting darker and blurry, and i was just trying to focus on something, to assert some kind of consciousness or control over what i was experiencing. which was - above all - very visceral pain, especially in my right leg.
my phone rang and i answered - it must have been in my pocket - and it was ester. she asked (apparently - i don't quite remember this) whether i could cross the street. and i said "no." that must have been a little earlier, because they were there, as my vision was going dark, i could still make out ester and ben arriving at my side. and kate was there too, behind me, propping me up, cradling me and telling me to sing ashlee simpson along with her. i remember saying - but probably not loud enough for anyone to hear - that it looked really cool - and it did: the darker it got the bright light-points that i could still see got swirlier and diffused throughout the space, sort of like those psychedelic fractal images but also like a vision of dissipating electricity, or nebulas. i remember seeing ester in silhouette, just visible against that still-darkening backdrop before everything grew too obscure to make out. and i felt faint, increasingly woozy, and at the same time it started to get a little hard to breathe - just for a moment - as i was still talking and trying to tell everyone that i was mostly okay...and then it swung back, i could start to see again, i grew less lightheaded, even as the hubbub around me only increased.
not much later the ambulance was there and they were having me lie down and rock myself onto the stretcher. it couldn't have been more than ten minutes from the time i was hit to the arrival of the ambulance, or at least that's what it seemed like. though i remember being conscious and fairly talkative the whole time, it's harder to remember, or even reconstruct, the latter part of that brief timespan.
those few, fast moments before i was hit, and my lightning-chain of thought then - although i have recounted them numerous times in the last few days (which has a tendency to abstract felt memories from known memories) - remain completely present and real to me. it's not that i felt time slow down or anything like that, but i was extremely lucid and attentive to my own thoughts in those moments. and it was an analytical thought process - certainly i was scared, on some level, when i realized what was happening, but there wasn't time, perhaps, for the fear to fully manifest, and there was just too much else going on.
i've had much more trouble figuring out what happened when i was hit - understandably so - and i'm still not very sure about how the physics of it worked; where i was on the car (hood? windshield?) or even which way i was facing (forward? my backpack suffered some damage and might have helped me by softening the blow - but the contents of it, electronics and such, were unaffected - and why would i have been facing directly away from the car as it hit me?) i'm most sore in my left upper outer calf - which would mean i was facing back east (in my final moment of equivocation?) if that came from the car, which makes sense (it's at more or less the right height) - and my coccyx, which would again indicate facing south. but it does seem that the bulk of my injuries - my two fractures and most or all of my scrapes came from the impact with the sidewalk, not the car, so at least the latter soreness could be from that. as for my upper chest tenderness...just general shock? i don't think i was face down at any point, though maybe i rolled off the car that way - i'm pretty sure i landed butt-down, with my right inner ankle and left inner elbow (the locations of my fractures) evidently the points of strongest (initial?) impact.
well. i had forgotten about the phone call until ester reminded me yesterday morning (although i did remember it happening when she mentioned it) - and i can't help laughing every time i tell about it - that i actually picked up at that moment. actually, i'm confused about what happened to my phone. the front and rear metal casing pieces are missing (just decorative/protective, so it's still functional) - but if it was in my pocket after the collision for me to answer, when did those pieces come off and get lost? my glasses were also broken: the right temple (i think?) broke off and is gone. those were my thicker plastic ones - fortunately i had my other pair in my bag, and they were unharmed (impressive, since i had just stuck them in at the last minute and they were not in a case - my biggest packing error for this trip turned into a crucial boon.)
i should also note - though i was not aware of it at the time - that avi, kate's friend, arrived on the scene shortly before i took off. she had initially been led to the ambulance of the guy who went through the window and was complete bloody mess (and she thought it was me! i think k8 said it gave her nightmares.) but she was the one who found my hat in the street and rescued it - hurrah! (i had only gotten it saturday.) i don't think i knew that then, but i did hear her and shout 'hello' from the ambulance.
so. ben and ester rode with me in the ambulance, along with liane, a friendly EMT. as ester reported, she warned me about the scissor-happy ER folks that would take malicious pleasure in destroying the sweater my mom made for me. and we had a funny exchange about whether or not she should give me an IV drip. in retrospect it probably would have been a good idea, but i was confused about it at the time, and the best reason she could give me was "it's protocol." i was definitely not aware of the extent of the damage to my body yet - well, nobody was, but i was typically optimistic. (though i was not being modest when i gave my pain level as 7/10, nor when i revised it down to 6 - even then i could easily envision much worse.)
i don't want to dwell too much on my hospital stay. ester, again, covered it succinctly (something we all know i'm incapable of), and i don't have much to add. the worst part was definitely the nausea that i suffered both times i tried to get up to see if i could stand or walk (this didn't happen until after i was twice splinted and thrice x-rayed, which took five hours or more though it didn't seem that long to me.) i assume the nausea was caused primarily by the morphine they gave me probably too soon before the two affable orthopedic residents - carefully, methodically, slowly, wincingly - injected fluid into my elbow joint. that was to make sure it wasn't "communicating with" the nearby bullet-like wound ("an open hole" a nurse said, then laughed at her redundant phrase.) it wasn't - good sign, but that meant pressure buildup and more sharp - ow! ow! but, like i was saying, nausea is the worst - because it's so generalized and overwhelming, you know; sharp discrete pain is much easier to compartmentalize (and i was def. working my yogic relaxation powers with every injection, or trying to.)
ben and ester were saints (and storytellers, smilers, wincers, documentarians) by my bedside until after 1:00. (but i lost the palloncino they brought me - hope ben has a picture - and i never ate the sandwich.) then st. alyssa took over, staying with me for my fourth trip to radiology (my chest and left leg x-rayed by a jamaican ex-pat who complained that it was unneccesary and "they take too many x-rays in this country") and my second bout of nausea and - when they finally left me alone and i got a bit of much-needed rest - helping to fend off periodic interruptions from random new doctors who wanted to give me CT scans or tried to suggest i should leave the hospital and a guy who, unexpectedly, brought paperwork for me to be admitted, which later turned out to be a mistake. i had been lobbying for that, but, after sleeping a bit it turned out i could survive being upright and even walk around the ward a bit, and it was clear that it was time to go.
and so my emergecy room experience ended after almost 13 hours. leaving the hospital was surprisingly simple (wheelchair helped of course), and our cab zipped up the east side highway home here to aly + julie's lovely ft. washington apt., where i hobbled my way up the elevator and into bed for an uninterrupted morning's rest.
and here i am still. in the past 36 hours i have moved from bed to chair, to bathroom and back, to the other bed in the room, to the bathroom once more (brushed my teeth that time!) and back to the chair.
it's getting better: today's bathroom trip was easier than yesterday's. otherwise, i've been sleeping, internetting, eating (bagel, bananas, brownies), listening to things, and most of all talking to lots of people on the phone. mark and jesse came by last night and we had some indian food and wine. today i listened to a lot of the hubert sumlin b-day tribute on wkcr, thanks to ben's rec.
i had a tough time sleeping last night: i kept adjusting my position little by little to find something more comfortable, and i eventually took a pain pill (which i hadn't yet felt the need to do since leaving the hospital.) i don't think it helped much - i continued shifting periodically and stayed half-awake, half in a strange semi-dream that took the form of blog comments, up to 109 of them and more forming a many-sided conversation about my situation. i must have slept some before 5:30 or so, but i was awake again then, and gave up trying for a while, deciding instead to do some yoga. well, modified of course. ("invalid yoga" ester insists on calling it, though i insist the stress not be on the second syllable.) some seated forward bending, some seated twists, suptha padangusthasana and further movement exploration with my left leg, some restorative things and whatever else i made up in my limited state. (later, this evening, i did viparita karani and some plow-ish extensions.) i have to go slow, but it feels good, and i'm feeling stronger, even if it's hard to perceive much change yet.
as i keep telling people (and i don't mean that as i complaint: i am more than happy to keep telling the same basic things over and over to the people who love me), i am in very little pain. walking is tough, and pretty much any movement requires ginger and involves some little twinges, but once i get myself positioned decently i feel very much alright. my bandages and various minor wounds are in somewhat ragged state, but i'll wait and tend to them tomorrow after i get home. i've booked an early afternoon flight back to rochester, so just a little taxi to the airport, frontdoor to the taxi, courtesy wheelchair action, and i'll be back in the bosom of my home and family, where my mom also happens to know a thing or two about the local medical community. so things are looking good for convalescence phase two...stay tuned.
beyond all of this - i've saved it for last because it's hard to know what to say exactly, and fully reflecting is going to involve more time than the simple physical healing process (?my whole life, ultimately) (physical healing, by the by, should hopefully happen within 6-8 weeks, with maybe a few more to be back in top form) - is the sentiment i've been expressing over and over, to nearly everyone i've interacted with, my new mantra, that i'm so incredibly glad, and so inexpressibly grateful, and i feel so unbelievably lucky, that i am not worse off than i am. it could so easily have been much, much worse.
i have to keep saying it - not because it isn't true, or because i don't feel it strongly, deeply, overwhelmingly, but because i don't know how to articulate it, even inwardly, except so simply and bluntly it almost becomes a platitudinous afterthought. but it's a powerful thing. the biggest emotional reaction i've had - certainly not the only one, as i've had a whole heap of confusion, frustration, irrational self-recrimination, gratitude for my beautiful friends and family, amazement at and tremendous pride for my body and mental strength, and a profound compassionate empathy for the other victims, and for the driver (somebody asked if i was angry at her - but i can't even fathom that; she was clearly unimaginably freaked out, and must now be suffering unbelievable remorse) - is that subtle, but emphatic joy - de vivre, i suppose - and appreciation for life. "living is so expensive", somebody (jesse?) said last night, in a discussion of new york apartment-hunting. in my armchair halfway across the room, set apart from the conversation by several pieces of furniture and several degrees of desire for self-expression, i could only think "life is so precious...life is so dear."
and at the risk of getting precious myself, i'll cut off there. even with little to do with my time at the moment besides think about it, this is obviously going to take a while to really come to terms with - in some ways i'm now just roughly sketching what i project my emotional response will develop into. just as my body is just beginning to grow into its future former self, as i'm barely starting to get a grip on how i'll be able to and have to conduct myself for the next two months or so, as i occasionally find myself feeling disgusted at my laziness or selfish for my reliance on the assistance of alyssa and julie for all manner of little things, and have to continually remember: wait a minute, i was just hit by a car the other day!
i was hit by a car. and i'm okay. and it's all pretty goddamn crazy. on the other hand, here i am again now, at the end of another long, daunting, possibly precariously wrought blog post about the minute details of my daily life. things haven't changed all that much.
(and if i can't honestly say it was the worst part, missing joanna was at least the added insult that maybe only some solid time spent with ys during my recovery will be able to redress)
*rabi (or whoever): aren't you glad no indie kid will ever get that confused again?
this is unlike the story it was written to be
I'm glad you're okay. and I think the "meteorite / light" rhyme may have been a little too convenient, because you're not supposed to give the meteor its -ite until it hits the ground. (oid = space, meteor = atmosphere, ite = ground.)
on the indie kid side of things, your flickr photos made me sing the part of bandages about don't worry now, don't worry now... etc.
travel safely. love.
but you're right (of course), and the song is either deliberately misleading or she was just mistaken and nobody called her on it (or she didn't care). and now indie kids are going to be hopelessly confused about meteor terminology forever!!
the rhymes too convenient indeed (-oid/void too.) what a hack. how upsetting.
(i am surprised the 'net doesn't seem to have caught on though. what happens when a meteoroid hits the blogosphere?)
miss you and wish i could visit.