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My 40-something-year-old fence is falling down. I have tied one post to a retaining wall using a length of nylon rope. I’m hoping that will keep the whole thing up for at least another 10 years. I told the hardware store guy, “See this rope? I’m gonna hang myself with it.”

He replied, “Oh, I don’t need a rope.”

The fence is a metaphor for my life. Everything in my house and body are Jerry-rigged. Jolly-rigged as one person said.

I have patched up holes in the sheetrock and painted over them with super shiny paint that doesn’t match the semi-gloss on the rest of the wall. There is duct tape along my bathtub to keep the perm-ceram, which was applied to the tiles about 20 years ago, from peeling any further.

I wear a nose strip each night to keep my nostrils open so I can breathe. I spend 30 minutes each morning dipping my arthritic hand joints, foot, big toe, ankle (which was broken at age 6), knee (operated on 20 years ago), other knee (torn meniscus, no operation), oiled so I can ride my bike which further exacerbates my palm pains, back pains (some broken ribs, a broken shoulder at age 19), yada, yada, yada . . .

I can barely find my lip line to outline for lipstick now that there are wrinkles etched in as deeply as a mine shaft. I can walk a couple days for exercise until my foot, knee and ankle start hurting so badly that my little skip-hop develops into a full-on limp.

Seriously, when I’m making my bed I notice I have developed this skipping thing and I can’t tell if it’s to protect my left knee or my right hip.

If you open my closets, everything will fall out. I’m also afraid that my brains will fall out. I tried picturing my best friends one day and couldn’t remember a single one of their names. And I don’t have THAT many friends anymore.
People say I’m too young for Alzheimer’s. Yeah, right. Just what the doctor told me when I was into maniacal menopause at age 38.

I can camouflage my belly with long sweaters and people tell me I still cut a trim figure. To this, I always reply by whipping out my belly roll and saying, “See, I told ya.”

Surely I have Turret’s Syndrome because all I can do is cuss and bitch.

Sometimes my 80-year-old neighbor and I have a bitching contest. Her fingers are as twisted as my phone cord is whenever I need to extend it, so she always wins. But she is patently amazed by the genuine physical ailments I endure.
“O-o-oh, Su-u-u-zun! My back is A-a-aching from doing yard work.”

“Yeah? Well, look at my leg. It’s so bruised they may have to amputate. All I have to do is touch something and I bleed these days.”

“But you just can’t believe how swollen MY ankles are – see?” she says, pulling up her pant legs.

She’s not embellishing. It’s mortifying.

I answer,“Yech! OK, you win. But just for today.”


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