Archives for posts with tag: Spiderman

Three weeks ago, I fell in my backyard and broke every bone in my ankle. I was gathering fallen branches to use for kindling this winter, and I had just finished bringing an armload up to the wood pile, when I decided to take a short cut across the yard to collect the rest.  Like most people in North Carolina, my lawn unfolds in stages; it slopes sharply from the street to my house, levels out for awhile, then slopes again to the rest of the yard.  Both slopes are steeper than they look, something I found out the hard way last spring when I was walking across the backyard carrying a steaming bowl of hot beef stew  to eat while I was watching the dogs play. I slipped on the wet grass and went down on my butt, the bowl went flying and I wound up having to take a shower to get the carrots and parsley out of my hair.

That morning, I decided to save myself some time to get the last armload of kindling, but the minute I took my first step, I knew I was in trouble.  My foot got stuck in one of the furrows created in that part of the yard by the landscapers (who mow back and forth instead of up and down because it IS so steep), and because I was wearing shoes for once, instead of falling on my ass, when I lost my balance I fell smack on top of my own foot.  I could hear the bones snap as I hit the ground, and immediately started screaming, not because it hurt, but because, in that moment, all I could think about was a conversation I’d had with a total stranger at Walmart the year before.  She was in a wheelchair, with a boot on her foot, and when I asked what happened, she told me she’d have been $60,000 out of pocket for breaking her ankle if it hadn’t been for her insurance.

I don’t have insurance because I can’t afford it, and all I could think of as I looked at my foot dangling uselessly from my leg, was how one simple mistake was going to cost me everything I had worked so hard for over the past two years.    I eventually realized that I was going to have to get to a hospital anyway, insurance or not, so I crawled across the yard on my butt and pounded on my basement apartment door so my friend Denise could take me to the emergency room.  It turns out that the damage to my ankle was so severe, I had to have surgery that night to repair it and after two days in the hospital, I returned home to discover that there are worse things than no insurance and a broken ankle.

Boredom.  That’s the real tragedy here.  Because I can’t do anything.  I can’t walk, I can’t drive, I can’t take a shower without supervision.  When I let the dogs out to pee and they chase down a neighbor who is innocently collecting the Sunday newspaper from his front porch step, I can’t intervene.  I can’t even apologize to him, because I can’t leave the house. I can’t do laundry, or make the bed, or empty the litterbox. Everything I do takes an eternity, and even though I am not doing much, its completely exhausting.  It’s also depressing, because everyone around me seems to have a life, while I have a bed, a computer, and an entire day to fill.  So when my friend, Bonnie Gibson (who is recovering from hip replacement surgery) challenged me to write a blog about being laid up, I jumped at the chance.

1. Read.  Forget the Great  American novel you’ve been wanting to read.  This is no time to be intellectual; its time to indulge your guilty pleasures with a stack of People Magazines or some back issues of Vanity Fair.  Find out if Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are really back together or if its all part of some elaborate publicity stunt, if the brain damage Mitt Romney suffered after a car accident in Paris when he was there on a mission as a youth has anything to do with his inability to comprehend why airplane windows don’t open, or what the  endless fascination with Lindsay Lohan  is all about.  I’m no great fan of people who are famous for being famous, but at least Kim Kardashian has a sex tape to her name.  Wasn’t THE PARENT TRAP that last movie Lindsay Lohan was in?  I mean really people, is there no one else on the planet we can obsess over?

2. Write. Emails, letters, journals, your life story. Surely you have something to say to someone you’ve been meaning to get in touch with for awhile.  Something you want to get off your chest.  A list of things you plan to do when you are mobile again.   Some insight into why you are laid up in the first place.  My friend, Sylvia, wrote me an email not long ago and asked me to think about why I broke my ankle in the first place since she  believes I broke it for a reason.  I think Sylvia has too much free time on her hands.  And two perfectly good ankles, so who is she to judge?   Who in the hell thinks to themselves, even on a subliminal level,  ” I’m gonna fall down in the backyard and break my ankle, because gosh, won’t THAT be fun?” So the hell with Sylvia.  What was I talking about again?

3. Start a new blog.  I think I have about seven or eight blogs right now.  I write them in my head all the time. Which is why this category is different from the one labelled “write”.  This activity involves thinking about writing.  Not actually writing.  You’d be surprised by how much time thinking about something you never actually do fills a lot of time.  I think about cleaning the bathroom a lot.   So use the bathroom at your house before you come to visit.  You will thank me later.

4. Subscribe to Hulu plus and netflix.  For about $15.00 a month you can watch all those foreign language films you always wanted to watch when you were 20 and you thought being sophisticated meant wearing a beret and smoking clove cigarettes.  Hulu Plus has the Criterion Collection, which means you can alternate viewings of  French classics like The Rules of the Game and  Jules and Jim with America’s Next Top Model (college edition) and Dancing with the Stars. And because Hulu has a popular clips function, you don’t need to wade your way through dozens of commercials and Bruno Tonioli’s impersonation of Chef Boyardee as a gay vaudeville performer, you can actually cut right to the dances themselves.

5. Word puzzles.  I don’t even know what sudoku is.  I just make up my own games from the puzzles in the books. And categories to fit.

6. Knit, or crochet.  I crocheted a scarf to wear to New York last year for the Macy’s Parade.  I wore it to watch the balloons being blown up at the Natural History Museum the night before the parade.  I was a balloon handler on the Spiderman balloon last year.  I was going to be a balloon handler again this year.  But then I decided to cut across the lawn and broke my ankle so I can’t be a balloon handler this year.  Which really sucks.  So does this category. Because who needs some stupid scarf wrapped around their neck when they are laying in bed watching the parade on TV instead of being in it?

7. Hunt craigslist.com, searchtempest.com and ebay.com for things you would never buy and can’t afford.  You can find weird craigslist postings in the best of craigslist link, Birkin bags on ebay worth more than your entire household income combined, or every vintage Airstream trailer available for purchase anywhere in the entire country.  You can hunt for things you already own to find out what they are worth, things you have always wanted  to buy if money were no object, or stuff you want to buy but don’t really need.  Franciscan Starburst dishes are my new passion.  I have a complete 12 place setting I will never use, because using  it would diminish their value.  Every day I look for off the beaten path pieces to add to my collection even though I haven’t worked since I broke my ankle, and have no idea how I will pay my bills or keep from losing my house.  I want to know where these pieces are, how much they are selling for, and who I know that lives in the city where they were being advertised in case I manage to justify buying them. You’d be surprised at how much time this actually fills.  I always am.

8. Facebook.  My friend, Daniel, told me he went on facebook to find people he went to school with for the sole purpose of finding out who got fat and who was on their fourth marriage to feel better about himself and where he is at in his life.   So I started looking up old boyfriends, old girlfriends, people I worked with, people I met in passing, people I’ve sold artwork to over the years.  Turns out, most of the people from my past are wildly successful captains of industry, with hugely successful marriages, and incredibly successful art careers who travel the world by private jet, yachts, or in the back of a limousine. I hate Daniel and his stupid ideas.  So I unfriended him.

9.  Coloring books and crayons.  Lets face it, just because you are an adult doesn’t mean the kid in you is gone.  I used to love to color when I was sick, and I still do.  My friend Sara Nichols gave me a Care Bears coloring book with a brand new box of crayola crayons when I broke my ankle.  I asked her to take a picture of me with my coloring book, wearing the tiara she also gave me, because even though I am 53, if I am going to be laid up in bed then damn it, I’m gonna milk it for all its worth.

10. Enter contests.  All kinds of contests.  So far I have entered two writing contests, a handful of travel contests, the Publishers Clearing House contest, and some contests for things I didn’t even read the rules for and know nothing about, because what the hell?  I could win, something, right?  People who make their living winning contests say the secret to winning all those contests is to make it your job to enter contests.  I never had time to enter contests before because I was too busy having a life, so if I can win a years supply of tampons (which would just be my luck since I hit menopause two years ago and the last thing I need now is a years supply of feminine hygiene products) or an all expense paid trip to Pacoima (look it up) then why the hell not?

Maybe being laid up in bed with a broken ankle isn’t so bad after all.  Because by the time this is all said and done, I could wind up with a New York Times best selling novel about a wildly talented handbag designer laid up in bed from a broken ankle she suffered sneaking into the giant balloon warehouse after cracking the code to a sudoku puzzle with clues leading to a seedy hotel room in the Tenderloin district where Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian were making a sex tape with Mitt Romney.


I learned the hard way that you should never turn down an opportunity.  When I was a freshman in college, I applied to be a foreign exchange student in Japan, and after I was accepted, I backed out.  I was afraid to be away from home for one whole year.  I’ve regretted that decision my whole life.  I also learned that when certain opportunities present themselves, you have to act on them,  because you may never have the chance to do them again.  I ask for what I want now, if the answer is no, I’m okay with that, because the next time I have a chance to do something I want to do, I will forge right ahead. I never want to look back and say, “damn I wish I would have done that”.

I’ve been to all three Hollywood premieres of The Lord of the Rings (as well all three after parties) and even  borrowed the executive producer’s limousine  to take me back to the Motel 6 where I was staying at the time!    I’ve been a celebrity wrangler at the Palm Springs Film Festival where I outfitted the legendary composer, Michel Legrand, with a bowtie he never paid me back for, and managed to swing a backstage pass to a  David Bowie concert where I met the great film producer, Ray Stark (who left his table and a fleet of people lined up to pay homage to him, to greet everyone at MY table when I naively asked if he would mind saying hello to my friends!).  I’ve been behind the scenes for the chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede, toured the stables at Cavalia (Cirque du Soleil on horseback), soaked in sulphur hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming, taken a helicopter tour of Kauai, auditioned for Expedition Impossible, Project Accessory AND The Amazing Race.

Last year  a friend of mine introduced me to a friend of hers over drinks, and when I found out that he was a flight captain for the big balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, I immediately asked if I could participate.  I have always loved MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET and watch it every year after setting up my tree.  I know every frame of that movie by heart and I still cry every year when Natalie Wood gets her dream house. I swoon whenever I drive through Teaneck, New Jersey (if you need to ask then you don’t deserve to know!) so being a part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade experience shot to the top of my bucket list like a rocket.

You can’t just call Macy’s and ask to be a balloon handler; you have to be sponsored by a current participant, and they give first crack at the balloons every year to Macy’s employees.  Because there are about 1800 volunteers for the parade overall, spaces do open up, and this past April, we received our online application to be balloon handlers for none other than the Spiderman balloon.  With the help of a very generous friend who agreed to trade  a hotel room for artwork, we were able to stay at the Marriott on 49th and Lexington, and with an outrageously inexpensive flight from Charlotte to Newark, we headed off to New York City on November 21 to walk in the most famous parade on the planet.

First, we took in the Broadway performance of Spiderman at the Foxwood Theatre on Tuesday night after a taping of the David Letterman Show that afternoon to prepare ourselves for what was to come.  The rush seats we had gave a perfect view of the flying sequences, but everything stage left was blocked so it was hard to see some of the actors.  Even so it was a great way to start the week.  Two attempts at winning lottery tickets to the Book of Mormon on Wednesday fell flat, and so did our trip to Macy’s to sit on Santa’s lap (turns out the old guy leaves the North Pole for Macy’s  Thanksgiving Eve, and because of the parade, doesn’t actually make it into the store until the day after) and go ice skating at Rockefeller Center (Justin Bieber was shooting a segment for the Christmas Tree lighting on November 30 so the rink was closed to the public).

By Thursday morning, I was about to burst.  We left a wake up call for 4:30 in the morning to give us time to pack our stuff and check out of the hotel.  By 5:30 we were on the subway headed to 34th and Penn Station, and as we rounded the corner to the hotel where we would get dressed, the line of volunteers stretched past us for two entire blocks.

My excitement level peaked when the delivery door to the hotel burst open and several people dressed as bees, bananas, and bacon and eggs rushed out onto the street.  Pretty soon we were in the lobby and on our way to the fourth floor where there were signs all over the place for the big balloons.  Kermit the Frog and the Sonic Hedgehog were down the hall to the left, while Ronald McDonald and Square Bob Spongepants were at the other end of the corridor.  I stopped to use the restroom before putting on my jumpsuit, and fought to hold back my laughter.  There were clowns, pilgrims and cowgirls all waiting to use the facilities, and if we were allowed to have cameras in the hotel, I would have taken a picture because it was an absolute  riot.

We dressed in our Spiderman jumpsuits, which consisted of blue coveralls, red vests with Spiderman eyes on the front an the word, Spiderman on the back, grabbed our red knit caps and fur lined gloves and boarded a bus for the flight line.  We sat across the aisle from Mother Goose and some beefy men dressed as fairies in purple wigs and tights, then headed for the Spiderman balloon on 81st street beside the Natural History Museum.

The parade starts on Central Park West, so balloons, floats, performers and bands all filter in from different side streets.  650 teenaged girls were literally squashed together at the entrance to the parade in an effort to stay warm, dressed in thin nylon costumes, leggings and fingerless gloves, while marching bands and Southern Belles in gigantic pastel dresses milled about.  After a brief tutorial on proper balloon etiquette and directional signals, we took up our positions.


Michael and I were in the very front,  and as we stepped onto Central Park West, the view was amazing.  It was 50 degrees and clear as a bell.  The street lights and traffic signals were moved up against the buildings, and between the barricades and 80 billion police,  the street was wide open. The NYPD Marching Band was right in front of us (we weren’t behind any horses, thank god) and up ahead, Uncle Sam bobbed along against the clear blue sky.  There were people EVERYWHERE.  Stacked several dozen deep on the streets, and in the apartment buildings and office buildings above us, people were gathered at the windows and on rooftops to watch the parade go by.  We had a man dressed in a Spiderman costume who was sent by Marvel comics to work the crowd, and he ran from one screaming group of kids to the next for photos and handshakes as we walked down the street.

I think the thing I loved the most about the parade was how it ended.   Just past the Macy’s grandstands, the parade just stopped.  Meaning the bands went that way and the floats went this way and the balloons went down a street covered with a tarp where we deflated Spidey, rolled him up and loaded him into a giant basket, then headed back to the hotel to change out of our jumpsuits.  People were disassembling the floats on all the side streets, and loading individual parts into bags, while cartoon characters  in costume were assisted onto golf carts and whisked them away to destinations unknown.  The streets were jammed with people trying to get home for Thanksgiving dinner, so the train station to Pearl River, where we had dinner, was a zoo, but all in all it was a total trip and I can’t wait to do it again next year!