“I’ll make it.” • Jimmy Chitwood (Maris Valainis) • Hoosiers (1986)
Wow. Two weeks. That’s a long time to wait with bated breath. My apologies to everyone who turned blue while waiting to find out if I had broken my ankles.
To reprise: A little more than two weeks ago, Wednesday July 9 to be exact, I fell down the last flight of stairs of my apartment building. Immediate, serious pain in both feet and ankles – my knees weren’t doing so great either. Afraid to move, I yelled for help, but nobody came – it was 6 in the morning – and as I reached for my cell phone…duh! I had left it upstairs. But somehow, whether it was through the surge of adrenalin rushing through my veins or just pure stubborn idiocy, I got up, gritted my teeth, and shuffled/hobbled to my car.
Just using the gas and brake pedals sent sharp knives up my legs, but I told myself that if any bones were broken I wouldn’t be able to be doing this. I didn’t drive to my local hospital though; I wanted to get to work where my friends were, who happened to be nurses, plus of course there would be doctors. I wasn’t thinking clearly, I just wanted someone to tell me that nothing was broken;
I had some crazy idea that I could stick my feet under the C-arm and have Fantastic Frank, as Stan Lee would say, X-ray technician extraordinaire, also as Stan would say, take a picture and ease my fears – or not. I don’t know why I didn’t just go straight to the ER at the hospital across the street – it’s a Level One trauma center, and I had visions of sitting there all day while other, more seriously ill and wounded people were seen and attended to; and let’s face it, I didn’t want to know that I had broken anything, because I was supposed to fly out to Indianapolis on Friday – the day after tomorrow at the time – for the wedding of my cousin, Delightful Devin to his beautiful Marvelous Maria, as Stan would describe them.
See, I kept remembering a tale my brother had told me about how one autumn morning he and a bunch of his fellow residents were out having a game of touch football, and how one of the guys fell and was moaning and clutching his leg and saying that he had broken it, and how my brother and his band of merry medical men jeered him, saying “don’t be a baby, get up, walk it out,” and how they made this poor guy play out the rest of the game before taking him to the ER, where they all discovered that, yes, indeed, the guy had broken his leg.
So I was a mess, physically and emotionally.
But as I was laying on a stretcher in our Post-Anesthesia Care Unit – PACU, otherwise known as the Recovery Room – and realizing that the ice pack and cold soda cans weren’t do a thing, and that the pain was getting worse, not better, I admitted to myself that I was being really stupid, because the only way I was going to know if I had broken any part of my ankles or feet would be courtesy of an examination in the ER….
…where I discovered, that regardless of whether or not my bones were broken, I wouldn’t be going anywhere. I wouldn’t be getting on any plane in less than 48 hours…
…because the second worse thing happened on that fucked-up miserable day:
My driver’s license wasn’t in my wallet!
Where the fuck was it!
Shit! Shit! Shit!
By the time I was admitted and seen (by a fabulous, young, handsome physician) and told that I wouldn’t need X-rays, that I just had majorly “soft tissue damage” to my ankles and feet, i.e, really bad sprains, and was discharged with the usual instructions about ice and heat and elevate and to “try to walk normally so nothing stiffens up,” all I could think about was oh my fucking god how the hell am I gonna get on the airplane for the wedding?
I was desperate. No, I was beyond desperate; I was a madwoman.
That afternoon I tore the house apart looking for my license. Then I called the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles; hell, I even went there – I swallowed three Advils before leaving the house – and, yes, I was trying to “walk normally so nothing stiffens up.” I brought everything I could think of to identify myself, including the driver’s license renewal form I had just received in the mail and my passport – which expired four years ago and of which the DMV informed me that the cut-off date for expired passports as identification is three years – and for my troubles the bitch at the DMV sneered after explaining my situation to her: “Well, I guess you’re just shit of luck.”
I should have reported her. But I was tired, my feet and ankles were really, really hurting me despite the Advils, so I just left.
Aside: Will someone please explain to me why the New Jersey DMV cannot simply look up your credentials via computer, including your picture, especially when you’re 61 and have been a licensed driver since the age of 17? Will someone please explain to my why the New Jersey DMV sends renewal forms – generated by computer – to licensed drivers but still requires six million forms of ID when you go to renew your license?
Aside continued: Especially when, after getting home and calling the Department of Homeland Security and finding out that yes, I should be able get on the plane even though I had lost my driver’s license because they could, by searching the system – looking up on their computers – identify Mindy Newell as a born and bred citizen of the United States with no stains on her record and not on any “No-Fly” list. And by the way, the person I spoke to at the DHS was really nice – she didn’t say, “Well, I guess you’re just shit of luck.”
Still, I was worried about my driver’s license. My writer’s imagination took over. What if someone had stolen it out of my wallet, and what if that someone was a terrorist/jihadist, and what if he or she used my driver’s license for some nefarious and horrible deed? Yeah, I went straight to that – never mind using my license to get into my bank accounts and screwing up my credit and finances.
I finally laid down and elevated my feet and put one of those gel ice packs on my ankles; I also lit a candle, and this nice Jewish girl said a prayer to St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things and lost causes. (I asked him to help me even though I’m Jewish, “because your boss was.”) And I threw in some Wiccan blessings, too.
Well, let me tell you, this Jewess’s prayers were answered.
Though not right away.
By Thursday my feet and ankles were black and blue and swollen, but by walking carefully (though “normally”) I could get around okay. Though more than once I stepped the wrong way and OWWWWWW! But still no license. I was very depressed and worried; called ye old editor Mike for some cheering up and a pep talk. It helped…some. (No offense to Mike.)
Thursday night. No license. I had just sent off the column you read two weeks ago. Then I noticed my checkbook, lying on the radiator cover that is next to my computer. What was it doing there? I picked it up. And something – or someone? St. Anthony? – made me open it.
There it was.
My driver’s license.
I don’t know how the hell it ended up inside my checkbook.
“Hey, St. Anthony,” I said. “It’s me again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
On Friday the only trouble I had at the airport was lagging way behind Alix, Jeff, and my grandson as we walked to the gate. Oh, and security did check my ace bandages for, I guess, any hidden weapons. They didn’t make me unwrap them; just ran a metal detector or something over them. So while so many of you were fulfilling your dream of attending the San Diego Comic-Con two weeks ago, I was in Indianapolis, that fair city, at the wedding of Delightful Devin and Marvelous Maria (as Stan would say), and telling everyone was a great guy good ol’ St. Anthony is.
Or maybe it was the Wiccan blessings?
• • • • •
And to bring this back to comics…I read Ed Catto’s column (She Made Me Do It! Fangirls Lead The Way at San Diego!) with interest and delight. It’s so gratifying to know that women are standing up and proudly proclaiming their fangirl status and being noticed and appreciated.
Back in the dark ages (the ‘80s) when I first became a professional writer at DC, I was so innocent of the “old boys club” in the comics world that I had no idea that it was considered weird for a woman to love comics and/or to write them. Besides, there was my editor, Karen Berger, our own Martha Thomases, and so many other women at DC; and over at Marvel there was Louise Simonson and Jo Duffy and Bobby Chase, just to mention three. So I walked around the halls of DC for a very, very long time before it dawned on me that I was “unusual” in any way – to me it was just about loving the medium, it had nothing to do with gender. And when I went to conventions, I met plenty of professional women creators: Kim Yale, Joyce Brabner, Colleen Doran, Jan Dursema, Trina Robbins, Jill Thompson, Wendy Pini, and so many others.
You want to know how innocent I was? When people – especially younger women–tell me that I was a “glass ceiling” breaker, or that I was an inspiration to them, I used to say “I was?” And not in any make-believe false modesty, either. I just didn’t get it.
Now I do.
But if I was, so then also were all the above and all the women who have worked in comics and newspaper strips and graphic novels and all “sequential storytelling and art” since the industry began.