Or, How I Learned to Live with a Pain in the Ass
While packing for a road trip to a conference in Ojai, California, I worried about waking up in time to pick up Kelly and Yuliya in the Bay Area by 7:30am. Which meant leaving Sacramento at 5:30am. Which meant getting up at 4:30am. Which meant getting up five or six hours earlier than I normally do.
So I fretted and packed. And ran up and down the stairs fretting and packing. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I ran halfway up the stairs, did an about face, took a step back down the stairs and slipped on an imaginary banana peel and fell hard and square on my ass, emitting an involuntary wind-knocking grunt and my husband came running out of his office to the top of the stairs.
“Are you OK?” he asked. “What hurts?” He begins following me around the house as I woozily keep trying to pack.
“Are you sure you’re OK?” the husband-turned-doctor keeps asking. “What did you hurt, exactly? Besides your pride, I mean.”
“My ass hurts,” I said. “My ass definitely hurts right now.” Then my head hurt like when you shake your brain too hard. Great! Now I have a concussion. Aren’t you not to supposed to fall asleep when you have a concussion? How long before you can go to sleep? I need to go to sleep. I have to get up at 4:30am!!! Did I mention that already?
“I hope it’s not a broken tailbone,” Dr. Husband said, still sticking close by, “because that takes two years to heal and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Well that didn’t sound good, so I decided right then and there not to have a broken tailbone. Because that would suck. And I had to finish packing and try to fall asleep before 2am and try to get up at 4:30am.
Then my back hurt. Then my neck started hurting. As my husband dispensed ice and Advil, I mentally lobbied against concussions, whiplashes and a broken tailbones. Was I even going to be able to move in the morning?
I set three alarms hoping one of them would wake me up and I managed to get out of bed (and yes, it was a pain in the ass, ha. ha. ha. you’re sooooo funny.) and out the door and into Dublin just after 7:30am. By then, my tailbone was definitely not broken but definitely very bruised and everything else was okay.
On the way down south, we stopped at Apricot Tree in Firebaugh on I-5, which if you’ve never been, you should at least check out their 500+ lunch box collection. (That’s Yuliya in the red.)
I wrote a blog post back in 2009 with many more pictures about this place entitled, “Some Restaurants You Don’t Go For the Food. Ever.” Needless to say, we didn’t have lunch here.
Anyway after 400 miles of great company and Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling audio books and great ass-pain, we arrived at the Blue Iguana Inn in Ojai where we would be attending Creative Alliance ’12, a very different conference with about forty-five women.
While we unpacked, my two roomies announced that their Aunt Flo was currently visiting both of them.
You know who Aunt Flo is, right? I lovingly refer to it at the Monthly Curse of the Great Red Bat. They asked me if Aunt Flo was in my house at the moment. They were looking at me expectantly, almost hoping it was true. Because you know, they say when women live together their cycles align.
What a bunch of crap.
I told them I wasn’t due for at least a week, and we were only going to be there for three days, so no, it wasn’t happening. They almost seemed disappointed that we weren’t going to be “blood sisters” for the weekend.
Creative Alliance ’12 (the brain child of Andrea Fellman and Lee Vandeman) was not your grandma’s conference. There was no “Expo Hall” crammed with a Times Square-like swag-bedecked crazy house of sponsors. There were no “keynote speakers”, no big cocktail parties, no cocktail dresses, and definitely no high heels.
Instead of Powerpoint presentations, conference rooms, and out-cuting each other with the latest fashion, we gathered on the grass in yoga pants and flip flops in beach chairs.
It hurt to sit down. It hurt to stand up. Unfortunately, this weekend entailed a lot of both and these low chairs were a challenge.
People kept asking me all weekend, “How’s Your Ass?”, as if a bruised tailbone improves by the hour, or they just liked saying “how’s your ass”. Nevertheless, my answer was the same all weekend. It hurt, man.
This Creative Alliance thing however, was so awesome, in terms of really connecting with other like-minded women, that it was worth the ass pain. Truly. The absence of high-school cliquey-ness was a relief and opened the doors to create authentic alliances, just like the brochure promised.
One afternoon, we visited downtown Ojai.
We ran into some fellow bloggers at the Casa Barranca Wine Tasting Room, one of whom inevitably asked, “How’s Your Ass?”
I brought Lacy with me and she did the rounds with the paparazzi and the celebrities. Here she is with Eileen.
And with Kelly, Yuliya and Rachel:
We conferred in such beautiful surroundings. Here, let me show you:
We brought our chairs everywhere:
This is one of me and Jessica Bern, apparently deep in the middle of solving the problems of the world:
Doesn’t it look like that? You know how they have those long shots of the President and some other world leader walking alone together in the distance, intimately contemplating complex global issues? Yeah, that was me and Jessica.
One night while bringing my plate of chocolate cake and a glass of wine to the dinner table, I managed to twist my ankle in some uneven grass and went down hard on my knee, half of the contents of my glass sailing onto the table and another girl’s sweater. It was red wine. And it was a nice sweater. I saved the cake, though. Completely unharmed.
Speaking of sweating, I stood by, waiting for the sweater’s owner to come back so I could break the bad news and get beaten up some more. I imagined a scene where she would return and chairs would be cleared and everyone would circle around us to watch a cat fight.
They had told me it was “Beth’s” sweater.
Minutes that felt like hours passed before Beth walked up.
“Uh, are you Beth?” I asked. I hadn’t even met her yet, so this would be our first encounter.
“Yes…?” said Beth.
“Um…I hurt your sweater. I’m so sorry! What can I do?”
“Oh, don’t worry about it.”
“No, you don’t understand, it’s red wine.” I’m nothing if not a glutton for punishment.
“It’s no big deal. It’ll come out.”
And then she scooped up her sweater and disappeared.
While she was gone, we discussed the possibility of my having a neurological condition causing me to fall down at least twice in as many days.
Beth came back, said she got it all out and sat down with the rest of us.
I thanked her for being so nice about it and she acted like I was crazy. Crazyness, as you know, is another neurological condition. I was so worried that she would hate me, but she could not have been more generous.
I love Beth.
And I worry too much about what other people think of me. I’m sure there’s a diagnosis for that, too.
Meanwhile, I refused to believe I had a brain tumor and kept watch for anyone else tripping and while I didn’t wish for it, I was relieved to see several people “almost” trip as well, but I was the only one to actually “go down”.
Later, I noticed my ankle had swollen up, so I added “sprained ankle” to my list of injuries and back in my room, swapped the ice pack between my butt and my ankle.
On the last day, we were visited by the Klean Spa Mobile Mixtresses, who came out to the Blue Iguana from Burbank and made custom scents for us. I could totally see doing something like this for, say, a bridal shower.
They’d mix scents and we’d sniff and they’d add a little of this and we’d sniff and then they’d add a little of that and we’d sniff the coffee grounds because we were sniffed out (they also suggest smelling your shirt to cleanse your nose palette, or whatever it’s called) and then we’d sniff some more and they’d add something else until your custom scent was complete. They add it to their records and I can order their products with MY custom scent. How awesome is that?
With the label maker in her hand, my personal Mobile Mixtress, Jennifer, asked me to pick a name for my scent. I racked my brain. I wanted something that would remind me of this awesome weekend I spent with forty-five women, connecting with them, getting to know them in this lovely setting. Women who opened my mind with their ideas, who inspired me with their own actions, who encouraged me by laughing at my reading during the Say It Salon on the last night. Women who may very well be my friends for life. I wanted a name that summed up this experience, this Creative Alliance, in a thoughtful and sentimental way.
And then it came to me and I asked Jennifer if my selection was okay, and she said yes and made it so:
* * *
P.S. Guess what showed up 5 days early while we were still in Ojai. That’s right. Aunt Flo. The cursed monthly red bat. My roomies were vindicated. Also? The 9-hour drive back up north was just as uncomfortable as the drive down for my posterior, and getting in and out of the car was a very slow affair.
P.P.S. It has been two weeks since I bruised my tailbone and thankfully, the pain has changed from major discomfort and inability to sit for more than three minutes into more of a sharp, wedgie-like sensation. So, at least there’s that.