Our Neighbor, Sasquatch

“Yeah, so I’m a little loud. So what???”

A while back, I was chatting on the phone with my friend Pam. We were in the middle of chatting about work and movies and daily life, when my floor and walls shook a bit. I looked over at my husband, Mike, who was sitting a few feet away, working on his computer.

“Exists is home,” we both said. A distant BOOM followed, as if someone just dropped an anvil downstairs. Then a door slam and more structural quaking caused by the being that occupies the apartment beneath us.

“What’s ‘Exists’?” Pam asked.

“Our downstairs neighbor,” I reply. “We have no idea what the hell this guy is doing down there, but either he’s throwing heavy equipment around, or he himself is a Sasquatch. We prefer to think it’s the latter.”

“But what does ‘Exists’ mean?” Pam is still confused, and I don’t blame her. I forget that Mike and I speak in a near-secret language comprised almost entirely of obscure film references. Like “Mike Brady,” our name for our other neighbor with kinda ’70s Dad/Mike Brady hair. Or “Andy Richter,” a former neighbor who used to live down the hall who reminded us of Conan O’Brien’s sidekick. “Stuart from Big Bang Theory” lives on the first floor, a few doors down from “Tony Stark.”

“Oh! You haven’t seen Exists? It’s an awesome Bigfoot movie. I mean, the found footage thing is kind of played, but all told, it’s legit scary and the creature effects are the best I’ve seen of all the Bigfoot movies.” And I should know, because I’ve watched almost all the horrible Bigfoot movies out there. Or at least the first 10 minutes of the really bad ones. But out of those, only Willow Creek and Exists are worth multiple viewings. “Our neighbor is super loud and stompy, so we call him Exists. It’s kind of a compliment, if you think about it.”

Pam is amused enough by this to give Exists a viewing, and agrees: it’s downright scary and even a little sad when you realize why Bigfoot’s so pissed off. Maybe our neighbor is pissed off by something sad and that’s why he bangs shit around at 1 a.m. and stomps his way up and down the stairs, rattling the building. Whenever we feel the vibration of the building around us, we have to wonder if the pandemic is what’s troubling Bigfoot, because his walks in the woods are now crowded with people who can’t go sit in a café like they normally would. Plus, the guy downstairs shares a name with a tree, so that’s gotta be a little harsh.

It’s tough being a Bigfoot in the City, I guess.

Gimp Gear: My New Look for the Next 10 Weeks or So


My view for the next several weeks.

It was a Monday like any other…until it wasn’t.

I’m a dog walker, by the way. In case it hasn’t come up before. Twice a day, I take my muttley crew (see what I did there? #dadjoke) out to some wide open expanse where such things are legal, and let them run, play, and be goofy dogs off leash. This week was going to be light – only five dogs in each group, which is a nice way to ease back into things from a four-day weekend.

But while picking up Dog #4, I noticed two dudes in the lobby, polishing the shiny tile floors. There wasn’t really a dry walkway to the elevator, and I briefly contemplated taking the stairs instead. But alas, I walked instead, ALMOST slipping despite being careful. And in the elevator I thought, Hmmmm, perhaps I ought to harness the dog, as she’s a puller and I need to walk slowly on that slippery floor. Because my only prior experiences with slipping on floors has been that I slip, fall, and maybe hurt my back or ankle a little bit. It’s not like I’m going to really hurt anything, right?


Wrong! So I did not harness the dog, and she pulled me, and I not only slipped, but I EXTREME SLIPPED. Like, if slipping was an Olympic sport, I really gave this slip my all and brought home the gold for the US of A. I was bloody AIRBORNE.

And as I went down, I felt something go SNAP! in my ankle. Like a cord. It’s weird, but it didn’t hurt at first. Then it did, and there was SO MUCH SWEARING. The two dudes working on the floor thought it was my knee, and one of them was like, trying to pop it back in like it was dislocated. I’m a little disturbed at how ready he was to leap to this conclusion, but I said no, no, it’s my ankle.

They helped me stand up, and it felt weird and hurt but not like I thought a broken ankle might feel. Like, there was no bone sticking out or searing pain. But I think maybe the adrenaline your body releases to give you that boost you might need to get yourself out of danger may have been what made me think I’d be fine. Because once I got to the truck, I realized that I was screwed.

Several phone calls, texts, and returned dogs later, my husband and hero, Michael, and I arrived at Urgent Care, who promptly instructed us that they had a two-hour wait BUT if we wanted to go to the ER, the guy at the check-in desk suggested St. Mary’s, since it gets less traffic than CPMC or UCSF. THANK YOU SO MUCH, DUDE AT URGENT CARE! That was the best tip we got EVER. I seriously want to send him a bouquet of flowers for this, because he was so, so right.

St. Mary’s is a hidden gem. Okay, not really hidden per se, but it’s off the main ambulance route so unless someone specifically requests it, nobody goes there. Yet they are amazing! Nothing but nice from start to finish. A few hours later, I was released with a splint, a referral to an orthopedic doc, pain meds, and crutches PLUS a walker because I failed miserably at crutches (Round One) to start. Also, x-rays were taken and the PA advised that I should count on being out for 8 weeks, but that probably there would be no surgery needed.

Cut to later that night: in the midst of sending out a flurry of texts and emails in an attempt to NOT lose all my business forever, I hear from Leslie, a former client (the late Jackson’s mom!) and now-friend. She tells me she has GIMP GEAR from when she had to have knee surgery, and even brings it over to me THAT NIGHT, bless her heart, veins and her arteries.

Included: shower stool, shower nozzle attachment, an ice machine for icing sore bits (not needed yet, but hanging on to this), suction handles for inside of the shower, and most appreciated of all: CRUTCH PADS!

The crutch pads are really boss. In case you’ve never experienced crutches before, they’re harder than they look on TV or when other people use them. And more than anything, they really have a way of digging painfully into your armpits. But really, that serves as a reminder that you’re supposed to be using the hand grips for support. And honestly, once I adjusted the crutches and found the right height for both the lower part and the grips, they got a lot easier. Before, it felt like they were just a little too long, especially on carpeting, and I imagined I looked a little like the Cloverfield monster:

cloverfield crutch monster

“Grrrr! Maybe I don’t wanna smash all the buildings, ever think of that? Maybe I’m just really stupidly proportioned! RAH!”

No wonder that monster was cranky! SO AWKWARD.

At the orthopedic clinic the next day, my crutch pads were the envy of all the other patients.  I can’t blame them – I certainly wouldn’t have thought to look into their existence. You just don’t know how nice they are to have until your pits are aching from your awful crutches.

Anyway, I started to look into gear I would need, especially after the orthopedic doc told me to hold off on ruling out surgery (something about the other bone on the other side of the ankle being stressed and possibly damaged, which means it might heal wrong and blah blah blah we’ll know more Monday). And she added that I should plan on NOT driving or walking large groups of dogs for at least 10 weeks.

TEN WEEKS!?! But that’s another post, I think: COVERING MY WALKS FOR TEN WEEKS.

So it was off to Amazon for me to look up Cool Stuff I Need Now, like a cast cover for the shower (my splint is rather cast-like in many ways, only a bit lighter and less plaster-filled), and a proper elevation pillow for the right leg, which needs to be elevated above heart-level to aid in de-swellifying. Which is a word now.

I also am investing in more pajama pants because I cannot wear my Lazy Pants every single day for ten weeks, as comfy as they are.

So every day, in addition to the novel I’m working on, I’m going to try to get in the habit of blogging about The Adventures of Slick Corso, or: How Much Are People Willing to Hear About Being Temporarily Hobbled? A Social Experiment. ENJOY!


“Anybody want to read my blog? Anybody…?”

Confessions of a an Online RPG-er, or How I Learned to Embrace My Inner Fangirl – Part 1


(Note: This post got lonnnng! So I’m breaking it up into 2 or maybe 3 parts. Godspeed!)

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: I do not worship Satan. I do not play Dungeons & Dragons with the kids from Stranger Things on Friday nights (I would actually LOVE to but I could never figure out the rules on my own back in high school, and none of my friends were quite at my level of nerdiness…that I am aware of anyway). I don’t get so obsessed with plotlines and characters from fantasy movies that I feel the need to sacrifice unsuspecting strangers in ritualistic bloodbaths (see the part above about not worshipping Satan). In short, I’m not what most people imagine when they hear the phrase “role play gamer”.

But what I am – and what I have always been – is a writer. Ever since I was old enough to daydream, I much preferred the worlds I imagined to the one I was actually living in (which, incidentally, wasn’t bad – just ordinary). And when I figured out that I could write about these other realities in, say, every spare moment of my waking life not spent at school or watching TV, I did it, often with the enthusiasm I probably should have been applying to my schoolwork.

This love of imagined realities led to a tendency to really throw myself into whatever movie/tv show/book I was obsessing on, from childhood onwards. When I found a movie or show I liked, I would dedicate my heart and soul to finding out more about (a) the film and how it was made, (b) all the backstories I could get my pre-internet hands on, and (c) making up possible backstories in my head and occasionally, putting pen to paper in what can only be described as very early fanfic. And even though I loved doing it, some part of me was very aware that I SHOULD NEVER SHOW IT TO ANYONE or risk being forever labelled Dorkus Giganticus.

As time went on, I began to shift away from established characters, and began to write my own plots featuring characters I created, although many of them were certainly inspired by characters (and the actors who portrayed them) I’d seen in films or television shows. Hey, we all have our influences, right? None of what I’d written back then was remotely publishable – hey, I was a kid! – but it was practice and kept me entertained.

It was the Fall of 2000 when I first found out about online RPGs (which in this instance refers to Role Playing Games, not Rocket Propelled Grenades). Let me set the stage for you: I was in the process of breaking up with a live-in boyfriend who was just not a great match. I could not WAIT for him to move out, and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. I worked the 3-10pm shift at a law office in downtown San Francisco as a word processor (remember those?) and this meant that I had a lot of mental downtime on my hands, and not too much money. So I spent a LOT of time watching reruns of a long-running medical drama which may or may not rhyme with “Me Far”. (What the hell – I’ll admit it. It was ER.) By 2000 standards, ER was action-packed and filled with diverse characters, medspeak, hospital politics and the occasional knife-wielding lunatic. In short, it was an excellent distraction from real life. So to keep myself from thinking too hard about anything, I watched this show, first-run and repeats, fairly obsessively for much of 2000. It kind of became part of my daily routine: get up, brew coffee, watch two or three episodes on TNT, go online, go to work. And when watching the first run episodes, I would immediately call my friend Sara (a fellow fan) to speculate wildly/commiserate about it. I’m still getting over Lucy Knight’s untimely demise.

And when I say “go online”, I’m talking about the Days of Dial-Up, when modems were external and you had to plug them into your home phone’s landline (remember landlines?) and be okay with no one being able to reach you by phone while you were logged into your shitty AOL account or whatever you were using. Netscape? Earthlink? Hotmail? Yeah. All of those.

I had already discovered fandoms on the internet, and one of the ER fanlists (remember fanlists?) posted about several online ER-based play-by-email roleplay game. Wait…what’s this, now? I could barely contain myself. You mean, I could take on the persona of one of my favorite characters and write their innermost thoughts, words and actions in a game? With other players playing their favorite characters? And we all take part in playing out plots that we made up? OH, SHIT YEAH.

I immediately subscribed to it via eGroups (later becoming Yahoo Groups) and began a journey which still continues to this day. The games have changed over the years, but the three that I’m still with have all been in play for over ten years. And they’re not all fan-based; some are worlds and plots that we’ve entirely created based on an agreed-upon premise (i.e., the apocalypse has happened – now what?). You create characters, choose avatars (basically, who would you choose to play this part in a movie), and begin interacting with other characters.

I should take a moment to clarify that there are many kinds of online RPGs. World of Warcraft is probably the one most people have heard of, but paid RPGs are different from play-by-email (PBEM) RPGs in the sense that PBEM RPGs are entirely based on text written by players, while visual RPGs tend to have animation and basic action directions. I’ve honestly never tried playing WoW, mainly because I am way more into words than playing out a visual battle. That’s just me, though – personal preference.

So, while it may make me a Dorkus Giganticus, I love my RPGs. I often skirt around the nerd angle by just calling them “writing games”, because that’s what they are, right? We either create an original character (OC) or take a “canon” character (a pre-existing character from whatever world you’re writing about), and try to write for that character, in-character (IC). And that’s the challenge: You don’t get to take a canon character and have them do what you would do, or even what you wish they would do. You have to stay IC. You must stay true to who they are in your writing, not just make them do what you’d like.

Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it sounds, and makes for excellent writing exercise. I could tell you many a story about people who made strong, stoic canon characters into hysterical, injury-prone basket cases simply because they wanted to make the character be like THEM. Their characters would plow right into and through every other player’s plotlines. Incidentally, those sorts of players are called Mary Sues. I found a whole Wikipedia page on Mary Sues, which is aptly described as: “A Mary Sue is an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character. Often, this character is recognized as an author insert or wish fulfillment.” IS IT EVER! And let me tell you, these players are DEATH to any RPG, just as any real-life drama queen will suck the life out of everyone around them. I once wrote up a Mary Sue Test for my games, with questions like “Does your character have a wild animal as a pet?” and “Are your character’s eyes an unusual color, such as violet or multi-colored.”  There’s a limit to how “special” a character can be, is what I’m saying. I wanted to make sure that potential Mary Sues are stopped at the border, before they can start crying from their cat-like violet eyes all over their pet wolf.

To Be Continued in Part 2….