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So what is a newyorksubalien...

I’m a New York subalien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly legal – it’s just my loving other half, official alien that he is, comes with a so-called “supermodel” visa that apparently denotes him as one possessing extraordinary abilities (falling asleep within 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, remembering only 2 of the 3 items on a mental shopping list and not knowing where the dishwasher tablets live after 2 years in our apartment are just some of his many talents).

The same visa leaves me extraordinarily unable to possess that most American of entities - a “social” i.e. a Social Security Number. Calling it a “social” makes it sound like the password to some party-filled, fun-packed lifestyle. That’s not far wrong as without these all-important 9 numbers, you pretty much can’t have a lifestyle at all - no bank account, no credit card, not even a driver’s license.

So what does a subalien do? Well, like over sub life forms waiting for evolution to give them a leg up on the ladder of existence, I have plenty of time to observe and these, dear reader, are my observations…..

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summertime in Planet Big Apple - and the livin' ain't so easy!

Usually by this stage of the year myself and the Alienettes have alienated Superalien ie we’ve abandoned him to the sticky sidewalk steambath that is a New York summer.

He actually loves this as it gives him the chance to watch TV at full volume and only use the overhead lights instead of the myriad of table lamps that I insist upon to give the right planetary atmosphere. But most importantly, he can complain about how hot it is whilst we are enjoying the somewhat cooler climes of the Emerald Isle.

This year however our need to renew a scrap of paper otherwise known as a visa is being affected by the scrapping of the local planetary governors otherwise known as Democrats and Republicans. We are as a result literally grounded and daren’t risk leaving these sunny shores for fear of not being allowed to set foot on them again in two months' time.

So we are finally getting our chance to experience up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and what’s worse, up to 100% humidity. The plus side is that Male Mini-Me and Mini-Mum don’t actually complain when I drag them out to the occasional museum or exhibition as anywhere is probably cooler than our apartment. This is after our old townhouse apartment revealed yet another of its quirks the other night when it stubbornly refused to allow us to have four air-conditioning machines working at the same time.

I secretly was quite pleased as our old units are so noisy you do actually need to have the TV on full volume to hear anything. Superalien did of course suggest only using the overhead lights instead of the essential table lamps to distribute the electrical usage better but what kind of stupid suggestion was that!

After years of rushing outside at the faintest glimpse of the sun for fear that I might miss that year's summer, I’m finally getting that the sun might actually shine again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. I’ve even bought shorts (when in Rome…). The nights however are proving to be our biggest challenge when the wind drops but the thermometer doesn't. Then we find out why New York is the city that never sleeps. 

But there are many times when it is more than bearable. Sitting in our little patio with the necessary candles (aha, no ceiling light option there) and having our umpteenth BBQ without fear of rain or frost. Or heading down to the river to watch an open air movie or a concert in the evening dressed in shorts (of course) and not worrying about a jumper (sorry, pullover). Or just marveling at the clear, true blue sky that seems to be permanently pinned over Manhattan. 

So the general consensus is that if we are stranded on foreign soil for the rest of the summer, we'll survive. Granted prior family holiday plans are having to be re-thought to U.S. destinations which do not require passports and this initially caused some consternation on the part of the Alienettes. It didn't help when I suggested that we could use this time to explore the historical ancestry of our new planetary home and start by re-tracing the first steps of its current President. Cue theme music to famous vintage TV show with crashing waves and surfboards. They got it eventually.

Yup, we'll survive. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Making sure us subaliens get up to no 'arm

Well, I’m back. Ever heard of that famous phrase – forewarned is forearmed? My orthopedic specialist obviously hasn’t. Or rather his version goes something like “forewarned re forearms is revenue foregone”.

I’ve joked previously about how our sojourn in this planet could cost us an arm and a leg. I didn’t realise it actually would cost me the use of my all-important left arm for the best part of two months. And this wasn’t because in the end I forgot to mark my dodgy shoulder with indelible marker pen before I went in for the operation. Actually my very nice anaethestist who had just come back from 2 weeks’ holiday in Brazil did that for me after being the fifth person that morning to enquire whether it was the right or the left. Never a sensible question to put to me as Superalien will tell you after many years of wrong turns when relying on my navigation skills.

It’s not as if I hadn’t asked. In a former life I have posed as a journalist so I thought “What should I expect post-operation?” basically should have covered it.  There was a murmur about perhaps needing to take two weeks off work but of course, thanks to my subalien status, that was not an issue. Warnings of a little bit of discomfort and then my five-minute consultation was over. Perhaps I should have heard alarm bells when I checked again one week before the operation after Superalien discovered he had to head to new planets the night of the operation and was concerned about leaving me so soon.

The very nice female doctor looked a little doubtful but did impart what has proved to be crucial advice – to buy an all-important piece of ladies’ underwear best described as a front-loader and some very large front-buttoning shirts as I would be wearing a sling for a few days. A few days? It finally was put aside after five weeks. Not a good look when the weather is nearing 100 degrees – and the humidity likewise.

The key-hole surgery apparently went very well – or rather my specialist seems to be very pleased with himself every time I see him. I certainly enjoyed the few nano-seconds that I saw of it when I woke up half-way through and started asking about what I could see on the video screen. And the good news is that the pain level at night has gone down to just about the same as I was having before the operation – so that’s progress!

The other big bonus is that while someone else got to see the inner workings of my shoulder, I got to see the inner workings of the medical insurance system. The final statement from my healthcare company shows a billed amount in the tens of thousands. In contrast the company only actually paid a quarter of this to both my specialist and the hospital thanks to a system of agreed charges.

I’m not totally out of their grip. Apparently my specialist also forgot to mention the four months of physiotherapy that I supposedly need to get me back to high-fiving with gusto.  Here physio sessions last 90 minutes and involve all sorts of fancy stuff such as electrotherapy, ultrasound and specially-designed equipment such as my favourite, “The Stick” – it’s long and straight and would be a fun toy for dogs. I can’t imagine how long it took some medical specialist to come up with that one.

But it’s all helping and today I vacuumed the house for the first time in I’m not telling you how many weeks and typed my first blog since the start of May. And I’ve no idea what to cook for dinner. So everything’s back to normal. Give me a high five - or perhaps a low three might be better at the moment!
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