Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guantanamo Bay: Well, At Least It's Warm There.

As you know, I live with my living parent, not by choice, but out of a coin toss between here and my SUV. It's another seemingly subzero mid-April Chicago day, yet I believe nary anything colder runs than the blood through some people's veins. Me? No. I'm not a screeching temper-loser. I don't yell. (Hi, Valium!) I either silently cold-shoulder a conflict, out-intellectualize purposefully, passive-aggressively retort or, you know, write. If I'm vehement or impassioned about a stance on a topic of debate or discussion, I might raise my voice, but it's never out of disrespect or ill-spirit. Conversely, if I feel belittled for no valid reason, or accused of something unjustly, at times I'll speak more vigorously.

My son lives here much of this time as well, more so now that his father's job schedule hours have changed. While my parent keeps threatening to throw us out if we don't abide by her iron fist regulations and demands, and agree with her sociopolitical, narrow-minded, homophobic, conservative viewpoints about the world (apparently, she's going to heaven and I'm not), my strongest impetus is to believe that when the day finally comes when Luke and I are able to and DO, in fact, leave, she will mentally shatter. Which, of course, will be all my fault, because her personality type is (which I may have alluded before) to blame every ill of the world on anyone but herself. In a standard two-faced manner, one day I'll be told to pack my bags and the next day told that I am so incapable, incompetent and sick that I'll never be able to live independently and thus will require round-the-clock care.

Not having seen my son since Monday morning, I wanted to catch up with him as we went upstairs after picking him up from school, when I was dead-tracked and, when asked to stop what I was doing and listen to a 10-minute Pavarotti classical aria, and I said I didn't want to at the moment, was told, "You know, fuck you. Never mind. You're never interested in anything I like. Go on, go upstairs. Go do your thing." I didn't snap my "No." I factually, simply stated that I didn't feel like hearing the music. (It's nothing personal. I'd say the same thing to Luke if he asked me to listen to a Biggie Smalls CD.) Meg and I had to laugh just a little because I asked her if I was a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay and she said, "Maybe solitary confinement would be nicer!" I said, "Why do you think I'm in my room?"

It was made both worse and better by Luke's presence. On the one hand, she typically picks fights with me when he's not home, because 90% of the time, he completely Papa Bear's me. On the other hand, it's a minus because she could hear us both laughing when I finally escaped her vulturous clenches of rage and escaped to the safety of the house's upper floor. Then we both got yelled at. Then stuff was being banged around downstairs and we could hear her blowing her nose loudly and obviously.

Luke and I get in trouble and screamed at and verbally assaulted for some of the pettiest, stupidest, most trivial nonsense (please, must I use ad hominem twice in 2 situations in one week?) one could ever imagine in the transoms of the universe, because my psychiatrist and I have come to the conclusion that my parent, who in addition from being chronically depressed, has Borderline Personality Disorder. We first thought Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but after reviewing the criteria for both, it's not the latter in significance, though there are elements of it interspersed in her ritualistic negative undertones.

I have my own mental illnesses (bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, still some PTSD) yet have only studied other mental illnesses at length for the last 2 years in grad school. While I *did* get an A in the class on diagnostics, truer words were never spoken than when Guy said, as a doctor, sometimes it's the hardest to treat the ones you love. Mental illness runs rampant on my maternal side of the family--paranoid schizos, OCD's, depression, substance abuse, and most recently, a suicide. (Or, as my mother says, so-and-so was "a little off," or "not all with it," or "off her rocker.") After dinner one night, as I was covering which-relative-had-what, my mother asked me if I thought she was mentally ill. I chickened out and only told her that I knew she had depression, which she kind of denied. She's plateaued on the same low dose of an anti-depressant her PCP gave her like 20 years ago, which does nothing.

What's the DSM-5 criteria for Borderline, you ask? To make the diagnosis, the person must identify with at least 5 of the 9 demarcated characteristics, so these are the ones that stand out to me:

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (See above.)

2. A pattern of unstable and an intense interpersonal relationship characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. (Example: My mother, who only has a high school diploma, raves to friends and other family that I'm studying at a swanky graduate school, and how proud she is, but puts me down about my school and schedule, the financial aid, and has told me more than once to just quit the program and get a job.)

3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. ("I'm just your slave!" "All anyone ever does is take advantage of me." Desperate attempts to completely control not only her environment but the people around her.)

4. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). (Example: MAJOR mood swings and shifts of personality display.Very easily startled. Will stay on task or work quietly unless someone is within earshot, at which point, she'll wince, moan and become markedly agitated.)

5. Chronic feelings of emptiness. (Self-explanatory. While she volunteers at her church, our suggestion is that she adopt a more altruistic AND TIME CONSUMING cause so that she is not so perpetually wrapped up in her own thoughts. Something to give her meaning outside of the home and not having to do with the family. I'm wondering if my pastor can pull something out for her to do.)

6. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g. frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). (I've been slapped twice, called a bitch, told "Fuck you," am persistently insulted and demeaned, and lest we forget the smashing of dishes which I photographed, and vulgar outbursts over inconsequential things, accompanied by irrationality and crying outbursts.)

7. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe disassociative symptoms. (She literally thinks her life is the product of bad luck, others' maltreatment of her/us, my treatment of her, Luke or my disrespect, or the usual scapegoat, Dad. Something is everyone's fault.)

It's sad. It's very sad. If I even begin to suggest she visit an actual psychiatrist for proper medical treatment or see a real counselor on a regular basis, oh my, the stigma latches on. It's ironic and probably unnerving for her that I'm in the field of psychology because she's so anti-psychology, mostly a generational regurgitation passed from the beak of bird to bird to bird in her family tree's nest.

One might argue, "Why don't you/didn't you just take the time out to sit and listen to the aria?" In a word: autonomy. A different agenda. Yes, agreeably for all that my mother does to feed and house me in a clean, safe place (her summer garden decorations notwithstanding, which I trip and fall over constantly), I should probably be more gracious in resigning to her requests, whether they be insignificant or significant, timely or untimely. Still, I am a 41-year old woman with a packed schedule and a child with whom I like to spend time (usually). I have friends I want to see. I have a lot of work to do. My methods of decompression do not mesh with hers. Mostly, Luke and I just try to stay out of the line of fire.

I finished, ironically, Family and Couples Therapy today and decided it's definitely NOT the specialty I want to burst through. What did I learn the last 15 weeks? That every family is dysfunctional in some way. Some worse than others. A friend asked, "What happened to 'Can't we all just get along?'" to which I responded, that compassion can only take place after everyone gets their hands off of one another's choking throats.

But she said I'd make a great divorce mediator. With today's lush marriage crumbling market (it's up to 75% fail rate!), it makes perfect sense. Seek therapy, mediate with the divorce mediator (who might also counsel) to work out the details, visit the accountant, use the lawyer's services only to draw up legal papers for court, then buy yourself a funeral plot. Then take a tropical vacation to Guantanamo Bay. It can't be any worse than living with your parents when you're middle aged or getting a messy divorce.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Laid.

WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR WORK (unless, you like, work alone in your office after hours, or can close a door, or you know, no one else is around...)

It's not terribly often you'll hear The Offbeat Drummer talk frankly about S-E-X. Why not?

Old story. What, 4 years ago? I ended an abusive relationship in which a large part of it was me being forcibly sexually assaulted, for the greater part of 3 years. "NO's" were not adhered, ghastly crap went down, and it is safe to say it damaged my psyche pretty badly, emotional, physical and verbal abuse too. Through a lot of therapy and gentle friends (male and female), though, I am in a much better place about intimacy now than I was then. I was literally so scared that there were only a handful of men whom I'd allow near me, much less NEAR me. In the interim time from then until now, I had one sexual encounter with one man in the course of one morning, he knows who he is, and it was everything it should've been and was entirely cool and a long time coming (no pun intended).

Read: Ready to green light more than a little slithering (damnit, cues I missed to get closer, damn damn damn!) and butterfly kisses (I should've just gone for it). I have been for a while, I'm just only vocal about it with certain trusted friends (and now, the universe). Why so timid? Lots of reasons: Fear of rejection, Self-esteem crises, lack of opportunity, reciprocated crushes that cowered distantly, logistics, and new crushes I can't figure out of which their orientations or availability might sway, and a general lack of man-to-woman social interaction.

Celibacy is beginning to suck royally and not literally.

It didn't help that I had my annual (er, semi-annual, with my history, my bad) checkup with the gynecologist this morning. I haven't been back since the surgical re-check on my hysterectomy 2 years ago, though with my penchant for growing budding cancer in that "area," I was supposed to go every 3 months (which should clue you in on the value upon which I place my life!), and had all the standard chick stuff done, including a pap smear. (Guys, man up.) The nurse, during her inquisition, asked me if I'm sexually active and I actually sort of rattled off a pissed off "NO! BUT THANKS FOR THE REMINDER, TWATWAFFLE!" In any event, I told the doctor I hate her today a) because not only does she call me 3 days after every exam I have to tell me there's something drastically wrong with me I need to "come in and talk to her about," but also that she knocked me out and removed all my piercings. (Still not over that.) Otherwise, everything superficially seems normal, except for the fact that I should probably do more Kegel exercises, though, like, for what?

Then I got home and my friend had posted this video that Upworthy also found prudent enough to post, about the notion of "consent" in a physical/romantic or sexual relationship or encounter. Apparently, according to my friend, it's popular on the West coast, but it hasn't made it as far east as Chicago. "Can I/May I hug you?" "Can I/May I kiss you?" Much of it I can understand as a survivor of sexual abuse, but my golly goodness, is it taken to the extreme. OK, you have to stomach this video clip for it to be in context before I continue my rant. Trust me, by the end, you'll want to wire this Trixie girl's jaw shut forever as much as I do. Take it away, Laci Underalls!


:37 seconds in: She implies that if a man with whom I'm being romantic leans over for a gentle kiss, he's committing sexual assault and violating a "mandatory" consent on my part. 

FAIL!

I've been raped, Laci Underalls. Trust me, sweetums, it ain't the same thing.

But go on...

1:01: "Sexual coercion is often seen as acceptable." 

BRING IT ON! I'VE BEEN WAITING!

But you were saying...

1:22: Suggestions on asking for consent, with Laci Underalls camera-positioned on top of her supposed partner, asking him (her?) SIX THOUSAND QUESTIONS about the experience in the moment.

AT WHICH POINT, YOUR PARTNER GRABS A HANDY CAN OF PEANUT BRITTLE STRATEGICALLY PLANTED ON THE NIGHTSTAND AND SAYS, "HONEY, WILL YOU CHEW ON THIS? I'D *REALLY* LIKE THAT BECAUSE THE INCESSANT JIBBA JABBA OF YOUR INTERROGATION IS DRIVING ME APESHIT CRAZY AND I'D LIKE IT VERY MUCH, IT'D TURN ME WAY ON IF YOU'D SHUT THE FUCK UP, CHEW LOUDLY AND DROWN YOURSELF OUT BECAUSE I'M ALREADY LOSING IT!"

FAIL.

2:42: "Consent is a clear 'Yes!' 'Enthusiastic!' Out loud!'"

RAH, RAH, SISS BOOM BAH! HIT HIM IN THE HEAD WITH A KIELBASA! I DIDN'T REALIZE WE WERE AUDITIONING FOR A SPOT ON THE CHEERLEADING SQUAD.

FAIL.

3:10: I will agree with her that overt utterances of "Stop," "No," "I don't like this," "You're hurting me," etc are all appropriate and necessary ways to halt an otherwise uncomfortable romantic or sexual situation. 

***

The next blah-blah couple of minutes: How you should iterate that no means no, and she gets all pouty and nauseating. She also rattles off a list of people you shouldn't have sex with and why. I agree with some and disagree with some. Except doctors and rock stars. You should always sleep with doctors and rock stars.

**

5:26: "Consent Culture"

My guess this is in response to what is being purported as "rape culture," as a counterpoint. Dandy.  But it's a bit over the top, and in my opinion, takes a hell of a lot of romance out of romance. Passion out of passion. Lust and love out of lust and love. Expression out of expression. Affection out of affection. And straight up, what kind of flat, operational, contractual, "sign-here-and-let's-get-down" bullshit is THAT? If, in the remote impossibility I was finally, by a miracle of God, in a situation with any one of the people to whom I'm attracted enough to want to at least kiss at a relatively moderate level, I'd be bonkers in the back of my mind wondering if ALL OF THIS is ALRIGHT WITH HIM. (Yes, have a scotch! Jesus!) 

Now that you've seen Laci Underalls and listened to her consent diatribble (she speaks at colleges? Don't people throw watermelons at her like Gallagher? I would...), can you see why this whole thing peeves me?

I'm not saying just shut up, lie there and get it over with as soon as possible. That's no fun. That's what you do when you're married and the passion is gone. And, as Chekhov said, "If you are afraid of loneliness, do not marry." (Married people, believe it or not, masturbate far more frequently than single people do. Why? You have to bloody ask?)

There are hundreds of ways and sounds and caresses and means by which you can show your partner you are or aren't enjoying your romantic or sexual encounter without reciting the Stations of the Cross, your SAT scores or an extensive explanation of how you organize your shoes in your closet. You don't need to enter into an intercourse discourse about changing positions. Just fucking do your fucking (or making love, depending on what your thing is with your person). Save the conversation for dinner, foreplay or pillow talk. 

My suggestion, in fact, Laci Underalls, is that if you're going to have one of these obligation questionnaires, VOICE them before ("Would you like?") or after ("Did you like?") but for crissakes, not during. Enjoy the experience for what it is. Or don't enjoy it for what it isn't and put an end to it. Bang.

For me, personally, I love a learned man. An educated man. A well-read man. A smart man who makes me laugh at silly, stupid things, listens to music, can exchange intellectually, is a good listener, has a compassionate heart, is friendly, has facial hair, a nice smile, doesn't live with his mom, is passionate and likes to kiss and hug, knows philosophy, and will treat me with respect and be communicative. There, I've just described not one, but all the men to whom I'm currently attracted. So there, Guy(s). You're all as sexy as hell. 
















Saturday, April 5, 2014

More Exciting Divorce News! Women are "Right Here Waiting!"

I can't imagine why, but I'm a complete fan of marriages that end after 20+ years of marriage (my most recent gush was the Captain & Tennille). Surprisingly, another long-term married couple (who live here in swanky North Shore suburban Chicago, a stone's throw away from Guy!) are calling it quits.

Cynthia Rhodes, 57, was a popular professional dancer who appeared in such films as "Dirty Dancing." She first met Marx on the set of the dreadful sequel to "Saturday Night Fever," "Staying Alive," starring John Travolta. She worked with Richard "It Don't Mean Nothing" Marx, 50, on a video and BAM! they started dating and got married, 25 years ago.

See? You totally CAN get a divorce after 50, with a fuckton of assets to divide (hey, these were famous people) and come out relatively unscathed if you have a good attorney. Oh? And their 3 sons are grown (23, 21 & 20)? Totally doable.

Oddly, my only personal experience with Richard Marx was body slamming into him in the hallway with beers in our hands (he with Rhodes at his side and I with a friend, or Craig, probably, I don't remember) at the United Center during an Eric Clapton concert in the early 90's. (Marx is pretty short, by the way.)

I'm not a fan of Richard Marx, never was, but have to give him snaps to what he said to Katie Couric recently, which, in response to how he's handling his separation and divorce, said, "It's all brand new to me, so I'm just having fun!" Now, that's the spirit, Richard!







Thursday, April 3, 2014

I Was Born With a Plastic Spoon in My Mouth....

There's a key point I think all of you seem to be missing which seemed perfectly obvious after visiting my psychiatrist this afternoon.

My grave mental illness, hapless lack of common sense, unhealthy lifestyle, relentless medical problems, utter stupidity, life mismanagement and affection starvation will only help get rid of me faster...and isn't that really the goal, kinda?

I know for sure that's what one person in particular is thinking. (UPDATE: I stand corrected. There is more than one person trying to get rid of me quickly, and he's doing a FABULOUS job of it! Lesson learned: Don't try to make plans, because if you're crafty and desperate enough, there doesn't always have to be a tomorrow.)






Thursday, March 27, 2014

TIA = THIS IS ANOMALOUS

This is a reasonable example of the contradiction of what I wanted to say and what I *could* say while I was having my TIA. You know the words. You know the melody. You know what you mean. But dip ya in butter if anyone else can figure out what in hayseeds you're talking about. The first few sentences come out alright, but from my experience, it really luges quickly on the ice, in the slippery tubes to arrive to this, to which my professor and classmate present at the time, or the folks at Argo Tea, can attest:


Which was why I chuckled when the neurologist asked me, in all seriousness, if someone "slipped me something" leading up to my episode that morning. Joe Cocker at Woodstock? Um....more probable. Ma and Luke spiking me with hallucinogenics? Not quite as likely. Further head-scratching ensued when the doctor asked if I'd recently been camping out in the woods, or perhaps have been bitten by a mosquito or attached to a tick, when I live in Chicago, have stayed in Chicago, under 5 feet of snow, don't travel, wouldn't camp if you paid me and nary an insect has appeared within 10 feet of me (aside from perhaps a piss ant or two) since approximately last October. Best to be thorough, though.

The neurologist suggests cerebral vasculitis, an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the vessels and channels to the brain vis-a-vis the carotid arteries, which are less involved, though the whole shebang boils down to a problem with how your blood flows to your noggin'. That's what, aside from a diagnosis of a TIA, mini-stroke, he's shooting for in his extensive range of engaged testing. Not suspects, not assumes, not proposes, not hypothesizes. To me, you coyly suggest to your best friend that she not wear orange because it totally clashes with her skin tone. (Oh God, no, I don't wear orange.) He wrote an endless list of orders and checked boxes for tests and ran out of room on the line for diagnoses. (PS, he has the penmanship of a 12-year old girl.)

Mini-strokes don't leave clots on the brain like strokey-strokes do, so he said it wouldn't have shown up on the MRI anyway. He sat on his laptop and scrolled through 100 images of my brain and generally agreed with the radiologist's conclusion that it was "stable, but inconsistent with age of patient." There are all these goofy lesions in the white matter, also inconsistent with multiple sclerosis, but accumulating and more indicative of this vasculitis issue. He knew that I'd hit my head recently. He knew that he saw a few lesions a couple of years ago. But the symptomatic description and the fact that I with my glasses off, I see double of everything in every direction, well, that's not fantastic. "And you DROVE A CAR?" Look, pal, I'm paying you out of pocket. For $150, we're not entering into a discourse of how I'm extremely bright but lack any semblance of pragmatism.

Yesterday, I went to the Resurrection outpatient lab for a mammoth 8-vial outpouring of extremely surprising free-flowing red liquid spewing from a keen phlebotomist who found a juicy arm vein, didn't have to use a butterfly needle, and left my typically crappy hand veins intact. Had I known prior that the hospital provides Aramaic translators, we could've Lent'ed it up and played it up Jesus-style, yet how discriminatory! No Sanskrit translators? (To answer your question, yes, I was inquisitively interrogated about the meaning of the large tattoo on the drawn arm.) Mindfulness, Annie! Remember that!

I scheduled the other 2 tests for tomorrow afternoon. A carotid angiogram and a cerebral angiogram. When I asked the doctor if they're like the angiograms Guy does on hearts, he said no, that these were all computerized and the only needles involved would be for the IV iodine contrast. My head was spinning and I didn't ask him what these tests entailed exactly, other than hearing him say, "I don't know, they're all computerized." OK. When I called scheduling, I was particularly specific in informing them that my head was full of metal. No, not plates. Irremovable head jewelry. No, not Iron Maiden. Stainless steel. I received no argument (for a change).

While the neurologist admittedly wants little to do with my PCP's office, he thought it was prudent of them to start me on baby aspirin last week, which is actually the treatment for mini strokes and to prevent more. With all the computerized charting, he looked at my recent lab work from the PCP and his already buggy eyes bugged out totally when he saw that my thyroid numbers were escalating at the rate they were, and while Guy said it was "sub-clinical," the neurologist's opinion was that they were loco for not having put me on Synthroid a long time ago. Sure as bologna turning green on a prisoner's jail sandwich, I've been on the drug for about 5 days, and gee, my knees aren't throbbing in the middle of the night and the jeans I bought 2 weeks ago at Old Navy? They'd been tight in the tummy and gaping out my ass, but can suddenly pulled up and down without unbuttoning them. Don't get me wrong--I've a long way to go before I'm going to be satisfied with my weight, but baby steps. 10 months of increasing fluid retention isn't going to disappear in a month.

What's quintuple odd? Ok, so last week we had Little Old Lady at the Grocery Store Who Loved My Hair. She made me feel like a million bucks. Then this Tuesday, wearily riding the Adler elevators back to class after a wake-up break, a woman getting off at another floor said, "I love your shoes. They make me happy!" They're Skechers multi-colored neon-ish running shoes. They go and don't go with anything and everything. (Versatility!) So I thanked her and told HER to have a good day.

This morning, I was smoking under the scaffolding in the windy morning mist outside Argo Tea (hi, could we have more product placement in this blog?) waiting for my large hot black (tea), and TOTALLY randomly, and mind you, I was just in my coat with no purse, with my wares in my front pockets, so I wasn't a muggers' team target, a young woman approached me. She said, "Excuse me, but I just wanted to wish you a very blessed day." Taken aback, I thanked her very much and she disappeared. Like I couldn't follow her in my line of sight down the block.

My mother's got me pegged as a minion of Satan because I'm polytheistic and think Hobby Lobby can shove their knitting needles up their crotches and dicks for supplying Viagra to men but denying women contraception and in a twisted way wishes I was WAY less educated, opinionated, and subscribed to radical conservatism if I'm to live under her roof and can't understand why Pastor Dave hasn't exorcised my demons or flat kicked my liberal ass out of the church. I'll spare you the dead-on-straight comment a friend made suggesting she become Newt Gingrich's 4th wife.

The truth of the matter is, be it angels, spirits, karma, four-leaf clovers, bulbs of garlic hanging on the door, dumb luck or my Dad, *somebody's* out there in a higher power guiding this whole ordeal, which has been extremely worrisome, stressful, exacerbating to my bipolar cycling, anxiety-producing and frightening into one of those "Jesus somehow slept on the freakin' boat during the storm while the disciples tried not to capsize sans fish, woke up, calmed the waters and said, 'Listen, yo, throw your nets on the OTHER side!' and BAM! fish are abundantly stuffing the nets."

(See, I never said I DIDN'T believe in Jesus, Jesus people.)

I told Guy I didn't deserve all of these blessings/kudos amid this turmoil (he pretty much knows I'd rather watch "Cosmos" than "Jesus of Nazareth"). He disagreed. Everyone disagrees. Probably even my professors (!) who've been very gracious. (That lynch mob committee, Christ, they better get me on a day when I'm not rapid firing, or no one will be left intact with as sharp a razor wit and tongue with which I can argue my position and case...) Oh, and Guy said my heart is perfectly flawed but not in any eminent danger, so that's good.

What's next? I've accepted what happened to my brain, suspected it anyway, and just have to put it in the hands of God-God-God. I'm nervous about these angios tomorrow and what they'll show, and how they're done, but they might be completely normal. (But realistically? I'm a chronic medical anomaly. I should donate my body to science when I die.) I might have the aforementioned disorder. If so, I'll deal. We'll all deal. I'm upright and thinking clearly, if not disorganizationally. My son is being taken care of. If Keith Richards can fall out of a coconut tree and emerge "too tough to die," I see no reason why I can't.

I have supportive friends, colleagues and a child, and a lot of work left to do, so with the blessings of the approached strangers, I'm relatively okay with the next steps.

Do watch the Joe Cocker clip. It's creepily accurate of a TIA, but my hair wasn't nearly as greasy.

Wish me luck!

And remember what Luke said before my hysterectomy, "My mom is invincible."

True.





Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bum Ticker, Too?





The results of my bloodwork came back on Friday. Gee, guess what? They ran a thyroid test they hadn't before and sure as all that is sacred, I need to be on thyroid medication!!!! I must be a freakin' genius!!! NO, I wasn't going to wait another 1-2 months to get this situation straightened out. I wanted a solution NOW, because I don't feel well NOW. So I was put on Synthroid, which should help me an awful lot. Guy said I don't really need an endocrinologist--that this should be easy enough stuff for a family doctor to figure out, so that's what happened there.....

I'm still seeing the neurologist on Tuesday (oh GAWD, that's going to be an expensive visit) about the possible "stroke me, stroke me," which could've been caused by my thyroid or my heart, which is another matter I found out about on Friday.

I haven't had an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) since 2010, when it was normal and I was being diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, if you're new here). But my PCP is worried about how high my pulse is climbing. Guy, on the other hand, said that people with my thyroid condition typically run a very low pulse but, as usual, I'm a medical mystery. I've been having palpitations and it's been over 100 for a while, so he increased my heart medication and I might need a repeat echo since the blood test showed my heart's not pumping blood to my organs as well as it should be. I thought to myself, "All of this and now a bum ticker, too?" Hence the clip above. What else, Lord?

So HOPEFULLY, they'll start getting me straightened out soon. I sent Guy Warren Zevon (actually his son, Jordan's version)'s "Studebaker," which I've posted here before, but I told him the way I view this song is that my body is actually the "Studebaker." It keeps on breaking down. (He liked the song.)


Very moved to town, did I mention that? Isn't that fabulous news? I can't wait to meet her in person and we've been trying to get together, though my schedule's pretty packed, so I invited her out to dinner on Monday night. Nothing fancy, she just wants some authentic Chicago pizza (we were going to get some Gino's East right down the street from me). But sure enough, another screaming match about money happened yesterday between my mom and I (mostly on my mom's end, I don't usually say much other than an off-handed comment here and there and explaining every receipt I'm "required" to submit to her for MY STIPEND ACCOUNT). I'm running out of money again and don't get another stipend until June. Very's not in the best financial situation herself, looking desperately for work (if anyone needs a dog walker, personal assistant or an ACE photographer and artist, let me know!!!!) and I feel like a douchebag because I told her I would treat for dinner. Trouble is, I'll probably get the shit kicked out of me for ordering a pizza and spending more of that paltry $2k I have left to live on until June (my child support aside). She is so sweet, she said she didn't care if we even just went to Jimmy John's. I told her I wasn't sure I could even afford that. Either we can postpone dinner a week or so until I get child support or I can just fucking use my own fucking money and not fucking explain it to my motherfucking you know who. I suppose I could always use the stipend and put $ from child support back into the account when it comes. There's an idea! (Very, don't' despair, I'll get you your pizza!)

If my mother could only get out and DO something with her life other than fret--like volunteer, get a part-time job at Michael's or a craft or antique store--anything--food pantry--shelter--anything--to get her out of the house and out of her narcissistic mind, maybe that would help. It's been suggested to me and I might suggest it to someone else influential who *might* be able to persuade her to leave the house once in a while and do something altruistic instead of obsess about the money I loaned out to live on in grad school. She needs to learn a maybe harsh lesson about those less fortunate than she is, and to learn not to treat me like a child all over $. I do not feel loved. I feel like a liability. I am not an asset to my parent's life. As I've said so many times before, I'm a walking dollar sign.

I asked her if perhaps she would *consider* not charging me *rent* to live here in the house until my next stipend comes, read: don't be so greedy! when she knows I have to pay the rent on my storage unit every month too. 

That storage unit is sucking the dough out of me, but where else am I supposed to store a 3 br apartment? Luke and I went there last weekend and found a treasure trove of goodies, including my honeymoon photo album from England and France. It was a great throwback for sure. 

Now, Luke. I was pretty pissed at him yesterday because he turned on me. His sense of entitlement to things, being a spoiled only child, is out of control. He took HER side about what I spend my money on, when half of it's on shit for him. He assumes that if wants something, it'll be instant gratification and if he doesn't get what he wants, he throws a toddleresque tantrum and accuses me of not wanting to spend time with him. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just spend $60 on the renewal of his XBox membership and told him he's not getting an allowance for 6 weeks as a result. "Oh, but you told me you'd buy that for me!" he said. Yes, I may have said that in the past, and I normally don't go back on my promises, but we're in dire straits. I can't afford it. Nor can I afford the graphic novels he wants me to buy, or a new Guitar Hero controller because he broke his old one....fucking deal with it and save your money, or hit up your father, who pays for very little in Luke's world. (e.g. his WHOLE TUITION!) My mom thinks braces on Luke's teeth are a "luxury" and not a necessity, since she didn't get braces for either my brother or I. Luke NEEDS braces. That's another upcoming expense. I refuse to relent on that, though Craig will be helping out a lot on that end, I think. It's not like Luke's having liposuction--the child needs braces. Fuck, I need braces! Her illogical concept of finances knows no bounds. 

So you see why I'm sort of even more anxious about things around here? My body is failing me (again), my mom's on my ass 24 hours a day about my own money and my son thinks it grows on trees. 

Last night in church, we did a contemporary version of the old standard hymn, "It is Well," "it is well with my soul..." Another funeral hymn. I wrote down to add it to the list of songs I'd like in the event I don't make it. I lost it during practice reading the lyrics as I played my djembe, and thankfully, I sit behind everyone else so nobody could see the tears streaming down my face. Yes, I guess you could say all of this has thrown me into an episode of major depression. Can you blame me?

I'm reminded of a Bob Dylan quote which has stuck with me since I first heard it as a teenager.

"It is possible to become so defiled in this life that your own mother and father will abandon you, and IF that should happen, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your own ways."

I want to and should go back to sleep. Which I guess I should enjoy before Luke and I are parted--he off with his father in their own personal hell (he HATES IT over there) and me in a homeless shelter. 

It's starting to look that way.







Thursday, March 20, 2014

So That Asshole Fred Phelps Finally Croaked

I'm no theologian, and I suppose everyone on his death bed can atone for his sins, however grievous they might be, but I have a hard time believing Fred Phelps (founder of the Westboro Baptist Church) did such a thing. He was too full of hatred and malice, be that the product of Satan disguised as a religious Christian organization or just a consortium of crackheads. Thus, it's a reasonable assumption that if there is a hell, Phelps is burning in it right now. He died today. I wore rainbow socks today. Coincidence? Picture taken on my rainbow-colored Beatles blanket:



I'm not into spreading a message of hate, nor am I supportive of what claims to be a "church" indoctrinating its members (especially children) with anti-ANYTHING, be that running the gamut from the relatively unbelievable story of Noah's ark, pro-life or anti-homosexual.

Neil deGrasse Tyson for President!

Westboro pretty much hated everyone who wasn't white, conservative, heterosexual and Bible-pounding. Maybe even more minorities of which I'm unaware. Protesting just about everything not sanctioned by Christ Himself, Phelps and his minions gave Christianity a really, really, really bad name. Baptists, especially, who are conservative and a little nutty, but not inherently bad people. (Hey, the same can be said for my own denomination, Lutherans.)


To encourage, demand or otherwise advocate that a child protest against homosexuals, war veterans or any other group Westboro hated was reprehensible. What's worse? Now that their "leader" is deceased, the hate mongering will just perpetuate in his memory. It's like no matter how many counter-signs or protests REASONABLE PEOPLE WITH A MODICUM OF SENSE AND COMPASSION hold or hold up, how on earth do we stop these people? Are they operating under the auspice of the First Amendment? Yes. Still. Are they the even worse, modern-day version of the KKK (which still exists, but is quieter)? Yes.



In a documentary I'd seen on Westboro, none of the children holding up protest signs knew WHY they were protesting. They didn't know what "fags" were. They didn't know what anyone had done wrong to warrant going to hell. They were just drones raised by even dumber drones. Is that the message of love and understanding taught by Christ or any of the other deities? Hardly.

Counter-hate-mongering by REASONABLE PEOPLE WITH A MODICUM OF SENSE AND COMPASSION serves no purpose. The old "two wrongs don't make a right." I am vehemently pro-homosexual, while heterosexual, and pro-liberalism and civil rights, even though I am a follower of Christ who happens to attend a conservative Lutheran church for worship (I tend to disagree with most everything in their doctrine, but it's where I've been raised for 42 years). 

In the spirit of spirituality and what's taught by God as I understand and accept Him in all His forms, I am clinging by a thread to the words of a gay man who has earned my respect one hundred fold, George Takei. A tormented soul, Phelps was. That's most certainly true.


Quite frankly, I don't foresee Fred Phelps resting in peace, ever. Nor should he. 

For sure, he won't meet Freddie Mercury.