Saturday, March 31, 2012


If I ever "waited for inspiration's shove," it was in my lost gift for writing poetry. At least, a "gift" is what my best friend described it as, as if I was holding this inside of me for the last 17 years and should let it out for the world to see. I was surprisingly pleased, myself, with the end product of my first poem since college, which still has not (to my knowledge) been read by the muse who inspired it. I felt that it expressed sentiment I couldn't otherwise express or certainly voice aloud. If I waited for "society's kiss on the forehead" to write him the poem, it never would've happened at all. I don't wait for society's kiss to do ANYTHING, which has it's good and bad points and end results. The above quote, attributed anonymously, says to "stay eager." Of that, I'm certain I will.

Thus, I present my 1st original poem in 17 years, "Illumination." As I said in a previous blog, I wrote it by hand with a pen and a notebook, augmented by a thesaurus for the most eloquent word, out in the warm sunshine in mid-March. (No, it may not be copied, used, or reprinted, or even printed out without my permission. As is everything on my blog, it is copyrighted. Critiques are, however, welcomed.)


I swear you once mentioned

Your Christmas lights are left outdoors


Lit only on occasions proper,


Unaware of the changes in season.

A seemingly irreplaceable decoration

That surely must be

Tinkered with, twiddled

Untangled and adjusted from time to time.

So you blow the snow away

Perhaps by their twinkle in winter.

You cut grass

As the light bulbs start to crack, weathered.

You grow flowers underneath

In the same beds, warmly

And they blossom, unfailingly.

While the wind and the rain

And the leaves and the twigs

Bundle your gutters;

Storms threaten to tear the roof

Off an otherwise solid structure.


To-do lists.








Eventually, the lights outside

Will have to dismantle; worn, irrepairable.

Your house, your fortress…

Unfamiliar, unsettled.

You dutifully drive off to replace them.

Out of contentment or out of demand?

The advent returns.

Requisite ornamentation, memories, keepsakes

To unpack and adorn once again.

The new lights are vivid, not pearly flushed.

And not what you were supposed to buy.

Now distracted by demented beauty,

Your steadiness on the ladder askew.










Building a fire to admire them by,

You choose solitude. Reflection.

A hardy pit and perspiring Glenfiddich

Glow your dimpled yet hesitant smile.

Cast loose, you’d undoubtedly flail.

Vacated involuntary, though,

The distinct safeguard

Of the wind you deem “friend”

Would never howl forcefully enough

To waver your fortress away.

Andrea Miklasz


Friday, March 30, 2012

The Straight--Laced Life of 2 Punkers, or Why My Ex-Husband is Still Cool.

My ex-husband, Craig, wore a cardigan, Mr. Rogers-esque sweater to go see KISS with me on the first reunion tour back in '96, I think it was. We were newlyweds, I'm sure of that. That was back in the still-coming-out-of-grunge, resale shopping-popular days. Not that he didn't have a cavalcade of more rock-concert appropriate shirts he could've worn; he just wore that dippy cardigan and I'll never forget it. He was being true to himself, I suppose, so I can't fault him for that, though I cringed in embarrassment. Being true to oneself is hugely important to me.

As I write at this moment, I'm wearing one of his old t-shirts that became too small for him and fits me like a big potato sack, but is comfortable and fuck you, I'm recovering from major surgery. It's a My Bloody Valentine "Loveless" shirt back from when we met in 1992. MBV was an alternative band. I wouldn't part with it for the world because a) it's hella cool and b) it has unparalleled sentimental value.

When I was taken away by ambulance the night I was released from the hospital after the hysterectomy (all of the doctors, except for the gyno, agreed that they should never have discharged me 24 hours after the operation, as I was in pretty bad shape) after the complete dehydration/too much Dilaudid in my system pass-out, the fucking paramedics cut my clothes off without abandon, right down the middle, jaggedly, which almost gave me a heart attack when my mom took my clothes out of the "patient belongings" bag. What was in there? My vintage Vic Firth drum sticks t-shirt that my friend, Amy, gave me, that I loved. My favorite bra. My favorite sweatshirt that says, in Latin, "If you can read this, you're over-educated." All my favorite loungewear. Jesus H. Christ. Would it have been that hard to just pull all that shit over my head? I'm all about maintaining an airway, but it's not like they were planning on intubating me. All of that leaves me with 2 pull-over sweatshirts that are not hoodies, both of which were Chris' and are gnarly, in both body and soul and also fit me like a giant potato sack. I *do* have something like 14 hoodies I could wear, but for lounging, I dunno, I guess I prefer a pullover. Time to go thrift-store shopping?

Anyway, Craig is not-so-secretly steeped in alternative culture, or sub-culture. He writes for Pop'Stache Magazine, an online zine for alternative rock/pop. He has a radio show on, and plays punk and alternative music, chiefly, with some tolerable oldies and rarities mixed in. (Check his show out, his DJ handle is Craig Reptile, and he's on from 6-9pm every Saturday night.) He regularly can be found hanging out in punk and alternative clubs in the city. You'd never know by looking at him, though. He's a very straight-laced, "normal" looking 40'something who holds a straight job and sings in the church choir. (He even converted to Lutheranism, a more conservative denomination, from Presbyterianism, a more liberal one, after we got divorced, which STILL puzzles me.)

He's very much what one, on the surface, would deem a typical suburban dad. Sort of like my Tatus. But the old adage is so very, very true: You can't judge someone solely based on how they appear. Only Tatus is open to new, weird experiences and Craig rebels against my rebellion into social conservatism and keeping up with the Joneses.

Craig hated my first eyebrow ring back in '99. He knew I'd threatened a tattoo for years, and cringed at the thought. When I got the 2 tattoos, 2nd eyebrow ring and 2 cartilage rings with Tatus a couple months ago (already!), he just shook his head and rolled his eyes when he saw me. He may think alternatively and liberally and you'd think he'd be more than comfortable with quirky, punky looking people. Alas, when it comes to his former beloved, that is not the case.

Visiting me in the hospital, he saw the specimen jar that held all of my body jewelry that was stripped off of me after they put me under, after I could put up a fight, which I still think was REALLY rotten of the doctor and nurses to do. Underhanded. I told Craig I planned on getting re-pierced ASAP and he tried to talk me out of it, citing that if, for example, I chose down the line to get a straight job, excessive body jewelry would perhaps be frowned upon, to which I said I honestly didn't fucking care. He just threw up his hands at me, again.

If either one of us looks like they belong in alternative culture, it's me, not Craig. In alternative culture, I'm more or less at home, and I walk the walk, but I can honestly say, I don't talk much of the talk, musically anyway, while Craig does. Yes, the Flaming Lips are my favorite band. But The Beatles are my other favorite band. Yes, most of the music in my iTunes pre-dates 1995 (except for the Lips stuff, and I really like Adele, and Dhani Harrison's band thenewno2 is fantastic). I like off-the-beaten path places to visit and to eat at, as opposed to chain restaurants or the "hip" places to go. I STILL like resale shops. But yes, I donated every Polo shirt I owned in an effort to not dress so overtly SUBURBAN while keeping all of my edgier, cooler-looking, yet femininely pretty threads. And I play the drums....but in a church praise band. I've held down straight jobs my entire adult life, even with one eyebrow ring. "Yes, but now you have FOUR piercings in your head. Do you have to get them ALL done?" Craig said. And so.....what?

My plan is to finish my doctorate before embarking on any new career--that my "career," as it were, for the next 5 years will be that of a full-time student. Even after I graduate and get a job, the clientele I will most likely work for and with won't mind a psychologist who has tattoos and piercings. If anything, they'll feel less alienated. Who knows. What matters most is that from the inside-out, I've walked down the roads my future clients have walked down and survived. I keep continuing to almost die and keep living because there's a helluva lot more for me to do in this life. And by God, I'm gonna do it "My Way:" the Sid Vicious version, not the Frank Sinatra version.

When I went to see live blues with Tatus, I had NO idea what to wear to fit into that culture. I ended up wearing something more suited for a Flaming Lips concert, colorful, mismatched and bold, though what Kate and I call "come fuck me boots" capped off my ensemble. (No, I don't wear them because I want to fuck the person I'm with. They're just our nickname for sexy boots, of which I own many a pair. Trust me, none of them make me look like a hooker. I do have a modicum of taste.)

My piercing artist, Hank, said to come in and get the re-piercings ASAP, so I called Craig to ask him if he could do me a favor and take me one night next week. I'd have asked Tatus, but it's Holy Week and he's Catholic, so I assume he has to spend all his free time at church. Hell if I know. He hemmed and hawed, but said he had nothing else planned for Wednesday night. I did ASK him for this favor, of which I knew he opposed, and I'm sure the thought was looping through both of our heads, the most oft-asked question asked of me for which Craig is renowned:

"What are the chances of you shutting up until you get exactly what you want?"

My answer is always "Slim to none." And thus it has been for the 20 years we've been in each other's lives.

If there are 2 things that grate the worst on my nerves, they are a) hemming and/or hawing and b) wishy-washiness. Craig is a major hemmer/hawer and wishy-washy as all get-out. I am a "need-to-know now," instant gratification personality, which drives Craig insane. I'm always somewhere early while he's always running late. Luke is a combination of both of us. Craig said to me on the phone, "Jesus, what is it with you and Luke that you NEED to know things IMMEDIATELY?" To the contrary, when it's 7:30 and I still can't get Luke out of bed because he's dilly-dallying, I accuse him of acting like his father. Luke hates his Polo shirts/khakis combinations I pick out for him for school and prefers the t-shirts and ratted-at-the-edges jeans that reflect his unique personality, which is totally fine by me. I'd rather Luke be comfortable being himself instead of looking or acting like a robot who was dressed like a JC Penney's mannequin. It's amazing to watch your kids, as they grow, which personality traits they inherit from each parent. Everyone says Luke is growing to look more like me and unlike Craig, who was his clone as a youngster. Luke still makes "Craig faces" and whines and moans when he coughs or has a cold like his Dad, but his personality is a LOT like mine, which is probably why Luke drives Craig crazy so easily. Luke is way more punk than his father. Or "emo" as they call it at his age. Anyway, he and I both march to our own beats, which are very similar.

But I digress.

I told Craig that I could probably persuade Tatus to take me. Oh, Tatus would DO it, eventually, but it would require laborious planning and schedule maintenance, neither of which I had the patience for at the moment. I feel utterly awkward and naked without my piercings. Craig said, "You can't MAKE anybody do anything." Clearly, Craig hasn't spent much time observing myself with my Tatus. Not to say I emasculate him in any way, or that I wear the pants in our friendship, but suffice it to say, he gives in if it means a lot to me and I always appreciate it. But he's a frantically busy physician and Craig had a night free, so I jumped on it.

Craig asked a series of questions. "Where are we going, again?" (The Tattoo Factory.) "Where is it?" (On Broadway, in Uptown.) "Is there a Reckless Records nearby?" (I was on my phone sitting in the parking lot of Osco waiting for my mom to get my antibiotics, how the hell would I know when he's sitting in front of a computer at home?) "Can you provide me with directions?" (Yes.)

Then he said, "Wait. Luke wants to talk to you." (I'm so sure he did.)

Luke gets on the phone and starts blabbering about cheesy breadsticks, and I'm saying "Yeah, yeah, what is it? I still need to talk to Dad." Then I told Luke, "Tell Dad if he doesn't take me on Wednesday to get pierced, I'm putting OM stickers on both he and his mother's cars." (I got a sheet of 20 of them in the mail today! Luke wants to put one on his XBox. Solid.) Luke told Craig what I'd said, with Craig responding, in the background, "Why do you two always think that threatening me will get me to do what you want?" Collectively, Luke and I said, "Because it works." Craig's trying to teach Luke patience. I'm teaching him the far more practical, if not less ethical art of blackmail. Hey, everybody's got their own style. So kill me. At least when Luke's with me, I am tough and strict enough to get him in the shower by 10pm with lights out by 11pm, if not sooner.

Craig got back on the phone and begrudgingly agreed to take me Wednesday night at 7pm. "Reckless Records is 3 miles away. I'll be waiting in the car for you." I told him if he didn't have the stomach for it, he could just peruse the tattoo art on the walls, which he refused. (His description of my c-section with Luke? "There was SO. MUCH. BLOOD.") "You owe me gas money," he said. Yeah, Craig, I'll get right on that. "Fine," I said. "How long is this gonna take?" he asked. "I don't know, 15-20 minutes?" I answered. (A lot will depend on if I start profusely bleeding out my eyebrow again, like Hank managed last time.) "I hope you're not planning on getting another one of those 'THINGYS,'" Craig said, referring to another tattoo. "Not until my 40th birthday," I said. "Great," he said in his harsh monotone of disapproval that I'm quite used to.

Tell me which of the two men, Craig and Tatus, said each of the following statements to me at some point in our lives, and which one sounds more fatherly and which one sounds more like someone I would marry during the course of my life:

A) "Whatever makes you happy, sweetheart."
B) "You have to learn to accept the consequences of your actions."

If you answered "A" for Craig, you are incorrect. Craig is very, very nice. Very polite. Very quiet. Very milquetoast. Very passive. He neither drinks nor smokes, though he's tripped on LSD in the past and I haven't. Craig is neither reckless nor rebellious. He has a very dry sense of humor, if you can get him to even open up to have a casual conversation. The only times he shows any sort of temper are when a) Luke has gotten on his last nerve or b) during March Madness, or if it's our own kid's basketball game. So why did he decide to obligate himself for the evening to take his ex-wife to The Tattoo Factory? It's not because I said "PLEASE!!!!!!!!" to him like 20 times and he gave up, at least knowing him as well as I do, I doubt that's the reason. He will take me because he loves me and wants me to be happy, much like my Tatus. And I love him for that, all of that. But Craig is Craig. He has to draw a difficult line (i.e. waiting in the car the whole time and not coming in the studio) just to make a point to me that he opposes the situation. John and Yoko "sat in" for peace. Craig sits in for dramatic effect.

Apart from a mutual passion for music, Craig and I had little in common, personality-wise, to draw us together for life, which is but one of many reasons why we are no longer together. Now, at least, we share a child, so we have a mutual goal in life who needs both of us, though I think we'd both agree that staying together just for Luke's sake would've been a very unhappy place where nobody's soul was thrilled anymore. Clearly, these two love-struck 19-year olds evolved in polar opposite directions and while I grew more punky, outspoken, liberal and free, comfortable in my own weird, psycho skin (Tatus wants me to quit referring to myself as "psychotic," because he thinks I'm being too hard on myself, but if the boots fit, I'm wearing them), Craig (despite his love of punk/alternative music and liberal stance on political and socio-economic matters) became, essentially, a suburban dad who just doesn't care for golf.

I draw out both the best and the worst in Craig, as he does in me. I think it'll always be that way. In any event, I'm thankful and grateful for the ride to the studio next week and I love him for it. And yes, I'll offer gas money, but will probably try to charm my way out of it anyway...

PS--Purely an aside. Ms. Blog Stalker? That new web browser you're using to get to the blog? Yeah, I can see that too. Keep working on that anonymity thing, sweetie. Facepalm!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bruised, Beaten and Dehydrated: my Hysterectomy

I love these 2 pictures. It's what's in these pictures.. Rather, whom. Both here at Resurrection Medical Center, my neighborhood hospital. My first peek at my only son through ultrasound. And also, below, what he wrote on the dry erase board here in my hospital room after my hysterectomy. That little fetus is now approaching teenager.

(Friends have told me that the pre-teen years are MUCH harder on kids than high school is. And college? That's the most fun you'll have in your entire life. (Though I was neither a drinker nor a drugger in either high school or college.) I just pray Luke doesn't fall into the bad behaviors his mom did at any point in his life, doesn't end up with his Dad's blood clotting disorder and that his creativity is forged, that he's able to use his many gifts to help out and love other people with his unique, quirky, brilliant, humorous personality and smarts. )

As ultrasound pictures go, some of them are hard to decipher what's what and where. I prefer this one, where you can see his alien-like head and brain (oversized) on the right, an abdomen budding with arms/hands, a torso, and tiny feet with almost unrecognizable legs on the left. This was my 13-week ultrasound. July of 1999.

At that juncture, they still couldn't hear his hearbeat on the doppler, which scared us, so my OB did an ultrasound, where they found a perfectly little tiny growing fetus. Sort of corroborated the 2 dozen home pregnancy tests I'd taken since my last period of THAT era, April 22, 1999. That's another date I'll never forget, just l won't forget that March 5th was the date of my LAST EVER menstrual period. Woot to both days!

Waited until around 9 pm for Luke to show up with Craig Monday night, which seemed like an eternity. First they had to go to Radio Shack for splitters or something else Luke is working on with electronics and engineering. Then they had to go to my house to pick up my mouse and mouse pad. THEN they came over, THEN Luke had a shitload of homework to do. Still, he didn't really want to leave, so he drew me a picture that says "Luke (heart sign) Mom and a walrus on the dry erase board in my room (see above). He was SO relieved that I was and looked ok, even though I'm not looking like Ms. America (Ms. Punk America?) and secretly agonizing that it'll take weeks to fit into my skinny jeans again, til all this swelling goes down. Enter: Sweatpants, flannel pajama bottoms, elastic, elastic, elastic. Geez, no wonder you don't leave the house during recovery! (Not that I don't go to the grocery store in my pj's regularly.)

Had a more than pleasant visit with my now-calm son and Craig, who remains to this day, 20 years later, the first on the list of people I know who can instantaneously calm ME down when *I* panic. He's so milquetoast and unassuming, yet he's a great father. We don't engage much, and it's almost always about Luke, but he is patient, calm and I think getting to be the stricter of we two parents.

I was already up and "around," if you want to call it that. Sitting in a chair to look healthier to my son than I really feel, when I'm in a lot of pain and the pharmacy downstairs still hadn't brought up my Dilaudid, which I was due for 2 hours ago at the time. I muddled through, and sent to the bathroom to pee (quite an effort). During my brief intermission, Luke took to the dry erase board and left his mark, as he does everyhwere. The mark of the WALRUS.

The hysterectomy went fine. It was laproscropic, which is easier, though I have like 5 or 6 holes in my abdomen, which freaks me out. They took my uterus and cervix out via my vagina, which is now stitched up and when I asked why, my gynecologist said, "So your intestines don't fallout." Simple enough, which freaks me out as well. There are stitches in it. And I'm bleeding a lit tle, which is normal, I guess, unless I start clotting. I'll be here not overnight again. Staying until after dinner and having my girl, Jenny, drive me home since tis better if my mom stays sort of away from me for at least the next few days or wears a mask. My ma said to stay here as long as they'll keep me, as currently, she has a bad cold she picked up from Luke, that I was spared by God. Hare Hare! Seriously, it's amazing I didn't catch the cold, given how many dirty snotrags I picked up for him, the shared space, the handling of the Benadryl cup...God clearly wanted this surgery to happen yesterday. But poor Ma, she's miserable....

Oh, Miss Thang II, for your information, I was administered the Pneumovax today, since I never get a cold. I only get severe asthmatic bronchitis or pneumonia. This should help, no?

Speaking of God, Pastor Dave and I had a wonderful visit during which he attempted to put my body jewelry BACK IN because the medical team in surgery TOOK OUT ALL OF MY EYEBROW AND CARTILAGE RINGS OUT AFTER THEY KNOCKED ME OUT AND NOW THEY ALL NEED TO BE RE--PIERCED and PUT BACK TOGETHER. That'll be pleasant and costly. In my mom's aggression over the whole situation, she was like "Fine, I'll pay for it.' That's great because I'm running out of tax refund money already and the piercing are really important to who I am. Tatus said I looked more naked last night than I ever have in front of him. (He was joking. The only times he's seen my remotely naked are during exams on top and checking for edema on my legs. Oh yeah, he has seen me in short-shorts. ANYWAY, he missed my body jewelry as much as I do.)

Blew a call into Hank, my piercing artist, who's willing to re-open the closed piercings. I asked how much that would cost. He said, "Oh honey, somewhere between $0-$20. So that's a lucky relief. When I'm up to it I'll get my head re-pierced. Putting the jewelry back in right now, with random fever, sounds a little on the iffy side. I have to wait until I'm healed more.

Anyway Pastor Dave gets not only me, as he got me from the start, but also he gets IT. We had a discussion about me being a practicing, faithful Christian who draws on the beauty and the culture and philosophy of other religions. I told him I "dabble" in them, both Hinduism and Buddhism. He didn't seem to want to ex-communicate me from the Lutheran church, so that's cool. I told him how much I want to return to the band ASAP, and given we don't play again until April 14th, I think it is, I should be back in sitting-on-a-stool-playing-a-djembe- shape. Unless we get the whole house rocking again with the addition of a potential new lead guitarist we're working with.

We talked about acts of forgiveness and penance, and how they're really kind of just a show in the Catholic church--faith by actions, not by grace itself. When we ask God for forgiveness, Pastor said, and we truly repent for our actions, we can pray and ask for forgiveness, ask the person we've wronged for their forgiveness or give it all up to God. All good things, that don't necessarily involve the minster crossing you or telling you to say 3 Hail Mary's, though I guess it can't hurt, right? We talked about the Presbyterians, as my ex-husband would always call them, "The Pre-Destination People." (His father, lest we forget, was a Presbyterian minister.) We agreed that God ultimately has a plan for all of us on Earth, that's HIS will. But we don't, as Lutherans, necessarily obsess about it. Meh, every denomination has it's quirks, but in Christianity, anyway, ultimately it's about salvation through Christ Jesus. (Craig converted to Lutheranism AFTER we got divorced, which I thought was very odd. What his late father must've thought. What his living mother must think. Eh, who cares.

Anyway, that was it with Pastor Dave. Then I got to talk to Kate at length, before receiving a gorgeous bouquet of fuschia roses and other flowers, like a hydrangea with a mysterious, unsigned card that said something like "thinking about you all the time and love you very much." I have a hunch who gave them to me, though there was no name on the card. They're gorgeous, though. Truly. So, from whence they came, thank you and bless you. A pink hydrangea is even in there! We only see those in the summertime! Pastor, when he was getting his visitors pass, told the volunteer my name, and the volunteer said, "Oh, hey, we just got flowers for her!" but Dave though it'd be a little tacky to be walking in with a random bouquet of his flock's flowers.

Tatus came to visit me in the evening to check on things, and naturally they mixed up order for my heart medication, which he had to have fixed. He was worn out and still had a buddy of his in here that he said he'd visit. A nurse came into the room, and asked if he was a doctor, or if we were family. He said "Cardiologist" and then proceeded to ask the Propranolol question. Yet, we're kind of like family too. ;) A nurse told me that Lips, another doc I used to work for, saw that I was up on the heart floor, where I always am, but didn't come to see me, which is unfortunate, seeing as he's the only other person in the practice (the 2 girls I worked with notwithstanding) I can honestly stand at this point. In any event, I texted Tatus that if I had one more hole in my abdomen, he could play 9 rounds of golf on me. Mini golf, at least, with the belly button as the whole-in-one. Or Whack-a-Mole.

So this morning, I was awakened at 3am and then 6am, for various hospital bullshit So not a complete night's rest by any stretch. Decided to call it daytime and got up at 6:15ish. Last night, they wanted me to take a walk, which wasn't until 10pm, by which time I was falling asleep, so I said, "Fuck it."

Tatus said his sister's laproscopic hysterectomy a couple weeks ago rendered her a big ball of doing zero for herself. I highly doubt that I will be that dependent on my mom. And I want friends to come over and hang out, maybe watch a flick downstairs, see my new room and I've REALLY been wanting to show Tatus the George Harrison documentary, to watch it together, instead of him loaning it from me. Knowing George's history and life as well as I do would put a unique spin on watching the documentary. Though with Spring break coming up for probably 2 of his 3 kids, we'll see how much time we get to spend together in the near future. I think he'd do better returning to the Tattoo Factory to get me re-pierced than my MOTHER would. She'd be best off looking at all the designs on the wall while I get my head re-jabbed 4 times. STILL SERIOUSLY BUMMED OUT ABOUT THAT.

(Ah. They finally brought the Dilaudid. When they actually start working in like an hour, I'll feel much better.)

They finally took the suction-contraction contraption thingys off my legs Tuesday morning. So I can get up with the IV and wander into the bathroom should the need arise, but output is scant and hurts too much to push. My girl Jenny said to run some water in the sink at the same time, that'll help things move along. Ooh, they're taking the IV out, unlike last time, when I got so fed up being there on the anniversary of my father's death, that I ripped out my own IV. Not smart. Maybe, I can wash up, wash my hair and brush my teeth.

Tooth brushing accomplished, off the IV, walked the floor, ate lunch, talked to Kate, saw my PCP, my gynecologist and I can hear Tatus' voice on the floor, his hearty giggle unmistakable. I assume he's heading my way eventually, though I'm usually his last, so he can spend the most time jibba and or jabbin'. It's become clear to me that he hasn't yet read the rest of the diatribe I wrote explaining the CD of 18 songs I gave him almost a month ago, nor has he opened the envelope with the original writing exercise I did especially for him. Surely he would've said something by now. Lazy Irish Something-or-other! Plus, OMG, Holy Week is coming and he's Catholic. I guess, unless he comes visiting while I'm eating dinner, the approximate time texted to him, I shouldn't plan on seeing him for a while. Boo to that, heavily!

Thank God I brought nicotine patches here to the hospital. Am I quitting? No, it's only been since yesterday morning since I had a smoke. I just haven't hit smoking rock bottom yet. The patches work. They help a lot. I wear them frequently when I go somewhere it's totally uncool to slip out and smoke, when I'm with staunch non-smokers (like going out w/my cardiologist, who really, surprisingly, doesn't nag me half as much as my family does).


I was let go from the hospital the next day after my surgery, Tuesday. Despite the fact I wasn't remotely healed. and in a lot of pain. Some time Tuesday night, at home, I took 2 too many Dilaudid and fell asleep at the computer. Then, as I was told, I was found unconscious on my bedroom floor, so my mom called 911 and our Pastor. I have no memory of getting to or going into the ER. They shot me up with Nar-Can and I nearly shivered to death, from it's effects. (You shake uncontrollably, much to the chagrin of the nurse trying to gather your blood. "Hold still!" she kept telling me, but I couldn't. I was admitted under 24-hour observation, put back on IV fluids (even though I'd had bag after bag of fluids, I was crazy thirsty and still dehydrated from the "bowel cleansing." My potassium was so low, that could have contributed to me falling off the chair and onto the floor. Tatus and my best friend both agree that 3 pills doesn't make an overdose. I purely took 3 Dilaudid (one at 6, one at 10 and another a 11, I was in so much pain).

The ER's great idea about my low potassium? Make me swallow a pill that was so large, they had to break it into 3's.

Yesterday, Wednesday, back in the hospital, I had no phone, no computer, and just had to SIT THERE and, according to my internist, "Tough it out." Read: The stigma against former junkies is still QUITE popular. I did get a pneumonia vaccine while I was there, and now I have this mysterious, warm to the touch hematoma on my left upper arm, where I *think* the shot was given. It's warm and red and big, as if I was allergic to something in the shot. I don't know.

Shortly before I was to go home last night, I developed a fever of 101.3. It's still at 100 now, and my nurse practitioner friend said fevers are common after a major operation. So they sent me home with a 101 fever and I was banished from having any of the narcotics that were written for me.

Tatus called. His opinion was that I should never have been released after 24 hours, but my gynecologist was adamant about getting me out of there.

I'm pumping Advil and liquids here at home, and will call the doctor again this morning to let him know I still have a fever, albeit lower now.

Praying I don't go all septic and infected on you all.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Long Goodbye...Until Tomorrow, or as Wayne Coyne Would Say "Atomic Orange Psychedelic Diarrhea!!"

After spending the entire weekend thus far in the bathroom "cleansing" my bowels (Saturday by virtue of my still-mysterious gastrointestinal condition that I can't take my meds for and today by surgeon's orders), I am growing weaker by the hour. Oh, yes, I'm pumping fluids, so I am only a tad dehydrated, so I switched to Gatorade. And I'm not hungry, for I'm never hungry, but I've decided to treat myself to some probably-frowned upon bubble gum to chew. One can only take the taste of Magnesium Oxide mixed with cranberry juice without puking, even having taken anti-nausea pills this morning.

I honestly wish Wayne was around to see the Orange Creamsicle color of what's coming out of my body. Knowing Wayne and knowing what kinds of pictures he posts on Twitter, no doubt he'd be amazed and would let the whole world vividly see it in photographs from his iPhone. He'd call it psychedelic. And it truly is. I think I have a pair of pants somewhere that color, that are *supposed* to be that color. (Speaking of pants, my watermelon-colored J Crew corduroys were quite well-received at church last night. Now THEY'RE psychedelic.)

This is brutal. Narcotics withdrawal is MUCH easier on your system than this is. Trust me. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, anyway, I'm going to lose more weight, which I can't afford to lose. At my cardiac clearance checkup, Tatus said that it takes really skinny people (down to 116 from 118 last week) a lot longer to heal from major surgery than it does people with, frankly, a lot more "padding" insulating their bodies, to put it politely. No wonder I recovered from my c-section so rapidly. Topping 200 lbs, and out of necessity of taking care of an infant, I fucking bounced back like a trooper. But I was 27 at the time. I haven't had the energy in the last year to play basketball with Luke, much less potentially be ripped open from stem to stern again.

It's not like diarrhea is new to me. I've had it chronically for like 2 years. And vomiting, profusely. But this is total ATOMIC BLAST OVER HIROSHIMA diarrhea. Why do I take Lomotil, the drug for which I was fired from my job? Because on Lomotil, I can have a few "normal" movements a day, instead of turning into an unstoppable crazy train of misery, which would've been the case at work had I *not* taken Lomotil in the first place. I honestly am saying I have an emergency Lomotil (from Stosh) sitting on my desk if this train rolls longer than, say, 8pm. Sorry, but at that point, I need my hour to watch "Desperate Housewives" and then call Kate in Massachusetts, UNINTERRUPTED, only to smoke and/or urinate on the infrequent occasion (it's amazing how much liquid you can ingest and yet how thirsty you get in this state).

Everyone is chanting the mantra of "laproscopic" and not open surgery. It's not that I'm not optimistic that the easier route will be a success, it's just given the history of the anatomy and adhesions in my abdominal area, it seems grim. I could be blissfully wrong, but the not-knowing until tomorrow around noon is so, so hard. I can only pray that the recovery is swift and that I get some strength back soon.

...It's been especially hard on Luke, with whom I had to part at noon until he comes to visit at the hospital tomorrow night with his Dad. He's SO worried about it being open surgery and me missing Easter and staying at his Dad's a whole week apart from me. We shared a lot of hugs and kisses after I let him sleep in until 10am, after which he frantically ate breakfast, packed up his 2 suitcases of stuff (one is solely probably his electronics, I dunno, I wasn't watching him) and soon enough, Craig was at the door ready to take him to his home.

I kept a confident front for the sake of my son, and told him I was pretty sure it'd be laproscopic, and that when he sees me tomorrow night, I'll be lucid (that's questionable, you know me and pain management) and can talk to him (as coherently as I ever do when I'm doped up) and visit with him in leisure. I might not be very huggable, but I'll be ultimately, eventually, fine. But he was hugging me as if he's never going to see me again, upstairs, downstairs. I kept repeating, "You'll see me tomorrow night and I'll be OK." That kid is tough as nails, but for some reason, this particular surgery has him frazzled beyond belief. I know Craig's got it covered, so I'm not that worried, but still...I told him at worst, it'll be the same kind of surgery I had having him (sort of, not quite as cut and dried...). And I lived through that!

Looking up at my shelves in the bedroom and the giant letters that spell out "SERENITY" on a sign, I'm not feeling very serene. I want to talk to my best friend on the phone, but I can't engage in conversation long enough without having to bolt back to the john. At least she understands my vexing conundrum, having had numerous abdominal operations herself.

Why didn't I have to go through this (literal) crap when I had my gallbladder out? That was bing-bang-boom, laproscopic, and I was out in 3 days (more pain management problems and my heart was misbehaving, couplet and triplet beats, not cool). Or even when I had my c-section with Luke? For Christ's sake, I'd eaten a bucket of popcorn and had a 40 oz Coke at the movie theater 2 hours before he was born. I understand from a medical standpoint the advantage of having a clean bowel in the OR, but considering they won't let you eat for 2 days, then they won't feed you for another day afterwards, and they expect you to produce defecation before they'll even think of discharging you is an enigma. One would think subsisting solely on clear liquids and then IV fluids wouldn't garner a giant, "YOU ARE FREE TO GO" crap. Though who knows?

My mom has a list of people to call once the surgery's over and we all know which fate is mine. The church/school is #1, to let Luke know that I'm ok so he can soothe his soul and inform the Pastor. She then has to call Craig, my AA sponsor, and definitely my best friend, Kate, as well as my brother. The rest of my friends will have to wait until I'm up in my room, capable of having my mom plug in my laptop or cell phone, and either Tweet, blog, Facebook or text/call the masses with my present condition. Tatus' schedule is up in the air from day to day, but he knows how to keep tabs on the progress of the surgery and will ideally be in recovery, which will definitely calm me down. They won't let my mom see me until I'm in my room. Poor Ma has to lug my suitcase around and try not to have my laptop stolen. Sorry, Toots, but welcome to the techno age. In all seriousness, I appreciate her help and I'd hate to be sitting in the waiting room while MY kid was having a hysterectomy.

So suffice it to say, today I'm immeasurably suffering. Sent Ma to get more Gatorade. I love the instructions for the "cleansing." "If you haven't had a bowel movement by 8pm, administer a Fleets Enema." What if you've had like 48 bowel movements in the last 3 hours? Also suffice it to say, I'm using the A&D Ointment NOT on my tattoo anymore and wishing my mom would invest in a higher quality choice of toilet tissue.

Tonight, I have to shower with a special anti-microbial abdominal soap after I shower with regular soap. I have to lather, rinse and repeat again tomorrow morning when I wake up (at 5am). Shave legs, remember to shave legs. Wear comfortable clothing (read: leave my pajamas on). Spike up the hair because, while it's cut short enough to spike up on it's own, it's always better to look good than to feel good. All the jewelry is off...the last being my Dad's gold chain with my Grandma's gold cross on it. We'll deal with the body piercing argument/confrontation tomorrow AGAIN, as I did with the surgeon, with the pre-admission nurse, as I did with Stosh, my internist, and Tatus, those two fellas being totally PRO-ANNIE leaving the piercings in and that the likelihood of me having half my head burned off or being electrocuted is, percentage-wise, very unlikely.

I'll part my blog readers with the same thing I told everybody last night at church, as I texted Tatus last night after he checked in on me.....

See you on the flip side.

Oh, PS!

Just as a side note, for those of you who are still reading my blog after you were tisk-tisked, now on your own time, looking for dirt and referencing and trying to find blog entries that no longer exist (how dumb do you think I am?), I'll say this. A wise man was driving his son to school one day when he passed a church's sign, much like the ones you see all over the place that have statements or tidbits of advice on them, or you know, when they hold services and all. The church sign simply said this:


From that simple statement came this song, dedicated to you:

And if any of you couldn't stomach my graphic diarrhea story and went running to your own toilets, grow a pair, motherfuckers.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm Not The Wreck of the Hesperus

When I was 15, I thought 44 was really, really old. That was the age difference between George Harrison and myself.

At that point, though, I was a Beatles fanatic and a fan of, in particular, obviously, George Harrison. It was in 1987 when George launched his "comeback" record, "Cloud Nine." Rave reviews, press all over the place, #1 single ("Got My Mind Set On You")...other successful singles...the album was infectious and helped explain, through song, his long absence from the music business.

"I'm just a gardener, actually..." he said of his years on musical hiatus. (And WAS HE EVER. I've BEEN on his property.) He'd be seen occasionally around Henley-on-Thames, but largely, he was out of the public eye. Naturally, everyone assumed something was "wrong" with the reclusive Beatle, and while he did have a decent amount of PTSD after Lennon was shot, upping security at Friar Park, he was just a homebody dad and gardener. This was before he was stricken with throat cancer late in the 90's, when he was an otherwise perfectly healthy (though still smoking) vegetarian.

When I was going through 1/10th of my massive CD collection to put on my iTunes, I found my reissue CD of "Cloud Nine," and imported it. I also took the album into the car so I could listen to the whole thing while I was driving, and it really is, even IF some people accuse Jeff Lynne of trying to turn it into an ELO album, a great record from start to finish. I was struck by one particular song, that now that I approach 40, I can relate to much, much better than I could ever appreciate as a 15-year old.

"The Wreck of the Hesperus" is bittersweet, for George sings of his strength, his fortitude, though acknowledging that he, yes, was growing older, but it was alright. He was comfortable with who he was as a soul and as a body. I was listening to it today and half of me thought "GO, man!" and the other half near tears that he's been gone for almost 11 years.

I admittedly had the song cranked, as the lyrics, which I hadn't heard in years, came back to my memory, and I belted it out with vigor. I'm posting the lyrics and the video, for both just totally rock. I couldn't help but relate to some of his sentiments...I *did* meet some Oscars and Tonys, working at R.S. Owens back in the 90's... I've been the unfortunate recipient of a hell of a lot of unwarranted gossip, and I *can* rock as good as Gibraltar. And hell yes, "Ain't no more no spring chicken. Been plucked, but I'm still kickin'." And "it's alright."

**Fun fact about me: Someone who either won an Oscar in 1998 or 1999 has MY THUMBPRINT permanently embedded onto the metal underneath the ultra-secret amount layers of gold it's adorned with. I just HAD to see HOW HOT the Oscars were after they came out of the, er, oven, and like a dope put my thumb on one and, it being about 700 degrees, singed my thumbprint permanently onto the statue. It was covered in gold, and you hopefully can't see it, but....*

"Gettin' old as my mother, but I tell you, I got some company...."

And people, seriously, if you have to look up who Big Bill Broonzy is, shame on you. Shame, shame on you.

I'm not the wreck of the Hesperus
Feel more like the Wall of China
Getting old as Methuselah
Feel tall as the Eiffel Tower

I'm not a power of attorney
But I can rock as good as Gibraltar
Ain't no more no spring chicken
Been plucked but I'm still kicking
But it's alright, it's alright

Poison penmen sneak, have no nerve to speak
Make up lies then they leak 'm out
Behind a pseudonym, the rottenness in them
Reaching out trying to touch me

Met some Oscars and Tonys
I slipped on a pavement oyster
Met a snake climbing ladders
Got out of the line of fire
(But it's alright)

Brainless writers gossip nonsenses
To others heads as dense as they is
It's the same old malady
What they see is faulty

I'm not the wreck of the Hesperus
Feel more like Big Bill Broonzy
Getting old as my mother
But I tell you I got some company
(But it's alright)

But it's alright, it's alright
But it's alright, it's alright
It's alright, alright
It's alright

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bittersweet Solitude

For the last 3 years, since Luke and I moved into my mom's house, out of necessity, we've shared a bedroom. The space was never really mine, and never reflected my personality. It was all Luke...only my clothes were kept in drawers and in closets, with a single Flaming Lips poster to identify me, an alarm clock, and a bed. I would literally just sleep in there, as we had twin beds (for the first month, we were in the same bed, which didn't work at ALL, and my mom bought us new beds) but otherwise, I left Luke mostly to himself.

He'd complain that I snore, and wake me up during the night begging me to stop. I'd "invade" his space and he'd harp about wishing he had his own room and how he didn't want me in there. I think the world collective would agree that an almost-teenage son and his mother REALLY shouldn't share a bedroom. It's not healthy. It's creepy. It's babyish. He'll need his independence and the chance to show off his brand of decor (like he hasn't already) and I need a place that is serene and relaxing for me.

The process of moving me into the home office as my room has been arduously slow and painstakingly time-consuming, but my mom and I worked diligently the last couple of weeks slowly moving HER stuff out of the office and into HER room or the attic, and we began to prepare the room for my occupancy. A few nights ago, I hung my Harrison "Dark Horse" print (see previous blog). Yesterday, my mom repaired the back of and hung my John Lennon "Walls and Bridges" limited-edition art print, and my Van Gogh "Night Stars" painting print. I plastered some of Luke's artwork to the walls, as well as a couple of pieces of paper he'd written me notes on. One said "I (Heart symbol) Mom;" the other, "Get well soon, Damnit!" --Luke"

Furniture was the last hurdle. We paid our next door neighbor, the church and school handyman and custodian, Jeff, to disassemble and put up my bed in my "new" room and move one chest of drawers into my room. (The rest of my clothes, which is a shitload) will have to stay in the dressers in Luke's room, and I'll have no choice to go in there. The laundry basket also has to stay in Luke's closet, which is only fair, given I do all our laundry. Jeff had the bed ready for me in my room in about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, Luke saw the dust that had been under my bed, the empty toy boxes from toys he'd bought over the last 3 years, papers, crapola, you name it. His allergies went into overdrive. We moved out several large garbage bags, with a ton of work left to do to re-organize and re-decorate his room, move furniture--all of which will have to wait, probably, until I'm recovered from the hysterectomy. I told him he's lived with it messy for THIS long--he can wait a few more weeks. He has a floor-plan in mind. When Luke saw the mess, he entered into a literal anxiety attack, which is exactly what I would do if I wasn't medicated. He had trouble separating the tasks of cleaning up little by little, task by task, and catastrophized the whole scenario. I did my best to have him dissect the tasks and helped him clean up and vacuum the dust.

It doesn't help that my mom chastises that room as being "Hoarders Headquarters," which is mean and hurt Luke's feelings. He takes it very personally, as anyone would. With such cramped quarters, we had little choice but to bundle together in unison, though Luke is guilty of holding onto things like empty toy packaging and papers from school to the point of ridiculousness, all of which I threw away last night, all of it having been under my bed. I admit I never did a good job of cleaning "our room," because there was no ROOM to clean our room. Boxes full of toys and gadgets were everywhere and it was a tight squeeze. Once redone, it'll be far more manageable.

My mom wants Luke to keep his room HER way, which is a tad unfair. His room, like mine, should reflect his personality and his likes and passions, not what's deemed appropriate or "clean enough" for her standards. He's a teen boy--his room's going to be typical. It won't be spotless like my room or my mom's room. (If you ever saw his father's house, you'd doubly understand.)
My mom was super hard on Luke last night about his room, and arguments ensued about keeping the room HER way versus HIS way. I believe, as his MOTHER, that he should be allowed to keep his room his way, within reason. A certain level, yes, of cleanliness and order should be maintained. But in my opinion, while it is my mother's house, our rooms are our personal spaces in what's otherwise her domain.

I am allowing Luke to take the day off of school. A mental health day, though his allergies (he thinks it's a bad cold, but that could be conjecture) are making him miserable. He wanted to rest today, but I think I'm going to let him come to Target with me to get big plastic bins in which to store all his stuff, as opposed to the random boxes things are in now. I'll help him organize when I'm well enough to do so, but most of the work will be up to him. He needs to weed through things he doesn't use or need anymore. My position is "if you haven't used or looked at it for a year, donate or pitch it." That's what I did with my stuff when I moved out of my apartment and cleaned out the attic out of my own townhouse in which I lived when I was married.

Taking a mental health day doesn't mean Luke's gone crackers like his ol' mom. Yes, I believe he had an anxiety attack due to the state of his room, but I don't believe he, overall, suffers from anxiety disorder. He usually keeps his shit in check, though last night, he was a mess. His personality is very, very much like mine (which is why I pray to God he doesn't become bipolar or an addict, and am very watchful of his emotions and always calmly and patiently deal with him when he freaks out, but I'm medicated, lest we forget). If anyone had seen the state of the room once my bed was removed, they'd have had an anxiety attack at the daunting task of at least cleaning THAT particular space. He turned it into my famously labeled "ball of ick" that has trouble getting dissected piece-by-piece, though I reassured him it'll all get done little by little.

I completely sympathize from where he's coming. My whole life is that ball of ick, which is why I'm in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Meanwhile, I'm happy that I have my own room/office (I should take a pic of the whole room) where I can recuperate from my surgery in peace and "serenity." Friends and loved ones can come visit me there, and have a place to sit and chill out with me, if they're so inclined (which I'm welcoming!). There is now no TV in my room, not that I watch much TV, but I do get Netflix on my computer, so yay, and while I'm used to, when I'm alone, falling asleep lulled by the Easy Listening channel on the cable TV, I found last night that Pandora will play soothing music for me for a length long enough to allow me to fall peacefully asleep before it turns off and asks me, "Are you still listening?" so that tool is covered. All of my files and papers are in order and organized. I'm importing the giant box of CD's I found in the office into my iTunes, and will store the CD's, about a tenth of my overall collection (the rest in storage) in the attic when I'm done.

It's going to all be alright over time. Transitions are difficult. Separation, even when wanted and welcomed, is difficult. My bond with my son is rock solid, and I told him he can come and lounge in my room anytime, even if I'm working on my writing and he just wants to lie on my bed and think aloud. I wish not to separate my bond from my child. Nothing could be further from the truth. Teaching independence to a young man is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge as he transitions from being a little boy. Hell, teaching independence to a 40-year old junkie/alcoholic is hard enough, as we are used to living in a state of PERPETUAL adolescence.

Tatus is great at giving advice on raising children. He's not so much used to raising boys, as he has 3 girls, but knows enough about children to dispense thoughtful pondering that I take to heart. I wonder what he's say about the bedroom situation....I'll have to stay tuned on the flipside after surgery.

Bittersweet solitude. For both Luke and I. Together, yet separate.

We also need mundane extras like more lamps, a nightstand or two, a surge suppressor, etc, some frames for pictures I found, my Dad's Cook County Sheriff's patch from his uniform that I found and want to frame on the same shelf as my "SERENITY" display, which is pictured above and was given to me by my AA sponsor and friend, Jenny. While most of my beloved pictures and decorations are in storage, what little I have here will be displayed properly.

The storage unit is jam packed with my apartment belongings/furniture. It was packed over the course of about 4 manic days, during which I got no sleep and I'm not even sure I marked the boxes with what's in them and in what room they belong. It's so full to the gills that I might be able to get out a few small boxes of DVD's to watch while I recover from surgery, which are at the forefront of the unit, but that's about it. Finding household decorations could be a nightmare in there, which is largely why it's too anxiety-producing for me to go to the storage unit more than a couple of times a year. I just pay the monthly rent and get the hell out of there. Like Luke now, I couldn't handle the packing (which I did alone) and cleanup after the building foreclosure and told the movers I didn't want anything in any particular place to make things easier from which to pull.

To customize my new room, as per my previous blog, I hung my Dark Horse Records George Harrison print, but yesterday, my mom repaired the ripped back of the frame and hung my John Lennon "Walls and Bridges" cover art limited-edition art print Craig bought me BEFORE we got married. Nowadays, it's worth quite a bit of money. I also hung up the t-shirt Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips drew for Luke and I when we went to visit them in Milwaukee in 2010. I hung some of Luke's best artwork in my room as well, as well as the set list and VIP pass I got from the Lips' July 7, 2011 show I attended with my Tatus, when he and Steven met (which went well...NOT!). The Beatles blanket my mom made me for Christmas covers my bedspread, and while not intending to turn my room into a Beatles haven, it's sort of evolved into that, though I need some Lips artwork in there other than Wayne's, which I admit is hella cool.

I have some of my massive book collection on my shelves, things I haven't read yet that need to be read, though there are a lot more books in my bookcase in the living room that still need to be read, which I have the shelf space for in my room.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Projection Reflection: The Big Mirror

"Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough." --George Bernard Shaw

As a (temporarily stunted) student of psychology, I have learned and am still learning a lot about a particular psychological theory, that of PROJECTION.

It's a Freudianism. While I'm not a Freudian thinker (Please. Penis envy?), the projection theory and its counterpart, the projection bias, are more popular in my life than is a virgin at a prison rodeo.

Projection is a form of a defense mechanism in which someone attributes thoughts, feelings and ideas that are undesirable to someone else. Dr. Freud believed that people used psychological projection to reduce their own feelings of stress or guilt, thus protecting themselves psychologically. In projection, one can assume erroneously that another person shares his/her thoughts or beliefs. Individuals accuse other people of having the feelings they themselves are demonstrating.

In projection bias, one assumes their current mental state will remain constant in their future.

My mom's been suffering from projection bias ever since my father passed away in 1984. Once I became an alcoholic like my late father, she has projected her experiences with him and his ultimate death upon me. Despite the fact I maintained 4 years of sobriety with a week-and-a-half slip up with the NyQuil several weeks ago, and the fact that I'm still alive and recovering, getting the help I need, I believe my mom believes I will suffer the same fate as my dad; while meanwhile, my mom's anxiety level continues to build and will eventually spiral out of control if she doesn't learn to separate me from Dad.

In fact, she's said on multiple occasions that she's "already gone through this" with my father, when my dad and I are completely separate individuals, with different situations, different outcomes--linked only by genes, personality traits and a commonality in an illness. Her projection bias is so strong, I believe she honestly feels that my fate is exactly that of my father, which it isn't. Alcoholics can and do recover. Despite one minor slip up that scared the family, I'm proud of the length of sobriety I maintained and continue to maintain day by day.

The morning she couldn't rouse me, when I'd had my seizure (with a fever of 102, blood sugar in the 300's and a severely elevated white count), she was so distraught that she nearly couldn't make it herself to the hospital, similar to the night my father suffered from his fatal heart attack and she had to be driven to the hospital by, I believe, my uncle. With the NyQuil episode, when I'd had an accident in the bed, and was too incoherent from the cough medicine mixed with my medicine to process ideas clearly, she was so irate and frightened that she threatened to take me to the ER if I went outside for a smoke to calm ME down before she changed my sheets and literally demanded I go to bed or else she'd call 911 on me and send me back to rehab, which was unnecessary, as I wasn't using to the point of requiring detox, considering my toxicology screening in the ER the last time I was hospitalized was clean, as it always is, despite the benzodiazepines I take for my anxiety disorder, which I don't take in excess, nor do they overly sedate me. They simply calm me down and the 2mg I take at bedtime helps me sleep.

It's not her fault, like I said, it's a defense mechanism. As humans, craving for self-protection, we all employ them from time to time, though some of us employ them on a concentric circular basis. Though I tell her with some frequency, "I'm not Dad. I'm ALIVE," she continues to project what happened to her psychologically in the past upon me. She's working through that with her own counselor and attending Al-Anon now every week, of which I'm proud, but it's still a touchy subject and yesterday, she chastised the fact that Tatus and I were making light of the fact that she didn't bring me my laptop to do my homework and have something to do while cooped up in the hospital after the seizure, and told me to just "sit there" as if I was being punished for MY bad behavior. It was to the point, like I mentioned in a previous blog, that Tatus was ready to go to my house and retrieve my computer so that I could occupy my mind with something other than the cardinal sins I'd apparently committed.

I try to impress upon her that I'm doing MUCH better, I'm working my program with my sponsor, whom I called early in the morning after the NyQuil overnight disaster for help after resisting her help for a long, long time. My mom's working her program, too, but needs to stick to her own inventory and agenda. It's not a competition of who can out-meeting one another, or who's working their program the most diligently. If I miss a meeting, I try to make it up within the next week. I told my mom last night that because my son was suffering terribly from a severe allergy attack that I wanted to manage, and was drowsy at 7pm from his allergy medication, I wanted to skip last night's regular meeting and go to one this morning at 10am, before running the rest of my errands for the day. Her response? "Whatever." As if I wasn't working my AA program.

See, when my father would "promise" to go to AA, he'd instead slip into the local tavern for an hour and drink instead. He deceived my mom. Shame on him for doing that, but that's not what I am doing. My mom has trouble, terrible trouble, separating our situations.

Defense mechanisms are tricky, because they falsely allow you to avoid the precise emotions you're having trouble coming to terms with and/or getting over. It's closely linked to disassociation, in which case the individual changes his/her personality to avoid feeling emotions. That's where example #2 comes into play. Projection plus disassociation is even trickier to decipher in another person, unless you're a master of reading personalities.

I have a male friend to whom I'm close and we like to be affectionate with one another, though we're not dating or in a romantic relationship. We're just friends. One evening, upon parting, he kissed me on the lips, albeit very briefly. When we met one night a couple of weeks later, I asked him "We like to be affectionate with one another. What should we do about that?" and he accused ME of being the one who wants and initiates all the affection in our relationship, when nothing could be further from the truth. When he holds me, he coos. When we go out, he engages in petting. Regularly. He's the one who comes out and says "Hug me" over and over again. I happily oblige, because hell, I love the guy to pieces. My impression is that he's severely affection-starved, though he said he's not an affectionate person and that I am, implying that he goes along with the behavior purely out of a desire to appease me. Bologna.

I didn't have the courage to say this to him in person, but I sent him an email that included a statement to the effect of "Just bloody kiss me the way you tried to once and I know you want to, and get it over with. Nothing's going to change." Because I honestly don't think anything's going to change in the state of our relationship. I have an insane curiosity to kiss him, just to see what it'd feel like, but we engage in awkward cheek-turning when we kiss on the cheek hello or goodbye and part company and our lips never seem to lock. I think he feels there's a line that cannot be crossed or it'd be deemed an inappropriate act. Claiming not to have finished reading said email, the issue is still up in the air, which is driving me bananas.

Carl Jung had a different spin on projection in his psychological theories, that I'm more inclined to follow than the theories of Freud. I found a site that explains it very clearly, so I'll share that: From

"Projection, according to Carl Jung, occurs when a person sees in another qualities they themselves possess. This phenomenon goes on daily in most relationships and encounters.

In relationships, both intimate and otherwise, these same principles apply. A person projects onto another whatever it is they need them to be. Regarding intimate relationship, the inner feminine the inner feminine/anima or inner masculine /animus is seen expressed in the other. That person to whom one is fervently attracted, therefore, is none other than the outer mirror for that person's inner self. The Beloved holds the space, so to speak, for what that person seeks inside themselves.

Understanding the difference between what is true and what is only projection can be a challenge. If a person or group of people has really “gotten under our skin” or the person or situation or thing really “gets to us,” that person is most likely caught up in a projection or spell of some kind. Likewise, that feeling of falling in love, albeit glorious, may be mere projection.

Whenever the emotions seem highly charged, more than what the situation might call for, this is most likely a projection. When family and friends ask “what’s up with so-and so?” and the person doesn’t seem to be thinking or acting at all clearly, their “head is in the clouds”, so to speak, these are good signs that a projection is lurking."

So that's my personal experience (thus far in life, which will continue for decades to come, hello!) with the phenomenon of psychological projection and projection bias. I can only hope that my mom and my friend learn to manage their projections and 1) learn to see me as an individual and not The Alcoholic Death Collective and 2) that my friend comes to terms with his own feelings and desires and just damn well already plants that smooch on me, in his time.