When I was able-bodied I knew people who weren't and received services. Like housekeeping, errand-running, etc. And I thought, "That's nice; they get their needs met." Then I became disabled and needed services.
It took a while, for one thing. Several Dr appointments til I cried that I couldn't keep my home clean or do laundry anymore. Then the doc referred me to services, in the form of our local VNA. "That's a Godsend," I thought. And well, in a way it is. When all runs smoothly. Problem is, that's the exception, not the rule.
Every time my regular aide is off work my life goes to hell.
Ya see, there are things that Have To Be Done on certain days. Bill paying, meds, shopping... all have schedules in my life because that's how it has to be or I won't be able to function. The laws and regs surrounding meds are precise and stringent. Being one day late or early with anything will ruin your whole year. I'm not kidding. And any change of plans is a domino run.
First of all, I didn't know my regular aide was off this week. I saw her Friday and she said, "See you Tuesday." Last domino standing in place.
I had a brief visit on Tuesday but not everything was done. Still, an aide should be coming Friday, and that's when meds are filled and picked up, but it has to be done Friday. No later, no earlier. Medicare rules all.
Then yesterday the Dr's office calls to say my scripts have to be picked up today because they're closed on New Year's Eve. Here is the knocker domino. Why? Because getting anyone from the agency will be iffy. Because today- Thursday- is not my regular day for an aide. And because I was planning having dinner with a friend who has no time and today was The Evening She Could. She'd be here at 5:30, because the front door gets locked at 6 and she has to make it an early night anyway. But at 7:45 this morning I get a call (while I'm in the bathroom) from an aide who says she'll be here at 5 for a 3 hour shift- too late for the dr's office, or even the post office, but late enough to wreck my dinner plans. And she hangs up before I reach the phone, not leaving a number.
I call the office to speak to a scheduler, and get the voicemail, natch. 3 hours go by & I hear nothing.
In the meantime, a friend sweetly volunteers to pick up the scripts today and drop them at the pharmacy to be filled tomorrow. Worse case, I'll have to call & ask for the pharmacy to deliver tomorrow. Phew, that one's covered, thanks Cam!
Then I call my dinner guest & apologize my butt off for cancelling. I can't have guests here, by rule, when the aide is here. We won't be able to get together til the end of January now. But c'est la vie. Dammit.
I call the VNA again to tell them all this. They've already rescheduled yet another aide to come earlier today, but have no time frame to give me of her arrival and never tried to call to tell me of this new plan and neither had the aide. In light of everything now, the scheduler says she'll try to cancel the aide coming today altogether and get someone to come tomorrow, as the filled meds need to be picked up & I still need things done. There's been a package at the PO since last Friday that the Tuesday fill-in aide said she had no time to collect, for one thing. So yes, great, send me someone tomorrow.
Except my dinner guest, hours later, is unreachable. See you at the end of January, Ellen.
This is the craziness of disability. When you have to rely on others, you're screwed. It all still would've been manageable had the Dr's office let me know more than one day ahead that they would be closed. I would've scrambled to get covered and none of the above would've happened. They've had this holiday planned for months. I call them every 2 weeks- they couldn't have put the closure on their damned automated answering drone? My ass.
Services look very different when you're on the other side. You can't know that til you need them, I guess.
Well, I gotta go. Lots of dominoes to stand for the next knockdown.
Funny thing is, she really is a lot like me at that age, even down to the platinum hair I had 30 years ago. Though I think she's a bit older than I was then. Generally, I detest TV cooks (except for St. Julia & occasionally Bourdain) but she's pretty damn good, IMHO. But that's prolly cuz she's a lot like me. ;)
We had a snowstorm, the first of the winter. It started Sunday and kept going til Monday afternoon. Chels had to get back to college, so we didn't get to hang. Waah. Her terrific Dad brought my Xmas present in her stead, and I sent hers back home with him. They really are a great family.
But this has been a whole year of plans gone astray. Part of that has to do with being disabled, and I've got a whole chapter in the Gimp's Guide about it. Part of that is also due to life's unpredictability. Life has speeded up in our nanosecond world. Having many things in life adds more possibilities of things jacking up. It's a lesson in rolling with it. Patience is a virtue, and virtues are more elusive to gain than vices.
I'm really loving getting older. I've gotten quicker to let go of things and slower to start things up. I'm more cautious, which is a huge improvement over the, "Yeah! Let's do it!" hedonism of youth. Since I don't jump up, I don't fall down. That was a hard one to learn. Maintaining that healthy distance has served me well. And when I get worked up now, there's really good reason for it. Likewise in letting go. It takes a lot of the drama out of life. It's the drama that makes you old. Now I have time to play again and I'm younger for it.
So this has been a good year of acceptance and learning. Not very exciting to others, I know, but it's tremendously exciting to me. I'm happier with myself than I've ever been. As we all know, "Ha-ppiness is hard to find." ;)
What the Hell was I thinking, to make plans on Boxing Day after this past week? I'm crazy or stupid or both. Stevil's eggnog always kicks my ass the next day. It's a tradition. The tradition continues. My head's caved in.
Well, before Chels gets here, I just wanted to throw some threads off the net about Christmas music. Firstly, is a good article from the Guardian (what a surprise, eh?):
Okay, didn't think I'd be blogging today; I thought I'd still be busy. But somehow everything's done and I have time! So here I am Christmas Eve.
Just realized how very old I am, because I felt compelled to put on the Solemn Mass from Rome. First time I'm watching this pope; oughta watch him closer, as I don't like him. Anyway, we always put the mass on when I was a kid; I think it was later at night in those days. At this time on Xmas Eve I'd be wolfing down Chinese food before going to sing at the 7:30 service. It was the night of cleaned robes, cuz the choir robes were dry-cleaned twice a year- Easter and Christmas. The surplices would be stiff and more like wings than ever. There'd be creases in the beanies. And we'd leave church quickly, to get home so Christmas would move along faster. Or, when we got older, we'd go caroling. The kids would get hot cocoa (crappy to sing on) and the adults passed a flask or two around. Here I am, 40+ years later, watching the what 5th? pope of my lifetime chanting the Latin. But not rushing to church or bed, or carolling tonight. Or eating Chinese food. Just happy.
It's been a good day in Brattleboro. The best story of the day came from iBrattleboro. Someone asked where they could take extra toys, which brought out someone else saying the Drop-in Center needed toys. I called Daryl and he called Melissa at the Drop-in and they knew about the iBratt story, which had already brought people out of their houses. So much was brought in, in fact, that they're storing some for next year. In talking to my BFF, we think we need to get something organized for next year. This last minute stuff has to end.
And I got 2 surprise Christmas presents today! One in the mail from my sis-in-law in Indiana & one from a friend!
So much got done. The only thing I wasn't able to finish in time is Chris' walking stick. I see a long winter with the Dremel ahead. ;)
Ah, it's the "shake your neighbors' hands" part... I wonder what ya have to do to get a seat at this mass? And to get the ticket to get communion from the pope himself? Communion's a wild and weird thing, eh? These nuns look much younger and nicer than the ones I knew in HS. And wow- the Christ baby figure has glass shards coming outta his head!
Well, all is calm, all is bright. Merry Christmas!
Down to the details now, the food & last-minute things. Things are defrosting and cooking; the sauce for the lasagna is in prep, the carrots await grating. I think I'll wait til tomorrow to make the pie. In order to make freezer room, I had to make turkey soup from the Thanksgiving bird's carcass yesterday. This place is so much a Chinese puzzle- you have to move everything to put one piece in place! Drives me crazy living in a shoebox with all my worldly goods, but if that's all I have to bitch about, life is very good.
This year we're having a big veggie lasagna- lasagna has been my family tradition for 40 years as it was so expensive to make, it was the Christmas splurge ( I should explain- when my mother remarried, we began eating Italian food, as my stepfather was Italian/German. At my father's house, "Second Christmas" continued to be roast beast as it was from time immemorial in the family). Who can stand that much turkey inside of 5 weeks anyway? Not I. Yuck. Ham was never a treat to us; it was fairly cheap to buy when I was a kid, so hams were regular Sunday fare, not a Christmas item. The lasagna made for Christmas was a huge assemblage of meats and cheeses in a roasting pan and usually weighed in at 10 or 15 pounds itself. I've altered that to a veggie lasagna because we'll have pork chops as well this year. I was thinking there may be a vegetarian joining us, but she hasn't RSVP'd so I'm not expecting her. No bother, I love veggie lasagna- it's one of those things that are very good and very good for you. My system of creating it also makes it a 2-day, easy to handle process. No parboiling aggravation.
I have to confess it'll be nice to go back to normal eating and shopping; I've scrimped to afford these holidays, saving my precious Food Stamps for holiday food spending. Food has become very expensive in a short time span. 45 bucks a week doesn't go far unless you go without some things. Still, thank gods for them or I'd be in a really bad place. And also thankfully I can do quite well on a tight budget. I know many folks who can't.
Just heard from Chelsy! We're going to hang around here on Boxing Day and watch Paranormal Activity. Nice!
With all the things going on I probably won't blog again until next week. So dear reader, have a very Merry Christmas. I hope your dreams are happy and that the best of them come true.
The UK government has followed suit with the US in encouraging illiteracy. In 2011, all funds will be cut off to all early book-buying programs for children. This raises the obvious questions about what are the priorities for the citizenry, and the observation that literacy is not one.
A poster on the Guardian said: "Of course they don't want a educated literate population. They want people who can read and write sufficiently to do the menial tasks that are going to support the businesses that make them and their friends money. "An educated and literate population thinks for itself and might turn from the X Factor to ask what the F is going on. Henry VIII burnt all the copies of Tyndale's translation of the New Testament into English precisely for this reason. People who read come across new ideas, something that only causes trouble for the authorities. "Read everything you can find, encourage everyone else, men, women, children and small animals to do the same. £13m is nothing, tax a few bonuses and we'd have more than enough to keep this scheme going."
Funny how the populace all over "the free world" keeps saying these same things, but the gummits keep giving more and more breaks to the rich. The insane theory of "trickle down" seems to have taken root as a justification! Even the words "trickle down" ought to be an alarm itself!- how much is a trickle, folks? Ever seen a trickle? It's a little bit more than a drip. How much has actually trickled, anyway? How many jobs have been created in that trickle? Is that a justification for giving the already ridiculously rich tax breaks that have only been in place for the last 10 years? Coincidentally the same 10 years that have seen the worst global economic situation since the Great Depression!
From my vantage point in the US, I have watched the planned devaluation of education. It's not pretty. We have a stupid, ignorant, obese population that has no reason to hope, no resources to help improve their lot in life, and no prospects but to work in minimum wage jobs. Our education system has sucked for at least 25 years and gets worse all the time. Our teachers have been bound and gagged by the neo-con budget measures and the crazy "No Child Left Behind" scheme. Their unions are undermined and defamed to the very people who should support them- other workers, the parents of their charges. What the hell has happened? Has the entire world been brainwashed into a subserviant slave class, who duck their heads and truly believe that their masters deserve the whole pie and more?
Christmas is only 5 days away. By Sunday it'll all be over, another holiday for the books. Except in my world. Because on Sunday I'll be spending a day with a great young woman whom I haven't seen since the summer, and then my BFF will be back in a couple of weeks and I'll go thru an entire 2nd Christmas. Kinda like when I was a kid and had multiple Christmases with all the family parts who didn't associate. And there are at least 2 people, still unscheduled, to see after the official day is long gone. Somehow I managed to gather presents for all again this year and it's my favorite part of the whole thing, watching peep open presents. God I sound corny but it's true. So Santa will be doing overtime this year. Good thing the tree's made of silk.
It's nice to spend time with individuals rather than have everyone en masse. As I get older I don't want to have to yell above others to have a conversation. I don't want to be mother hen over a crowd, playing hostess. I want to sit and relax, not be in perpetual motion. Christmas Day will be just my old pal Stevil (he's family at this point) & me, feasting and opening presents (I may be in good enough shape to do his radio show with him afterward; we'll see how things feel).
So it won't be a wild party, nobody will be dancing on tables or throwing up in the corner. Nobody will end up in the ER or jail. It won't take a week to clean up after. And I won't feel like death on a cracker because of it. Maybe it's quiet and no big production but it's better, and it makes multiple Christmases possible.
Thanks to the internet and my music tastes, I'm becoming more and more British.
This was inevitable, I suppose, having spent the first 7 years of my life living with a veddy British grandfather. His eclectic tastes and eccentric habits rubbed off on us all, and I find myself at this age wondering if maybe I should put bacon fat on my skin as he did. He had a lovely complexion and was never dried out and flaky, though the smell of old man, wool and somewhat sour bacon fat was a bit repellant. So I guess that's out.
But I seem to have a natural aversion to American culture, if it can be called culture. I find myself no longer reading anything American- news, for instance. I depend on The Guardian UK nearly exclusively. And from there I read books written by or recommended by British reviewers because they are A) usually to my liking and B) better. American TV is in an all-time low. So I watch British series online, which may be awful to Britons, but are still far above the quality of anything offered here. US television actually makes me physically sick to watch. I'm getting nauseous thinking about describing it- so I'll move on.
Then there's food. Yes, British food is laughed at. My background in cooking should probably steer me to exclusively and snobbily French food. But really after all these years I enjoy simple good food, like cheeses and sausages. My system doesn't like alcohol anymore nor a load of flavors in every dish, and the bland straightforwardness of plain cooking sets well with me. I'll whip up various cuisines for special occasions, even doing ShakenBake when it's called for, but when alone I go simple and digestible.
Then there's language. Americans don't speak English. We speak American. These days I catch myself using sayings and writing in British quite a bit. A few moments ago I looked at the clock and said out loud, "They'll be having tea about now," meaning dinner, to Americans. Slight turns of phrase creep in. Saying, "Cheers" and "Briiliant!" and "That's magic!"- not American at all.
I knew a girl in NYC, a Jewish Park Ave. heiress, who spoke with an English accent. She'd gone to a British boarding school for HS (college, in the UK) and in her 30s, was still speaking as if she'd been raised there. When I finally asked her why she spoke so, she answered, "What, you'd raaather have me tawk like dis?" But she didn't speak English; she spoke American with a Brit accent.
Perhaps I should just relocate there and have it over, for a treat. :)
The last few hours have restored my Christmas Spirit.
First, friends came by with cheer and we spent a couple of hours feasting and exchanging our gifts. Then a neighbor I barely know brought me multivitamins- very needed but not covered by Medicare anymore- and her 3 angelic kids, who were transfixed by "A Christmas Story", playing on my TV. There is nothing like a kid at Christmas. Nothing. And to see 3 little kids who have no connection to those old times identify so closely with Ralphie's plight is a joy.
By God, I'm gonna have Happy Holidays if it kills me. I took a day out from people and it somewhat restored my outlook. But...
With the PO cutbacks, we no longer have a regular mailman. This has made the simple act of getting your own damned mail a nightmare. In a building with 64 apartments, it's a chessboard of possibilities over who may have your mail. Today I received 6 pieces of mail clearly addressed to another apartment. The PO phone answerer says, "I'll talk to him", as if that will happen. The building manager says, "I don't think it's legal for me to hold mail in the office." But, she added, a lot of the retirees get checks in the mail, and the lobby is a public thoroughfare during the day, so it's not safe to just leave mail tucked above the boxes. In the meantime, where the Hell's my mail??????????????!
But the tree is done. It looks like a pic postcard, if I do say so meself. The place is garlanded, knick-knacked, stockings hung, presents under tree, fridge and freezer full. I'm ready, bring on the holidays! Friends are coming by this afternoon, and I really hope they're in good moods. There may be brouhaha and violence if it's all pissy-moany. I'm well determined to get jolly. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!
At the beginning of the month I had tremendous Christmas spirit. It bungeed & came back but not quite so high. Then it just dissipated. I'm sitting here looking at a half-decorated tree with no care to finish it. It has to be done, but I just don't have the feeling.
There's a few causes & events that've happened which I can point at and say, "Aha! That's where I lost it!", but I can't seem to get my way back to it. And there's an underlying, "Fuck it." beneath it all that I can't shake.
Part of this is certainly out of a comraderie that's caved in since Thanksgiving. Friends have withdrawn en masse into their own funks (when I told a friend I'd gotten her a present, she blurted, "Oh No!" as if it was the worst thing I'd ever done; then a brother did the same- WTF?; another friend cried to me for days over the mess of a holiday she's spending with her son, which is now going well- for her; others have cancelled get-togethers; there's an unprecedented number of folks not even putting up a tree this year, etc.) . Little by little, the bits of joy fell away and crumbled, and now I feel totally demoralized.
So I think I'll do what I did before, just withdraw from everyone for a few days & try to get it back. But isn't the whole thing supposed to be about being with other people? I used to get such a kick out of giving presents. How's it happened that the same thing that used to give joy now takes it away? What's my world come to, that in order to have a Christmas spirit, I have to stay away from those I'm close to & love because they're so fucking miserable?
I really need a Happy Christmas. I guess that means being alone, now.
Ever since I discovered YT, I've been a big fan of Coronation Street. There are enough old episodes to get the rough background of the families and individuals on Corrie St. And these days you can find most of the new episodes in full.
This week marks 50 years for the celebrated -even revered- old nighttime British soap. Much of the original cast is gone, except for Ken Barlow. So this whole week, in the midst of riots during the day, a large portion of the UK will be watching Corrie at night. And so am I. Every night I've waited til 8 or 9 p.m. to watch the day's episode, posted on YT by a user I won't id here. Email me if you want the channel addy.
Anyway there was an explosion that also blew out the tram's elevated track, sending a tram crashing right down into Coronation St. Fires and trapped people all up and down the block. At least a half dozen are in life-threatening situations. Including babies and children, more. And while all Hell is breaking loose, a man murders his mistress -while his wife is prematurely giving birth. A young woman tells her husband that she's leaving and taking the baby- who isn't his after all- then gets pinned by beams in the blast. Three guys are trapped together, and one sacrifices his life- he's coughing up blood anyway- so they can get out. Another guy gets his dying wish, to marry the fiancee, even though both of them have been cheating all along with two others. And as an added bonus, a kid's being held for ransom by his mother who's getting 5 grand from her sister for him. The good auntie went out looking for the ransom money in the safes of the street's blown up businesses. While digging, she witnessed the murderer dumping the mistress' body. Then the FD show up and proclaim the mistress still alive, by a thread.
They did tonight's show, the 50th Anniversary show, live. It was sheer melodrama and I loved every minute.
Ah, Coronation Street! Here's to another 50 years! *sips sherry*
Well, it's December 8th and until today I hadn't turned on my heat. Since I'm budgeted to spending 40 bucks a month to heat this place, I carefully pick heat.
But Daryl came by today to pick up the pies- baking last night was how I avoided putting it on yesterday- and said I should. It's damn cold. I'm bundled into my armchair with fake fur blanket and wool wrappings. This is serious cold. The cold that people die in, because it was 70 degrees just a couple weeks ago and we aren't thickened..
Some people think that the way I live is rough. My BFF (that term cracks me up) told me she'd rather die than have to live as I do. What, living within your means? Spending every cent carefully? I think it's an art form! Time consuming as all hell, but you get to stay indoors. There is always food in my house. Nobody has to leave hungry. I have a futon that peep can sleep on. Nobody has to leave at all if where they're going is colder than this place. I have dvds I have never watched. I have the internet and all the incredible people I've met thru it. I have participation in life without leaving my building. I have great friends who don't need to lay on the phone for hours every day. I have 2 brothers and we're all at peace with each other. It's not high living, but it's a good life.
So, so many people have so much less than me. Things are so bad these days and our neighbors are going thru things we don't know about. If we're gonna make it thru what looks like a pretty rough road ahead, we better get nice and be damn skippity doing it. We can Be The People We Are. The same as we always were, but this time we're telling. When we model the behavior we demand, we'll start things moving to a better place for us all. Be Actively Nice.
To me, the issues around the Wikileaks are too grey-areaed for me to come down firmly anywhere. Except where it comes to the Freedom of Speech and the Freedom of the Press. There is nothing to debate about those, they are absolute.
So then this bunch of hackers come along. Geeks who know what they're doing and when to do it. They call themselves "Anonymous", from back in the day when we all posted without user names. They have continued in the very best of all government traditions, the prank. "Chaotic Good" they call it. They've successfully given a hard way to go to justthe kind that should be given a hard way, in my opinion. They shut down PayPal and Mastercard for denying service to Wikileaks. Haha! I say. Good for them. I hope they live long and prosper.
And in other news, we all should be doing more of this:
Last week in the middle of the night I woke up & couldn't get back to sleep. So I put the TV on and on Comedy was a guy talking about how we can overcome the current shitty life in the US via something we're already good at: Doing Good Things.
The rationale goess like this; we've been watching these hateful mucus plugs who are running things define us. To the new Right Reich, we are Satanic Socialist Fatherfuckers. They've taken all the money, our rights, Christianity, God, kindness, patriotism and freedom, corrupted every one of them, and told us we're not getting any of those things. But the thing is, that's a lie. They can take the money, our rights and freedom, but not for long. Our patriotism is from a good place, not from greed.
But they can't have Christianity or God. They don't get to take my, or anyone else's, religion away and say we don't get it. What JC said is just as pure as what Buddha or any perception of the Big Good said. And the JC I know says "Love your brother" and "What you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me." He was also a radical and would be on the Pinko List these days. I like his style. So they don't get JC.
They can't have patriotism either. The whole reason any Lefty is involved at all is because they're so deeply patriotic. They aren't throwing money and getting favors. They're doing what they do because they care about what's for the good of the country (not the fuckin Homeland you Nazi bastids) and our people in general. So they don't get patriotism, either.
It almost goes without saying that they don't get kindness. In any sense. But we do. And it's our best weapon. We're really good at it. There is nothing else in life that delivers joy like being really really kind. So look for ways to be kind. Do something that takes the extra second- help the struggler, hold the door, offer a steady hand over the snow. You'll be amazed at the response. Give up a little bit for the Goodness of All. If you've got the extra few bucks, pay for the car behind you's toll, the person behind you's coffee. It feels good to do good. We can do this. Stage a Free Hugs day. Volunteer somewhere. Do the little things, the mitzvahs, that make life fun again. This is how we get Our country back. Be the People We Are.
Around this time every year I tend to take a look behind, not just at the year past, but at things thru the perspective I've gained over the last few decades. Each year that perspective deepens. This year I gained some needed appreciation for so many things that I took in stride at the time. Taking strides, itself, even. Whoever thought I'd be fondly remembering walking? Not I.
And it's not that I've had the life of Brian Blessed, but I've had some moments.
This is also on my mind because an author (who found me thru this blog, AAMOF) is writing a book that involves people I knew, and I've been trying to help him out. While scanning the memory banks I realized that I walked thru so much, much like Forrest Gump. I was there, saw and participated, but it was there in front of me and I just had my part. Never looked at all these things for the amazing experiences they were. I knew incredible people. I've met an assortment of people and things that not everyone else gets. Even with all the crap that's gone on in the last years, there have been magnificent moments and wonderous stories from them. In the new year, I think I'll start a series of "My Brush With Greatness" blogs. Some of them are really funny. Pete Townsend, George Peppard, Linda Blair...
Life is like a stockpot, you never know what's been put in it until it bubbles to the surface. :)
As for the rest, I bow to Chrissie Hynde: "Now, clocking in at 55, I have to smile when I see the "inevitables" coming to pass: the white streak interfering with the Jeff Beck fringe; the dodgem-car knees like bags of walnuts; the teeth, still intact but the colour of a tea bag; the hands, a shame, blue veins popping up through variegated patches as if trying to escape; the face, of course, doesn't count before being drawn on properly. I'm surprised, tomboy that I've always been, not to discover a moustache preparing itself."
After getting over myself and everyone, I got rare and wonderful good news today and the Jingle Bells came back. It seems to me that everyone's falling a bit into the old Christmas feeling, smiling a bit more, etc. A lot of Dickensian comraderie has reached us this season. So I cleaned, moved things around and even decorated today. I really pushed it & I'll pay for it tomorrow, but while I felt it, I went with it. Put the holiday music channel on, hauled out the holly, hung the beaten up old paper decorations and hung everyone's stockings. The tree will take a few days, so it waits. But I'm well onthe way. This year, I think, I'm going all out. I think I just friggin need to have an overdone, "every string of garland hanging" kind of Christmas, ya know? I'm talking around the walls of the living room, over pictures and clocks- every bit of available space yells Hello!!! Christmas!!! Colors and light everywhere! So that when you take it down, the house looks Scandinavian sparse (I can live sparsely- Scottish and Swedish blood doesn't lend itself to Rococo boudoirs anyway).
But that sparcity is a beauty to me, too, in the New Year. When you have the bleak harsh light of January pour in on that freshly stripped room, it feels like a new year.
Anyway, as my SIL Mac says, "But I diverse."
Tonight my BFF (haha- that term) calls from where she's spending the holidays and is living thru an Oedipal Saw movie with her son. Down, down, went the spirits as I sympathized by recalling scream-inducing holidays with my family, most them dead now. And the only time I see my brothers is at funerals anymore, and they sometimes don't even do those. The last time I saw a nephew was also the first time I met him in his 22 years, and that was at his father's funeral; my oldest brother. So yeah, family kicks your ass like nothing else in life. Jobs come and go, friends and lovers too, but family is there til you're all dead. No matter how close or far you are, no matter how long you go without seeing them, they're family. And they know all your buttons. They can gut you like a mackeral. It's gotta be worse when it's your own kids who are torturing you on purpose. I mean, you gave them life, and they hate you so much as to say these things?
So yeah, it's been a bungie kinda deal. This may be a bungee Christmas season. I've seen them before.
Last night I listed a bunch of things to do to get going on my Xmas. There are projects that have turned difficult, clutter I need to clear...the usual. But I went to sleep fairly cheerfully looking forward to this morning and getting things done. It was a different story by 11 a.m. today, and got progressively worse all day. Now I don't care if Christmas comes or I do anything, and really, fuck it all. Wouldn't be the first Christmas I sat alone staring at the TV.
This comes after a daylong string of very bad news, poisonous people, whinging from people whom I don't see as having a right to whine (if you have all the necessities and much more than you need, healthy family and good health yourself... shut the fuck up), unbelieveable crap from the ripoff artists at Comcast and general disregard from others. Under the pressure of truly terrible things happening in my family, I don't give a flying fuck about minor BS. I want to beat the shit outta someone. It's been a long time since I threw a punch, but damned if I wouldn't kill myself beating the holy hell outta someone-anyone- right now.
Hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight and feel better about it all tomorrow, but right now I feel used and abused and bankrupt in every way. Makes it tough to be merry. Maybe I just won't talk to anyone tomorrow, and try to get my Jingle Bells back...
It's only early afternoon, and I've just heard one friend died, one friend's longtime partner walked out with an "I don't love you and haven't for a while" bomb and one friend is losing his home. Too much to process for so early in the day.
Needless to say, not a good day.
"I'm so sorry" is all I have to offer. I wish I at least had some money to throw at these problems, or a home I could open to those who need one.
So lately I've been listening to almost only ProgRock. It's my thing. It's always been my thing. I just didn't have time or inclination to hang back and listen for a long time. But I do now, and I am. Tonight I'm telling a friend (who said she's been making collages) that it feels like we're going into the 70s again. She said I'm nostagic, but that's not it.
No, most of it isn't new to me or my ears. It was everywhere I was in the 70s. All my friends (the artsy HS & college crews) were into ProgRock. But this isn't a bemoaning for how good things were in the 70s and how I miss them. This is about how incredible I think this music and these performers are. The 70s were awful, apart from the drugs being better and non-violent. Rationing, inflation, Nixon, the 60s assassinations aftereffects, the war and its immediate aftereffects, Watergate, Kent State...and disco... the 70s sucked.
So no, pal o'mine, it's not nostalgia, it's a re-appreciation, a homecoming, a fall-back-in-love kinda thing. And this time I'm relatively sober. It sounds even better.
Sarah friggin ass Palin on tv, like the media whore she is, and telling the Times she's wanting to be President? The fastest growing drug area is the drugs that treat you for what other drugs do to you. Now that's sheer genius in business. Create a drug that you then have to take another drug to cure you of. Medicare Part whatever doesn't cover vitamins. My Heat Grant is less than half of what it was last year, and a quarter of what it was 2 years ago. Thanks, Bushie Boy. Congress is 98% sociopaths. The poor keep getting poorer. People are stupid, or soul-less, or both.
And ya know what? This is just the tilt of the roller coaster. Wave bye-bye.
Maybe, just maybe my Dad was a prophet. He said, over a hand of gin rummy in the mid-70s , that I'd live to see the US owned by China and that we'll all be "coolies" (he was born in 1906) here. I told him he was crazy. Ha.
When will the workers realize what's being done to them by their owners?
For whatever reason, the last few weeks have brought a number of people I haven't had contact with in decades back into my life. Quite a few are through one particular person, and I have to wonder why and why now- but there are no answers. Lots of questions though.
There are epochs in my life that I can encapsulate and reduce to an all-inclusive diorama in my head. But not with this group of folks; the tentacles go in very many directions, thru many years, even including the only lately acquainted. I don't know what to make of it all. I'm a very different person than I was 20 or 30 years ago and assuming so is everyone else. Is this a second chance, a way to repair or unkarma ourselves or just all coincidence? How come Herman is the center, when he's been dead for 18 years already? Should I ask the questions or wait & see if the answers become evident? Really, there are several I don't want to ask but want the answers...
In it all I'm somewhat intimidated and don't know where that fear comes from. Funny, because I think of myself as a pretty fearless person. This free-floating anxiety has to be coming from somewhere... is it intuitive and a survival instinct kicking in, telling me not to grab that torch and go back into that cave? That I can't dig it out of my guts and look at it bugs me. And it is a gut level kind of thing. But is it real or just the shock- like when JP showed up at my job out of nowhere and many years' absence?
Or is it the people involved- and then not really "the people", but 1 person- that's got me so off kilter? Well, I think in writing this I've pinned it, but not wholely. I just keep asking, "Why?" Perhaps I'll just shut up and see what happens.
We are chugging somewhere. While the politicians fight over how best to ruin the lives of the people, those of us who still think do what we do.
Many of the thinking that I know are on a meta-psychi-physic trail right now. Who knows where that'll go.
Herman Slater told me to keep an eye on the political and spiritual movements as they are where the future gets molded. I don't know if that applies anymore.
Lately, I've found comedians to be kind of the prophets and leaders we have in history. People who pointed out truths and held mirrors up to power. Are we too fearful to discuss these things without humor? Have we become so ignorant that it's the only way to instruct? The biggest laughs of my life came from horrible personal disasters. Is it inherent in humans to seek comedy when terrified?
And where has the violence of the Teabaggers come from? They've been assaulting those who don't agree with them...and their videoheads cheer it on. Have they gone nuts?
Though the growth on my clavicle hasn't receded much since the initial shrink, there are now no swollen glands around my ear, on my neck or my scalp. A year ago I had several painful bloated glands in those areas, and was considering surgery again (I'd already had 2 removed from my neck and 1 from under my tongue).
It's a bit of a hassle to live with tethered phones after years of cordless, but it pays off in a lot of ways. The old-fashioned mode of giving full attention to a call is a small joy. For so long, I'd been doing many other things while on the phone. It's a simpler and even somehow more respectful thing to sit in one spot and chat. It also gives a value to phone time- those who go on and on saying nothing are more easily moved along when they know you have other things to do which you can't while talking on the phone. These are side benefits I wasn't expecting.
So though some call me whatever they will, I'll stay with corded phones. It's given me a lot more time to do things I'd rather do. The phone doesn't easily intrude in my life anymore, and now there are plenty of times it's just not convenient to answer so I don't. All of which has reduced my stress level. And possibly, that's part of why my glands have receded. Who knows? I say if it's working don't mess with it.
This week has been a weird journey. My Allyson had the surgery she needed, and though I send my love, a mama ought to be there in person. But I can't be. Poverty does that. My eldest nephew has a serious operation coming up, and again I can't be there. So what do I do? I do what I can. I write. And I help other writers when I can.
An author contacted me about a blog I wrote about Herman Slater, who used to be my boss. That contact, and consequent limp down memory lane made me want to find certain people. One of those people being Wayne K, who lived with Herman the last 2 years he was around. I went to the Childe website where I saw Wayne was looking for me, too. So I googled. That led me to a writers' site, which will be hugely useful to me once I find Wayne. I've left Wayne messages every way I could, including his blog right here on blogspot.
Dammit Wayne, I've missed the hell outta you. I read you're hitched and wrote at least one book- Hot Damn! Congrats! We have years to catch up on. Comment here, leave yr email addy- I moderate, so I'll get it in my email & not publish it (of course). Can't wait to hear from you!!! And I have shit to tell you, and a secret to clear up.
Update: I talked to Wayne the night before last. It was like we'd spoken last week rather than 16 years ago. Finally, I straightened out something that'd been eating at me for 18 years. And if all goes well, he and his wife will come vacation here next year. There's something about old friends, even moreso when you're among the last survivors of a certain experience, that's oddly comforting.
Too many things are happening to recount right now- hope to get back on the weekend & do that.
That's one reason people are flipping out these days; there's too much going on & you don't get to catch your breath, much less process, before something else goes on.
Halloween is just 3 1/2 days away. I'm not ready- my home is a shamble of boxes and things getting ready for pick up by people who are disorganized. Dammit. I can't even find the decorations!
Entertainment is fab at this time of year. Many TV channels are competing for top scary stuff viewership. AMC has been running a great assortment of movies, the Travel channel has the annoying but compelling Ghost Adventurers on day and night, even the Animal channel runs hauntings that have a dog or cat in the story. My kind of television. So this year, that's how I'm celebrating- watching as much paranormal, horror and silly Halloween broadcasting as possible. When I'm not talking someone off the edge.
In 1975 I was walking on the upper east side with my friend Peggy Michaels, when we were asked to be extras in a movie. It was a terrible tomato thrower called "God Told Me To." There was a sniper on a roof that we were running away from across 2nd Ave. Never saw the movie, but it's in Wiki, of course. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Told_Me_To
No star was born, to put it nicely.
Then in talking to friends and family this weekend, it came up that each of us had been in a movie or on television at least once. My sis-in-law had won a jury seat on a soap opera and worked there for weeks, sitting in a jury box looking attentive. My brother the cop and I had been on the news a few times and I did 2 Morton Downey, Jr. shows. My husband was a thug on "OLTL" for a couple of years. A local hero was in "The Man Who Fell to Earth". Even my BFF, in the ski towns of New England, made a commercial for television. I pretty much expect my NYC friends and family to have been on tape somewhere. You can't go anywhere without seeing a celebrity in my old neighborhood. But even people in the sticks who never thought of doing such things have done it.
So was Andy sorta right? We may not have been famous, but we have all been on a screen. It was for most of us, less than 30 seconds, not 15 minutes. Maybe it'll end up being 15 whole minutes when spliced together. I hope nobody finds my Downey Shows.
Since I'm entirely incompetent in trying to YouTube myself, here's what I can do to join the "It Gets Better" campaign.
Bullying was real when I was in school, and is real now. In grammar school I was the perennial new kid, so was picked on. By 5th grade I was officially the Fat Girl in class. That stayed throughout High School. I was also a geek, a nerd and probably could have been diagnosed by a mental health worker. Other kids physically attacked me as well as verbally. There is something in my character that won't let me physically hurt someone if they do something to me. I will, however, jump anyone who touches or belittles someone I love, or is bigger than the victim. So I acquired the reputation for fighting. It was terrible. In 6th grade I almost went to a girls' detention hall for cutting school. But my education didn't suffer; I read compulsively. I started writing and arting and discovered parts of myself I didn't know existed. I spent a lot of time alone. Luckily, I had a set of girlfriends that hung together and until High School I had my buddies. Some of us did extracurricular things together- I was on every school newspaper, I ran a Career Day at my school, took ballet and karate. There were only 10 in that group of girls, it wasn't like we were really tight, but it was comfortable. We all went to different high schools and that was the end of us.
High school, even the one I went to, is always a terror to the bullied. There are new issues to be tortured over- zits, moodswings, your clothes, your hair, how much money your family has or doesn't- everything becomes a vulnerability. We didn't even speak of homosexuality then. Anyone suspected was just ostracized. If they were gay and smart or funny, they'd fit in with the nerds who sang or the art crowd. If they weren't, they were alone. I and nearly every girl I knew tried to kill ourselves, but thankfully few of us succeeded. It worries me that these days, kids are even more outspokenly mean. It worries me that kids are so picked on that killing themselves is their option, and that they know better how to do it now. Suicide is not painless.
Please, if you feel like suicide is a good idea, talk to someone. Everyone has at least 1 person who loves them, whomever that happens to be- a best friend, a mother, a sibling, whomever. If you get to that point, please talk to someone. You can even call a hotline and talk anonymously. But talk before you act. They're there. I'm here. Email me. I'll answer, I promise. I do care and I get it, I was bullied my whole life.
It does get better. You won't see these people after you graduate. It's the truth. Just ignore it all you can, walk on and get thru it. You'll have strength they'll never dream of having. And remember, you have all the rights of everyone else. It's not that life isn't good, it's that it isn't fair. Just keep on.
My Sis-in-Law Mac was talking about a funny episode when our nephew Thomas was a kid. Mac gave Thomas a LifeSaver and he sucked it into his windpipe. Her sister, who's good in emergencies, jumped all over him, pounding his back. Mac was watching him turn blue. Their mother Alice, ran out the door into the backyard, and was running in circles yelling, "Jesus. Mary and Joseph! " over and over. Finally, after a big blow to his back, he coughed it up and it shot across the room into the sink. Everyone but Alice is alive today. It became just another Thomas Story.
Now, they probably could bring a suit against LifeSavers for not having a choking hazard warning on them. Then, they chalked it up to stupidity and accident. If looked at with a cool eye, that's just what it was.
So how much stupidity are we encouraging when people do stupid things with products and then can sue over it? And in the big picture, aren't we encouraging the survival of the Too Stupid To Live? Why isn't common sense accorded as a responsiblity of a person? Nobody yells at the kid who does stupid things these days, at least not in front of me. They get fawned over like a crime victim should be. When did it become okay to be stupid without consequences? I'm watching children grow up with full entitlement of all their behavior, no matter how antisocial or plainly moronic they behave. How can that be good?
Thomas, once he caught his breath, was hollered at for doing that. He agreed it was stupid, and he apparently never did it again, because he's still with us. He has even reproduced.
But how many of the mollycoddled will make it to the point where their stupidity alone will kill them? How long will that be? The Survival of the Fittest will have the final word. If we've become a world where the stupid will survive to reproduce, are we breeding the morons of the future? Couple that with the fact that the most intelligent people I've known didn't reproduce. Is Idiocracy inevitable?
So for my birthday, my BFF gave me a tracphone. It's like a bastard child of a phonecard and a cell phone. You pay for minutes ahead of time, then they try to find ways to waste your minutes. That I expected; it's the way of the world, the Satanic Marketing of now. What I didn't expect was for them to appear to turn off my service so I'd have to contact them and they'd want to know everything but my blood type.
This went on for 4 days; I was recharging my phone at first, when the adaptor plug fell outta the wall. Next morning I see this, replug it and let it charge. Day 2, I unplug it but my tracphone is now dead. Black screen, no power. So I email them (already had had to do that, they had my email addy) and they say I have to call. I don't use menus anymore. I wait til the schpiel is over, then see if a human appears. At tracphone you can't do that. You can't talk to anyone unless you have a touchtone phone and you use the menu. So now I email them again. Day 3, they say I should give them a number they can reach me at and what hour to call. Which I kind of go sideways with- but I do it. My BFF tells me she had the same thing happen but they told her she'd shut her phone off. They told her to take the battery out and then put it back in & it should work. Which she did, and it did. They had called her and left a message for me on her machine that morning. She'd bought the phone, and used plastic, so they already knew an affiliated number. I get suspicious. Day 4, my aide, also a TracPhone user, is bitching about hers when I bring this up & tell her all of the above, and she says, yeah, it's a scam to get info on who's got what number and all your pertinent info. She asks if I've taken my battery out, I say no, so she does, and puts it back.. And like a miracle, it's working like normal. What a coincidence. I called my sis-in-law in Jersey, no problem. Later, the landline rings...it's "Maria" and she's calling to fix my Tracphone. She says I must call her to reactivate my phone. I don't pick up the call.
Thinking about the music I'm listening to lately, remembering the first time I heard something.. It's like I'm hearing it all fresh. It's been so long, that now it's like a new experience again. A benefit of 50+ years on the planet? I get to fall in love with it twice?
I also realized that there were certain albums nobody stole and they've been a constant presence thru the years. Nobody ever stole Pink Floyd because everyone already had them. Same rule for the Stones and certain Beatles albums. But the personal favorites that nobody had, those were stolen. And so I lost my Yes, my Bowie, my ELP, my Tom Petty and Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash and John Lennon and every Ramones. There were some albums I'd put notes of deaththreats on, and nobody stole those. I just recently gave the last of my albums to my Faux Daughter. She gets the last deaththreated Patti Smith, Pearl, the best Gershwin ever done, some Xmas from the family days... the surviving Doors and Bowies. All good. But I never missed them, they stayed.
It's good to get a second chance, and a second chance to fall in love all over again.
There is damn little good to say these days. I helplessly watch while people I love suffer. Terrible things happen, injustices abound, good people who try are pushed to the edge. A man I admire had a small meltdown in front of me yesterday. He's a very good man in a very lousy world. A very lousy man (he's a neocon, as if that's a surprise) is smearing another good man to gain a political seat. Too many people have no morality, yet scream they do. Perhaps we should suspect the screamers....
Really, I haven't a clue, a penny or the strength to do more than hang on right now.
It doesn't help that there is never quiet at this building. This is the time of year that you must leave your windows open in order to breathe. From 8 a.m. til 2 a.m. there is noise. Generators, drills, jackhammers, trucks and car alarms all day, rowdy drunks all night. I might as well be back in NYC.
And so I retreat into music and writing. Can't work on my book- I haven't the concentration, my nerves are shot. But I blog and journalize, which help keep me grounded. And thank the God/desses of music, for an outlet. Everyone, just hang on.
As a comrade has noted, there are shadow people around our town. Mostly looking homeless, carrying a garbage bag, alone, they are there and gone before your eyes.
Everyone close to me is going through some shade of Hell at the moment. I'd say walking instead of "going", but some can't walk anymore. Demons come in many varieties and shapes; some inhabit people's minds, others stand in shadow and watch. Sometimes that's all they need to do. However you encounter a demon, whatever shade of Hell you live through, if you live through it, it changes you. You can't not be changed by it. There are things humans should not have to experience, but we do. Some things change humans into shadows. Some make them act like demons themselves.
I don't know what's coming but it's in the wind. It doesn't feel like it's good, either.
Decades ago, when I was a little girl, my mother told me that where we are now is Hell. There is no pit or circles, just look around, it's right here.
Being a former runner, I perk up to hear running news. This morning on NPR was a story about running gadgets. All kindsa gadgets to tell you how long/fast you're going. So here's my prediction (and a declaration of First Authorship): in the near future there will be a gadget that you attach that will tell you how many calories you've burned and therefore how much you can eat, with menu suggestions.
You heard it here first, unless someone else is already in patent on such a thing. And I will sue! (or make a deal with anyone who wants to develop these things)
Perhaps we can call it "Earn and Burn"? Sounds infomercial-ready enough...
The full moon has kept me up- but I'm sitting here with the headphones, blasting "Nobody Loves You Like I do" into ears that haven't been thru this for decades and friggin loving it. I figured out one thing I could do to help someone else today and woohoo!!!
It's only because of Cam and Birdy that I'm sitting here totally happy in life tonight. Birdy is to thank for listening to Greg Lake singing his lungs out, and Cam for the ability to sit here listening at all.
In the last few weeks, music has reentered my life in all kindsa ways, and I'm much happier for it.
However, my eyes are shot so I'll end for now. Remind me where I was when I get back.
9/22 Okay, I'm back. Another blessing is the time and ability to go back and investigate the bands I had no exposure to nor time to track down back in the day. King Crimson, for instance. Besides The Court of the Crimson King I had little knowledge of them. Incredible. And The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, which would've been my favorite band in 1968, if I'd gotten to know them. And The Nice. And Atomic Rooster.
My writing awaits, a nagging pen in my head, but I needed a short vacation...
Another Sunday, another kidney stone, another day of watching rockumentaries on youtube. Seeing these (today I've watched the stories of Led Zep and Ozzy Osbourne), I just realized how lucky I was to grow up when I did. There was so much music, so much incredibly original and unique musical talent to grow up to.
Among the bunches of kids I grew with (we moved a lot and I made a lot of friends along the way) we all had older siblings. I had 3 older brothers who were all into music. So though I wasn't a teenager until 1972, I already had inherited Cheap Thrills, The Doors Live, lots of Beatles albums and scores of early folk and rock cuts on 45s. Really, until today, I never saw what an incomparable time it was in music.
In High School, when my end of the Boomers were coming into their own, genres within rock were already established. We loved David Bowie and Elton John, Yes, Floyd, ELP, Led Zep- some of whom had already been playing for a decade- and new bands like KISS and Fleetwood Mac (the reincarnation sans Peter Green) and the Eagles were just making it. Bands were playing huge venues like Madison Square Garden, and later, the Meadowlands arena and Nassau Colliseum. Going to a concert was a huge event for us, especially when there were several bands on the bill. Unfortunately we were all so often tripping and drunk we didn't get to keep vivid memories of the whole thing. I have a great memory of a MSG cop dragging me away while Chris Squires was fistpumping back to me. Or when the roadie for Twisted Sister threw me over his shoulder and ran into the dunes with me where we had wild sex. That's the sort of memory you keep, flashes of your life like that. It's a blur, a marvelous and wild time that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Watching these rockumentaries takes me back to those days. My god, what a lucky girl I was.
Our Allyson is much better. They still don't know exactly what the hell, but the antibis are doing their thing and she's been back to work already (I wasn't thrilled about that, but she's a grown up and I have to shut up). Hopefully it's all on the way to being over, whether they figure it out or not.
So Thank You to all of youse who prayed and sent good thoughts and emailed me. She'll be fine.
Quite suddenly, we seem to have plopped into Fall. It's delightfully cool and breezy. The air is fresh and even though humid, not sticky, at last. The A/C is off- hopefully for good- and my constant benadryl habit gone with it. Oh, and my landlord has offered to replace the 1974 GM A/C.... IF I sign a new lease (the letter actually said, "It would make a big difference next summer!")- really? Ya mean my electric bill to cool two rooms would be less than 200 a month? I'll sign the new lease, but chances are I won't be here next summer. The affordable housing folks have told me I'm on the list for disabled housing, so it could be any time now. And I can't be held to a lease where the facility endangers me, which this place does. But a new A/C for the next poor sucker who has to live here will be good - and they will likely pay 700 a month in rent for the luxury.
I love the Fall. Even now, I get that Back To School feeling when the sunlight changes and the first leaves gather in the gutter. The new school term was hugely exciting to me. Though clothes shopping was always a nightmare, new notebooks and Bics, a new pencil case, a new bookstrap were all delights. If I'd had my druthers, I'd lose a whole day wandering through stationery and office supply aisles in Woolworth's or McCrory's. Then the first day of school came (would've been this past Tuesday) - lining up in the schoolyard, catching up with all the kids you hadn't seen all summer, meeting the new teacher, going to the classroom you'd spend the whole year in for the first time, examining your desk for clues of who'd sat there before you... all of it was dear to me. Of course, by Halloween it was all old hat and I'd start playing hooky, but that's another story.
Fall has my favorite holidays that all lead up to the biggest deal of the year, Christmas. The anticipation, planning what to be for Halloween to begin with, was overwhelming to me. I obsessed on my Halloween get-up. Only twice in my Trick or Treating career did I have a store-bought outfit and there was a lot of competition amongst the dozens of kids around my block. The kids with older sisters who had a makeup edge, the kids from small families or whose parents had money were in another class literally and figuratively. Halloween costumes marked you for what you were in life and you could rise above if you were creative. It was serious business.
Thanksgiving, before I was part of the kitchen duty, was pure joy. I got to be with my brothers, even if they regarded me as a pest, and we watched the "Macy*s Day Parade". Then came the traditional movies..."Mighty Joe Young", "March of the Wooden Soldiers" and "Miracle on 34th Street". And then dinner, the one big blowout meal of the year. Even Christmas dinner didn't come close. And after dinner cleanup, peace and quiet while we all watched some holiday special or read books and I began planning my letter to Santa Claus.
So, while the Fall brings the end of life to so much around us; as greenery slowly dies off and the earth prepares for hibernation in our corner of the world; as the smells of decaying vegetation and the first whiffs of wood burning curl in our noses, I rejoice. Good memories come back and good celebrations lie ahead.
The late summer cold is among the most revolting physical things human can have. There are only 3 things for it. Sleep. Drugs to make you sleep. Music for every lousy moment you are awake.
In the music category I am currently in love with a band called Mumford & Sons. Look them up. Eargasms galore. I heard of them the way I usually hear of good bands- by my Allyson.
And spare a prayer for my Allyson. The medics thought she had mono, but it's a heart infection- much more dangerous. It was very scary there for a few days but she seems to be responding to the antibi therapy. With a few weeks rest and antibis she should be good as new. It's all damn scary, though.
Speaking of scary, my friend Stevil turned 60. Jesus. How'd that happen?
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that my father, Poppa as we called him, would've turned 104 years old. My God. I hope he's enjoying a cold tallboy Rheingold, wherever he is.
Over the last 40 years I've been overeating, bulemic, dieting by every diet invented and quite literally starving myself. I've lost and gained back at least a ton over the years. Eating Disorders are tricky. Even the Pros will tell you that. Nobody has found a cure, and now I think maybe because it's got to come from the Disordered person. It may be one of those things that only you can do by yourself. There's no "way". If there was, maybe the US wouldn't be morbidly obese. And the diet/drug/bariatric surgery people would cease to make their billions per year. The bizarrity of a nation that's way too fat for its own good could only happen in the US. More than half the world is starving; we starve by choice, or eat like sharks.
Now, for the first time I can say I'm at peace about eating. I've found the thing that works for me; Eating To Live, I call it, after my HS math teacher. "You either live to eat, or eat to live," he said way back when. And he was right. So what "happened"? Well, I was in one of the starve modes, and my doc took a blood test that showed my electrolytes and pretty much anything else was dangerously low. Funny, I didn't think at all, until my PT had mentioned that I couldn't be getting enough nutrition with what I wasn't eating. For the first time in 40 years of dieting, and reading, and WW and protein fasts and calorie counting and nutrition books and being a professional cook- I thought of food as the fuel I need to be healthy and nothing else but that. Oh shit, I said to myself, I've been treating food as anything but what it is- nourishment. It's nice if you dress it up, but you don't wear your Sunday Best every day. You wear what you need to do what you're going to do. And one should eat with the same thought in mind. Good appropriate food makes a healthy body, period.
Also, my portion size was way outta hand. I was eating as they advertise- a bacon cheeseburger with almost an entire salad in it, with french fries, was normal. That's not normal. That's a huge amount of food. That's more than I eat in 2 meals now. The one thing I will eat in a large portion is veggies, and that's fine. As they say, nobody got fat eating carrots.
Since I'm eating so little (also part of it all) I have to make sure my food is worth eating. Otherwise, I'm taking up valuable stomach space with shit. With that primary directive, everything changed. It's not "what would go well with" whatever, it's, "where is the calcium, the vitamins, the fiber, the protein, etc." Then, within that context, it's "what do I like?" What my body needs is first, at last. And guess what? I happen to be losing weight without trying. In an effort to not screw with myself, I'm not weighing in again until January.
This, then, is my peace with food. It is my servant now, not my master. The horrifying shame and failure that goes with every friggin diet I've known aren't there. Nobody can tell me what I can or can't have- I eat what I want. It's what I want that's changed. Food isn't The Enemy anymore. I can coexist with ice cream living in my freezer and not be obsessed with its existence there. This probably all sounds mad to those who've never had ED. That's because It Is Madness.
That's why it's a Disorder, a dis-ease.
My priorities were fucked, I had tangled food into many issues in my life, as a junkie does with drugs. And nobody ever addresses what the path to sanity is for ED'd people. Why? Because there's no profit in cures. Shrinks will play their games and never tell you how to get sane. Diet coaches will cheer/lecture/exercise/create a codependent relationship with you for money- but most of them don't have an ED. So you do the meetings, tick off your daily colors, or squares, or calories. But food isn't something you can quit and bitch about forever after. One must eat to live. After a while a diet wears on you and the first stressor that hits, you go for the chocolate cake, or the meat loaf, or whatever your drug of choice is. And then the shame and failure come back with their wagging fingers and you say, "Fuck it, why bother?" But it isn't and shouldn't be about protracted responsibility to a coach or a group or a husband or anything. It's about you getting nutrition. That's all food is. It doesn't "love" you and you don't "love" it. It doesn't comfort, fill up loneliness, calm, cheer up, or help you sleep...and it's not meant to. It's Food. That's all. If you can get to that realization, I think your ED is over. It sure feels like mine is.
There are certain points in life that expose us, in which we are naked characters. Deaths do it to everyone associated. Disability does it, too. I suspect that being wildly abled and confronted with someone disabled is akin to the man who can't deal when a woman, or anyone, cries. It was a long time ago now, it seems, when I reacted that way.
I was always at a loss for what to do or say to someone in a wheelchair. If there was a door to open, or something obvious, I'd spring to it. It cut the tension. Not everyone wants your help, though. Not everyone in a chair is nice, either. I've had my head bit off several times for offering help. And who can blame someone who's maybe adjusting to a major trauma for being bitter?
Well, those are all opportunities to get to know yourself very well. It wasn't long after I got down my technique (I ask, "Want help?" before doing anything, then if they say yes I ask what they want me to do. It's efficient that way) that I was looking at a wheelchair and learning to pivot. It's the Both Sides Now thing, after getting a few decades behind my ass. And looking at yourself ain't easy. I didn't do a lot of things, or stopped doing them, because I was afraid to do them. What a non-excuse is that?! Fear is no good excuse. But yet I'd do hugely careless things, endangering things, for fun, to prove to myself that I wasn't a total coward. Damn, I'm stupid, too!?
But wait- I can get off my own ass by judging how those who knew me well dealt with my going gimp. I'd have to grade the class on a curve, as the majority of highest marks would go to those who were only jealous and slightly cutting to my back. There were and are, 2 who "got it" all along, and I should be thankful. Those I've known all my life behaved predictably. There were a lot of bolts and jolts among my circle of people, and not a lot of belief that I was even ill, much less support in it. A good amount of the harsh comments and gossip told back to me was just hurtful. It made me wonder who raised such cold and 2-faced people, and who could reach our age and still be like that, no better than a schoolyard tattler? As I reach for the cross and halo, sanctimoniously muttering, "Father forgive them, .....etc.".
And I'm back on my own ass, where I started.
The astrology lovers in my life recognize this as my Pluto transit's hell. I just call it living, as there have been few times in my life that shit wasn't happening. And just recently, I've discovered that no, a lot of people haven't had my life, aren't racked at 50, aren't the last person alive from their wedding party, etc. But that's all nothing compared to the everyday horror that others have to live. I have all kinds of rights to be upset or whatever, but in the big picture I really am a coward if that's all I'm about. We always have the choice -if we're conscious of what we do, we can change our actions for the better. Or we can choose to sit in our shit and whine for ourselves. It's all about choices. Some choices I made years ago affect me to this day, good and bad. We never know for sure what's gonna make something else happen years ahead. That's a good thing, I think. Cuz seriously, if I'd known ahead of time what would happen in my life when I was a kid, I would've topped myself. So I'm more aware of consequences now, but that doesn't mean I'm all cautious, either. I'm working on being satisfied with me and the hell with whatever else. Nothing and nobody outside of what's encased in my skin can make me anything. I'm my own choice. I think that's the sanest I'll ever get.
Damn, it took a lot of stripping to get there.
P.S. By synchronicity, today's etiquette tip is to ask before helping a gimp! I just looked thru the page & saw it!
I think that's a pertinent question. Think about it.
This summer, the History Channel has been very light on the Nazi material and all over the place in content. I started watching when, needing to watch Nazis killing people, I switched to History. But it wasn't anything like anything about Nazis, it was The Universe.
We humans are maddeningly arrogant. Because the ground temp on Venus is 860' F, no life can be there. How do we know? Can't other life develop in other systems than ours? Just because it's not our way, doesn't mean all other ways are impossible. We may not even be able to perceive it with our barely-there 5 senses. How about that?
This is where science always took me, and why I was never well-liked by my science teachers. It really drove me nuts that whole classes of what others called "Science Geeks"( because they were supposed to be so intelligent) were bobbleheads in classrooms. They didn't think, they memorized and believed unquestionably that whatever the Prof said was absolute truth. But they weren't Thinkers. Of course, the Myth lives on, because nobody ever takes the Science Geek classes but said Science Geeks. And an occasional student who gets stuck in that class because she couldn't get into anything she wanted or needed that semester. But I'm not bitter.
Science is about trends. You see it currently in the prescription drug ads. Depression was the DSM #1 diagnosis of the 90s. Everyone's been depressed at least once, since then. And drugged for it. The psych classes of the 70s made everyone Manic Depressive thru the 80s. Somewhere in the 00s, ADD and OCD surfaced, with the Autism Spectrum getting their 15 minutes. Now, all of those and their treating drugs are common knowledge. Before the massive drug therapies (I personally don't think any doc but a shrink with the MD behind should be prescribing psych drugs- but I'm old fashioned) people went to shrinks, got therapy, "worked on their problems". Now they get a drug and they're let loose to live out their nuttiness which has been drugged to a dull roar. They don't get better, they get a drug habit. And everyone thinks that's fine.
I just read an infotainment book about natural cures, not that any of it was about natural cures. It was about the salesman-author stating things we all knew without telling you anything specific. But doing it in italics stresses how important it must be. Especially when it's followed by something in bold. But hey, we're supposed to be impressed by someone actually reading a book, any book, these days. It makes you look intelligent, you know.
Well I could go on ranting but I have things to do. Go forth and multiply intelligence.
OK, as soon as you're fifty, everything falls to the ground, your face becomes unrecognizable to yourself and even your hair betrays you. That all given, it's bugging me how freakin ugly and strange a lot of my gen's idols are growing. It's bad enough that Robin Williams and Bono are looking alike but holy crap I saw Bruce Jenner the other day and he looks like my HS piano teacher after her bad facelift at age 70.
There seem to be 3 categories in aging men. Those who start looking like old ladies (you know who you are), those who look like a Shrinky-Dink or funhouse version of themselves, and the truly frightening to behold. Kirk Douglas, Keith Richards, Elvis at the end and Mr. Perkins, a local, fall into the third category. These are people whose countenance strikes a particular fear muscle in older folk's elimination systems, which loosens and activates the urinary tracts. That is why I'm sure that any home that watches old rock star reality series will smell pissy. Like an old folks' home. And heads therein will smell like old people's heads, from said inhabitants running pissy hands thru unsuspecting heads of hair.
Women are not immune to this at all. As Dee Snider said, "Used to be a 38DD, now a 38 Long." Also, women seem more prone to the aging-all-at-once-syndrome. Where she looked like she was in her late 30s til her 40s ran right up and through her with a 60-year-old's face and slapped her down. Those unfortunates to whom this happens (Rod Stewart was one) may stay with that 60-y.o.'s face until extreme age turns them into what can only be called The Cryptkeeper Face. This is the last face you'll have if you should live so long and I'm thinking, you'll probably be glad to not have to see yourself much longer, looking like that.
Not that aging, per se, is bad. It's great to know how to deal more than you ever did, and more than anyone younger. You may offer some ideas or cautions here and there but that can get old fast. And after a while you just shut up and watch, because they won't listen to you anyway, and it's pearls before, etc. You start catching yourself thinking old people thoughts ("Nobody says Thank You anymore. These people have no manners. And plain old bread costs 4 bucks a loaf now! My mother would tell them to shove it! Remember when you could get a half-gallon of milk, a pack of cigarettes and a daily paper for a dollar?", etc.) Of course, adults all smoked then, and we were their slaves who ran to the corner store and bought their tobacco and even beer without anyone saying "Boo", and made quick of it or we'd get shit for it. We were raised so differently to the way kids come up now. Kids have rights now. Agencies will be called. In the Victorian mindset we labored under, there were no rights, no agencies, and no safe houses. I sometimes wonder if that wasn't a better way. We grew up sharp and independent with few illusions of entitlement or safety. I wonder how the youngers who grew up punching cereal boxes sans correction and discipline will deal with life. Go psycho with frustration that in the real world they can't do whatever the hell they want? Will they expect their bosses and mates to say, "Please honey, we don't do that...please, stop?"
See? I sound like an old lady.
I'm just hitting a point where I realize it's useless to bitch about the inevitable, so I wanted to get this all outta my system before it all becomes more things I recognize and ignore. Really, it all started because of Jimmy Page, so blame him.
My friend Camilla played some great power rock on her show today. Prog rock was my thing, back in the day. Yes, Floyd and ELP at the top for me. I went to their concerts (stories there, boy!), memorized their music, followed the artists who designed their albums. Oh, I loved all the hard rockers- but for sheer voice, Greg Lake made me breathless. Today, during Cam's show, it happened again.
But Jesus Christ Almighty Mother of God. He has a voice I'd hope angels sound like.
ELP got back together this summer for a few gigs. I couldn't go. I wouldn't trust myself near Greg Lake. Someone would end up dead, I just know it. Probably me. The only safe way I could be anywhere near him is on my deathbed. And should it ever come to that, I hope someone brings him to me so I can kiss him once and die happy.
For the past few years I've been watching vids from the various ComicCons. While my scope of the superhero realm is limited (hey, there just weren't that many of them when I was a kid) I'm developing a warm attachment to superheroes at this age.
Batman and Superman were my faves when I was a kid. But there are whole galaxies of supertypes now, with powers undreamed of in the 50s and 60s. And there are a bunch more women. The women of my gen were spinoffs of the men= Batgirl, Supergirl, etc. We had more female villains than heroes in the olden times. In the post WW2 era, good guys were white and bad guys came in assorted other colors. The intelligent were often bad guys, or good guys that went bad. Geeks had not taken the mantle of pride and power they now sport.
But watching this year's ComicCon has given me an almost faith-based initiative: I wanna go, I wanna dress up in costume, I wanna leave the humdrum world behind for a few days and enjoy myself in an alternate reality.
This was an unbearably hot week. A propane tank at a hardware store here blew its top, sxaring the Hell outta a few people and calling out the FD. 102' and just shy of that mark for four days, with the sun frying front yards and withering gardens, we melted. My 36 year old AC has been running at full throttle for weeks and only today brought the temp in here down to a frigid 78. I can't wait to move.
Oscar Grant's murderer was found guilty of 2nd degree Involuntary Manslaughter. He'll get his IF he does time.
The insanity of the Teabaggers goes on unchecked. The only conspiracy I put stock in is the dumbing down of America. People are terrifyingly gullible and fearful these days. And unbelievably selfish. All are marks of the uneducated.
Otherwise, I'm happy to just be able to sleep again. Things are as usual, which isn't bad in the big picture. I'm well aware of all I have, and how much I'm blessed. I'm blessed with a lot.
Ringo was and will always be My Beatle. He's not everyone's fave Fab, but I've loved him since I was 4 (according to my Mom) when they landed in NY and all Hell broke loose. Girls met them at the airport carrying bleach and threatening to drink it unless they met The Beatles. Fans chased their cars- or what they thought were their cars- all over the city. You couldn't hear their music over the screaming on Ed Sullivan. Ah, the memories.
And Ringo is 70 years old today. Happy Birthday, Ringo.
It don't come easy, You know it don't come easy. It don't come easy, You know it don't come easy. Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues, And you know it don't come easy. You don't have to shout or leap about, You can even play them easy. Forget about the past and all your sorrows, The future won't last, It will soon be over tomorrow. I don't ask for much, i only want your trust, And you know it don't come easy. And this love of mine keeps growing all the time, And you know it just ain't easy. Open up your heart, let's come together, Use a little love And we will make it work out better. Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues, And you know it don't come easy. You don't have to shout or leap about, You can even play them easy. Peace, remember peace is how we make it, Here within your reach If you're big enough to take it. I don't ask for much, i only want your trust, And you know it don't come easy. And this love of mine keeps growing all the time, And you know it don't come easy.
A conversation with my friend Kathleen brought memories of my worst-ever cooking accomplishments.
Since we were an "everybody works" family, I was the household cook from the time I was 11 until my mom stopped working when I was 16. Since my mom was a truly terrible cook, expectations were low when I began slinging the hash. Thankfully, the almost inedible was the usual fare and so there were few gripes or hard feelings expressed when I "discovered" how sausage was made or the icing stuck to one's teeth like Gorilla Glue.
Fanny Farmer was my first cooking instructor. Written for home cooks and very clearly explained, I somehow failed regularly to achieve anything near the illustrations or descriptions given. Much of my knowledge of how things cooked or what they looked like when served was from my mom's example and I seemed to be succeeding at making the beige, gray and army green dishes she'd put out all my life. But that's not what the cookbooks showed. There was also a huge discrepancy in cooking times. My mom put everything on the stove and in the oven at the same time and everything cooked for an hour or two- canned vegetables, potatoes and roasts all went on and all were out at once. But the cookbook said things cooked at all different times. I wrestled with this notion for several months. I'd never seen cooked meat any colors but blackish brown or gray before. Meat was a dry, leathery substance! Why do these pictures make it all look juicy and reddish pink? Hamburgers baked for an hour at 350'- what's this heresy of putting them in a pan on a burner? And gravy? You made that by scraping all the black stuff off of the bottom under the meat and adding watery cornstarch. Who puts spices and salt in it? What were spices anyway? Something foreigners used! We have salt and black pepper on the table and if that's not enough, tough shit.
Looking back, it's hard to believe we survived my cooking. The afore-mentioned sausages were hamburger patties I made with Thanksgiving stuffing mix by chance and baked til they were hockey pucks. The icing was for a 1st anniversary cake for my mom and stepdad, a boiled icing that hardened in the pot with the spoon stuck fast in it, which Mom threw out altogether with the flat single-layer salty brick of a cake I'd made from scratch (I cried over that). There was the baked cod, still in its box shape from the freezer and dehydrated to a crisp; the gluey mashed potatoes you had to scrape off the fork with your teeth; the chicken breasts that looked like those beak toning things in birdcages; egg noodles that disintegrated to paste when I stirred butter into them; the watery, mushy corn on the cob; the parchment paper-like roasted onions; the round steak that you had to chew for ten minutes; the pot roasts that fell to strings like shoelaces. And so it all went on our dining room table, the parade of Minute rice dishes being a novelty.
At some point my stepdad brought home dried herbs and spices and I got creative. Now everything was way overcooked but had flavors. Not good flavors, but flavors nonetheless. I began experimenting. Chicken with nutmeg and oregano. Meat loaf with cinnamon and mint. If my cooking couldn't match Fanny Farmer's, it would be original.
Then something happened that changed my life. I watched The Galloping Gourmet and The French Chef and became addicted. My dad bought me The French Chef Cookbook for Christmas (I still have that stained & beaten up copy). Since I'd already been cooking badly but fearlessly, it wasn't hard to pick up how to cook really well. My mom was pissy and critical at first, but nobody can bitch over good food for long. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So if cooking is not your forte, take heart. Keep doing it. Be fearless. If I did it, anyone can.
We had the 3rd earthquake I've ever been thru on Weds. Quakes scare me. I couldn't live anywhere that they occurred regularly. This one was mild, part of the Ontario 5.0-5.5 (depending on when you heard the report). Laying in bed, resting my shoulder, I was reading and listening to a friend sit in as DJ for another friend's show. Then everything started swaying, like riding the R train thru the tunnel into Brooklyn, in a north-south direction. As always I was paralyzed, wondering if it really was an earthquake, but as the seconds went by and the rhythm kept up, I thought, "Maybe I should get up and stand in the doorway." Then it stopped, as they all have so far (knock wood) and it was over. Really, there'd be little chance of surviving a big quake in this huge brick building. Standing in a doorway or laying in bed wouldn't make a diff. If I'm gonna croak I'd rather be in bed.
The website we all rely on here in town was hacked by a bot claiming to be a Muslim. I believe that as much as I believe my landlord can't find anyone to sell him new air conditioners. Really, I'm fairly certain (with no evidence) that it was done by some Rovian who's trying to fearmonger. Happily, it wasn't long before the server was cleaned out & our iBrattleboro was back and running as usual.
PAYT is voted up or down on Tuesday. Gods help us all if it goes thru.
Money continues to be the stomach-churner in my life, and what's been taking up all my time and energy, keeping me from posting or working on my book. Medicare will cost me 110 bucks a month. Which comes right out of my SSDI. And will leave 53 dollars a month to pay bills, buy all non-food items and take those extravagant vacations I'm so famous for. Behind that, the yearly 600-buck energy grant has been declared for heat only, and the balance left by May was taken back without notice. So I owe 2 months' electricity already. It'll be okay. I may get an energy grant from a community fund, and my brother and a good friend-in-need have offered to help if that falls thru. As for the 110, that'll be reimbursed by Medicaid in the fall and thenceforth covered by them. So I'm shorting my landlord and I'll catch up when they reimburse me. That's the best I can do. All this tsuris takes a toll, though. I've seen a lot of the interior of my toilet this week.
Health issues continue to fill my family and closest friend's lives. But everyone's hanging in there and nobody died this week.
For someone who rarely leaves the house I have an active social life. Friends were in and outta here all week. The Princess came to town bearing bagels and bread from NYC! The "health bread" she brought from Zabar's is total heaven and I may cry when I eat the last slice. Stevil came by bearing cream cheese and we shared a nice lunch with the bagels and idle chatter. And Ellen came over for one of our catch up sessions, bringing a great pizza from the new-but-the-same-old Frankie's. Thank Gods Frankie's is back. That was a long 6 months! One song I could play to cover the last week-Ya Gotta Have Friends.
Also possible good news- affordable housing may be in my future. I don't wanna jinx it by blabbing too early but it looks good.
My walker finally came back fixed! Yay! No more pushing myself around this little place on an office chair!
So life goes on. The older I get and the more I live thru, I realize that happiness really is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.
My friend Daryl's daughter recently came back from a working trip to Tanzania, Africa. Chelsy is a college student and I've never met her, but I know her Dad, and he's amazing, so it wasn't a surprise to see what she's made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3wVwGU4JBI
It's from that post that I take this list- 1. Be thankful for the small luxuries in life, like clean tap water, cement trucks, and the ability to choose (even if it's as simple as having an entire menu in your hands).
2. "If you give me rice, I will eat today. If you teach me how to grow rice, I will eat everyday." -Mahatma Ghandi. Helping others doesn't mean dropping off money and shaking hands. It means going the whole nine yards, picking up the hammer yourself, getting your hands a little dirty, breaking a sweat, planting a seed, watching it grow, teaching what you know, learning what others know, and building relationships.
3. America may not be paved with gold and over-flowing with cash, but we have extraordinary hospitals, doctors, nurses, police, scholarships, grocery stores, health care and free education. In the eyes of poverty, that's gold. Cherish all of it. Everyday.
4. A neighbor is more than just a person living next door. Personal relationships go a long way. Say "hi", smile back, be genuine, and know that when everything falls apart, you'll always have your neighbors.
5. "People are people. They are not mountains; they move around. This is how I know I will see you again." -My amazing friend Godfry from Tanzania. Never say goodbye.
6. It's amazing how well two people can communicate without even speaking the same language. Be open, aware, and observant. Your heart will grow ten times bigger.
7. Try to speak another language. It may not come out perfectly but it will be perfectly appreciated.
8. Respect your elders. Always.
9. Hug, holds hands, and make eye contact. The simplest forms of affection go a long way to somebody who didn't get it from their parents.
10. Be kind and never make assumptions--everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
11. So your internet is too slow and your cell reception stinks? Go outside, take a good look around. There is so. much. more.
12. Listen to children, they know more than we think.
13. Education is the root to every solution. Absorb it, spread it, value it. Some people would die to have the education that we get for free.
14. Okay, so our government is a bit corrupt. And there's a constant tiff between the Dems and Repubs. But try to see the positive, because the corruption here is heaven compared to the corruption elsewhere.
15. Always have something beautiful in sight, even if it's just a flower in a mason jar.
16. Be patient. Clock time as we know it is completely artificial, don't become a slave of it. Relaxing and going with the flow will make you a happier person. I promise.
This young woman has changed my expectations of our youth. In my day to day life I see kids who are apathetic and ignorant, who don't want to face the world as it is (and who can blame them?). Then along comes Chelsy, with her truly beautiful video, crafted with so much love. She writes a simple straightforward accompanying post that shows more wisdom than most "adults" I know could muster. And I'm kinda awestruck. I could never have done this at her age. Not just because of the way the world was then, nor because of the fact that such things weren't possible then. But because I wasn't raised to hope for such things. Chelsy is a young woman with a lot of hope and love. I guess we can thank Daryl and Bridget for that, but it had to be in her to begin with. A seed will grow with care, and not in a vacuum,; but the seed needs to be there in the first place. I expect to hear great things about Chelsy for a long time to come.