Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The episode opened with a woman being sued by an ex. And he was abusive to her. Suddenly my mind raced back to those years I lived in Virginia. Excuse me if I've told this story before. I don't think I have though.
During my time in Virginia, I worked for a women's shelter. And during that year, I became friends with women who had a lot of drama going on in their lives. These were not women who were at the shelter. But I did recommend some of the services offered at the shelter to one. This woman is the subject of this post.
I met my former friend through another then friend. We both dumped the mutual friend during that first year of friendship because we quickly realized that she was a user. And she had a habit of surrounding herself with women who were feeling down. Mutual dislike can form a strong bond given the right circumstances.
Folks like to say that I am spoiled. I am. But not to the same extent that this woman was. But there was one big difference between us. I like to think of myself as a survivor of all of the crap in my life. She perpetually acted like a victim. Someone else had always done her wrong.
At one point in our friendship, she shared with me that her dad had been abusive -- physically and possibly sexually. I chatted with my boss, the director of the center. She explained that my friend's behavior was a result of her abuse. She could not recognize boundaries and it was important that I set them. I also told my friend about a group that met at the center for survivors of abuse. She didn't have a car at the time and the center was remote. I told her that if she wanted to go, I would drive her each week. She declined.
Then she got a new boyfriend. He had money. They always did. He also turned out to be abusive.
One night a group of us were out. He wanted to go home and she didn't. I said that if he wanted to leave that I could give her a ride home. (I should also point out that he had recently been released from the hospital from a 5150. One night while at a mutual friend's house he had attempted suicide. The doctors diagnosed him as bipolar -- but released him before getting his meds to the right level.) So his response to her wanting to stay? "If you stay here, I'm going to go home and kill myself." He left. I later gave her a ride home.
The next day I went to pick her up since we had planned a lunch of she-crab soup at a local restaurant followed by shopping. When I got to her apartment, there were large blood drops across the hardwood floors. It's an image I will never forget. I asked what had happened. True to his word, he had slashed at his legs upon returning home. Well, not so true. It's obvious that he was just attention-seeking. I think that's the first time that I mentioned therapy for her.
My friend eventually moved to another apartment -- one at which he did not live across the hall. But she was still dependent upon him. She had screwed up credit so when she moved, she had the utilities at her new place put in his name. Not a good move when you're thinking of dumping a guy. She dumped him and he had the utilities turned off. This was after he had tried to kick in her front door after she refused to see him.
One Saturday morning, I received a phone call from her mom who was out of state. Her mother had gotten my phone number from an old phone bill from when my friend had been visiting. My friend was supposed to have called her mother from a pay phone the previous evening but had not. Her mother was concerned -- as I was at that point. Her mother also asked me what I had thought of the guy. At that point, I had learned that at times when he was in a rage, he had choked her. So yes, I was deeply concerned. I wrote down her mother's phone number and said that I would make calls around town to other friends. They all told me that they had seen her on that Friday night and the last that they had heard was that she was going to call her mother. They were equally concerned. I called her mother back and then her mother put me on three-way with my friend's father. (Her parents were legally separated.) They asked if they should call the police at this point. I told them that if they didn't, I would. Her parents called the police.
My friend called me shortly thereafter. When the police arrived, they found her ex parked outside of her building. He had been there since the previous evening. She had not gone out to the phone because she was afraid for her life. (He owned a gun.) So she stayed holed up in her apartment with no contact to the outside world. After the police showed up and made him leave, she called me from a neighbor's. I had been in conversation with one of our friends -- someone whom her ex had never met, someone whom he didn't know existed. We all agreed that this other friend's house would be the safest place for her. (He knew me and knew where I lived. I gave my roommates instructions that the doors were to be locked at all times. Prior to this, we never locked the doors. This is how the frat guys who lived next door would come shopping for stuff like toilet paper when we weren't home.) I told my friend to throw enough in a suitcase for at least a week; I was on my way.
I picked her up something like 15 minutes later and then spent another 30 minutes doing evasive driving around town. I had to make sure he wasn't tailing us. Funny the things one learns when working at an anonymous shelter. (Prior to this, I had gone to court with one of the shelter residents. Her husband had cursed us all out over the phone and had threatened to bring a gun to court. He owned quite a few. There were no metal detectors in the courthouse at that time so I had had to show up early to warn the deputies. They patted him down with extra care when he showed up. And when court was dismissed for the day, I was escorted to my car by a deputy with the instruction to drive around a lot to make sure that no one was following me. I was paid $15 an hour. But I loved my job.) So eventually I got her to our other friend's house. And except for the stuff that she had put in a storage unit that he was paying for (He cleaned it out and then changed the lock.), this was the end of the really scary guy.
And I guess I thought of all of this because of current events. I've always been pretty good in a crisis. I now sometimes wonder if this is an innate trait or a product of my childhood. Because there was some drama when I was growing up. And I was always the cool, rational one. Even if that was not what was going on inside of me, my childhood taught me to be the consummate actor. By high school, I could tell someone a bold-faced lie and they wanted to believe because I was so convincing. The key was to never show people what's really going on. When your world is falling apart, smile. When I was in my 20s and landed in therapy, I learned that this was key to my self-destructive behavior. (This is the real reason why I decided to let go of my hardcore partygirl behavior. It was just another form of self-destructive behavior. And maybe that's why I come off as so grounded now. Because I had to learn how to live in the now with an eye to the future. The past was going to kill me. It's an easy thing to do when you realize that the 16-year-old you would be shocked that you're still alive now.) I smiled and held stuff in. And the only way to end the behavior was to not smile all of the time.
So for right now, this is the place where I stop smiling if only for a brief moment. I don't have a lot of these kind of places in my life. Emerald, Jade, and Kate. they are the ones who can always see through all of my bullshit. Because my former friend did actually meet Emerald and was quite honored. She told me that I have a way of compartmentalizing my life and as such the people in my life. I only let each person know so much of me. But no one has the complete picture. It is extremely rare that I let people from different parts of my life interact with one another. There is a voice in the back of my head that says that the less that someone knows about you means that there is less of a chance that this person can truly hurt you. Even though we are no longer friends, this alone was a great lesson to learn from a friendship.
If you know anything about dysfunctional families, then you know that each person has his/her role. And mine is to smile and to shoulder the brunt for everyone else. I guess I'm a lot like my mother in that way. Because that was her role in her family when she was growing up. Maybe that's why she always said, "Be strong. Don't cry." She had learned the importance of not showing any sign of what could be conceived as weakness. Over the years, I have since realized that this is a result of lack of trust. And I want to trust and to believe in the world. So every now and then, I'm just not going to smile. And heck. You may even see a tear go down my face.
And if I actually post this, then I know that I have made a huge step forward in my life.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
1. My cousin pissed the fuck out of me on Thursday night. She told me that I couldn't bitchslap anyone; they were grieving in their own way. (OK. So I accepted this but not the next.) When I told her about my dad dosing my stepmother with the experimental drug, she was cool with this. Yesterday I talked with my cousin who is a psychologist and she agreed that this is a huge boundary issue. (I also shared some other stuff with her that I may or may not share here but that has added to my stress level.)
2. My uncle pissed the fuck out of me on Friday afternoon. While driving up to Sacto on Friday, I decided that I needed some "company" on the road. I realized later that I had broken one of my cardinal rules -- never call the man after noon his time. What the hell am I saying? Never call after 10 a.m. his time. Because he will be probably be lit. And spewing nonsense that he swears his truth. (Why you looking like that? Like you don't have at least one person in your family like that...) So first he was telling me how I couldn't get overly emotional when I saw my dad. Like I don't know how the fuck to act in a situation like this. But the real clincher? That I must never say the word "hospice." I asked him if he really understood what this meant. Every time I tried to start a sentence at this point, the mutha fucka was cutting me off. Finally I told him that I had done the research and if he was not willing to listen to me, then perhaps he should do the research himself. Until then? Shut the fuck up. Especially when the other person is driving. Drunk ass lazy mother fucker who tries to act like he's shit because he has a masters degree and all but hasn't worked steady in who knows how long because he thinks it's the responsibility of others to take care of his drunk broke ass. When he converted to Islam, he learned the talk but not the walk. Unlike my other uncle whom I should have called since he's sane and all. But that uncle would have been at work at that point in the day. Like a lot of folks I know.
3. In dealing with family over this past weekend, I was able to make a huge decision. My peeps are having a reunion this summer in Nashville. If I was going to venture to the South, it would be to Virginia to see my mama's family. I haven't seen them in three years and my grandmother, my last living grandparent, is getting on in years. Besides, my mother's people have always been real. I have never felt the need to stifle myself in any way around them. And right now, I desperately feel the need to be real. So I'm going to skip the reunion this year. I may feel guilty but in my heart I know it's not the healthiest choice for me. If I had unlimited funds and time, I'd show up. But by then, I know that there will be a profound sense of needing to take care of me. And spending time around my dad's side of the family has never been anything about taking care of me. This was a hard choice to make. My father will be greatly disappointed. Then again, he's the one who recently reminded me that I have to make myself happy.
4. No matter what a sycophant I have thought my stepmother to be over the years, I know that she is a strong and resilient woman. She survived divorcing her first husband when he was cheating on her. And raised two sons. And received a masters degree. No, her behavior otherwise served a purpose. She did what needed to be done. And her "friends"? They have always said how lucky she was to end up with my father. So I'm keeping an eye on those heifers. Because my mom keeps warning me that they are trying to get in position to be my new stepmother.
5. One of the women who dropped off food was perfectly innocent. She is the wife of my dad's dentist. I know the husband went to college with my dad's younger sister who lives in Oakland. My dad really wanted me to meet them. Upon seeing one another, the wife and I instantly realized that we had met at some social occasion previously. This frequently happens with our folks. But her daughter? Well looking at her, I suddenly felt like a fat pig. And I'll let those of you who have met me in person ponder that one. Because I quickly dismissed all of those images in my mind. Well except for the perfectly flat stomach that I had up until about five years ago. And there's a little part of my brain that says that if I puke at least a couple of times per week, then I can get there. Because now I remember that back in the days of the flat stomach, I used to puke at least once a week -- sometimes more. And now at this point, I know a few of you have puzzled looks. Cookiecrumb is taking back her comment yesterday about my being grounded and sane.
6. I have a secret. Well not really because I shared it with my cousin the psychologist yesterday. Saturday my dad returned from the center and received a call from his wife's niece -- the daughter of her sister. She told my dad that she had been visiting with my stepmother earlier in the day and that my stepmother had told her that she was giving up and was ready to die. My dad's reaction was, "Now she'll go telling her mother this and her mother will tell everyone she knows." There was also, "I don't need to hear this right now." And then I walked into the garage when he wasn't expecting me. He barely had time to put the vodka bottle back in its hiding place. But they have tons of alcohol throughout the house. So the hiding? Makes me suspicious. Kind of like when I found the bottle of port at his office a couple of years ago. But we all know our roles. And I'm the enabler -- the one who denies things as vehemently as he does, who lies for him, who turns a blind eye. And all I can think is that it's not just my stepmother who is dying. My family is dying. And I know that hospice care would be the best thing for all of us -- to stop this dying -- but I don't know how to speak up.
7. There's a lot I'd like to rant about but, as I said previously, there are more pressing things in my life. (Yeah, I knew back then how things were going to end; I just didn't think it would be so soon.) Now I don't feel so bad. Thanks to a post that Sizzle shared, I have found my way to The Angry Black Woman. They cover the topics upon which I feel to rant more than sufficiently.
8. After all that cooking this weekend, I realized that I didn't have anything for myself at home. Nor did I have the energy to cook. So friggin' tired. I thought of going to Berkeley Bowl but just couldn't. More on that later though. Poulet came to the rescue once more. Sorry Nat. No carrot cake this time. But there was apple-rhubarb crisp.
9. That said, Buzzgirl sent me a link to this blog yesterday. I'm still wiping away the tears from laughter. There are several funny posts there but this is why I just couldn't go to Berkeley Bowl yesterday. Going to Berkeley Bowl is like going to Whole Foods. Except the prices are lower.
10. I'm starting to see some of Marin's concerns. One of her warnings about this whole mess is how other folks, especially one's boss, don't really understand about being an only child. When things start going wrong with your parents, there often isn't anyone else to help out. These thoughts started to fill my head yesterday when I called Thrive!. There's this one group that meets at 10 or 10:30 in the morning. In the past this group met in the evenings. I can't really see my boss going for my being gone once a week for this. Maybe I should just have a meltdown in the office.
11. Today started off well. As I was parking the car, the radio station was playing "Square Biz." Teena Marie always makes me feel better. And this radio station actually played the full song. This other station plays the song near daily but they have a version that does not include the rap. What's up with that?
12. Yeah, sue me for re-posting but I suddenly remembered what I had previously forgotten. One of my fave parts of American Hustle was when Katt was discussing going to war with China. He said that black folks were not going to have any part of it. He pointed out that black women love their Yaki hair too much. And I've gotta say that he's right. Part of what has helped me to maintain my sanity over the last couple of weeks is OPH -- that's other people's hair, if you are not familiar with the term. And they do make some quality because some folks actually think it's mine. Well, it is because I paid for it. Like my aunt said, "Your hair has really grown and it looks so nice." Ummm. I had a bob at Christmas and now have a ponytail that hangs past my shoulders. I don't think they have invented a drug yet that makes your hair grow that fast. So if you're feeling kind of down, go out and get some hair. I plan to get some more in the coming weeks.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Yes, I have made it back from Sacramento. And on the way back, I silently thanked my dad for the Christmas gift of new tires for my car. Because nothing like driving the Yolo Causeway in rain and heavy winds.
On my way to Sacramento on Friday, it dawned on me that I had no idea where my dad would be when I reached there. Hell. I had no clue as to my stepmother's current whereabouts. When I called my dad's cellphone and got no answer, I called the one person upon whom I can always count to know his location -- his assistant. She has been with my dad longer than he has been married to his wife. She has been there through all kinds of things over the years. She is family. And it was good to talk to her because she was able to prepare me for my father's mental state.
After hanging out at my dad's office and hearing tales about how his in-laws are not pleased with the rehab facility at which my stepmother is now (Oh. And I got to teach his assistant two new words -- "bitchslap" and "bitchassness."), we headed over to the house to pick up clothes for my stepmother before going to the rehab center.
Her mother and her brother were there but fortunately they left shortly after I arrived -- or else there may have been some words. So it was just me, my stepbrother, and my dad there with her. The doctor who has been assigned to her stopped by for the first time during that time. After reading her file and checking her out, the first thing he asked was about hospice. But my dad and my stepbrother are having none of that. So after my dad left to attend a fraternity meeting and my stepbrother dropped me off at the house on his way back to the Bay Area (He had dialysis on Saturday), I had lots of time to think.
My first thought was about visiting on Saturday. But I also knew that lots of people would be coming by and would that be the best way to spend my time? And I guess I started thinking about this when I went looking for food on Friday evening and found lots of rotting stuff in the fridge. I made due with some cabbage and some black eyed peas because at that point I just didn't have the energy to go to the store.
Saturday my dad went to visit my stepmother after I insisted that he take a nap and I set about going through the closets. Their bedroom is upstairs. There is no way possible that she will be able to negotiate the stairs once she gets home; what has been the guest bedroom will now be their bedroom. The thing is that my stepmother has been using that closet for storage. I told my dad that I thought that it would be nice if the closet was filled with items that she currently wears when she returns. After completing that task, I cleaned out the fridge. It's a good thing that I have a strong stomach because some of that stuff just plain smelled. And then I made a shopping list and headed to the grocery store. By the time my dad returned, I had managed to make a pot of Brunswick stew and one of Beef Bourguignon. I left some of each out in the fridge and put the rest away in containers in the freezer. I also remembered that he was out of his favorite juice as well as milk. And this morning his blood sugar was at 100 instead of the 58 it had been earlier this week. My work was done for this weekend.
I returned home today knowing that my dad's younger sister was on her way up from Oakland. Ideally I would have liked to have stayed until she actually arrived but what with the weather, I thought it was best that I hit the road as early as possible.
One of the themes of this weekend is how we all deal with things. My mom, my dad's assistant, almost everyone else has said the same thing. My dad is used to fixing problems. (And this is why I make it a point to not cry in front of my dad. Because he sees my tears as just another problem that he needs to fix.) He doesn't know what to do when presented with a situation that has no solution. He doesn't understand that sometimes just being there is the solution.
In my family, these differences seem to be chromosomally linked. Because all the men in the family are saying things like, "There has to be another treatment available," while the women are saying, "Let her go with comfort and dignity." And so I will probably spend the next few days pondering why we react so differently. What in our dynamics makes us so.
And I know that there's probably some more that I'd like to say but now I need to take care of me a bit.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Yesterday the oncologist tried to kick my stepmother out of the hospital, saying that she needed to be at a rehab facility at this point. My dad wanted to wait to hear more from the neurologist though. Because the oncologist has only been focusing on the liver and lung. And my stepmother's current problems? Being caused by the brain. Either way around, my dad has now selected a rehab facility that is near their home.
Last night I had a long chat with my friend, Marin, about everything. She had lots of helpful advice since she has had to go through similar when her dad had cancer. And in this conversation, I was declared the winner.
Why was the oncologist so quick to boot my stepmother? Well, apparently things have improved with her liver and lung thanks to the new drug my stepmother has been taking since the beginning of the year when they stopped the chemo. My stepmother had had a lot of reservations about taking this drug due to the many side effects and the fact that the doctors could not guaranteee that it would work. So here I was thinking that she had decided to go for it. Well, according to my dad's older sister (when I talked to her yesterday), my dad kind of made the decision for her. As in he figured that she already takes so many pills that she wouldn't notice one more. But after a couple of weeks, around the time during which some of the side effects started showing up I would guess, he told her and she decided to continue to take the medication. (Have I mentioned how my family sometimes has some severe boundary issues?) At this point in the story, Marin proclaimed, "That's it. You win. You have the craziest family by far." And then I mentioned therapy.
When I shared this all with my mother this morning, her first reaction was, "But you told her that I'm not crazy, right?" I chose to ignore that question. Once she got the hint, my mother added, "Some things never change. Your father has always been that way."
So yeah. Therapy. Although some retail therapy wouldn't hurt either. I guess I should hurry up and finish my tax return. And maybe start saving up some money so that I can do a repeat of 2001 when I had to deal with a lot of sick and dying people besides being laid off from my job. That time I went to London for a week by myself. And I slept in and dined out and shopped. (This was after going to therapy for a couple of months.) And I felt much better. And now that I think about it, it was the last trip that I have taken that was longer than a weekend and did not involve family. I think I'm overdue.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I also did a great deal of insisting. I have two weeks of vacation and have not put in for any time as of yet this year. Yesterday when I arrived at work, I promptly went in to see my boss to explain what was going on and how I would probably need some time off in the future. Then the plan developed. I could work a half day on Friday and then head to Sacramento. So last night I told my dad, "I have time available. Would it help you if I came up Friday afternoon?" He said that it would. So now I just have to let them know at work today.
And now to the other stuff. After crying and napping on Monday, I realized that there wasn't much cooked food around here. And Poulet was closed for the holiday. So I headed out for the nearby grocery store (Berkeley Bowl was also closed for the holiday.) -- the major chain, not the expensive local one. Although I should have stopped at the local one because I need more wet food for the other residents here. After VD, I found that I was totally addicted to the sauce for the mussel appetizer. I found myself thinking, "Who needs the mussels? I just want more of that sauce." And then I thought that if I tweaked it some, it would be perfectly fine on chicken. Of course, next time I probably shouldn't cook the chicken so long as it was almost falling apart when I removed it from the pan.
Both winter and being in a down mood can bring out the fatty food cravings. Thankfully I am genetically predisposed toward thinness. Because the foods that call to me? So not good. Oh, and I even have a recipe this time.
Saffron Cream Sauce
1/2 cup creme fraiche
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
2 large shallots, chopped
1 cup brown mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons brandy
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 generous pinch of saffron
White wine from braised chicken (The chicken was braised in about 1-1/2 cups of white wine. This would be the liquid that was left.)
Whip creme fraiche and egg yolks in a bowl.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and saute shallots and onions for approximately 3 minutes. Turn off heat and add brandy. Ignite and let flames burn down.
Whisk lemon and saffron into mixture in skillet. Add white wine "stock." Let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Slowly add some of the shallot mixture to the creme fraiche mixture and whisk. Pour this mixture back into the skillet and whisk. Cook for an additional 3 minutes.
And because I'm all about comfort foods at this point, of course I had to pick up dessert on Monday.
And just when you thought that the feel good stuff was over, I bring you this. Thanks to the lovely folks at SFist, I discovered this little gem. It might just take the place of Pearl as my fave video.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Where to start? I didn't go to Sacramento yesterday. While I completed yesterday's post, I sobbed. And then I called my aunt in Savannah (That's way too long to type repeatedly. She really needs a name.) and started to feel better. Then I called my dad's younger sister -- the one with cancer who lives in Oakland. She was talking to one of my uncles in Montgomery. She said that she would call me back and then asked if I was OK. My answer was, "Yes, I..." That's when I was suddenly wracked by another sob. I had mistakenly thought that they were done. She told me to stay on the line while she finished her conversation with her brother. In those moments, I knew that there was no way that I was driving to Sacramento alone. When she returned, she agreed. At least, she was not treated to the same level of sobbing that the other aunt had received.
And then I called my "real mom." She told me that she would call me when "dad" came home from his doctor's appointment. When she called around 1:00 pm, I told her that I had already figured that they weren't going to Sacramento.
So what did I do with my day? There were hours of intermittent sobbing which finally subsided sometime between 10 and 11. And then I felt completely drained. Boris suggested a nap. For once, I did not argue with him.
I finally worked up the nerve to call my dad around 2. He was still at the hospital and said that he would call me back. Here's the lowdown. His in-laws? Good thing I wasn't there. My dad said that he wanted to curse them out but he restrained himself. I don't have to. They already think I'm a bitch anyway. And right now I have half a mind to walk to Sacramento just so I can bitchslap a few of them.
My dad had to tell his brother-in-law to take my stepmother's mother home. Why? Because she was all hysterical in the hospital. Not that I'd expect anything different from her.
When the brother-in-law returned, he and his other sister told my dad that they would take over my stepmother's finances to help out. Huh? (This would be the point at which the bitchslapping would ensue. Friggin' ass vultures.) My dad calmly told them that as her husband, he would handle these things.
Then various friends stopped by, some of whom I know my dad can't stand. They wanted everyone to hold hands and to pray. My stepmother found this all perplexing. My dad told them that they were welcome to pray at home but praying in my stepmother's room just added to her confusion.
Onto the medical stuff. The MRI and the x-rays showed that there are now two new lesions on the left side of her brain. She periodically loses control of the right side of her body. Apparently late Sunday night she tried to go to the bathroom and fell. They know this because of the bruises -- and a little questioning. Now she's in a room closer to the nurses' station. A caseworker has been assigned. She gave my dad a list of home care providers as my stepmother will need 24 hour care. My dad has decided to use this in conjunction with his sister's help. (My dad's older sister has volunteered to come out from Georgia to help. She is well-versed in this as she was the primary caretaker for her husband as well as my grandmother for a number of years. I reassured my dad that this was OK with her.) My dad figures that his in-laws might not be happy with this but screw them. For right now my stepmother is on steroids to reduce the swelling. Today the oncologist and the neurosurgeon will come in to give their reports.
And then there's my mom. When I spoke to her earlier, she said that she had decided that I could only be so upset because of my thoughts of my father's state currently. It all gets back to the fight that I had with my mom a little over ten years ago, shortly after she was in the process of moving to Mexico. She said that she was afraid that my stepmother was replacing her (my mom) in my life. I told her then that this would never happen. It doesn't mean that once we got past our differences, that I did not start to care for my stepmother though. My stepmother may have all kinds of insecurities and she may not be the brightest in the bunch, but my dad loves her. And she has loved and supported him over the last twenty-two years during which they were married. Add in when they started dating and she's been around for thirty-two years. Not solidly for those first ten years but still. How could I not care for someone who has been in my life for that long? That would mean that I am one cold-hearted bitch. And I like to think that I'm really not. I so wish the bitch (my mother) would go to therapy. She likes to call out my stepmother's insecurities but I think my mother has just as many. It gets tiring to be trapped in the middle - and I tired of being in this spot years ago.
So now I'm just the chick with the dried-up tears on her face. Just trying to survive through life and hoping that no one pisses me off too much.
But pissing off? I'm warming up my hands for the ultimate bitchslap. My dad's in-laws also tried to make my dad feel guilty over some of the choices he has made recently concerning his wife. I told him that the last time I checked he was her husband and therefore her next of kin.
So with all the bitchassness going on in the place, my dad felt the need to escape. And that's why I'm kind of glad that I didn't go. My dad found the number of folks who showed up yesterday to be overwhelming. Of course, this is because he wanted to curse most of them out. Then again, maybe I should have been there. Because I would have cursed them out. Half of them don't like me anyway so I could really give a fuck.
And today I am going to work and going to try my best to hold it all together.
Monday, February 18, 2008
This year my father had planned a week in Solvang but then he started to think that it was a little too far away given my stepmother's health. So instead, he made plans for a weekend in the Carmel area.
I talked to him Saturday morning when he returned my call. (I had left a message on Friday wishing them a happy anniversary.) They had had a lovely dinner and my stepmother's spirits were good. There were just a few problems. The first was that he had almost turned around on the road because he thought that my stepmother was having a stroke. But then everything seemed OK so he continued on. By the time I spoke to him on Saturday, she had fallen a few times. Her speech also seemed a little off. I got off the phone and started to cry. Just a little because I was driving at the time. And I tried to call a few people but no one was available. It is a holiday weekend after all. And so I sucked it up like I have gotten used to.
Then my dad called Sunday evening. He ended up calling the doctor because my stepmother kept falling. They had a room ready for her at the hospital by the time they returned to Sacramento. My dad asked if the doctors thought it was a stroke. The doctors think that it is the cancer in her brain -- either the existing tumors have grown or there are new tumors. They did an MRI and x-rays. I believe that my dad said that they would have results today.
It doesn't matter. I'm heading up for the day. My dad is losing it. He couldn't even remember Sunday night if he had already spoken to me during the day. This morning I realized that this is what has probably been the most upsetting to me -- the thought that through this process that I could end up losing my dad as well. He is diabetic and has had a heart attack in the past. He is also not necessarily known for taking care of himself, especially during times of stress. I was relieved to learn last night that he had called his best friend, my "real dad," though. (I found this out when I talked to "mom" last night.) He's definitely going to need other people to make it through this.
And hopefully I'll have all the tears out by the time I get there because if I can't hold it together, then I may as well have stayed at home. But I'm a little more hopeful about that since I had the chance to talk to my aunt in Savannah this morning. She's the only one of my relatives whom I can call sobbing and not have to hear, "You have to stop crying because you need to be strong right now." Instead she lets me cry it out and by the time we hang up, I'm usually smiling once more. And I'm going to call my "real parents" since they said that they might be heading up today because I'd rather not do the drive alone. Besides I need a little more time before trying to head out from here since I just realized that I still have some tears left.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Oh, and before I continue, let me share this tidbit. When I spoke to my mother yesterday (Now it's phone calls but when she still lived in the states she'd always send me a card. And perhaps a gift), my mother talked about VD in Mexico. In Mexico, February 14th is Dia de la Amistad. That's Friendship Day for those of you who couldn't do the translation. Wouldn't it be great if we could do that here in the United States? Instead of celebrating romance, use the day to celebrate other forms of love? And then I thought that perhaps Hilly would fit right in if she were to go to Mexico.
And now what you really wanted to see -- last night's dinner.
The best part? Leftovers tonight!
I was going to give this post another title but then I saw that I had used it already. When I did the search, I came across this jewel from exactly one year ago. And here I was thinking that getting outraged around here was a new thing.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
|Your Candy Heart Says "Cutie Pie"|
You always seem to have a hot date, even though you never try to meet anyone.
A total charmer, you have a natural appeal that keeps you in high demand.
Your ideal Valentine's Day date: multiple dates with multiple people
Your flirting style: 100% natural
What turns you off: serious relationship talks
Why you're hot: you're totally addicting
Any questions as to why I have only had a boyfriend on two VDs in my life? Didn't think so. Not that I need one since I usually end up with these obsessive types. Hmmm. Wonder why? After reading the comments at Neil's, I may have found my soul mate. (Look for TRO's comment. But not at work. Of course, this would require finding an SO. So maybe I should just stop by here to find the right "mate." Ummm. And don't click this link if you're at work.) On to what I started off wanting to say today.
In the past I have been guilty of putting the needs of others ahead of my own needs. It does not lead to a pretty situation for me. This I learned in a year of therapy. Knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it are two completely different things though. It has taken me nearly ten years from those therapy sessions to be at a place in which I feel comfortable in taking care of me. Because while others might, there's no guarantee that they will. In the end, I am the only person upon whom I can rely to make sure that I'm getting what I need out of life. (Of course this is all within the constraints of society as a whole. Because sometimes wanting something does not mean that you will achieve it no matter how hard you try. But that doesn't mean that I'm just going to accept the status quo either.)
I always make sure to take extra good care of myself for at least a couple of days out of the month. If I don't, the wacky hormones can make me do things that I might not otherwise. I also think of it as a public service when I sequester myself. Because I'm just as likely to say something that's completely cheery as I am to say something completely mean and cruel. Basically my super ego completely disappears.
This past weekend reminded me of a few things. First of all, I haven't been wearing skirts for a number of weeks. And as the woman at the dry cleaners pointed out, I own a lot of skirts. More so than pants. Because I often have a hard time finding pants that fit properly. And after weeks of rain and wearing pants, I was starting to feel downright frumpy. Wearing skirts always makes me feel good. So this week I have made an effort to wear some of my favorite skirts. And since the sun is shining, I'm pretending that it's actually summer.
So then I started thinking about the survival eating that I've been doing. That must end. And it ends tonight. Because what's a better way to tell yourself that you think you're fantastic than to make a special dinner? I made my list yesterday at work (They really shouldn't leave me alone for hours at a time.) and stopped at one of my favorite grocery stores on the way home last night just so that I wouldn't have to shop tonight.
On the menu are the oysters that have become an addiction at this point and a seafood dish I haven't made in some time. (I promise to take a better photo of it this time.) And because I love seafood so much, I think I'll be giving this a try as well. Because why just have one dish with mussels when you can have two? And what to go with all this seafood? Probably some couscous, a simple salad, and perhaps some French bread. Saucy food just seems to scream for bread.
Hope you all enjoy VD! I know that I will. (Please feel free to make the jokes.) And don't forget to get something nice for yourself. I always do because then I figure that I'll have at least one gift that I really like. The rest is just icing on the cake.
Oh, and don't forget to stop by and visit Hilly today. If you haven't guessed it yet, I think that every day is self-love day. But what the heck! Let's make it a holiday. I'm also digging the thought of these folks these days.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I do feel like I should say thanks to my peeps over at Poulet. They made it possible for an extremely hormonal me to get through this past weekend without cooking. I started off on Thursday evening. That night I picked up half of one of their wonderful rosemary-lemon-garlic chickens. And of course I needed side dishes. I was able to get the last of the roasted eggplant with string beans. Yes, I'm a regular eggplant junkie these days. Oh, and there were these divine roasted yams. Oops. Let me be truthful. The real reason I went on Thursday night was that I had called before leaving work.
"What desserts do you have today?"
"Raspberry cheesecake, carrot cupcakes..."
I know she said something after the cupcakes but I really didn't need to hear more. Because as much as I love the roasted eggplant, I love the carrot cake even more. And so yes, I went in to shop for a meal but it was really all centered around getting the cupcakes. Everything else was incidental. And the said thing is that once I ate the other stuff, I didn't have room for the cupcakes. Yes, I just used a plural. Because I bought two. I have learned from the error of my past ways.
Friday evening I felt like I had been run over by a truck or something like that. It took all my strength to force myself to eat. And once more, the cupcakes remained in the fridge.
Saturday rolled around and I realized that I would need to leave the house. Something about cat food and wanting to live. And there was the drycleaning as well. So the route was stop at the dry cleaners to drop off more stuff, over to the grocery store to get her royal uppityness her favorite food, back to the dry cleaners to pick up the stuff I had dropped off last week, and then on the way home... Yes, you guessed it. Another stop at Poulet. This time for a chicken salad sandwich. And then they had apple, walnut, and cream cheese strudel so of course I needed a piece of that. I was about to leave when I noticed the special was Buffalo chicken -- legs and wings. I asked for a combo. The sandwich got me through Saturday. The Buffalo chicken? Breakfast on Sunday. I kid you not.
And now? Back to survival eating once more. But what I really want to do is to go to Cesar. Emerald gave me a gift certificate for the place last year for my birthday. The thing is that it's too much money for just me. Because I am the kind of chick who will go to a restaurant alone if she really wants to go out for a meal. But Cesar has always been that place to which I go with others. And of course, Dumbest turned out to be just that around that time so there went the idea of an evening out with a boy. While I've gone on a few dates since then, none of them have seemed worthy of my gift certificate. And I'd ask Emerald to come along but she just gave birth a couple of weeks ago. So if any of y'all are feeling like a meal at Cesar, just let me know.
In the meantime, I'm just waiting for the right occasion so that I can use my new favorite word. I never thought that I would write these words but, "Thank you, Diddy."
Monday, February 11, 2008
I normally sleep four to six hours a night. While I can survive on four hours a night for a few days, the practice starts to take its toll by the end of a week. In all of the times during which I felt suicidal, I had been sleeping four hours a night for at least three to four weeks. Almost hand-in-hand with the irregular sleep patterns went poor eating. Actually that first time, the poor eating was not necessarily of my choosing.
That time I had just lost my part-time job; they told me that they decided that they needed someone who could work full-time. Fortunately I was able to go back to one of my old supervisors and to get my old job back. (I was in college at the time.) My job paid for my monthly expenses outside of rent. And some of my books. My dad paid for tuition, rent and some of my other expenses. It was the beginning of the term and both were due. When I called my dad to ask where the check was, he said, "In the mail." I waited a couple of days and checked the mail. No check. I called to ask about the money and was told, "Oh, I forgot to mail it the other day. I'll put it in the mail today." This went on for weeks. (My father later told me that he was being audited by the IRS and so he didn't have much available cash. I told him that I wish he had told me this then. I guess he was ashamed. I was starving.) I was so broke eventually that Emerald and her roommate, my neighbors at that time, laid down a rule. Anyone hung out with them had to meet a minimum weight requirement. Every night they would knock on my door at dinner time to let me know that dinner was ready. (This is the point at which Emerald became my best friend for life. And in later years we bonded even more over her insecurities. She is one of the most beautiful women I know but she always felt inferior to me. Because I was the skinnier, more fair-skinned of the two of us. And that's probably part of my anger at the world. That they can't see how wonderful she is because of their narrow views of beauty.) Most days it was the only meal that I had. If they hadn't been feeding me, I probably would have lost even more weight. When I returned home, I weighed 110 pounds. I'm 5'10". Picture that in your mind. A year later my mother told me how frightening I looked when I stepped off the plane. (I told y'all that my mother had been there for me in some really bad times.) She made me go to a doctor immediately who told me that five more pounds and I would have found myself in a hospital hooked up to an IV.
You would have thought that that would have been enough for me but I kept going through the cycle until I did a full year of therapy. And it was shortly after this that I realized the combination of events. I also learned a great number of tools to help me cope when things are bad. So first and foremost, I make sure that I am eating well and that I'm getting adequate sleep. The latter can be a bit more challenging since I have suffered from insomnia since high school. But somewhere along the line, I bought into what the first therapist said -- I really wanted to live and I was just trying to ask for help because I didn't know any other way to ask.
And during these last couple of years was the first time that I have really felt like I wanted to live. Because one of the ground rules that I set down was that it had to be on my terms and not someone else's. Because I finally started to truly believe what others had been trying to tell me -- I am a wonderful person. And that I always have the power to define myself.
Oh, and these are for Jill. Because I know how much she loves to see B&N.
Oh, and I've come to realize something recently. I used to get upset when Boris would try to eat Natasha's food. What I have noticed is that she will sniff the food and then walk off. Boris will then eat a few nibbles from her dish. When she returns and sees that some is gone, she then eats the food. Silly me didn't realize that Boris is the royal taster.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
But that's not the point of this post. This is one of those posts I had to let marinate in my mind because there was so much going on. And sometimes it's hard to find a starting point.
Maybe the weather hasn't been of much help recently. But we've had a week of sun now. I went to the dry cleaners Saturday to pick up the stuff I had dropped off last week and to drop off some more. The woman said, "You have a lot of skirts." And then she peeked around the counter to see what I was wearing. "Just like last week, you're not wearing a skirt. I don't understand." But I did. First it was cold and wet and I didn't want to wear a skirt for fear of freezing to death. Then I started to feel bloated and I just wanted to "hide" like I did in high school. Back then I lived in baggy pants and sweaters. Once a year I would wear a dress or a skirt. Seriously. Well, except when I had to do things with family.
But let's go back a day. Friday night I got home from work after taking 2400 mg of ibuprofen over a nine hour period and I was cranky and still in pain. After feeding the cats, I went to do what I always do -- put on a pair of pajama pants. But the first pair I put on were way too snug and what's the point of wearing pajama pants if they're uncomfortable? So I cursed the water retention and found another pair that were actually comfy. Then I curled up under the comforter with the remote control in hand. I was probably asleep by 8 since the combination of things makes me really sleepy.
I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a Tyra rerun. My first reaction was to turn away immediately but Mary J. Blige was on. And she was talking about the hell of hormones and periods. And I had to watch. She said that there's only one week out of the month that she's happy with her body -- or something along those lines. And I knew what she meant. Because there's only about one week each month during which I feel like I can reach into the closet and wear whatever I feel like wearing. And then they moved onto other topics so I changed the channel.
But I thought some more for the next 24 hours or so. I thought about how much I love the show "How to Look Good Naked." And about some of the stuff that I have been reading about women and body image over the last few weeks. (And in my mind, I don't think that a woman's size matters much as long as she's healthy. And I'm not so I've also taken up working out over the last few weeks. Because even though I'm still relatively small, I'm not in as good of shape as I was in the past.) I go through at least a five pound fluctuation of weight over the course of a month -- sometimes more. And as BWB has pointed out, that can be a change in a size for me. And I was left with the thought of, "No wonder women have such issues with body image. Our bodies go through all of these changes over which we have little control."
Friday, February 8, 2008
Over the last few months, y'all have been on a roller coaster ride with me -- even if you didn't know it. It started when I was laid off from my job. As a result, my medical benefits ended at the end of August. It wasn't the loss of the ability to see doctors that was necessarily so dangerous but the loss of my prescription plan. Because without that one prescription, my world can be temporarily off-kilter.
Because others have been willing to step out on the limb (and I admire these women greatly), I think it's time that I did. At times I have made jokes about the term "5150" with folks who I know in person. Many of them don't know the truth. Like Jade and Emerald do.
On with the real story. I know about this because in my 20s I was subject to this twice. (Every now and then I look at the faint scar on my wrist. No one else can see it at this point but I know where it is. I look at it when I feel beat up by the world and I remind myself that no one else can do anything worse to me than I have already done to myself previously. And I survived that. Doesn't mean that I don't get pissed off with the rest of the world though.) Well, there would have been a third time but the doctor determined that I was a little too intelligent and could talk my way out when I was ready to leave. It may have helped that I stated my intention to return to therapy. And that year of therapy was a major turning point in my life. I promised myself that it was OK to live life on my terms and not something defined by someone else -- especially someone who doesn't even know me. (Part of my earlier years of therapy involved body image but that's another story.)
But then I hit my 30s and realized that the thoughts were still there. And sometimes they were stronger than at other times. And then I realized there was a pattern to it all. Every time I was feeling suicidal coincided with the week before my period/the first day of my period. (And over the years the feeling to harm myself has been replaced by the feeling to lash out at others.) So I went to the gynecologist and asked. She did some tests and prescribed birth control pills to level out my hormone levels. For the first time in my life, I no longer had debilitating cramps. (One time in my 20s the cramps were so severe that after throwing up -- a common response to pain -- I curled up into the fetal position and cried -- on the floor of a public bathroom. And I didn't think, "Ewwww. Public bathroom floor." Instead I thought, "The tile feels so cool and comforting." And the way that I figure it, you're in a bad place if that is your dominant thought.) And according to my mother, my mood swings were less severe; I became a lot more pleasant. Of course (I love the woman dearly and continue to talk to her on a near daily basis.), there's a part of me that wonders if "pleasant" really means "agreeable." Because the bottom line is that when I'm feeling hormonal, aside from the self-destructive tendencies, I tend to be more honest with people. It's not that I say things that I haven't thought of at times. It's more like the loss of my super ego.
So when my insurance ended, so did my prescription. It was like going cold turkey. I thought of this last night as I looked back over the last week and realized how much I have been biting the heads off of people. That was the beauty of the pill. I had a daily reminder of when the "bad times" would come. Now I have to rely upon my calendar once more. Because I have a near regular cycle, give or take a day or two. But that day or two can mean the world. When on the pill, I could manipulate things so that the really bad days occurred when I did not have to interact with people if I so chose. (That would be the weekend because I gave up missing out on school/work after graduating from high school. But back then I did not know the joy of ibuprofen and so chose to throw up in private.) Well, I shouldn't have to now. I've had health insurance, once more, since December. Time to call the doctor. (Crap. Now I have Kool Moe Dee stuck in my head. Although it's for a different reason.)
And I thought of all of this because I am hormonal. I desperately wanted fried fish this past weekend. When the shop was closed, I was ready to accept Popeye's chicken. And then it dawned on me that I was hormonal and all I wanted was something salty-greasy-crunchy. So I went home and made some nachos. But today I will have fried fish. Because I'm at work even though I probably shouldn't be. Because even though I've taken the 800 mg of ibuprofen, I still feel the need to snap someone's head off. Thank goodness it's Friday. And thank goodness my boss told me a couple of days ago, before he left town, that if things are slow today that I can leave early. And that's why I dragged my butt into work today.
And now the fluff. Have I mentioned what a quiz junkie I can be? That's why I love OkCupid. So when I saw this quiz, I just had to take it. It also reminded me that in my sojourn, I am supposed to be re-reading The Tao of Pooh as it always helps me in becoming more centered. (Maybe this weekend while I consume fatty foods and watch chick flicks. Because that's how I like to take care of myself.) And while I haven't been writing of late, I have been reading blogs -- selectively. I had gone a little overboard and needed to reel things back in.
Your Score: Tigger
You scored 21 Ego, 10 Anxiety, and 17 Agency!
And as they went, Tigger told Roo (who wanted to know)
all about the things that Tiggers could do.
"Can they fly?" asked Roo.
"Yes," said Tigger, "they're very good flyers, Tiggers
are. Strornry good flyers."
"Oo!" said Roo. "Can they fly as well as Owl?"
"Yes," said Tigger. "Only they don't want to."
"Why don't they want to?" well, they just don't like it
Roo couldn't understand this, because he thought it
would be lovely to be able to fly, but Tigger said it was
difficult to explain to anybody who wasn't a Tigger himself.
You scored as Tigger!
ABOUT TIGGER: Tigger is the newest addition to the Hundred Acre Wood, and he lives with Kanga and Roo, because Roo's strengthening medicine turned out to be the thing that Tiggers like best. Tigger is bouncy and confident -some of his friends think he is a little TOO bouncy and confident, but attempts to unbounce him tend to be fruitless.
WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are a positive and confident person. You feel capable of dealing with anything and everything, and funnily enough, you usually ARE. You don't worry about much, and you love to go out and find new adventures.
Your friends and family might sometimes be a little exasperated by your boundless enthusiasm. You don't like to admit your mistakes, and when you find yourself in over you head, you tend to bluff your way out of things. You would be surprised, however, at how happy the people around you would be if you would actually admit to a mistake. It would make you seem more human, somehow.
|Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test|
View My Profile(wolfcaroling)
And so I guess that I'm not gone quite yet.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
I first got into blogging because I was going through some changes in my life. A part of these changes was my trying to find my own voice. That was three years ago. Over the last three years, I like to think that I have (finally) learned to be the person who I want to be -- not the person who others tell me I should be. And I also know that while others may not agree with me, it does not diminish the fact that I am a good person.
At least once a year my family members and close friends tell me what a good person I am. A couple of weeks ago, Marin (owner of Dumb and Dumber) told me how good I was at staying in touch with people. I like to think that's my Cancerian nature. I recognize that people can be busy but it's important to me to keep in touch so I make the phone call or send the email. I also realize that I have trashed members of my family at times on this blog, especially my mother. Here's the thing. When I hit rock bottom in my 20s, my mother was one of the few people who stood by me. So no matter how much she drives me crazy now, I will always remember that in my darkest moments, she will be there for me. No matter how much I piss her off. And I know that I have done this. I'm pretty perceptive and can recognize a person's weak point. When I'm pissed off, I can go straight for that weak point. The guys at work has realized that I am not a person to be crossed. Fortunately, I believe in karma and all, so I try not to act upon my impulses. Because it all comes back threefold.
I have no doubt who I am at this point in my life. I'm the girl who questioned authority at every step. Who made the rule? Why do we have the rule? And sometimes I asked the question even if I did thought the rule was OK. Because I like knowing what makes people tick. (Growing up, I was saddened that the only famous person who shared my birthday was Edward VIII. In recent years, I have learned that I also share my birthday with Alfred Kinsey. That made a lot more sense.) I like saying or asking things for the shock value. I want people to question the status quo.
Now I've hit the point at which I am questioning whether blogging really fits into my life anymore. Probably not and if so, only minimally. Because I haven't really been missing it. I love reading what y'all have written but I just don't feel a burning need to write myself.
I think part of the problem was that, until recently, I had jobs that sucked up a lot of my time and energy. Blogging certainly didn't require that much energy on my part. And so I kind of fell into a rut. Now I have a job that doesn't seem to be such a drain. I get home and I have loads of energy. And I've been remembering the things I used to do besides reading, watching TV, and sitting in front of the computer. Like seeing movies in a theater. (The last movie I saw in a theater was The Bourne Ultimatum.) Going to comedy shows, plays, museums. Going out to dinner, to tea. Taking dance classes and other things to stop my butt from getting too flabby and unable to fit into my clothes. Spending quality time with the cats because for the first time in a long time, Natasha has started to sit on my lap in the evenings while I read or watch TV. It almost felt like she was saying, "Now that you actually have time for me..."
Omigosh! I almost forgot dating. Not that I'm going to go out with the 50-something at this point because that was all about novelty. And I have too many other things to do these days than to go on a date with some guy I wouldn't seriously consider dating. And now there's some other contenders out there.
So there's still a chance that I'll keep blogging. Just know that if I do, it will be a lot more sporadic than I used to.