Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stir Crazy

I can't take it anymore. Not even the SAD therapy light is doing it for me. Winter sucks!

I want to be here...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Did you know...

If you have read all of the posts in my blog to this point, you actually know more things about me than anyone who knows me in three-dimensional life.

Yes, I am that guarded in person.

Pretty astounding, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

personal biology

This is a random post with no real point.

About four years ago, I was deep in the throes of violent rapid-cycling and agitated depression and mixed states. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Part of the problem stemmed from the fact that I had been prescribed an SSRI, a class of drug that we now know didn't help the depression and made my brain go into fits and spasms of manic overload.

The stress of trying to manage myself was killing me. To make matters worse, I was battling a soul-sucking, almost humiliating problem at work. It was sending me over the edge and my response to all of this Every night I would have a glass of wine, which eventually became two, which became a half-bottle or more. I realize now that this was a desperate attempt at self-medicating something that hadn't yet been identified fully.

I drank a lot but still got up every morning and went to work with my jumping-bean brain going 100 miles per hour. Eventually I added .5mg of Xanax to the mix. This slowed me down and helped me sleep a little, but otherwise left me unscathed. Benzos and alcohol--a classic combination.

Once my diagnosis was straightened out and my medication was prescribed with therapeutic intentions, I stopped drinking almost entirely and didn't need Xanax anymore. Yesterday was an exception. The whole thing with the cat left me so rattled, I took a dab of Xanax before we left the house for the animal hospital. It was only .25mg of time-released alprazolam, and a few hours later I had a generous glass of white wine with dinner.

Less than an hour after dinner, I fell asleep on the couch. Maybe fell asleep doesn't really describe my condition. I felt as if someone had pinned me down and paralyzed my body and brain. My breathing was shallow. It was like being incredibly drunk but without the stomach distress or headache. I was incapacitated.

I thought about it today because I wondered how the same body that let me go through my day unscathed by a liberal mix of benzos and alcohol could no longer tolerate the very idea of such behavior. It gave me pause. What if I took a full 1mg dose of Xanax and drank a half-bottle of wine now? Would I require medical attention? Would I become comatose? How long would I be unconscious? What changed within my body to so radically affect my tolerance for this chemical mixture?

I would make a terrible troubled rock star.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sophie lives!

Sophie had surgery today to the tune of several dozen stitches and a $470 bill. My husband said this is the most expensive haircut he has ever paid for.

The cat's Onesie has been replaced by a proper bandage that looks like a fetching kelly-green vest. She was shaved pretty liberally. Note the skinless patch on her right front leg where the IV was inserted during the surgery.

Dr. M. told us that my feline first-aid skills are excellent, and there was nothing more I could have or should have done. Sophie is 12 years old, and taking that into consideration, she was holding up as well as could be expected.

Sophie is groggy from the anesthesia and it will take several weeks for her to recover. Despite how bad that sounds to us, the vet told us that Sophie's injury is not only very common, but hers wasn't that bad, relatively speaking. In fact, two vets and a tech at the practice told us that every one of them and probably every vet they know has caused this same wound on a cat at least once. My husband was finally able to draw some comfort from this, and both vets told him to just let it go and to stop beating himself up.

There's a long recovery ahead for my best friend, but at least there is a recovery ahead. I'm not sure what I would have done had the result been otherwise.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Gruesome (not for the faint of stomach)

I don't have the energy to proofread this. It was hard enough to write it.
My husband seriously wounded my cat. It was an accident that happened during an act of caring, which makes it even worse.

My cat, the one mentioned in a previous post, gets terrible, gnarly dreadlock mats in her fur on her underside. Sometimes, they get really big and pull on her skin and hair. She is wiggly and strong for an eight-pound bit of fluff, so trimming her mats is a two-person job.

On Friday, my husband decided to trim the cat's mats by himself. He came into the living room to show me the massive dreadlock mass he had cut off of the cat's side and underside. As he held it out we both saw that there was blood on the fur and a significant chunk of skin attached. My husband was horrified and ran down the hall to the bedroom crying out, "What did I do? What did I do??"

I heard him in the bedroom talking to the cat in a strained, panicky voice. "Oh, baby, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I was trying to help. What did I do?"

I was frozen on the couch, petrified of what might come next. Outwardly, I appeared calm, really calm, but it wasn't even close to how I felt. We have two cats, Jake and Sophie. Before Jake and Sophie, the were Gus and Bill. I adopted Gus and Bill (Gus was a she) in 1985, shortly after I got my first apartment. They were incredibly quirky, even in cat terms. Everyone who knew them loved them, mostly because they were both so weird. They were loyal and devoted pets--very good friends.

Gus and Bill were with me for 18 years, pretty much my entire adult life. We went through a lot together--more than I can tell here. They saw me through my post-BA anxiety, through a series of bad jobs, bad roommates, and bad boyfriends. They moved with me six times, including three interstate moves and one cross-country move, each coming out with me on a separate flight so neither would have to travel in the belly of the plane. They made it through my long, long journey through graduate school, and Gus died, at 19 years of age, a month after I got my MA.

I was beyond devastated. The rational, logical part of me went over all of the platitudes about her wonderful long life, her extraordinary spunk, and the fact that it was definitely her time. The vet reminded me that when I adopted her, she wasn't expected to live through the year, and yet she defied all expectations and lived to an exceptional old age. Still, she was my best friends, my buddy, my girl. I thought I would never recover, but I still had Bill, and he needed his people.

Bill was a character. He was one of the weirdest cats I had ever met. He had a love-hate relationship with Gus, and he became very depressed and subdued in the weeks after her death. Bill's decline was rapid and dramatic. He became frail and sick within months, until finally it was time to let him go. We asked the vet (a mobile vet!) if he would euthanize Bill in our garden, a comforting place for me, and a favorite place of Bill's. When he administered the injection, he was choked up, his vet tech had tears spilling down his cheeks, and my husband and I both wept silently.

The first injection didn't work, but Bil was too exhausted to complain. He was so sick, his veins were fragile, and the first one to receive an injection collapsed. The vet tried again, and this time, Bill went softly into what had to be a welcome relief from his suffering.

Two pets in a space of nine months. It was a lot to process emotionally, especially since my previously latent Bipolar Disorder was becoming more obvious and I was rapidly losing stability. Life hurt. A lot.

I said I didn't want anymore pets, but we only made it a month until we both agreed we were incomplete without them. We went to PetSmart to adopt one of the shelter cats they had there, waiting for a home. The first store we went to had a lot of cats in a single room without cages. I squatted down to pet a calico girl, when seemingly out of nowhere, a tiny long-hair Siamese leaped over two other cats, pushed past the calico, and softly licked my wrist. She purred. I scratched her head, and she rolled her cheek sideways for more. She was one of the sweetest cats I had ever met. My husband was adamant about getting a tabby, though, so we left and went to another store outside of town.

That's where we found Jake. He was a massive tabby who warmed up to my husband immediately. We took him home and I looked at my husband and said, "I want the firs cat, too. I have to have her." And so we set off, back to the first PetSmart and adopted Sophie.

Sophie has always been my cat, and Jake is my husband's cat. The cats know this, we know this, the dog knows this. Sophie sits with me on the sofa and sleeps with me at night. She licks me incessantly in a determined act of friendly grooming. I call her "Fang" because she is missing a lower canine tooth, and it looks funny when she meows. She also is sweet and gentle, and if you roughhouse with her, she won't bite or scratch, at least, not with any sincerity. I love this cat.

When my husband brought Sophie out of the bedroom to inspect her wound, I couldn't look. I am not squeamish at all. I do not get faint at the sight of a compound fracture or of blood, or of most any kind of wound. However, I couldn't bear to look at Sophie's wound. I knew it was bad, and I knew that if I saw it, I would lose my composure. MY husband was already in a full-blown panic and on the verge of tears. I couldn't look at this injury because it was on Sophie, my friend, my comfort after losing Gus and Bill. The thought of her suffering was too much for me to take

The wound was horrific. I thought my husband was going to die from the anguish of knowing he had inflicted it. I remained calm and asked him to describe it to me. He did. I got up and walked to the bathroom. I opened the medicine cabinet and took out Polysporin, gauze, and Bactine. I got a towel and washcloth from the linen closet, and soaked the washcloth in warm water. I asked my husband to bring the cat into the bedroom.

Once the cat was on the bed, my husband rolled her on her side and I surveyed the damage. My stomach clenched with a mixture of anger and fear. The wound was about three inches in length and about an inch-and-a-half wide. The skin was gone and the flesh underneath glistened with blood and fluid and had the texture of a skinless chicken breast. I washed off the wound and applied Bactine, and then, staying as stoic as I could manage, applied the Polysporin. Sophie had been quiet up to this point, but at this point, the pain was too much for her to bear in silence. She howled with pain and I tried not to show my own distress.

The next day, my husband called the vet. A tech took the call and told me to keep applying antibiotic ointment and to dress the cat in a cotton onesie so sh couldn't lick the wound and so the ointment would stay on the skin. My cat now looks like a rhesus monkey.

Today is Monday, and I've had three days of dressing my cat in a cotton t-shirt after tending to a red, raw, bleeding wound that obviously causes Sophie excruciating pain. I have tried not to cringe while looking at the oozing, bloody goo coming through the cotton onesie. I have tried to calm a husband who is beside himself with guilt and remorse, anxiety and self-berating. Tonight when I changed the bandage, my husband stepped back and said, "I'm going to call and make an appointment for the vet now. I know you've tried to hide how bad this really is, but tonight the look on your face, the look in your eyes, well, I can see that you don't think this is going to be OK."

Sophie is going to the vet tomorrow. I fear what the vet is going to say. My stomach hurts when I think about it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It's true

Sometimes I am intentionally mean. Sometimes I do things just to be antogonistic. Passive-aggressive behavior, a petty nature.

This is my brain's usual response when I feel pushed, when I'm unhappy with someone's behavior toward me, or when I feel that my personal control over a situation that directly affects me is being taken away or seriously challenged.

Yes, that's right. I respond with petty immaturity. I push back, and that alone takes people by surprise.

If I could hiss, I probably would.

I am a toxic person. I should come with a warning label.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Night Falls Fast

Sometime in the summer of 2006, before EMSAM really started permeating the tissues of my brain, I became keenly interested in the biology of suicide. I wondered what could possibly go so wrong in an otherwise functioning head as to allow the body's self-defense systems to short-circuit that way.

I bought a copy of Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide by Kay Redfield Jamison. I read it in a weekend, and then I went back and read it again, painstakingly highlighting the points that resonated with me most at that moment. Some of them even have Post-It flags sticking out from between the pages. The book is full of interesting facts and statistics, case studies and medical insights. My therapist wanted to read the book anyway, and she asked to borrow my copy because she wanted to see where my focus was in that wash of information. Here are the things I highlighted:

Page 38: Most instances of suicidal thought, although often frightening and of concern, lead to neither a suicide attempt nor suicide, but some do.

Page 39: Often, people want both to live and to die; ambivalence saturates the suicidal act. Some wish to escape, but only for a while.

Page 84: The awareness of the damage done by severe mental illness--to the individual himself and to others--and fears that it may return again play a decisive role in many suicides...Patients who do well socially and academically when young and then are hit with devastating illnesses such as...manic depression seem particularly vulnerable to the spectre of their own mental disintegration and the terror of becoming a chronic patient.

Page 91: Psychological pain of stress rarely sufficient cause for suicide. Stress and pain are relative, highly subjective in their experiencing and evaluation.

Many individuals at a fairly high risk for suicide--for example, those with depression or manic-depressive illness--function extremely well between episodes of their illness, even when in situations of great pressure, uncertainty, or repeated emotional or financial setbacks.

Depression shatters that capacity. When the mind's flexibility and ability to adapt are undermined by mental illness, alcohol, or drug abuse, or other psychiatric disorders, its defenses are put in jeopardy. Much as a compromised immune system is vulnerable to opportunistic infection, so too, a diseased brain is made assailable by the eventualities of life. The quickness and flexibility of a well mind, a belief or hope that things will eventually sort themselves out--these are the resources that are lost to a person when the brain is ill.

Page 93: In short, when people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their opinions appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace.

Page 40: This sense of the unmanageable, of hopelessness, of invasive negativity about the future is, in fact, one of the most consistent warning signs of suicide...People seem to be able to bear or tolerate depression as long as there is the belief that things will improve. If that belief cracks or disappears, suicide becomes the option of choice.

Page 110: (nearly two-thirds of those with depression have a serious drinking or drug problem, compared with one-fourth of those with depression alone). May is pleased to report that she has no substance abuse issues. She tries to be a responsible adult in control of some aspect of her behavior.

Here's the biggie:
At least one person in five with major depression will attempt suicide, and nearly one-half of those with bipolar disorder will try to kill themselves at least once.

Page 114: Getting the correct treatment is a gamble and, even with the best of doctors, it often takes a long time to take effect. People often wait until they are most ill before seeking care and may be unable to stay the treatment course long enough to make them feel sufficiently well to continue living.

Page 125: All the psychiatric disorders we have been discussing...are not only painful and terrible illnesses to have, they also have profound, usually alienating and destabilizing, effects on the ability of the affected person to have meaningful relationships, to engage in satisfying and economically viable work, and to believe in the point of living.

Page 149: Far more people actually kill themselves in psychiatric hospitals than they do in highly publicized or exotic places. Five to 10 percent of all suicides, in fact, take place in mental hospitals.

Page 150: The line between civil liberties and preservation of life is a controversial one.

What's that noise?

Oh, that? I think that's the rattle of the exhaust system disengaging itself from the bottom of my car. Let's see...What could cause that?? Hmmm...

Could it be the result of some bitch in an ugly Chevy running into the back of my car at a traffic light last week?

Aw, you don't suppose...

Light therapy

One of the unexpected Christmas gifts I received this past holiday was a light box--a therapy lamp. It's hard for me to get up in the morning. Actually, hard isn't the right word. Waking up is like clawing my way up a sheer rock face of total gravity that pulls me down, down, down into Sleepyland. This proves to be somewhat problematic when I want to get up early to get light therapy so I won't be sleepy and depressed.

While perusing the instructions for the therapy light, I saw that I could also use it as a wake-up light--similar to a dawn simulator. My husband rummaged around in the basement and found an automatic light timer. We put the lamp next to the bed and at exactly 5:24 a.m., the light comes on, the clock radio does its thing, and I am able to achieve a decent level of consciousness.

In the past, when the alarm went off, my kitty would appear next to my head and she would lick me relentlessly until I got up. I refer to this as the tongue alarm. Now that the therapy light is set up, the tongue alarm has stopped working. Turns out, the cat likes light therapy. Who knew? She gets between me and the lamp, squints into the light, purrs, and takes in the photons until the light timer switches off. The cat is old and sweet and, I presume, not depressed.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I have nothing academic, sensitive, or angry to say right now, yet I feel I should not neglect maintaining my ongoing brain housecleaning that has been so helpful. So, here's random crap about me that nobody needs to know.
  1. I only have to shave my legs about six times a year.

  2. I never drink soda. Ever.

  3. I talk to myself, out loud, in the car and at home when my husband is not there.

  4. I hate to sort clean socks, so most of the time, I just wear them mismatched.

  5. I worked at the New York Rennaissance festival two summers in a row. I was in my thirties, working a corporate job, and coming to grips with the fact that I had no life. My British accent was so convincing, most people thought I was from the UK.

  6. I can make dolphin sounds.

  7. My husband does housework because I just...don't.

  8. I'm bilingual.

  9. I was once inteviewed for an article in the USAirways Magazine.

  10. My husband cooks because I just...won't.

  11. I never chew gum. Ever.

  12. Sometimes I watch QVC and HSN but I have to mute the sound because I find the customer testimonials unbearable.

  13. My teeth were always so straight, everyone assumed it was the work of an orthodontist.

  14. I've had pnuemonia four times.

  15. I cry when I stand for the National Anthem (there is a reason).

  16. I only wash my car about four times a year. The inside is a lost cause.

  17. I have four bicycles.

  18. We rarely answer the phone at home. We don't really need Caller ID. Our system is Caller Ignore.

  19. The only thing between me and road rage is the fact that I work very much in the community. With my luck, the one time I snap, the other driver will be a donor or volunteer.

  20. If I believed in God, I would conclude that religion is the work of the Devil.

  21. I read the blogs of every person who posts a comment on mine. Lucky for me, I am not popular. Any more time on the Internet might be cause for an intervention.

  22. I love the show Intervention on A&E. OK, "love" is not the right word, but I am a faithful Intervention watcher.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Magic Jeep

Several years ago, in a big, big factory deep in the middle of America, a pretty blue Jeep rolled off of an assembly line. The Jeep was shiny and new, with pleasing blue paint in a shade called Atlantic Blue Pearl. The Jeep was a Liberty, and it hoped in its engine that it would go to a nice driver who was yearning to feel freedom on the open road.

The pretty blue Jeep knew it was special, but how special was yet to be seen. The Jeep got on a big truck and headed west where it waited eagerly to meet its new driver.

Around the same time, a nice lady named May was having a very bad day. She hadn't been feeling well for quite some time, although she couldn't really say why. She needed something, but she didn't know what.

One day, she forgot her purse at work and had to return to get it. Running a little late made May even more unhappy. As she made her way home, she sat at a traffic light and wondered why she was never happy, only sad. The light turned green, and May eased into the intersection when suddenly she had only one thought registering: "Blue Volvo! Blue Volvo!" just before she collided with a blue Volvo.

Car parts when flying in many directions as the blue Volvo spun to a stop a half-block away. May was stunned and a little scared, but she realized she was OK. Her favorite purple car, however, was not so OK.

It took about a month, but May finally had to admit that she could not live without a car. She called her bank and asked the car buyer there to find her a Jeep Liberty. It sat a little high but wasn't tippy. It had a smooth ride, it was a solid, sturdy vehicle, it was sure-footed with 4-wheel drive, and it was bigger than anything she had ever owned.

Although May was very taken with the technical specifications of the Jeep, the man at the car buying service could focus only on one thing: "What color do you want, May?" May answered honestly, "I couldn't care less as long as it's not white."

The man wouldn't let it go, so May asked him to find a Jeep Liberty in a nice sage green like she had seen on the Internet. Fate would not let the man find a green Liberty because it wanted May to have the Magic Blue Jeep that was patiently waiting just 40 miles away.

May bought the Jeep and the Jeep was happy because its new driver was gentle and a very safe driver. The Jeep also could tell that May loved it with all her heart. She didn't yet know the Liberty's secret, though: It had a cloaking mechanism to make it invisible!

May wasn't the one who first made this discovery. Around the time the Jeep had conquered its first 1,000 miles, May took a business trip to California. While she was away, her fiance discovered the Jeep's special quality. Before he went to bed one night, he looked out the window to say goodnight to the Jeep. He closed the blinds and went to bed. When he got up seven hours later, he raised the blind and said, "Good morn--. Oh, fuck." The Jeep was cloaked and stood invisible so only an empty parking spot could be seen.

May's fiance called the police who said that cars that disappear in the night often reappear in a different part of the city within a day or two. May came home from her trip and was very, very, very sad.

A week went by, and then two. May and her fiance were very busy because they were getting married. On the morning of the wedding, May looked outside and saw her neighbor arguing with a man standing next to a beat-up camper. May's fiance ran outside, then returned quickly to call the police. The man in the camper was drunk, drunk, drunk at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. His drunkeness made it hard to drive a big, wobbly RV on a narrow street, and that's why he plowed into the side of May's rental car and caused thousands of dollars in damage. May was even sadder than before. This was not a good start to her wedding day, especially since she had to sit in the back of a police car to give her report.

A few days later, the Jeep reappeared somewhere across town. May was very happy! Her friend was coming home, although it needed a little sprucing up. The car was no longer invisible!

May came to find out, though, that the Liberty would sometimes make itself invisible in intersections. She knew this because of the close calls she had when other drivers drove as if there was no Jeep close to them at all. One woman even turned left right in front of May when she was driving on a huge, busy street at 35 miles an hour. The woman looked right at May, but turned in front of her anyway. Lucky for May, she had excellent reflexes and her trusty little Jeep missed the other car by mere inches while the horn howled mightily.

A few months later, May was at an intersection when the driver behind her used the Jeep's spare tire as an indicator that it was time to stop. She said what had to be true: She just didn't see the Magic Blue Jeep!

Tonight, May was coming home from work, waiting for the left-turn arrow at a big intersection. The arrow came on, but before May could even move her foot to the gas pedal, Oooof! the Jeep was once again hit from behind. May was surprised, and she looked in the rear-view mirror. She was puzzled as to why the woman driving the piece-of-crap Chevy didn't look too concerned.

May made the left turn and pulled over. As she got out of her car, the driver behind her passed by, seemingly unaware that she had hit the Liberty and that May was standing there waiting for her on the side of the road.

Of course! It was obvious that the Magic Blue Jeep had cloaked again and was still cloaked. This is the only thing that could explain why that woman ran into the Jeep in the first place, and then just drove away.

May still loves her Jeep very much, even if it does have this potentially dangerous habit of invoking invisibility. May is wondering why she always seems to end up with invisible cars, though.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My two cents

For some reason that escapes me right now, I recently Googled the question, "Is suicide wrong?" The number of hits was astounding. A lot of people mull the philosphical considerations of this question, apparently.

There's one site where you can post answers, so I put in my two cents. I had to do something to counteract all of the Bible thumpers who, no matter how things turn out for me, believe I'm going to hell anyway. I don't think atheists can go to hell. One person wrote that only atheists commit suicide. Really? I'd like to see the empirical evidence supporting that assertion.

No, suicide is not wrong. It is just one more path to the inevitable death all humans eventually experience. Our own death is not a moral issue. It is just death. Having been born does not obligate us to keep living. Our birth is biological happenstance, but we have a lot more control over how our life ends.

It is possible some may mourn the successful suicide, but wouldn't they also mourn if the person died unexpectedly in a car accident or from a sudden heart attack? Is living a risky and unhealthy life that shortens life span any different than suicide? No, it just takes longer and burdens the caretakers.

Suicide is not about weakness or character. It is about pain. Unbearable, relentless pain. Everyone experiences pain differently and it seems damned arrogant to say a person's pain is not valid. It is ignorant to say that another's pain is temporary. If it's not you, then you don't know that. Not all pain can be alleviated, not all problems can be fixed.

We have only one thing that we truly, totally own, and that is the body we live in and the life in which we exist. Nobody, absolutely nobody, has the right to overtake a person who has decided to control this most fundamental of life--or end-of-life--decisions. Frankly, it's nobody's business except for the person who feels it is the appropriate choice for him- or herSELF to be free of unrelenting emotional or physical burdens.

The time to care is before the person commits suicide, but not even love can fix everything.

If you believe you are morally superior to those who commit suicide, consider a really insightful Dear Abby column on the subject.

Dying isn't wrong. Suicide isn't wrong. It's meant to bring relief--finally.

The cold is getting to me

Sometimes, I have a true need to look through my photo files to revisit favorite places with better weather than here. I can almost see the view from The Hurricane, although my heart really yearns for an afternoon at the Swigwam. Seriously.

Pass-A-Grille/St. Pete Beach, Florida March 18, 2006

Say it ain't so, Joe

It was one thing to hear Iggy Pop's Lust for Life, an ode to all things drug-culture related, used to advertise for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. I think it's weird, but Iggy is getting on in years and his drug-addled brain may have cost him some capacity for good artistic judgment.

Frankly, I love the Timpani foundation on Lust for Life, and when the commercials come on, I prefer to just enjoy the drums and overlook the bigger issues of selling out. The Who have made an entire career out of advertising, not to mention three, count 'em, three CSI theme songs. The songs are matched so perfectly to the shows that no real cringing is necessary.

All artists are not created equal. Joe Jackson is an enigma, a cerebral innovator with a bad temper. In the early 1980s, Joe dared to be different with a musical style that blew apart the prevailing styles of the day. He was the outsider's outsider, a sharp observer and documentarian of a changing Zeitgeist. Edgy. Innovative. Original. A Serious Artists who took himself more seriously than anyone else.

Shock and awe. There it was, a sound so strange being emitted from my television, I could not bear to take it in. My eyes could see, my ears could hear, but my brain could not process and my heart could not accept. There it was on prime time network television just this week: A Taco Bell commercial, Taco Bell, for chrissake, with Joe Jackson's 1979 classic, One More Time, from the amazing Look Sharp album, providing the jingle.

I have just known a new kind of pain.

Joe, I bought your last CD. I saw you the last time you came through town. Is it the money? Is it a need to stay in the public mind? Does somebody else own the rights to the music?

Argh! Why not something like chocolate, or ice cream, or a sweet car? Taco Bell?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


My last appointment of the day was close to home, so I was able to catch today's Oprah show. The topic was "Wives Confess they are Gay."

The show really got me thinking, even though I don't have any particular interest in homosexuality. I don't have any particular interest in heterosexuality. I have no interest in sexuality at all--mine or anyone else's.

My asexuality doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that it doesn't bother my husband. I think we're in the same boat. Bed. Whatever.

It's been a very long time and we couldn't care less...

Truer words were never spoken

Let Go

This song has been drifting through the few not-yet-crammed-full areas of my brain lately. It speaks to me, so I really must be as exhausted as I feel. I know the song as the work of Sara Hickman, although it was written by Amy Tiven. You can hear it on Sara Hickman's album, Two Kinds of Laughter (Sleeveless, 1998). Buy it. It's yummy.

Let go... just let them get ahead of you
And nothing will happen
Let them leave you behind...
Let go... just let your mind wander...
Over houses and roadsides
Over planes in the sky

You are so tired, you cannot sit down
You just pace on the floor
With your cigarette smoke angels above you

Stop... all the hoping and waiting the while
Let the hunger and hating sit down
And be nothing but air in a big, empty room

It's good... good enough to just sit there in peace
And the world can go right on without you
And forget what they want you to be...

Someone... took a picture of you as a child
Dressed in blue polyester
Holding an umbrella to the sun...

Look now... you just need to let go again
Let your insides just float away
You can even forget what you've done

You are so tired, you cannot sit down
You just pace on the floor
With your cigarette smoke angels above you

Let go... and I will take care of you
And I will surround you
With nothing at all
Let go... you don't have to be anyone
And I will surround you
With nothing at all
Nothing at all

Law and Order, SVU

Last night (1/8/08), my husband and I watched the newest episode of Law and Order SVU. My husband fell asleep halfway though, but was in and out enough to catch snippets of the story.

In the last 60 seconds of the episode, one of the characters, a young FBI agent, commits suicide rather than face a trial and possibly prison. She shoots herself in the head while Olivia and her partner are just a few feet away. This causes Olivia to scream and start crying. Overcome with emotion she leaves the room, horrified, and the episode ends.

My husband stirred and said, "What made her scream like that?" I explained and then I kind of shrugged and waited for the news to come on. I really like all of the Law and Order series and I think the writing is good with stories that aren't overly sensationalized. I knew, though, that like Olivia, I was supposed to be appalled and saddened by the suicide of this young woman who showed such potential.

I was not horrified in the least. I just sat there, never flinched, and thought, "Well, we all find the solutions that work for us. Choices are so personal. She saw her future and chose not to suffer." Why is that so hard for most people to understand? Choice is empowerment. Choice is freedom.

Maybe I've just become a very cold person.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I am so insecure

It comes in waves and cycles. I start to believe that nobody likes me. I feel that nobody can stand to be around me. I know I irritate everyone. I am irritating. I am hard to be around. I make people angry. I offend everyone eventually, even if they don't come out and say it.

Eventually, I offend everyone who has contact with me. I'm pretty great at first blush, but it wears off and ultimately leads to the true reason I must, must, must learn to be comfortable and content living emotionally isolated.

I try to be likeable, but sooner or later, I show my true colors. It seems I am incapable of doing otherwise, and that's a shame because it always leads to this alienation.

I'm so much better on paper.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Oh, Britney, Britney

Is there anything dignified in the discovery of mental illness in a person? Despite my being fed a steady diet of National Public Radio, academic magazines, books, research papers, and so much more brain food, I also watch Entertainment Tonight every night. I must allow the pop culture beast inside of me to snack liberally at the trough.

I may roll my eyes, talk back to the TV, or even channel surf during the program, but until tonight, I hadn't gotten upset to the point of tears. and it was all on account of Britney.

I understand that there is some entertainment value in following the drama that is a celebrity divorce/child custody case. This is the foundation for magazines like The Star. Who gained weight, lost weight, found true love, or had a bad hair day makes for yummy brain candy, but being taken away from one's house in an ambulance in order to be put on a 72-hour psych hold is not, I repeat, not entertainment for national television or tabloid publications.

And yet, there it was in pre-prime time. The host of ET kept coming back around to the "Britney in lockdown!!!!" story. My husband stood in the doorway and said, "Aren't lockdowns for, like, prisons and schools that are under siege?"

Britney, Britney. There she was, unfocused, disheveled, trying to take it all in as she was wheeled down the driveway on a gurney. Camera flashes exploded in the Los Angeles night as paparazzi surrounded the ambulance. Brit didn't panic--she was obviously mentally detached and docile.

There was a helicopter circling the scene. A helicopter. A helicopter with camera people getting close-up shots of Britney like some all-seeing omniscient tabloid eye. By the time Brit was whisked away, there were six police cars and three ambulances at the property. It was chaos, it was a circus, and it must have been humiliating as hell for Ms. Spears. Fully half of the 21 minutes of ET's on-air content was devoted to the Britney drama.

My stomach clenched. How is this legal? How is this ethical? How can people honestly think it is OK to make mental illness, or at the very least, a 72-hour psych hold, a spectator sport? this is not harmless. It greatly adds to the stigma when these episodes happen to average people.

A helicopter? Ms. spears should have been given the privacy she so desperately needed today. Privacy, dignity, respect, basic human decency.

She's on suicide watch. I can't imagine why, having just had such a party in her honor. She must be feeling so loved with all of this attention.

Blech. There oughtta be a law. Oh, there is, actually, and you can read a tidy little summary of it on the Newsweek Website by clicking here. Maybe it's just me, but the doctor being interviewed seems to be dodging the specifics of that 5150. Why do they dance around these criteria questions? What's the big secret? Why do the police have so much leeway in deciding who's normal and who isn't?
These things keep me up at night, and if Brit finds herself unable to sleep, she can call me anytime and we can commiserate about how it feels when other people decide they have every right to step in and run your life.
Why not just take the kids and let Britney be who she will, doing what she wants? She's an adult. Leave her alone.

Maybe we can invoke the spirit of Anna Nicole to explain it all...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille

And infomercial day arrived. Again. Somehow I still thought this couldn't be legit, but when I arrived at the studio, there was the crew, the camera, the lights, and Bob.

This means two days in a row wearing makeup--a practice I gave up long ago based on the apparent futility of its intended purpose. Having had decent success with the sewing scissors last night, I rummaged around this morning and found my blow-dryer, some mousse, and some hairspray. This was all the talk at work today. I kept getting compliments on my haircut and comments like, Wow! you look different. What did you do?

I dried my hair and used product. Does this speak to my normal disheveled appearance?

I sat down and answered questions about my experience with the Pilates machine. As we went along, the producer got more and more excited, saying my answers were great and just the kind of "language style" they were looking for. The original interview only had five questions, but every time I thought we were finished, they would add more just because they liked my interview style.

It was excruciating. I can't stand to be photographed, so videotaping was agonizing. I am just happy it's over.

Someday soon when you're channel-surfing, you might come upon a commercial for a wonderful Pilates machine, and you'll see testimonials from several middle-aged people. I'm the one with the purple glasses and the interesting hair.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The fine print

The great Pilates research study had a clause in the contract I thought was just filler. Turned out it was real. When I signed the participation agreement, I also agreed to sit for a taped interview discussing the experience.

I showed up today, wearing some makeup and with my hair actually having made contact with a brush. That's when I was informed there were technical difficulties and I would have to apply mascara, lipstick, and mousse two days in a row.

I was expecting a short taped conversation with a Handi-Cam. Ummmm, no. This is a real-deal professional gig with a producer/director, a camera guy, a lighting guy, and a sound guy. They are infomercial. And I agreed to participate because I am a research slut who wanted a free Pilates Reformer.

Pretty funny considering I don't allow anyone to take my picture. I just trimmed my bangs and the hair framing my face using my Fiskar's Razor-Sharp sewing scissors. It didn't counteract the homeliness, but at least I can see again. And, we know I can still be trusted to use Fiskar's Razor-Sharp sewing scissors around my face and neck without severing my jugular.

Bedtime or I won't be ready for my closeup, Mr. Demille.

The ironic thing was

Writing the copious reams I did about the incident with the police has had an effect on me. The anger is becoming manageable. I haven't been blindsided so much by the memories and the anxiety they trigger.

The one thought that continues to roll around in my head, the big funny is this: For all of the times I was truly, precipitously close to killing myself, how frustrating it is that I was a subjected to a police intervention at a time when I was not even remotely close to killing myself.

How perceptive those idiots are. Where were they when I was sitting on the couch leafing through the suicide instruction manual with great little hangman graphic on the cover?