Friday, December 31, 2010

Here comes 2011

  • Talk less. Much, much less. Maybe stop speaking entirely outside of required communication (work).
  • Spend 30 minutes a day cleaning or decluttering. That has to achieve something tangible at the end of 365 days.
  • Stay on track to spend less and pay off more debt. Not counting the mortgage, that's like $21,800 to go. Sigh.
  • Learn something new, fun, and interesting.
  • Read an entire book.
  • Do whatever it takes to achieve my dream weight of 105 pounds.
  • Blog more.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

That's kind of funny

Of all of the gifts and stocking stuffers I gave Frank for Christmas, he seems most delighted with his first pair of reading glasses. It's kind of funny.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The gift that gives back

I can be as gracious as the next person when it comes to accepting a poorly-thought-out gift, but today I have to say that some gifts are definitely more about the giver than the recipient.

My mother gave me "a big and generous" Christmas present. It's a $100 gift certificate for Southwest Airlines. I've been lamenting for over a year how I never get to take a real vacation. On the surface, it seemed like a generous gesture, certainly. Then I read the accompanying note: "Use this to buy a ticket to come see me."

So, it's really a gift for her, not for me at all.

Besides the fact that I don't consider a visit to family to be an actual, bona fide vacation at all, the relevant thing here is that I've always made it clear that I have the money to buy a ticket to Florida--I just don't have time to go except for spring break, and then it's just too expensive, period. I get no paid vacation days at my job. None. Zero. No paid holidays, either. No work, no pay. Traveling during my unpaid vacations when the program is closed limits me to going to Florida in mid-August or going during spring break (the latter usually requiring an airfare of about $500).

Frank says I should just thank my mother and tell her that when I find a $100 fare that coincides with a work closure, I'll fly down to Florida.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Never mind.

Ignore my previous post. I was having a moment. I'm fine and that was ridicuous.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Because I don't see any reason not to

I predict I will take my life in 2011. Yes, I actually said that. How can it be so when my mind hasn't been calmer or sharper in years? How can it be when I'm more functional and well-adjusted than I've been in many years? How can that be when I have more clarity than I've had in a decade? It's precisely because I have that clarity.

I have shown--repeatedly--that I can help make other people's lives better, but I am incapable of improving my own circumstances. I live a paycheck-to-paycheck life that is always on the verge of financial ruin. I vowed I would NEVER discuss my sex life on this blog, but the truth is, Frank and I haven't had sex in ten years. An entire decade. Intercourse is impossible for me because of whatever defect it is that torments my pelvis. I hate, hate, hate being the giver of oral sex, and so intimacy is simply nonexistent in our marriage. AND I HATE THAT. I used to love sex, but my body would have none of it. It pushed me back at every opportunity. As for Frank, he apparently has no libido but won't ask a doctor why. Apparently, he has no desire to work out any alternative to the sex issues. I'm not worth it. He keeps me around because he needs me if he's to afford the house we share.

I also live in physical pain every day. Ahhhh, but I don't look sick--not even a little--so, that means I'm fine or I should just suck it up. In American culture, if you don't look sick, you are not sick. You are not suffering. Your pain is a non-issue for those who are not having it.

So, fifty is looming on May 5, and what will I have to show for it? A job that bores me to tears, a failed attempt at getting my nonprofit to thrive without me micromanaging it, no direction professionally or personally, and a family that couldn't care less--and I'm serious here and not exaggerating--whether I'm alive or dead.

I have one friend. Count that on one finger. Nobody can stand to be around me, to talk to me, to listen to me, to spend time with me. They do it if they must because they have social skills or professional obligation, but would never willingly choose any of that as an option.

This isn't the big thing driving my future, though. It's that my value as a human being lies only in being useful to other people. A good communist would tell you that this is enough, but, goddamn it, I want someone to stand in front of me and say, "May, I enjoy your company on its own merit, and can't imagine not having it available anymore." (insert sarcastic snort laugh here...)

The truth is, I am tired of living my life inside of my own head. If I stopped helping people tomorrow, forever, which is essentially what I have planned for 2011, and focused only on doing things for myself, I would cease to have any relevence in the world whatsoever.

This is not a new realization for me, which is why I have been working so diligently to slog through de-cluttering my home, adding structure and documentation to my work for the next person, and most important of all, paying down and paying off debt. I'm certainly not going to off myself while leaving a financial or work mess for anyone else to have to puzzle through. I may be many things, but I am not inconsiderate. Not intentionally, anyway.

So, maybe this time next year. It will take that long to get out of debt. It is predicted that my workplace will lose all funding and shut down forever then, so it will only follow that I will shut down then, too.

Welcome to the final 12 months of Brainucopia.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Worth staying awake

I love eclipses. They're a highlight of my existence. Tonight is a double-shot: a full lunar eclipse on the solstice.Yummy.

Sophie, this makes me think of you and I hope you and yours are well on this interesting lunar-centric night.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oy. What was I thinking?

I'm having people over tomorrow night for a holiday party. Twelve of them. In an 1100 square-foot house.

The house is dusty and the floors haven't been washed in a very long time. The clutter. Oh, dear god, the clutter. There is no place to hide it, so I have to actually deal with it.

I'm allergic to dust--it's a paradox. I don't like to clean, but the reason I skip it is just because I sneeze. I sneezed so hard today from dusting, I almost wet my pants. this just slows me down.

If I skip sleep entirely tonight, everything might be presentable by 6:00 tomorrow night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm well, right?

The results of my latest labs came back today. Everything is solidly normal. The psychiatrist has diagnosed me as misdiagnosed and relatively sane.

Still, old thoughts are embedded, seemingly for the long term. There's not a day that goes by that I don't have some sort of suicide ideation. Lately, that's ramping up because it's multiple times during the day. I think I'm actually planning for it. Still.

Perhaps I'm borrowing from Jolie on the 50-year decision. I'm less than six months out, but frankly, I'm not convinced I'm going to make it that far. I don't fit anywhere. I don't connect.

My life is killing me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm just not that liberal

It's official. I'm part Republican. I've known this for a long time, but today I had one of those moments when it was obvious.

Someone sent me an email message imploring me to contact my representatives in Washington and to urge them to pass the DREAM Act. I deleted the message because I do not support this piece of legislation.

Children have long had to suffer for their parents' decisions, and that is never going to change. The DREAM Act just provides one more reason for people to bring their children here illegally instead of going through the channels, procedures, and years of waiting that legal immigrants endure.

I understand that parents who have come here without documentation often do so specifically, if not solely, to make a better life for their children, but they also expect the American people to foot the bill. The students who would benefit from the DREAM Act already got a free education and opportunities they would never had had in their home country. And now they want more?

It seems greedy to me that their parents also expect--even demand--that these kids be granted citizenship, a college education, and access to financial aid simply because they are good students--and it wasn't the kids' fault that they were here illegally.

Parents, you made this decision knowing that there would be consequences for your children. Kudos to you for guiding your children to stay out of trouble, stay in school, and be successful students. Whereas that's something to be proud of, it does not change the fact that you broke the law so you and your family could take advantage of and benefit from the opportunities created by and for the American people.

There are a lot of things I'd like to have, too, but nobody is going to give them to me just because I'm a good person who works hard and lives a clean life. Sorry, you don't get to break the law and then expect it to not apply to you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

But why?

My sister is going to be sooo disappointed. Oh, that's right. She doesn't realize this is her problem, anyway.

Click to read: Removed from the DSM??

After boredom, what?

I've been working at my current jobs for almost 15 years. Prior to that, being at the same job for more than three years was epic for me.

I'm tired. More than that, I'm bored. Boredom certainly isn't a crisis, but it does feel wasteful. It's not that I dislike what I do, I've simply lost interest. There's no intellectual or creative challenge. How can I move on, though, when I have nowhere to go?

This is no time to go job hunting--not that I plan to. However, even if it were a possibility, I would be faced with this hard fact:

  • I have no idea what to do with my life, what to do for a living. My current work showed itself to me like a vision, and it was so clear, I knew that this was where I belonged. Now that's it's been 15 years, I'm ready to move on, but I have nowhere to go. There is no epiphany, no bell, no lightbulb.
Nothing makes me sit up and say, "Yes! that's what I should pursue."

In 1995, I spent four weeks working with a coach, of sorts, who walked me through some soul-searching, aptitude tests, career clusters, and interest inventories. She concluded that I should be working in telecommunications/media or catering. I was actively in the process of getting out of the telecom/media world, and catering felt too emtoionally demanding--I can't stand having to make the general public happy, especially under stressful circumstances.

Beyond those options, no other career areas stood out in my battery of tests. Perhaps this is why I feel so directionless now.

I need some sort of psychic GPS for my life.

I am tired

Exhasuted, actually. It's not a surprise, given my schedule lately, but understanding it doesn't make it any easier to accept.

I used to be an energetic, barreling-through-life person.

I want my functionality back.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

There's an easy solution

This week, the FBI foiled a plot by Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia, in Portland, Oregon.

News reports indicate that someone from Mohamud's mosque alerted the FBI to the teen's spiraling radicalism and his expressed hatred of America and Americans.

Mohamed, dear, what the fuck is wrong with you? You chose to become a U.S. citizen--certainly, neither the government nor the people of this country forced you to study all that history and civics and then shoved the privilege of citizenship down your throat. When you took your oath of citizenship, you vowed to support and defend this country and its constitution. The right to bear arms was meant to defend America, not to blow up little children at a Christmas tree lighting.

You are a despicable, disgusting, arrogant, ungrateful teenager. A child, really. What do your parents think? Is this why they kept you safe in Dadaab and made sure you arrived safely in the United States? Are they proud? Are you still proudly defiant?

Son, you can take that citizenship certificate and shove it up your ass--all the way up, as far as it will go until it kicks you in the gut.

Every day, people in dire circumstances around the world risk their lives so they can see their children stay alive and then find a new life in this country. You mock them by doing this.

In case you missed it while you were probably blowing off your free education here, the United States was not responsible for the anarchy and chaos in Somalia. Moron. In fact, I'll bet you can't even read the Koran. If you could understand it or had actually studied it, you'd know that what you attempted is not condoned anywhere in the document. Were you too busy trying to be a suburban gang-banger to actually educate yourself?

I think you should go. This country gave you opportunity, but you stll felt entitled to something and you were a petulant diva when you didn't get it. The United Sates of America owes you nothing.

Nobody--NOBODY--was forcing you to stay here or to be a citizen of this country. You were free to practice your religion. You were free to speak your mind. You were welcome and free to leave at any time. All you had to do was get on a plane and fly to Somalia, tough guy. You would have been welcomed with open arms, handed a gun, and asked to show your allegiance to your cause by actually fighting openly.

Forget the trial. You get a one-way ticket to Mogadishu, but you can only take with you what you had when you left. You can't take any money. You can't take a gun. You can't take a cell phone or a suitcase full of desirable American clothes. No, you get off the plane and see how fabulous your life would have been had your parents stayed put. Prove yourself.

I hope you get the death penalty. You are a waste of DNA material. Until then, may you bunk with a Neo-Nazi white supremacist.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's on its way

I have multiple posts started and not posted. They're coming. I'm collecting my thoughts, albeit slowly, ever so slowly.

There are things to ponder here. Nonexistent bipolar disorder and the meaning of experience. Jolie's concerns that I have anorexic tendencies (trust me, I don't). Quitting the project that is most near and dear to my heart. Wondering about the sanity of the world. Pondering the thought that we should all just fly naked. Chardonnay. The trip to Florida that Frontier Airlines screwed me out of.

I have five days off starting tomorrow morning. Writing will resume. Reading, well, that's an entirely different issue.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I had 600 calories today, and I think that's fuckin' AWESOME. Unfortunately, Frank wants me to eat dinner. I avoided it last night, but don't think I can get away with that two nights in a row.

I'll just exercise more later. Hehe.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

If I just try harder

I picked up a copy of People magazine today. I don't know why--it's not my usual reading fare unless I'm in a doctor's waiting room.

The cover story was about Porti DeRossi and how at one point, she successfully dieted down to 82 pounds. It was inspiring, really. She was very dedicated and disciplined, and the more weight she lost, she got an incredible amount of positive feedback and encouragement at work. She started at 115 pounds, but was considered fat for being in the public eye, so she did something about it.

Thank you for telling your story, Portia. It was inspiring. I am now further galvanized in my resolve to achieve the American ideal. The retail world puts larger sizes in dark, hidden corners of stores for a reason. Being anything other than a curveless, vertical shape is so reviled, how can anyone bear to not at least be trying to be physically "less"?

People will feign shock at an 82-pound woman, but let's be honest--that kind of weight and body shape are really very valued in America.

Portia, I'm going to try harder to get my weight closer to double-digits the way you did.

Today was a total failure. Although I did exercise this morning, I wish I had read Portia's story before I had:
Scrambled egg whites
1 slice of cheese
3 fingerling potatoes
6 0z. orange juice

1 bowl miso soup with cabbage
a slice 70-calorie lowfat cheese

a glass of wine
10 small lowfat raviolis
1/3 cup fat-free spaghetti sauce
green salad
1/3 cup sugar-free applesauce
Maybe tomorrow and going forward I can cut that in half. I feel pretty disgusting right now, but I'm not a purger, so I have to live with this shame and failure for now.

Monday is a new day, and the plan is:
1 packet oatmeal
1/4 cup lowfat yogurt

1 bowl miso soup with cabbage & seaweed

green salad w/egg white

Resolve. Discipline. Come on, May. Focus. Don't be a pig.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The only feeling that pulls me off kilter more than depression is anxiety. Lately, I'm swimming in it, but I don't know why.

There are a thousand things I could be worried about, but it's not that specific. It's not even "worry" in the traditional sense. I feel generally anxious, but without any particular root cause that I can identify--yet.

I just keep reminding myself that anxiety is a self-manufactured emotion. It's not a condition, it's a feeling. It's something the brain makes up, sometimes with good reason, but in my case, for no specific reason at all.

I wake up immersed in feelings of dread. I watch the clock all day, worried that I'm going to miss something important, even when I have nothing on the agenda.

Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety, hand-wringing, lip-chewing, foot-shaking anxiety. It is unpleasant, to say the least.

I'm not planning on addressing it with medication; rather, I believe that self-talk should do the trick. "May, take a slow, deep breath. Relax. You are fine. There is no crisis. There is no impending critical event. Just breathe. What are you so afraid of? What is looming over you?"

I read recently that a B12 deficiency can cause one to feel anxious. Perhaps the supplements aren't working.

Perhaps I'm just a neurotic dweeb.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yes, exactly.

I saw this in the Dear Abby column today and I really, really liked it. My husband and I have often discussed why we won't have funerals when we pass. It's because we believe the time to be there for people you like is when they are alive.

Author Unknown

If you are ever going to love me,
Love me now, while I can know
The sweet and tender feelings
Which from true affection flow.
Love me now
While I am living.
Do not wait until I'm gone
And then have it chiseled in marble,
Sweet words on ice-cold stone.
If you have tender thoughts of me,
Please tell me now.
If you wait until I am sleeping,
Never to awaken,
There will be death between us
And I won't hear you then.
So, if you love me, even a little bit,
Let me know it while I am living
So I can treasure it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It feels real to me

Yesterday I had a regularly scheduled appointment with Dr. S. She has no answers. She really focuses on my weight, because that's what she primarily does in her practice.

She looked at my food diary and concluded that I am currently eating less than 1200 calories a day, most days, and that's probably right for me. She said my protein-to-carbohydrate ratio is excellent. She would like for me to eat more protein, but I told her I won't do it if it means more calories.

Here's the hell of it: I gained four pounds in the last two weeks. Oh, I took the stairs, and walked briskly, and parked far away from my destination, and carried a lot of boxes up and down stairs, cleaned the basement, mopped floors, and tried to move more than usual. My reward: weight gain around my middle.

And people wonder why I fucking hate my body so much.

The thing is, I am in a lot of pain. My right knee is on fire. My pelvis feels like it's going to crack apart. The pain from the spasms in my psoas muscle are indescribable, but I can't go to see a doctor for any of it because at this point, he or she will just blame everything on my weight as they seem inclined to do. My neuralgia isn't weight-related, but that's always an easy answer for an often difficult-to-diagnose problem. I want to take that diagnostic option off the table entirely, and that means no medical help for the pain until I lose another sixty pounds. If I can get to 110, there is nothing that a doctor can blame on my size or diet. Nothing.

Dr. S looked over my food log and said that eating every four hours is bad. She has banned me from eating anything between meals, so I must combine the calories from the snacks into my meals, and I must wait full six-hour intervals before eating again.

I told her six hours is a long time and I'm going to get hungry. She said it's not real hunger--it's only psychological hunger and it will pass. I just have to learn to ignore it. No snacks. The hard-boiled egg white must be eaten with the oatmeal at 7:00 in the morning, not as a snack at 11:00. The apple or slice of low-fat Alpine Lace Swiss cheese must not be eaten at three. Those calories have to roll into lunch, and then I have to tough it out until dinner at 7:00 or 7:30 p.m.

Dr. S said that by eating small amounts of food every four hours, I may be helping my headaches, but I never give my body a chance to to need to draw on my fat stores.

I hate my fucking, stupid-ass body. Hate it. Now I'll get to endure constant hunger and stomach pangs--along with headaches--and I will bet I still don't lose any weight.

Let's face it, in America, if you're not thin, you're nothing. You are sneered at and waved off by the medical establishment. You can't even buy clothes for a body that isn't toothpick thin and curveless. I know this because I went shopping for pants on Sunday. I still wear a size 16. That hasn't changed. What I found were racks and racks of "Skinny Jeans," "jeggings," (see photo at left) "narrow-leg trousers," "trim-fit pants," and more of the same. I personally know of two people who can dress in those styles. The rest of us will look ridiculous. The message here is, though, that you should never be fat or even curvy. We must all adhere to the fashion choices available and become shaped like little boys. Apparently, that's the American ideal. If it weren't, there would actually be clothes out there that fit.

And if I could fit the ideal, no doctor would tell me that everything from fatigue to shingles to chronic pain to parasthesia to vertigo was a result of being too damn fat.

Keira, Keira, Keira, how do you stay so utterly perfect?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where boredom takes me

Algorithms fascinate me. I don't actually understand them, nor could I even begin to write one, but the concept of "if-then" statements running the show on their own is a notable accomplishment i my eyes.

I was bored tonight, having run out of energy and ambition long before I ran out of weekend. I pulled up my blog but had nothing interesting percolating through my brain, so I did what I sometimes do in these situation--I clicked on the "Next blog" link at the top of the page.

Normally, the array of blogs I get via this clickfest seems totally random, but tonight there appeared to be an algorithm at work. Not a very good one. If it was supposed to link me to other blogs that might capture my interest, it failed miserably. Here's why:

  • First, a lot of blogs related to autism. Hmmmm. I'm not autistic nor do I have any autistic family members.
  • Next up, homeschoolers
  • Lots and lots and lots of Christians praising Jesus, lots of Bible study, lots of lives being documented as they worship Christ. Interesting choice to bring before an atheist.
  • After that, Blogger went into some sort of Texas loop. I am not a big fan of Texas, I don't write about Texas or care to visit Texas. Lots of bloggers in Texas.
  • Mothers writing about their adorable children. Ad nauseum. Yes, I understand it's a beautiful journey, but seriously, these blogs all read exactly alike.
  • Next we went into a DIY home-improvement phase. This one makes more sense since I believe there's something like that listed in my profile.
  • Quilting. Seriously? Who knew so many quilters were blogging about it. I'm not a quilter.
  • More blogs about white, middle class American families with small children. Especially with twins. ?? Christian families. In the South.

I can't even imagine who gets to stumble upon this blog.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The joy of Wii

The Wii arrived on Thursday in a slender box with an Amazon logo. I never really wanted one, but so many people told me I'd like it, that when the opportunity came, I bought a console.

In the two weeks leading up to the purchase, I had cleared out and cleaned up the finished part of the basement. Once that job was finished, the open space needed a purpose. Since I'm not a teenager and have no close friends here, partying downstairs wasn't very appealing. Exercise is boring, although we're all set up to do it.

I took stock and made a list of the reasons I don't need to join a gym:

  • Pilates reformer

  • yoga mat

  • 2 thick exercise mats

  • complete set of hand weights, 2-12 pounds

  • weight bench

  • set of stretchy resistance straps

  • ankle weights

  • 2 fit balls

  • small inflatable therapy ball

  • Step

  • Foam roller

  • 15 fitness workout DVDs

Alas, look as I might, I couldn't find my missing ambition or interest in exercise in general to add to that list.

It took some figuring out to get the Wii installed. There was an old TV, an RF splitter, a digital signal converter, an antenna, and a DVD player to configure so all would work in a friendly and compatible manner. Lots of wires in multiple directions. Once the hookup was successfully completed, I set out to see what Wii was all about.

I created a "Mii" and named her Bovinia. The Wii Fit Plus is not that interesting to me. It's really just a lot of work, and the animated trainer is not only not very animated, she never smiles.

I pulled out the Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort discs and popped one into the machine. Games, games, games. And me without a partner. I chose the one sport I knew I could do alone: bowling.

Bowling turned out to be fabulous. Back in the day, I was such a blue-collar kid, I actually took bowling lessons in fifth grade, and then was in a youth bowling league. When I was 30, a friend and I took advantage of the local bowling alley's summer special: For $90, we got six weeks of lessons, nearly unlimited play, and a custom-drilled bowling ball with our respective names engraved just above the finger holes.

I can bowl.

Push, swing, back, release. As I finished my first round of bowling in almost 20 years (score = 150), I looked through the other games and realized that Wii was the perfect thing for me. There are no friends required. All of the games can be played in isolation, just me vs. the Wii.

I may move into the basement.


While scraping callused skin off of my feet in the bathtub this evening, a thought crossed my mind and I had a grand inspiration for writing. "A fine blogging topic," I thought.

After finishing with my foot task, I sat down at the computer. The computer was slow. Blogger wouldn't load. Eventually it did.

I forgot what I wanted to write about.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I want full disclosure

For the second time in a year, someone used my debit card number to buy something online. This time it was an XBox subscription.

When I called the bank, they assured me that getting this fixed would be relatively easy and painless. Apparently, banks have insurance for this sort of thing and this sort of thing happens all the time. They reimburse the money and move on.

When I went to the bank to fill out the claim paperwork, I asked how I could find out who had stolen my card information. The customer service woman looked at me, a little bit startled. She said, "Well, we have a department that takes over and handles it. They'll pursue it."

This seems unfair. In any other crime with this much information that can be tracked and traced, the victim gets to know who the perpetrator is. In cases of petty credit card fraud, the thief remains anonymous to the victim.

I want to know who did this. I want to confront him or her and explain what a major pain in the ass it is that I have no debit card for the next ten days, that I had to take an afternoon off of work to fill out a report, and that I hope he or she contracts a painful bleeding cancer that turns out to be the result of using an XBox.

Why these people are granted anonymity is beyond my scope of comprehension. Assholes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's like this, hon






(No, my page wasn't hacked. These are just the messages going through my head today as I realize I'm essentially friendless, truly disgusting to look at, a loser in every area of my life, and not worth the air and resources I consume. My only value in the world is in doing other's people's work for them.)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I don't even know

I am unloved. It's true and apparent. I try not to think about it, but I'm reasonably intelligent and aware, so I can't pretend the situation is anything but what it is.

Still, I have no idea what it would feel like to know anyone cared about me, so I probably wouldn't recognize it if it existed. And by "cared about," I mean, people paid attention, checked in, hung out, talked, asked after my welfare--that sort of thing...and doing so out of genuine affection and not just because I'm needed or serve some practical purpose in another person's life.

Maybe in my next life.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I just don't feel like it

May is exhausted from the roots of her hair to the tips of her toes. There's tired, and then there's drag your ass through a normal pace of life. Sometimes I wonder: if there's no illness present in my body, then maybe all of those pharmaceuticals rearranged my brain.

Is it dysthymia? Is it some mycoplasma bacteria nibbling away at my tissues?

My mood is OK, but it's hard to be perky and happy when fatigue is this unreasonable. It makes the chronic pain seem like an afterthought.

Can't I wake up just one day and feel great? And when is the doctor going to rerun all of the blood work to find out if the wads of supplements I take are even having any benefit? Are we just guessing?

On the upside, someone told me today I look wonderful. I believe that's a euphemism for "looks like you lost weight." I still have to lose 13 pounds just to get out of the "obese" category on the BMI chart and make it down to "seriously overweight." It's another 25 after that just to get to the high end of "healthy/normal." Pardon me if I seem underwhelmed by the 30 pounds gone up to this point.

My weight is not that important to me right now, and I never thought I'd say that. I just want to have some energy.

  • D3 = 105,600 IU per week
  • B12 = 2500 mcg/day (sublingual)
  • Magnesium = 250mg/day
  • NAC = 1200mg/day
  • L-Lysine = 1,000mg/day
  • Flax Seed Oil = 1,000mg/day
  • B Complex with C
  • Female-specific multi-vitamin
Nobody should be this tired all the time. Maybe I'm just mental.

It's not apples and oranges

I don't fear death, I fear discomfort.

Death is inevitable. Discomfort, it appears, is my destiny.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It makes me wonder

Why is it that nobody on CSI Miami ever breaks a sweat in any of the outdoor scenes? They never even look like they're in hot weather. At all. Not only that, but people routinely wear long sleeves, jackets, and layers. Outside. In Miami.

Seriously. I've been to Florida and just thinking about working outdoors in Miami makes me feel sweaty.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

So, now I'll just stop the lithium

I was looking for something online, and in my keyword search, this seemingly unrelated result came up. A piece of the text caught my eye, so I took a look. What I found was a forum conversation about people misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder after being prescribed an SSRI. Apparently, it happens all the time.
It seems that antidepressants can make people who aren't bipolar hypomanic. This can take the form of dysinhibition, personality change, impulsive spending, hypersexuality. You mentioned regretting your behavior while on paxil... I have the same regrets. When on antidepressants I had less empathy, could be somewhat impulsive with the things I said to people, and was occasionally incredibly insensitive to the feelings of others. I also expressed a lot of anger that I think in large part was due to the meds. My spending wasn't outrageous but it was beyond our means and we are now in debt.
After reading some more, I feel that I can finally discontinue the tiny amount of lithium I've been taking. I've suspected for a long time that this was a misdiagnosis. More drugs just made the whole mess much worse. After having discontinued everything except a daily token dose of lithium, this is the best I"ve felt in about eight years.

It make me so sad that this happened to me. Very sad. Not sad enough to take an antidepressant. Never again. I tried tri-cyclics in the 1980s, SSRIs in this decade, and a few other things mixed in along the way. I have learned this for sure:

There is not an anti-depressant on the planet that doesn't make me far worse off than what nature has made of me. Those things should be illegal until they're better understood. Doctors need real training, not just what the pretty pharmaceutical reps whisper in their ears.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I'd jump off a cliff, but there's no way I could even work up the energy to climb anything higher than the bed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Erratica explained

The US government, which was largely responsible for the installation of Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan, has found him to be a frustrating choice. He doesn't always say what the State Department wants him to say. Sometimes he admits that he wants the U.S. out of his country. Sometimes he's agreeable. Sometimes he cries at press conferences. Sometimes he speaks the words of a seriously paranoid and angry man who is very willing to bite the hand that pushed him into office.

Veteran political write Bob Woodward has a new book out. In it, he states that a big reason for Karzai's unpredictability is quite straightforward. He has a confirmed diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but he won't stay on his medication.

What a fabulous quality in a world leader. The BP on its own can have benefits, but when being off medication leads to decisions that affect--and possibly endanger--millions of lives, then perhaps it's time to consider a career change.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Five days after

There is too much to do and not enough time to get it all in--but I have to.

I'm tired. Exhausted. Frank had his surgery last Wednesday and I've been extra busy ever since. The level of care that hospitals expect family member to take on still leaves me aghast. It starts in the waiting area. The room is huge--about 1,000 square feet of beautiful bamboo hardwood floors, hard chairs, and magazines far past their prime. I actually picked up a copy of Better Homes & Gardens that was from 2004.

Frank got checked in and we waited for his name to be called. We went over the final paper work. We chatted. I was a little hungry, having not eaten enough at breakfast. I didn't realize that once Frank was checked in, I would be under strict orders not to leave the room.

As we sat there, Frank handed me his wallet. "You can't wear your wedding ring, you know," I said. Frank looked offended. "Why not? They aren't operating on my hand."

I explained that it was so the patient couldn't claim something had been stolen while he or she was under anesthesia. Frank slid the gold band off his finger and into the palm of my hand. I put it on my left middle finger, but it was so big, there was no way it would stay on. Frank chuckled as I tried every finger and each thumb with the same result.

Frank's name was called and he gave me a kiss as he stood up to leave with the nurse. I looked at the wedding ring, feeling a bit guilty for the number of times I had rolled my eyes when Frank told me he had gut pain. I kept insisting it was just gas, but it turned out it was something. Several somethings.

I turned the ring around on my right thumb, looking at how the once-shiny gold had muted to a matte finish. The five Celtic swirls engraved into the ring were holding up well, though. Frank never wore a piece of jewelry until our wedding day. At the time, I was sure he wouldn't wear a wedding ring, but he was happy to do it. Now it bothered him to have to take it off.

An hour passed. I pulled out my laptop and checked work and personal email. Nothing but people wanting something and annoying me in the process. I shouldn't have checked. Things that never bothered me before have been making me bristle with impatience lately.

Another hour. After two-and-a-half hours, there were only three of us left waiting. The room had at least twenty people in it when we had first arrived, but they had all trickled out as their loved ones' surgeries were completed.

I was beginning to worry.

When almost four hours had passed, I was finally called to come back to the recovery area.

Frank was sitting in a recliner, wrapped in a blanket. He was pale and sleepy. The nurse smiled and said, "He did great!" He didn't look so great.

We waited another 45 minutes and were cleared to go. Frank stood up and then sat down. He was wobbly on his feet and dizzy. The nurse got a wheelchair and we set off toward the parking lot. Frank got in the car slowly, buckled his seatbelt, and asked for his wedding band.

When we got home, Frank headed straight for the couch. He was asleep within minutes. I took the time to review his post-surgical instructions. So much to monitor. So much to remember.

Frank didn't move much for 24 hours. He was well-dosed with Percocet and the residual anesthesia that hadn't yet cleared his system. The cat joined him on the couch and they stayed there, each a comfort to the other.

I stayed home from work on Thursday, too. It was a long day, but Frank was able to stay awake for hours at a time. His color was better. He was a little hungry. He was in pain.

His recovery is slow, but he's doing much better. He's still not back to work--maybe another day will do it. He said I'm an excellent nurse.

While Frank was in surgery and in the first day of recovery, I was scared. I kept thinking that anything could go wrong. What if it turned out to be cancer? What if he had some freaky bleeding issue? What if, what if, what if?

No what-ifs came to pass. Recovery is on schedule with no surprises. Exhale, May. You can exhale.

It's just getting weirder

Seriously. Now it has a vortex-like thing in the center and the whole structure becomes more inexplicable every day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shine on

Shine on, Shine on you Super Harvest Moon.

Tonight ushers in the Harvest Moon--the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. This year, it happens smack dab on the equinox. The moon looks like someone adjusted its position, placing it much closer to Earth.

As an added bonus, as noted in The Washington Post,
Jupiter will appear very close to the moon tonight. NASA's Tony Phillips writes:
"A Super Harvest Moon, a rare twilight glow, a midnight conjunction--rarely does
autumn begin with such celestial fanfare."
I plan to get up and take it all in after midnight.

For the moment, though, I'm going outside to enjoy the perfectly perfect rainbow that just appeared after a day of spitting rain.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Shingles nerve hell.

But enough about me. My husband has to have abdominal surgery on Wednesday, and I'm a little freaked out.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's a, it's a, it's, uh....

A piece of public art is being constructed and installed in front of the courthouse in my city. It started off as a blue concrete pad, about ten feet in diameter. At first it resemebled the beginnings of a splash pad.

As the project has continued over the course of the last month, the structure has grown to be nearly 20 feet in height and almost as large in diameter. New pieces of metal are added every day, and the complexity of the design becomes more intense as the project progresses.

For awhile, I thought it was going to be a fountain, but now I don't know what it is. A mechanical Venus fly trap? A scale model homage to some bizarre amusement park ride? A holding cell for criminals in need of public humiliation? The setting for some kind of judicial cage match when a jury just won't do?

I'm not sure what it is, but I'm reluctant--at this point, anyway--to call it art.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Ugh. There is a skunk in my neighborhood. I've lived in this part of the country for 15 years, and was under the impression there were no skunks here. At all.

This is maybe one of a half-dozen times I've smelled a skunk in all the years I've been here. The last time was about a week ago.

I was greatly enjoying the soft, cool, evening breeze slipping in through the front window. And then this.

So, so, so nasty.

Shoo! Shoo! Go back to some eastern forest.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In a better world

What do you want, May, what do you want?

I want to be loved for who I am, neuroses and all.
I want people to stop hurting each other.
I want people to drive more conscientiously (I almost got hit crossing the street--on foot--yesterday by a driver who ran a red light 15 seconds into the 30-second red)
I would like to see significantly more ethics and much less self-serving behavior in all governments, everywhere.
I want customer service to actually serve the customer first.
I want people to be diligent about spaying and neutering their pets.
I want pet owners to step up and embrace the responsibility required.
I want twenty-somethings to stop feeling so goddamned precious and entitled and start earning the respect and rewards they believe they inherently deserve.

Monday, September 13, 2010

When it was all about bipolar disorder

It’s that time of year when the weather is changing and the sunrise comes a little later each day. Nights are almost cold here, but the days, although sunny, clear, and dry, are steadily edging toward the inevitable. You can't really see the change yet, but you can definitely feel it.

Fall is a dangerous time for me. It’s usually when my mood stability starts chipping away at itself, shedding little bits of wellbeing with each degree that falls on the thermometer. Some people feel invigorated by the crisp fall air, but for me it merely signals the gray curtain of winter is drawing ‘round.

The atmospheric evidence of fall’s arrival is a strong trigger for my memory as well as for my mood. It’s as if during the rest of the year, I can put the trauma of the supposed bipolar years into a neutral place while maintaining perspective about my life and the events that have happened within it. When fall comes, though, I don’t have benign memories—I have very strong emotions.

Each year, I go through this process of sorting through everything that happened, as well as analyzing what went wrong. This eventually leads to a full mental replay of how I felt unsupported and unloved at the time when I truly needed love and support most. I revisit the question, “What did I want from my world?”

I wanted the people around to me to care about my discomfort. I used to say that I wanted them to care that I was sick, but the problem wasn’t that they didn’t care—they cared only about how my illness made me less appealing than the version of me they liked. Nobody was particularly empathetic or compassionate. They wanted me to get better for their own comfort, not for mine.

I wanted everyone to understand that something was happening to me, and no matter how hard I fought it, it was consuming me. I nearly lost the struggle three times, yet not one person ever stepped forward with a comforting word. No, they berated me, scolded me, told me I couldn’t be weak, that I needed to fight harder, that it was up to me to choose to be well, and that it was making them angry that I might turn out to be a quitter.

I needed unconditional love. I needed that love packaged with compassion, kindness, comfort, and warmth poured on me without judgment. I wanted the people in my life to be upset that I was in peril and that I was scared. I wanted them to acknowledge that my illness was in no way willful or a product of my own emotional self-indulgence.

Instead, they were upset that I wasn’t living up to expectations. Not one person ever told me, “I’m sorry this is happening to you. I can’t imagine how this feels from the inside. I want you to get better because you deserve that. I want you to get better because I can’t bear to see you so sad and broken. I want you to get better because you are loved and wanted. How can I help you? Let’s find a way together.” I wanted them to be sincere about it.

Oh, how I have been sorely disappointed by my expectations of other people.

I got better because medication helped. I got better because I educated myself on what courses of action would be most effective. I got better because Dr. B believed in my ability to manage and adjust my own medications. I got better because Jolie met me at the lowest point in my life and decided I was satisfactory friend material, despite my deficits. I got better because I felt I owed it to my husband to do so. I got better because I needed to—I still had some business I couldn’t leave unfinished.

The whole of my 40s left me profoundly changed. I am not better or worse, stronger or smarter. I am more cautious, for sure. Definitely less optimistic. I have lowered my expectations. I don’t expend emotional energy on other people nearly as much as I used to.

More than anything, I am more self-absorbed—someone needs to have my back, and that someone appears to be me. Nobody else wanted the job, not really. At some point, I need to stop pinning my self-esteem to that fact. That’s more of a spring thought process, though.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Get 'em in, get 'em out

I just posted this as my Facebook status:
Doctors have zero incentive to care about their patients. Think about it--the doctor gets paid, no matter what the outcome is for the patient. No improvement, deterioration, death: A check is waiting, regardless. I think too many physicians prefer the hard work of quantity rather than the challenge of quality.

The current business model for medicine in America has completely removed curiosity, compassion, and patient outcome from the treatment process.

Personally, I have figured out more critical elements of my own conditions through my own time and hard work than any doctor has. The TV program Mystery Diagnosis shows again and again how many doctors have no interest in the patient's wellbeing--they are focused only on the quick fix, easy explanation. And if they're wrong? So what if they're wrong? They still get paid.

There are a lot of lazy doctors out there, and why not? Succeed, fail, or do nothing, there is no repercussion to the business.

In most states, even a first-grade teacher has her compensation tied to student outcomes. It may not make a teacher care about his or her work, but it sure does provide an incentive to succeed that doctors don't have.

I can't actually think of any other job--with the exception of psychic advisor--where the pay is guaranteed, regardless of the sincerity put into the task at hand or the final result for the client.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Empty at last?

It appears I have nothing left to say anymore. I'm quite seriously too exhausted to generate useful thoughts.

That may be an exaggeration.

I'm growing weary of writing to myself. It has served its purpose, but journaling, even in the form of blogging, doesn't help me lighten my burden or gain any clarity anymore. Nothing ever changes in my life.

Nobody cares about me, and I want to be OK with that, but I'm not. I'm meaningless outside of my utility--what I do to make others' lives easier or more interesting. I'm useful and lots of people benefit from that, but I'm hard to like and harder to care about, and that means that once my work is done, I'm no different than a car parked in the garage or a vacuum cleaner put back in the closet, not thought about until the next time there's a task to be done.

And so I find myself having one-sided conversations with myself here. What a pathetic situtation this is.

Truth be told, I wouldn't want to be very involved with me, either.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm not depressed; I'm exhausted

I've been feeling a peristent anxiety creeping around the edges of my mind for a few weeks now. It's not coming from anyplace specific; it just is. It's there when I'm awake, and lately, it has been seeping into my dreams.

There's nothing particularly wrong. I think that it's possible this is a warning flag my brain is waving in front of my consciousness. Something about obligations and frustrations.

I think it's time to re-evaluate my life and its structure at this time. I ask myself every day, "What do you want to do?"

The answer that keeps coming up is one word: Quit.

I can't quit my job, but I think it might be time to reduce the rest of my life to the minimum daily requirements. Those requirements are: sleep, eat, hygiene, job, deal with bills and mail, do laundry, tend to house as necessary, watch TV, use Internet. Nothing more.

There is no energy for social life (not that I have one), human connections, reading, researching things that don't matter to anyone but me, volunteering, gardening, the nonprofit, shopping, or anything else.

I wish to hold no responsibilities except for those I cannot escape (my job, my bills). I will become a recluse.

I need a plan.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Can they give me a better personality, too?

ABC is showing a segment on brain surgery that is intended help obese people lose weight. An implant stops the brain from thinking it's hungry. I want this surgery. It is the only way I'll ever get to my goal of 104. No matter what I eat--or don't--I am always hungry. My stomach growls and gurgles. I feel nauseated. Obviously, my brain and my stomach have communication issues, and that's exactly what this surgery is supposed to address.

Sign me up.

I have lost a tiny bit of weight (26 pounds), but at my size, that's like cutting of one hair and saying you got a haircut. I still have to lose something like 15-20 pounds just to go from my current BMI of "obese" to a rating of "significantly overweight." I need to lose 40 pounds from here to get to a rating of "normal," but that's still 70 far, far away pounds from my goal.

No, I don't want a stomach re-route; I want to address this at the source--my brain. For some reason, it still desperately keeps wanting food, even after I've hit my 1200calories for the day. Don't get me wrong--I don't necessarily eat just because I experience hunger; it's that the hunger is so uncomfortable I want to that have surgically removed.
It's the amygdala that causes all of the trouble. Of course.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Glee and me

Last night, I watched the Glee episode, "Home" for the second time. For the second time, it brought me to tears. Frank thought I was an emotional idiot. Sometimes, he doesn't realize what my upbringing was like.

The character Mercedes, a significantly overweight African American teen, has joined the cheerleading squad. Evil coach Sue Sylvester demands that Mercedes drop ten pounds in a week because a reporter is coming to do a story about the squad. Sue is pretty relentless in her withering insults toward everyone, but she goes out of her way to make sure Mercedes understands that she's an inferior human.

My entire life growing up, I heard my own relentless stream of insulting criticism from my sister and brothers. I have always tried to compensate for the flaws they found so embarrassing--I've never wanted anyone else to be so embarrassed by being associated with me.

Ugly, fat, weird, ugly, fat, weird, ugly, fat, weird. It's all I was ever told. They teased me. No. They tormented me. My parents never did a thing to stop any of it. They told me I needed to toughen up and stop tattling. My siblings were brutal, but my sister was sadistic in her emotional abuse.

I've been through a lot of therapy. I haven't spoken to Denice since 1991. I like to think I've moved on from the hurt and low self-esteem she pounded into my head and heart with such ferocity, but I know it still shapes how I see myself and the world.

Mercedes steps out onto the gymnasium floor. She hasn't lost any weight in a week, despite Sue's insulting harangues. She stands in front of the microphone and says,

How many of you at this school feel fat?
How many of you feel like maybe you’re not worth very much?
Or you’re ugly or you have too many pimples and not enough friends?

Well, I felt all those things about myself at one time or another. Hell, I felt most of those things about myself today, and that just ain’t right.

And we’ve got something to say about it.
Mercedes begins to sing...

Every day is so wonderful,
And suddenly, it's hard to breathe,
Now and then I get insecure
From all the pain,
I'm so ashamed.

I am beautiful,
No matter what they say,
Words can't bring me down,
I am beautiful,
In every single way,
Yes, words can't bring me down,
So don't you bring me down today,
No matter what we do,
No matter what we do,
We're the song full of beautiful mistakes

So don't you bring me down today...

You will have to endure a 30-second commercial prior to viewing the clip.

Tears ran down my cheeks and left wet puddle-like spots on my shirt. I wanted to feel the self-worth that Mercedes was singing about, but the truth is, all of those years of harsh words being ground into my psyche had changed my mental wiring for good. I realized that the highly toxic shit my sister and brothers smeared all over my brain was indelible, and there was no way--not at this point, anyway--to ever be washed clean of the poison.

You can tell me I'm beautiful, but I am incapable of seeing what you see. Apparently, I can only see myself through my sister's lens. It's a tragedy.

"Beautiful" lyrics: Linda Perry

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Checking in

It has been over three months since I stopped taking mental health medications. So far, I appear to be sane. Maybe more so than before. No more mood treks to the poles. In fact, I don't seem to stray far from the equator.

How mundane.

Sometimes, the patient knows what she knows and should be given the opportunity to be taken seriously.

But what do I know? I'm just a patient.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Literary excellence, truly.

I'm druuuuuuuunnnnnnnnk! Drunk. Yea!


May feels profoundly lonely tonight.

Please, no more reruns

Shingles. It sucks just as much the second time around.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

So, my needs top out at the bottom?

Researchers at the University of Arizona have declared Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of needs "quaint," "outdated," and "wrong." In response to their new conclusions, they have rewritten the pyramid and placed mating and parenting at the top of man's innermost aspirations.

No. No, no, no, no, no. The idiots behind this study obviously didn't spend a whole hell of a lot of time speaking with me, my husband, or any of the millions (probably billions) of people like us who are childless by choice, and happily so. I have never, at any time in the last 49 years, had any desire to reproduce--at all. I knew by the age of 15 that I never, ever wanted to be a parent to anyone. Period. I used to joke that I was not only missing the mommy gene, I was ecstatic about the omission.

And, what about all of the people who just don't really yearn to hook up and find a or retain a mate--beyond the need for sexual release (plain old sex was on Maslow's model)? So, did the researchers just decide that people who are childless by choice don't have any relevance in the study of humanity and psychology? And what about the people who eschewed reproduction specifically to better the chances of achieving self-actualization? If our goal is not reproduction, then, what...we just don't exist? Is the University of Arizona even a good school? I mean, should they be taken seriously?

I'm so irked, I'm copying the entire article instead of just providing a link. So there. Click on the graphic to see it at a readable size.

Updated Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs
By Rick Nauert PhD, Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 23, 2010

A team of psychologists have updated a cornerstone of modern psychology — Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of needs.

Maslow’s pyramid describes human motivations from the most basic to the most advanced. According to experts, Maslow’s time-tested pyramid, first proposed in the 1940s, needed to be updated to reflect the last 50 years of research.

A team of psychologists, including two from Arizona State University, recast the pyramid. In doing so, they have taken on one of psychology’s iconic symbols and have generated some controversy along the way.

The revamp of Maslow’s pyramid reflects new findings and theory from fields like neuroscience, developmental psychology and evolutionary psychology, said Douglas Kenrick, an ASU professor of psychology and lead author of the paper, “Renovating the pyramid of needs: Contemporary extensions built upon ancient foundations.”

Despite being one of psychology’s most memorable images, Maslow’s pyramid hasn’t always been supported by empirical research, said Steven Neuberg, an ASU Foundation professor and coauthor of the paper.

“Within the psychological sciences, the pyramid was increasingly viewed as quaint and oldfashioned, and badly in need of updating,” Neuberg added.

“It was based on some great ideas, several of which are worth preserving,” Kenrick said.

“But it missed out on some very basic facts about human nature, facts which weren’t well understood in Maslow’s time, but were established by later research and theory at the interface of psychology, biology and anthropology.”

Maslow developed the pyramid of needs to represent a hierarchy of human motives, with those at the bottom taking precedence over those higher up. At the base of Maslow’s pyramid are physiological needs – hunger, thirst and sexual desire.

According to Maslow, if you are starving and craving food that will trump all other goals. But if you are satisfied on one level, you move to the next. So, once you are well fed, you worry about safety. Once you are safe, you worry about affection and esteem and so forth. Perhaps most famously, at the top of Maslow’s pyramid sat the need for self-actualization – the desire to fulfill one’s own unique creative potential.

The research team – which included Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and Mark Schaller of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver – restructured the famous pyramid after observing how psychological processes radically change in response to evolutionarily fundamental motives, such as self-protection, mating or status concerns.

The bottom four levels of the new pyramid are highly compatible with Maslow’s, but big changes are at the top. Perhaps the most controversial modification is that self-actualization no longer appears on the pyramid at all.

At the top of the new pyramid are three evolutionarily critical motives that Maslow overlooked – mate acquisition, mate retention and parenting.

The researchers state in the article that while self-actualization is interesting and important, it isn’t an evolutionarily fundamental need.

Instead, many of the activities that Maslow labeled as self-actualizing (artistic creativity, for example) reflect more biologically basic drives to gain status, which in turn serves the goal of attracting mates.

“Among human aspirations that are most biologically fundamental are those that ultimately facilitate reproduction of our genes in our children’s children,” Kenrick explained. “For that reason, parenting is paramount.”

The researchers are not saying that artists or poets are consciously thinking about increasing their reproductive success when they feel the inspiration to paint or write.

“Reproductive goals are ultimate causes,” Kenrick added, “like the desire of birds to migrate because it helps them survive and reproduce. But at a proximate (or immediate psychological) level, the bird migrates because its brain registers that the length of day is changing. In our minds, we humans create simply because it feels good to us; we’re not aware of its ultimate function.”

“You could argue that a peacock’s display is as beautiful as anything any human artist has ever produced,” Kenrick said.

“Yet it has a clear biological function – to attract a mate. We suspect that self actualization is also simply an expression of the more evolutionarily fundamental need to reproduce.”

But, Kenrick adds, for humans reproduction is not just about sex and producing children. It’s also about raising those children to the age at which they can reproduce as well. Consequently, parenting sits atop the revamped pyramid.

There are other distinctions as well. For Maslow, once a need was met, it disappeared as the individual moved on to the next level. In the reworked pyramid, needs overlap one another and coexist, instead of completely replacing each other.

For example, certain environmental cues can make them come back. If you are walking down the street thinking about love, art or the meaning of life, you will revert quickly to the self-protection level if you see an ominous-looking gang of young men headed your way.

The new pyramid already has generated some controversy within the field. The published article was accompanied by four commentaries. While the commentaries agreed with the basic evolutionary premise of the new pyramid, they take issue with some of the specific details, including the removal of self-actualization and the prominence of parenting in the new pyramid.

“The pyramid of needs is a wonderful idea of Maslow’s,” Kenrick said.

“He just got some of it wrong. Now people are talking about it again, which will help us get it right.”

The paper was published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Sciences.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why religion does not make the world a better place

For most of my adult life, I have harbored the belief that religion--organized religion--is a bad thing. It's group-think. It's social control. It's for people who lack critical thinking skills and an understanding of the most basic sociological realities.

Many a conflict in this world had its roots in religion. Too many religions do not preach, "Believe and be saved" as much as they preach, "Believe--or else. And while you're at it, you must recruit as many new members as possible or you can kiss your own salvation goodbye."

Then there's the whole doctrine of "If you don't believe as I believe, you are evil and must be eliminated." Many a conflict, war, slaughter, oppression, holocaust, conquest, and discriminatory act have been based on this. Research any religion and you'll conclude there has been bad behavior all around. Believing in a deity is one thing; forming an entire social construct around it is a recipe for narrowing minds.

Although I am an atheist, I like to believe that as long as other people keep their religion cooties off of me, I'm fine. I don't try to convince anyone they should believe what I do, nor do I even feel I have any right to dissuade someone from holding onto cherished beliefs. Believe whatever you want; just don't expect me to believe it, too, and please don't try to engage me in a conversation where you get to tell me how wrong I am. I believe I tolerate all faiths and I expect my beliefs to be tolerated equally.

A week ago, a news story caught my attention. It made me realize that I'm not that tolerant. The story was about the rising anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States. The story made me realize that I need to make some room for tolerance in my own heart.

I have no issue with the Muslims I know--and I know many--and it upsets me to hear people demeaning an entire faith without considering that it is made up of individuals. I don't know any Muslims who are trying to conquer the world. They just want to be left alone and allowed to follow their faith without persecution. I always thought it was a good thing for moderate and casual Muslims to come to the US so they could practice their faith in a normal, rational way, and not be subject to the violence of radicals.

Then, in the middle of the news story, I heard this quote: “I don’t care for their religion, I don’t care for their politics…I don’t want them here, opening Mosques in every city…they don’t belong here." At that moment, I realized that this defines exactly how I feel about arch-conservative, right-wing, evangelical Christians! Please don't open a church near my house. I don't want them preaching to me, or knocking on my door, or blocking women from entering clinics, or shoving their literature into my hand on the street, or traveling en masse to foreign countries with the sole intent of converting people to Christianity under the assumption that any other religion is just...wrong.

I'm not that tolerant after all.

My understanding is that Jesus Christ, whose followers are Christians, preached tolerance. The entire New Testament--the map of the Christian Way--is full of this principle. As I listened to the Christians in the story spout their hatred and intolerance, I couldn't help but think, "Wow, Jesus must be so proud of his followers who are hosting 'Burn the Koran Day' in Florida, and chasing away and threatening people who don't fall in line to follow Christianity."

I guess we haven't progressed very far since the Crusades.

In Tennessee, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey suggested last month Islam is a cult and may not be protected by the First Amendment. How about David Koresh? The Mormons? Scientologists? Aren't they cult-like, too? They have no problem enjoying the protections afforded by the Constitution. I have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It would make me very happy to smack a pie into the face of every Mormon/Baptist/Jehovah's Witness who trespasses onto my property and rings my doorbell with th intention of shoving their religion down my throat as far as possible, but I'm not allowed to that. I have no rights in this regard.

In Indiana, Republican congressional candidate Marvin Scott often portrays all Muslims as extremists. He recently went on record saying, “The question becomes, when are young people indoctrinated into the Muslim ideal, and how much are they willing to carry out? I mean, it’s no different than the Japanese kamikazes.”

Hey, I received the "sacrament" of confirmation at the age of eight. The Catholic Church demanded that I commit to the faith with all of my body, heart, and soul, a little Papist soldier of Christ, promising to do whatever I was told to do in the name of Christ. I was in the third grade. Had I been told it was God's will to blow up Protestant children, I probably would have done it out of fear that disobeying the command would have led to my spending eternity in Hell. My madrasa was a well-respected parochial school in the Philadelphia suburbs. I was taught that Catholics were the only people who had any chance of getting into heaven, and everyone else who couldn't be converted should be not just be avoided, but shunned.

Yes, candidate Scott, when are children indoctrinated into their parents' religious ideal? Why is it OK to brainwash a Christian child, but it is evil to do so to any child of any belief you've probably never even bothered to learn about? Have you, personally, spent any time with any Muslims? Hindus? Jews? Atheists?

Tolerance. I must try to be more tolerant of those hypocritical, reactionary dunces who are all indignant assumption and zero education. It's not going to be easy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I think it's back

It appears I am having a recurrence of shingles. No rash yet, but the pain is taking my breath away. The graphic (from shows common shingles pain areas in orange. My pain area is circled in red, but also includes the underside of my right arm, as well.

This sucks. A lot.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's the answer?

My cousin posted this on Facebook...
If you think, that putting up a mosque, 600 ft. from ground zero and have the inauguration, on the anniversary of 9/11/11, is immoral, inhuman and a complete lack of respect for the memories, of all that perished there, on that day and their survivors. That politicians are doing a grave injustice to the fallen heroes, ...their families and all the people of New York City, THEN PLEASE COPY AND PASTE THIS TO YOUR WALL

In response, I posted this:
My understanding is that it is (1.) not a mosque, and (2.) several blocks from the far northeast corner of the WTC property. It will not be visible from any part of WTC property, nor will it allow a view of anything within two blocks of the site. The blocks surrounding the WTC site are full of bars, pawn shops, and porn: Does this honor the victims of 9/11?

Do I think this location has been made too controversial by inaccurate reporting of what it is? Yes. Should they move? Maybe. Maybe not. Mosques have been in lower Manhattan for decades. Do we next ask all of them to shut down?

As this story unfolds, I keep wondering: How far away will be considered appropriate to build ANY property associated with anything Islamic? How far do we push and restrict until we have rewritten the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? And what religion is next?

Check out this OpEd piece from the Washington Post. Balanced food for thought:

(So far, no one has agreed, disagreed, or liked this comment.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The way I see you

You with the sad eyes
don't be discouraged
oh I realize
it's hard to take courage
in a world full of people
you can lose sight of it all
and the darkness inside you
can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
shining through
I see your true colors
and that's why I love you
so don't be afraid to let them show
your true colors
true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow

Show me a smile then
don't be unhappy, can't remember
when I last saw you laughing
if this world makes you crazy
and you've taken all you can bear
you call me up
because you know I'll be there

Lyrics, Steinberg/Kelly. Photo, OrganicMom

How do you measure progress?

I recently took a huge leap of faith and invited Elizabeth to read my blog. I didn't think she actually would. I worried she would. The whole thing is so self-absorbed. Then again, it's the only thing in my life that honors me. God knows, nobody else puts much thought into me. Except Jolie.

While I'm off from work, I decided to spend some time each day reading my blog from the beginning. It helps me gain perspective on my progress as a patient and as an ever-evolving human being.

Now that I know someone else is reading--someone I know--I read with a different view. I wonder as I go along, "What the hell must she be thinking if she's reading this post?" I was surprised to see that I had mentioned Elizabeth three years ago. Timing is everything in relationships.

I'm not egotistical, but my blog is self-serving. I write for me, to benefit my own mental health. The fact that anyone else is interested just fascinates me.

Here is what I know so far:

  • I am not so angry now. I've gotten better at neutralizing the traumas of illness and unreliable people.
  • I need to make some friends.
  • I really do whine a lot about exercise.
  • My writing skills have not suffered during this time of brain compromise.
  • I am emotionally healthier than I've ever been since 2003.
  • I never want to have shingles again
  • "Shingles" and "Oz" are the two most-searched terms that land people on my blog via a search engine. Huh. Interesting.
I'm still tired and ugly, obsese, confused by the medical system, and confident that a good, solid lottery win will go a long way in making my life better.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another point of view

Keth Olberman provides some insight into the "Ground Zero Mosque." I learned a few things, reconsidered a few, too.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Abandon hope

Dear President Obama,

I like you, really, I do. I like the idea of you and what your election represented for so many Americans.

When you came into office, it was immediately apparent that the desperate people of America had tasked you with an impossible to-do list. Their hopes were huge and they wanted you to be the savior to fix everything that had gone to Hell in a handbasket in the preceding ten years.

You indicated that this would have to be a two-term to-do list.

I've watched you now these many months, and I'm worried that you aren't really focusing on the things that need to be priorities. Where is your fight? What is your plan?

I am not among those who wanted you to "take action" when the oil spill regurgitated itself all over the Gulf coast. Unlike so many others, I do understand that corporations can't expect the government to be ready and willing to mop up messes like this one after those same corporations have fought tooth and nail to make sure the government can't be involved in anything businesses do. It's not the job of the government to clean up after corporate America. Personal responsibility goes hand-in-hand with personal freedoms, so let's just say I understand this, even though you're getting the blame for this disaster.

Your choice for the newest Supreme Court Justice, well, I have to admit I'm baffled by that one. It seems to me that you'd want a hard-core Constitutional scholar in that position, or at the very least, someone who has worked as a judge before. I'm sure you have your reasons for this choice, but for now, the evidence does not point to your selection's deep experience in the field.

Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Darfur vs. China--now these are things that get my attention, but maybe not so much of yours. This troubles me. In addition, I cringe when I hear the ignorant opinionaters of this country demanding to see your birth records (do they really think no one checked?) or when they insist that having a Muslim parent makes you a Muslim, too. Hey, I was raised Catholic and I'm an atheist through and through, so I know that argument is nonsense. Apparently, there are people who think you don't enjoy freedom of religion, or that all Muslims are evil. They think you've been installed in office as part of a vast Muslim conspiracy.

These are the people who are not going to shut up about your ethnicity, your heritage, or your name. Their voices will clatter like pots and pans as they drown out reasonable arguments and even facts regarding who you are and what you stand for.

This week, you may have sealed your fate for 2012. The year is supposed to be a disaster, anyway, but when you came out in support of the mosque at Ground Zero, you pretty much admitted to not wanting a second term. Is the Democratic National Committee grooming someone at this point?

Here's the thing. Your statement about freedom of religion was sensible, factual, and backed by the Constitution. Still just because it is possible and legal to do something doesn't mean it should be done.

This mosque issue is an emotional one. There is no way the average American is going to see the wisdom of celebrating the Muslim faith two blocks from where jihadists gouged out the soul of this country in the name of Islam.

Can they build there? Yes. Is it legal? Yes. Is it their Constitutional right to practice their religion wherever they want? Yes. Is it in poor taste to demand use of that particular location? Absolutely. Is it going to foster understanding and a bridging of cultures? No, because America is horrified. The message is lost in the greater sea of grief and anger seeping from a wound that is still raw. What Americans hear is a voice declaring, "We want to crush you and everything you value. We violated you because we want you to be more like us. Let's start here, where you're sure to feel we're rubbing your face in it." This is followed by a voice much like Ann Coulter's screeching, "SEE? We told you so!"

I have read extensively on this topic of the mosque near Ground Zero. The people involved appear to have good and honorable intentions, but they still don't have a clue about the power of perception.

It's a matter of principle for both sides. The organization doing the building believes they should go forward because they have a right to do so. The public and many in government are appalled by the lack of sensitivity and believe that this building belongs somewhere--anywhere--else. The state of New York offered a land swap, but the Islamic center developers rejected the offer because they want what they want where they want it. How can this be perceived as anything but a hostile act?

President Obama, your statement about freedom of religion was a noble one--and accurate, too, but no one has said Muslims are being denied the right or opportunity to practice their faith. No, the point is, it is arrogant and in poor taste to build a mosque there, on that particular spot.

Mr. President, I think you missed the point, the big picture, and quite probably, the re-election.

"About a million members"

Hey, here's a friendly heads up: If your religion requires you to go out and pound the pavement to recruit new members, you are in a cult.

I have never had any interest in sharing this experience with you, and I've made this clear.

Get the fuck off my property.

Note: We are not ambiguous on this point. There is a sign next to the doorbell that reads: "No Solicitiation. Definition: We do not want to hear about your religion. We do not want to buy anything. We do not want to sign your petition. Basically, if you are not USPS, FedEx, UPS, or a friend of ours, you are trespassing, so do not ring the doorbell."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Maybe she'll get a movie or sitcom and be gone

Kristen Wiig is so ufunny and excruciatingly irritating, I have had to stop watching Saturday Night Live. To make matters worse, she's in almost every sketch.

Is she Lorne Michaels's girlfriend? Does he really think she's funny? I find every one of her characters to the point of being unwatchable.

Maybe she'll move on to movies or something and I can have my Saturday night show back. For now, I'm heading to bed.