Friday, December 23, 2011

Enter, stage right.

I'm here, I'm back, and I have a lot to say. Well, tomorrow. For the moment, I'm trying to give my husband the gift of a clean and tidy house, but I'm three sheets to the wind (in the holiday spirit), so really, not tonight.

In the meantime, please stay up late and enjoy one of my absolutely favorite things tonight: Darlene Love's annual performance on Letterman. Also, you can see a mashup of all of her performances to date by clicking here. Sorry, there's no way to embed it and you'll have to endure a commercial first.

Until Christmas Eve...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Not really gone

I'll be back very soon. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Welcome, guest

If you come to visit me, it is likely you will be reasonably comfortable. If you come to stay in my home, I will have a place for you--an actual bedroom dedicated to the purpose of giving my guests a space of their own for as long they need it.

You'll have your own room. It's small and we still haven't painted it, but it will be clean: dusted, vacuumed, and mopped. You will sleep on a bed. It's not an old bed passed down, worn out, and then relegated to the guest room. No, it was purchased new for the guest room, it's a queen size, and it sports a firm pillow-top mattress, soft 100-percent cotton sheets, a fluffy comforter, and, unless you kick him out (feel free), a large, grumpy tabby cat. You will have plenty of pillows of varying density and fluffiness. These are no lumpy, flattened, old cast-off pillows. They are hypoallergenic, new, and intended to help foster a good night's sleep--and there are lots of them.

You will not have to live out of your suitcase. There is a dresser--completely empty--and most of a closet with more hangers than you're likely to need. Line up your shoes on the closet floor. There's plenty of room.

I will not expect you to bring a travel alarm clock or to use your phone for this purpose. No, you'll find a stylish Sony clock-radio on the bedside table, next to the fresh box of Kleenex and the TV remote.

Yes, you have your own TV. It's connected to cable and it has a nice sleep-timer feature. If you prefer to read, you'll find a stack of current magazines at the foot of the bed, along with crossword puzzle books and a sharpened pencil. Should you need them, there are disposable earplugs in the nightstand drawer.
If you stay at my house, you won't be tossing and turning on a rock-hard futon that you had to wrestle into the bed position. You won't have to climb over storage boxes, craft supplies, or a dusty treadmill. You will, however, have to share a bathroom. There's nothing we can do about that until we save up the $10,000 it will cost to gut the half-bath connected to the master bedroom and turn it into a bathroom with a shower.

If you forget your toothbrush or any toiletries, don't worry; I'll have whatever you need. I'll show you the extra pillows and blankets in the guest room closet, and I'll put a nightlight in the bathroom so you don't have to fumble there in the dark. You'll have fluffy towels, and I'll show you where to find more towels and washcloths if you need them.

I'll make sure that your favorite morning beverage is on hand, and you'll have access to a healthy breakfast.

I will not ask you to strip the bed or even make it up. Don't worry about it--I'll do my laundry. It's my house. You are my guest. Relax.

All of this was on my mind when I went to visit my mother last week. She doesn't just insist I come, she demands it, and yet, she doesn't make any effort to create a comfortable space for me. Her "spare room" is used for storage. The futon was an after-thought. The guest bathroom is crammed full of knick-knacks, and although there are four full sets of towels hanging in there, they are only "on display." The hand towels are off-limits, too. There is a roll of paper towels under the sink for hand drying.

I've made a fair amount of visits to friends and families over the years. I try to be a good and unintrusive house guest, but I'm sure I don't always succeed. I do make an effort, though. As a houseguest, I deeply appreciate being made to feel welcomed and knowing that someone put some thought into my comfort. Please don't make me sleep on a couch. I have an AeroBed. It's nice. I'll bring it if you have no other space for me. And here's the thing--if you don't have space for me, I'm OK with staying in a nearby hotel. Don't demand that I stay with you while also expecting me to be OK with being terribly uncomfortable.

To those friends who get it, thank you. Thank you for the real bed, the space for my stuff, and for acknowledging that adults require a certain amount of privacy. Thanks for checking if I needed anything. Thanks for the heads up that I might need earplugs given the kids' noisy morning routine. Thanks for welcoming me. I hope I can do the same for you someday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

May is a tired girl. I just spent five days in Florida. First, I visted with a friend from college who I rarely get to see. We had to arrange it covertly and then break the news to my mother that I was coming to Florida, but she was going to be forced to share the time. She wasn't happy, but she got over it.

I got home late last night--around midnight, along with a cold and an earache. Ah, the hazards of air travel during cold and flu season. At least it hit me on the last day of vacation and not earlier.

The weather was simply perfect. Walking into the 35-degree night air outside of the airport here made for a harsh return. I'll get used to the cold temperatures, but as long as I live, I will never get accustomed to living so far from the coast. For me, it's all about the water.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dark days

The fall is hard for me. I can't pin down what it s--the change of seasons, the shortening of days, the drop in temperature, the frenzied pace, or some other unknown quality. Fall makes me sad. It also aggravates my SAD--Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I recently ordered a fancy wake-up light so I can go back to using my SAD light for its intended therapy. Currently, it's connected to a timer and I've been getting awakened by a big blast of photons every morning. It works, but I'm going for something more natural and subtle so as not to start my day startled and surly from now until May.

Intellectually, I know I"m not actually depressed. Unfortunately, my brain chemistry wants to tell me otherwise. I'm not taking the bait.

The right to die

Dr. Oz and Montel Williams took on one of my favorite topics. Here's the link to watch it online, in case you missed it: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/do-you-have-right-die-pt-1

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Update

I haven't stopped blogging. I just got tired of talking about myself, but I haven't yet found something else to discuss that I know as much about.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's just that time of year

I have been doing the same exact work for 15 years. One-and-a-half decades. I don't mean, working in the same field, I mean, quite exactly, the same two jobs at the same exact place. Well, except for when my office got moved down the hall, which means my location changed the distance of half of a city block.

I don't dislike my job, exactly, yet I feel restless and bored. I've done all I can to make the tasks at hand as interesting as possible, but by now it's all just variations on a theme. Fifteen years is a long time with the same job title in a job that has absolutely no opportunity for advancement.

That didn't come out right. I'm not interested in advancement, just variety. The work needs to be interesting. It needs to engage me. My current jobs are something I could do in my sleep, although, to be clear, I don't phone it in.
Aside from the bad economy, a shrinking work force, blah, blah, blah, I'm 50 years old. I can't reinvent myself. Even if I could, what in the world would I do for a living? And by that I mean an actual, income-generating, mortgage-paying income.

May needs to win the lottery. No--the Powerball.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Who would hang on for me?

For the past week or so, I've been thinking about my darkest days and things people told me about my condition.

One thing I heard again and again was that I had to get better because people needed me. Refugees here need me. People at work need me. I have an obligation to be there for the people who need me.

Some time ago, I balked at this notion of me owing anyone anything. I don't owe anyone anything. Just because I'm generous or the kind of person who seems to have a pathological need to help others or people are accustomed to me being there as the go-to girl doesn't actually obligate me to do any of it.

I was thinking about this and the notion that some have shared that I was obligated to stay alive, to get well because people were counting on me being there to help or simply to be interesting. Really? I always contended that I was merely a convenience that would be missed--not a person whose absence would be mourned. I still think I was spot-on in this conclusion.

While taking a shower one day this week, I thought about this bizarre concept of being obligated to keep giving, helping, and sharing simply because people are used to it. Then I thought about it in terms of me. I wondered who would feel obligated not to give up on him or herself because May would suffer.

The truth is, the people who know me, both those related and not, just expect me to be OK, to get over it, to soldier on, to survive my own thoughts. I can't think of one person who would ever reach the depths of misery I have and then think, "No, I must hold on-- May won't be OK without me."

The truth is, there is not one person on this planet who would hold themselves to the standards of survival and resilience to which I have been held. In fact, I believe I'd be the last person anyone would consider when taking stock of their own life.

It's a lonely life.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You reap what you sow

Sonja is one of the most uncompassionate people I know. She reminds me of the scene in "When Harry Met Sally" where Harry explains to Sally that she's the worst kind of high-maintenance woman: "You think you're low maintenance, but you're really high maintenance." Substitute compassionate for maintenance and that's the situation with Sonja.


Throughout the years of this blog, I've written about Sonja and her hard heart (that she thinks is compassionate and generous). A particular sticking point for me has been her belief that she loves people, when, in fact, she likes them until they have a problem, in which case she says she can no longer be involved with or care about them--because it is too painful to her to worry about them.

I believe what others would do because they consider it the humane thing, she sees as granting favors or special kindness.

Over the years I have struggled with this relationship and its frustrations. We were close at one time, but when my brain went awry, Sonja became angry, critical, and judgmental. Maybe it was some sort of warped, tough-love approach to a mental health crisis. I was appalled on many levels, but not the least of which was knowing she had a degree in clinical psychology. She has come to remind me of that commercial where the drill sergeant is a therapist telling his patient to toughen up and stop whining about being sad. It was a lot like that.

I know, however, that if you were to ask Sonja about it, she would say that she did a great kindness by letting me keep my job when I was barely able to do it--especially because she found me to be irritating and nearly intolerable to be around. But she never witnessed the mean and callous things she said to me along the way. She felt justified.

She would probably say that I said plenty of tactless and mean things along the way, too, but I would point out that I was under the influence of very strong medications that altered the functions of my brain's frontal lobe—what was her excuse?

Somewhere in 2007, I came to the conclusion that the people who purported to be my friends were, in fact, fair-weather friends. They all liked a very specific version of me, but not one of them was in it for the long haul, the ugly moments, or the unpleasantries of my condition. Instead, they all decided to lay low (lie low?) until I was better and the coast was clear, so to speak. I never forgave any of them--not one. Instead, I knew that for my own protection, I needed to immediately stop having emotional relationships with people. Period. I would go through the motions, but develop no meaningful attachments. All existing attachments had been severed by the sharp gashes of betrayal and abandonment. How dare I develop a condition that made them uncomfortable?

In 2007, my therapist asked me to write down a list of core beliefs about my situation. She wanted to know what I believed was my reality and how I perceived the fundamental truths of my life. I blogged about it, but published an abbreviated version of what I actually turned in on therapy day. The therapist’s goal was to find out where I was over-reacting or seeing things through the lens of emotion and where my perceptions were based on factual data. One of the things I wrote about was how angry and irritated Sonja was toward me.

Later, I wrote about someone Sonja and I knew who was suicidal and who had cut off communication with everyone. He was later found dead in a lake several states away. Throughout the time this man was missing, Sonja fumed. She said he was selfish and irresponsible and this was terribly unfair to his children. At one point, she cried about his kids, but never—not once—did she ever display any compassion or sympathy for the man himself or what he might have been going through. Instead, she said he brought his problems on himself and this was an unnecessary way to solve them. Word.

Now we’re here. In a strange and karmic twist of fate, Sonja’s husband has developed a health condition that has led him to being suicidal. She can’t cope. For months she has asked me what to do, what to do to help him.

At first, I was resentful. I thought it was very poor form for someone who had been so irritated by and dismissive of my suicidal thoughts to ask for my advice when her husband’s crisis came. Sonja would talk to her husband on the phone or read an email and come into my office and say, “Grant isn’t doing well. I can’t be his therapist. He needs professional help. I can’t take this.”

Over the months, it was this phrase, “I can’t take this. I can’t take this” that Sonja reiterated, along with, “I can’t be his therapist.” But nothing changed. She didn’t get help for herself or her husband. She continued to fret and say she couldn’t take it, but honestly, I never once heard her say anything along the lines of, “I’m so afraid I’m going to lose him. I’m afraid he’s going to go through with it. He’s in pain.” No. Only, “I can’t take this. He needs to get himself some help.”

At some point, I told Sonja that the best and most critical thing she could do was to ask Grant what he wanted—what would it take for him to feel better. She never asked, but from time to time said, “I don’t know what he wants. I can’t help him.” I told her that above all, she needed to tell him that she loved him and that she was there for whatever he needed. She said, “I did tell him that. It didn’t make any difference.” I told her to keep telling him, and to be sincere about it.

On Thursday of this week, Sonja said Grant was having a particularly hard time. She popped her head in my office and said, “So, if somebody keeps talking about suicide, that’s good, right? It means they aren’t actually going to do anything?”

I stood up and walked toward her. I tried to sound patient. She had learned nothing in seven years. All the articles I had given her, the knowledge I had tried to share, and there had been no progress.

“Sonja, no, it doesn’t mean that at all. When someone talks openly and repeatedly about wanting to commit suicide, they are actually telling you they are seriously considering it. Ask him. Ask him if he has a plan.”

I don’t know if my voice sounded sharp or impatient, but it was exactly how I felt. It seemed to me that she hadn’t taken any of us seriously. Not me, not the colleague, not Grant.

I sat at my computer and pulled up the website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I emailed her the link with a note saying “What to watch for. I’m not sure what options you’re hoping for, but I don’t recommend forcing the issue. Hauling someone off to the hospital against their will is unpleasant and nothing ever made me feel worse about myself—like a wayward pet forced to spend time at the pound as a lesson.” Then I got up and walked over to her desk and said, “That toll-free number is for you, actually. Grant won’t call, but you can. They also help the people who are concerned about those in crisis. They’ll answer your questions and tell you where you can get help for yourself.” I could tell by the look on her face she wasn’t going to call, and my resentment rose a few more notches.

How could she not see that it was inappropriate to ask me about suicidal tendencies and even more inappropriate to ask me how to get her husband to stop talking about suicide? The woman she refers to as her “Mom in America” made three suicide attempts in the 1980s. Surely, she would be the better resource on this topic. Every time I thought about it, I was reminded again of how bad I have felt, and how, at my worst, Sonja was among those who scolded me, scoffed at me, and ignored me, but never comforted or encouraged me. I was overwhelmed and alone…You should take some time to know how that feels.

Sonja left for a meeting. A couple of hours later, she came back. She said something else about Grant and not being able to take it. I walked into her office and said, “Look. If you want him to stop talking about it, threaten to have him taken into protective hospital custody. Frank used to threaten me with that, and it worked. I mean, it didn’t change what I was thinking, but it certainly got me to stop bothering anyone else with it.”

Sonja looked at me. “He’s not bothering me. I love him and I don’t want him to die. Where did you ever get that he was bothering me? He’s my husband.”

I was confused. I must have looked confused. Sonja went on, “Are you saying that you think the reason I’m upset is because he’s ‘bothering’ me?”

I was honest. “Yes. I thought that’s what you meant. I mean, when it was me, all you got was angry and impatient. Nobody cared. You all just wanted me to go back to being normal.”

Sonja was obviously angered. “That is not true! That is not true at all. What did you think I meant when I said Grant needed help?

“I thought you were irritated because he wouldn’t get help.”

“Didn’t it occur to you that maybe I was concerned about my husband and I love him? Honestly? You thought I was bothered and wanted him to shut up??”

She spun her computer monitor around to show me a loving email she had written to her husband. “Would I have written that if I were ‘bothered’?”

“OK,” I said, “I misunderstood you. And that email is good. You’ve made progress, but you never said anything like that to me. You only ever got annoyed.”

Sonja burst out, “That is not true and you obviously aren’t remembering things as they were. “

I said, “No, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that point. I have a good memory and yes, you, Frank, and all the friends I no longer have were annoyed.”

Sonja said a few more things, grabbed her bag, and left for the day. The gist of what was bothering her was that I thought she was capable of being annoyed instead of concerned. She couldn’t believe I had missed her point. She couldn’t believe I thought she was so heartless as to be annoyed by her husband’s state of mind and not in her own distress from the fear of his possible further decline.

As I thought about it later, I was surprised. The truth was, it really never had crossed my mind that she was anything but annoyed with Grant. She had never said she was afraid he was going to kill himself, only that she wanted him to stop saying those things.

The conversation haunted me for hours. I didn’t feel bad, exactly, for misunderstanding. It was unfortunate because honestly, I wasn’t making a character judgment on Sonja, although she certainly thought I was. I had no intention of making her feel bad, especially when I know she has a crisis going on with her husband.

What haunted me was that fact that it really never had crossed my mind that Sonja was anything but annoyed. I was sure, all along, that what she wanted was for me to tell her how she could get Grant to stop irritating her with talk of suicide and unworthiness. Why would I think any different than I had when I had only a very specific set of experiences to refer to? My assumptions were based on seven years of watching this person get pissed off when people she knew were suicidal. My assumptions were based on the person who has a history of writing people off because she “can’t bear to worry” about them when they are in crisis.

I understand how I came to the conclusion I did. I do not understand how Sonja can’t understand how I came to that conclusion.

Perhaps she doesn’t remember the day she sat across from me. It was one of the worst weeks of my life. I had told her straight-out that I wanted to die. She looked furious. She stabbed her finger into the air pointing in my direction and punctuatin each word she said, “You know how I feel? I’m angry. I’m angry at you because you’re a quitter. I expected more of you and you need to try harder to get better.” I’ve turned that over and over in my mind the last few years, but I have never been able to see any love, comfort, or encouragement in her words.

What’s nagging me more than any of that, though, is that I think I don’t really care what happens to Grant, and, I can’t believe I have lost the ability to read people or to perceive a situation from another person’s experience. I depend on my ability to pick up nuances and to understand what people aren’t saying. This is how I know what to say to people and what to avoid. It’s how I stay on the good side.
Seriously, I’ve never been this blinded by my own emotional filters, and that worries me.

I'm not sure how I feel about not feeling much interest in anyone else, either. I may offically be unsympathetic and anti-social.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer is unofficially over. This causes me some anxiety as I know that the days of SAD are right around the corner. I'm not convinced that there are enough watts in my daylight-simulating lamp to battle it this year. Every winter, the situation gets worse.

For now, I'm enjoying good weather and being outside as much as I can. Clearly, I need to move to Hawaii.

I won $3 in the lottery this week, so if this keeps up, I'll eventually have enough money saved to move someplace better. Eventually.

It makes me say "Hmmmm."

I don't know if I'm more intrigued that I have five followers on Blogger, or that I have 15 on Twitter. Either way, it gives me pause.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Illusions give me privacy

Everyone thinks I'm good, I'm cured, I'm OK, I'm safe, danger passed. I'm chipper, social, reasonably energetic and productive.

I'm never OK. Not even close.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Home alone

The second week of my vacation is here. Before it got here, I planned a long list of activities related to overall housework and household organization. Sometime over the weekend, I decided I wasn't going to do any of those things. It's my vacation, and I usually spend too much of my down time trying to make up for my overall disinterest in all things domestic.

There are plenty of things I could do that are supposed to be enjoyable. I could read any of the dozens of books I haven't been able to get to. I could make jewelry. Bake. Go to a museum. Write (that one's a bit of a struggle). Go hiking. Ride my bike. Work out. Go to a movie. Those sorts of things.

It's not a lack of options that is bothering me. It's the fact that no matter how I spend my time this week, I will be spending it alone.

It gets old. It is a relentless daily reminder that the only person willing to spend time with me lives a couple of states away (and I'm sure she reached her exposure limit last week).

I'm not eager to go back to work. I strive to relax and enjoy these schedule-free days that are open from end to end. Eventually, though, being so isolated just doesn't feel very good. No, not at all.

Postcard from here. Always from here.

Summer is the best time of year. The weather is agreeable, the days are longer, and there's more to do. This means I tend to ruminate less and accomplish more. The burdens that seem intolerable in the cold, gray days of winter seem much more manageable in summer's sunlight.

I'm deep in the Southwest U.S. at the moment, and the heat doesn't bother me. Frankly, it's not significantly cooler back home. The change of scenery shifts my mood ever so slightly to a better setting. The Sonoran Desert agrees with me.

Places have been on my mind a lot lately. Every year, when it's time for vacation once again, I know that Frank will opt to not participate (he prefers to dedicate his vacation days to home improvement). This bothers me tremendously. I could tavel alone, but I simply don't want to. In lieu of adventure travel, I visit people I know. There's nothing wrong with that, but at some point, I'd like to stop depending on friends and family to help me have vacations.

My whole life, I believed that I would eventually get out and see the world. Granted, I got off to a good start in my teens and I've done a fair amount of domestic travel, but a vacation spent traveling somewhere new, a real adventure, hasn't been on the agenda in decades. My passport expired in 1981 and I've never had any legitimate need to renew it.

My chances seem to be slipping away, eroding as time passes. I am 50 years old. I figure I have twenty good years left, at most, to travel comfortably and in good health. The last twenty years have passed quickly, and I now I fear that the next twenty will find me having covered no ground at all in the end.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The world is full of cruel ironies

May is having a very, very bad morning.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where the blog has May gone??

I'm still here. I have a full brain still; I just haven't had time to sit down and write through the many thoughts filling my head.

So many thoughts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

grumble

I am thinking about lunch. I don't want what I have on hand, and I didn't bring anything with me to work. I may have to get off my ass and find something outside. Maybe I'll just go hungry.

Nah.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Maybe it's something I ate

Weird dreams have slithered into my head. It's been going on for weeks. They play like full-length movies. Sometimes the dreams make sense, and sometimes they are more obtuse than a Luis Buñel film.

I always wake up 4:13 or 4:43. I know this because we have a clock that projects the time onto the ceiling in big, red digits that I can see without my glasses. It's a little creepy, frankly, to always wake up at the same time and for no particular reason other than having had a bizarre, usually disturbing, dream.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

At long last and may it last long!




Summer's here
I'm for that
Got my rubber sandals
Got my straw hat
Got my cold beer
I'm just glad that it's here

Summer's here
That suits me fine
It may rain today
But I don't mind
It's my favorite time of the year
And I'm glad that it's here

Old man wintertime
He goes so slow
It's ten degrees below, you know
You can take your ice and snow
And let my balmy breezes blow

Yeah, the water is cold but I've been in
Baby, lose the laundry and jump on in
I mean all God's children got skin
And it's summer again

Old man wintertime
He goes so slow
It's ten degrees below, you know
You can take your ice and snow
And let my balmy breezes blow

Summer's here
I'm for that
Got my rubber sandals
Got my straw hat
Drinking cold beer
Man I'm just that I'm here
It's my favorite time of the year
And I'm glad that it's here, yeah

1981 James Taylor, from the album, Dad Loves His Work

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The best

Someone took this picture of me a few days ago while I was giving a presentation at a community event. I think this is, hands down, the best photo anyone has ever taken of me.

A long way, but then not

Every day, I wake up and think about dying. Specifically, I wonder if the burning, cramping pain around my liver is anything that might kill me, sparing me the effort of doing it myself someday.

I have no other symptoms apart from the pain, so I remain confident that it's yet another uncomfortable but benign condition. No, I have not seen a doctor about it, nor do I intend to, just as I have set aside the nonsense of pap smears and pelvic exams, mammograms, annual physicals, and just about anything else having to do with doctors.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the dentist. I still do that twice a year. My dentist is fabulous, and he never tries to sell me any procedure that isn't warranted. So far, he's not made a dime from me apart from whatever insurance pays for checkups and cleanings. He doesn't even do X-rays because, well, they don't appear to be necessary.

While we were chatting about his practice's new logo, somehow the topic of my post-herpetic neuralgia came up. Probably around the time I was talking about giving back all of the useless drugs that didn't help me when the DEA had their annual roundup. I mentioned that I should just have antivirals ready to go as a pre-emptive strike when symptoms start, but I've sworn off doctors, so I just suffer when the relapses come.

My dentist walked over to his computer and printed out a prescription for Valtrex. He smiled and said, "I'm obligated to tell you to use these at the first sign of, um, a herpes blister on your lip or in your mouth." We both laughed out loud. I love one-stop shopping.

I did not mention my daily thoughts related to my own demise. Why would I? That's between me and me.

Lately, I've been working a lot. Really a lot. That's something I was specifically told not to do because it's bad for my central nervous system--the part of me that doesn't work quite right but no one can diagnose. How does anyone know what's bad for me when they can't even identify the underlying problem?

Working a lot is my new suicide strategy. I've been working on several projects related to refugees, community education, awareness, as well as just creating a new work situation in my regular duties that will make the whole situation much more difficult and demanding. I hope to collapse and be done with it. This way, no one can say that I killed myself, but more importantly, even if I do take the blame, no one can accuse me of having wasted my life. Everything I do these days is making the world a better place. I'm helping humanity. I'm helping my coworkers. I'm bending over backwards to be useful around the house, to work in the garden, to keep the place neat.

I'm a lot of things, but I don't ever want to be a drag on anyone. Useful it is, then.

I have no obligation to be a good person. I could, theoretically be a slacker and that would be OK, too. Instead, though, I'm hoping to go out having worked my ass off making the most of what I have to offer to the world: Compassion (and it is, actually, sincere), project management skills, an analytical, problem-solving mind, and a dedication to hard work. I'm going to give all I have and hope it kills me.

I have no friends here where I live. I am awkward in social situations and because all I do is work, I am not interesting to talk to. I don't expect the friend situation to change anytime soon. work fills the gaps and isn't nearly as painful as exercise. It is painful for me to know that people I like don't like me back and can barely contain their contempt. This situation is very real. It is often more painful to know this than to feel what my nerves are doing to me.

My body hurts. A lot. Constantly. It's not just my liver or pancreas or whatever is causing me pain in my upper right abdomen. No, my pelvis feels like it's shattering. My right hip hurts so badly, sometimes I can't sit or stand comfortably. My right knee is on fire. My lower abdominal cramps can take my breath away.

Ah, but as we know, according to western medicine, I'm just a nutjob and this is some sort of emotional problem. Doctors. Why bother? I will not be humiliated again. Well, I likely will be, but not by a doctor.

May Voirrey is exhausted. I am tired, worn out, and weary. I don't want to stay in a world where people like a very speficic version of me, but don't want anything to do with the real, complete version.

The week after my birthday, my friend Jolie was here. She commented on the plethora of birthday cards displayed in my living room. She said it was evidence that people cared about me. Looks can be deceiving. The display space was small, so it doesn't take much to fill it. A handful of cards can look like a bounty. There were four cards from my mother, all pointedly mocking my half-century birthday. There were two cards from my husband, a large fold-out card from my coworkers which most of them never bothered to get around to signing, one was from my real estate agent, one was from one of my brothers, one came from my insurance company, one from my boss, and one from my in-laws.

I do not consider this a very encouraging inventory of my value to the world on a personal level.

My inherent dorkiness and lack of feeling loved as I am is what is killing me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

True, that.

My name is May Voirrey and I try to make the world a better place every single day that I choose to be alive.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Food for thought: Zero calories


One of my new favorite columns online: Body Wars on Salon.com.

Well, duuuuh.

There has been some buzz going on about a research study recently published by the university of Arizona. the study looked at global attitudes about obesity and found that in places where being overweight was once seen as a positive, stigma is growing.

In some places attitudes are merely shifting, but in countries like the U.S., the psychological damage related to obesity is becoming profound. A quote from the published study shows just how warped our perception about weight has become:

"The participants were asked to choose whether they would rather be obese or have one of 12 socially stigmatized conditions, such as alcoholism or herpes. In many cases, the women would rather have more of the other conditions, with 25.4 percent preferring severe depression and 14.5 percent preferring total blindness over obesity."

Having been both obese and depressed, I am well aware that both conditions are deeply stigmatized and social judgment is pervasive. I am not depressed now, but I know that if I were to fall ill again, I would not take any medication that has weight gain as a side effect.

Weight gain was one the top two reasons I stopped taking all of the medications that were supposed to help my chronic pain and neurological blips.

So, yeah, I'm with the study participants. I would rather suffer terribly than be fat. It all comes down to social acceptance.

Click here to link the study. To read a much better commentary than mine about this, click here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Heart of Darkness

I've been thinking a lot about compassion lately. It's a quality I want to embrace more readily. This is a struggle. This is a struggle because I am inherently a judgmental person.

Many people who know me believe I am a liberal, through and through. This is actually not the case. I think I'm balanced. I am very liberal on some topics, but down-right narrow-minded on others. This doesn't make me a bad person. It means that I hate many of the realities of this world.

I think the Second Amendment was a huge mistake. It made sense at the time in the context it was written, but I'm pretty sure today's gun laws were not what our founding fathers had in mind. I agree with Chris Rock: Bullets should cost $5,000 then there wouldn't be any "innocent bystanders." And really, is anyone actually hunting wild game with semi-automatic weapons?

I don't think that living in public housing should be easy. It shouldn't be a way of life. I spend quite a bit of time in the public housing complexes in my county, and I always come away discouraged because of what I see. Here's what I propose. Anyone who wants the assistance and breathing room public housing provides should not be allowed to consume alcohol or recreational drugs at any time while living in taxpayer-funded housing. Mandatory random drug testing. Anyone, male or female, of childbearing age should have to be on birth control for the duration of the time they are in public housing. It should be a condition of receiving assistance. Additional babies would not equal additional assistance dollars. All family planning services would be free for residents, as would classes in nutrition, health, financial literacy, and those for GED preparation. Daycare would be free for those parents who who work or attend school in a certificate program. Get convicted of a crime, lose your lease.

School administrators who suspend a five-year-old kindergartener for slapping another kid's hand in response to that kid snatching the first kid's Play-Dough, well, they should be fired. They obviously lack critical thinking skills and have no clue about the purpose of kindergarten as it relates to child development.

Panhandlers should be required to have a permit and their earnings should be taxed.

When people intentionally take up two parking spots to avoid getting scratches on their car, their cars should be vaporized.

Taggers should go to jail.

Smokers and the morbidly obese should have to pay more for health insurance.

Hospice care should be free. Counseling for end-of-life options and decisions should be mandatory. And free.

Banks would not be allowed to screw their customers--the people whose money keeps them in business--with greed.

Food stamps should only cover healthful foods. Period. No junk, no soda.

All religious organizations should be taxed as the businesses they really are.

No more pork barrel projects, agricultural subsidies, energy industry tax breaks, etc.

At election time, there should be no bilingual ballots. No, no,no. Learning English is a requirement of gaining citizenship and has been for a very long time. Therefore, nobody who is eligible to vote should even need a bilingual ballot.

The pledge of Allegiance should be restored to its original authored form, and the words "under God" (added by conservatives in the 1950s) should be taken out.

Pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to advertise to the consumer, not should they be allowed to wine/dine or sell to physicians. Physicians should be required to take a certain number of professional development credits each year, and none of it can be presented or sponsored by any pharmaceutical.

And that is the not-so-compassionate world according to May Voirrey.

It has advantages

While watching the finale of "The Amazing Race" last night, my husband started to visibly cringe when all of the participants--male and female--had to undergo a Brazilian body waxing. While Frank winced at the coverage of hair being ripped from human flesh, I was absorbed by my own attempts to imagine participating in the episode. I was puzzled, actually, as I tried to imagine what would happen to me in that situation.

Here's the thing. I have essentially no body hair. There is no lack of hair on my head, but my arms and legs, which used to have a somewhat downy covering of baby-fine blond hair, are almost entirely hair-free. I do not have to shave my underarms because there is nothing there to shave. Occasionally I will sprout one or two lone, fine underarm hairs, but otherwise, the skin is smooth, soft, and hairless.

I wasn't always like this, though. I was never a particulary hirsute person at all, bu somewhere in my 30s, my skin stopped producing hair. No one has ever been able to explain this to me.

There is an exception: My big toe, and that's just a bizarre anomaly, all things considered.

A Brazilian body wax would probably strip me of my skin. Ewwww.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No wonder I'm tired

That's a lot of laps around the sun.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Goodbye, my friends and enemies

Today was the DEA's National Take-Back Prescription Drugs event. I knew it was coming, as did Frank. He wanted me to clear out the Cabinet of Pharmaceutical Delights, now that the only prescription medication I take is hormones.

What Frank doesn't comprehend is that I've been keeping those medications "just in case." In case it all happens again. In case my brain implodes. In case I want to kill myself. Mostly, I was holding onto all of those medications in case I decided to kill myself.

Last night, Frank asked me what I was going to get rid of. I told him that I had to think about it. At about 11:00 last night, I held a meeting with The Cabinet of Pharmaceutical Delights. I lined up all of the bottles (about 35 total) and explained that not everyone was going to be able to stay.

All combined, the medications would have made a fabulously lethal cocktail guaranteed to grant me a painless exit from this world. My plan has always been to wait for a night with sub-zero temperatures, heavily overdose myself on everything on hand, and then go and lie down outside (out front, in front of the porch, so my body would be convenient and easy to move), and just die from either the drugs or hypothermia. My stash includes an anti-emetic to help guarantee a successful exit.

When I saw all of the bottles lined up along the counter, it brought a sad realization about how hard I have tried to find relief from my brain, from my thoughts, and from my physical discomfort. So much money, so much science, so much disappointment.

It was time to cull the stash, at least enough so Frank would feel I was sincere about getting rid of "dangerous" drugs. I started.


  • Lyrica: gone. It made me fat and stupid. I estimate I had about $800 worth of pills.

  • Lexapro: gone. It made me live in a severe mixed state.

  • Wellbutrin: gone. It made me super-manic and sent me into the stratosphere.

  • Trazadone. Hmmm. I never took it. It was prescribed for sleep, actually, but when I read it was an anti-psychotic for schizophrenics, I was so embarrassed and frightened, I refused to take it. I heard it could be lethal in an overdose, though, so I kept refilling the prescription anyway. I decided to keep it. I'm not convinced I won't need it some day.

  • Vicodin: gone. Makes me throw up relentlessly.

  • Baclofen. Keep.

  • Ambien. gone. Mostly, it made me hypno-shop online. It also made me cry relentlessly.

  • Lamictal. gone. Unnecessary.

  • Hydroxyzine. Keep. Prescribed to alter nerve activity, it failed at that but it does wonders when my allergies don't respond to anything else.

  • DriTuss. gone. It was old, and if I get pneumonia gain, I'll get something current.

  • DuraTuss. gone. See above.

  • Bextra. gone. Useless.

  • Celebrex. gone. Useless.

  • Diclofenac. Keep. A fabulous NSAID when ibuprofen can't get it done.

  • Oxycodone: gone. It was, like, 10 years old.

  • Lithium. gone. I do not have bipolar disorder. It also made me fat and screwed up my thyroid, so it deserves the incinerator.

  • Xanax, four different types. I kept all of it. I like it for when I can't sleep. It's out of my system quickly and doesn't seem to have side-effects.

  • Lunesta. gone. I swear it's a placebo.

  • Valium. Seriously? Keep.

  • Elmiron. gone. It did not cure my bladder of bad behavior.


There were others, nothing very interesting, most just way past their prime. I had forgotten they were in the house.

I dropped off my medications at a local hospital. That was the designated spot for my area. As I approached the drop-off area, I could see a couple dozen pharmacy students trying to prevent reams of pamphlets from blowing off a long row of tables. Ahead of me, a large group of police officers and DEA agents waited at the curb. I hadn't thought about this. I mean, I knew the DEA was sponsoring the event, but I thought the students would be greeting us as we pulled up. That was a benign image in my head throughout the process. It hadn't occurred to me I would have to be around cops. I took a deep breath and waited my turn in the drive-by drop-off.



I had a fairly large plastic bag of drugs on the seat next to me. I pulled it into my lap. When I was first in line, a smiling cop came to the window, extended a bright green nylon bag to take the deposit, and asked, "Do you have any questions? Would you like to talk to a pharmacist today?" I told him that, no, I was pretty up-to-date on my medication knowledge.

Before I could pull away, a young Asian man in a starched, white lab coat leaned in and handed me a pamphlet. He said, "Here's some information for you."

I glanced at the title, "Talking to your doctor about pain." I didn't know whether to laugh or throw it at him. Instead, I said, "That's timely. I'm in excruciating pain, but trust me, there is no pharmaceutical way to address it."

He insisted I talk to a pharmacist. Right then. I pulled over to the curb and waited a second. A man in his sixties approached my car. He shook my hand and introduced himself as the dean of the pharmacy program at the local university. Wow.

We chatted about my options--how I think I don't have any and how he believes I just haven't found the right doctor (yeah, no kidding). He suggested opioids, and I thought, "Buddy, that is the last thing I should have in my possession. That would make exit way too easy."

I smiled and thanked him for the information, while shingles neuralgia made it impossible for me to lean back in the driver's seat. As I pulled away, tears started coursing down my cheeks. I immediately regretted getting rid of the drugs I had hoped would help me, and then had kept on hand so they could kill me. I had just committed myself to a harder way out, if out was what I eventually chose. I had finally admitted that there was no better living through chemistry. My moods and brain blips were going to be all mine to bear, as were my physical pain and nervous system malfunctions.

I cried the whole way home. Ten point two miles.



Again? Seriously??

I have shingles again for the third time in three years.

Just.shoot.me.now.Please.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

You may be an asshole, but you're saving me money


Dear Dr. Asshole, A year ago, you called me a nutjob and said that my issues were obviously somatic illness. Of course, you had only known me about ten minutes at that point, but who am I to argue with someone who has a big medical degree and who works in a distinguished field such as cardiology? (I probably shouldn't mention that my primary care doctor said cardiologists are largely arrogant, egotistical pricks with a god complex).


In the year since that meeting, I have managed to essentially eschew all healthcare. Oh, I still go to the dentist, but that's it. A pretty smile matters when you work with people, as I do.


You see, at first I was angry, but then I realized you gave me permission to be set free. If I die from an illness, we can say that I may not have been a nutjob who did not have somatic illness after all, and we can also acknowledge that I accepted my life the way nature intended me to live it. There's something Zen about that, right? More people should do it.


Now that I don't have to pay any medical bills or deductibles, I can enjoy my earnings. That's a positive right there. We're currently interviewing landscapers and Pilates instructors.



I am free. I am unburdened by medical advice and other usually erroneous bullshit.


As my 50th birthday approaches, I have given myself permission to opt out of looking for trouble. It feels wonderful to be in charge with no egomaniacal but clueless doctors telling me what to do. Oh, I still have more pain and discomfort than I ever did, but now that I know it's apparently coming from my psyche (according to you), I pay it no mind. Unless I see blood (and that could just be the miracle of stigmata, right?), I see no reason for concern since you saw no reason for concern.


Yes, as 50 looms on the horizon, I celebrate the discomforts I do not suffer. I take no medications except the one that spares me having a period! No gynecological exams! No colonoscopy! No annual physical! No mammograms! No inane forms to fill out!


Free at last! God almighty, I am free at last!

Friday, April 1, 2011

No privacy

In 2001, I set up a Yahoo! email account because my home account went all kaflooey for awhile. When I opened the Yahoo account, I set it up under a fake name, with corresponding fake personal information from birthday to home location. I never closed the account, and I still use it occasionally to answer questions on Yahoo Questions, and I get some newsletters that I've just never migrated to my regular account.

Today it appeared that my Yahoo email account had been spoofed, so I logged in to change my pasword. What I saw next was not only appalling, but it actually caused me to break out into a sweat. All of my real personal information was in my profile--my real name, my home address and telephone number, my personal email address, my work email address, my current city and state, and more. I clicked on a tab for something called "Y! Pulse," and it appears to be very similar to Facebook. Listed in the Pulse was something akin to an RSS feed showing an "update" every time I posted on this blog, and clearly labeled as "my" blog. Except this blog and the Yahoo email address are not linked in any way. At all. That I know of. This meant that anyone who had a "Yahoo Connection" to me could see these updates and then see my real identity as a blogger.

I thought I was going to be sick.

It took me about 20 minutes to delete all of my personal information in my profile and to undo any identity connections Yahoo had made on my behalf. Essentially, I returned my account and profile information to what it had been when I first set up the account and set all permissions for viewing even that information to "no one." How it all got changed in the first place is still a mystery to me, but now I can't stop stressing over who all saw that information and how long it might have been visible. Part of the reason I'm writing this post is to see if it shows up as an activity update in the Y! Pulse thing that I certainly never agreed to be a part of.

I still feel kind of sick to my stomach.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Down time

Most boring blogger ever. There's actually a lot on my mind--deep thoughts, the kind people actually seem to read--but I've decided to focus on the inane minutiae of my day because it's easier to write about:


No work today. I had such plans for myself, such a robust to-do list. Instead, I've spent the day puttering. Farting around. Being pseudo-productive.


After checking email, Facebook, and Dear Abby, it was time for a shower. After that, I spent an hour counting all of the loose change I had gathered from all over the house ($18.57) while also watching "I didn't know I was pregnant." Counting all of the change and organizing it for a future bank deposit certainly felt like I was doing something.


Next I took the time to brush the very hairy cat and cut some mats off of her underside. By then, it was almost time for lunch. I bought Miracle Noodles some time ago, but I've been putting off eating them once I realized they really only lend themselves to Asian recipes. The texture defies description, but if smothered in enough of any Thai sauce recipe, they're manageable.


I set out to cook up a Thai version of sesame noodles. Halfway through it occurred to me that the amount of sesame oil used in the recipe probably negated any benefit from the lack of calories in the noodles themselves. It took me an hour to actually produce lunch. Part of the problem is that cooking is the last frontier I haven't really conquered in terms of ADD. It just takes me longer.


Eventually, lunch was prepared, I ate it, it was still weird, and I had trashed the kitchen. Add 30 minutes kitchen cleanup. By then it was time to watch "The Doctors," during which I got the urge to bake oatmeal cookies. Maybe it's because I bought a massive plastic sack of Sunmaid raisins and vat of Quaker oats at Costco last week. Lately, I've been possessed by some bizarre streak of domesticity. Not sure where that's coming from, but so far, it has not inspired me to do any actual, useful, or necessary housework. Like cleaning. Unless you count brushing the cat.


Now it's late afternoon. I had to go out to the supermarket to buy sugar, butter, and brown sugar for the cookies (still not started, let alone baking).


Frankly, I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Glurg...

My brain is melting. Middle age is robbing me of cognitive function, sleep, IQ points, hipness, libido, metabolism, eyesight, and the ability to get a haircut that is not age-appropriate.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Being in the demographic

The school multipurpose room was packed. Students were stationed at tables and along the walls, ready to do their three-minute presentations about the intensive job-shadowing projects they had recently completed.

I was there in support of the refugee kids. I knew their parents wouldn't be coming, but it seemed important that a familiar adult show up in a gesture of support and solidarity.

Weaving my way through the crowd, I tried to figure out if there was any order to the arrangement of tables and projects. Someone called my name, and I felt a hand on my sleeve. It was Susan, the one-woman champion of refugee kids in our state. She doesn't work for anyone--technically she's unemployed, but she is, for all intents and purposes, both a social worker and a parent liaison. She works long days shuttling refugee kids to school, to appointments, to activities, and occasionally, to court or community service. She makes sure paperwork is completed, major assignments are understood, and grades are explained to parents who have no grasp of the U.S. education system.

Susan led me over to the table where Mohamed was ready to talk about his exposure to the field of acting. His poster listed traits of "Bad Acting" and "Good Acting." Unfortunately, the video he had worked so hard to film and edit as the culmination of his project would not run on the laptop that had been provided for the day.

After Mohamed finished telling us about good and bad acting, we headed to the corner of the room to hear his sister and her best friend tell us what they had learned about hunger in America and nutrition. The girls were giggly, but tried to pretend that we were just like anyone else who would stop by that afternoon.

While i listened to them recite statistics about why fast food is a nutritional nightmare, we were joined by Judy, the social worker who had helped shepherd these girls through middle school. As the presentation wrapped up, Debbie, a 43-year-old social worker from an agency similar to Boys and Girls Clubs, greeted Judy with a big hug.

We laughed that all four of us had come to the event because we were concerned that the refugee kids wouldn't have any adult support on this important day. The room was packed with students, siblings, parents, and teachers--and the four of us rounded out the mix. We joked about how it really does "take a village," and how happy we were to be in our village together. As villagers, we we were fairly well-coordinated in terms of what we were able to accomplish behind the scenes.

In the midst of this conversation, I had a brief thought about my previous life in the corporate world and how I tried so hard to fit in there, but with mixed results. I hadn't worried about fitting in among colleagues for a very long time. Then, I almost laughed out loud. I was looking down at my feet, and I realized that what I saw were four pairs of feet in black tights or socks, tucked into clunky black clogs. All four us were similarly dressed: long, loose skirt, a short, boxy, mostly-shapeless jacket, and a rumpled shirt, all in shades of black and brown. We were four frumpy middle-aged women who looked like we definitely played for the same team.

I never thought of myself as being in a particular work-style demographic, but now I see that our village has a very definite look. Hey, we're comfortable, we can easily sit on the floor in a house with no furniture, and if we get dirty doing that, it won't show.

Years from now, I doubt the kids will remember what any of of us wore, but I hope they'll remember that our bedraggled bunch made time to show up because it mattered.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Zits

OK, seriously. I'm almost 50 years old. What's up with the fucking acne? My face is a mess, and I feel just as bad about it now as I did 35 years ago. So gross.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

But remember

I am a good person.
I am kind and generous, even when I don't want to be.
I'm a safe and courteous driver.
I help people on a daily basis.
I'm dependable.
I work hard and I am productive.
I contribute to making the world a better place.
I vote, but not until I've researched everything on the ballot, even the judges.
I'm helpful.
I'm cooperative.
I'm responsible, ethical, and I try really hard to be considerate, although I recognize that one may be in the eye of the beholder.
I put money in other people's about-to-expire parking meters.
I'm punctual because it's polite, even though punctuality is a life challenge for me.
I'm careful to center my car in the parking space, and I'm extra-careful not to cause door dings on any vehicle near mine.
I'm obedient.
I put in extra effort in almost anything I take on.
I follow up.
I follow through.
I pay my bills, not only on time, but usually a month in advance.
I try not to be overtly rude, if I can help it.

I mention this because I don't ever want to give the impression that I just sit in a corner wringing my hands about the things that cause me anxiety. I actually try to live mindfully and to be as productive as I can be. For whatever that's worth.

Why I'm here

Really, I should stop whining about not having anyone to talk to. That's the purpose of this blog--to keep up the conversations in my head as if there were someone listening. Somewhere along the line, I started to get concerned about reader interest, but I never started writing here for anyone except me. It was because I really had no one to talk to.

I tried to explain to Frank tonight that it's hard for me to try to be the person that everyone else likes--especially since that means I need to be someone different in at least five different contexts a day. First I have to figure out what each person (who matters) likes and doesn't like. Then I have to remember which traits to assign to myself and produce on demand depending on who's around me. It has been exhausting.

More than exhausting, it has been frustrating. It has resulted in failure. Despite my efforts at presenting the custom-tailored personality on demand, I still have no one to talk to on a regular basis. I'm annoying in any context. Boring, too, apparently. How embarrassing is that? Frank isn't interested in any of the things I would normally talk about in the course of the day. He actually came out and said that about a year-and-a-half ago. I was down to what I thought was the last topic I could still chat about, but Frank was standing there at the kitchen sink. He stopped what he was doing, looked me in the eye, and said, "I just don't care. This isn't anything I have any interest in hearing about."

And here's the part of that that really sucks. He goes on and on and on every day about the same four topics: Thuy, the annoying woman he works with, public policy related to federal funding where he works, fixing the upholstery on his car seats, and the dog. Now, for the most part, I've heard it all many times over--it's just variations on a theme, but at least I am polite enough to listen and to bite my tongue and to not blurt out that I don't give a shit about whatever it is he's going on and on about. I don't walk away, interrupt, or change the subject while he's mid-sentence. This is my life, though, and exactly what I experience every day at home and outside of it.

I know I need to just shut the fuck up. I get it--I have nothing of value to say and I'm fucking boring. Still, is it so goddam hard for people to be somewhat polite, tolerant, and at least pretend to be engaged--like I do?

When I pointed out to Frank that I had essentially stopped talking at home, I also said it was painful to me that he hadn't really noticed. He said he had noticed, but assumed that I just didn't feel like talking. Then he accused me--as he often does--of intentionally remembering everything he says that I don't like. Well, yes, I told him, that's exactly what I do because all of those things are lessons--they are the things I need to catalogue and remember because that's what becomes the rules about how I'm supposed to behave. If something makes you unhappy, I need to never forget it so I can make sure not to do it again. I've done this my whole life, and as the third child in the birth order, I always observed what got my older siblings in trouble so I would know not to do whatever that was.

If I could take a vow of silence, I would, but it's not how my brain is wired. I still feel compelled to talk. I told Frank that the anxiety and effort of trying to remember all of these lessons so I don't disappoint or exasperate anyone is proving not to be worth it, and what I really want is to just be dead so it will be over, so it will stop, so I can stop. I told him that I have nothing. The house is his, not mine. I have no friends here--not even remotely close by. I have nothing. Trying to be me hasn't worked out, and trying to be who everyone else likes me to be hasn't changed anything, either. What's the point? My whole life has become about trying to make other people more comfortable, and in return I get...the loud and clear message to be neither seen nor heard.

Frank told me I should go back to therapy, but therapy is stupid--a scam. I am through paying someone to sit there and listen to me. That may be the most humiliating thing I've ever had to do to give myself the illusion that someone is paying attention.

I do solemnly swear

I won't leave debt and I won't leave a mess. The bills will be paid ahead for at least a month.

I promise.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Something to ponder

Recently I was reading a post on a blog and I came across a list of qualities two mothers had agreed they wanted their children to have as they became independent thinking individuals. The list is:
1) Be people that other people choose to spend time with
2) Be empathetic
3) Be generous
4) Be forthright and honest
5) Be authentic
6) Be a contributor, not a consumer

I'm sure my parents didn't put any thought into the kinds of people my siblings and I should become, other than hard-woring and embracing concepts of common sense. The list resonated with me because many years ago, I, personally, decided to be mindful of how I should present myself to the world and what impact my behavior might have.

I decided to try to be a good person, a kind and compassionate person, and someone who can respond to need, preferably without the loud clatter of judgment to distract me toward that end.

For the most part, I have succeeded. I'm no moral giant by any means, but I do try to take the high road by habit, even when that hill is painfully steep and I'm traveling alone.

Despite my attempts at adding value to the world, I have failed miserably regarding the first trait on this list: 1) Be people that other people choose to spend time with.

I have tried, grown, and evolved throughout my life, but I remain infinitely dorky and undesirable, nonetheless. Or, maybe I need to dial down #4.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sigh

I am so tired of being treated as if I am invisible, not worth listening to, out of sight--out of mind. Although I do believe my sister always was an evil bitch, she was, it appears, right when she declared I was a "non." As in nonexistent.

I am offended when the person I'm talking to turns and talks to someone else when I am in mid-sentence.

At least Jolie checks in dutifully and I give deep thanks for that, but I try to limit my babble and check-ins with her, as I believe that is the root of the entire issue with my life and it is driving my lack of relationships.

Hmmm. I've worn out my welcome in the world. Of course, the people who see me regularly sure do appreciate all of the work I do and the help I provide and the insights and research I contribute and they tell me how much that matters...but I as a human being do not. I am valued as a provider of services only. I wish I could articulate this better.

Nobody gives a shit about me. My own mother doesn't say anything nice about me.

My lack of relationships is not due to a lack of trying on my part. I have tried in every way I know how. I have employed every piece of Dear Abby advice on this issue. I am involved in my community, I ask politely after others, but the truth is, nobody wants me around. They simply dread the thought of being around me. I observe. I listen. I see it clearly. I am astute in this regard.

If I were to kill myself, say, during one of those periods when our office closes to save on expenses and funding, apart from Frank, I wonder how long I would lie dead somewhere before it occurred to anyone--anyone--that they hadn't heard from me in a very long time.

So, this is my new challenge. No outgoing phone calls, no email that isn't work-related, no Facebook, no initiated conversation beyond the polite hello.

I am going to try not to talk anymore. What a big fucking relief THAT's going to be to the world. Yes, I do get it.

Shut the fuck up, May, shut the fuck up May, shut the fuck up, May, shut the fuck up, May.

With any luck, I'll have a heart attack or aneurysm or something that will kill me soon. At least Frank will get the insurance money along with the quiet. I do believe it's important to contribute to the comfort of others whenever I can.

On an unrelated note, Frank has been working on our taxes. He said we should be getting a large refund, and then he started reciting the list of home-improvement projects we can tackle with that money.

I am going to go to my grave having never taken a vacation with my husband. I hate this about him. I resent it deep in my gut. Yes, sure, I could go somewhere alone. Sure. Because that's all I can do or ever will be able to do. Nobody wants to spend time with me. Not even my husband. Why have fun when you can fix something in the house?

Next week, I'm changing my withholding.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I can think all along the spectrum

Lately, I'm trying to counter every negative thought with a thought of gratitude or appreciation. It doesn't make me feel any more worthwhile, but it reminds me that there's something to acknowledge about my day.

While driving to work today and feeling sad about feeling so unloved, I composed this list. New list tomorrow, even if not blogged:
  • I am grateful to have a job.
  • I am grateful that I earn enough money to pay my bills.
  • I am grateful that I have a safe and pleasant home.
  • My pets make me happy.
  • I am fortunate to have a responsible and honest husband.
  • I am relieved to have a reliable car

Monday, February 21, 2011

But more than anything

I really hate to be ignored. I hate to be told I'm irrelevant or to hear someone be told that I should not be taken seriously.

Diminishing my worth is demeaning in its own way, but ignoring me completely is what makes me want to take that cue and run with it--into traffic, off a cliff, whatever.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valetine's sweet


And so it goes. Seven years today...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Doh.

I just tried to make a bracelet, but being the dorky moron I am, I made it way too fucking big. May, you suck. Stop trying to be creative. It's not working.

Monday, February 7, 2011

An ache in the heart

I really, really, really miss Joanna. I miss talking to her. I miss her insights and opinions. I miss intelligent conversation. OK, I have intelligent conversations with Jolie, but I always worry about wearing out my welcome.

I miss Joanna a lot.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Socially networked

I closed one of my Facebook accounts this week. You're only supposed to have one, anyway, and technically, one of my accounts wasn't really "me." It started to feel ridiculous after a while, especially since I only had one "friend," and that's someone I speak to regularly, anyway.

Meanwhile, back on my real Facebook page, I'm holding steady with 78 "friends." I knew almost all of them long before I had a Facebook account. Some of them are acquaintances whose friend requests I accepted because it felt too awkward to decline. Most I thought I might want the connection with, although I frequently reconsider the wisdom of that decision.

I don't know how people can have hundreds of friends on Facebook or why they would want to--unless they are a public figure. When I first joined Facebook, I sent friend requests to six people. That was it. Everyone else found me on their own. I've received requests I declined after some thought, and others that took me by surprise along the lines of, "You don't even like me. WTF?" Others I had written out of my life years--if not decades--ago, and I felt no mellowed nostalgia prompting me to push those doors open again. There is simply no point.

The more people I add to my friends list, the less freely I can say what I'm thinking. A large friends list full of vague acquaintances presents too many variables to keep track of.

Maybe I'm not cut out for Facebook. Sometimes I feel too exposed; other times, too stifled because I don't want to offend anyone with what's on my mind. Most of the time, though, I just feel ignored. Very ignored.

This weekend, I'm struggling with the automated feature that lets you know when several of your friends have a common friend, and it suggests you might want to be friends with that person, too. This time around, that would be my older brother. I've spoken to him once in about three years, and that was over a year ago--and he had the conversation reluctantly.
So, he's on Facebook now and he has friended my cousins, my sisters-in-law, my nephew and a niece, but once again, I'm the elephant in the room.

Maybe it's karmic payback for all of the friend requests I ignore without any acknowledgement whatsoever. Maybe it's a reminder that I was born into the wrong family.

I stand by my decision to not accept any other new friend requests, though, because at this point, what I really want is for the people who know me to be sincere about the connection we supposedly already have.

I've never been so lonely, and that's a sad situation for someone with 78 Facebook connections.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Double take

Compulsively channel surfing through commercial breaks is a personal trademark. I can time it perfectly to be back at the show at the precise moment the commercial break ends without missing a line of dialogue.

If I'm on the computer, though, I can't multitask with a remote. This is how I came to have a moment of feeling puzzled and intrigued at the same time.

We were watching something on OWN, the new Oprah network. It must have been Mystery Diagnosis because that's pretty much the only thing we watch on OWN. I am sick and I am exhausted, and Frank was cooking dinner, so I didn't change the channel when a commercial break came on. A spot for a new Lisa Ling show came on. Actually, it ran several times, but it wasn't until the third or fourth time that I looked up and actually saw the video.

It took me a second. I did a double take. I could have sworn...

Someone I knew many years ago is in the process of a male-to-female transgender transition. I am almost sure I saw him/her on the promo for Our America with Lisa Ling. If it's not her/him, then she has a blocky-body-and-blonde-pageboy-wig identical twin. It was uncanny.

Of course, now I haven't seen the commercial again--mostly because I've been onto another network since Mystery Diagnosis finished. I've actually been flipping between channels at the commercial break hoping to find a commercial. Odd, but inquiring minds really want to take a closer look and pay attention this time.

I checked said person's blog, but there is no mention, not even a hint, of being included in a Lisa Ling documentary. Well, the gender identity issues were kept secret for over 45 years, so why not this?

Viral

I'd like a new immune system, please. This one doesn't work right. Oh, and I'd like a side of normal central nervous system with that. Thanks.

Friday, January 28, 2011

blurry

I believe I am starting to disappear, little by little.

I wonder if anyone else will notice?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quiet

sometimes,
I just want to close the door on my life,
turn off the lights,
and sit in the dark,
quiet, without obligations or interruptions,
until I am no more

Sometimes the lyrics are my life

El Greco
from the album Courage
by Paula Cole

Click here to listen, and then click on song #3, El Greco.

I’m black on blacker velvet,
Milk skin and veins,
Like some El Greco painting,
So full of pain.
So full of longing for light of day.

I thought I knew who I was in the world.
But here I am twice blind at being born,
Crawling to my buried voice, within.

And I’ve forgotten who I used to be.
And I’ve forgotten the woman in red,
Living her dream.
And I’ve forgotten the courage I used to be.

Happiness is overrated,
It never lasts.
Skating the surface of oceanic depths.
Oh may the fruit of my life be meaning.

So please forgive me all my seriousness,
My so-called spirituality,
I’m just a mess.
I’m tears and anxiety,
But I’m unafraid to See.

And I’ve forgotten who I used to be,
The leader in her glory shining, divining.
And I’ve forgotten, the courage I used to be,
The middle passage is so damned humbling, persona crumbling,
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.
And I try, and I try, and I try, and I try, and I try.
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know,
And I try, and I try, and I try, and I try, and I try.

Like some El Greco painting,
No sun or sky.
No lantern, no candle needed to light,
The holy radiance behind the eyes.

And I’ve forgotten who I used to be.
And I’ve forgotten the woman in red, living her dream.
And I’ve forgotten the courage I used to be.

I don’t know…


Decca Records, Copyright Paula Cole 2010, All Rights Reserved. Photo, Images.com.

Per Wikipedia:


"The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'...anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness and dread."


OK, I get that, but shouldn't it have some kind of cause or trigger so I can at least address it?

Now what?

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. consumed--just consumed--with anxiety.

It makes no sense. What is wrong with me?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ponienda bonita

Makeup stopped being interesting to me years ago. Mostly, it was a matter of laziness. Then, it was an issue of "what's the point?" because I was so mentally melted down that what I looked like was irrelevant.

Up until the age of 28 or so, I wore full makeup every day, religiously. When I was pummeled by a massive major depression in my early twenties, that was the first time I abandoned makeup. I resumed using it, although much less diligently a couple of years later. Eventually, it seemed like one more thing keeping me from sleeping just a little later every day.

Lately, though, I've been seduced by the pretty colors. I bought some purple eyeshadow at Ulta last week--two shades, in fact. Sophie In The Moonlight restored my faith in waterproof mascara, and Cover Girl Lash Blast is my new best friend. Having really put it to the test last week, I can confidently declare it to be funeral-proof.

My years-old lipstick finally became unusable, so I made a trip to Ulta to buy something new. Nothing too dark or too bright. I'm nearly 50 years old, and I didn't want anything garish. I bought two different shades, and both looked good. The only problem is that I live in an especially dry climate, so I have to use lip balm with the lipstick, and it was getting a bit messy.

The answer was lip stain. Lip stain is my new best friend. I put it on once in the morning, give it a minute to sink in, and then apply super-moisturizing lip balm. The lip stain stays with me all day and it looks natural. I love it. I can keep re-applying lip balm all day long, as needed, with no need to worry about color.

Part of my return to makeup started with mascara. I have blonde eyelashes, so with my glasses, it tends to appear that I have no lashes at all. I would have stopped there, but it was sleeping trouble that brought me to the next step.

I keep waking up at about 5:00. Frank gets up then and is in the bathroom until 5:30. Still, getting up at 5:30 leaves me with a lot of free time before I have to leave for work. Sure, I could use that time to exercise, but that would just make me even more cranky than my baseline morning level. It occurred to me one day that I had time to apply eye shadow along with the mascara. Unfortunately, my eye shadow stash was looking quite pathetic, hence the recent trip to Ulta, makeup mecca.

Now, in five minutes, I can put on a swipe of eyeshadow base (because I don't wear foundation but my eyelids are a little dry and eye shadow doesn't stick that well on its own), a brush of color, some liner, mascara, lip stain, lip balm, and--ta-da--I don't look so washed out.

I don't know that I'll keep up with this, but for now, I love purple eye shadow and berry-colored lip stain. Mascara that makes it through the day rocks my world.

My fiftieth birthday is barreling down on me like a freight train. Surely a little color will soften the collision.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ah, it's going to be fine

My laptop died this week. It wasn't a total surprise, but it was traumatic, nonetheless. At first it looked like nothing could be recovered from the hard drive. Eventually, all 19.5 Gb of data were restored.

The computer has a new, faster, much larger hard drive. Let's hope no other vital organs self-destruct anytime soon.

Must work on backing up this system...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Was I supposed to learn something?

I've been trying to make sense of my experience with the bipolar disorder I didn't actually have. It seems like, if I were a spiritual person, I would find meaning in why I was given this burden, this bad joke, this painful, unnecessary horror show.

I'm neither spiritual nor religious, so I can't look to any god's greater plan. Still, it seems like this was all laid before me so that I would learn from it or have take-away knowledge to apply in another context.

My Buddhist friends tell me that profound experiences are a gift of sorts, meant to help us understand something we need to know about or work on in becoming more evolved selves. Perhaps it is to become more mindful, perhaps it's meant to develop a sense of compassion.

I consider myself to be a compassionate person and reasonably open-minded. That wasn't a lesson I needed. The whole mess probably cost me $20,000, as a conservative estimate. It was likely quite a bit more when you factor in the things I ended up paying for because I couldn't keep my finances straight once I started medication. I didn't really need the lesson in poverty.

Loss. Was I supposed to experience loss on a variety of levels in order to understand loss better? I help people work through their experiences of loss every day in my job. Loss was never lost on me.

What was the lesson? Did I learn it but I just don't realize it yet?

I choke on the thought that a series of egregious misunderstandings and inappropriate treatment were nothing more than a series of unfortunate events.

My life is not richer because of this experience. Everything has been stripped down--my relationships, my attachment to work I loved, my finances, my ability to experience emotions, my interest in the world. It is not refreshing; rather, it has left me feeling broke, lonely, and vulnerable. I don't remember how not to feel that way.

Sometimes, I think it was all an extreme warning, like one of those disaster drills big cities put on so they're ready when the real thing comes along. Perhaps I was supposed to see that I have the mental, emotional, and behavioral capacity to experience bipolar disorder and I need to be prepared for the upheaval should my brain melt uncontrollably in the future. Perhaps I was supposed to see that I harbor mental illness inside of my brain and I need to build a life that compensates for that more effectively than before. Watch your step, May, or we'll do it again.

The what-ifs keep me awake at night and push more practical thoughts out of my consciousness nearly every day. Why, why, why...What, what, what...

The loss of sleep, the self-introspection, the wondering, and the frustration always lead me to the same conclusion:

There was no reason beyond poor clinical practice and compounded mistakes.

There is no meaning.

What a waste.