Saturday, November 16, 2013

Allie Brosh's NPR interview

Sure, you should read the summary highlights, but if you have 40 minutes, listen to the interview. It brought me to tears.

When Allie gets to the part where she talks about what her suicide plan was, I lost it. I had a plan a few years ago. It was eerily similar.

I was in the car with my husband when I heard this interview. Somehow, he seemed to understand me better after hearing someone else describe how it feels to be so void of emotion you don't want to live anymore.

Start to finish, this is an excellent interview. Listen and feel ALL the feelings!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm around. Just not here.

Do you miss me? I know you do. I do. There's so much to say, but so little focus. I'll be back soon. I promise.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I thought it was just me

Have you ever cried on a plane? I have and I've written about it more than once on this blog. As it turns out, not only am I not alone in this, it's not even uncommon.

I just read an article in The Atlantic that discusses this behavior and some of the explanations related to it. I recommend it. The article is insightful--and validating.

Why We Cry on Planes by Elijah Wolfson, The Atlantic

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Greetings from Pinellas Park

My mother had total knee replacement surgery last Wednesday. I've been here in St. Petersburg since last Tuesday. I don't go home until Saturday, but, holy fuck, I am exhausted.

My mother's house is a wreck. It's not that she can't take care of herself. She has always been a bad housekeeper, but when she became enmeshed in chronic pain, the clutter, dirt, and lack of maintenance became borderline hazardous.

The Home Depot near 22nd Ave. and 28th St. N. is like my home away from home away from home. I've been there a lot in the last week, and I know I'll be back before the week is over. I've also been to the Walmart on Park, a place I despise. My mom is currently in Edward White Hospital (which I keep calling Walter White Hospital) not working very hard at all on her rehabilitation. I leave on Saturday, Mom, step it up.

I am not an only child, but my life plays out as if I were. My brothers want nothing to do with this situation. If you've been following along on this blog, you know that this is the third surgery I've helped my mom through in the last five years. My brothers have been AWOL. After the first surgery--which I took off from work for without pay--my mom invited my niece to come visit and showed her the town. Me? I got to change the kitty litter and clean up vomit and find my own ride to the airport.

My family does not take me seriously. They see me as being someone whose job does not matter and whose personal life is irrelevant. This pisses me off.  I'm hoping my younger brother can come and take over for me since I'm definitely leaving on Saturday. I guarantee that if he does come down, my mother will laud him to everyone she knows, talking about how her son cleared his schedule to take care of her. Me? Well, that doesn't deserve mention. Everyone in my family just expects me to be available and step in when needed.

I resent this.

I need a massage. I need my husband next to me in bed. I need some help getting this disaster-area of a house into habitable condition. God, it's a pigsty.

I had some really good things I wanted to say in this blog post, but I'm on my third glass of wine, so the words are now muddled. Fuck it.

Here's a picture of the dryer vent tube at my mom's house. I thought I could smell the dryer exhaust every time I did laundry, and this is why. My mother never noticed any such thing. this pretty much sums up what my week has entailed.

I hate Florida. Lizards, snakes, toad, roaches, rust, rot, blech.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blogging on a plane…again.

A stream-of-consciousness post that is only a little about 9/11, my mother, or travel...

So, it turns out that Frontier Airlines now offers half-bottles of wine. Since I’m about to spend eleven days helping my mom after surgery—once again—I thought I would treat myself to this. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to drink when I’m in Florida, as I’ll have to be able to drive at a moment’s notice. At the moment, I’m very carefully timing my wine consumption so as not to finish while there’s still a lot of flying left to do, but not leaving myself in the position of having to swig down a lot of remaining wine at the last minute, either.

The light outside is rapidly dimming as we fly from west to east, into what is already night on the Gulf Coast. The sky below is a blanket of clouds with the occasional columnar formation that is probably pounding a thunderstorm on the land below.

I could sit here and post something about how resentful I am that my mother demands my presence in these situations, or how much I despise myself for always giving in, or how I know I’ll spend at least five days cleaning a house that likely hasn’t seen any housekeeping since I last took on the challenge in January, or what a truly entitled, ungrateful, and demanding patient my mother is.

I don’t need to write about any of that because I’ve done it all before.

We may be flying over the Gulf now, but in the dusk, all I can see is an endless stretch of slate blue. In a few minutes, there will be no way to differentiate between up here and down there. It’s a great metaphor for how I feel much of the time.

Sometimes I think I want to tell you my name. Not my pen name, but my real name. I‘ve never liked my name very much, but it’s still mine and an important part of my identity. I try to share this concept with the refugees when I struggle to pronounce their names. When I ask, “Did I say it right?” it’s not unusual for someone to say, “No, but it’s OK. You can call me that.” That’s when I say, “No. It’s not OK. This is your name. You’ve come here with little else, and the least we can do here is get your name right.”

I still can’t sleep. Maybe that should have been the theme of this blog all along: May’s Insomnia. If anything, the situation has only gotten worse. On a good night, I get six hours of sleep, but never six hours in a row. I should be psychotic by now. Instead, I’m gaining weight and losing mood points. Always losing mood points.

My wine is almost finished, but there’s still an hour of flight time left. My alcohol consumption is outpacing this fine Boeing aircraft. Maybe it’s an Airbus. I didn’t really pay attention during the safety briefing.

OK, here’s something I’ve never told anyone. I always buy a cocktail on the plane, regardless of the time of day. I also always eat a two-pack of Resses’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s my ritual. The ritual seems even more necessary tonight, when it’s September 10, just a day before September 11. I allow myself these treats when I fly because I don’t take commercial flight for granted.

When those planes crashed on September 11, my parents called me that night. They had never really embraced my change of profession from cable corporate superstar to social worker for the refugee population, but on that night my mother said, “We’re just so relieved you aren’t traveling constantly for work anymore. That could have been you. How many times have you flown out of Boston or toward DC, or over Pennsylvania? It so easily could have been you.”

Until she said that, I had not personalized the tragedy. She was right, though. I used to travel on a near-weekly basis when I was a corporate soldier. Ever since then, I have made a point to enjoy—truly enjoy—a cocktail on every flight, regardless of the hour, and to savor my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a true indulgence. If my plane ever goes down, damn it, I will go down having tasted pleasure and appreciated it on my tongue.

I usually fly Southwest. It was a bit of a jolt to get settled in and realize that Frontier doesn’t have onboard Wi-Fi. What the fuck? I’m composing this post in MS Word and I’ll upload it later. Still…Seriously, Frontier?

If they had WiFi, I’d have been on Twitter the whole time. Instead, I’m trapped here with a head full of thoughts because although I’m willing to pay $14 for a half-bottle of cheap chardonnay, I am too cheap to pay $5.99 for onboard television. It’s possible I’m trying to prove to myself that although I may have an alcohol addiction, I can still say no to television, goddamnit.

I tweet under my own name, or at least, something so close to it, there’s no actual masking my identity. About 100 people follow me on Twitter, and I’ve never figured that out, really. I only know six or seven of them. The rest? Who knows.

Are we there yet, are we there yet, arewethereyetarewethereyet?

No. We are not.

I wish I could sleep. I wish I could feel better about going to Florida. I wish a lot of things.

OK then. I am officially out of alcohol and attention span, but not flight time. Sigh.

There is one more thing I do when I fly, and it just occurred to me to share that, too. In the last 15 minutes of the flight, just before they tell you to turn off your electronic devices, I watch a video on my laptop. Yes, a video. It’s just as good and important as the cocktail and peanut butter cups. I watch the 2008 Matt Harding dancing video. It’s necessary.

I’ll try to write again tomorrow. I’ll be spending the day at Bayfront Hospital. See you then.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I knew that. I told you that.

A new study shows that the full moon causes sleep problems. Really? You don't say... Here's the CNN article.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It doesn't pay much

There isn't much money in my savings account--almost nothing, really. If I offer it to you as payment to kill me, would you do it? I don't know you, you don't know me...

I know the most interesting, dynamic, strong, fascinating, creative, successful women. I am not one of them. It pains me that I can't be more, or at least more like them.

Failure doesn't make me sad. Mediocrity doesn't inspire me to work harder. It's only what I am capable of, and that's my reality. Wa-wa-wa...I can't even write my own blog anymore.

So, if I pay you, will you end my sad existence? I should mention I don't actually have any money because my debts outweigh my savings. But you come here, you check in, you're interested in what I have to say, so maybe you care enough to help a sister out? I mean really out?

No? OK. I will keep shuffling on, but please don't expect any actual results.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


I stepped away from my blog for awhile. I'm sure you noticed.

This week, I've been rereading 2008. I don't remember writing most of those posts, so when I revisit them, it feels like I'm peering into someone else's life.

Those posts are incredibly well written, funny, insightful, and painfully deep. Where did those thoughts come from? Why can't I write like that anymore?

Today I reread the post about Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath (45 Mercy Street). What part of my brain put these words together so beautifully? I feel I should clarify. I still think that way; I just can't write it down that way.

Stick with me. It's probably all going to come back.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Miscellaneous trivia

Things you probably don't know about me:
  • I don't drink milk.
  • I don't drink anything carbonated. Ever.
  • I don't chew gum. Ever.
  • I can't make it through the National Anthem without crying.
  • I'm a terrible farmer but a halfway decent gardener.
  • I don't take very good care of my car.
  • I don't take very good care of myself anymore.
  • I have some suicide-related thought every day. Not necessarily my own.
  • I work my liver a little too hard.
  • I'm allergic to cold.
  • I can fly a hot air balloon.
  • I rarely sleep more than four hours a night. This is a problem.
  • I was engaged in my twenties. It didn't work out.
  • I have eight email accounts and four Twitter accounts.
  • I believe I am wholly unloved.
  • I think cilantro tastes like soap.
  • I only dust the furniture in my house three or four times a year. I mop the floors less frequently.
  • People think I'm smart, but I'm actually kind of stupid.
  • I have a cabinet full of an exit strategy.
  • I once almost moved to Portland, Oregon site unseen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm tired

Throughout the history of this blog, I've written about my inability to sleep. My insomnia comes and goes, but never really goes away. It's frustrating. It's depressing.

I can fall asleep, but I'm usually awake within four hours. After that, I never really fall back into a sleep of any meaningful quality. I've read that this is not a physical problem; it's a mental illness.

How can someone who is so tired be so unable to do anything about it?

I have a lot going on and really, this is the least of it, yet, this is what is foremost on my mind.

I'm so tired.

I'm also depressed, but that, I think, is just my lot in life and the way my brain is wired. It's unlikely this situation will change, and I can accept that.

You know what I want? I want to sleep. Once I'm rested, I want money. I don't want to work any more. I don't want to be around people any more. I really don't want to work any more. I want to stay home, sit on my patio, read, make jewelry, sew interesting bags, travel, write, tweet, read some more, and then get all the sleep I need.

Mostly, I don't want to work any more. And I really want to sleep.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I had a birthday on Sunday and I didn't really notice. That's OK. When I started this blog, I never thought I'd still be around at this point to even note a birthday.

There was cake.

Allie nailed it

By Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half
One of the blogs I follow is Hyperbole and a Half, written by Allie Brosh. A lot of what Allie writes and draws is laugh-out-loud funny. Some is just puzzling. I always thought Allie came off as having a touch of the bipolar, but maybe she's just like me--prone to highs and lows, but not those highs and lows.

Hyperbole and a Half disappeared for a while. A long while. Before Allie disappeared, though, she created a post about the depression she was experiencing at the time. It was raw and honest, and sounded very familiar. She nailed it, really. The self-loathing, the inexplicable lack of energy and focus, the discouraging self-talk, all of it.

Last night, a tweet came across my Twitter feed indicating Ms. Brosh was ready to get her followers caught up with her latest chapter. It was worth the wait.

Allie wrote about how it feels to be depressed and frustrated about being depressed, and her take on that is painfully spot-on accurate. What really blew me away, though, was her description of how non-depressed people respond to someone who is going through that particular hell--and how they just don't get it. This, to me, was the brilliant part of her post. It was perfectly perfect.

I reread the whole thing three times. The pictures are, well, you just have to see those for yourself.  What I came away with was this: In two blog posts, Allie Brosh managed to articulate almost everything I have tried to express here over more than five years and hundreds of posts. There's no need for me to write about that aspect of myself ever again. I'll just refer people to what Allie created.

You should take a look.
Depression, Part 1 (October 2011)
Depression, Part 2 (April 2013)

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's the full moon

It's late. I want to sleep, but my brain is keeping me awake. Whenever I have a sleepless night like this, at some point I give up on sleep and get out of bed. I always stop and look out the back window to check the moon's status. Tonight, it's full. Of course. What is it with me and the full moon?

I'm so tired, but not sleepy. I worked out every day this week. I've earned a good night's sleep, haven't I? Wouldn't it be great if we could occasionally get a tune-up of the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The stories I hear

I know I've been quiet lately--I've been making new friends and indulging my ADD on Twitter. That being said, I miss blogging and think about my blog every day. There are still a lot of thoughts in my head that need to be explored and put into some sort of order. I'm working on that.

In the meantime, I want to share something that has been making the rounds in my world of refugee resettlement. UNHCR asks the question, if you had to flee your country, what would you take with you? Why? I actually explore this question with the people who attend my seminars and presentations. What you think you would take is probably not what you'd end up with at all.

When I first looked at this slide show and read the stories that accompany the pictures, I broke down and cried. The reaction surprised me because I hear stories like this--first person accounts of loss and survival--on a regular basis. Only the names and locations have changed.

I encourage you to take the 15 minutes you'll need to look at these pictures and read the accompanying stories. Working with people like those profiled here is the core of my life's meaning. It's the reason I haven't killed myself, and it's the reason I get up on the days I don't want to. I try not to indulge that dark side of myself because I believe I have something to offer to those who who are in far worse circumstances than I have ever experienced.

I'm not sure if this will help you understand me better or not, but these people are exactly the kind of people I try to help every day. I can't change anything that happened to them, but I can help guide them as they try to navigate a new chapter to what has often been a heartbreaking story.

The most important thing
"What would you bring with you if you had to flee your home and escape to another country? This is the second part of an ongoing project that asks refugees from different parts of the world, “What is the most important thing you brought from home?” The first installment focused on refugees fleeing from Sudan to South Sudan, who openly carried pots, water containers and other objects to sustain them along the road.

By contrast, people seeking sanctuary from the conflict in Syria must typically conceal their intentions by appearing as though they are out for a family stroll or a Sunday drive as they make their way towards the border."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Oh, that again

Whenever my stress gets high and my mood gets low, I get flare-ups of shingles pain. Almost five years after the initial episode, I struggle to accept this is something I'll be dealing with for the rest of my life.

I can't figure out if I have a very inefficient immune system or if my central nervous system is so sensitive that any prolonged stress triggers a shingles response.

May is not a happy girl.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I need a new job. I've outgrown the one I have and it's choking me. It's cutting off my psychological circulation.

Time to go, but where? That's the question I can't answer. I think I may be finished with helping people for a living, though.

I'm tapped out.

I may be ready to call it quits all around. I've been treading water, and I'm tired. Just so tired.

And irrelevant.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I'm sad

I'm sad, I'm sad, I'm sad, I'm sad, I'm sad...

I think all the time I've been spending on Twitter has eliminated my ability to write or express myself articulately. Boo to that, right?

That being said, I don't need to write a long essay. I feel like crap. Change is hard. I'm lonely. I want to die.

OK, then, I think that about sums it up.

Here's the thing

I'm so fucking depressed I can barely function. I don't think I've ever had anxiety this bad in my entire life.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Home, sweet home

After I spent a week at my mother's house, I became deeply afraid that my house would become like hers--a small space crammed with teetering piles of collected crap she has no emotional connection with. A dirty, dusty, cluttered space where there's no place to just sit and relax, and no space to spread out.

Frank and I have been trying to declutter our own house and to get caught up on the dusting. This house is chronically dusty, a result of pets, a dry climate, and forced hot-air heat. Dust is my mortal enemy. Nothing aggravates my otherwise-mild asthma faster. Except maybe mold.

There's also the seep-seated hate of dusting that comes out of my childhood. Doing the dishes and the dusting were chores assigned to me at about the age of seven. As a small child, I was overwhelmed by how any things I had to move from any given surface to get to the actual task at hand. Later, much later, I had a job in a shop that carried any kind of high-end, ridiculously priced knick-knack you could think of, from oversized brass jacks to large, porcelain Capodimonte figurines. A big part of my job was to keep these hundred of items dust-free. The tedium of it made me want to keep my own living space free of decorative items that required dusting. I've never succeeded at that, mostly because other people keep buying me doo-dads I don't want. We have boxes of these things in the basement. Boxes.

In the course of my adult life, the level of neatness in my home is always a direct reflection of my mood and overall emotional wellbeing. Since Frank I and I live in such a small house, it doesn't take much to tip the balance from reasonably lived-in to overwhelmed by papers, magazines, bags, books, gadget components, instruction manuals, and who knows what else. Stuff. Just lots of stuff. My mood hasn't been great lately, and so, the piles have grown. I've been feeling claustrophobic, so this weekend we started chipping away at the crap.

The living room has been purged of everything that isn't supposed to be there. The furniture has been dusted, the wood polished, the floor vacuumed, the coverlets washed. I took pictures because it's so rare for this room to be neat and for the coffee table to be visible at all. Next week, we'll start in on the dining room table where several years of paper clutter has been gathered and deposited in anticipation of the world most daunting purge-recycle-filing project.

It's a small room. We've never had a lot of money to decorate, but the couch is a FlexSteel.

When I blog, I'm usually sitting in the brown chair with my laptop.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

May is tired

It has been a busy week here in Florida. It's always a challenge for me to spend a lot of time with my mother. She's truly one of the most self-centered people I've ever met, yet she is completely oblivious to the fact that this is the way she is.

I spent the week helping her get around, cooking, monitoring medications and ice packs, and being subjected to more game shows than I thought anyone could watch in the course of a day. I also spent several hours each day cleaning up around her property. Plants sure do thrive here in Florida. Toads, lizards, and bugs that look suspiciously like roaches also seem to be here in abundance.

I went to the Home Depot at 22nd and 28th (more or less), and bought some yard tools and gardening supplies that led me to several observations:
  • First, plants cost a fraction of what they do where I live.
  • Plants that we grow as houseplants back home are sold as outdoor garden plants here.
  • Whereas back home we have a choice of 20 kinds of compost, here that selection is limited, but bagged soil comes in at least a dozen varieties.
  • You can buy different gardening tools here, including a razor-sharp machete-like sword thingy that seemed like a bad idea for me as I have a less than spectacular history with fire and sharp objects. I realized later that given how things grow here, a machete is absolutely appropriate.
I've had a lot of time to think about a lot of things while I've been here. And to not think about things. I realized that not only do I have no burning desire to get back to my own life, I've barely thought about work this week.

I don't want to go back to work. I don't like my job anymore. Any joy I derived from it has been sucked out by budget cuts, bad management, and a numbers-driven focus shift and mission drift that no longer put people first. Vulnerable people. I'm in this work for the people.

I'm tired. This isn't the kind of "Oh, you just need a break and to recharge your batteries" kind of tired. I'm tired of working for a living. This is something I do need to think about, because I think that at this point, I could easily self-isolate and become invisible to the world. If I could afford it.

I am not a lazy person, but I no longer have much desire to get up every day and stick to a routine. I want to write. I want to create. I want to ride my bike. I want to direct the course of my days.

When I did think about work this week, I experienced tremendous waves of anxiety. When you no longer enjoy what you do, you should change it, right? The next logical question is, What do you want to do, May?

I honestly have no idea--maybe because I really don't want to work at all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I'm freezing. I'm sitting at the St. Anthony outpatient/surgery center, deep in the heart of an industrial park in St. Petersburg. It's a cool morning, but the air conditioning here in the atrium appears to be on, nonetheless. I'm glad I brought a pashmina, anyway. Perhaps coffee would have been a better beverage choice than the organic mango smoothie.

Mom is upstairs having knee surgery. On the way in, I pointed out the beautiful, state-of-the-art physical therapy facility that's just behind where I'm parked at the moment. My mother said, "Yeah, I know. I'm doing that. I don't have time. It's too expensive." She does not get the reality that surgery is just one step in a larger process, and I am frustrated from trying to explain it her.

This is my fourth or fifth time--and second time in less than three months--being the "patient helper" for someone having surgery. Frank had a procedure recently, too. This seems to be the only thing I miss work for. I've become really good at understanding pre-op and post-op instructions. If only the patients would be more cooperative.

I actually enjoy the time when the patient is in recovery, but not yet ready to get up. During the wait for the blood pressure to rise and vitals to stabilize, I find that talking to people who've recently woken up from anesthesia is like talking to someone in the early stages of dementia. It's really quite amusing.

I'm exhausted. Spending time with my mother is exhausting. This trip, I've really noticed a significant degradation in her driving skills. She drifts in the lane, she can't tell where the front of the car is, and she struggles with the steering wheel. I know it's not the car--we both drive the same model Jeep Liberty. I'm surprised that my mother hasn't been sideswiped (yet).

I'm also exhausted because my mother's cat has decided to sleep with me this visit. Last night, he slept next to my head. It turns out, he not only snores, but also talks in his sleep. The cat slept great; me...not so much.

I need to go upstairs. Mom should be out of surgery soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We've been here before

I reiterate. If you come to visit me, in my 1100-square-foot house, you will have a proper bedroom, a nice bed, closet space, and a dresser just for you. For more on that, read this post.

You will not be expected to sleep on a futon, in a tiny room crammed with crap, with no place to unpack so much as a pair of socks.

My arrangement says, "You are welcome here and I want to accommodate you." My mother's arrangement says, "Your being here is all about me. I don't really care how you feel or if you're comfortable. Go change the kitty litter for me."

It's going to be a very long week.

My mom's version of giving me closet space. Great for clothes less than a foot long.
My suitcase is on the left at third base. The room looks bigger in the picture than it really is. Every drawer is crammed full of stuff. Crap, mostly.

Blogging in the air

Somewhere over Little Rock. That’s where we are according to the air tracker GPS function that lets you see where your plane is. At the moment, we’re flying over a very large river. The Mississippi.  Anything that looks that big from the air has got to be huge at eye-level. Of course, I know that because I’ve been across the Mississippi by car and by train.

I’m on my way to Florida. St. Petersburg. Pinellas Park. I have been summoned as my mother is having knee surgery this week and will need some help getting around in the days after the procedure. Thank you, Mr. Clinton for FMLA which is making it financially possible for me to do this.

I don’t actually want to be on this trip, but it’s the kind of thing that adult daughters do. Adult sons…not so much.

I’m pleased that I can access the air tracker without having to actually pay for the WiFi. Thank you, airline.

[May takes a break from trying to write, forks over the $5 fee, and does some other things online...]

 Oh, I'm back. We're somewhere over the Florida panhandle. 

I should have had a drink on this flight to get myself ready for this trip. I have Xanax, but it just makes me sleep.

I plan to blog during my trip so that sanity prevails. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's true.

Every time someone gets killed by a gun, an NRA member gets a joyous hard-on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How my brain works

I missed a week of workouts. I finally made it back to the gym today, but only worked out for a half-hour. I should be telling myself, "May, good job. You were tired and you had a dislodged contact lens. You went and put in some time anyway. Good for you."

That's not the dialogue that went on in my head tonight. The conversation was more like this:
"Seriously? Only a half-hour? You need at least an hour of cardio, plus a good leg workout. A half-hour isn't going to do much for you. That doesn't even burn off lunch. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror today? There's a reason you look like that, and it's called missing a week of workouts and then only sweating for 30 minutes. You're pathetic."

And that, right there, is pretty much all you need to know about how my brain functions.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's 2013. Nothing has changed.

The Brainucopia is full. Unfortunately, it is having trouble articulating the goings on inside the perimeter of the skull.

Where are my words?