Pain, Therapy and Lapin Gardening

So my cousin has posted an ultrasound of her baby on social networking sites. I hate when people do that. First of all it’s icky. Second of all it’s yucky. Third of all it’s tacky. My cousins keep doing this too, as if I want to see the strange sea creature/squirrel shaped parasites invading their abdomens.

Anyway, this ultrasound is really early. So early that it’s mostly space and just this tiny bean you kinda have to look for. There are a million people ‘oohing and aaahing’ in the comments, but I’m terribly tempted to ask her if she’s sure it’s not just a big fart. Trapped gas man, it’s a bitch.

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Okay, so I’m in a fabulous mood, as if you can’t tell. I’m snarky and sarcastic because I’m in an exorbitant amount of pain and there isn’t really anything I can do about it. I can’t even sleep (it’s nearly three a.m.). It’s been about ten months of this, and after numerous tests and one serious week in November where the doctors told me to brace myself for cancer, all they can come up with are shrugs and theories: another mass, a random tiny hernia, or muscle damage. The only way to really tell one way or the other or to do anything about it is to have an exploratory surgery. Now I’m sorry, but I don’t want random surgery. I have many reasons for this, the most significant of which is I’m convinced that the surgeon will come up with nothing or with more shrugs and I will have endured all of this for nothing. Not to mention that the doctors will stop taking my complaining about the pain seriously.

This means that until I decide to do the surgery, or my insides explode, or this stuff takes some kind of turn, every few days I will experience different levels of pain in that area. Tonight (or this morning, rather), I’m hurting badly. I took a pill for the pain but it hasn’t even taken the edge off. So not worth it. It’s bad enough that I’ve been taken to the ER twice and both times I was sent home with drugs and more shrugs. Rhymey.

On top of all of that, things haven’t been working out so well for me. I’m completely skint, unemployed, and frankly unemployable at this point. Plus all of this other stuff is weighing on me. I wrote this long blag post (a two-parter!) about what’s been going on, but it’s so terribly personal that I’ve not posted it. Yet. There is always the possibility that I may egg up, especially when one considers I’ve not a lot of followers and only a few of those actually read my posts and only two or three of those actually know me. It’s basically about how I’ve taken up therapy and how I have a colourful history of despising therapy and everything that goes along with it, and why.

As for this therapy thing, I’m fairly certain that I’m failing at it. Seriously, I think that maybe I’m doing it wrong. I don’t really talk about anything, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to talk about. And I talk to the therapist about her problems too. I know there’s this period of time in the early days (which is where I’m at) where you talk to your therapist about stuff just so she can learn about you and know what you’re on about (to discover and exploit your weaknesses). But I am still rather unsure.

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And in banal life stuffs, I grew lots of seedlings and plants for my garden, spent two days with Thunderball excavating and ravaging the very Earth, only to have this random apocalyptic downpour today eviscerate all our hard work. After all that, only about three plants of the hundreds we planted are still standing. I feel like the Charlie Brown of gardeners. Everything I touch get’s ruined.

But something exciting and interesting did occur in gardening. Our garden patch is about four feet by twenty feet. So in the soil turning and weeding phase on Saturday, Thunderball took one end and I the other and we worked our way towards the middle. About four feet in Thunderball suddenly stops her violent assault on the land and says “Uh, what is this?” She tosses over a wad of fluffy white fur, so naturally I ask: “Is something dead?” So she pokes at the spot with the garden fork and receives a terrified tiny squeal from the pile of furry earth. After she jumped away, we inspected the spot and discovered:

Bunny Seeds Germinated June 7 2014 01

Thunderball took this sessee shot.

Yes. That’s right. Babies. There were five or six tiny baby bunnies in there, all blind to the world. So now it’s like FUCK, we’re a mommy. So we’ve cordoned off that section of our garden (which will be devoted strictly to sunflowers), and recovered the nest we’d uncovered with an upturned bin. I keep periodically paranoiacally checking up on them, as I now feel responsible for having inadvertently uncovered their crèche, basically erecting the equivalent of a flashing neon arrow pointing right at them (hence the protective covering). Two days after finding them, I checked on them again only to find they were even closer to the surface with even less stuff covering them. I was amazed at how much they’d developed in only two days. They went from being blind and dark furred to being larger, open-eyed and more active and alert (although, clearly still too tiny to be on their own). Their little ears are still flat against their heads. According to some wildlife experts that means they are around 5-7 days old now.

I was so upset at seeing them almost completely exposed that I did some research to see if there was something else that we should have done or should be doing. But the wildlife rescue experts say that I did exactly the right thing, covering them back up and putting the bin over them. Now we just have to hope that they survive to adulthood despite living in a backyard that is full of raccoons and skunks and cats (That Cat and That Other Cat have both been sighted recently), not to mention our dog.

Plus they are so adorable one wants to take them in and love them forever (or at least until they reach their forever), but every wildlife place is like NO YOU CANNOT KEEP THEM. Shut up! You can’t tell me what to do! I am a paranoid mama bunny, hopped up on painkillers and out for blood! I do what I want!

“There is love in holding. And there is love in letting go.” – Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures

And there is love in mauling a Animal Control officer. Just saying.

 

 

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The Unfortunate Garbage of Life: Hoarding, Couponing and Superfoods

Yeah so, today is Monday, which is apparently hoarding day on television. I don’t like that it’s seemingly okay that a mental illness is being paraded around on all of these shows just because it’s weird enough for most people to gawk at. It’s basically a freak show that we pretend isn’t. We (the general public) pretend that it’s fine to watch these people at their lowest point, falling apart, living in garbage, because we’re “helping” them; look: we’ve got them a garbage truck, a shrink and an organizer. We’re fukking saints.

It really bothers me. Not the getting help bits but the exploitation stuff.Because that’s all this really is: exploitation.

Hoarding is an interesting thing. I mean, I’m not a hoarder, but I’m a collector who has had messy moments that made me question myself and even purge my once precious loot. I don’t live alone, so my stuff isn’t distributed throughout the house. I have a teeny room that we’ve remodeled to give me the cleanest lines and the most optimal storage which resulted in sacrificing a tiny closet for a built-in unit. On top of that I have my own shed that is just a wee bit larger than my room, and it’s full of bizarre shiz. I mean really bizarre, like bags of bottle caps, stacks of pressed paper beverage trays, no-longer-salvageable jeans, and junk mail. I even have a small collection of dead bugs (primarily moths). But the shed is actually quite organized and all of those things I have because I am an artist and the shed is my studio. I like to work with repurposed or salvageable materials, so it can sometimes appear to be a mini recycling center in there, depending on what I’ve got going on.

From the outside looking in, someone would see my stuff and go ‘what the fu-‘ but never think that I was a hoarder. Unless everyone considers Martha Stewart a hoarder, because while my shed is not nearly as nice as Martha’s craft rooms, it’s probably even more obsessively organized. (I should say ‘usually’, as right now it’s more of a construction storage as it has been designated housing for the overflow from our endless home renovation.)

So, other than making me paranoid about my own things, I also find hoarding interesting because I know some hoarders. The first hoard I had ever encountered was when I was a teenager and moved to this sorta-suburb from the inner city. I became friends briefly with these girls from my new school, one of whom lived just around the block from me. She was a pseudo-intellectual with average grades, but an above-average idea about how much smarter than the rest of us she was. I may sound bitchy and bitter but I’m not; she was always making little comments here, insinuating that we were all imbeciles who were lucky to be within her orbit. Her mom was a substitute teacher in the local school system, and I believe her father was a mid level engineer. They seemed like they were a put together family and they really sort of exuded airs – if that makes any sense.

Anyway, the first time the girls and I were invited back to the smart girls’ house I was floored. Going into the enclosed front porch was like a peril from the Lord of the Rings: the room was filled floor to ceiling with stacks of newspapers and magazines. There was a narrow little pathway leading to the backdoor and into the kitchen. Navigating it was accompanied by a genuine (and realistic) fear of avalanche. Their excuse: ‘we are really passionate about recycling and the town hasn’t begun its recycling program yet.’

The kitchen was incredible. The door didn’t open all the way; there was too much garbage on the ground behind it. The place smelled moldy and chemically off all at once. Every surface, every countertop, was covered by what I could only assume was garbage. Nothing appeared functional, useable or salvageable. There were two refrigerators – both broken. They were using a cooler to keep their food. Before I could ask they told me that they ‘couldn’t replace the refrigerators yet because one of them was leaking Freon.’ To which I responded “?”

Half of the kitchen table and one chair were clear and empty. There was no treacherous path like on the porch, but the floor was littered ankle deep with trash.

The next room was a family room, with things – books, videotapes, magazines and random electronic equipment – stacked everywhere on everything, very much like the paper goods on the porch. Some of the stacks featured precariously balanced potted plants on top. There was a mostly clear couch aimed at a small television with a bunch of VCRs and Beta cassette players stacked on top (and no, this was not the 1980’s). I would later learn that only one of each worked. There was a basement room that the kids used as a game room. It was functional on one side and completely smothered in crap on the other side. It was unnerving – more potential for avalanche. The only other room I ever went into was smart-girls’. It was fairly clean and neat compared to the rest of the house. When we came over we mostly spent time in there or watching a movie on the couch.

(The other thing I remember about that house was the girl had a balalaika hanging on her bedroom wall, which I completely coveted. She said to me “I don’t know what’s wrong with it; I can’t get it to work for me.” So I tuned it and played it, and she was PISSED.)

That was the first time I had ever seen anything like that. I didn’t even know what to call it, I had never heard about hoarding before. And I suppose an argument could be made that these television shows are doing a service by educating the public. But if that was what it was all about, I’m sure they could come up with a way to do it that didn’t feature humiliating people, annoying therapists who are too aware that they are being filmed, self righteous haul-away organizers, and horror-movie like soundtracks. Back in the day however, I was completely floored. I didn’t understand how people who considered themselves to be so above everybody could think that that level of filth was acceptable to live in. I couldn’t even adequately explain it to my parents until very recently that this was why I didn’t want to go over that girls’ house anymore. At the time the concept was so out there they thought I was exaggerating.

Since then I have met two more hoarding families. This time around however, I knew what it was and how to handle myself. When I was a kid it was sort of stressful trying to remain in the situation (trust me, I wanted to leave) and be a polite guest. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t judging that family or that girl and I still don’t. I was just really taken aback and confused; I couldn’t reconcile these people and their external, intellectual image with their home. I had no context for what I was seeing. Now I get that this is a disorder, one that needs a lot of outside help and work to resolve.

I can understand hoarding to some extent. I can understand the need to seek comfort, and finding comfort in objects makes sense. You can touch material things; you can hold them and look at them. You cannot touch emotions; you cannot touch memories. What I don’t understand is the point when the hoarding leads to unsanitary conditions. When there are smells and feces and rot; when your home just deteriorates from the filth. I mean, clearly this is when it becomes severe mental illness, but one would think something deep down in your lizard brain would alert you to the health hazards.

So I guess the moral of this story is: ‘Hoarding is a mental illness that deserves our understanding and shouldn’t be exploited on television. People in pain are never casual entertainment.”

I can’t stand how channels like TLC and MTV and Discovery are such shitpiles now. Remember when the L in TLC stood for ‘learning’ and the M in MTV for ‘music’? Remember when the Discovery channel was awesome, and showed documentaries and not ‘reality’ shows about drunken hillbillies and motorcycle builders who fight? And it happens to every channel that is good. Animal Planet has shows about bounty hunters and tree house builders now. SciFi changed their name to Syfy – supposedly to incorporate fantasy (as in science fiction/fantasy) – but it plays wrestling matches. Sleuth played mysteries and then changed its name to Cloo and now plays USA reruns and castoffs (that’s when it’s not playing hours and hours of Law and Order spinoffs).

I swear, TLC makes my eyes catch fire. What the frak happened to that? They should be ashamed of themselves: Fake Gypsies and mocking trailer park families, and Rumspringa romps, hoarders and couponing.

Oh and by the way, those couponer people are assholes. Why? Well I’ll tell you. First off, hoarding food is seriously shitty, especially when something like one in six (or five depending on who is doing the counting) children in the United States goes hungry every day. I mean really. If you’re doing it for a food bank or something then good for you, but we all know that most of these people are stockpiling for themselves. Another thing that may be equally significant is this: people doing this couponing thing for sport, and this series on television documenting it and making it more popular, is making manufacturers and groceries change the rules on how they accept and distribute (and if they distribute) coupons. It’s making it harder for people who actually need coupons to stretch their very small budgets to do so. So these super couponers or whatever they call themselves are just unbelievably selfish, there really is no other word for it.

I got Ed Bighead from my local farm stand.

I got Ed Bighead from my local farm stand.

Before I go I have one more brief rant, and it’s about so-called superfoods. Just so you know superfoods are contributing to cost inflation (and unfair farming practices) of important nutrition. Groceries – and unfortunately, especially ‘health-conscious’ stores – use the term superfood as a marketing tool to inflate prices on key items. The problem is, these key items are truly as nutritious as they say they are and in many situations the new inflated costs make it so that people on a limited budget (poorer people) are unable to get them. Therefore, when at one time they were able to purchase proper, more-bang-for-your-buck foodstuffs, they now can’t afford it at all and are forced to go without proper nutrition. This is called food gentrification and you may have heard of it. The best example of this would be kale, which was primarily eaten by lower-income families, and was affordable, but since being declared a superfood has risen in price over 75%. Next on the ‘superfood’ chopping block are collard greens.

This sort of thing is done in the free market all the time – a manufacturer has a product and they reimage it in order to appeal to another, more affluent demographic. The problem is food isn’t a manufactured item. Food is a necessity for everyone despite their demographic. Food gentrification is making it so that only wealthier, or better off people, can afford to eat properly. It’s not only unfair, it’s unethical and immoral. So next time you hear of a superfood in some magazine, don’t buy it. Or, don’t buy it from a store like Whole Foods that is trying to turn a profit at the expense of people’s health. Better yet, grow it yourself or buy it directly from a local farmer or farm stand or food coop. Trust me, you’ll get better quality food, without a marketing team behind it. That alone should save you some coin per pound.

Big Bad Storm Behaviour and Overstimulated Deer

The tomato soup is trying to kill me. It’s in my stomach searing it’s way out as I write this. Dear Glob. At this point I am doubting that this is even tomato soup after all. Maybe it’s Gorgon blood or worse yet, lava. And not that, you know, firey explodey kind of lava either, but the slow, oozy, seepy kind of lava that is still amazingly hot, but you don’t even notice it as you walk by until you realize the reason you’ve just fallen on your face is because your legs are gone. That’s what’s going on in my stomach right now.

In the world today New England is battening the hatches for some apocalyptic snow storm. As per us’ for this time of the year. I am hoping that this pending storm won’t warrant a reaction similar to that of last year’s big snow. Last weekend we had a heavy, wet snowstorm that dropped about four to six, and was a complete surprise to us locals. All the local meteorologists were at a loss for words (which was awesome). And for the first time in a long time, there was no stupid driving, ridiculous panic or rushing of super markets. I know this, because I was actually in a grocery store when the storm hit, shopping it up (like you do). We just looked out at the rampaging sky, shrugged it off, and went about our business.

It was like the awesome ‘old’ days when we New Englanders, people renowned for their curmudgeonly ways (a friend once explained to some Californians that what we have is called ‘crustiness’ so there’s no need to call the cops), did not give in to the bullshit hype that the media is always bombarding us with. ‘Scared people are good citizen-consumers.’ (Angie Simbert, Memento Nora). Most of us just got crabby and didn’t bother to shovel. And besides the Patriot’s were playing the next day, as I’m quite sure Mark Whalbergs ‘ neighbors would find out the hard way.

So now we must wait and see how we fare with this coming storm. I seriously hope the good, smart, angry people of New England refrain from ransacking the local grocers of all their milk and Pop Tarts.

On that day in that very grocery store I had an incident. I was struck by a moment of panic. Not a full blown ‘attack’ as it were, but a close call nonetheless. I was moments away from a full on crisis however, when something occurred to me. Earlier in the week I had watched a Nature documentary about deer and how and why they’ve been moving closer and closer to human beings, basically overtaking U.S. suburbia. They explained how deer have super shitty eyesight, which I didn’t know, even worse than human eyesight. They also explained that the whole deer-in-the-headlights phenomenon occurs because the deer is actually so over stimulated by all of the sensory input around it that it physically can’t move. It’s literally paralyzed by its’ own senses. And as I was wandering the wrong direction down a frozen food aisle and slowing to a stop in my newly giganticized local grocery, it occurred to me that this same phenomenon was happening to me. I knew what I had to do, I knew what I had to do to feel better about what was happening to me, and yet I couldn’t get myself to move or function properly. I was freezing up from sensory overload. Which makes sense, if you think about it; all of my worst panic situations occur when I’m driving, when I’m in a store, or other large facilities by myself.

So what I can derive from this lesson is that I am apparently a deer in disguise. Huh. And here I always thought I was a whale. A SPACE whale.

As seen here, the surprise storm inconvenienced Cobble the most.

As seen here, the surprise storm inconvenienced Cobble the most.

Okay, so it’s the next day now, and wouldn’t ya know – it didn’t snow. At all. All the schools closed, the governor cancelled his speech and everything was shut down for a bright sunny day. Temperatures did plummet however, if you can call going from somewhere in the forties on Monday night and then being -2 degrees on Tuesday night plummeting. Aside from closing down everything preemptively for naught, I think we did pretty good. No stupid accidents or traffic jams, and no racing to stand in line for an hour at the grocery hugging a quart of milk (that you just knocked an old lady down for) to your chest.  So well done, us I suppose.

I do worry however, that there will be too many people outside or otherwise unable to keep warm this week in these apocalyptic temperatures. I wonder if there is any way to get the statistics on that. Is there an accurate, officially tally? I’m not just saying this either, I genuinely stay up nights over this. How can we be the richest, ‘greatest’ country in the world, and yet people still freeze to death every year? Or go hungry? Events like this just drive home how flawed and ineffectual capitalism is.

And on that note.

Fracking, and Other Ways to Disturb the Neighbors

Frackers don’t get any cookies.

So mystery still ensues as to what the hell my neighbors have been up to. For those of you (that would be none of you as no one knows this blog exists), following along on my Twitter or FB, you’d have heard tell the saga of the upheaval caused by my neighbor doing mysterious shiz in his lawn.

To recap, I shall lazily repost my FB and Twitter ramblings, and perhaps expound from there:

DAY 1:
Landscapers put a giant machine across the front of my house this morning and keep running smaller machines across my driveway. Loud machines. They are going to the home of the neighbor across the way who obsessively seeds his lawn as if it’s a direct reflection of his male patterned baldness. I’m watching to see what they are doing exactly with these machines, as there is nothing there but lawn (and not a very big one). Whatever it is, they’ve been at it since 7 and it’s now 11:30 and it involves chains.

I thought maybe they were loudly hiding a body, but they don’t seem to be digging. I can see them and like I said it’s just lawn – not even stumps. It’s like they’re just going over the lawn. Maybe these are CSI heat/gas detection units disguised as landscaping noisemakers and they are trying to find a gas pocket of remains or something deep down. Either that or they’re trying to iron out his lawn, like he likes it flat or something. (He gets high, puts on Odetta and irons his lawn, man.) Or it’s making a giant comb over…

Or – oh no, maybe they’re fracking! O, sweet Glob no!

(I just went outside and yelled ‘Stop Fracking!’ at them. Just in case… They have stopped their machines. They look confused.)

Yeah. I’m thinking it’s fracking, now.

They’ve ramped up the noise considerably so I think they’re trying to frack faster before the environmental agents show up with lasers.

‎(Just screamed “Be louder!” at them, because I’m sure that there are decibel levels above this one just dying to be explored.)

It has been suggested that maybe it is not fracking, but in fact, neighborhood revenge for BB’s having ‘tested’ his PA system in the driveway yesterday afternoon. This ”testing’ involved turning the giant speakers up past eleven and staying inside the house shouting into it and then swearing because it “wasn’t working”. As the floors were rattling and the clock was nearly coming off the wall and the neighborhood dogs were all flipping the frell out, I had to ask the question “What exactly is it meant to do that it’s now not doing?”  BB replied with a string of swears and an attitude that implied that I was a hapless idiot. So he had ME speak into the mic in the kitchen while he went outside to ‘hear’ it. Hear it? Curiosity could hear it on Mars (consider that revenge for that Will.I.AM shet, bitch). So I spoke into the mic, telling my next door neighbors possibly psychotic German shepherd to relax, it was all going to be okay, and BB came back in grumbling that he ‘fixed it’. He then plugged his MP3 player into it and blared CSNY, the Shods and much of Elvis Costello’s classic My Aim Is True into the atmosphere until he was satisfied that it was working well enough to use at his office retreat where he would play the part of DJ on the beach.

While that was a plausible theory – that this was neighborly revenge (remember that? What we were originally ranting about? Like how I just went off there for a while ?), not so much that BB was a DJ – I strongly disagree and hold to the fracking theory. The seismic forces at work here were epic, and the ground rumbled to a point that made my feet hurt. There was a smell too, an unpleasant one: gaseous, nearly ozone in nature. Sort of an angry, oily, electrically burny smell. All of that, coupled with the fact that the neighbor in question is shifty, and I’m fairly certain a republican, further supports my fracking theory. I mean, the guy is a genuine douche. I live on a corner, and his house is on the street that runs parallel to my front door. Not only did he park in front of my house and block my driveway with his machines, he blocked off the street his house was on as well. So he made it so I couldn’t leave and no one on either street could leave either. Don’t you need a copper when you are gonna block a street off? Isn’t that just good manners in a civilized society?

This went on for some time, but I don’t know for how long, as around one I ended up escaping to a twisted doctor’s appointment and having an adventure that involved many people singing the “Soft Kitty” song at my mother, getting on the bad side of a phlebotomist, being snubbed by a lifelong family friend at the grocery, and picking up a rose bush named “Cocoa” from a perennial clearance sale at a local garden center and then trying to fit it into my mother’s Hyundai “Accent”.  That’s a tale for another time though.

DAY 2:

It happens again. Monkeys. No. The fracking. It started around six a.m. today. But that’s okay, I had already been awakened a half hour earlier by my neighbor revving his motorcycle over and over. By ten however, the foot buzzing rumbling is abandoned for an annoying drone that makes you really want to bang your head against a wall. Preferably a brick one.

“The frackers got the chains again. This could be fun if there wasn’t so much fracking involved. (It puts the lotion in the baaaasket.)”

“They have a little yappy dog and spare skin in their truck?”

“They may… THEY MAY. You can’t assume anything when dealing with the likes of Frackers.”

The chains clinking and clacking was just absurd. Plus they had parked the machine mover/carrier in front of my house again, and they were continuously getting a Bobcat machine up on it and then down off it again, it was like they couldn’t decide if they should use it or not.
I shouted at them some more, and all the men looked weary and skittish for the rest of the day.

So I figured there was only one thing to do: bake cookies. When they were done they were delicious (a tray of giant brownie fudge chunk and another of peanut butter blossoms) and I was shouting “See this? You can’t have any you fracking bastards!!!!” because I’m awesome and they had to know what they were up against.

I am still not sure what they were accomplishing over there. There’s a crunchy dirt mound where there wasn’t one before. BB had come home and spied at them with me (under the guise of watering the gardens and enjoying delicious cookies) and he has theorized that the big white vehicle was actually a secret refrigerated coroners vehicle, but I dunno. I don’t think the neighbor is cool enough to be moving a cemetery or hiding/unearthing bodies. But he still seems the fracking type.

I’ll post more in the week, and take a photo of his lawn as things unfold.