NaNoWriMo and Brain Leakage

I’ve decided to take a break from my weird life shits and discuss something of great and ill-advised import: I’m finally going to give NaNoWriMo a go. For many years it has been my intention to participate, but something always thwarts it. Although, really, that something has generally been me: I typically am too busy, forget when it starts, or just forget it exists altogether. Forgetting is a skill at which I excel.

But this year due to a series of badness culminating in my taking a semester off for the first time in three years (including summer breaks), I’m jumping in. I am not sure what I’m going to write though, which I guess is a big ‘oh shit’ thing in the NaNoWriMo world. Most people spend the year preparing for this like you would a marathon. Many have outlines, titles, plotlines, character profiles – everything ready to go come 12 a.m. November 1st. I’m not like that. I don’t really know what I’m going to do.

That’s not to say that I don’t have options or whatnot. I have a notebook full of story ideas that I draw from and add to frequently. So I’m set for something to write about, I just haven’t picked yet. I’m not sure if I should choose one I’ve been mulling over for a bit, contemplate something from the idea book or go completely random and pull one from a hat.

I took the semester off – as in started classes and then withdrew when life became too overwhelming – because of the stress, but also because my migraines are back. With a vengeance. I had successfully whittled them down to one every once in a while, and now I have been having them every day for weeks straight. And there really isn’t anything I can do about them other than take this medicine that doesn’t make it better so much as make me sleepy and weird. Sleepy and weird with my brain leaking out my eyes and ears. It’s crazy frustrating. I can’t read or go online like I’d normally do. I have so much to do and am just unable. Did I mention that my migraines are vertiginous? Yeah, so that’s fun. Now I think that maybe I’m setting myself up for failure with this NaNoWriMo thing. Glutton for punishment am I.

 

Arts

I’ve been encouraged to do art-type things on a more frequent basis, studio access or not, to help me deal with my current shituation. So I got this tiny Moleskine knockoff. It’s roughly 3” x 4” and I’ve been trying to scribble in it at least once a day.

In the midst of my grandfather chaos, my uncle, aunt and father have been having this sibling painting competition. Meaning they’ve been painting in these Barbie watercolor books with my nearly three year old cousin, and have decided my art degree qualifies me as judge. It also apparently qualifies my uncle to make snide little comments about my being unemployed. This is a thing with this particular uncle. I couldn’t list the bullshit immature crap he’s pulled on me since I’ve been born. No, that list would take many blog entries. He likes to take little digs at me for no reason. Literally no reason; he would say mean and nasty things to me and about me when I was a TODDLER. The man is immature as fuck. Even in his 50s.

He spent a few days using my art degree as an excuse to make little digs, implying that I’m so bad at art I can’t get employed. So I whipped out my tiny sketchbook that I have been keeping on me at all times, and his wife snatched it up and dropped her jaw. ‘CAUSE I CAN FUKKIN ART. “That’s how it’s done son.” I declared, thus slightly smiting him in front of his laughing wife, sister, brother, mother, nephew, teenage daughter and one of his teen sons.

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the pencil.

So that’s all I got. Next time perhaps I’ll regale you with tales of amusing librarians, and tell you what it’s like to cry in the basement of a house that is falling over.

Until then, please enjoy this Andrew Bird playlist, composed by my psychic MP3 player just for this occasion.

 

The Psychic MP3 Player Presents: A strictly Andrew Bird Assortment

  1. Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses
  2. Anonanimal
  3. Polynation
  4. Happy Birthday Song
  5. Hover I
  6. Far From Any Road (Be My Hand)
  7. The Giant of Illinois (Dark Was the Night version)
  8. Orpheo
  9. Unfolding Fans
  10. Desperation Breeds…
  11. Tin Foiled
  12. Near Death Experience
  13. If I Needed You
  14. Grinnin’ In Your Face (Fingerlings 3 version)
  15. Pulaski At Night
  16. Cathedral in the Dell
  17. Fitz and Dizzyspells
  18. Frogs Singing
Advertisements

A stupid update and stupid Ebola

IMG_7788

I realized that I haven’t been posting lately and although I’m sure no one has noticed, I have, and that right there goes against the whole point of this blog experiment. This is not to say that I haven’t tried. I went and started about half a dozen of these but then got too overwhelmed or tired to complete them. So here I am with a brief synopsis on my junk, which I may or may not go into further detail on at a later date.

When last I posted it was shortly after my cousin’s memorial service. It’s been really hard, and affecting me in strange little everyday ways – but also in big ways. Like how I celebrate Christmas sort of ways. This year has been upsetting and disruptive to my routine, traditions and things that make someone like me – someone with major anxiety and depressive issues – on edge.

My great aunt, who is really my grandmother (she was there for me like a grandmother when her sister, my actual grandmother, wouldn’t be), suffered a series of strokes that have left her barely able to think, see, hear or speak. The matriarch of my family, as well as the single wisest person I know, has now lost everything, is in a senior living facility, and her life is being dictated by this monster of a cousin-in-law whose motives in the whole situation are dubious at best. I feel so entirely helpless in this that I don’t know what to do. TheRapist has tried to help me with it, but she doesn’t understand our relationship. She doesn’t get how for the majority of my life I felt that only one person in my entire family understood me, and I’m losing her: systematically, and in most despicable ways.

A terrible run in with the cousin-in-law has also started a strange thing in my family. People by and large are on my side because this woman is particularly offensive. However, it’s making things hard in other ways.

My house is entering its fourth year of renovation. Meaning that my entire house is in disarray, half of it has little to no electricity and no lighting, many of our belongings are in storage (including stored in my studio – thereby preventing my being able to use it) and it’s just not a big enough house for this much disruption. The main reason this is happening is because my father insists on doing these renovations by himself, but he doesn’t want to do it. He’d rather play with his boat or his band. So a project that could be finished in a weekend or two has taken nearly four years. Any interference from my mother or me is met with hostility and accusations. It’s created an environment of stress and resentment that is just too much right now.

Especially considering that my mother has atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. We finally got the heart failure into remission when she just made all of her stress worse and now it’s acute again. Awesome. Add to that my father quitting his fucked up (once epically awesome job) for a new one, and having to wait for the new health insurance to kick, it’s been a ball over here.

And it’s not just my mom who is sick. Our ancient greyhound is not doing too well either; and we don’t expect to spend another Christmas with him.

Personally I’ve not been in a good place. I may have to have a surgery next year that I’m not really on board with but am afraid I am without choice. My anxiety is at epic levels (obviously), I’m unemployed and unemployable. I am now, for the first time in years, officially broke. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Everything has been coming at me from all angles (even more things, things that I don’t want to even mention, lest I well up or throw up), and just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my grandmother called crying yesterday. My grandfather isn’t well, and instead of going to the doctor or the hospital, he’s refused medical treatment and aid. He won’t let us move him or let the ambulance take him. He’s announced that he wants to die and won’t get out of bed and eat.

So right now there’s this epic vigil going on at my grandparents’ house. We’re all just waiting for him to knock it off or die. And seeing as he is a stubborn old fool, and he isn’t well to begin with, he’s going to slowly die in his bed, breaking the hearts of his four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. And there is nothing we can do about it.

For the first time I really don’t think that I can handle this. It’s literally too much for me.

So there’s that. My completely bullshit life, and the reason I’m not really up for much socializing or generalizing or blogging.

____________

Before I go, I do have something I’d like to say about this Ebola outbreak. There’s been a lot of panic, a lot of bullshit reporting, and apparently even some ignorant and ridiculous conspiracy theories. But what it comes down to is this:

The reason why Ebola is spreading through Africa uncontrollably right now is because of poor sanitary conditions. The poor sanitary conditions are a direct result of having no access to clean water. This is a larger, much more terrible, much more difficult, underlying problem that needs to be addressed and no longer ignored.

Having no clean water is a major and horrific reality that you almost never hear about, and that most people in the western world don’t give a shit about. But the fact is, around a billion people worldwide have no access to clean water. An estimated 345 million of those people are in Africa alone. So now these diseases that are rare, that are containable – hell, some that should have been obliterated ages ago – are free to go unchecked because there is just no way to maintain sanitation when there is no sanitation to begin with.

What is happening with the Ebola outbreak in Africa is only an issue with us in the Western world because it’s starting to affect us directly. And like most things that happen around the world, they get ignored until they affect us directly. It’s sad.

Coming up with new treatments that only first-worlders can afford, or doing special new screenings at airports is ignoring the real issue and placating the few. It is the equivalent of walking into the most used room of your home, seeing a steaming pile of shit in the middle of the floor, covering it with a facial tissue and then walking away.

Without fixing the whole problem, the core problem, the ACTUAL problem, things are going to get worse and worse. For all of us.

Everything that happens everywhere in the world, everywhere on this Earth affects us directly. There is no us and them. There is only us. This is our problem and it is spreading. It won’t be long before it’s a rampant issue in the US. And note how I said ‘rampant’ – because it already is becoming an issue here.

So I just wanted to point that out. I also want to point out that these massive problems aren’t impossible. There are solutions. Everyone and anyone can help. You can raise awareness. You can demand it become a central political issue. Go to water.org to get further educated and see what else you can do to help bring clean water to these areas.

That’s it for now. Later.

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.

 ____________

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.

___________

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.

 

 

Addiction, Depression and How Not To Blog

I have succumbed to a terrible, terrible addiction. “CURSE YOU DUNKIN’ DONUTS!” For those of you who don’t know – because you live on one of those rare Saturnine moons that is devoid of a Dunks – Dunkin’ Donuts is a coffee and doughnuts chain that has insidiously seeped from the American North East across the continent and into the universe. Yeah, they have doughnuts, as the name implies, but they mostly do a business in beverages – coffees and cocoa and frozen dealies. Dunks runs are a staple around here, and since I don’t like coffee, I usually end up with the occasional Chai or cocoa (depending on the level of gutrot I can handle that morning). Well now they’ve introduced ‘fresh brewed iced green tea’ to their menu and DEAR GLOB. It’s not fair.

And it’s really tea, too. It’s UNSWEETENED and COMES WITH REAL LEMON WEDGES IN IT. Seriously. I love tea, and iced tea, but I have to make it myself because I hate stuff in it. I like it bitter, and strong. Like my soul. So I rarely get it from commercial or outside sources as it will inevitably be sweetened with HFCS, doused with preservatives and taste nothing like tea. (Don’t even get me started on ‘sweet tea’.) But now Dunks is selling it in convenient gallon sized cups with straws sticking out of it. So I’ve been downing those at an expensive and alarming rate. Sufficed to say I’m so strung that I’m left with no choice but to quit them cold turkey. If you can call purchasing a Cuppow, stainless steel straws and mason jars to start my own refrigerator iced tea production line going cold turkey. I feel so damn guilty with the whole people spending a lot of money on me to support my addiction (which is just an excuse to enable their own coffee addictions), and the waste produced by the straws and cups that I’ve had to take matters into my own hands.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you invest in a Cuppow. Not only are they awesome and help decrease waste, but they are completely U.S. made products: they are designed, created and produced out of Somerville, MA, manufactured in MA, and even their packaging is printed and designed in Somerville. So it’s sorta green and sorta local. And awesome. And I swear I’ve sung the praises of Cuppow so much that they should pay me already.

paperwhites

So now that that idiotic rant about iced tea is spent, let’s move on to more fun things. Like morbid depression. Yes folks, I am fukkin depressed. Why you ask? Well, I suspect genes, mostly. I also suspect my current life situation is just a bit… shit. So that isn’t helping anything.

Being depressed fucks things up. I mean, I’m a depressed sort as it is, but now I’m depressed on top of my normal down self. Double Depressed, as Oogie Boogie would say. This means that instead of trudging through but accomplishing things, I’m now not accomplishing much of anything. So all of my projects have been shelved, and I’m just barely reading or doing school and that’s about it. It’s maddening because I don’t want to do nothing; I really want to do things. It’s frustrating. I even broke out the new art set I got at IKEA – basically because I couldn’t be bothered to pull out my Windsor-Newton – and tried to art it up with my bargain bin watercolors, but couldn’t get into it, much to my chagrin. (Quick side note – In all honestly, if you want to see the worst of humanity, go to IKEA on a weekend.)

Now I’m pursuing drastic measures – a.k.a. therapy. This is a rather big deal for me as my past history with therapy isn’t that great. I wrote this huge, dark blag about it, but like most of what I write for here, I haven’t posted it.

It’s funny, I do that a lot. I also take things off and put things back on, or not. This is half because I just want to write and half because I don’t need the attention – like I am not writing a blog for people to even read. Does that make sense? I’m not garnering readers (although I am truly grateful for the ones I have, so long as they are genuine and not trolls or spammers trying to sell me blog-building tools), and I’m not a journalist. I just want to write. So I often question how healthy it is putting stuff out there, but then at the same time, at least I’m doing something and putting it somewhere.

So I’m probably going to post a long depressing thing about why I have issues with the mental health profession soon. But not now. Now I am going to leave you with this handy playlist and that sour taste in your mouth you get after reading one of my posts.

Grizzly Bear – The Hunt
Grizzly Bear – While You Wait For The Others (Live on KCRW)
The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon
Donovan – Sunshine Superman
Christopher Andrews – Yesterday Man
The Supremes – The Happening
The Box Tops – The Letter
Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne
Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)
Cold Blood – I’m A Good Woman / Let Me Down Easy

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.

Hamster Cardiology, Rabbit Euthenasia and Synthetic Pain Management

crane

When I was a kid, somewhere between the ages of 8 and 10, I performed surgery on a hamster. I removed worms from its pericardium, and put them on a slide.
I still have the slide.

Now, dear reader, I suspect you have some questions. I mean, that first line is upsetting in itself. And yet, not too surprising; little kids are known to do such things. They torture bugs: burning ants, dissecting beetles, and tearing the wings off of flies. They take apart little things like frogs and minnows. All of this of course is done generally out of curiosity, and only occasionally out of psychopathy. Most little kids don’t even get the significance of their actions and feel that perhaps they can glue the little things back together and everything will be okay.

So that last bit there about pericardia and slides must have really thrown you.

Would it help if I mentioned the hamster was part of a laboratory trial, and the laboratory in question was at Harvard University, and that the entire procedure – from sedating the little guy (which I remember to this day as being a strange combination of horrifying and cute) to the surgery and subsequent staining of the slide sample was all done under the supervision of one of the head researchers in the trial?

What was I doing in a major experimental research laboratory after hours performing life saving surgery on a cute hamster? I DON’T KNOW.

Well, I sort of know, but it’s not really important. What is important is that this really happened and it would go on to support a long held belief in my family that by now I would be a doctor or a veterinarian and I’d be successful and happy and at the very least smart and stable. Well aren’t I a colossal disappointment?

I think however, the most significant thing about this particular childhood incident is the fact that whenever I replay events in my mind, I imagine that the hamster in question is clothed. I believe this has everything to do with how it reacted when it was going under sedation: it rose up on two legs, then sunk down into a very human-like sitting position – on it’s rump with it’s little back legs stuck out straight in front of it and it’s tail sticking up in the back. Its jaw dropped open in a dumbfounded sort of way, its tail drooping, before finally falling onto its back – hind legs in the air.

Despite how human and adorable my rodent patient, I had no trouble going through with the procedure. I followed every direction, did not get ‘grossed out’, and later I found the worms on the slide endlessly fascinating. I was remote, practical, professional and clinical. And I was still in primary school.

So fast forward some decades later to last summer, when I woke to find an amazingly horrific sight: my ancient rabbit (we suspect him to have been at least fourteen earth years in age), Killer, was in a condition so awful I can’t say here what it was. Let’s just say that it was so disgusting that when I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT and ran for help NO ONE BELIEVED ME. It was so unimaginably awful all I could keep saying was “Why is he still alive?”

This prompted the urgent and immediate necessity to put him out of his misery. And I, as the only person in the house not in cowardly denial, was the obvious one tasked to do it. So I tried and found that I couldn’t; I just couldn’t. I don’t know why exactly. It needed to be done, it was the merciful thing to do, and I knew this. I cried and I vomited and then I cried and vomited some more but I couldn’t do it. I even went so far as to try and poison him with prescription painkillers but (not surprisingly) he wouldn’t drink or eat anything. I didn’t know what to do.

I often wonder what happened to me between then and now – between hamster and bunny – that made me change. Especially when you consider how absolutely shitty life has been to me. I mean, why am I suddenly kinder and not a serial killer? Where did I go wrong? Why couldn’t that clinical, in control reserve that allowed me to cut into a hamster as a child help me now? I mean, I call it up more often then you’d think. So why, when I needed it the most did it fail me?

When bad shit happens I’m usually the only one in the room with their head on straight. Be it driving somewhere with Mum when lost, calling 911 when someone needs emergency care (and riding in the ambulance), taking everyone’s shit when someone dies – I’m the one who keeps everything together. And seeing as I have an awesome case of panic disorder, this is really saying something.

I keep finding myself wishing I could tap into that clinical 8-to-10-year-olds’ magical detachment. I think these days it would really help.

Ultimately BB put Killer down, and it’s been a few weeks since my last nightmare about it. But I can’t help but wonder and question, all the time, why I was so weak.

So…

I have to take vicodin more often. It makes me write the BEST blag posts ever. Really.

Yeah, so I’m on painkillers. WOOO! Or, if you’re me: woo.
I hate being on drugs. I don’t like feeling out of control of my brain – understandable, especially when you consider it’s all I’ve really got going for me.

Last Friday I spent in the ER at a not-so-local local hospital, and after a few hours of agony where they determined I was not in fact a drug-seeker, they gave me an intravenous cocktail of painkillers and antiemetics which was just… awful. Granted, it dropped my pain level from a 7 to a 5 and at one point a 4.

This is the World's Most Accurate Pain Chart. Possibly the ONLY accurate pain chart. It was created by Allie Brosh. (Please don't sue me.)

I borrowed this from Allie Brosh (please don’t sue me). It is the World’s Most Accurate Pain Chart. Possibly the ONLY accurate pain chart.

But it also did a few awesomely shite things like give me mushmouth and make me a bastion of profundity, dropping such gems as: “I hate my hair now. It’s not fair that my hair can’t be purple anymore.” (Tear slips down cheek).

When they put it in the IV, and then into me, it HURT. And I mean, it was like suddenly hot lead was being poured through my arm, across my shoulders, out my other arm and down through my head into my neck. It physically felt as though a great hot weight was suddenly forcing me down. And the taste in the back of my throat was awful.

After they sent me home I spent the night having crazy fucking vivid dreams and hallucinations. I literally could not tell awake from asleep, and I couldn’t do anything about it but ride it out. This resulted in my not taking ANYTHING for the crazy pain – that is nowhere near resolved – for the next few days. Not an unreasonable reaction under the circumstances.

Unfortunately I can’t keep up the pain side of things, and have succumbed to the prescription I was sent home with.
Right now I’m just trying to head the pain off at the pass until some better plan arises. I am taking the ‘conquering a migraine approach’.

So that’s been fun…

Typewriters and Canscer Scares

So I have somehow inherited (if this is the proper word for it) the typewriter of a beloved and popular uncle. By inherited I mean, I posted on Facebook how I wished I had a proper, old-school manual typewriter (as opposed to my much beloved electric Smith-Corona) and a cousin told me that he wanted to give me my uncles’ typewriter which was rescued from the rubbish when they cleaned out his house after he moved away from the old neighborhood.

I don’t know much about the typewriter, other than my uncle loved it. He was a letter writer apparently, and he took very good care of the instrument while it was of interest to him.

Sufficed to say, although the typewriter I had in mind was a turn of the century Remington, I am much obliged for this specimen. With every tap of the keys my Smith-Corona slams the hammer against the paper with enough force to pierce it – and indeed on occasion it has. It is an angry thing and quite appropriate for my artistic purposes. Am curious to see how I will fair with this new noise; it seems a might bit tamer than the bitter THWACK! of my old electric. Now all I need is ribbon and I should be all set. I am looking forward to penning another chapter or short story on it in the future.

Typewriters of Famous Writers

Once I have done something to facilitate the accessibility of mine hovel (to some degree of efficiency) I shall commence with the disparate and fictitious nonsense such is my literary career. Which are just fancy words for ‘once I get all my ducks in a row, I shall shoot them’.  Every time I manage to get some of the crazy out of my head and on paper all I get is a stomach ache for my reward. I have a few people I force to read my crap and ask for advice, but I don’t know. Not that I don’t trust them, it’s just maybe I need a wider sample? Or better yet – no sample at all?

In other news, probably more pressing, my surgical endeavors were successful. Thus far at least. Phil has been removed and is living somewhere off the grid. My foot has a badass scar, and as we all know, chicks and hotties dig scars, so perhaps this will all work out in my favour one of these days. I am healing nicely, the stitches, bandages and the boot (I had to tromp about in a boot of doom and keep my foot otherwise elevated) came off after three weeks.

The biopsy revealed no canscer – Phil was just a freeloading asshole. I had hoped at least for teeth and some hair, just for fun, but nope. The nerves in the area will be a bit raw for a while, and I have to keep an eye out for unusual colorations or swelling, but otherwise I was sent away from podiatry with a clean bill of health. So huzzah for me.

Like I have mentioned before, this is not my first cancer scare. This is like, my fourth in the last decade. So, although I should be more upset that this keeps happening, there is nothing more I can do. I eat crazy healthy, I even try to grow my own non GMO food. I try to exercise. It’s just how it is I guess.

In fact, the day after the stitches came out I had my annual intestinal probe. They found another giant adenoma, like they did during my first cancer scare. With my intestinal disorder I have a seriously elevated risk of colon and other cancers of the digestive tract. The first time was like Defcon Five around here, everyone in a panic, me keeping everyone together. Then I got a big speech from the gastro-doc informing me that although I don’t have cancer now, the polyps he removed were an early form of cancer. He told me I basically had stage zero cancer and that there wasn’t much that they could do other than be more vigilant. So my colonoscopies went from every three years to annually, with intermittent testing in between, and my cancer risk has gone from ‘elevated’ to one-in-three or one-in-two chances of getting ill.

So that’s going to be fun.

My biggest issue with getting sick is everyone else around me; these things freak everyone out more than me. So if it seemed that I was nonchalant about Phil I wasn’t trying to be coy; I was just trying to downplay it and see how things turned out before reacting. Or overreacting, rather. My family is populated with amazing, giving people. But it’s also populated with worriers – as in ‘worry-myself-sick’ worriers – and people who make other people’s misfortunes their own personal tragedies. Plus, since the dawn of e-mail and Facebook the rumour mill is alive and well and surprisingly even more ill-informed than ever.

So my colon is clean – yet angry, and my foot is sore but healing.

I didn’t get to go to Blick after all, because I am TOO BROKE, but I did manage a copy of The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas for one of my classes. It was really good and worth it. I was surprised and not surprised at the same time that my library didn’t carry it, and that in fact none of the libraries in this part of my STATE had it. So maybe when I am through with it I may donate it. Maybe.

I am a selfish bitch.