Thursday, December 24, 2009
"It's not Christmas 'til somebody cries." I heard my mom say this a couple weeks ago in response to some Christmas-themed television show. Today, she informed me that she thought it came from parents whose children cried from crankiness because of a lack of sleep while attempting to wait for Santa or whose toys got lost or whatever. But at the time she said it, all I could think of was my pre-teen and teenage years, when my step-dad (a grinch by upbringing) and I would always get into a fight, which ended in me crying and running out of the room. The fights always revolved around his desire for me to be more "sociable" with our family. Now, I'm an only child who's always been a bit introverted. I was being as sociable as I felt comfortable being. I was never rude and I attempted conversation with everyone, but I never had anyone my own age in our family, nor anyone I really had a great deal in common with, so, eventually, I'd end up sitting in a corner, reading a book or watching TV, though I always jumped right up to help do anything the adults needed, like setting the table. Looking back, I think that, as my step-dad and mom were usually cooking at holidays or doing some kind of work, my step-dad thought I should be doing the entertaining of our relatives, so they weren't as bored as I clearly was. But I didn't get that at the time and he didn't say it that way so.... we fought. And I cried. Which then made him look bad in front of our relatives, which made him more mad and grumpy, which then might lead to aftershock fights. For so long, I really hated holidays with my family because I thought there was no way around those fights. I don't think I came around to trying harder or just living through the fights until, after another fight with my uncle, during which he got so upset with me that he walked out, I realized how much Christmas, and all the other family holidays, meant to him. But it really has come to mean alot to me.
Last Christmas was full of a great deal of crying. It was the first Christmas without my Grandfather. Now he really loved Christmas. I don't think he was much for the smaltzy, sentimental side of Christmas, but he loved funny Christmas movie (Christmas Vacation especially) and tv specials. He liked Christmas music, always turning the cable tv to the seasonal music channel. He liked watching people open gifts, though Grandma always did all their Christmas shopping as soon as she could pry a Wish List out of us, and she started asking in September. But, from what Gram told me, which I'm not sure how reliable of a narrator she was, every year Grandpa would get gussied up and go shopping on the last possible shopping day. He liked to do it during the day of Christmas Eve, but that wasn't always possible, as we had several Christmas in Very Big Midwestern City, when I lived there with my mom and step-dad, as that was also where the rest of my step-dad's family lived and we were all friends. Grandpa liked watching the people though. Usually, he only bought one present, always for my grandma. Sometimes it would be something he knew she or they needed but that Grandma kept saying they couldn't afford yet, though it was quite often jewelry. Never costume jewlery either, but real diamonds and rubies. When he had had his fill of humanity, he'd come home, wrap the present, scrawl out the gift tag in his shaky hand, and set it carefully under the tree. (Well, except the tv. That he covered with a blanket in the guest room until Christmas morning, then he took her in the room to show her the present.) But, whether it's true or not, I still love this story about my grandpa. So it was hard last year to celebrate without him, without his cheer and his sparkle. Without the ham we had to have because Grandpa wouldn't eat any kind of fowl. Without his skiing Santa animated toy. Both sides of the family were at my step-dad's parents' house. I was in pain from falling on the ice the day before. I was angry that my step-dad's parents had invited a friend from their church to what was a very emotional Christmas for those of us on my mother's side. I went out to the garage to smoke and ended up crying, though I tried to be careful not to mess up my makeup. My grandma came out to have a cigarette as well and she said that I couldn't cry because then she'd cry and if she started crying, she might not stop. She also pointed out that Grandpa wouldn't have wanted us to be sad on Christmas, but to celebrate the family, the funny and weird, and even the consumerism of contemporary gift giving. She also reminded me that it wouldn't do a damn bit of good to try to tell my other grandparents anything because they wouldn't understand, they'd do what they wanted to anyway, and I'd be the only one upset. Of course, on this she was right and I didn't say anything, though I didn't really enjoy the time anymore than I already was.
Which brings me to this Christmas. No one in my mother's family seemed to really feel like celebrating, with both Grandma and Grandpa gone and my uncle in the middle of chemo. Also, no one has a great deal of money or wants any gifts. As my maternal uncle can't really travel, we decided to skip the trip to my step-dad's parents' house. But, well, I can't help trying to push for a bit of the holiday spirit. I offered to put up and decorate our Christmas tree, if my step-dad would be so kind as to bring it out of our storage shed, and Mom asked me to put up garland and bows on the patio fence. Doing that spread the holiday spirit, which we've all managed to pump up in each other since then. Even the shitty "blizzard warning" weather couldn't dampen my spirit. I was all smiles on my drive home from last night, hanging out with TyRoy and getting showered with gifts.
Until I didn't get friended on a stupid social networking site. I set up a new account last week when my original one was disabled. During the original setup, it took "possible friends" from my email account, a different email account than the one used to setup the first page. The possibles included Sir. I was in such a hurry that I just allowed everyone. It wasn't until a few days later that I started to wonder. Well, seeing him on there made me think about him, at which point I listened to some music he gave me. When listening to Counting Crow's "A Long December," I got stuck on "And if you think that I could be forgiven / I wish you would." Now, I know that we "lost touch" because, after I revealed on my blog, which his girlfriend read, that he was seeing someone else as well, he texted me that I had "burned the bridge with him." But isn't Christmas and New Year about catching up with people, about forgiveness, about figuring out why you lost touch in the first place and fixing it? So I periodically checked all my friends, to see if it still showed "request pending" or not.
Well, I got my answer today. He had disappeared from my "All Friends" page, which includes the pending requests. As he wasn't a friend and he wasn't still pending, he had denied my request. Maybe I would have had better luck if I'd thought about those song lyrics and included them in my request. I try to keep reminding myself that he's from one of those Italian families where someone becomes dead to you when they wrong you too many times or too severely. Even if he wanted to, he probably wouldn't go against that. I try to remind myself that he doesn't know that I'm not completely that same person, that I'm on better drugs, that I've gotten used to being alone and keeping a great deal more inside, that I've found a level of compassion I didn't know I nad. I try to remind myself that I'm not sure I really want to be friends with him, in a reality kinda way, as I don't know who he is anymore and I was starting to realize that there were things I really didn't like about him when we were still friends. But all I feel is that I got the ultimate "coal in my stocking" Christmas present, that I wasn't good enough, then and I'm not good enough, now to be friends with. Happy Christmas to you too, Sir.
It's not Christmas 'til somebody cries. I just wish it wasn't always me.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Those fighting are all high school-aged boys. While you cannot tell exactly who is fighting who, there does not appear to be one boy who is being singled out for attack.
I'll let you think for a minute.......
To me, it seems like there are three options: stop the fight yourself, call the cops, or do nothing.
Ever since I was in this situation, I have been wondering how the people that I know (think they) would react in this situation and why. Especailly why if you pick the third option.
The third option is what I chose.
So here is what happened: For those of you who don't know, I live just down the street from a high school. Many of the students walk right by my house on their way to and from school, which offers me no shortage of laughs when they wander into my yard and promptly step in my dogs' crap. (hehehehe) And aside from a little bit of traffic conjestion and teenagers' smoking on the corner, we've never had any problems. Last week, just as school was letting out, I heard a commotion outside, which, as I was standing near the basement windows, I was just at the right level to see. Outside, there was a decent-sized crowd, mostly boys, but a few girls. The noise of the crowd was unmistakenly that of a fight. I didn't really see any contact being made in the fight, mostly just swinging fists. The fight, followed by the crowd, moved into the street and then across the street as well, backing up cars full of teenagers and parents.
I thought about it, and I ended up doing nothing. Not that there was a great deal of time to do anything anyway, as high school fights are usually over before they start. Now, I thought about calling the cops. Hell, there is a station down the street, directly across the street from the school. But I kinda felt like "boys will be boys." A certain amount of fighting is to be expected, right? I'm not saying that I think a boy has to fight or that a girl can't/shouldn't. But I just don't think it's that big of a deal.
Now a normal person would probably have stopped thinking about it after that. Or after they knew that no one was hurt. But I'm not a normal person. The first thing I thought about was the recent death of a high school boy in Chicago, which a bystander could record on his/her cell phone but didn't do anything to help. At the time, in the national news at least, there was a great deal of talk about bystanders not helping or intervening, as well as speculation that the cops wouldn't get anywhere because of a culture of "stop snitching." Of course, just a cursory look at a few more recent articles shows show that the boy appears to be an innocent bystander who walked into a fight between rival neighborhood gangs, then becoming the target of one group's rage. Many bystanders and people at the nearby community center came to help the boy once the others stopped, but, honestly, seeing the video and reading that they were swinging railway ties... well, I don't think I'd be jumping in that fight either. Hell, there was no way I was jumping in the rather minor skirmish outside my own house. But still, shortly after the fight, I was wondering, "What if one of those kids had died and I did nothing to stop it?"
About a decade ago, as a scared and depressed recent college dropout, I went to a lookout area in my boyfriend's hometown, to think and kill some time while waiting for him to come back to his folks house. My reverie was interupted by a girl's screams and a boy's yelling. A young man was dragging a young woman down the path, telling her that she was never going to get away from him, that he was going to kill himself and take her with him, etc. I knew there was no way I could really do anything directly against him. So I did the next best thing. I called the cops. These were the days before everyone had a cell phone, so I ran to the nearest house, got no answer, ran to the next, got no answer, then finally found someone home in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. I saw the cops when I went back to get my car. She didn't look physically hurt. I felt satisfied that I'd done the right thing.
Another thing I've thought of quite a bit since witnessing the fight is what psychology calls "the bystander effect." Basically, the more people there are, the less likely an individual is to help, intervene, or call for help. In part, this is because people think that someone else will call for help. Also, people take their cues on how to react from those around them, so if everyone around them seems calm and isn't acting, they also stay calm and don't act. Maybe this is why I reacted when I was the only one around but did not act when I knew there were a dozen plus other witnesses. At the time, I could have very well dismissed this as just an overly-emotional teenage lover's spat. We all like to think that we are good people who would "do the right thing" in any given situation. But would we really? And how do we know what the right thing is?
So..... please tell me..... what would you do?
Friday, October 30, 2009
The steriods worked great, when I was taking them three and four times a day. See, you get a blister-pack, with how many pills you are supposed to take and when. You start out with about 8 pills a day and gradually back off, taking one pill the last day. Of course, the steriods also caused me to feel alittle manic, with bouncing off the walls energy, but I kept reminding myself of how I got the energy and that I'd pay later, in sleep and perhaps depression, which helped. But on the night before the last day, I started coughing again. And despite supposably being better than Prilosec, the Nexium wasn't making a noticable difference. I was back to where I'd been before. My biggest comfort was that at least I knew I wasn't contagious and my coughing couldn't make my uncle, or any other member of my family, sick. I was resigned to the fact that the cough was here to stay.
I did, however, have a slight shift in thinking, if not a full blown change of heart. A friend of mine, who I know is very aware of how his own body looks, but doesn't limit the kinds of food he eats, brought up that he just cut back his portion sizes when he started to feel like he was putting on a few pounds. It meant that he could still enjoy any kind of food he wanted to, just not as much, though he'd always save the rest for a later meal or share it with someone else. This would also be very helpful for me, since I've overeaten to the point of being ill several times over this past summer and fall. So I decided then that I'd really try to eat less, control my portions, and not drink so much soda, which is really just empty calories, no matter how much I love it.
I expected a disheartening but uneventful follow-up appointment. But the Physicians Assistant brought up the chest x-ray and a breathing test, just to be sure. I agreed, though I was pretty sure that it was going to come back all clean and she'd tell me to lose weight and change my diet. But that was not the case. The chest x-ray was fine, unless the doctor finds something that was hiding under my nipple piercings. It was the breathing test that came back with more troubling results. The PA told me that I had the lungs of a 90 year old. Now, I've done a bit of internet research and "lung age" seems to be less a diagnostic explanation and more something that sounds scary and is used to scary smokers into quitting smoking, because you put it in terms someone can understand. Now, that doesn't mean that it's wrong or untrue. I think she wanted to convey in real-world terms how bad my breathing and lungs seem from their tests, so that I'll be more likely to go the distance in going to see a pulmonologist, who she is hoping will be able to tell me what is wrong with me, despite the fact that I don't have insurance and would have to come up with the money on my own. I think if I wasn't on the lithium, I would have cried right there in the exam room.
I am already in the process of setting up an appointment with a pulmonologist at a local university hospital that my uncle's boyfriend has been able to set up payment plans with, in the hopes that it will be easy for me to do the same thing. The hospital's pulmonology division is currently waiting to get my records from the primary care doctor, then they'll call me to make an appointment time. That was the PA's main treatment plan, though she also gave me a sample of Symbicort, which is for COPD and asthma, and she says should help. She promises to try to get more samples for me. As for the previous push to lose weight, etc, that seems to not be as important now, at least until I get a more firm diagnosis. She must have overlooked that I'm on lithium when I was there for my first appointment, because, when she did mention weight loss this time, she told me that, because I was on lithium, it would be more difficult that usual, so I shouldn't feel too bad if I can't really lose weight, though losing weight and being more active will always help and I should still change what I eat, at least to help manage the acid reflux.
The hardest part right now is the waiting and not knowing. I don't know what is wrong or why or what caused it or what to do about it. I don't know what it will cost to treat it. One thing that is kinda driving me crazy right now is that everything I see online attributes almost all of these things to smoking, but I just can't imagine that the small amount of smoking I've done in my life has done this much damage, especially when compared to regular smokers my age and older, who don't have similar problems yet. Yes, I'm aware that ANY amount of smoking will do some damage to your lungs. But not this much from that little. Then again, Christopher Reeves' wife died from lung cancer and she never smoked a day in her life. (Not to say that I think I have cancer. I absolutely do not think I have cancer.) But this is where your mind goes while you are waiting for an answer. Especially when you know that few doctors are as brilliant as House, not that you have the money to pay him.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
But I was optimistic. I took the antibiotics. On the first day, I felt great. No weezing. No cough. Second day, I still felt fine. After 24 hours, I was no longer contagious, so I could leave the isolation of my grandma's house and go home. But, alas, it was just the placebo effect. By the night of my third day on the antibiotics, I was back to the weezing and coughing. Of course, I felt decent during the daytime, so I didn't take advantage of any doctor's office hours, for a few days. Eventually, though, it was getting ridiculous. Last night, just taking a small bag of trash outside from the basement had me reaching for an inhaler. Plus, once again, if I'm going to help my uncle during his chemo, I have to be well myself, or at least not contagious, so today I went to the doctor. A real doctor, not a walk-in clinic. Well, kinda. All I could get on short notice was a physician's assistant at my former primary care doctor's office, but still.
And..... the diagnosis is...... I'm fat. Ok, well, thankfully the PA didn't say that. But because I haven't had a fever with the cough, it's not an infection, thus neither bronchitis nor contagious. She was fairly sure that it was just severe irritation of the esophagus. She gave me a prescription of a steriod, to help with my breathing, though it will make me a crazy hyper tweeker for the next several days. She also gave me samples of nexium, namebrand and all. Her theory is that I'll only need a protein pump inhibitor, like nexium, for a bit, until my esophagus heals, then I should be able to 'manage' my acid reflux by "eating a proper diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding things that irritate it, like caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, spicy foods, acidic foods, etc [or everything good]." I have a follow up in three weeks, so we'll see what happens then, but.... Well, I'll write a later post about what I am thinking about all the dieting and not being fat issues. I just hope this really is what is wrong with me and I start feeling better. I guess I'll worry about the rest as it comes along. But this feels like the lamest episode of House ever.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I remember one summer night here at my Gram's house when I was 10 or 11, suffering from insomnia back in the days when I was still to young to just stay up, which was only exacerbated by the fact that there was a cricket somewhere in the room that just would not stop chirping. I even had a small air cleaner on, as I usually did to drown out any other noises in the house, but that little cricket was a great deal louder than any air cleaner would ever be. So I searched for him in the little back bedroom, moving everything in every corner, but to no avail. I couldn't find him. Ever since, I have hated those buggers.
But, on the other hand, they aren't as creepy as those damn cave crickets.
Yeah, I'm never happy.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Three Days in Bed - Holly Williams
The clock never stops and I hate this damn phone
Somedays I wanna run from the place I call home
I guess I'm just needing some danger
Give me 3 days in bed with a stranger
We drank all our wine on the champs elysees
We got carried away on the banks of the seine
Woke up on old boulevard St. Germain
Give me 3 days in bed with a stranger
You take the hard stuff it..s menthols for me
I don't smoke but I do on occasions like these
Now that I've got me a French man to please
I'll have one robertino and you can have me
I barely can wait to go back there again
With your body so warm and your face in my hands
You know how I love to meet all your demands
Give me 3 days in bed with a stranger
You take the hard stuff it's menthols for me
I don..t smoke but I do on occasions like these
Now that I've got me a French man please
I..ll have one robertino and you can have me
The clock never stops and I hate this damn phone
Somedays I wanna run from the place I call home
I guess I'm just needing some danger
Give me 3 days in bed with a stranger
(Can't embed but here's the link to the video on youtube.)
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Having very little to officially do combined with not having anyone around to see if I do it or not has proven to be a recipe for... well, not a recipe for disaster, more a recipe for slackertude. Actually, that might not be the best description either. Shit. Ok, so officially, this past week+ while my uncle has been gone, I only had to care for the house and dog. I've done that. The house is clean. The flowers outside are watered and healthy. The dog is fed, watered, and petted. My mom asked me to go through, sort, and donate my grandma's clothes and to also clean up, arrange, etc, Gram's computer desk area. But as going through the stuff of someone you've lost can often be difficult and traumatic, Mom said to only do it as I felt up to it. I haven't touched the desk at all. It just seems so daunting. Last Monday, I did finish sorting through and bagging up Gram's clothes to donate. But I still haven't taken them to the donation drop off. Over a week later. FAIL.
On the other hand, the fact I haven't dropped off the donations is not just me being a slacker, but also due to my erratic sleeping schedule, or lack of schedule. I'm coming to the conclusion that I'm the nocturnal house(not)wife. That works for many things, most things these days. I can clean and cook (yes folks, I've been cooking a bit lately) anytime. I'm up by dinnertime, which means I can cook that for my uncle and I, when he's here. I also water the plants late in the evening. I can even do the shopping, as we have several 24-hour grocery stores and Walmarts in our area. I was even able to drag myself out of bed early enough to go to a Happy Hour sponsored by a local lesbian group held actually in the Slightly Larger Midwestern City. (Gram's house is in the suburbs of said city.) What I haven't been able to do it get up and go to the art museum, a matinee art house flick in the city, go swimming at the neighbor's house, or get my Gram's clothes to the donation center. Sigh. Ah, well, at least I still have stuff to do if I've ever up during the day.
Obviously, this rather uninteresting life doesn't necessarily lend itself to a ton of posts about my life. And I'm blaming drugs for my (fiction) writer's block.
But I'm not completely cut off. I have the internet here (which means liberal blogs) and cable tv with DVR. Ah, DVR, how I love you. We had just gotten a DVR at my parents' house before I left but only on the tv upstairs, the one my parents watch until they go to sleep, the only one with digital cable (=BBC America, G4, Logo, On Demand channels) and HBO. Downstairs, I have expanded basic cable on a jerry-rigged connection we don't officially have with two VCRs hooked up in tandem so I can tape two shows and watch a third all at the same time. Gram's system is pretty nice. Despite not having HBO (which means I have to catch up on True Blood whenever I visit my parents' house), Gram's system allows me to DVR a ton of shows and watch them anytime on whichever tv I want. In addition to DVRing regular shows, I've been recording quite a few movies, mostly from the Sundance Channel. So I thought I'd share ideas I had about movies I had seen. But beware *****SPOILERS AHEAD*******
Wallander: One Step Behind (Season 1, Episode 3) (PBS Mystery)
I really wanted to like this. I wanted a more contemporary British mystery series to get addicted to, especially one that I could watch when I was without BBC America. But it turns out this isn't a British series. It is based on a Danish mystery series, set and filmed in Denmark, though they plopped a very tired and old-looking Kenneth Branagh along with a bunch of dark-haired very British people into. It was confusing.
My biggest complaint was their use of what I can only term as the "transgender killer" gimmick. Sadly, that same week, one of my favorite shows, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, did the same type of thing with the same insensitivity. I think that mainstream television is getting away from reflexively showing gay, lesbian, and bisexual people as necessarily having something mentally wrong with which causes them to be a criminal. Unfortunately, they have a long way to go in how they portray transgender people, who they all turn into Norman Bates from Psycho. Not only is it not true, it's insulting. Though it's been awhile since I've seen it so I might be wrong, I think a good example of a procedural crime drama with a plot that dealt with the transgender community, including having a killer who is transgender is CSI: Ch-ch-changes (Season 5, Episode 8), which shows a variety of lifestyles that transgender people live and issues that they deal with in a compassionate manner and without making it seem like the murderer killed because she is a scary, pathologically evil deviant.
I'm a Cyborg But That's Ok (Sundance Channel)
Yeah, the title got me too. In fact, I DVRd it on the crazy title alone. Happily enough, it turned out it's directed by Chan-wook Park, this crazy Korean director. The films of his that I'd seen previously were part of his vengeance trilogy (I recommend Oldboy), which are dark, gritty, violent, and bloody. That's why I was surprised at the relative lightness of this movie. The premise is that a young woman, distressed by her Alzheimer's-stricken grandmother's institutionalization, comes to believe she is a cyborg on a mission to kill the "white coats" who locked up her grandmother. Of course, her beliefs land her in a mental institution filled with other colorful characters. It sorta reminds me of the lightness and quirkiness of Amelie, though in a mental institution, directed by a guy who focuses on fear, violence, and pain. It doesn't have a Hollywood ending, but that's ok.
My favorite part involves how they patient who has a crush on the cyborg convinces her to eat, as ensuring that patients eat is a big deal in mental institutions (believe me). She tries to lick batteries and such to recharge, but that isn't working, both in that she doesn't have alot of energy and that the "white coats" are trying to force her to eat. Our cyborg is afraid that she'll rust if she puts human food in her body. So the man crushing on her convinces her that he has created a device, which he then implants in her, that will transfer human food into energy that will recharge her cyborg body. It is a very tense but happy set of scenes.
Sadly, this movie is not available on DVD in the US yet.
Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rossett and Grove Press (Sundance Channel)
This hilarious documentary focused on how Barney Rossett, a Chicago-bred, socialist schoolboy, ran the controversial publishing outfit Grove Press that published, and went to court to continue to publish, the first American editions of Lady Chatterly's Lover and Tropic of Cancer. Grove Press was also the American publisher of Samuel Beckett, as well as the publisher of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Rossett's office was bombed the day that Grove Press' literary magazine published the first chapter of Che Guevara. Rossett brought I Am Curious Yellow to the US, showcasing the new style, politics, and frank sexuality emerging in Swedish film in the late 1960s. He spent his life bringing works of art, mostly literary, that he found interesting, stimulating, radical, and worthwhile to the American public.
Oh the other hand, Grove Press was only profitable for a handful of years. Rossett was eventually pushed out of the company. He is pretty much a broke, elderly man, living in an apartment several flights of stairs up from the street.
Maybe the end is kinda sad. Guess that's why they add the footage of him playing with his dog. But it's still really interesting to learn the story, and to have it told to you in part by this old man who I can barely imagine being called a smut peddler and deviant back in the day.
Vanishing Point (1997 version) (Fox Movie Channel)
I'd been slightly interested in seeing the original 1971 flick since I watched the Deathproof half of Grindhouse. I recorded this to watch while I drifted off to sleep, as I figured that the remake wouldn't be nearly as good as the original, not even realizing at the time that the 1997 version was a made-for-tv movie.
For the most part, it was kinda lame. Some decent car chases, but way too much trying to combine Catholicism with Native American traditions to guide the guy back home in a way that avoids the cops. But some of the underlying politics really piqued my interests. The main character, speeding cross-country to be with his wife who's in labor, being chased by police just for speeding, becomes a folk hero in large part to a radio DJ, named The Voice and played with unintentional hilarity by Jason Priestly, who tells all his listeners about the plight of this one good man trying to evade the big bad government. Now I think that The Voice's radio callers are supposed to sound like cranks and nutjobs, that this driver is supposed to be the one conspiracy that The Voice gets right. But to me, these guys sound like any caller to a (usually right-wing) radio talk show. Well, if the host actually let them talk long enough to say more than "I dis/agree with you." Of course, it also reminds me of the recent govt report warning of a rise in right-wing extremism and the furor that it was met with. This film was made during the Clinton era, after the Oklahoma City bombing, and it portrays the FBI as trigger happy to label anyone as part of a violent militia. It seems interesting that a mainstream television network would make a movie with that kind of a sentiment- that the government is coming after you, even if you are a (mostly) law-abiding citizen. Then again, I guess it was Fox that made the movie. It seems like an interesting snapshot from that era.
That Obscure Object of Desire (Sundance)
Speaking of time capsules...
There are some things in this movie that I'm hoping can only be explained by the time period.
Let's go back a step. This is a 1977 French movie by Spanish expat director Luis Bunuel, who's films have always had a surrealist bent and pointed out flaws and hypocrisies in religion, the upper classes, and contemporary life and mores. This movie follows a wealthy old Frenchman's tale to his train car mates about his romantic pursuit of the young bruised woman they had all just seen him dump a pail of water on before the train left the station. He explains to them that he'd pursued this young woman, gave her and her poverty-stricken mother money to live on, but that he'd grown increasingly frustrated when she would not have sex with him. At one point in his story, he even attempts to rape her and is only stopped by her chastity belt briefs. In the end, the morning after a particularly bad argument in which she says she doesn't love him and proceeds to get naked with a much younger man in front of him, the Frenchman beats the woman and makes plans to leave town, which is where our story started.
The biggest thing that struck me was the the Frenchman's train mates think this is all perfectly ok. These are all upper-class people - a psychologist, a judge, and a well-to-do mother with her child. While they think that it is curious that the Frenchman would dump the water on the woman, they didn't necessarily think it wrong. The Frenchman tells the story to show why he'd have been justified in killing her and they agree with him by the end of his story. Yeah, nothing wrong with that.
Upon further thought, though, maybe Bunuel was using this to point out that the morals of these upstanding upper-class members of society are a bit out of whack. None of them seem to think it wrong that this man is trying to seduce a much younger woman who he refuses to marry. Bunuel also seems to point to the flexible morals of the religious with the actions of the mother of the young woman. The mother is a devout Catholic, who attends Mass frequently, and doesn't want her daughter to work because she has heard of the temptations that young woman face out there. But she happily departs the house, to go to church, as soon as the Frenchman arrives, leaving him alone with her daughter. Of course, she takes the money the Frenchman gives her first. The mother also seems very happy to allow her daughter to go live with the Frenchman, without any promises of marriage, but an envelop of money in her hand. It seems like the mother turns a very blind eye because of the man's class and money.
But the coolest thing about this movie was that Bunuel used two different actresses to play the main female role. Both women are thin, dark-haired, and in their early 20s, but they look different enough that you notice - different hair texture, facial structures, temperaments. The actresses do a whole scene, don't change in the middle of a scene. There's no real rhyme or reason as to which scenes a particular actress is in. At first, I wasn't even sure it was happening. I read online somewhere that some viewers don't ever notice. When asked in an interview why he did this, Bunuel said that one of the actresses walked out mid-movie and he didn't want to reshoot her scenes. On the other hand, Bunuel was known to lie about his method and the ideas behind his directing. The info about the movie on the cable box said that the woman had split personalities, but I don't think that's the reason for the two actresses because that's never presented in the movie and the woman doesn't actually present two different and distinct personalities, much less personalities that correspond to the different actresses. I wonder if it wasn't in part to show how changing and volatile people of that age are (the woman says she's 18), as well as pointing out the artifice of film, that the actresses you see are never really the characters they portray. But this method of having more than one actor play the same character in a movie is still quite out there more than 30 years later when we hear about I'm Not There and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (Sundance)
This movie left me kinda empty. It was on all the critic's must-see lists a year or two back and it's on an important topic but... I don't know. I guess I already know the lesson this film is supposed to teach.
In 1980s Romania, a college student helps her roommate get a very illegal, very dangerous abortion in a hotel room. Yeah, that's all I have to say about it.
This is England (Sundance)
I never thought I'd write this, but I think I want to learn more about British skinheads.
Set in 1983, this movie is about a 12 year old boy who just lost his dad in the Falklands War and falls in with an older group of kids (16-19) who just happen to be skinheads, though one of them is black. (Yeah, yeah, I'm sure we can all see where this is going already.) I recognize the brick red tall Dr Martens and the tight rolled-up jeans, mostly from tv docs I've seen with American skinheads, but I've also seen them on (archival-hehe) footage of ska kids and sometimes punk kids in the 80s and early 90s. While I can't remember the name of this damn song, I remember Sir telling me once that this ska song we.... Shit, I finally found it. Ok, so the song is "A Message to You Rudy" by the ska band The Specials, which he'd previously thought was just a message to someone they knew named Rudy. But it really had to do with "rude boys", originally a slang term for juvenile delinquents in Jamaica that traveled to the UK and started to mean someone who was involved in the ska subculture. Sir said that the it was the band's message to the racist skinhead ska faction to stop with all that, though, looking at the actual lyrics now, it doesn't say that anywhere in the actual lyrics. Oh well. Also, looking at wiki a bit, it looks like skinheads really started as a branch off of British mod culture, when young people, even working class young people, started to have a bit more disposable income and spent it on their own style. Originally it had nothing to do with politics and wiki speculates that the men cut their hair that short because it would be dangerous to wear long hair in industrial jobs and in fights and also because middle-class kids were currently growing their hair long. That's all very interesting. I'll really have to read up more on that.
Anyway, I also found this to be an interesting movie in how you see the small ways in which this kid starts to fall into this group and how an older more politically motivated skinhead exploits this kid's loss to get his loyalty. It's kinda scary how little it can take when a person is young and/or vulnerable. (I hope I don't meet a cult leader anytime soon or I'm done for.) Overall, great period piece.
Well, that's all I have for you right now, kiddies. I'll try not to stay gone so long again.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Very well said my beautiful daughter! So riddle me this one....why each and every time I go to my primary care doc am I told to "lose some weight". Followed by a resounding "at-ta boy" each time I drop 10 or so pounds below the weight of my last visit, even though it appears to be the same 10 pounds over and over again. However, he never advises against the harm to my health this constant "yo yo"-ing might cause. At what % above your ideal weight would it be better to just remain at that weight as opposed to going up and down above and below it? Why does no one discuss that? What would happen to Oprah's image if she said "I'm staying put - live with it"? Well, I'd support her running for president, wouldn't you?
My rather uneducated response to my mom:
I think that doctors try to steer their patients towards healthier lifestyles and there has been a great deal of research that shows at the very least a corelation between being overweight and many harmful medical conditions. Also, we really like one-size-fits-all solutions in our society, so we have that great height/weight chart that only allows a small window of weight which is acceptable, regardless of body type, age, or anything else. Now there is a movement, especially in the fat-acceptance community, to stop equating weight with health, instead focusing on being active, eating healthy, and not really caring about weight. I think they do have some medical and academic support but not a great deal of it.
As for the yo-yo-ing aspect of things, a quick internet search pulled up a couple articles about the dangers of yo-yo dieting,
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=21745which they restrict to meaning using a quick fad diet to lose the weight and then one puts it back on quickly when you go off the diet. This isn't exactly what I was talking about, but the more general regaining of weight after a diet, though I think the studies that the articles cite seem to address what I was talking about too. It seems like the "weight cycling slows your metabolism" is widely regarded as a myth, but there are corelations between weight cycling and a supressed immune system, higher risks of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and gallbladder disease. This article http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19621031 says that we should go on dieting because there is a higher corelation of more health conditions among overweight people than there are among (I'm assuming, not currently overweight) weight cyclers.
*Eyeroll* I'm not sure how much I believe that it is better for my overall person - physical, mental, spiritual - for me to continue to weight cycle and feel shitty about my body. So I think I might try a combination of the fat acceptance route along with the "gotta die from something" route. Especially right now, as I'm seeing someone who actually prefers bigger women, women bigger than me.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
"Oprah, of course is notoriously bad at sticking with the advice Oz [non-quack
doc] and Greene [personal trainer] dispense, especially when it comes
to her weight. She laments her inability to keep off the pounds. In January she
embarked on yet another attempt to trim down, which means all of Oprah's views
are now-actually or vicariously-on a diet too. She will lose the weight, and
there will be much remarking upon it. But then, in a year, or two, or three,
experience teaches us that the fat will likely come back. And she will lament.
And then she will do it all over again, with a whole new set of experts armed
with the latest breakthrough theories on how to live our next best life and
all-new, must-have books and gadgets and ointments to ease the way."
(I would link to the rest of the article, but it's not online.)
Obviously, these writers are lucky enough to never have been overweight (or at least never want to lose that weight) and doesn't have anyone close to them who has gone through this. If they did, they might not brush it off so easily. Almost everyone in my family deals with weight issues. The cycle that he speaks of is one that those of us who are overweight know all too well. Most overweight people don't like being overweight, even if we learn to accept our body as it is. We know that the world would see us as more attractive and healthier if we were thinner, which may or may not be true. What the media, and this article, seem to portray as a failure of will-power or a lack of follow-through is much more complicated than that. Those things may or may not play a role, but what also plays a role are your own metabolism and genes, how active you were as a kid in ways that can translate into adulthood, living and working in environments where one can't walk but has to drive, the physicality (or lack thereof) of your job, that processed/fatty/starchy foods are readily and cheaply available, etc, etc, etc.
I'm not saying that people can't and shouldn't eat healthier foods and get more exercise. But most overweight people that I've known in my life will cycle back and forth and back and forth, just like Oprah. We start something all gung-ho, we work hard, we reach our goals for weight loss and a more fit body. But then time and the everyday wears our resolve down. Also with food, it's especially difficult, as people have to eat. It's not like doing drugs, where you can avoid people who do drugs and places where drugs are sold. We have to go to the grocery store. We have to eat meals. When driving to and from work, it's impossible to not drive past a fast food restaurant. All that makes it that much harder to limit or avoid those things that might have caused you issues in the past. And one has to have priorities in their life. Right now I could work very hard to re-lose the weight that I've gained back. But I have too much other shit going on, so I just don't have the energy or time for that.
I guess it just irritated me because I know how so many (most female) people in my life has struggled with their weight, not just always being overweight, but yo-yo-ing up and down. And I don't think they just gain the weight back because they can't follow advice or are failures or even because their weight loss program was a fad diet. I think they gain it back in large part just because of life and our life in this time and place. Plus, even if you think overweight people are all Wal-mart consuming, mindless, uneducated suckers, as we're 50% of the population, I think you might at least give up some respect for us.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Though to say I'm 'not working' would be a lie. I am not currently a wage-earning worker. When I asked TyRoy what I should say when people ask what I do, his quick response was to tell them that I am a housewife. As that isn't exactly true, in that I am not anybody's wife nor am looking to become someone's wife anytime soon, I do all the typical things a housewife would do - shopping, housecleaning, laundry (just not much cooking because my folks don't like to eat what I can cook) - for my parents. Now I've tried telling people this (that I'm a housewife) but it tends to go over like a lead balloon.
Until two weeks ago, I was looking for wage-earning employment, permanent or temporary, full-time or part-time, while still doing the housewife-ly things until then. Since December, I've had interviews but no job offers. Before that, I'd had some job offers and temp jobs that might have led to offers but I frakked them up. I think my own poor management of my mental health had a good deal to do with it. Since then, I have gotten to a different (hopefully better) place with my medications, though I will always still be me, underneath it all. I honestly don't know that I wouldn't have frakked up any job offer I got between December and now. But with the job market the way it is, I was competing against more people than usual, more people who have better work histories and more skills than me, so I don't begrudge them getting those positions.
Until I found a job, must to continue to play housewife to my parents, more to ease their burden and to give me something to do than anything else, and also try to visit and help out my grandma more. But my plan was always to get a job, work steadily, pay down my debt, fix my car or get a new-to-me car, and move out. I was also hoping to get my Bachelors slowly but surely once things were on track.
I guess nothing has really changed that plan except to put it off, with no real idea of when I'll pick it up. When we realized that my uncle might/would probably need help, even if only with the driving, to get back and forth to his new treatments, my mom told me to just stop looking for a job right now. It's cheaper for our family if my parents contintue to subsidize my bills while I help my uncle than it would be for us to temporarily lose my mother's income, even if I was working and paying my own bills. It makes sense and I'm happy to do it. And, after helping my grandmother when my grandpa had his first stroke, I think I'll be ok doing it, as long as I take time and space for myself, stay abreast of my own needs.
But I still feel this huge hole in my 'plan' and I feel 'less than' because I'm not earning money, don't have a job others would recognize, am a housewife without a husband or my own house.
On second thought though, I can't imagine how my previously always employed, super-hard-working, very independent uncle must feel right now. I guess I'll count my blessings.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
First, I would like to thank you all for coming to say a final goodbye to my grandmother. I know it would have meant a great deal to her to know so many people cared for her.
I would like to share with you how I saw the woman I knew.
As many of you probably already know, I spent a lot of my childhood in my grandparents home. Grandma started a home daycare so that I would have other children to play with. As if the house wasn’t already crowded enough, eight or so pre-kindergarten age children would fill our house in the early morning hours. Somehow, she managed to keep it all together, keeping us all in line, and our parents all happy. She ruled our house with an iron voice, though she wasn’t above a swat on the butt when needed.
But that sense of command wasn’t displayed only in our home. To me, she seemed fearless in dealing with sales people and clerks in stores and waiters in restaurants. When I balked at making a clerk at Sam’s find the pool chemicals instead of finding them ourselves, she said, “It’s called ‘job security.’ If they didn’t have to help me, they wouldn’t have a job.”
Watching my grandma taught me to never to buy into stereotypes. If you think wives from the 1950s were mousy, quiet, and didn’t have a say in their household, well, you’ve never met my grandma. And if you think petite older women are harmless, well, you’ve never met my grandma. I never felt like, as a woman, I didn’t have the right to be loud, opinionated, or bossy. In fact, that’s might be a lesson I learned a little too well…
But she also had a class and dignity all her own. We have never been what one would call rich, but I think that Grandma was extremely proud of the fact that she could give more to her kids than her family had growing up, that she and Grandpa had risen from working poor families to middle class in her lifetime. She would be the first to remind you that that didn’t make her better than, though it certainly didn’t make anyone else better than her. Her fierce pride in her life and her family taught me not to be embarrassed about where I come from or where my family comes from.
For the most part, my grandma lived an average life, though a happy and full one. She was a typical daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and person for her time and place in history. Few people, in the grand scheme of things, ever knew her name. But, as I find out more and more each day, she made a huge difference in the lives of those she touched. I think that was because, as someone more famous than either of us once wrote, “The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.” I think Grandma displayed that kind of freedom. Grandma would listen and give her blunt brand of advice, without ever making you feel judged. She would give you the help she thought best at the time, even if it wasn’t what you thought you needed, and she was usually right that it was what was best. She paid much more attention than most people ever gave her credit for and she was always available to listen and talk for hours.
Two days ago, I called the mother of one of the children Grandma babysat for to tell the family of my grandma’s passing. The woman was so silent that I thought my cell phone had disconnected us. Then, crying, she said that she didn’t know how she would have made it through without my grandma. While I had already known that the woman had put her daughter in the daycare shortly after she divorced and returned to the job force, I didn’t know the deep and abiding respect, appreciation, and admiration this woman had developed for my grandmother, who she saw as a tough-talking, cigarette-smoking, fairy godmother, who both mended the sewing-challenged woman’s clothes before she went to work, and helped her control and learn to deal with her defiant daughter. Now, I’m sure that my grandmother didn’t see this as some heroic feat. She was just doing the right thing, lending a hand, passing on her own wisdom. But it made such a huge difference in this woman’s life. And to me it just drives home that we can all, as the saying goes, be the difference we would like to see in the world. We don’t have to be perfect, in fact it helps not to be. We don’t have to be famous or successful, as the ways we make a difference are small, personal, and simple. But we can and do make profound differences in the lives of the people we meet. Knowing this, I just plan on striving to ensure that the difference I make is a positive one. So that is how I plan on honoring my grandmother’s memory: By using the things I learned watching her, that a tough, opinionated, bossy woman who stays proud of where she comes from and pays attention along the way can make a great difference in the lives of others, to be a constructive force in the world.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I worry about my mom, as she seems to be just so very tired, and... defeated, even, which is something I just don't ever remember having seen on her. I tend to think that it is because she has the full weight of all this on her shoulders and, in some ways, her shoulders alone. She is now the leader of our family, the matriarch, a role I'm not sure anyone is ever ready for. She is also the executor of my grandmother's estate, which is mostly just this house that my grandparents built when they first married and the responsibility for taking care of my middle uncle's funeral when he inevitably drinks himself to death or overdoses. Deciding what to do with this house is.... well, I'll just say that I'm glad I'm not the one making the decision, the one with the final say. Though I honestly believe that my mom will be able to handle this fine, once we come out on the other side of the funeral, when things settle down, when there are less people around scrutinizing things.
As for me, I'm planning on speaking at my grandmother's funeral, using my words to try to do some justice to her life. Not that my grandma was a great literary critic, or even an unbiased reader, but she loved reading what she could sneak a peak at over my shoulders or on the computer screen when I would accidentally leave a piece of writing laying around so I could go to the restroom or get a drink. (We are WAY too much alike in our snoopiness.) In the end, she lived the average amount of time, made a house and a home with the man she loved fiercely until the day she died in that very same home, where they had raised three of their own children, one grandchild, and had been loving caretakers for many more children. She was not a saint or even the easiest person to get along with in the best of times, but she touched a great many people in positive ways, as is evident by the people that my family called today to update them on the situation. I think many of us could only hope that we go out that way.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
My grandmother died sometime last night. She passed quietly in her sleep in her own bed in the home that she and my grandfathe built over 50 years ago.
I'll thank you all in advance for all your well-wishing. I'll probably write more about my grandmother and about how my family is handling this as things progress. Right now I have to go and make sure I take care of things here before I leave to help take care of things there.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
- Apparently I'm a horrible shrew who nags, never lets things go, and lives to far away for the only sex partner I have (had, who knows). Though I should keep in mind that, if I was a guy, my sex partner would inevitably find me an unavailable, uncommunicative dickhead.
- Other would be dating partner and I finally tossed in the towel, after months of me not making any moves on her. Also, she's *TOTALLY* in love with her new-old boyfriend. Which is funny because she said that she wasn't so keen on dating another bi girl because she didn't want to be a side salad to the chicks main course boyfriend.
- I have a ton of shitty debts, most unavoidable, like medical bills, that I can't pay so I'm leaching off of others for that and always wondering how I'm going to pay for them.
- I can't find a job to save my life. Last week, a corporation where I applied for, tested for, and interviewed for 2 positions at sent me a total of four rejection letters, just in case one letter per job didn't give me enough of a clue that they don't want me.
- Volunteering isn't going much better, as I feel so uncomfortable trying to sell people on the organization who are unresponsive or uninterested that I psyche myself out (not in the good way) for later attempts and then just throw in the town all together. Though today I finally heard from the animal shelter. I think I'd be more fulfilled cleaning puppy and kitty poop.
- Gram has diabetes and is not following the "diabetic diet" for shit. It could be worse. It's not like she was eating sugar and crap before this. But she does eat lots of starch without any balance. And we aren't there, so we can't make her eat, cook for her, etc. Just another health thing to worry about with her. And each time I try to talk to Mom about one of us being out there with her, I just get shot down, which is sort of a relief because I would be the one and most of me doesn't want to do it, but I still feel like it should be done. It's frustrating. It'd be easier to not think about it or deal with it.
- I'm hella tired of my own drugs. I'm tired of the "side effects" that can't be treated with other drugs, the ones that other people seem to just brush off. As MP says, the drugs make me a whole lot less dead, which means that everyone else things they are worth the price paid. But, as I've asked before, when is it not worth it to live as someone else on the meds? I'm tired of being slow, of not feeling like myself, of not being able to even come up with ideas to write fiction stories from, of not being able to make connections between things, of feeling like my IQ is 20 points lower than before, of not feeling creative, of not feeling or wanting to be sexy. I'm tired of the acne, the hair loss, the shakes, the twitches, the change in taste in and of food, and gaining weight at exponential rates.
So, why not go? Why am I still sending out applications for jobs? Why am I cruising CL for a new lover? Why am I making plans for what "homemaker"-y stuff I'm going to do tomorrow?
Well, first, did you read about the job thing? Which leads to a whole "no-money" things?
Oh, yeah, and my uncle has a new tumor. Seems the experimental drug isn't working anymore. He has a broken rib that won't heal because there is a tumor in the middle of it. His oncologist at the Big Cancer Clinic weaseled him into a study they are doing in Slightly Larger Midwestern City, which is good because it is closer to him, but not so great because he has to see Gram everytime he goes. But he's in alot of pain alot of the time and... well, he's not dying this minute or maybe in the next couple of months or maybe even the next year, but it seems like that whole "dance in celebration of remission" the family did was a little premature, if it was even warranted at all. He's 38, for chissakes! He'd just came out and gotten comfortable and gotten a place where he felt at home and now this. (And I guess this is the bargaining phase but) Why couldn't it have been me? At least I want to/have wanted to die.
I just want a couple things to go right at the same time. And for me not to fuck them up.
Friday, May 01, 2009
- Is it horrible of me to pass up a possible job opportunity where I'd have to stop my work with the LGBT group that I've been volunteering with and any weekend trips to Slightly Larger Midwestern City to see my Grandma? I didn't even really get into the interview before I was told that it was every weekend, both days, and also a couple shifts during the week, and told to come back to talk to the manager if I was ok with that schedule. So I don't really know if I would have been offered a job or not. Also, it's definately just a job, not a career, probably doesn't pay much more than minumum wage, part-time retail work in a hardware store when I don't know much about tools and such. Maybe I'm just rationalizing because I really don't want to take this job, but I also feel bad in not taking any job that is offered me right now, as it's so hard to find jobs anyway and I am living off other people. Mom won't really answer me about what she thinks I should do. TyRoy said that it is pretty bratty to "turn down a good job." I think our definitions of "good" are vastly different. Honestly, I think I would take a job I didn't think I'd like if the hours weren't every single weekend. And, while I know this is in part my privilege talking, I don't think it's fair to a job to take a job just to take it while I'm actively looking for another job just to dump the first job. Please please please let me know what you think, dear readers.
- If 50% of the population is overweight and we can safely assume that is relatively evenly divided among men and women, why are there only 4 plus size clothes racks at Target? There are at least 5 times that many clothes racks for "regular size" clothes. And all of those plus size clothes were casual wear, not what one would wear to even a business casual workplace. Do us fatties not need clothes? Do we not work in professional environments like the non-plus sized women? Should we just stay home, locked up so no one else can see our ugly fat bodies? Do they just not want our money? Grrr. Not that I have any money to buy anything, but I would still like to be able to find clothes that fit my body, especially when there is a large percentage of women who also need the same category of clothes that aren't stocked.
- I hate feeling like this medication has made me cognitively slower. Other than the schedule of the position, I also found out in the interview that the job is very fast paced, with either a store full of people or a back-room full of stock to put out. I hate admitting that I thought about stopping the interview there. I have a hard time dealing with a crowd of people, even on my best day. I tend to need a bigger bubble of personal space these days. And I'm just not as fast. I can't get things out of my mouth. I back my car up, only to find that a car has appearred behind me out of nowhere, when I could swear I checked my mirrors before I took my foot off the brake. I remember when I worked at a gas station/convenience store when I was in my late teens. They prided themselves on their friendliness, well-stocked shelves, and cleanliness. By the end of training, we had to be able to do the full cleaning and stocking routine in 2 hours flat. We would get crazy busy at times and I remember being able to handle the rushes. I haven't applied to work for that same company again, though I know I have a great record with them from when I worked, because I know I can't do that stuff as fast, if at all. It's not that I don't think I can do anything. It's just that there are certain things I'm pretty sure I can't do right now.
Well, that's my day. Feel free to share your thoughts.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
But what is probably even more troubling to me is that I seem to have lost some of my ability to make connections between ideas. I keep telling people that this medicine made my IQ drop 20 points. Everyone seems to kinda laugh this off, but it is genuinely how I feel. I have a difficult time making the connections needed to understand some Newsweek articles. I keep thinking of my Rhetoric class, reading Foucault and having that light bulb moment. There's no way I could even understand Foucault now. I couldn't even read the text, much less make the needed connections. And I can't seem to get any fiction writing started. Even when I think I have an idea to start with, I can't come up with what follows. It sucks.
I once saw an interview with the author of a (non-fiction) book about the connections between bipolar disorder and genuis in creative/artistic pursuits. In laying out her case in the book, she brought up several great artists who, though undiagnosed in thier lifetimes, usually because there was no such thing as a bipolar disorder diagnosis, have reportedly displayed symptoms common to bipolar disease. She also studied several living artists with a documented history of bipolar disorder. It's interesting to wonder if what helps make one an artistic genius, or even just creative, also makes one bipolar.
Now, I'm not disgnosed as bipolar, but I am on a combination of drugs typically prescribed to bipolar people. I also don't think I'm going to create some great masterpiece. But I still wonder about the "is it worth it" question. If we had these drugs then, do you think it would have been better for Van Gogh to have his mental illness under control if it meant he never produced Starry Night or any of his other masterpieces? Do you think he'd have taken the medication if it meant he wouldn't paint? The same question could be asked about so many people now famous for their artistic endeavors. Hell, even about non-artists. Someone, maybe even the author I wrote about above, said that Winston Churchill was probably bipolar. Can you imagine how different history might have been if Churchill was on lithium, instead of just self-medicating with alcohol?
I'm not really looking for any concrete answers. I'm not going to run off to my doctor to ask for a med change. And I'm certainly not going to just stop any medication. All that said, I still would love your thoughts and opinions.
Of course, that was an extreme worry, especially when we were only talking about putting me on an SSRI anti-depressant. As long as I’ve been on the “right” anti-depressant, I’ve had no large problems. Of course, even then, there was a certain amount of tinkering going on to get the “right” anti-depressant…but I did not have the kind of issues I was worried about before I started taking them.
The same cannot be said, however, of adding other drugs to the regiment, as any loyal reader knows. The lithium has proved to have a longer and more difficult adjustment period and I’m still sorting through and dealing with the side effects of it. And I’ve been thinking a great deal about when it stops being worth it, when you should change meds, things like that. Do you have to act like something out of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” for it to be too much? What if the meds just interfere so much that you can’t function like a real person, can’t get/keep a job? I’m not thinking of changing meds now, but I’d like to share the side effects I’m dealing with now, some minor but annoying and others that I feel are interfering or could interfere. I’m sharing the side effects so that those who don’t have experience on psychiatric drugs can see what it is like and, for those of you who do have that experience, maybe I can get some advice. I would also love to hear anyone’s thoughts on when those side effects would be too much for you.
Ok, so there are still basic general things that are still going on that I’ve written about before. I’m not going to grow my hair out again because it got so gross and was falling out after I started taking the lithium. I still have the “can’t feel my stomach” phenomenon, which is only slightly annoying. I had hoped that it would help me curb my eating, but it actually hurt it. I tend to eat with my eyes, eat comfort food and junk food, and I don’t know when to stop eating until I’m about to puke. I’ve also lost my taste for chocolate, unless it is in ice cream/shake form, trading it in for a craving for salty and greasy food and gummy candy.
Something I didn’t connect to the lithium until recently, and in all reality could really be a side effect of my birth control implant, is the acne I’ve been experiencing. Not to be too gross about it, but I have been getting clusters of acne that don’t turn into whiteheads and don’t heal. They end up looking like large red areas on my face. Many of these are along my chin line. I’ve also felt them in my hair, but I can’t see those so much. I didn’t have the clearest skin before but they were usually individual whiteheads in the T-zone which cleared up rather easily. I also have problem areas on my body, which don’t seem to be clearing up at all. When I saw that this wasn’t going away, I became diligent about washing my face twice a day. When that didn’t do it, I bought an acne fighting moisturizer. I’ve now moved on to a trio of acne controllers sold together. It’s only been a couple of days. We’ll see how it goes. But I hate being in my mid-20s and having to fight acne this hard, when it doesn’t seem like it is working. I know it sounds shallow to worry about this, but it does interfere in my life. I don’t want to face people during job interviews, when doing things for the organization I volunteer with, or in other social settings with these hideous red spots on my face. I don’t want to take pictures, even to commemorate an occasion. And I’m even more nervous when I wear make-up to “hide” the blemish, as I’m always afraid that it just makes the blemish stand out more. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this new regime works.
Another thing that I hadn’t noticed a lot until recently, though it also seems shallow, is the effect of the drug on my sex drive. It’s complicated to explain, so please bear with me. It’s not that I don’t want sex. It is also not that I don’t enjoy sex when I have it. But I don’t seek it out and I don’t initiate it. It’s been months since I’ve been to Craigslist looking for some strange. I suppose, on the one hand, it’s a good thing for me. It has smoothed out a good deal of my compulsive sexual tendencies and I know several people who would say that is a good thing. But, on the other hand, it might be contributing to the lack of physical relationship between Obsedian and I, as if I didn’t have a hard enough time initiating sex with other women. It could also create problems if/when I start a relationship with someone who isn’t as sexually aggressive and comfortable initiating the sex as TyRoy. I have always felt, and still do feel, like sexual contact is an important part of any intimate romantic relationship. I never wanted to be “that girl,” the one who didn’t have sex with her man, who wasn’t GGG with her partner, who was experiencing “lesbian bed death” with her girlfriend. But maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about becoming that woman. Even though I might not actually initiate the sex, I do try to think of things TyRoy might like, wear panty hose and high heels for no reason other than to arouse his sexual interest, though I think most women, me included, just have to smile at him to get him aroused. And, though I still haven’t been able to push myself on her, I have developed a good way to get to see Obsedian more often, in private, and late at night. Now I just have to have the balls to act.
Last but not least, we have the tremor, which I’ve written about before. The doctor put me on a beta blocker, propranolol, which is typically used to control blood pressure. I take a very small amount and we end up bumping it up everytime I go to see him. It was working ok, though I was having a hell of a time trying to remember to take the middle of the day pill. Then, about a week and a half ago, the tremor started bothering me again. Mostly it’s just been the benign shaking that only I notice. I’ve also had a couple of twitches in my body. None of that was too major though. But then Friday morning I had an episode of bad shaking and that fuzzy feeling that I thought I had left behind once I got adjusted to the meds. I really detest that fuzzy feeling. I was glad when it seemed to disappear, as I knew I probably couldn’t work or function like a normal person while having that feeling. I started to feel better after some sleep, though the tremor is still bugging me.
Ok guys. So there it is. Tell me your thoughts.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Just watched the movie Irreversible. Now, I kind knew going in what the movie was about. When it came to American theaters in 2003, it was pretty controversial for two especially brutal scenes, one of a murder and one of a sexual and physical assault. It was also told in a “reverse” manner, somewhat like the movie Momento.
What I’m writing now is just my first impressions after having just watched the movie, without the aid of any recently read reviews or commentaries of the movie. I’m also probably not going to be able to make any arguments that will stand up to scrutiny, but it is just what is in my head about the movie.
From the start, I was struck by the all the homophobic language. As cops lead a man on a gurney and then a handcuffed man out of a bar called Rectum, homophobic slurs and commentary are hurled at the two men. In the next scene, which happened before the first, the audience first sees all kinds of sexual activity going on in a dimly lit “backroom” area, both solo and man on man, where most of the men are in leather. Now, I’ve never been to any sex clubs, let alone a sex club exclusively for gay men, but I am not sure I believe that places like this even exist. I have been to gay bars, even gay leather bars where I was just about the only woman there, and I’ve never seen anything like these places featured in movies and television shows where gay men go to have all kinds of sex. So, anyway, there are several minutes of “lurid” gay sex. Then the man on the gurney shows up and starts asking everyone if they know a man called Tiena. The guy who was arrested in the previous scene is trying to get the guy from the gurney to leave, to stop whatever he’s doing. And if you didn’t know from a movie synopsis before you started watching the movie, you’ll find out in a scene or two that these guys are looking for the guy who raped someone they know (gurney guy’s girlfriend). Let me repeat that: They’re looking for a guy who raped a girl in a gay club/bar/sex club. In the process, gurney guy throws out “faggot,” “cocksucker”, etc, slaps around a guy, and then he tries to beat up the guy he thinks raped his girl. When that guy overpowers him, the arrested guy gets in the fray, first to defend gurney guy, then just letting out all the anger he must feel as the sensitive, thinking-too-much guy he’s shown to be later in the movie. So in the second reverse chronological scene, we’re shown the “deviant” sex backroom and then the straight guys beat up one guy and kill another guy, presumably both gay men, in an all gay club. Now, despite how bad I feel rape is, and how willing I am to punish a rapist as severely as possible, as an LGBT person, I was sickened to think that a place where a gay man might go to feel safe and express his sexuality around other like-minded men would be a turned into a place of violence against them by two straight men.
Then, as the movie proceeded, there are several more scenes were the victim, the woman they are supposed to be getting revenge for, Alex, is mentioned, but not seen. For awhile, it was starting to seem like this movie was more about their sense of vengeance than about the victim. Probably the first third of the movie is taken up with Gurney Guy seeking first a witness to the crime, then the club where the witness has told him the perpetrator is hanging out. During this, Gurney Guy assaults a prostitute and threatens to cut her and uses derogatory language to and about an Asian taxi driver, then assaulting him and stealing his cab. What a good boyfriend. Arrested Guy pleads with him to stop, to go see Alex at the hospital, all to no avail. When watching those scenes, I thought that it might be nice for them to go see the woman, but, during that first watching, one doesn’t know how much time has passed. I figured they already knew she was stable. No, you later find out that this is happening just after the police left the scene of the crime. They have not been to the hospital at all before running off to get revenge. Also, isn’t it the victim who is entitled to her revenge? If she died, then maybe it should all fall on their shoulders. But she was the victim of the crime. If anyone is going to get blood for blood, shouldn’t it be her? It just feels like this is taking away all her agency.
The first time we see Alex is when she is being put into the ambulance. She is all blood and dark hair. Just before this, a bystander, when asked what the police are doing there, replies that some whore got raped. When Gurney Guy sees her and starts wailing over her, he calls her his girl. So far Alex is – a rape victim, a whore, and Gurney Guy’s girl. It is her rape that has supposedly driven the story so far, but she isn’t even really a person at this point.
Then the next scene is the scene in which she is raped. She is wearing a very slinky dress and using the underground tunnel to get to the other side of the busy, multi-lane street, to the side where all the taxis are. (And, of course, she is told in an earlier chronologically, seen later scene not to go alone because it is too dangerous.) There is a lengthy brutal rape scene. Very length, very brutal. After the man is done raping her, he then kicks and punches her in the face, saying that he wants to ruin her beautiful face. There is also quite a bit of class issues in it, as he calls her a rich bitch several times, seems to resent her class, or perceived class. We also find out that the man who raped her is also implied to be the pimp of the transgendered prostitute Gurney Guy roughed up earlier in the movie. When raping Alex, he says several times that he does not usually like “cunts.” Does it disturb anyone that the straight guys are the (anti-) heroes for an agent-less woman raped by a gay man?
It is at this point in the movie that I had this thought: If you lived in a country where everyone was white, how would you know who to be scared of when walking alone at night? That’s not exactly what I mean. In American movies or television, there are certain stereotypes of people we should be afraid of. This is a reflection of who we think we should be afraid of in real everyday. These people are almost always male, marked by their clothing as poor or working class (like they aren’t wearing suits), more often than not black or Hispanic, blah blah blah. I’ve read several articles written by middle and upper class people of color who were suspected of shoplifting or being up to no good just because of the color of their skin. But I wonder who white people are supposed to be afraid of when there are no people of color around? I grant this isn’t the actual reality of any European country today and that immigrants in France are face discrimination, but it still made me wonder. It also just reinforced how stupid those stereotypes are, that my parents lost more to the banksters out of their 401Ks than they would lose to a mugger on any given day, and that most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows personally, not strangers like in this movie.
The rest of the movie is why she left the party before either of the men and flushing out the relationships between the three. It ends in a bright park, with children playing, on a kinda cheery note, like the movie puts back together everything that was broken by the end. I guess that’s a more interesting way of ending the film. It also lets people who’ve seen something pretty disturbing leave the theater feeling good instead of like they want to shoot themselves, which happens way more often in movies like this. Also, it goes from dark and “depraved” and violent to bright and happy and loving.
But I have to say I’m still deeply troubled…….
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Another recent development that hasn't really helped me is that I've started going through a decent amount of pain for a frustrating percentage of my time. I'm not really sure why this is either. In high school, I started seeing a chiropractor after prolonged back and neck pain and limited upper body mobility that my general practicioner didn't really think was anything at all. It is the chiropractor's opinion (and mine) that my back and neck pain are probably a result of a car accident when I was 12. I see him on an irregular basis, when I have an issue. I have, at different times, experienced nagging leg pain, what I imagine restless leg syndrome feels like. It usually only bothers me when I lay down to sleep. Stretching gives me temporary relief. At my most recent physical in July when I was having this problem, the doctor's nurse told me that it was a vitamin deficiency and to start regularly taking a multi-vitamin. This in combination with a trip to the chiropractor stopped the pain. For awhile at least. I had to stop the multi-vitamin about a month in because it had iron and iron causes me to have horrible heavy periods. I should have looked for another but it is very hard to find a multi-vitamin without iron. And I mostly didn't have any more problems with it until last month. Maybe one night here and there, but nothing like this. The nagging pain has started to bother me when I am sitting as well as when I lay down to sleep. It makes me want to move, to stretch out farther in bed, to shift position, which makes me not a great person to sleep in the same bed with or to even sit on the couch with sometimes. And the pain has started to spread to my forearms. I've been taking ibeprophen every 6 hours. I went to the chiropractor two weeks ago. It helped for a couple days, but then came back. I'm not sure what to do now. I'm not sure if it is the result of back problems and nerve pinching. And I can't really afford to go to... well, any doctor to explore what it could be. But it sure makes sleeping and functioning even less fun that it was before. I'm kinda screwed all the way around.
Then there is the latest bit of drama. BT's ex gf, the one he was with after he left me, sent me a message on myspace to apologize for everything. I responded, thanking her, telling her that, though she said she didn't believe anything he had said about he and I, I had a hand in the end of the relationship, that I wasn't innocent, and that I didn't wish her ill, as there was enough blame to go around. I also told BT that she had contacted me, giving him the gist of the conversation but not copying it, because I didn't want him to find out through her or any mutual friends of theirs and be upset that I hadn't told him. I am really trying hard to be civil and friendly with him. She replied with some info about their relationship that I hadn't asked for, though it had to do with some legal issues I knew they were having that I really don't want to be a part of. That's when I heard from BT- he wanted a copy of the messages to use in the legal wranglings, despite my saying that they weren't going to help him. While he didn't get angry, as far as I could tell, he did REALLY want me to give them to him. When I let her know about his request, including the fact that I had told him to have his JAG lawyer call me or get a court order, she got mad at me for ever having told him about her messaging me. So, in a petty moment, I said fuck it to myself and sent it on to him. There was a moment in there when I felt like maybe I wasn't going to be the hated pariah in this whole situation. Maybe my ex-husband wouldn't hate me and we could at least be civil, even if we couldn't be friends, and I wouldn't feel like the woman he got with after me, who no doubt heard lots of bad things about me and felt all kinds of bad things about me, many because she felt that I had hurt the man she loved, doesn't hate me. Guess not.
Fuck. I really wish I could drink without a blindingly painful hangover, because getting really drunk is about all I can come up with right now.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Well, two weeks later and I'm pretty much nowhere. Which is where I started. So at least I didn't move backwards.
I filled out the application to volunteer at the animal shelter Monday before last. I still haven't heard from them. I checked out the website and it said that, because they have a large number of people who want to volunteer, it often takes 2-3 weeks for them to get back to anyone. Selfishly, I was hoping to be able to fill some time up sooner.
In what I thought was a good sign, I heard back from someone at the LGBT community center the day after I sent them an email and was invited to join their membership committee meeting last Sunday. It was a great meeting and I felt energized and hopeful. I was only supposed to contact two other LGBT groups, go to one of their meetings, and tell them about our upcoming activities. The one group doesn't meet for a few weeks, but going to talk to the other group is more complicated. I took the women's football team during our meeting and it was suggested that I ask if I could come speak to them just before a practice. I never heard back from them. I also didn't hear back from the committee's leader, who had said he would provide talking points when we went to talk to these groups. Last Sunday, we had a specific event that we were supposed to be promoting, which was supposed to happen next Saturday. It has now disappeared from the website. I sent another email but it isn't looking so good....
I'm still applying for jobs. I even applied to a few housekeeping jobs. And one of them sent me an email back saying that they were going with more qualified applicants. I know, I know, I know. This means that they are looking at candidates who have previous housekeeping exprience. But what I read was that I'm not even qualified to be a housekeeper. Ever feel like you'll never find a job? Then, you start to look back at times where you messed up on jobs, and you start to think that you don't deserve a job. Today Mom said that they don't call it a "down" economy just because all those numbers are down. It's the people that are down too. In my head, I keep imagining our cities and towns turning into those dark, dirty, scary places of late-1970s and 1980s indie movies. I watched Repo Man last week. Wow....... That movie is crazy.
Helping around the house was going well, but health issues have derailed that the last half week or so. Sorry if this is TMI but- Well, my period started up today, so I'm guessing that my need to sleep for 18 hours a day was some lovely PMS. So I haven't gotten out to do the shopping that I was supposed to do for my folks and we don't have alot of food around right now. But I did manage to be awake to go with my mom to her eye appointment today, as she was worried they would dilate her eyes and she didn't want to drive herself home. Yay me!
Lastly, there's the love life. Meh. What love life? My regular lover has been out of town for work and, when home, too tired and overloaded to hang out. And my other dating relationship seems to be at a standstill. Partly because of lack of privacy, also because of a lack of sexual aggression on both our parts, and well other stuff. I don't want to push anything and I really don't think either of us know exactly what we want so it's kinda just where it's at.
So, no lovin', no job, and no selfish selflessness. Let's hope next week is better.