Category Archives: Personal Update

Update to Primal Scream 4…

Now, post-hysterectomy but still with ovaries intact, I’ve been stuck in the house. Flat on my @55 in bed and not doing much but struggling to clear anesthesia and intravenous painkillers…still. And not having a lot of fun with my very long to-do list getting longer.

I stumbled into a room that I’ve not been able to tolerate due to pain and heat and other issues. Those missing journals? Sitting on a table I knew I’d checked many, many times.

Now, I’ve had a lot of visitors in and out, and some I’d rather be permanent exiters than visitors. But I suspect those demons from the alternate dimension of Panmultimegadaimonium just got too bored or too embarrassed or felt too uneducated to keep my journals so they magically returned them.

Unfortunately, they are missing several pages. The numbering looks oh-so close to mine. I sincerely hope those demons aren’t experimenting with forgery. I also hope images don’t get released of those pages.

Because those demons are like a lot of people… they can’t tell reality from imagination, sanity from insanity, stories from biography, encouragement and exhortation from gossip and backbiting…

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Not Yet Dog Days of Summer

It’s one of those summers.

I have a child with an immobilized arm (“Let’s go to beach A; it’s the best and the gentlest for non-swimmers!” I’ll take, “Yeah, Right, with a Side of an ER Co-Pay for $200,” Alex.). I have a project list that is so long I feel like I might be trying to finish it as a zombie in a few decades. I have a brain that just doesn’t want to think any grand thoughts or put together any ideas in a unique and fun-to-read way.

I miss the summer over two decades ago where I was churning out poems one a week (in my own tiny and neat cursive). That one, the bright and dazzling one… every poem was about deep peace and great light and had the phrase “bright and dazzling” somewhere.

I miss the semester graduate course where we read feminist literature and wrote our responses in journals. To be told by a PhD that your ideas were so fresh and unique and showed her the world in a way she’d never seen is incredibly intoxicating and embarrassing and refreshing.

I don’t know why I’m not having any grand thoughts. Maybe it’s that needed hysterectomy that is looming closer. All those hormone shifts can’t be very good for my brain. Maybe I’m just too booked and need to find some time away from everyone by myself. Maybe I’m just not getting enough art, literature, and music to enrich my environment to jog the neurons loose. Maybe it’s the series of events that can best be summarized by the statement: Different decade, different faces, same places, same bull sh1+.

What are your thoughts? What do you do when nothing seems to materialize and it’s time to write?

Please, please, please — share. Maybe it’ll jostle something into the right places.

Primal Scream 4

Okay, so I have an “intellectual/life” “boil/conundrum” I need to lance, so here goes…

I’m having this problem lately. I don’t think it’s me; I think it’s the way I’m wired. I have things that I leave certain places, and the things seem to disappear. Since I’m spatially oriented and go back logically to the last place they were, it’s made me a little nutty. Until the last month, it was just things: keys, spices, shoes, jewelry. I complain, and they magically reappear or not. Since I’ve learned I’m not wired for tracking things and as a result I don’t have very many things of great value, I’m okay with that.

However, the latest things to disappear are not good. My stack of journals has been removed. And I’m scared. As a writer, sometimes I need to explore ideas and feelings that just aren’t safe to explore publicly; no one understands the darker side of life with its dark emotions and steamy turns of expression, so a journal for me as a writer becomes a dumping ground for ideas and feelings that are just too toxic to express out loud where someone of a lesser constitution might feel sullied or overwhelmed. I don’t have to worry that my journal will broadcast what I’ve written or be offended; I can process everything with all the passion and fire and intensity I need to, and then I can return to being a sane, normal, logical human without too many being any wiser.

My husband keeps trying to remind me that I’m getting to “that age,” where I’m close to “the change.” *rolls eyes, mutters about patriarchal notions* On one hand, he may be right; I might be slightly crazy for a few years.

On the other hand, in my heart and mind, I go back to high school, freshman year. Assignments were magically disappearing, particularly for science class. Everyone kept telling me it was my organizational skills that were lacking. I sat one night, tottering on the brink between destroying my room and crying like there was no tomorrow. My father, ever the beacon of reason, decided it was time for me to understand the problem was my lack of organization. At 10:30 PM, he took me to the school (also where he worked) and took me to my locker. While he hovered, I dutifully pulled out every book and notebook and flipped through every page and folder. He admitted defeat when the assignment was not found (I wasn’t the kind to not do an assignment; it just wasn’t me).

We went home. I redid the assignment, tumbling exhausted into bed around 12:30 AM. The next morning, the assignment reappeared with a dead flower. (Did I miss a reference to “The Godfather” somewhere?) Amazingly, only one answer was different, but it was an essay question.

I should probably just take a page out of that experience. Either the journals will come back or they won’t.

The problem is that I am a writer; I can see all kinds of plot lines. I’ve lived in the world of science fiction and fantasy–everything that those writers have created eventually exists in the real world. Writers tend to think big thinks and dream big dreams.

I have the following plot lines running through my mind all at the same time and all being played out to brilliant and excruciating endings:

  • My kids tend to befriend the bizarre and unusual; these friends have decided we should be a staging ground for adolescent pranks.
  • My level of honesty as a writer has so angered some people in several denominational pews that they have decided I no longer deserve to have a voice; they are hoping that the disappeared journals shut me up for a long time. They also want to figure out how to show many people exactly what I feel in my own handwriting in an effort to ensure I give up on the whole “really reflecting Christ” thing. (Like Gandhi, I love your Jesus but can’t stand you Christians, or words to that effect. Call it eliminating hypocrisy out of agape.)
  • The social services people who have worked with my kids for the last several years are so impressed with the way our home runs like a well oiled machine *laughing and snorting and choking and coughing* that they borrowed the journals to figure us out without taking up much of our precious time.
  • The demons from the alternate dimension of Panmultimegadaimonium have been working overtime and gotten a little confused; usually, they focus on removing one sock in a pair from the dryer and sending it to the blackhole of Calcutta, but recently, they extended their operations into objects. (Yes, it is a bit far fetched, but I did mention science fiction and fantasy.)

I finally broke down and spent a few bucks to replace the journal. No, that’s not right. I spent a few bucks to get another book in which to collect my ideas and feelings.

The reality is though that I really need my old journals too. They testify to where I’ve been, the issues I’ve wrestled, the record of wins and losses. They stand as a memorial stone to the Sovereignty of Jesus Christ in my life and serve as a reminder that feelings are not reality and I must choose to craft the masterpiece of my reality based on His Instructions.

Hopefully, this is enough to set my keel in a balanced motion. We shall see.

Onward and upward…

Zippy Take Over, #2

Zippy not sleeping 111514Whoa! It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been here. I’ve learned some new words watching my humans typing and watching the big rectangles. I am so looking forward to sharing some thoughts in some different areas.

Day and Night

These humans are so crazy. They have their activity all mixed up. They should lie in their beds in the sun during the day, getting warm and rested. Then, when it’s dark and cooler, they should move and do things. The one older female is especially mixed up; I can’t even get her to slow down and scratch me sometimes during the day. I’ve watched all the human food dishes and human food things flying all over because of this older female, and I don’t know how to tell her this, but she really smells better to me when she goes slower. I think the older man is closer to right with his activity levels and speed (besides, he got me good treats, so he has to be right).

Communicating

I’m frustrated. They have those funny paws they call hands and they’ve been doing all sorts of pointing and gesturing. I’ve been learning that if I do certain actions like sit or stay or get down in response to the gestures, and I do the same action with the same gesture, they all get crazy happy.

I don’t have those paws. I’m trying to find ways to communicate. I’ve learned that if I touch my nose to a certain door I can get them to take me outside (not that that’s been real useful with the cold and snow).

I did make my throat vibrate, and I watched the one young female human give me my seat on the end of my couch rather quickly; however, the older female human picked me up, put me on the other end of the couch, and gave the seat back to the younger human, and then the older human turned her back. I must have not communicated clearly, or maybe I missed something.

But my sad eyes don’t get me more of my food, and my sad eyes don’t get me human food either. I’m so confused. I also can’t seem to get the particular human I want when I want her; these humans don’t seem to read the speed and pattern of my tail wag very well. I wish I had a better way to tell them who and what I want.

Cats

I really thought I made it clear at the other place I lived that I didn’t like those four-legged furballs humans call cats. I have watched these cats just sauntering all over my yard, and they won’t leave. I don’t understand why those cats can’t get their own furever homes away from mine. At least I do have a clear wall between me and them.

My Yard

I have this huge yard the humans walk me around. I love every inch of it. There are so many places to stop and smell things that I get so excited I have to pee. They have these funny artificial trees that are hard and not shaped right at all; those are the best to pee on because my human looks like he or she hears something when I do. There are these miniature trees with bright red puffs or maybe some white puffs; the humans don’t seem to like it so much when I pee there (although I have tricked a younger human female into letting me). My favorite place to poop is right where those cats make fun of me.

Family

I am so excited. I learned that I have another dog cousin. I didn’t think I had any dog family, but it looks like he got adopted like I did. He and I didn’t talk much, just sniffed each other; he doesn’t seem to understand that I can’t get his barking and snorting. ‘Gins was so much fun. He even shared his water dish with me, and his human gave me something white and tasty called cheese. I hope I get to visit him again soon.

 

Zippy Take Over, #1

Hi, hi, hello, hello! I’m new to the scene. I decided to borrow my human’s keyboard.

I just moved in last night. It’s so much better here.

I used to live in a big fenced in yard with a lot of other four-leggeds like me. We did a lot of outside games like “Chase and Catch” and “Nip the Tail.” We didn’t have very many two-leggeds that came to play. Well, maybe I didn’t.

I had a hard time. I never heard anything and my ears hurt all the time. They took me far away to see a special V-E-T; I went to sleep, and when I woke up, the pain was gone, but I still didn’t hear. It’s hard to watch all the other four-leggeds moving their mouths, knowing they can talk and I can’t. Sometimes, the other four-leggeds would forget I couldn’t hear and sneak up behind me; I got a little snappy then.

A moon or two ago, these four female two-leggeds came to visit. I was so excited, but then they went away. It was nice to play, but I didn’t know why they didn’t take me with them. I was also kind of mad because I had to share them with two other dogs. I was also scared because they moved their mouths like they were talking, and I couldn’t hear them either.

Another few moon changes, and they came back. They brought a male two-legged with them. They played with me. Again, I had to share, and again they didn’t take me with them. It was still so quiet and I couldn’t yell, “Take me! Take me!” because they wouldn’t understand.

The last time the four two-leggeds came back, they visited just with me and one other dog. When they visited me, they did different things with their hands. When I did a certain move with my butt to a certain sign, I got another sign and lots of attention (these two-leggeds have funny paws…they make two nails come together and the other three stick up when I do the right thing). They shake that funny thing with their hands when they try to make me look at them (I know better… they want to make me do stuff, so I just look away).

They left, and I didn’t hear anything. I was sad. Then yesterday my food bringer put me in her wheeled wagon. We went to this house. The four two-leggeds were there. The one put a stick in her hand and waved it over these papers, and then my food bringer left.

I was scared, but the two-leggeds were so full of energy. I got so much attention. Then two of the four put me in another wheeled wagon. We went to this big place like a kennel. Only it wasn’t a kennel; it was a magical place full of lots of toys (which I don’t really like) and food (bags and bags and bags…it could feed the whole pack of us) and other creatures.

Unfortunately, to get to the good part (the food), I had to get a bath. I came out all yucky smelling (I think I’d rather have mud). But then they got me beds and food and funny things with a bird head on them.

When we got back to the new house, I was so tired. I ate and slept. I wasn’t at all zippy like my new name. See, there’s me in my new bed…not so sure I like the spots because they remind me of cats. Eeewww.

Zippy at end of first day

I woke up, and it was dark and quiet, too quiet. I have my own room, and the door was closed. Why can’t my paws be more like the two-leggeds? So I got creative. I jumped, and I missed. I jumped again, and I missed again. Finally, magically, I was catapulted to other mysterious rooms that don’t smell like me yet. Some had good smells that made my drooling worse (ladies, please don’t look). Other rooms had lots of little stumps for me to crawl through. Others had piles of blankets and funny shaped covers to crawl through and burrow into (I think these belonged to the three younger two-leggeds.

I ran room by room. Each two-legged was lying on a mat in the air, and they were too quiet. If I’m up, shouldn’t they be? Barking isn’t very gentleman-like, so I tried to quietly whimper. Finally, I was with the two older two-leggeds. I got sneaky and quiet and tried to crawl up on their feet. It worked for about 20 slow tail shakes. Then the female one got up and put me back. *sigh* I had to start all over, which I did. Three or four times. The female didn’t seem happy.

I still have to work on getting used to all the rules. So many places smell so nice, but I get pulled out when I show up. I also have to learn what those two-leggeds mean with those things they do with their hands; they seem to take it well if I make a mistake, so maybe by next post I’ll be able to share this non-talking language.

I’m still a little scared that this isn’t my furever home because it’s nice. I get out on a lot of little walks every day, and my yard is so big even if I can’t run without a leash. I have these color shapes that they throw for me; I think I’m supposed to bring them back, but I’m different: I just like to look at them. I’m kind of nibbling my paws and getting itchy all over because I’m scared and excited all together. (I think the one human noticed. She picked up this funny, black bone, and I heard the word V-E-T.) But for now, I think I will relax; I could be a lot of other bad places.

Keeping It Real

I’m a little overdue for a post. I’ve had one of those lives lately… it’s a whirlwind within a whirlpool (or whirlpool within a whirlwind). I’ve been cleaning out the attic and struggling to stay healthy and trying to get three kids back in a school groove and dealing with the second child having food issues (intolerance not allergy… both a blessing and a curse… blessing in that an Epi-pen is not required… curse in that there’s no proof and all the burden rests on my subjective efforts to be consistent and long-term). My to-do list gets longer each day.

As a result, I find my vocabulary has taken a nose dive. Well, some would call it a nose dive. My euphemisms are getting a little less unicorns and sparkles and cotton candy. “Double dumb donkey butt” is replaced with “j@ck @55 balls,” things start to have the adjective “fricken” every few words, and you catch my drift before I slide into an R or NC-17 rating.

On one hand, I try to make it my heart’s desire to lead a quiet life, work with my hands, and be at peace with all men. I wish to offend no one, and in general, I want cosmic contentment and world peace.

And then there are those days where one tempest after another hits, full of sound and fury and chaos. My hands scream in pain and refuse to take dictation from my mind of the stories and thoughts I want to share, and since I’m racked with pain and without a smart phone and speech-to-text apps, I start five or six blog posts mentally that never make it to the ether sphere. Frustration looms larger than life. And the “be at peace with all men”… well, their chromosomes don’t match, making them incapable of logical thought. Therefore, I shall push the red button, making it all dissolve in a mushroom cloud.

Well, I digress with much melodrama…

In what seems to be a totally unrelated thought (and yet, by the time I’m done, you’ll see how it’s connected…in my mind, at least), I think of all my friends I know in recovery–alcoholics, addicts, etc. I think about all the things I’ve learned from them:

FINE doesn’t mean everything’s all right. Fouled up, insecure, neurotic, emotional… The word “Fine” is the weapon of choice to shut down all communication. People who are FINE usually aren’t; some stressor has pushed them to a breaking point they don’t want to share. The clueless hear the word and think all’s well with the world. Your more sophisticated read the tone and head for the hills.

Accountability means everything. You need two or three people who know you well enough to “call bullsh1+” when you’re using your FINE shield. Without these people, you will eventually believe your own lies. You will lie in a figurative corner, bleeding emotionally just yards from help simply because you’ve used the fetal position to cover a mortal wound that you insist is a superficial nick and you won’t let anyone take a peek. (All right, that might border on melodrama…)

HALT when you need to. Sometimes, when everything’s crashing, we forget to take care of ourselves. We are hungry for physical food or for emotional intimacy or for a spiritual pick-me-up. We are angry because even though we can’t control everything, we continue to try because things simply aren’t going our way. We are lonely, either because we can’t connect to others or our connections of choice aren’t available. We are tired–tired of the storms of life; sick of all the demands on our time, talent, and treasure; weary of the world and our seeming ineptitude at processing all the activity around us. In those moments, stop. Cease. Desist. Halt. Take a break to do some kind of self care. See a movie, get a coffee, listen to a favorite song, phone a friend; do whatever it is you need within reason and morality to give yourself a positive pause.

There is safety in numbers. On every nature show I’ve ever seen with predators and prey, unless the situation is desperate, the predators always pick the stray animal away from the group. It doesn’t matter if it’s a young animal wandering off to explore the world or a sick or old animal that can’t keep up. The predators pick the weakest link to pick off. Find groups with similar interests, and hang out. Meet new people. (Well, the exception may be lemmings. But again, I digress…)

And so, in the interest of keeping it real, I think I’ve just given myself my answer. I need a slower lifestyle for a season (short, I hope). I need some time to process all the change that came into my life with little notice while I was totally unprepared. I will go hang with the flock to ensure I have sufficient numbers to sustain me and protect me from the skirmishes for a brief respite.

I will write more, but first I will get a good speech-to-text app (yes, I’m already looking at the one named for the mythical fire-breathing, wing-flapping creature… ) so my hands can rest a little at the end of the day while I let my mind soar to other realms and share thoughts and feelings from a new perspective in fresh language.

But for now, I will go and try to dream of unicorns and sparkles and cotton candy… And I hope you ponder the necessity of keeping it real…

An Ounce of Prevention…

Life with food allergies or intolerances is never easy. We all know what an allergy is: the physical symptoms combined with immune cells trying to fight off the invader that is really not so bad. An intolerance is an allergy minus the immune cells; you get all of the reactions like an allergy, plus the joy of figuring it out on your own because your immune cells no longer react but your body does.

My nemesis is mushrooms in all their edible forms. I am so sensitive a drop of the stuff can send me wheezing and clutching my chest and gulping for air. Wisely, I carry injectable epinephrine and Benadryl to continue to enjoy life. It’s not that I willingly seek mushrooms; it’s more like I sometimes can’t avoid exposure because people don’t seem to get the level of sensitivity I experience.

I used to use the name-brand injector. It was beautiful in a garish sort of way. It was large and construction zone orange and yellow. It was wide at the top and tapered to the end where the needle pops out. The device was so wide the label listed the necessary usage steps in large pictures that anyone could use. It came two devices to a box with a practice device. And I did practice…ten times a day when I first got it. I actually used one (manufacturer didn’t clean machinery so well); the other aged out. You can actually practice to the point your hand knows what to do so you don’t have to think much.

When I replaced it, I had to get a generic device. I never really got them out of the box. The containers were sleek. There was no practice injector, and the containers didn’t seem to move easily. I guess I was afraid of opening them and wasting an injection due to breaking a seal of some kind. (Do you smell a story coming?)

Well, Tuesday this week was one of those odd days. Things didn’t go quite right. I got tired and stressed. My hubby, ever the sweetheart, offered to take me out to eat. Usually, I’m gung-ho for a dinner out, but we didn’t have enough time to get to a chain restaurant. I’ve learned chains are most accommodating of food issues and have enough knowledge to help their patrons avoid food issues. That said, I was too tired to argue.

So, we went to a mom-and-pop local business. We truly like local businesses; we prefer to support local businesses. However, local restaurants tend not to understand food issues. Reusing oil on food helps save money; they don’t understand the issue of cross-contaminating my French fries with breaded mushroom particles or how a tablespoon of mushroom juice in a big stuffing batch could do any harm.

And the one we picked was okay. It had a good atmosphere. We perused the menus and picked items. I was so hungry for fries and stuffed shrimp. I did my due diligence and asked about my issues. The waitress was short (probably the end of a long day) and assured me I wouldn’t have any food issues. I could see mushrooms on the menu and my gut was nagging, but I took her word for it.

The French fries were so good. They were the ones you dump into the oil frozen so they get all crunchy. The shrimp were good, but the stuffing was lousy. We paid and left (yes, I left a tip–wish it would have been instructions instead of cash).

About 10 minutes into the car ride, I felt that slight tightening. Of course, I told myself it was in my head and I should just ignore it. Within another five, I was gulping for air and rooting for my magic pocketbook–the one with the injector and Benadryl. Unfortunately, I’d left it at home from my weekend getaway with my hubby. My hubby did have Benadryl; I took those and laid back, focusing on my breathing.

Ten minutes from home, I started to feel dizzy and my face felt warm and hot. These were new symptoms, but I’m still cool–that injector is at the house.

I tore into the house and back to my bedroom (I couldn’t even unlock the door and the tearing was more a rapid-gaited stumble). I’m getting more dizzy, and my hands are shaking as I rip open the box for the generic devices. I fumbled the container open…and I stopped.

These devices were not user friendly! Everything was all about the same width. I picked what I thought was the end to inject and put my hand with my thumb on the other end. I took a deep breath, preparing to count to 10, and jammed the device against my thigh.

Time stopped.

I felt a sting in my thumb. I pulled my hand away. There was nothing on my thigh. The needle dangled from my thumb and swung off. I was stunned. Even my husband was stunned into silence.

So, I had to call 9-1-1. The operator was good, or at least he didn’t laugh outright at me. I laid on the couch with a stream of blood from my thumb. I was dazed and confused. Did I get any med? How much? What if I didn’t get any? What if I hit a blood vessel and straight injected instead of the whole muscle thing?

Well, I got my first ambulance ride of the year and spent hours in the ER. The needle was bent at almost a 90 degree angle. The staff were more worried that my thumb might be in danger. It was swollen and cold with no sensation. The injection site was black with a white ring. The bruising was spreading to other parts of the thumb where it could be felt. When the staff were sure that the damage was contained and would not cost me my thumb, I was sent home.

My dad taught me that no bad situation was wasted as long as I learned something and tried to stay out of the situation in the future. So, what did I learn?

Penny wise and pound foolish is just that: foolish… It may cost me 10 times more to have the name-brand injector, but my life is probably worth more to my husband and kids than the cost of the injector.

When you assume, you make a donkey’s butt out of yourself… I never dreamed the generic injectors would work so differently from the name-brand. I just assumed that everything would be the same. As a result, I made an error that could have really complicated my life. That said, the generic injectors are inexpensive. I could have just popped open the container and really investigated the device. I also could have used the trick a friend of mine with diabetes used. When she was learning to inject herself with insulin, she used an orange. I should have experimented with the generic injector and an old fruit or vegetable so that I knew how it would behave.

Opposable thumbs are beautiful things… I’d forgotten just how much I use my thumb to do things. My husband was happy to have me alive, but not so happy that I’m practically throwing a water bottle because I couldn’t get it open at 4 am. I also found texting difficult, as I was reduced to hunting and pecking with a pointer finger.

Knowledge is power… I can be more vocal in advocating for those with severe allergies. I was too stunned by the rapidity and bluntness of the waitresses answer to reply with the usual listing of consequences. In the future, I can do more to try to help people understand that it’s not about preferences or personal tastes, but it’s about how bodies function and how some foods, no matter how healthy, can be devastating for certain individuals. I can also contact the maker of the generic device; they may not change the design of the device, but they might be able to make the labeling more obvious. I’m sure if I panicked, others will too; a better design might prevent unnecessary negative consequences.

Life is precious and sweet… It’s funny. On the ambulance ride, as I focused on each breath, forcing my chest to expand and slowing my breathing rate, I wasn’t worried about the shabby state of my yard or how the month’s bills would get done or the chores at the house on my to-do list. I was thinking about whether I’d lived well enough that I would be well remembered; I was worrying about how my kids would feel if something didn’t go right; I was sorry I hadn’t hugged them when I left for work that morning; I was wishing my husband was with me instead of getting the kids placed and following behind. Life isn’t about the things; it about the people we love and the places we go with them and the life we experience we them. And maybe… it was time for me to have that balancing reminder.