Saturday, June 30, 2012

Taking a Lesson from Hannibal Lecter

No, no cannibalism.

I'm in a shitty mood and far too irritable for any sort of structured post, so I thought I'd leave you with some words of wisdom from one of literature's most misunderstood bad guys, Hannibal Lecter.

Anthony Hopkins has a way of staring into your soul, doesn't he?

"As my mother told me, and I'm sure your mother told you, it is important to always try new things."

New things tried this week:
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Salad Turnips and their greens
  • Fresh Figs

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go sulk and watch violent movies and not write about why Hannibal Lecter is so misunderstood (it would require an entire re-reading of the books, anyway) and probably eat a lot of junk.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What Mania is Really Like

I talk in general terms about being bipolar, but I don't go in-depth about it a lot, because aside from my friends who have worked in or are in the mental health field, it's generally a very uncomfortable subject, especially for my family. There's also a certain vulnerability and stigma involved in opening up about something so personal as mental illness. Mental illness. Roll that around in your head and tell me you don't come up with some blathering crazy person or an old-school sanitarium hosting lobotomy parties and electro-shock therapy. Bipolar disorder is one of those things that people talk about casually ("that person is so bipolar") without really knowing what they're talking about. It's not just a mood swing. It's a debilitating mental illness that, while I'm medicated and am at therapeutic levels of my medications as of my last blood test (I have a lab slip for new blood work this week though)  it is still a struggle. I think enough people have covered depression. Not enough people are talking about how difficult mania is.

My official diagnosis is Bipolar I. That link to WebMD is very basic information. Pretty much my diagnosis means I've had at least one manic period offset by depression. Typically my periods of depression outweigh my periods of mania, so my therapist kind of gave me a diagnosis hovering somewhere between Bipolar I and II; the actual diagnosis sheet says "Bipolar I with periods of hypomania." I should actually drop her a line because I recently had a full-blown case of mania (I haven't been able to visit because with no insurance, I can't afford the $90 office visit). So even with 900mg of lithium carbonate a day, I was highly manic for the entire month of May.

If only a prescription of heavy metal included Metallica and Megadeth and not pills...

Commonly, when you look up the symptoms of mania, you will find euphoria, hyperactivity, insomnia, rapid speech, hypersexuality, excessive spending, grandiose thoughts, inflated self-esteem and the like on the list. You know what else is on the list, hidden, like a dirty little mental health secret? Irritability, anger, rage.

Somewhere in the month of May, maybe the end of April, I'm not entirely sure, my mood shifted. I was pissed off at everything. I hated with a passion. I've always had a temper and I've always been vitriolic, prickly, and negative, but man, I was angry. My heart was constantly racing to the point that it felt like I was mainlining adrenaline. I had the hypersexuality and when I got a chance to express it, it was angry, possessive, biting and scratching and making sure I left marks (but awesome sex, nonetheless). I was ready to absolutely fly in the face of any woman who even looked at my man. Every little thing, I was ready to fight. I even got into a verbal altercation with a neighbor and threatened to take his toy car if it landed on my lawn one more time. Everything set me off. Every little noise set me into a rage. I was constantly overstimulated. Have you ever felt like you could just run into the street and beat the everloving shit out of a perfect stranger because they were scuffing their feet and you just couldn't take the fucking sound any more? I felt that every day. For a month. I was up all night, sometimes not going to bed until 8 or 9 in the morning.

I used to describe my bipolar disorder as either a dragon mood (euphoric mania) or a cat mood (deeply complex, depressed). The dragon was always my mania. This time it was a scary, snapping, aggressive wolf.

I'd never felt this way before
 I would have given anything for a "dragon" mood. A euphoric mania is so much more fun. I haven't had one of those for about 1 1/2 years. That was my slutty phase. Remember that hypersexuality part? Yeah. I'm not going to write about my "dragon" mania, because it's pretty text book. I shopped a lot. Dressed up, looked good, flirted a lot and had fun. People thought I was normal. It was actually an extreme. Anyway, these days I hope more for a baseline, a balance between the extremes where I'm not wanting to cry all the time but I'm not flying off the walls in some extreme rage/euphoria. The lithium is supposed to help balance that, but it can't prevent the mood swings from happening, it just prevents rapid-cycling and provides stability. Stability, in mental health, is always the goal.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Farner's Market

I just got back from the local farmer's market. I had never been. I was always too shy to approach local vendors, but today I went. Curiosity got the best of me. I am so glad.

Purple radishes, white salad turnips, and garlic scapes

Food makes me so happy, and not just because I'm a fat kid. I absolutely love beautiful, fresh produce, so when I spotted those turnips, which due to their size I first thought were a variety of radish, I was smitten. I asked about them and was quickly informed that they were salad turnips. Salad turnips. I tried one when I got home. So delicate, tender, with a very toned-down turnip taste. Not at all like the aggressive winter turnips of my childhood. Also, SCAPES. Garlic scapes are entirely new to me and where have they been all my life? I actually started chewing on one as I visited in my cousin's salon before going home because I simply could not wait (I sampled the turnip greens too, making goat noises while I chewed). So delicious. The only thing I haven't sampled yet are the radishes, because radishes are radishes pretty much, but I need to get them processed and put away before Calypso decides they're hers (I may write more on that later).

I need to go back to the farmer's market. There was also a vendor with local, grass-fed beef who I discussed beef hearts with (neither of us knew what to do with them but were curious) and one selling bison. And so many veggies. I spied beet greens too, which almost sent me into a paroxysms of "I WANT IT" but I had to remind myself that I'm growing some and to be patient. I loved that it was all fresh, and all local. The local part was the most important to me. And as a plus, farmer's markets (in Maine, at least) accept food stamps, so I was able to get my beautiful veggies without having to break my budget and keep the money in-state rather than spending it at a big box grocery store.

I just can't get over how beautiful those veggies are! I'm thinking salad. Salad? Yes. Salad.

That Visceral Response to Music

Why yes, yes I am going to blog about just one song! I recently rediscovered the soundtrack to the movie Orlando (as mentioned here is my Favorite Movie Ever) which is fantastic in and of itself, but the title track, as it were, is singularly spectacular and as I listened to it on repeat while running errands I thought I need to write about this!

So allow me to beg your indulgence for a moment, and present to you, "Coming" by Jimmy Somerville:

Now, the video will show you scenes of the movie Orlando, and it fits the movie beautifully, but it's out of context for what I want to discuss. So when you listen, close your eyes, or just don't pay attention to the video.

This song makes me cry almost every time I listen to it. It evokes so many emotions--complex ones at that-- that I though it bore some examination. At the superficial level, it's a song about emancipation: Yes at last, at last/to be free of the past/and the future that beckons me/...At last I am free. I got that part stuck in my head when I got fired from my job. I felt liberated, jubilant, unfettered. With the poppy, upbeat music, how can this not be a happy song? But listen deeper into the lyrics; free from what? Is this a song about death, leaving the body and going "across the divide?"

Then I thought "you think everything is about death, silly" and thought more on it. So what else is this song about? It's about love: In this moment of unity/feeling an ecstasy/to be here, to be now. Who hasn't had that heady, ecstatic, in-the-now love? Where you and your partner are one and you are the ultimate Being of love and passion and nothing can divide you? Keeping with the theme of freedom, that love severs you from all the hate and darkness with it's purity, blinds you to the terribleness of the world, but also an absolute love for mankind: We are joined, we are one/With the human face/We are joined, we are one/With the human face. A pure love transcends just the relationship with the One and becomes an all-encompassing relationship with Man. Which leads me to...

Transcendence. Over all, this is a song about transcendence. This can be widely interpreted: transcendence from simple relationship love to love for all creatures, transcendence from the shackles of the burdens that weigh us down, or a spiritual transcendence. Let's explore spiritual. In many religious paths, the ultimate goal is to attain that heavenly perfection-- the Buddhists call it Nirvana. Many people meditate to reach a place where they have surpassed the physical and are pure spirit (scientists would refer to this as becoming pure energy, where we would no longer need our physical bodies). Let's look at the lyrics: I am on earth/And I am in outer space/I'm being born and I am dying/I am coming! I am coming!/Here I am!/Neither a woman, nor a man. When you transcend the need for a physical body, gender is moot. Energy doesn't die. You become a constant being, euphoric, freed of the shackles of the physical, pure love and unity with the universe around you. Free.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Authors Shouldn't Have to Hold Your Hand

It should come to no surprise to any of you that I like to read. The summer time finds me devouring stacks of book like a fatty devours a stack of pancakes. An exceptionally good book will almost leave me morose, have me wandering and thinking and listening to mournful music until I can shake it and go to the next book. I even have a B.A. in English (never take three literature classes in one semester. Just. Don't. Do. It.) and some day, I would like to get my Master's in early English literature. So yes, I read the classics, I read horrible, smutty romances, a ton of fantasy, and contemporary. And an unhealthy amount of cookbooks. I'm used to absorbing the words, understanding, interpreting, even if I don't have a semi-circle of colleagues to discuss the book with in an overly-hot classroom. So, to my dismay, excitedly reading discussion topics on Goodreads, I found that readers have become lazy and indulged.

Oh? You say. Yes. Let's take the Hunger Games, since it was widely popular and honestly, really, really good. So much better than the movie. For the purposes of this entry, I'm only going to touch on the first book.

I found a discussion topic entitled "How do you think Panem came into existence? What events occured that made the nation" and thought "okay then, this will be an interesting conversation to have! Now, some people hypothesized, but most people just sounded stupid. "She should have just said!" "Prequel!" "I'm retarded GO TEAM GALE!!!!!1111!!" Notice how my response is the highest-voted one in that thread? People, Collins doesn't have to give us that much back story. It's not necessary. Bad shit happened, we fucked up big time, that's it. You don't deserve more. Let that little bit of unexplained horror add to the overall desperation, horror, and fear throughout the book. Frankly, a prequel would cheapen Collins' entire trilogy unless she could make it stand alone so far by itself that it could be seen not as a prequel but it's own entity.

I used to want to write fiction. Huge, sprawling fantasy series. I used to write a lot in my teens. It's a lot of work and when I started getting really in-depth, I had a hard time keeping track of my characters, their back stories, even geography. Authors simply can not spoon-feed every little thing to their audience, and shouldn't. Another example: Orlando by Virginia Woolf.

Arguably one of my Favorite Books of All Time, it was then made into my Favorite Movie of All Time and arguably one of Tilda Swinton's  best roles, ever. Also one of the best book-to-film adaptations I've ever seen.

Now, if you can't figure out, after reading the novel or even watching the movie why Orlando changes gender, you should probably go read a history book. Or a coloring book. Or just go drink yourself to death. Because Virginia Woolf wasn't about to just sit there and tell you when you could plain well interpret the text yourself.

I was about to wrap this up when I thought about another one that I've heard readers whining about! Curley's wife in Of Mice and Men.

Okay, so I hated this book and I don't like Steinbeck at all, but this one character generates a lot of conversation. Most of it intelligent discussion about alienation, desire for human contact, destruction of the human psyche, unhappy marriages, abuse, etc.. Then some think that Steinbeck was the most sexist thing ever and that she deserved a name. Sigh. People. A name? You're missing the goddamned point. Here's a really good discussion thread that starts out horribly but then smarter people take it over.

So yes, let's put our critical thinking caps on and learn to interpret what we read and realize we don't need literary hand-holding, mmkay?

The Neuroses of the Cat, Part 2

Most house cats will have a favorite toy that they play with a lot, carry around, and "kill" until it just looks terrible but you feel terrible throwing it away because it's your favorite, so you let them keep it and get grossed out every time you step on it in the dark. Most cat's favorite toy did not sprout from their body.

This past winter Eden's fur matted really, really badly. I'm not a neglectful pet owner by any means and tried to brush her (she put up a fight, but I managed to brush some mats out) but the mats got big and they were tight to her skin, so cutting them would have been risky without another set of very steady hands. When I saw that they were loosening, though, I could get at them and all was good. There was no issue with dirt, waste (they were all in the front) or parasites, so I just kept an eye on her and all was well. One night, I noticed she was missing a huge one under her arm; it had either fallen away naturally or she had chewed it out. I didn't think much of it until she carried it into the living room later that night, meowing and meowing like she had killed it. I tossed it out with a laugh. I went away for vacation and left the cats in the care of my aunt/landlord and she reported that there was another mat shed. Good! I came home to find it (or a different one) on the floor and a completely mat-free Edens bugging the hell out of me for pettings. That night she carried the mat out into the living room, carrying on like before. It was so cute, though, I didn't have the heart to take it away.

Oh what have I done?

Yes that's a Christmas tree. Yes it's almost July. Accept it and move on. Also, awwww.

Almost every night (and as I sit here writing, it's almost time for her to start) I hear some distinctive sounds you can only recognize if you've ever seen a mother cat interact with her kittens. It's that sort of low brr that gets a blind kitten's attention as the mother comes over to the litter-- this is when she is picking up her baby. Yes, that's right. This mat of her own fur is her baby.

She will carry this mat of fur from the dining room/cat play room to the living room, brring and meowing nonstop. Nonstop. She doesn't shut up. Sometimes she runs with it in her mouth and launches herself into the window sill, in which I threaten to call child protective services on her.
Then she destroyed my soul

See her paw there? She will use her hands to put her baby in and out of her mouth. She uses her motherfucking hands. I swear to god, one of these days I'm going to grab her paw and see a thumb. She will hold her baby in her hand even, and groom it. That's right. She will lick that mat of fur like it's a kitten she's holding. In her hand. Have I mentioned cats don't just pick up their kittens in their hands to groom them and then put them back down? Yeah.

Using. Her. Fucking. Hand.

At this point, I'm so afraid she'll walk around the house making that seeking noise that mother cats make that I can't stand to throw that mat of fur away, but this can't be healthy. I mean, she's obsessed with lights and has a not-kitten. If I find a rotting horde of cat food hidden away somewhere I'll have a veritable Miss Havisham (granted, she never carried around a faux baby).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hiding my Emotions under a Cloche

I'm sitting here after an emotional day/week/month with a drink that is Way Too Strong and I have all of these ideas I want to write about-- some silly, some serious-- but I am so listless that I can't focus on any one thing for very long except the fact that I am trying very hard to bottle up my emotions and not cry like I have wanted to all day. It's probably not healthy. I should probably run out in the rain in my bare feet and stand in the middle of the road with my arms outspread and practice Primal Scream therapy and have my Great Catharsis but I have a feeling that only works in movies. I feel like some waiter will come by and with dramatic flair lift the cloche I'm keeping over my emotions and I will just fucking lose it.

Cooking therapy didn't help tonight, despite fresh ingredients and lovely cheeses and petite pain.

Anyway, I got some good feedback on yesterday's post, so thank you all that read, shared, discussed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ignorance is Never Bliss

As I have mentioned before, I am unemployed and collecting unemployment benefits. I am also receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps)  which  I had applied for before I  got fired due to a lack of income while on leave of absence from work (my request for short-term disability got denied). I didn't want to apply. There was always a stigma  to being on food stamps, but when you're poor and have no money for food, you have to do what you have to do. When I went to DHHS I had no idea what I was doing, what I was going to get or how much they would even issue. I thought I was going to be denied on principle, so when I was granted $130 for one month, I was shocked (it was a provisional month, eventually I was granted $200 a month). I left the office with copies of the paperwork I signed and a form to report to them if my income changed, but I left, completely ignorant.

I usually am pretty well educated about a lot of things, but I didn't know shit about food stamps. I've been on them a year and I didn't even know they were a program of the US Department of Agriculture until a few weeks ago when my brother in-law, who works at the USDA, was spouting off about how much food stamps cost. Another thing I didn't know until this Spring? Food stamps can buy plants and seeds. Motherfucking plants and seeds. Had I known that last summer, I would have taken advantage of it. I didn't know! How hard would it have been for DHHS to print out this page of the USDA website about eligible food items to hand out to people receiving SNAP benefits? I would have appreciated it! They're doing people a disservice. I'm sure more people, if they knew about it, would like to be able to grow their own food.

I found out totally by accident. I had budgeted some cash to buy two heirloom tomato plants, two basil plants, a rosemary and a thyme plant and some radish and beet seeds (mmm... beet greens) at Wal-Mart but I also had to buy some foodstuffs and some non-food. So the cashier rang me up, I swiped my food stamp card first, cashier hit subtotal, and it was... ten dollars? I looked at him/her funny, but paid and left. Really? Food stamps just paid for my gardening stuff? I thought, wrestling the impossibly heavy bag of dirt into my trunk (never again). It did.

So today, as my aunt helped me stake my huge tomato plants, I was thinking, we're really doing a disservice to people on government benefits if we're not properly educating them about what they're getting. It took me literally one minute to find that information on the USDA website, but I had to know to look. Ignorance of what people on any form of assistance can receive is only adding to the tension and class division that we're seeing in this country.

You know what I'd love to see with the food stamp program in particular? Workshops where someone from the USDA comes to the local DHHS office in the Springtime to talk about how to grow a garden, whether it be in the ground or  in containers. People, we need this kind of communication and education. I benefit from having grown up with gardens, I already know how to grow my own food, but so many people don't know, could benefit. Why aren't we providing this education? Right now, no information at all is being provided, and that's a shame. I know it costs money, and I know from talking to my brother in-law that there haven't been raises in years, but would it behoove someone to maybe do this as volunteer work in conjunction with DHHS? It's just a thought.

They were so small back then...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Siren Song of the Ocean

Maybe it's a Maine thing. Maybe we're so tied to the sea that even those of us who live inland inevitably are drawn to the ocean. And I'm not talking about the absolutely disgusting white-trash tourist pit of Old Orchard Beach (protip: it's only enjoyable if you like seeing fat hairy French Canadian men in Speedos) but the real coastal Maine. The rocky coast. Maine isn't a beach state anyway, so I don't know why so many of my friends are all "OMG BEACH." Give me rocks over sand any time. Salty air and that persistent ocean smell (which yes, at times, can be pervasive and during times have a certain effluvia of fish) and abundant seafood. Oh yes, let me devour the crustaceans that skitter and the mollusks that cling! So yes, even This Person, this flight risk who needs her forests so badly craves the sea.

I am fortunate enough to make it once a year, to satisfy that salty itch. It's a tradition that started with just my mother and my sister Tracy, a sailing trip as her Mother's Day gift to Mom. But then I felt left out and Mom invited my two oldest nieces as well (my youngest niece, who is Tracy's daughter, is certain that all boats sink, and refuses to go). It became an awesome girl's weekend. Mom would pick me up (and usually I had my niece Heather with me, since she lived close by) and would already have my niece Vikki with her. Tracy would meet us in Rockland. We'd park in the lot at the hotel and walk downtown to the Rockland Cafe for lunch (fried shrimp) and be done in time for our sail at 1. This year, it was just Tracy, Mom, and I, as the girls have moved out of state.

We always sail with Captain Bob Pratt on A Morning in Maine (he's on Facebook, too) and his faithful companion, Poco, who invariably seeks out my sister as soon as we arrive for dog treats.
And butt scrubbies. He loves butt scrubbies.
Usually we go out sailing on Saturday and then come home on Sunday. This past Saturday was dour and foggy, with very little wind, but we went out anyway. The fog horns from the Rockland Breakwater and Owl's Head light house lowed back and forth like lost cattle and I had trouble seeing the light from Owl's Head even though he took us fairly close. Because it was a rather disappointing sail, Captain Bob invited us back on Sunday free of charge. The wind was blowing,  the sky was a crisp, pristine blue with unassuming puffy clouds. He even took us in close to the Breakwater so that the people who had trekked the mile out could kick themselves for not booking him instead of deciding to walk out to the lighthouse and back.
A Morning in Maine at dock
The Rockland Breakwater
Looking out over Penobscot Bay

 While the ocean can be tempestuous at times, there is sometime infinitely calming about sitting aboard the deck of a ketch as it sails across a bay, especially on a day like today. In the middle of the ocean, everything is behind you and you can just forget for two hours that the real world and life exists. It's been such a stressful week and I really, really needed the downtime. I needed to hang out with my sister, to be outside, to wander around shops and look at local art. Needed it so much that coming back to real life just makes me want to bawl my eyes out.
These are happy times.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Neuroses of the Cat

Eden needs an intervention.  She is obsessed with light.

Light? Where? Begowb!

And I'm not talking about laser pointers (I have one) but I mean the honest-to-goodness sun moving across the sky light moving across the wall that happens every day. On occasion this is punctuated by the reflected light on my laptop, screen of my phone, or, if I'm wearing  them, my diamonds, but otherwise, yeah, just the natural light on the walls. She goes nuts. She will start to chitter and brr and circle the room, trying to reach these lights. Then one night she targeted the ceiling light. The same ceiling light I turn on every night after the sun goes down (my living room windows face west so I don't have to turn this light on until late, which is awesome).

If she was a human, I would be concerned and wonder if maybe she needed a behavioral therapist. OCD tendencies and neuroses. The fact that she carries around a mat of her own fur and treats it like a baby is an entirely separate post.

But she's so damn cute. And yes, she was looking at lights on the wall

Whether my cat has a Serious Problem or not, it is pretty funny when I'm wearing my diamonds and watch her try to chase hundreds of little lights all at once. Have you ever refracted the lights of one of those laser pointers in a round-cut brilliant diamond? An obsessed cat's dream...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sympathy for the Devil

As long as I can remember, I've always rooted for the bad guy in movies. I think it's bullshit when the good guy always wins, even  when the bad guy has the better weapons and bigger army, just because he has the "power of good on his side." It's crap! That's not how things work in the real world. If I'd had my way, the Evil Queen would have offed Snow White and we'd be watching a whole different movie now.

It was her movie anyway

Let's talk about Ravenna-- the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman. I think for any woman with a brain in her head, Ravenna should be a sympathetic character. We only get a glimpse at her past: her village destroyed by a marauding army and she, taken as a child by the leader, whether he be a lord or king or general. We get that she wasn't used well. This is a truth of history; women were chattel, so pair use, abuse, forced early marriage with rape and seeing your village burned and everyone you love slaughtered in front of you at a young age and you're going to turn in to a very, very angry adult. Angry at a world that let so many bad things happen to her, angry at men that want to hurt her, even men that would be kind,  like the king she lured into battle for even he, upon rescuing her saw her as nothing more than a possession, a bride to be married.

So do I sympathize with Ravenna? Absofuckin'luteley! She used what she had--her beauty-- to her advantage (along with some pretty potent magic) and carved a swathe of destruction through male-dominated kingdoms once she came into her own. Power is intoxicating and she had it at her disposal. Who wants to be the simpering Snow White when you can be the powerful, stylish, Evil Queen?

Speaking of evil queens, I'll be interested in what they do with Maleficent's back story. I don't like Angelina Jolie but have you seen this promo shot?!
When I was thinking about writing this entry, I tried to think of examples from books that I could use but it's hard, being a someone who loves to read, I've read hundreds of books. I started to go through my Goodreads list until I realized that with 277 books listed there, that's still not all of them. I'm going to keep with a fantasy theme and go back to one of my favorite hubris-filled characters of all time: Raistlin Majere from the Dragonlance books.

Art by Larry Elmore, one of the best fantasy artists EVER

When that movie Chronicle came out (which I haven't seen, since none of my friends would go see it) the previews reminded me a little of Raistlin. He starts out neutral. Okay, to use a gaming term, maybe chaotic-neutral. Toward the end of his story, he becomes power-hungry and the most powerful mage of all time, and in his hubris, challenges the gods themselves (and aligns with evil). Kind of reminds me of how that one kid in the Chronicle trailer is portrayed. Another Raistlin-esque character is brought to mind was Andry in Sunrunner's Fire by Melanie Rawn: started a good boy but then power got to him and he went dark. I even tried to start a discussion about it, but so far no one is biting.

So do I sympathize with these characters? Very, very much so. Hunger for power at the cost of others, arrogance to the point of hubris, these are that bit of darkness that are a part of humanity. In their lesser parts they are ambition and desire, grandiosity. We all want to be better than we are, to achieve goals and then surpass them, we all get a little bit of a heady rush when put in charge of a project, given a bit if power. You're a liar if you say you don't, or you're not human. Relating to villains, although most people don't want them to succeed, relates to our humanity. Some of us just embrace our dark side a little more than others.

The Oprah Factor

You start to realize your desperation when you start scouring the Internet to find an address to write a letter to Oprah Winfrey, hoping that your sob story will be the one that will win out over millions that she hears every day and that, from the kindness of her multimillion dollar philanthropic heart, she will help in some way.
She is, after all, the richest woman in forever. And a handsome woman to boot.

As a brief history (pay attention, Oprah!) I used to work for a multi-billion dollar telecommunications company that won many J.D. Power & Associate awards for customer service. I worked there for about 5 years and then things started to... disintegrate. All of a sudden the business wasn't doing so hot, morale was crap, and the parent company clearly wanted out. My mental health started to struggle (on top of the fore-mentioned migraines) and I realized I was at serious risk of abusing a customer or having a flat-out trip-to-the-hospital panic attack. So, I jeopardized my job by just not going. I did this under the guise of a pending leave of absence but when those LOAs didn't go through, I got fired. That was the only way I knew I could survive; if I got fired, I could collect unemployment while I got my shit figured out. I talked to my doctor, a therapist, got diagnosed with bipolar... and here we are. I did what I had to do.

I live in an apartment in the upstairs of my aunt's house, which was my Nana's house. This is the house my mother and aunt grew up in, the house we had get-togethers in, Christmases in the back room, baby and wedding showers on the porch. It's a pretty sweet deal. For $600 I have everything included. But this is an old house, and oil is very expensive. My aunt is not able to keep up with the bills and oil despite my rent and working overtime (which her boss doesn't allow, so she sneaks it by filling in for people) and may have to sell the house. I am stressed the fuck out. She is too. We both had a cry at the dinner table when I came downstairs to settle rent for the month. I'm 32 years old and I don't want to move back in with my parents. I have a household full of things and 2 cats. I'm used to living by myself and having privacy. And I really thought the next time I'd move would be into my own house. No other landlord is going to give me the setup I have (paying weekly) on such a cheap basis. I even offered the $200 I have saved to finish my tattoo as emergency money for bills or oil.

I have been searching for a job for months. I want to work. I'm not one of those schlubs who is abusing the system and just living on unemployment. I want a job. I want to get out of the house on a daily basis and earn more money than the unemployment I get each week. But for my searching and applying, I have had no luck. I even had an employment agency look at my resume and tell me "we can't help you." This is an agency that was advertising a ton of administrative jobs but they looked at 6 years of call center experience and assume that's what I want. They didn't even give me a chance. I am so frustrated and I am exhausted and so tired of crying.

So dear Ms Oprah Winfrey, if you read this, a job and a winter's worth of oil would be awesome. This is how desperate I feel.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Should Wear a Widow's Weeds

Sometimes I feel like my lot in life is to get that glimpse of love and happiness, only to have it snatched away once  I start to feel comfort and warmth. I once joked that I could be a professional widow because I am so used to the grieving process. Oh if the tear tracks could tell you of my sorrows!

He needs time, and I understand there are some serious issues going on right now. I just don't want to discuss it overmuch right now.

He was keeping me from completely isolating.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I often wondered if Zeus suffered migraines after the birth of Athena. She did, after all, burst from his head.
Looks like a migraine to me

Migraines (and undocumented mental health issues) are ultimately why I'm unemployed right now. They're hereditary in my family and I got my first one just around my 31st birthday. Happy birthday to me! Anyway, I have the awesomest neurologist that was ever awesome and it only took us a few tries before we found the perfect med combo and my migraines-- of which I was having roughly 8 a month-- are now down to 1 every month to month and a half.  When I do have one, I take my magical coctail: 2.5mg of naratriptan, 2 Excedrin migraine and a Pepsi. 45 minutes later I'm ready to go. Doctors would love to have a success rate like mine in their migraine patients. Come to think of it, my sister's neurologist fired her as a patient because hers were so well controlled, too. Guess we must be awesome.

I have a headache today. Not quite a migraine although the pressure is starting to bloom. I've taken Excedrin to head it off. I don't have a food trigger that I know of, but stress gets me every time. And I have a lot to be stressed about lately: money, looking for work, housing situation, relationships. It's a miracle I'm not back to daily migraines. I try to remain positive and not stress but when my depression kicks in (as I mentioned, I'm bipolar) it gets really hard. So being a complete jerk via email to the person who supports and understands me the most definitely didn't help, and definitely contributed to this headache.

Something that always makes me feel better, emotionally and physically, is cooking. And after watching one of my favorite TV chefs Ina Garten make chicken soup with matzoh balls, I'm really craving homemade soup. Since my chickens are all in the deep freeze (I won't be able to remove the sack with the innards) I'll have to run to the store for chicken. But I think cooking is just the therapy I need right now.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cat Physics

She looks serene. Trust me, she was only sitting next to me for pettings

I have two cats. The above pictured is Calypso, whom I've had since she was an itty-bitty hissing, spitting half-feral kitten orphaned under my brother's trailer. She socialized pretty quickly but it became abundantly clear early on that she was my cat. She will randomly strike out at people (my mom will tell you that she is 100% of those people) and hiss and generally be unpleasant to them. But me? She will cuddle  and purr and let me hold her like a stuffed animal at night.

Calypso has been one of the stable things in my life. If people tell you animals don't have complex feelings like empathy, I ask them to look at the night that she tucked her favorite toy in bed next to my arm the first night I cried myself to sleep over finances. Of the times that I've been sick and she's lain with me through my medicine- and fever-induced comas. Shit, sometimes I  can even get her to knead my abdomen when I have cramps. She is the best friend a crazy cat lady could ever want.

But she is an insufferable bed hog. And she snores.

Anyone with cats can attest to the fact that all cats, everywhere, are bed hogs. I don't care if you're an 80lb anorexic in a king bed-- you will wake up with a bare 6 inches on the edge to your name. If you're lucky, you have a blanket hog like my other cat Eden, who gets underneath and burritos up so that I'm grasping for blanket and shivering to death. There's that something about cats, how they absolutely defy the laws of physics and nature and expand their bodies to take up an entire bed. Calypso particularly loves to get me into awkward positions too, where I have no room to move to make myself comfortable. Curling up between my legs, or making me look like some even more tormented version of the Hanged Man, with one leg crossed.
It's even more awesome when they gang up on me. Twice the cat = 2x less room. That's Eden on the left, by the way.

No Jake Brake

One of my biggest complaints about where I live is the noise. To glance at my neighborhood, it seems quite nice, but really, my neighbors are loud, boorish, inconsiderate jerks. Also, there's a high school up the road and I am so glad that school is out and that will stop the stream of foul-mouthed teens walking past my window. Granted, I swear, and I swear a lot, but to punctuate. They turn the words into filth and useless filler because they have no other vocabulary to use. I enjoy the silence and the sound of nature. It keeps me calm and happy.

Not too far from my house are two unique features. One is the Interstate with an exit and and on-ramp and a truck stop (with a 24-hour Subway, score!) so it is understandably a high-traffic area. The other is a set of train tracks. The sounds generated from these two places don't bother me at all.

Even though the Interstate and the truck stop are relatively close, the hum of tires on pavement and the low growl of the jake brake come to me as if from a far distance. Same with the train whistle. I've always loved the sound of the train; at camp, I can hear it as far as 30 miles away in Jackman.

I feel like I'm being let in on a secret by these traveling sounds, not that they're telling me where they've been but when. Interstate commerce by train seems ancient, the rumbling of the cars over the tracks hurtling out of history, and then the whistle. Do you know when I've been?

The trucks.... the trucks really appeal more to my base desire to flee. The open road, no connections. I guess I'd never realized just how base sentiment for big rigs was until just now when I wrote that. Huh.

A phrase keeps popping into my head. Nostalgia for Americana. Maybe these things do represent Americana. Maybe I crave that Americana that only exists in tiny towns that are far off the beaten path, where the diners serve real food and people look at strangers with the stink eye. I would like to go across country, avoid the cities and stay in the smaller areas. I won't be hitching a ride on a  truck or fighting a hobo for train car space though-- that I have no fanciful illusions of!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Third Time's a Charm?

So, a blog again. This makes number 3. I tried to empower myself with a sexuality blog (no you may not have a link), started a cooking blog and was flamed off the Internet for being classist. I need a place to unload, but the cold, unfeeling pages of a journal just aren't enough. Besides, I don't want it to be private. I have too many words to burden my Facebook with, and sometimes I want to talk about things that really matter. So why the title with the serene backdrop? Well, I always feel like I am under a sort of general malaise. I'm bipolar and arthritic and there are days that I just feel off. Not sick, but just... malaise. It is most often in these times of general malaise that I want to run away to the comfort of the forest, the very greenness of it, the scent, the sounds of the birds, the stillness.

I just got back from the woods. It was so calm. No asshole neighbors setting off fireworks, running RC cars up and down the road, no yap dogs running constantly at the mouth. It smelled fresh and clean and was so apart from everything. I realize I'm a flight risk, that I can easily run away from my problems, from life, and into the forest, go off the grid. I don't like living near other people, I don't like neighborly camaraderie and community; quite simply, I want to be left  alone.

Sadly, I have no job, and a pile of debt. I  only have a temporary escape to a camp that I  daren't live at for the summer because, for the lack of cell signal, what happens if I miss the interview call? What if what if what if.

On another note, I have washed my hands a billion times and I swear I can still smell trout.

My Dad caught me a trout this weekend