28 December 2006

Xanax and the Diet Dilemma

"Food is an important part of a balanced diet."~ Fran Lebowitz

My psychiatrist finally got back to me today. I left a message for her on Tuesday, explaining that my therapist thought I'm being a bit overwhelmed by anxiety. She suggested upping the ante of my regular Xanax dosage. I told Dr. W. (psychiatrist) that my appetite never returned after I finished chemo. I'm aware of that unpleasant empty stomach feeling when I haven't eaten in too long, but I'm never hungry. Dr. W. thought maybe it could be a thyroid thing. I actually like that answer more than the Xanax answer. I have serious misgivings about raising the amount of potentially addictive substances in my life. I have addiction problems on both sides of my family. Very dangerous.

Dr. W. considered raising the amount of Elavil that I use to help me get to sleep (post traumatic stress disorder caused me to wake up many times every night before I was medicated). That would improve the appetite situation, she said. Somehow, we decided against that. We decided to stay with the current level of Xanax, but I'm supposed to get the extended release version. Maybe this will help the jittery feeling I walk around with all the time. I didn't even have to develop a closer relationship with any addictive substance. The conversation was a roaring success, as far as I'm concerned.

The food thing is beginning to make me a little nervous. I've always flirted with a potential eating disorder problem. So far, I've managed to sidestep anorexia. Bulimia will never be a problem. I just don't do the finger down the throat thing. So unattractive! This morning I had a whole bagel (it's a very large bagel) and six prunes. For lunch, two pieces of toast. And a cookie. I also ate most of a bag of popcorn. I find myself worrying about the calories contained in all of that non-nutritious food. It's not a good sign.

The only reason today's diet is so lacking in nutritional value is that I didn't manage to get apples and oranges this past weekend. I usually have two pieces of toast, a large apple and a Clementine orange. That doesn't sound like much, does it? My therapist pointed out to me last week that I'm not eating enough. It was she who raised the specter of anorexia.

If you're never hungry and you always feel bad after eating, it makes it hard to know what constitutes enough. When I finish my usual lunch, I feel pretty full. My therapist thinks that's because my stomach has shrunk. Once I establish the amount of food I'm supposed to be eating, I'll still have the problem of feeling crappy afterwards. It's not much of an incentive to eat, period. I'm very clear about the necessity of eating, though.

Dr. W. said that I should just treat food the same way I would medication. Got to do it. No skipping doses. I'm fine with that, but I'm seriously going to have to figure out how much food to add. At the moment, I'm thinking about adding a container of yogurt to my regular lunch menu. The only problem with that is that I haven't been able to get through an entire container of yogurt. I can do half. My therapist is stunned by this lack of capacity. That gets my attention.

I've been trying to maintain a low-fat diet because there's strong evidence that less fat equals a lower chance of getting breast cancer in the remaining girl. I can't do chemo again. I have to do whatever I need to do to ensure I won't have to try to endure it again. On the other hand, I don't have a lot of fat in my diet at the moment and I could probably add some without danger.

This is when thinking about myself as my best friend is helpful. When I'm trying to determine the best course of action or when my nasty little inner voice starts beating me up, I always just think about what I would say to a friend if she were in the same situation. I end up being much kinder to myself when I do that. As I said before, I've always had food issues. I'm just going to have to find a way to eat more. Damn.

27 December 2006

Present Moment

Looking out of my office window, the skies are so blue and cloudless. All the leaves are gone from the tree tops, but it's not quite time for my little squirrel friend's afternoon nap. The tree limbs sway a bit in the winter winds. I've been listening to Gregorian chants and chamber music all day. Right now. This moment. Present moment, wonderful moment. It's all I have.

26 December 2006

Red Tailed Hawk

My office is right across the street from what used to be the Municipal Airport. It's been closed for several years now, since they built a much bigger one out on the outskirts of town. The land is being cleared now for mixed use development. There are already some buildings in the process of construction, including a children's hospital. Those areas are on the opposite side of the old airport.

When I went out to get in my car and go home for lunch, I noticed a bird sitting on the ground across the street. (I'm fairly certain that "sitting' isn't the right word here, but I know "setting" isn't it, either.) It looked too small to be a buzzard. It was about the size of an owl, but it's rare to see owls just hanging out in the middle of the day like that.

As I was standing there, trying to figure out what kind of bird it was, a white pickup truck pulled in right next to my car. I smiled because I thought it was the husband of one of my co-workers, K. Then I remembered that K. wasn't in today. A guy who looked to be about my age, heavily tattooed, got out of the truck and said, "I have binoculars." His girlfriend or wife or daughter got out of the other side.

"What the hell is that?" I asked him. It was a red tailed hawk. The man explained to me that all raptors will eat dead things, as long as it hasn't decomposed too much, in which case the buzzards get it. As we stood there, it picked up its prey and flew into a nearby tree. The two people got back into their truck and left.

I love all raptors. They're so fierce and dignified looking. As a matter of fact, I have a photograph of a red tailed hawk sent to me by a friend that I use as wallpaper for my office computer.

I can't help but believe this is a good omen. In celebration, here's one of my favorite poems, written by a man who was a bit of a hurt hawk himself, Robinson Jeffers.

Hurt Hawks

The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,
The wing trails like a banner in defeat,

No more to use the sky forever but live with famine
And pain a few days: cat nor coyote
Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons.

He stands under the oak-bush and waits
The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom
And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it.

He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse.
The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head,

The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes.
The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those
That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant.

You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him;
Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;
Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him.


I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk;
but the great redtail
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his talons when he moved.

We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom,
He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death,
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old
Implacable arrogance.

I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.

Robinson Jeffers

Thanks for the Christmas Gift

"...the crime of suicide lies rather in its disregard for the feelings of those whom we leave behind." ~ E. M. Forster

Anxious. Anxious. Anxious.

At the very last minute, I decided to add festivity to Christmas dinner. I got out a set of my Christmas china (I have two. I'm very into Christmas, usually.) and created a centerpiece out of a candy dish and some red cinnamon-scented tea candles. Mid-way into the meal, I remembered that I should have used more festive flatware, but you can't have everything, I guess. Maybe next year. I'm hoping to be all well and feeling great next year, so maybe I'll have more energy to decorate.

My husband and I didn't do the gift thing. I like that a lot. No shopping! I gave my mom a gift and she gave me a gift certificate for Borders. Excellent choice!

On Saturday, Hubby got a call from a woman from one of the magazines for which he does freelance writing. The editor of the magazine died over the weekend. Hubby had known this guy for over a decade. His house caught on fire and, though his wife escaped, he did not.

There was daily newspaper coverage and, over time, we found out that the man (I'll call him Editor) committed suicide. It's the strangest method I've every heard. Maybe he overdosed on some prescription drugs...that's just speculation, though. What we do know is that he set some newspapers on fire in the closet in the "back bedroom."

Women attempt suicide more than men, but more men die from suicide than women. That's because men choose methods that are highly lethal. They choose guns a lot. My dad chose a gun. Setting your house on fire doesn't guarantee the anticipated outcome. You could be rescued. You'd definitely want to increase the odds, because burn treatment can be excruciatingly painful. I'm guessing he didn't own a gun.

Of course, no one knows why. No one ever knows why. The person who called Hubby talked about the conflict Editor had been having with the publisher of the magazine. The publisher demanded increased profitability. Editor hadn't had a raise in ten years. She also mentioned a "crazy" ex-wife who wouldn't let him see his kids. I guarantee that it wasn't just the job. As for the ex-wife and kids, I don't think co-workers are in a position to know the truth about those situations. The co-worker was clearly hoping to blame someone for it, whether it be the ex-wife or the publisher.

The only person to blame is the person who set the newspapers on fire. No one can make someone else commit suicide. It's never about just one thing. Or two. Generally, people who decide to check out have had difficulties all of their lives, both in relationships and in coping skills. Typically, people who commit suicide have always chosen to deal with problems by running away. Suicide is the last ditch effort at running away. It trumps everything.

I'm so sorry for his family. My dad died shortly before the holiday season and I know what it's like to spend Christmas just trying to get through every minute of every hour. The pain is of a type and magnitude that is unimaginable unless you've lived through it. The minute I found out that Editor killed himself, I became furious with him. Thanks, Dad, for fucking up Christmas now and forever more for your kids. Thanks from the wife for setting the house on fire and causing damage that won't be covered by their insurance. If the blaze is deliberately set, insurance companies don't have to pay. His wife will have fathomless guilt to deal with and, probably, abandonment by many of their friends. People don't know what to say, so they withdraw. That withdrawal just increases the sense of responsibility survivors feel.

It took me years to get angry at my dad for killing himself. I've been angry about it for the past two or three years. He died 8 years ago, 9 days before my birthday. From that date through the holidays, I always experience flashbacks. Sometimes I can identify the triggers, but the majority of the flashbacks are seemingly random. This has been a huge trigger. I talked with my mom about it. She has flashbacks, too, but hers are worse because she found him.

We talked about how my dad had wanted to call me shortly before he died. We both believe that, had that happened and had I gone there, my mom and I would both be dead, too. I'm grateful that he didn't take my mom. I'm grateful that I didn't have time to make the trip there I was planning.

Editor's death invokes profound sadness. In part, it's the sadness I felt for my father. What a lonely place to be, the moment you make the decision. Lonelier still the seconds before the end. Then, all the suffering is left to the loved ones who must go on living.

I wish everyone contemplating suicide could know what they'll leave behind. A nuclear holocaust for survivors.


21 December 2006

Not a Bad Year At All

"Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily." ~ Thomas Szasz

Even sugar couldn't help me yesterday. I was in a black mood all day. When I got home, I had a card from an old high school friend of mine. She included one of those holiday update letters that people seem to like to send. It sounds like things are going well for her and, though I'm certainly glad for her, it further damaged the day. It hasn't been a good year for me. That goes without saying. I don't have any business comparing myself to her or anyone else, though. Things are what they are.

I'm feeling better today. Nothing's changed, of course, but I'm not interested in questioning too much for fear of slipping down into the darkness again. I really hate that.

I've been thinking maybe I've lost some weight in the past couple of months. I never weigh myself. When I started working out regularly, I actually gained weight by adding muscle mass. I can always judge more accurately by how my clothes fit. I put on a pair of jeans this morning and they were a little loose, even though they were just washed. A month or so ago, I had trouble getting into them.

I'm never hungry anymore. I guess that's been going on since I finished up chemo. For a while, I chalked it up to radiation, but it's been five months since that was over. I know when my stomach is empty for too long, but I don't ever feel hungry. It makes it difficult to tell when I've eaten enough...or too much. After lunch, I didn't feel like eating the rest of the day. I made myself eat a tangerine around 6:00 p.m. because I definitely didn't get enough fruits or veggies earlier. That was all I had, though.

I generally end up feeling a little sick after I eat, so I'm really never particularly interested in food. I'm not sure why it makes me not feel well. My mom speculated this morning that maybe I've been worried about the upcoming surgery. (Surgery countdown: 17 days) I've definitely been anxious.

For a while now, I've been working hard to silence the little Fascist inside my head. It's some remnant of my childhood self that really marshaled all of my personal forces to successfully escape from the kind of life my parents had. I had tough expectations of myself. Any misstep was cause for severe self denigration. If I wasn't perfect, I was a terrible person.

The little girl in the brown shirt still thinks she needs to monitor my behavior. Not only does she punish for current imperfections, she also has a very long memory. I can still drift into "I'm a terrible person. I hate myself." very easily, even for things I did when I was 8.

However, every day now, I remind myself that I'm worthy of love. I'm worthy of the same level of kindness I extend to everyone else. When the little Fascist pops up, I'm more able now to stop the accusations.

It's a sad thing that I've only recently been consistently aware of that voice. For years, whenever my mind was unoccupied or whenever I wasn't completely pleased with my behavior, the haranguing began automatically. I'm hardly ever completely pleased with my behavior or, if the behavior is okay, my motivations are questionable. The nasty little voice was a constant companion.

At some point, I would notice that voice, but I wasn't necessarily able to stop it. I didn't necessarily believe that I should stop it. Hey, it worked for me for years. Why stop now?

I'm stopping now because I have breast cancer. Breast cancer has been very, very good to me. I'm a lot kinder to myself. I've had a lot of time to sit around on my sofa and listen to whatever comes up in my head. I don't need that voice anymore. It's no longer critical that I work so hard to be a good person, a hard-working person, to be completely beyond reproach in every way. It took this catastrophic illness to recognize that.

To revisit the beginning of this post, I'm alive. I'm not in pain. I know for right now that I'm doing the best I can. In some ways, it hasn't been a bad year at all.

19 December 2006


I don't wish to make light of addiction problems. I have to admit that I have a problem, though. I go to my local Walgreen's Drug Store every week and buy these little sugar-free cinnamon mint thingies. I'm so addicted. When I'm reading or watching television in the evenings, I can go through a complete tin of them. One after the other. My stomach really hates that. Do I stop? No. I try really hard to stop putting them in my mouth, but I can't hold out for long. I used to smoke. It's better than that, I guess. Cheaper, anyway. I don't think the mints contribute to my macular degeneration problem. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Got one.

18 December 2006

Letting Go Again

"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

I can tell it's getting time for a new oncological procedure. I have once again completely let go. Letting go followed quickly on the heels of detachment and dissociation.

Last weekend, I ran a red light. This is not a thing I would normally do. I know lots of people do it several times a day, a little like Russian Roulette. I tend to stop for caution lights unless it looks like the asshole behind me has absolutely no intention of slowing down and that, if I don't keep going, I will probably be launched through my windshield. I didn't even see it. That was a very frightening experience, soI let my mom drive the rest of the day. After it happened, I could definitely feel a slight fuzziness in thought process. I could tell there were fairly large areas in my brain where there were no synapses firing.

Then I went to do my weekly grocery shopping. I'm a very decisive woman. My motto used to be, "If you need a decision, just call me and I'll make it." As I wandered through the aisles, I would periodically find myself just standing there, blanked out, unable to decide whether I should get bread or whether I even needed to go down Aisle 9.

Chemo brain, I thought. I've read it can go on for a decade after one finishes chemotherapy. Last Monday, more chemo brain. Standing in the middle of my bedroom, wondering which clothes to put on. I took four or five shirts out of the closet and ended up leaving them on the bed. The plan was to wear jeans. Then I thought maybe I just needed to switch to a skirt and that would solve my blouse impasse. Wrong again. I took out several skirts and they made their way onto the bed, too. Finally, after standing there for a while longer, I decided to go with a dress. Ah, yes. That way you only have to pick the appropriate shoes for the dress. I was up for that task.

I mentioned to Therapist that I was having this standing around like a deer in the headlights problem and I attributed it to the chemicals still floating around in my body or lodged in places like my liver. I noted my irritation and frustration. She parried with her diagnosis of dissociation.

That might explain my general level of detachment I've noticed for the past couple of weeks. It makes perfect sense. What do I do when I'm anxious? I dissociate. Does the upcoming surgery make me anxious? That word doesn't begin to describe how I feel.

I'm still detached, but I managed to get through grocery shopping on Sunday and getting dressed this morning without aimlessly standing around. I had a little panic attack last night, but then I suddenly remembered that I'm not in control here. Oh yeah! I can let go. So I did. Whatever happens will happen and I'll get through the week in the hospital with God's grace. I don't have to worry about those five days.

This phenomenon seems to be limited to breast cancer-related issues. I may not be able to let go in any other situation, but there seems to be an automatic on/off switch when it comes to breast cancer. Suddenly I'm on autopilot and at peace with whatever comes. I'd really, really like it if they would stop hurting me, but my life has never been about what I like or dislike. It has always been about what must be done. I'm okay with that. I mean, I might as well be because who cares what I want? Not the universe, obviously.

The current surgery countdown is 22 days.

14 December 2006

Stop Making Sense

I just have to complain. I know it's going to make me feel so much better. This morning, the Accounting Office asked for my help with the relational databases I've been working on that creates both invoices and purchase orders. There are three different files for three different types of invoices. K. works on two of them. S. and her boss, the Comptroller, couldn't find an invoice that S. knew we'd billed because we had the check that cited two invoices. I took the information and went back to my office to look for them. I opened up what we'll call the "JLLCity" files, performed a find request and there they were. I knew they were in that file because I've been working on it for the past couple of days. K. asked that I delete the information in one of the fields. Now she wants it back, so I've been updating this file.

I went back to the Accounting office and showed S. where they were. They were in the wrong database. They should have been in the "Miscellaneous" database. As a matter of fact, there are at least 135 invoices that should have been in that database. Of course, both the Comptroller and S. immediately became irate at K. for putting them in the wrong place. Well, you know. I just create the database; other people enter the data. My goal has been to make the process faster and more efficient for everyone who does billing. In order to do that, I had to rely on K.'s input to some extent. Turns out K's wrong. Again. Great.

I've spent the last month or so working my behind off trying to get the system up and running so that I can find and address needs for more information, design flaws or glitches in the system. That's because, beginning January 3, I won't be in town. After January 8, not only will I not be in town, I'll be heavily drugged for several days. Anything that goes wrong then is just going to have to stay wrong until I get back.

I've been moving information from one database to another all morning. It's not a huge deal, but it's not work I enjoy. The Comptroller suggested that we scrap the "JLLCity" database and create a new one dedicated to that customer. We have invoices for that customer in all three databases. Several thousand records. I'd also need to figure out a way to make all of that information remain accessible in the current files so that we won't be any more confused than we obviously already are. I can do that. No question about it. Can I do it by the first of the year? No. Would it have been better if the responsible party (i.e., the Comprtroller) had actually participated in the planning? Oh yeah. It would have been fine if he'd just looked at the skeleton of the databases after I'd created them. Now it's all just a huge mess.

I was telling Hubby and my Mom over lunch about the whole brouhaha. "I don't know why I care," I said. "But you do," my mom pointed out. She's right. If I design something, if I work on something, I need for it to be as close to perfect as I can make it. This is obviously not perfect at all. I'm frustrated and irritated. I may even be frustrated with myself for being upset about this. I should know better than to get too emotionally invested in anything here. This company is not conducive to that.

I sent the Comptroller's office an email, asking if they wish for me to create that new database. I recommended that we retain the old files in their current location, mark them as void and note that they've been moved to another database. More work for me, but closer to perfection. Will anyone think about this? I don't know. All I know is that if I create this database and then someone says it isn't what they need after all, I'm going to be furious.

I'm clearly going to have to spend some time today divesting myself of emotional ownership. Yeah. That's easy for me to do. In the meantime, I'll just be moving those 135 records. Funny. I don't feel any better about any of this after all.

13 December 2006

Hey, Laura Bush, Just Hop on That Table Over There and Grab a Speculum

"People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like." ~ Abraham Lincoln

I don't have much on my mind today or maybe I have a lot on my mind, but none of it's very interesting. At some point in our lives, we narrow down our amusing life experiences to maybe a top ten or top five. Those top five or ten are the mainstay of any social gathering. Don't know what to say? Trot out Amusing Anecdote Number 5. Of course, some of them are only entertaining if you actually know the people involved. They have only limited uses.

Being inherently asocial, I've worked hard at developing a social strategy. The first line of action is to ask questions. Make them personal, but not too personal. For instance, do not ask anyone if you can see their Brazillian wax. Maybe just stay away from the waxing topic altogether. If worst comes to worst, you can always play the sports card. I try to keep up with virtually all sports to some extent, just in case I'm in a situation where it comes to that.

At some point, you may be forced to actually talk about yourself, but the odds of that are slim because most people never get the chance to really talk about themselves. Or rather, they talk about themselves, but they know deep down inside that the listener is just basically marking time until they can jump in and hijack the conversational ball.

I'm all about letting people talk about themselves. I think that's one of those things that makes me such a "likeable" person. I can always be counted on to notice anything new (new tie, new hair style, etc.) or express unlimited interest in the minutiae of other people's lives. I really am interested; I don't mean to imply that my social strategy is duplicitous. From time to time, though, it begins to dawn on people that they've known me for years and actually know next to nothing about me. That's when the Top Ten Amusing Personal Anecdotes comes in very handy. It seems like I'm sharing when, in fact, I'm handing out pre-processed information that isn't, in the end, all that illuminating. The top anecdotes tactic has sometimes bought me several years of extra time before I actually have to come up with something revealing about myself.

Aside from being introverted, I like to stay away from the subject of me because so much of my life was so completely beyond the pale that I know tellling will likely have some unpleasant results. People turn a little white. They look at me like I'm from another planet. They start to cry. Sometimes I can see people trying to figure out whether I'm just making things up or deliberately trying to shock. None of these are particularly appealing outcomes. Hence, anecdotes.

All of this was just a rambling build-up to an anecdote that came to mind yesterday. Since I have nothing particularly compelling to talk about, here it is.

Back in the mid 1970's, I worked for a local women's organization. It had started out being edgy and political. They regularlyl held "rap groups." If you don't know what that means, you should probably just count yourself lucky. Suffice it to say that I never had the slightest interest is "rapping" and, furthermore, the very word offends me. It's like the word "depot" that used to irritate me when I was a child. There are just some words I don't like hearing or saying. "Rap" is one of them.

By the time I went to work there, it had degenerated to a very un-cool, grant-funded organization. We participated in a federal grant to help women find jobs. Well, technically it couldn't just be women, because the feds kind of expected equal access, even though men already had all the access they might ever need. We had a help line that I inherited. I got calls from women whose husbands had left them after clearing out all the bank accounts and cancelling credit cards. I talked to women who were battered and looking for a way out. I fielded just about any kind of crisis question imaginable. It was very, very stressful. We rented out space in our building for classes and publicized them. That was my bailiwick, too. (Note: "Bailiwick" is one of those words I love. It just sounds entertaining.)

We had difficulty funding those two services. My boss (who really deserves her own post) put me in charge of one of the fundraisers. I was known as a writer back in those days, with contacts in the community. Alex (the director) came up with the bright idea that we have a bookfair featuring local women authors. Well, I thought that was a terrible idea. I knew exactly how much community support writers got here at the time and it just didn't seem likely to generate enough interest to make even half the money she was counting on from the event. But you know, what choice did I have?

Okay. Here's the anecdote. Finally. One of the local authors contacted me regarding a book about women's gynecological health. I just figured it was like Our Bodies, Ourselves, so I signed her up and sent her a packet. A couple of weeks later, the woman calls me up, seriously agitated. She'd read the packet materials and demanded that she get not one, but two tables. I didn't have a problem with that. There wasn't any danger of running out of tables. I was curious about why she thought she needed two, though.

The author explained to me that she'd really like to have an extra table to stage some demonstrations on how to do your own gynecological examinations. What? She wanted to have some woman (or women, I guess) splayed out on the table with a speculum and a mirror. "Oh no," I said, "No, no, no. No. There will be children and men there, too. I can't possibly allow that." She flipped out. She really didn't see the point in participating if she couldn't do her little demo and, furthermore, what would be so bad about children seeing something perfectly natural and very woman-centered? Well, what can one say to something like that? No. Because I said so. Ultimately, she decided it just wasn't her cup of tea after all and, after haranguing me about my lack of political correctness, suggested that I just take her name off the advertising.

I did and never heard from her again. I left the organization after a year, burned out and even more cynical than I was before I worked there. The job I went to turned out to be even more awful than that one, but in a far less satisfying way. Every year, we have a statewide book fair held at the state capitol grounds, originally organized by Laura Bush. (Personal anecdote #8 is about a friend of mine who got axed from the fair because Laura found out his work was openly critical of her husband.) Every year, I wonder if that author is still trying to find places that will allow her to drop her big girl panties and speculum up.

11 December 2006

Brain Dead

On Friday, my therapist asked me what my plans were for Christmas. I was dumbfounded. Plans? I'm supposed to be making plans? Well I don't have any. My big plan is to hide from myself as long as possible how quickly January 8 is looming on the calendar.

Nonetheless, I'm festively attired and jingling still. How can I sustain both? Well, that's why people call me "complex." It's just one more dichotomy amongst many others. I haven't done any Christmas shopping. I don't even have any plans to shop. I haven't decorated my house. I haven't participated in thinking about a menu. I try not to hear Christmas songs, even though they're absolutely inescapable.

I lose track of days and months. Have we gotten through winter yet? I actually had to think about that question over the weekend. Let's see...I know it's not May. Are we close to May, though?

I rode my stationary bike on Saturday and, instead of feeling a bit more energized, I just ended up feeling more exhausted than when I started. That fatigue followed me all day yesterday and today I still seem to be at least partially brain dead.

08 December 2006

The Breast Unicorn

I've been blithering on all week, so just a short post today.

When my hair came back after chemo, it came back really curly. I used to have a few small waves in my hair, but most of it was straight. The waves used to drive me crazy because they always ended up ruining my hairstyle in one way or another. As a matter of fact, before cancer treatment, the hair I currently have would have driven me crazy. It's impossible to style and kind of curls in unexpected places and directions. The hair right over my ears flips forward towards my face. People tell me they can't believe I ever had long hair. They think the current length is fabulous. It's about 1.5 to 2 inches long. I'm happy. I'm just happy to have hair. I've come to be very accepting about things that would have made me miserable a year ago. Yay for breast cancer!

Surgery is looming in front of me. January 8. Whenever the thought enters my mind, I have to banish it almost immediately. It's terribly anxiety-provoking. The thought of being in a hospital for a week, the thought of the nausea/vomiting I experienced during the first two surgeries, the prospect of having a couple of drains attatched to my body--it's all pretty awful to contemplate. Over and above all that, the nagging question is, when will they stop hurting me? I'm tired of being hurt. Really, really tired.

However, my choice to do this now does have some up sides. I like to think that, in the not too distant future, I can be through with the hurting. I will also have a breast again. That's very exciting. My prosthetic breast has developed what I like to think of as continental drift. It edges its way towards the center of my chest. It's kind of like a breast unicorn or something. I just try to find a private place and rassle the damn thing back over to the side. I have no idea why it started doing this. I've lost some weight, so that may be part of the problem. The thing is, I'm okay even with that.

There's nothing like a year of cancer treatment to increase your ability to accept where you are physically. Weird ass hair, breast in the middle of my chest...it's all good to me. Seriously, breast cancer, though I wish I never had it, has been a good thing in many ways. However, this is about as much growth in self-acceptance that I'm ready to have right now. I'd rather not deal with the prospect of cancer returning somewhere. Breast cancer can metastasize in various places throughout the body, but no matter where it is, it's always still breast cancer. Enough, enough! No more growth experiences!

Having said that, I'm putting all of this out of my mind for the day. The breast unicorn is signing off for the week.

07 December 2006

This is Exactly Why I Hate Them All

I used to work in politics for a while and I became very jaded. I've seen how it all works and the process leaves a lot to be desired. Time has only made me more cynical, so my usual political commentary comes down to "I hate them all." Democrats. Republicans. I hate all of them. George W. Bush has a very special place in my heart, though. I thought I'd never hate anyone as much as I hated Richard Nixon, but W. wins hands down. How surprising to find out that my capacity for contempt is even greater than I ever thought, but to anyone who knows me, this is old news by now.

The Iraq Study Group is really what's on my mind today. I'm deeply puzzled as to why anyone thinks this presents an alternative plan. Behind all of the hoopla , there's just another paper tiger. If I remember correctly, for about a year now we've supposedly been training the Iraqis to take care of their own internal security. We've been training, training, training, according to the Bush administration. Of course, this is exactly what the Study Group has courageously stepped up to the plate and advised us to do.

I don't think we even have new benchmarks from the Study Group. It's all well and good to tell people that they need to step up and take care of their own killing, but what happens if they don't? It's the carrot and the stick strategy. Pretty basic, but you have to set some timetables for that happening or guess what? It never will. I don't understand what is supposed to motivate these guys to adopt the broader view, step outside of their religious beliefs and be willing to get killed to establish order. Oh yeah, order and democracy, with which no one in that country has even a passing familiarity.

Frankly, it feels like just another scam perpetrated on the American public. These guys get trotted out and remind us that, even though this is probably the stupidest military endeavor we've ever been engaged in, we have to stay. Even though the money is draining out of our economy like we just severed a major artery and we're bleeding to death. Democracy? I sincerely doubt that will happen in my lifetime. The Bush administration chose to ignore history and is trying to ram democracy down their throats. Saddam was the only person who was ever able to establish and maintain order in that country. He accomplished this goal by institutionalized terror. There are an awful lot of Saddams in this world, unfortunately. What makes Iraq so special? Oh wait. I forgot. W. has God on his side, just like the terrorists. Destroying the country was just part of God's larger plan to foment democracy and spread Christianity throughout the world.

Sooner or later, the country will be just one big battleground, whether or not we stay. We've opened the door to Iran's religious sectarians and allowed them to come right on it, kick their shoes off and stay a while, along with every other extremist in the region. Saddam was scary enough to keep all of that in check, but Iran has nothing to fear from Iraq now. That's deeply troubling, even to the Bush administration, I think. Maybe not to W. and Dick Cheney, but certainly to anyone in their right minds.

I guess the big news from all of this is that a 10-member, bi-partisan panel has all agreed that W. has really fucked up in every conceivable way. Big deal. Most of the American public embraced that understanding some time ago. It's just official now. Wow. That makes me breathe a sigh of relief. It doesn't seem to me that the report has been persuasive to W. at all. There was nothing to indicate his mind had been changed about anything. Not that it matters. Stay or go, we can't win here. We can't win, in part, because the premises upon which the invasion was based were false. Having been unable to come up with the dreaded weapons of mass destruction or to establish any link whatsoever between Sadaam and Bin Laden/Al Qaeda, we've been scrambling to define success ever since. If you can't define it, you can't achieve it. Pretty simple, right?

As for the Democrats, they haven't got a plan either. That's because there is no plan that will get us out of Iraq despite massive amounts of money being dumped there and a whole lot of American lives being lost. They're going to hold hearings. We all know how successful hearings have been in solving anything. It's just an opportunity for Democrats (and Republicans at this point) to get some face time on television and pontificate about what a bad idea all of this was. Meanwhile, the Democrats knew just like anyone who wished to know that the assertions upon which the invasion was based were lies. They were intimidated into doing something they knew was wrong. I have absolutely no interest in watching any of them harangue Administration officials for a month or two. If just beating up on them would make the situation better, believe me, I'd be the first to support it.

I think that was one (note I said one) of the problems Kerry was unable to overcome. He supported the war and, when it became inconvenient to his potential Presidency, he had to find a way to backtrack. That's tough to do when you're unwilling to speak the truth. During the time leading up to the invasion, Bush and his croneys were busy convincing some of us that the very viability of our country's future rested in invading Iraq. No question about it, Al Qaeda was working hand in hand with a person they would consider to be an infidel. Patriotism became defined by your willingness to agree to that proposition. Though there was considerable evidence to indicate that wasn't true, the Democrats didn't wish to be thought of as soft on Al Qaeda. They tucked their tails between their legs and cast their votes and their political futures with W. Now it's time to reap the consequences. However much they like to feign outrage over the Administration's duplicity, they knew. Intellectual dishonesty. Ethical dishonesty.

So here we are and here we'll stay. Our grandchildren will suffer the consequences of this grave error in judgment. Maybe even our great grandchildren. There's a whole generation or two of Iraqis who will remember that we plunged their country into darkness and were unable to help them find their way back out. Let's get another study group going and see if they can figure out what that will mean to the future of our country.

Maybe I've gotten this off my chest now and I won't have to veer off into political diatribe again. I'll just be seething silently.

Are Hors D'ouvres Even Worth It?

First things first. I dressed up today so it definitely looks like I'm going to the party. I'm not particularly committed to it, though. I found out that the food won't even be served until around 5:00. I had originally planned to go at 4:00, have my free meal and leave. No talking to anyone. Well, that's not possible anymore unless I'm just doing hors d'ouvres. Is it worth going for that? I don't know. I guess I need to find someone who knows what kind of hors d'ouvres we're having. I wonder if there's any way I could just do a take out thing. You know, just show up, put some food in a box and head on home.

There was a long, long time in my life when having people be excited I was going to come to a party would have thrilled me. Now, not so much. I think there are a couple of reasons why being likeable isn't a completely positive thing for me. I'm very, very introverted, so being with others can wear my batteries down pretty quickly. I'm also highly empathic, so I just soak up other people's emotions to some extent, even if they don't talk to me about how they're feeling. I've learned how to shut that down a bit, but going to large social gatherings always ends up making me feel frazzled emotionally. If I absolutely have to participate in big social events, I like to find a quiet corner and watch everyone else. I don't think that's going to be possible if I hang around too long. By "too long" I mean past 5:00 p.m., when the food is served.

Well, there's no point in beating this dead horse. I'll either go or I won't. If I had to bet money on it right now, I'd say I'm not going. Just give me the damn box with some meat in it and maybe one of those slightly soggy foil-wrapped potatoes and let me be on my way.

I was going to switch subjects here, but the more I wrote, the clearer it became to me that I just need to write about them separately. There's been a little levity here and the next topic is deadly serious. If you're not interested in my political opinions (and there's no reason anyone should be), just take a pass on the next post.

06 December 2006

Holiday Party Blues

"Next to a circus there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out any quicker than the Christmas spirit." ~ Kin Hubbard

My company has an annual Christmas (or holiday, take your choice) party, just like a real company. Since I used to be the person who planned and organized it, I used to be forced to attend. Back when all of the trouble began, I stopped going. (No, I don't wish to talk about that right now.) It was so liberating to watch everyone else scurrying around, being stressed out. Had I decided to attend any of these events, I wouldn't have had to work. Not in the usual sense, anyway.

I would have had to talk to our contract employees while attempting to eat, though. We all know how asocial I am (thank you, Therapist, for that word), but it was much more than that. Our contract employees and I have absolutely nothing in common. I used to stand around, trying not to drop my taco meat on my clothing and listening to someone drone on about things that I know nothing about and care about even less. One Christmas, an electrician, so loaded he could barely stand, held Hubby and me hostage for about 45 minutes as he regaled us with an inventory of his "gimme hats." He told us that his stepson had recently asked to borrow one of the more than 200 from the wall in his house dedicated to the infinite variety of caps. Them was fightin' words, buddy! Those hats were sacrosanct and the stepson was just going to have to go rustle up his own gimme cap collection.

I endured Wally the carpenter for a couple of Christmases. Wally was a former Viet Nam vet who liked to recite his poetry to people, whether or not anybody was interested. The last year he attended, he told the banquet hall people that he personally generated over $200k a year for the company. That figure would have been correct had he been talking about the cost of his workers' comp injuries. He intimated to them that he was the one who was really in charge at the party.

I've never been very good at making people go away. I'm from the South and we all just sort of soak up hospitality that floats around in the air down here. I certainly didn't have any particularly advanced etiquette training while I was growing up, but breaking the rules established by my father was extremely perilous. My dad didn't have a lot of rules (and mostly they were rules only I was supposed to follow), but failure to adhere to them had dire consequences. His rules were primarily centered around food. I was never, ever, ever allowed to eat anything when there was someone else visiting. Otherwise, I'd have to invite them to partake, too. Seeing as how my dad often liked to growl at the dinner table for his own amusement, I wasn't all that anxious to have people over for dinner.

But I digress again. I took the etiquette thing to heart and really paid attention when people did things that looked like they were motivated by politeness. Therefore, I'm gracious to a fault. At the end of every party, I'd go home feeling like I'd spent the evening with a roomful of vampire bats that just sucked the life blood right out of me.

This year the party is going to be at The Texas Land and Cattle Company, a steakhouse that I would normally never visit because of the cost. I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I mentioned I might just want to go to the party this year. Everyone in the office pounced immediately. I was locked into the whole deal. My co-workers find me infinitely entertaining or something, I guess. The minute I started backpedalling, they got demanding. "No, you have to come. You have to." One of the women has to leave early to attend her son's basketball game. "Oh no! I wish I didn't have to go...Ggirl is going to be there this year."

That's profoundly puzzling to me. My therapist says it's because I'm likeable. Well somebody should tell me how to not be quite so likeable and I'll get right on that. I don't need that kind of attention and I'd really prefer it if they'd transfer some of that affection to someone who actually wants it. The party is this Thursday and I already feel beaten down by fatigue.

I can expect a couple of my workers' comp boys to be there. After all, what else do they have to do? One of them in particular, who's already told me he'd be there, is just the bad Wally dream revisited. This guy's not a veteran. It would help his case with me if he were. I have PTSD. It's a bond I feel with vets that they don't even know about. I'm very inclined to cut them some extra slack. This guy is just annoying. And whiney. Talking to him is a lot like talking to a tree. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of communication happening.

I'll bet we've got a whole crop of annoying guys I haven't even met yet. Gimme cat aficionados. Multi Level Marketing mavens. Dallas Cowboy enthusiasts. There's nothing wrong with any of that. There's not much I can add to the conversation, though. I guess the good news is that it doesn't matter to them that I know nothing about the subject matter. They never notice the glazed over look in my eyes as I nod and smile and try to keep my taco from landing on my blouse. Except this year it will be sirloin. At least the food may be a little easier to handle.

Note to self: Never ever express even a vague interest in the holidays.

05 December 2006

Jingle Jingle

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together."~ Garrison Keillor (sorry...couldn't find any corduroy quotes)

I have a couple of Calvin Klein corduroy jeans I purchased last year. I bought them at different places and different times. I always check out the rear view when I buy anything, along with the side views. I distinctly remember thinking, "These look fabulous!" However, this year when I put them on, they're baggy. I don't know if this is just in the nature of corduroy jeans or Calvin makes "Incredible Bagifying Jeans" as some kind of cruel joke. I have not lost inches. Well, maybe I've lost half an inch or something, but you can't tell when I wear regular denim jeans. I have some other corduroy jeans made by different manufacturers that have gone to Baggy Land, too. I'm not looking for tight. I'm just looking for some semblance of my real shape to show up. I know there are much more important things to think about. I just can't help it.

Becoming middle-aged has a lot of benefits. Several years ago ('cause I've been middle-aged for a while now), I decided to throw fashion caution to the winds and celebrate Christmas on my person. I have Christmas socks. I have Christmas sweaters, both cardigan and pullover. I have Christmas shirts. I have Christmas jewelry. I'm brazen.

This year, I've decided to test my co-workers' Christmas spirit by wearing jewelry that jingles. I've been wearing a jingle bracelet, necklace and, yes, jingle earrings for the past week or so. As I saunter through the office, I casually (and pretty constantly) shake my wrist ever so gently. Jingle jingle. Jingle jingle. That's bound to irritate somebody, right? No one has gone Scrooge on me yet, though.

If I don't get any response soon, I'll have to go looking for some Christmas socks with jingle bells. I know I've seen them somewhere. I have nothing better to do with my time than search for them if I can't rattle somebody's chain any other way. Maybe they're just biting their tongues and, inside, their brains are about to explode, but that's not really good enough for me. I would have no problem whatsoever surreptitiously shaking my foot periodically as I go from place to place. Don't make me go that far, people.

I'm going to have to institute "Jingle Bell Watch" to count the number of days it takes for somebody to go crazy. We're now on day 7.

30 November 2006

The Stick

"If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun." ~ Katherine Hepburn

Well, I certainly didn't expect to be going through life with such a big stick up my butt. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised at how rigid I can be. I was always rigid, but I kept it a secret from myself. The biggest surprise is rule-related. I always took the position that I would follow all the rules...unless I thought they were stupid. I frequently thought things were stupid. Now, not so much. Well, okay, maybe just a little.

I expect everyone else to follow the rules, though. If I don't think the rule is worthy of being observed, it's okay with me if you get rebellious, too. Otherwise, rules are made to be followed. See? Major, major stick up my butt. In part, I think it's from being an only child. In part, I think it's from being an only child with a psychotic parent. Whatever the reason, I think I'd like it if I could just let go of this to some extent.

It's difficult to take that position (rules are made to be followed) when you think of yourself as a non-conformist. I tend to look like I'm conforming, but that's just because people can't see inside my head. I'm pointlessly subversive. Sometimes I just like to screw with things because other people are trying to require me to do things their way. (See above.) Sometimes I just like to screw with things because I can. I definitely usually look like I'm conforming, though.

Anal retentive. I have a big need to have things done a certain way. Maybe that's more obsessive-compulsive. I've defintely got some qualities that fit that bill. I alphabetized all of my books, after I put them in categories. I have a lot of books. It took me forever to figure out how I thought they should be categorized. I think I re-organized them several times. It drives me crazy if one of them is out of place. Actually, I need to start over because I've acquired a whole new category of books. I just haven't figured out where in the existing groups to put them.

Clinically speaking, I can get sidetracked into brain loops. I just made that up...oh how non-conformist of me! I can start thinking about how to solve a problem and get stuck there like a broken record. For those of you who even remember what those were. The really nutty thing is that obsessing never leads to an answer. I've known that for years. Leaving it alone and letting my intuitive abilities work on it is much more productive. Nonetheless, I get trapped from time to time.

So I guess if Santa is coming this year, I'd like to get rid of the stick. I'd like to stop getting caught up in obsessive thinking. I'd like to have Santa re-organize my books. The stick, though. That's the main thing.

29 November 2006

The Only Thing I Can Control

"To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and take rank, not as a prophet, but as an unteachable brat, well birched and none the wiser." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I'm not the person I expected to be. When I was a younger woman, in my twenties and thirties, I lived on the dark edge of disaster. I was despondent more often that not. I didn't have much confidence that I'd choose to be around long enough to make it to this age. I was angry. Actually, angry doesn't begin to describe it. I was enraged...at men, at a society that holds men as inherently more valuable than women. I was clear about the hypocrisy that seemed endemic to this culture. I could never understand how people could get up every day and choose to not confront the despair that seems to settle around us like a fog. Wake up and smell the fucking coffee, people. Stop sedating yourselves with the notion that Jesus will fix everything if we have faith. Stop sedating yourself with your drug of choice, whether it be superficial religiosity or a new car or something equally ridiculous. I can't tell you how tired I got of adults telling me that my life with my parents would improve if I would only turn to Jesus. It seemed to me to be an absurd misunderstanding of reality. Or my reality, anyway.

Much to my surprise, I turned out to be one of those people who constantly looks for something positive. In the worst possible circumstances, I'm looking hard to find something good. Sometimes I don't find it, but mostly I do. I still get angry. Sometimes I'm enraged, but I'm generally just amused. I don't allow people close enough to make me angry. The minute I meet someone, I'm sizing them up to determine how dangerous it might be to let them see whom I truly am. I'm very good at it. Once I establish the benchmark, we're good to go. I let you see just as much as I think you're capable of handling.

I'm surrounded by so much negativity in my work place that I've started to think of myself as Little Mary Sunshine. I can't begin to tell you how shocking that is. In my youth, when I came across people who were small-minded, vicious and perpetually angry (like at least one of my current co-workers), I could be a dangerous adversary. One of the advantages that comes with survivng a difficult childhood (don't you love it that I always use that word, "difficult" to desribe it?) is a keen eye for people's soft underbellies. I know immediately where to go to hurt you the most. When I was a young woman, I used that knowledge ruthlessly.

Now I just make a joke and then make an exit. I certainly could cut people down to size, but I choose to allow them to wallow around in their own negativity. Whatever makes you happy. You won't be doing it with me, though. Every day, we all have a choice. We can choose to focus on things that make us angry and unhappy or we can focus on things that make us smile. Personally, I've had more than my share of sorrow. Why anyone would choose to issue a permanent open invitation to misery is a mystery to me.

This 20 year old who lives inside me somewhere would have me believe I'm glossing over the suffering of the world. She's wrong. And let me just say that she does not cotton to being told she's wrong. Nonetheless, here we are. I see the suffering around me. I can embrace that suffering, but it does no one any good to take up residence there. I do what I can to make things better and try to maintain a positive state of mind.

Maybe it would be better to go back to the old days when I enthusiastically entered fully into the sufferings of others, verballly ripped fools to shreds, or dispensed with people altogether. That doesn't seem like a good place to be. Fools will be fools, no matter how many times you point it out to them. The same thing holds true for assholes. And to be honest, I've been a fool many times. I can't begin to number the many times I've behaved like an asshole. So, you know. Who am I to take people down a couple of notches? From time to time, I still choose to dispense with people, though. There's a point at which anyone can become more trouble than they're worth. When that time comes, I move on. And I don't come back.

The twenty year old curls her lip in derision. She thinks "don't worry, be happy" is a stupid way to live. Of course, back then I believed that most things in life were under my control. Or at least they would be when I left my parental home. There's actually very little in my life that I can control. I can choose an attitude towards the things that come my way. I choose to find the good things.

27 November 2006

Who Else Could I be?

"The light of memory, or rather the light that memory lends to things, is the pales light of all. I am not quite sure whether I am dreaming or remembering, whether Ihave lived my life or dreamed it. Just as dreams do, memory makes me profoundly aware." ~ Eugene Ionesco

Thanksgiving itself isn't really worthy of comment. I count the things and people for which I'm grateful first thing in the morning, every morning. It was an episode of "60 Minutes' that really grabbed my attention, shook the foundations of my life and made me ponder the meaning of memory.

The story was about the possibility of giving trauma victims a pill which would diminish the emotional charge associated with traumatic memory for those lucky ones of us who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Several scientists have noted the connection between trauma and adrenaline. Now, you'd think that would be obvious, wouldn't you? If an animal (in this instance, a human) is in a life-threatening situation and can't escape, can't diminish the potential for harm, adrenaline floods the body. Fight or flight. Adrenaline helps to impress the event into memory. In terms of evolution, it makes complete sense. Animals must know how to avoid similar dangers so that the species has a chance of continuing. Hence the inescapable flashbacks.

There was a time not all that long ago when my life was just a relentless stream of flashbacks and my unsuccessful attempts to move the mind away from them. I'd stop the memory, try to calm myself down and focus on something entirely different, something non-trauma related. It only lasted a moment or two and the brain would be back into flashback mode, reliving the same or a different trauma. I have quite a few to choose from, so my brain never had to work very hard to dredge up something. It was emotionally and physically exhausting. Sometimes it felt like I was lost in time. For instance, I was in my house with my husband and beloved four-legged family members, but my brain and body were in a completely different and terrifying time and space.

I'm well medicated, so I don't have continuous flashbacks anymore. I now have a lot of time when I'm completely present in the here and now. However, flashbacks are very tricky. They can arise without warning from the way light shines into a room, from just being in a bathroom, from picking up a stick in my yard, from a myriad of events or non-events. Whoa. Just thinking about those things is highly anxiety-provoking. It's good to keep the mind focused. Blank time in my brain invites flashbacks. People think I'm acutely productive and disciplined. What they don't consider is that the reasons why I'm always occupied have nothing to do with either of those two qualities. It's just self-preservation.

The pill I spoke of causes the traumatic memory to be more tenuous. From what I gather, the memory is still present, but it becomes a little vague. Obviously, this would work much better for people who've only had one traumatic event. Or maybe two. What about those of us whose lives are one long, continuous traumatic calamity? A professor concerned with the ethical application of scientific advances commented that we are who we are because of what we've lived through. He said that these learning experiences can make us better people. I think that's very true. I think the obverse is also true, but that's another blog entry altogether.

Who I am is directly informed by my experiences. I've had trauma, therefore I am. My non-traumatic memories are sketchy at best, probably because there are so few of them. I don't have any good memories, so the ones that aren't traumatic are just bad memories. If you take traumatic memories away, who am I? Am I just a blank slate? My intense engagement in my surroundings arise from trauma. My intuitive abilities are informed by trauma. My logical abilities spring from trauma. My compassion is deepened by trauma. My sense of humor, my ability to get back up every time something mows me down was forged in trauma. My ethical and moral compass were refined through trauma. If trauma is taken away, I still have those qualities that have developed over time, but would I even know how they came about? When I tried to remember things, would nothing be there?

When I was a young woman, I dreamed of an ordinary life. I always told people I just wished I could be living in the midwest, married to a salesman, content with defrosting my refrigerator (back in the old days, refrigerators did not defrost themselves). In many ways, that's still true. If living that kind of life could free me from the complexities of a difficult childhood, then I'm definitely purchasing a bus ticket to Ohio. I now know with certainty that which I guessed at in my youth. Ohio will not free me from the past. However, there may be a pill that serves up a little slice of Ohio for me. Would I take it? Probably not.

When I was a freshman in college, I took a Sociology class taught by a Chinese man whose accent made him barely intelligible. The question he posed to us (and it took me a while to figure out what the hell he was aking) the first day was, "If you could take a pill that would make you always happy, would you take it?" Of course that just leads me to ponder the meaning of the word "happy." Since I still can't define it, I always arrive back at the beginning. I am my memories. Who else could I possibly be?

22 November 2006

Thank you

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." ~ Meister Eckhart

Being alive

Being through with chemotherapy

My mom

My husband

My stepson

My huskies

The feral kitties I care for

All of the people I love

All of the people who love me

A place to live

Sufficient food and water

A job

A fully (as far as I can tell) functioning brain and the medication that helps it function correctly

The trees outside my office window

The fabulous squirrels who defy gravity as they leap from branch to branch

The Good Boy, my favorite kitty




The full use of all of my limbs

My upcoming reconstruction surgery

All of the natural world

My best friend, even though she's gone

The opportunity to give to others

The opportunity to learn, spiritually and intellectually

Not being like everyone I know in my Dad's family

My online friends

Hitting the genetic jackpot

There are many other things for which I'm grateful, but it's not possible to think of all of them right now. Suffice it to say that I'm grateful for everything--good and bad-- that's happened to me. My job is to figure out how to use my experiences for positive growth. I'm grateful for being up for that challenge.

20 November 2006


"I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief... For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free." ~ Wendell Berry

On Friday, my therapist and I were discussing how I keep avoiding the knowledge that Thanksgiving is imminent. I used to be Ms. Traditional Thanksgiving to make up for all the really horrific ones I had as a kid. I not only cooked a turkey, but baked fresh bread and made pies with homemade crust. I lit candles and looked fabulous while we ate. Most people who know me now find it hard to believe I was ever that way. That's just because it's more comfortable to reduce others to the lowest common denominator so we don't have to embrace complexity. I am always at both ends of the spectrum. I embody contradiction. That's a hard, hard thing for people to understand, so I just let them rest in whatever (limited) understanding they have of me. But I digress.

Miss G., the therapist, asked me when all of that changed. I actually had to think a moment before I remembered...it was the year my dad killed himself. That changed everything. The first Thanksgiving, which came only about a month after he shot himself, I decided the only way I could get through it was to do everything differently. We did Italian for Thanksgiving. We did Chinese for Christmas. My husband was out of town for both.

I gradually migrated back to a more traditional menu, but it's never been the same. This year, I'm just so exhausted that, even though I keep making noises about bread and pies, it's next to inconceivable that any of that will actually happen. My mom and I shopped for Thursday this past weekend and it was hard to even focus my mind on what we needed to get. I'm not sure that's related to my father, but I suppose it could be. I seem to be a bit stuck in cancer treatment mode. I was trying to remember where I was last year on Thanksgiving day and, as far as I can recall, I was getting infused with poison. Fun times.

All in all, the memories that currently go with Thanksgiving are difficult to face. The memories from being a child at Thanksgiving may be, in their own way, much worse. It's hard to quantify horrific.

15 November 2006

The Vapors

"Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does." ~ Jane Austen

I'm taking a short break from the endless database work. One of my esteemed co-workers came by my office yesterday, seeking changes in the design. He also had a new request which I don't know how to fulfill at this moment. It's definitely do-able; it's just going to take some time for my brain to figure it out.

Hubby has a job event today. It's not an interview; he has to submit an application and allow them to take his fingerprints. It's a government job. It is a job he can get, no doubt about it. Last week, he scheduled an audition for 4:00 p.m. today and the job thing is at 5:30. I suggested perhaps he should do the audition a little earlier to ensure he makes it to the job event in time. I impressed upon him the importance of having a job and the dire ramifications to our relationship if he screws this up. Hubby assured me he'd make it in time.

Yesterday he was looking for his Social Security card or his birth certificate. All employers are legally required to verify citizenship through one of those two documents. The federal government seems to be pretty inflexible about it. Go figure. Who keeps up with their birth certificate? As for the Social Security card, I tend to lose mine pretty regularly. I mean, it's in the house somewhere and I always mean to put it in a very obvious location. Unfortunately, I can't ever remember what I thought constituted "obvious" at the time.

When I came home from lunch, I went searching for Hubby, who's usually downstairs for my arrival. I found him lying on his bed. One o'clock in the afternoon and he's lying around in bed.

"Are you okay?" I asked, thinking he'd better have something wrong with him to justify such blatant slackerdom.

"I'm feeling a little run down. Having cold chills." This is generally a hint that, like Scarlett O'Hara, Hubby is going to be taking to his bed for a couple of weeks. They used to call it "the vapors." I just call it lazy.

"Well, can you come lie down on the sofa and supervise the dogs?"

(Aside: I just got another injury report from Virginia. What is with these people, anyway?)

Hubby came downstairs and I went back to work. When I got home later in the afternoon, just absolutely dead tired, I asked him how he was feeling. He actually said he was feeling better. I believe that would be a first. (Critical note: He did not ask how I was feeling.)

Hubby finally ferreted out the birth certificate and Social Security card around 7:00 last night. Apparently the not feeling good thing was related to feeling grossly incompetent because he couldn't find either of those documents. I pointed out that it's a life rule that if you put something somewhere you're sure to find it, you may never find it again. Or it will take you hours to locate it. That's just how it goes.

In the meantime, he's trying to cast a performance/radio documentary scheduled for February (I think) about cowboy songs. It's a big niche market for recording companies, apparently. Who knew. Anyway, the lead non-singing part was supposed to be filled by an actor friend. Unfortunately, the actor friend, Jeff, is very bipolar and doesn't have the best track record in the world for staying on his meds. He's an excellent actor, though.

Jeff had another theatrical performance here in town around the same time as Hubby's. Last week he sent out an email to Hubby and the director of the other play, telling them that he was maybe going to get to audition for something in New York at that time. If the audition materialized, he would be unavailable for these two previous commitments.

As for Hubby's venture, Jeff was unhappy right from the get-go (do people say that anywhere other than in Texas?) because he felt he didn't get adequate billing in the advance publicity that was just disseminated a month ago or so. The show is about cowboy singers. Therefore, the actual cowboy singers do indeed get higher billing. You know?

Anyway, things just can't come to a screeching halt because Jeff has a more promising venture. Hubby let Jeff know that he'd be casting someone else in that part. Unfortunately, I guess that means the end of the friendship, too. They've known each other for about 20 years now, having met when he was cast in one of Hubby's plays. Hubby's a little distressed about it.

As for me, I just can't do the whole drama thing. Actors have very thin skins and tend to whine about things or have hissy fits or create personal drama where none should really exist. Or maybe it's just the actors I've known. I have no patience for that. You people are big old grownups now, so let's try and act like it. Jeez.

So that's why Hubby has an audition set for today. He found another actor whom he thinks will be a good match with the role. Do I care? Yes, I hope it works out and I hope the February event is a roaring success. I have more pressing matters on my mind right now, though. A job. Hubby will be paid for the performance, but not enough to justify sitting around on his butt for the next several months.

Well, there you have it. I've got all that going for me and a gazillion records to update. Aside from that, the sun is shining through the leaves of the trees visible outside my office window. Present moment, wonderful moment.

10 November 2006

Mostly We're 13 Year Old Girls

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind." ~ Aristotle

We were unable to access the internet all day yesterday at work. I played a lot of solitaire, which is the only game I have on my hard drive. Boring.

My boss is getting ready to lower the boom on a couple of my fabulous co-workers. One of them (J.) is the guy who was working at our office in another state. He whined and moaned to come back because he wanted to spend time with his harridan, borderline personality disordered wife who hates him. The company owner, S., has a real serious dislike going for this guy. J. used to be the company darling, but not anymore. I have the distinction of being the first one here to hate him. My boss finally figured out why.

The other person, whom I'll just call "The Foot Lady" is a salesperson, but as far as I can tell, she hasn't drummed up any new business in a couple of years. That's what I hear, anyway. I call her The Foot Lady because if you're in conversation with her more than five minutes, she's going to take one of her shoes off and plop her foot up on her desk (or any other stable surface, I guess) to show you why she complains about her feet all the time. This cracks me up. It's so much more appealing than pulling your underwear down in my office, like one of my other co-workers. Yes, boys and girls, it's the Wacky World Where GGirl Works. It just doesn't get much more fun than this.

So S. has developed a job description for these two sales people that actually involves making contact with potential clients. What a concept! He expects J. to bitch about how the rest of us aren't really doing anything, so he's making us all submit job descriptions. In order to make J.'s life hell, S. is making the rest of us suffer. That just how it is here. Kind of like Purgatory.

It's been years since I've even had a job title. I'd sort of been going with "Employee Emeritus" because I like that name. I knew it wasn't going to be viable for these purposes, though. I just answered the email and listed all the disparate things I do here and suggested maybe S. would like to come up with a job title. Within 15 minutes, he had sent back 7 or 8 potential job titles. I could just pick one. I hope I can remember it, though, because it was pretty good and I'd like to be able to tell people that's what I do...while I laugh, because this place always makes me laugh when it's not making me want to beat my head against a wall.

I guess my job title could also be "The Only Person in the Office Everyone Likes." That's just my unofficial title, though. I'm always surprised that they all like me, but my therapist points out to me that I'm actually likeable. They're not. That's one of the reasons I'm willing to pay her money every week. She reminds me that the person I live with in my head is not the person everyone else lives with. I'm sad a lot or testy a lot (especiallyl at work), but that's not what shows on the outside. Because I move on. I do not hang onto the bad feeling and spread it around like the flu. We have the rest of the company to take care of that.

The accounting guy is especially grumpy and negative. He's completely in the dark about that. He thinks he's Little Mary Sunshine (um, no, that would be I). He's very pissed off about the whole job description thing. He brought it up a couple of days ago and I thought he was going to literally foam at the mouth. I made a joke and tried to get him to climb down off his high horse, but I was only moderately successful.

I can't wait to hear about how the meeting with the two salespeople goes. That should be fun. In the meantime, I whipped up a job description for myself today and sent it right off to my boss. I know who owns the company and it's not the accounting guy. The accounting guy acts like he owns the company, but that's just a grave misunderstanding which is going to ultimately cause S. to start focusing on making his life a living hell. Soon. Right now it's just at the stage where S. makes Accounting Guy go out to lunch with our banker and they gang up on him politically. Accounting Guy is a Rush Limbaugh freak, so S. always gets the banker going about her liberal political views. I think it makes it hard for Accounting Guy to digest his food. Things are going to get much worse than that, though.

So that's how it goes here. Mostly we're a bunch of 13 year old girls talking behind each other's backs and carrying around a permanent case of PMS. I don't talk behind people's backs. I just don't talk about my co-workers at all other than to my mom and Hubby. People can not count on me spreading the latest rumor. I don't do it. It's stupid. I'm not 13, not even in my head.

07 November 2006

Please Don't Make Me Talk To You

"A sense of duty is useful in work, but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not be endured with patient resignation." ~ Bertrand Russell

Part of my job here is to manage workers' comp insurance issues. When someone gets hurt, I make sure the claim gets filed with our insurance company and track their progress if their injury is such that they miss work or are reduced to light duty. I also have to call the boys (and they are always boys) periodically just to let them know we're all thinking of them. Our insurance people tell us that calling the injured ones motivates them to get back to work because they think that means we actually care whether they get better. This is my least favorite part of the job.

In fact, I don't really care how they're doing. I just want them to get well and get their accident-prone asses back at work. Every day they miss work just adds to the cost of premiums next year. Workers' comp can kill a small company. Don't get me wrong. When people get injured at work, the company should ensure that the bills get paid. If they need to be at home recuperating, the company should make sure that's financially feasible for them. I just don't wish to talk with them once every couple of weeks.

Some folks are suspiciously accident-prone. We had this one guy who worked for us five different times over the course of several years. He would work a week or two and get hurt. I mean badly hurt. Hurt as in taking the next six weeks off. I finally told the owner of the company that he needed to keep his personnel folks from hiring him again. The guy's name was Wally. He's a Viet Nam vet who writes poetry and will tell you all about it, whether or not you wish to know. We were all relieved to see Wally go because it meant we could go to the company Christmas party without fear of getting stuck in a corner somewhere for a couple of hours, listening to Wally recite extremely bad poetry. Frankly, I expected some reward money from my co-workers for alleviating that anxiety.

We had another guy several years ago whose hobby was bull riding. Seriously. I live in Texas, where people do these kinds of things, but I will never understand what makes someone get up on top of a bull who is royally pissed off...other than just a serious streak of self-destructiveness. Anyway, this guy shows up at the doctor with a work-related shoulder injury. No one saw him get hurt and he came by the office the next day on his motorcycle. We had no way of knowing for sure that it wasn't some bull's fault (since said alleged impairment occurred first thing Monday morning), but we were all pretty sure that riding a motorcycle should be too painful for that type of shoulder injury. So we set up the Jose Ramirez (names changed to protect the idiotic) Memorial Film School. Every day he was unable to work, he was required to show up at the office, sit downstairs watching safety films by himself and writing synopses of them. This went on for about 30 days. He never got hurt again. I digress.

We have an office in another city in Texas and one in Virginia. They are responsible for their own injury claims, which only makes sense because it would add a lot of extra time to the claims process if they all had to come through me. Plus, I'd be calling even more assholes, trying to convince them that even though I've never met them, I'm just broken up about their injuries. Virginia has very different reporting requirements and coordinating everything to meet those requirements would require Herculean effort.

Suddenly the office manager in Virginia has taken to sending me copies of the workers' comp reports. They've been filing these reports for the past decade by themselvers and I never hear anything about them unless someone has a question about legal issues. Just opening the envelope and seeing the reports irritates me. I suppose I could call her and ask why I'm suddenly so completely in the loop, but then I'd have to talk to her. I dislike talking to her at least as much as the injured workers. It's nothing about her specifically, it's just that I'm most contented when I'm not interacting with people. (By the way, I referred to myself recently as "anti-social" when, in fact, I should have said "asocial." Thanks to my therapist for that clarification.)

I don't really have a point here, other than the fact that I got one of those reports today and starting yapping in my head about it. I just thought I'd include you in the yap. I feel better already.

02 November 2006

I Love to Win

"If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat." ~ Mark Twain

I have a number of feral cats that hang around the office. All but one has been spayed/neutered and I'm working on catching the remaining one. I am way too attached to two of them, but the others (3) I take care of because they're God's creatures...and they're hungry. This is a source of ongoing tension in my office. I'm not going to stop feeding the cats. Period. My co-workers periodically whine and moan about how the cats have made the patio unpleasant. The only problem is that, when we didn't have cats, no one went out there anyway.

At the end of last week, a series of emails were sent requesting that we not spend any time on the patio because it was flea-infested and the fleas were coming in the building. They noted that the exterminator has been out 3 times recently. One of my least favorites (although it's a hard thing to quantify--I dislike most of them at about the same level) sent out his own email suggesting that it's time for us "to take a stand" against kitty proliferation. This is the same person who told me several years ago that he's taking a "personal stand against homosexuality." (Which means what? When gay men proposition you, you say no? Trust me, no gay man would want him.)

Several months ago, our next door neighbor (my office is in a mixed use area) got four puppies. One night the puppies, who were not being fed enough, crawled under the fence and broke a hole in this half-assed attempt someone had made to keep the kitties out from under the building. My fave co-worker thought we ought to cement that up. I'm not sure how that's supposed to correct the kitty problem, but whatever makes you happy, I guess.

I replied to the emails requesting that no one be out on the patio for long by pointing out that it might take me a while to get that hole effectively blocked off while we waited for the carpenter to come over the weekend and permanently close it off. There were definitely some kitties under there and at least one o'possum. I waited until I could count all of the cats and blocked up the hole. I have to tell you that, aside from not wanting the o'possum to suffer, I wouldn't be unhappy if it died under there. Preferably under the side where most of the whining and moaining originates.

Shortly after I sent out my reply email, my boss (the owner of the company) came into my office in a rage. He was sick of the whining and moaning, too. He's actually spent time on the patio and knows that there is no kitty stench out there. He noted that no one ever sits out there, anyway, except for the lone smoker in the office. As for the fleas, our next door neighbor's yard is completely infested with them. On the other side of us, there's a church (which only periodically seems to function) where the weeds grow pretty tall before they get cut. My boss , S., pointed out that maybe that's where the fleas are born, then they come to our patio. Sort of like moving into a new subdivision or something.

He sent out his own email, detailing his expectations regarding rat elimination. No food in the pantry, no food kept in offices...you get my drift. There are just some common-sense things to do if you don't want rats. The point was to just screw with the co-workers. S. also told my co-workers that he was going to catch the cats and have them euthanised. It was heavy on the sarcasm, but I'm not sure my co-workers recognized it. I've known S. for over 25 years now. I can always tell when he's appearing to take the high road while, in fact, taking the very low road.

S. told me that I could move my cat food to our other building next door. He has some other evil plans to make my co-workers sorry they even started this. The kitties are staying and I'm going to continue to feed them. As I said before, I love it when I win.

27 October 2006

Toil and Trouble

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." ~ Bertrand Russell

My mood has cleared today. Sometimes you just have to wait it out. I used to have a two-day turnaround on depression, but it's definitely not something I can always count on. No matter how long it takes, fighting it only seems to make it more entrenched. I've learned to just let the depression stay as long as it needs to, but lately that feels a little scary to me.

I'm bogged down with this project I've been working on. For two days I've tried to understand what the software makers are trying to tell me (via the Help menu) and for two days I've been completely clueless. I could have sworn I took some tests that indicated I'm an intelligent person. If that's so, why the hell can't I figure this out?

I've finished the first half and everyone is happy with the results. The second half has always been the most critical for me and not because it would make everyone's my co-workers' lives easier. I mean, that's a good thing, but the really crucial issue is my ability to beat the software into submission. I enjoy doing this so I should be good at it, right? Yes, that's what I thought, too.

I printed out some of the help topics and took them home with me last night. I thought maybe being in a different environment and not sitting in front of the computer might be more productive. If I'm in front of the computer, I can't stop myself from experimenting. Sometimes you just have to leave the computer alone while you figure out what to do with the stupid thing. That was pointless. As I read and made notes, I could tell that my comprehension skills were deficient. I decided to stop and work on it again today.

It's a beautiful day here. The sun is shining again, which always has a profound effect on my mood. My little squirrel friends should be out and about, but I don't see any of them. It's a little chillier than it has been (that would be in the 80's) and they're usually energized by the coolness. It's also Perky Puppy weather, so I imagine my dogs will keep me busy when I get home.

Hubby's been busy with a project all week, but I'm making him apply for a job I'm fairly certain he can get. This employer is so desperate they won't care that he hasn't had a regular job in 20 years. I talked to him earlier this morning and he told me he was working on the online application. Hubby having a job would go a long way towards improving my general outlook on things.

All I have to do now is get through the rest of the day. What then? Well, all I'll have to do is get through the weekeend.

26 October 2006

Inner Darkness

"The thought of suicide is a powerful solace: my means of it one gets through many a bad night." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

This year I've been having more difficulty than usual getting through the anniversary of my father's suicide. I've been having flashbacks of anguish which never really goes away. It just lurks in the recesses of my brain, ready to manifest spontaneously.

Nuclear winter. For months after his death, that internal voice we all have that chatters away about everything went suddenly silent. "What was it that I used to think about," I wondered. Even if I could find something to think about, my brain refused to hold onto it. I learned to live with the silence. It distorted my sense of time. We'd go out to eat and, before the food got there, it already felt like we'd been there for hours. Absence of inner commentary didn't make me bored; I was too traumatized for that. The pain was so intense that sometimes it was all I could do to get through the next 60 seconds.

My therapist and I think that the anniversary is particularly difficult this year because of my own inner darkness. I've known since I was a child my emotional nightfall that calls me to give up the fight . I understand the black hole my father was drawn into because I've been stranded in that vortex myself. I'm there now and have been for months.

The only good thing that came from my father's death is the certainty that I will never check out while there are still people around who care for me. Nonetheless, I find myself using the same coping mechanism: "All I have to do is get through the next five minutes or the next hour or the next day." It's not a productive way to manage one's life. This moment is the only moment I have. Counting down the time until my interior despondency lifts causes me to miss this moment.

I only just started noticing I'd returned to emotional countdown methods. Feeling is absent. Nothing is worth doing. I go home every night and read "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" so that I can remember there's meaning in my suffering, that everything is illusory--even my pain. We all suffer. It's in the nature of being on this earth. And who better to endure it than I? I've had lots and lots of practice.

I can empathize with my father. I just have to find a different outcome. On the anniversary of his death, I'd wish him to know that I'm sorry. I'm sorry he had such a dreadful life that resulted in him inflicting enormous damage to the people in his life, especially his daughter. I'm sorry I wasn't able to save him, even though I know the only person who can save you is yourself. I'd wish my father to know that I'm using his gift to make me stronger and more capable of enduring these dark hours. I'd wish my father to know that I thank him for that gift, that I love him and that I forgive him.

13 October 2006

The Orangutang and the Horse of a Different Color

"One is not born a woman, one becomes one." ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Hubby had the dishes done at lunch and dinner. His, not mine, that is. As I noted before, I always do my dishes immediately after use. He cleaned out the refrigerator. He offered to pick up a prescription for me. Yay for him! Now if only he would get a job.

Have I mentioned I took a test on the BBC science page which purports to help you determine where your thought processes fall along a gender continuum? You know, women are traditionally better than men at some things and vice versa. I ended up exactly in the middle. An androgynous thinker...must have something to do with all those boy toys my dad gave me when I was a little girl. My friends got dolls and I got helicopters. Hey, with my dad you just played with whatever you got and didn't complain. That's probably why it's always been so abundantly clear to me that gender lies along a continuum. Maybe I should be grateful to my dad for that.

In fact, I've had a couple of therapists ask me if I had any gender confusion. No. I've never wished to be anything other that what I am. I've never wondered if I should have been a boy.

I'm just hard to categorize for many reasons, my bizarre upbringing notwithstanding. I think that's one of the reasons people have difficulty understanding me. I'm not like everyone else. None of us are, really. We're each unique dazzling manifestations of God's infinite creativity. If only we could all always see each other that way...what a gift that would be.

When I've taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Tests, I always end up being sort of evenly split between thinking/feeling and perceiving/judging, although I clearly have a preference for judging . There's no question that I'm an introvert...I scored very high on that scale, but I'm able to act like an extravert. Many people who don't know me that well actually think I am an extravert. I'm also highly intuitive.

I'm different, alright. I'm not always willing to admit that; I long to be uncomplicated. It just seems like life would be a lot easier sometimes, though certainly not as interesting.

The work project calls. It's been a challenging week for work. I guess I'll go be challenged some more.

Just in case you'd like to take these tests, here are the links:

The BBC Sex ID test: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/index_cookie.shtml

Myers-Briggs Personality Test: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm


A site specifically for young people with cancer of all types.

12 October 2006

Husbands are like Orangutangs

"The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutang trying to play the violin." ~ Honore de Balzac

We've been eating dinner in shifts at my house. Wolf is too out of control for us to eat at the same time. I generally end up sitting beside Hubby at the dining table, distracting Wolf's attention with lots of pets. Occasionally, he gnaws on my arm. After Hubby finishes, I ususally put some peanut butter in Wolf's Kong and toss it into his crate. When he trots in for one of his most favorite foods in the world, I close the crate door and he makes himself happy for a while, trying to figure out how to get the peanut butter out of the magic hole in the Kong. I eat in relative peace.

On Tuesday, I didn't eat enough during the day and, by the time Hubby was ready for dinner, I was starving. I had started to shake a little. The crate thing wasn't working with Wolf, so I took him outside and tried to eat my sandwich while holding onto Wolf. I decided I won't be doing that again.

Yesterday, I sat on the floor again and waited while Hubby read the newspaper and ate his dinner. When he was finished, I got Wolf's Kong ready and tossed it in his crate. Unfortunately, Wolf finished before I did and started crying. I mean loud, high-pitched, relentless crying. I could see Hubby in the other room in front of the computer, holding his fingers in his ears. I ignored them both and continued to eat.

After a few minutes, Hubby came into the dining room and stood in front of me, fingers in ears.

"I have to eat." I was more than a little exasperated. "I can't hold Wolf and eat."

Hubby went over to the crate and let Wolf out. Wolf immediately went into hyper mode, jumping up on Hubby and trying to chew on his arm. Instead of having the puppy cry, I was then having to listen to my husband screech, yell and curse the little guy. He gives me yet another annoyed look because I was still eating and not rescuing him from the dog. I ignored him and finished my dinner.

I have a real thing about having the dishes done before bedtime. For me, it's disheartening and disgusting to wake up in the morning and have to face a sink with dirty dishes. I've shared that info with my husband many times. Late last night when it became apparent that Hubby wasn't going to do the dishes, I went into the kitchen and washed them. When I came back, I sad down on the sofa next to him and said, "Thanks for doing the dishes, ggirl." I said it with a smile on my face and in a teasing tone of voice.

"Well, I think I do the dishes as much as you do, " he said

."Yes, you do them more than I do. They're your dishes. I always wash dishes immediately after I use them." It's not so much a matter of discipline as it is just my personality type, INT/FJ. He didn't respond. I could see he was reviewing recent history in the hopes of refuting my assertion. Well, of course he couldn't.

"You know, I don't mind doing the dishes every once in a while." And, in fact, I don't. "But you know, I've got this huge project at work that's very intellectually taxing. Then I come home and have virtually all of the responsibility for taking care of Wolf. I'm really tired a lot."

I was just waiting for him to comment that I was the one who wanted the dog. When he says it (and he will at some point), my response is not going to be friendly. I've dealt with the consequences of many decisions he's made without my support or, sometimes, without even consulting me. He'd be well advised to not travel down that path.

"You know, I've been thinking lately that you don't seem very grateful for all of the things I've made possible in your life." Like being able to write a book or being able to participate in theatrical events. The list is endless really. Twenty years of me working and him doing exactly as he pleases. I was working up steam.

"I just wish you would, every once in a while, ask me if there's anything you can do for me." You'd have to be deaf to not hear the pain in my voice. I didn't mean to sound pained; I just wasn't able to effectively filter it all out.Still no comment from my husband. When I related the story to my mom, she said, "Well what could he say?"I don't know. Thank you? I'm sorry? I'm an inconsiderate, self-centered man?

It was getting to be my bedtime and I was wrapping things up."It's part of why I'm so depressed. And why I feel so hopeless about my life."

With that, I stood up and went into the kitchen to get Wolf's Kong ready. I shut him in the crate, came back to the living room where Hubby was still sitting on the sofa and told him it was time for me to go to bed. I finished turning out the lights and we hugged before he went upstairs.

My mom came over this morning and let the dogs out. Wolf and Sheba immediately started noisy Husky play in the backyard while I continued to get ready for work. They woke Hubby up, apparently. He came downstairs and let them in. Wolf, of course, went nuts. He started jumping up and Hubby started yelling and cursing. My mom ignored him.I don't have time in the mornings to rescue Hubby from the dog. I went about my business. I could hear him trying to get the leashes on the two dogs to take them for a walk. I have no idea why. Sheba does her bathroom business in the backyard, as does Wolf. I guess he was looking forward to another opportunity to yell and curse.

When I got out of the bathroom, my mom had let the dogs out again. I could hear Hubby in the kitchen, opening the ibuprofen bottle. Great. Before I left for work, I went upstairs to say goodbye. Hubby had deposited himself back in bed.

"Do you have a headache?" Just inquiring, you know.

"No, I couldn't get to sleep last night," he said.I passed up the opportunity to point out to him the many times I've been unable to get enough sleep but somehow made it to work anyway.

"Well I hope you feel better. I'll see you in a little while." I hugged him and went to work.