Saturday, December 31, 2011

WALKING THE GANGPLANK WITH MARTHA

Occasionally we meet people who can give their friendship without some kind of price tag attached. I was fortunate to have found several friends at an early age who not only loved unconditionally, but also withheld making judgment calls as well. My first memories of having friends date back before I went to school. My neighborhood was filled with families who had children of all ages. In my minuscule world that encompassed 4 or 5 houses, Linda was among my first friends. She was a soft-spoken, friendly child who later became the hot vixen all redheads seem to become. Our time together was always an adventure as we went from playing with dolls and hopscotch to skipping school and lusting after boys to becoming reunited after missing all those years in the middle where people become adults and have families.

I’ve always tended to gravitate towards the edge and tested any boundaries that stood in my way. It’s where I felt most comfortable. Maybe it was the suspense, the thrill, the uncertainty of the outcome that made teetering on the edge so appealing to me. Whatever it was, that certain something was a definite factor in what kept a smile on our faces in those days of our adolescent angst. When I think of what a bad influence I was on so many of my friends, I now feel a little regret, but I won't lie...I also smile as I remember the progression of things and the fun involved. Back in those days among many other things, we became quite familiar with 5 finger discounts. As we built our collection of free make-up, jewelry, records, clothes and whatever else struck our fancy at the time (all things we really didn't "need"), it was the thrill of seeing how outrageous we could be that kept us going back for more. Why we were never caught is beyond me, but I suppose it was more dumb luck than skill that keep us on the right side of the law.

By the time we were teenagers, my attic was transformed into a place to wile away the hours skipping school, while we waited for my mother to go to work at 2:30 each afternoon. Anything in my house that wasn't being used seemed to always found its way to the top floor making the attic a true cornucopia of treasures. As our collection of discarded paint cans grew, the whole spectrum of colors was represented. We had purple that was used to paint one of the bathrooms and blue from the other. I snagged what was left from when my mother had painted on an old sea captain's trunk a most delightful shade of tangerine. Buttercup yellow from the kitchen and lime green from my bedroom were among the many colors we collected. As we collected our decorating materials, we decided that what needed to be done was some original artwork to adorn our sanctuary. Jackson Pollock's "drips" had nothing over the hand prints we put all over the walls and large-planked wooden floors. My only regret is that I never took any pictures of it. Years later after my house was sold and the new owners discovered my magical hideaway in attic, they made several inquiries to my cousin who lived next door about the artwork in the attic. What a surprise it must have been for them stepping into what appeared to be a colorful insane asylum (if they only knew how true that was).

Many, many years later my eyes twinkle as I think about last summer when I was "home". Somehow it seems fitting that the person who blossomed into a ravishing redheaded vixen is the saucy tart who insisted on giving me a blue streak in my hair that "would wash right out". Ha! All I can say is "thank you, Linda" for reminding me that growing old may be inevitable, but growing up especially when in the company of old, dear friends is quite optional and never preferred.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

STEPPED OUT

When Adi told me she had composed a song and had done so "with me in mind", I couldn't wait to hear it. Needless to say, I was blown away by it when I heard it and have listened to it at least a hundred times by now. Undiscovered talent like hers always amazes me. She has a few other songs in the Music Room at MSWorld.org a website specifically created to "discover creative and inspirational works by people living with Multiple Sclerosis." I took the liberty of setting her song to a few images. I hope my first attempt at doing something like that doesn't detract from the beauty of the song.

Thank you, Adi. You helped make my Christmas one I'll always remember.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A NEW DAY


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas-

Gradually I have come to realize I really do have the ability to differentiate between those things I can change and those that are better left in the hands of fate. With age and experience come wisdom...sometimes! Perhaps my antiquated philosophy that everything happens the way it was meant to happen is flawed...or perhaps it's perfect! As I have surrendered myself in the last decade to the belief that my life is no more than an enigmatic demise, I awoke this morning feeling that perhaps it's really been an elusive rebirth instead. Is Mildred really a butterfly awaiting to fly? A crack has appeared allowing a sliver of light to shine through the emotional and physical pain. The path I was afraid to walk upon before has started to knead at me with a perverse appeal and an unfamiliar, yet welcomed anticipation. I long to feel the freedom I once called mine and I am willing to do whatever it takes to find that freedom again. I can and will explore until I find what I've lost in this lifeless abyss in which I have existed for far too long.

I thank the powers that be whatever they are for setting me straight and allowing me a honest and much needed peak at myself. Yesterday as I sat watching an accident victim struggle to regain her independence through the means of a grueling physical therapy session, I realized the last several years have robbed me of certain aspects of myself or I guess I should finally admit I willingly gave myself to those things that would only bring me more pain and keep me trapped. It was easier to surrender, to submit, to give up. No robbery or rape occurred! No violation of spirit happened! I was not a victim, but a willing participant of having my zest for life sucked slowly from me through some gigantic straw. What replaced it was a quiet hunger to slowly destroy myself through isolation. I saw death and it quietly beckoned to me.

Oh, the sweet temptation of playing the final note of the song and knowing that there will be no more music! No, not now! Not today because the song still lingers and the tune, a melody I have heard somewhere before feels as though it isn’t quite finished. I, the composer search for the perfect note to complete the harmony and go in peace many, many years from now. Yes, good people of cyberspace, Mildred Ratched may make no sense, but today she does…she speaks of death and music and then sensually dances out from the shadows in which she exists into a new beginning. I will not go down without a fight! I will live in the sunshine again! It's a new dawn. It's a new day.

,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

BEYOND A SIMPLE OUCH!

After reading about Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide in 2005, I started wondering how many people who suffer from chronic pain eventually decide to end their life. I have to admit my views on that subject matter scare me, but nonetheless I revisit them quite often. For some people, acknowledging pain is a sign of weakness and talking about pain may be perceived by some as participating in pity party or as a grand stand ploy to elicit sympathy from people. In reality, talking about it helps the chronic pain sufferer stay connected to other people and the world around them, but sometimes there is a very fine line between staying connected and dwelling on the pain which amplifies it tenfold. I tend to think this is why so many chronic pain sufferers gravitate towards becoming hermits.

Anyone suffering from chronic physical pain goes through arduous periods of adjustment as their pain becomes more intense at times. We each have our own ways of coping and at times, those coping mechanisms may be pushed past their limits. What many people fail to understand is that pain and the ailments/conditions that cause the pain have a very debilitating effect on both the mind and body. The chronic pain sufferer is forced into accepting unwanted limitations and what's often thought of as restrictions brought on by the normal aging process are actually things expedited and amplified by chronic pain.

10 important things I've learned about chronic pain in the past 10 years:

1. Chronic pain is unlike acute pain which comes on suddenly as a warning signal that something has gone wrong inside the body and goes away when the cause is treated.
2. Chronic pain is caused by long-term conditions like arthritis or progressive illnesses like cancer.
3. Chronic pain can last for months or it may last an entire lifetime.
4. Chronic pain takes a psychological as well as a physical toll on a person. It can lead to anxiety, anger and insomnia.
5. Chronic pain sufferers may find it difficult or impossible to work and hard to do the things they once enjoyed.
6. Chronic pain can change a person’s relationships with family and friends and alter their own self-image and diminish their self-worth.
7. A person experiencing chronic pain becomes easily depressed, withdrawn, and exhausted.
8. No diagnostic tests can convey to your doctor what you are feeling. Even when pain is intense, many people struggle to the find words to accurately describe it.
9. Chronic pain is treatable, but it never completely goes away.
10.Chronic pain changes every aspect of a person's life.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR

Many years ago when I was in search of Mr. Right, I initially sifted through the online personal ads with great hope and fervor. As my optimism waned, I realized that perhaps my perfect match isn't tall, dark and handsome afterall, but someone who is witty, slightly twisted and ready for anything. The following is the final personal ad I wrote and posted online. The response to it was overwhelming and ranged from many serious-minded gentlemen concerned about me having a self-esteem problem to the slapstick funny responses from men thinking my ad was written by their ex-wives. Without a doubt it was a great source of amusement even though I didn’t find Mr. Right. What I did discover were a bunch of people searching for everything from a friend with benefits to a sugar momma to an actual soulmate.

I’m short, fat, ugly and the fashion police are always trying to bust me. I never smile and I’m a total bitch from hell with a terminal case of PMS. I’m demanding, cynical and judgmental. I’m always right and I have to have the last word… ALWAYS!!! My goal in life is to spread misery and discontent where ever and to whomever I can. Physical contact with me could result in serious frostbite and tissue damage. I have nasty habits and should never be allowed to go out in public or to mate!!! I should be avoided at all costs and only approached with extreme caution under dire circumstances.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A TIME TO PAY IT FORWARD

It probably comes as no surprise that my house is not adorned by the tons of usual Christmas paraphernalia that most people seem to need to celebrate the holiday season properly. No, I don't decorate a Christmas tree. The exterior of my home isn't ablaze from a gawdy display of Christmas lights. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care in other people's homes, but not in mine. I'm sure most people must think I'm as horrible as Scrooge and the Grinch all rolled up into one massive anti-Christmas campaign. But those who really know me, know that still waters run deep.

For me, the season is not a lavish affair. I keep it simple. I try to pay it forward by giving money to the less fortunate and by doing small acts of kindness whenever I can. I don't go into debt from overspending, but I do manage to make sure all my loved ones are remembered in some special way.

Over the years as my need to participate in the commercial hullabaloo surrounding Christmas has dwindled, I've devoted much thought to the holiday season and what makes it so depressing and unbearable for so many people. As children, this season breeds an unbridled anticipation of Santa Claus and wonderful gifts. Then as the years roll by, that anticipation for many people somehow morphs into the dread of overspending and into bittersweet memories of all the things they no longer have and of loved ones who no longer are with them. What may start out as a little self-pity often times turns into depression on steroids.

For people celebrating the holidays totally alone or without a significant other, the holiday season always seems geared towards celebrating it with that special someone and with a loving family oozing with holiday spirit. Each time I used to see the commercial that asked, "What would you do for love this Christmas?", it made me want to vomit. Some bright, young advertising hotshot envisioned two people being separated at Christmas with impossible obstacles to overcome. Somehow and of course quite miraculously, they find their way to each other just in time and of course, bearing an armful of great gifts for one another. Does that ever happen in real life? If not, it should, but better yet it should happen all year long!

I applaud anyone who generously give of themselves, but necessarily through monetary means at Christmas. I applaud those who see a need to keep the romance and passion alive in a relationship because the person they love is still worth that kind of effort. I applaud those fortunate families who manage to celebrate Christmas together each year not from obligation or duty, but because they love one another. If you really want to get into the spirit of the season and adhere to the philosophy that "it’s better to give than to receive", then do something that might really make a difference in someone’s life.

If you know someone who is alone or doesn’t appear overflowing with a festive spirit, take the time to be that person's friend. Sometimes all it takes is a kind word or some small deed to make a person believe they too are worthy of love and happiness during the holidays. Extend an invitation, give an anonymous gift or just act like you sincerely understand and care about someone in need. Alienating that "grinch" is the worst thing that can happen to that person. They may appear to want to be left alone, but underneath that gruff exterior lies a person needing a visit from a real Santa Claus. It's really quite simple! Give yourself the best Christmas gift you can ever receive by paying it forward this Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

DEAR SANTA

I’ve been fairly horrible this year, but not as bad as I have been in years past. In lieu of my ever improving behavior I thought I’d give you my Christmas list in hopes you’ll find something special just for me this year.

1. World peace (Okay, I know I always include this one, but you can’t blame me for hoping.)

2. A new 8-Ball (It seems mine isn't working properly. It keeps giving me all the wrong answers and everyone else the right ones.)

3. The drive to finally finish writing my book or bring a creative co-author to help me finish it. (Santa, how are your writing skills? You're free 364 days a year!)

4. Could whatever you bring me be made in America and not in China? (I'm not a racist, I'm just concerned about the U.S. economy)

5. Most of all I'd like Santa to have the night off...Happy Holidays, Santa! (Kick back and enjoy! You deserve it, big guy. I think we all receive enough and it's our turn to give!)

Always naughty, but nice,

Mildred Ratched

Sunday, December 11, 2011

COUNTING MY BLESSINGS

I'm sure all of you who visit here have noticed over the last month or so I seem to have been blessed with someone who feels the need to attack me and my subject matter. I have to admit I really don't understand this person's need to go where he's obviously unwelcome, to judge me so harshly and unfairly and to write such cruel, antagonistic things. Usually I'm quick to stand up for myself, but right now I honestly don't feel the need to defend myself or to try to set the record straight because his accusations are so bizarre that they don't merit a rebuttal on my part. I do, however want to thank the people who came to my defense and who continue to give me their unconditional compassion and support.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

WHEN THE COLD WIND BLOWS

Dragging myself out of bed each day seems to be getting more difficult. If it weren't for my dogs needing to go out first thing in the morning, I probably wouldn't even roll out of bed at all. Then on top of what seems to be an inevitable decline, this damn slow moving cold front is killing me. Is anyone else out there physically affected by the weather? It seems like every spot in my body that already hurts is amplified by ten. Yes, I've been to the doctor (many times) and yes, I was referred to a pain specialist who told me that because I have so many areas of pain throughout my body, he's very limited in what he can do to help me. His main concern at the moment is the neuropathy in my lower legs and feet.

Each time I go to a doctor and I'm told something I'm not prepared to hear, it immediately transports me into a surreal setting where I emotionally shutdown. I did exactly that when I was told I have liver disease. How the hell did that happen? With all the alcoholism that runs rampant in my family, I, the person who doesn't drink, am the lucky recipient of liver disease. Isn't that special? Now, I'm told that I'm at a high risk for falls. Wait a minute! I'm 50 something and I'm at a high risk for falls??? That can't be right! Okay, so I'm a trooper. I will snap back and deal with all of this, but the next day after learning that my neuropathy has gotten a lot worse, I get the results of my last blood tests in the mail with a note from my doctor attached. He wanted me to contact him regarding how I want to handle this new problem. Is being put out to pasture an option? How about one last grand brouhaha in the style in which I am accustomed? Is laying on a beach and soaking up the rays in some tropical location while being brought fruity concoctions to drink by some buff cabana boy an option?

My previous lab results revealed my A1C had gone down. Although my number still wasn't quite where it needed to be, it was a definite step in the right direction. It made me feel as if I had really accomplished something. Now, as I sat reading my most current results all I could do is shake my head. My A1C has risen higher than it's ever been. My mind started to scramble and I felt immediately overwhelmed. Many things started running through my head, but the one thought that has stuck with me is regarding the role my liver plays in my diabetes. Since I have a diseased liver and glucose is secreted into the bloodstream via the liver, could it be possible that my dysfunctional liver is the culprit of my higher numbers? I suppose I'll run my theory by my doctor when I see him again in a couple of weeks and hopefully, he won't give me the "I know you sit around eating bags of cookies and swilling Coke all day" look. Hopefully, he can suggest a replacement medication for the one my insurance refuses to cover because it's too expensive. Perhaps going from 3 diabetic drugs down to 2 daily caused the drastic increase in my A1C. And perhaps my insurance company is trying to kill me so they won't have to pay anymore claims! Honestly, sometimes I feel like I'm part of some sick, sadist Catch 22 with no way out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

THE FROG WHO SNUBBED ME

The problem of unrequited love is an ageless and timeless one and unfortunately, one that has no easy or painless solution. No matter how we look at the situation, when we love and that love goes unnoticed and unreciprocated it has a negative effect upon us. We question our self-worth and ask why that person doesn’t love us in return. The answer may be as simple as the lack of chemistry or as complicated as the other person’s inability to experience true intimacy. I think each of us needs to ask ourselves why we internalize rejection when it comes our way. Why do we always allow it to be our fault? Why do we blame ourselves and feel as if we aren’t good enough?

I think people need to adopt the attitude that the object of our unrequited affection is no more than an imbecile and thus, incapable of seeing past their own nose. I say we start believing that we were too good for them and thus, that person is not really worthy of our love and affection. I say that fate knew what it was doing and whatever wasn’t meant to be was just a huge red flag that destiny has sent our way saying "Hey, I’m doing you a favor here!!! Get over it and go find someone who can and will make you happy!" You see, instead of allowing these turmultuous episodes chip away at our self-worth and self-esteem, I say we start using them as a way to stroke our own ego and to love ourselves.

Unrequited love appears to have the "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" quality to it. And isn’t it always told to us that we want most those things that we can’t have? Those highly coveted things always have a mystical, unobtainable quality to them that elevate them above the ordinary drama of everyday life and in a category all to themselves. Sometimes the pedestal we put that special someone on gets so lofty and out of reach that having a relationship with that person becomes something that is no longer humanly possible. The iconic part of this whole rejection process is that in the majority of cases that pedestal is undeserved and sitting high atop it on a gilded throne is not a prince or princess, but an all too common, insensitive, selfish, slimy pond-swimming frog.

Monday, December 05, 2011

SILENT FIGHT

Everywhere I look I see angry or depressed faces. It seems that over the years the child-like joy that accompanies Christmas gradually turns into frustration and despair. I think everyone knows Murphy's Laws are always on steroids during the month of December. We learn to expect the unexpected as our major appliances and cars have nervous breakdowns during the holiday season or some other major unforeseen expense rears its ugly head. Then add the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to an already crappy mood and what do you have? A grinch in training, of course!

Does growing up and seeing Christmas no longer through the eyes of a child, but through the eyes of a frustrated shopper with limited funds turn the spirit of the season into dread? Does past memories of perhaps a death in the family or a break up taint the holiday season forever? Outwardly, we decorate and act festive, but what do we really feel on the inside? Is Christmas just a well disguised glittery nightmare or a merchant’s dream come true? Where does the true spirit of Christmas reside? In the church? In the home? In the heart? And when it’s found or if it's found, why doesn't it last all year long?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

MY HERO

"Wimpy Daughter" aka Christina was given an assignment to write a paper about her hero for one of her college classes 7 years ago. The following is the paper she wrote:

By definition a hero is somebody who is admired and looked up to for outstanding qualities or achievements, somebody who commits acts of remarkable bravery or who has shown great courage, strength of character or another admirable quality. I find all these traits in my hero. "Try to picture a person who stands apart from the crowd who sees things not in black or white, but in varying shades of gray. Try to picture a person who closes their eyes and hears the beat of a different drummer, then marches proudly and eagerly away to do their own thing regardless of the consequences or popular opinion. Try to picture a person who is not a polished gem, but a diamond in the rough...someone who believes true beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and that the best things in life are free." (an excerpt from blogsite, Abnormally Normal People written by Mildred Ratched) When I picture this person, I see my mother and she is my hero.

Ever since I was little, I always knew my mother was different. It was not until I grew up that I later could appreciate the “difference” in her versus the stereotypical normal mother everyone else seemed to have. My mother raised us to be leaders not followers, to chart our own destiny and to be no one’s fool. This was daunting to a young child whose only desire was to fit in and have what everyone else had, a normal mom. My mother always taught my two brothers and me that the mind was a wonderful thing and we should use it. As far back as I can remember, probably to when I was three, I was told, “you are a smart person, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Now I realize that all mothers will tell their children that, but most would not have done what she did. She let us use those brains instead of thinking for us. She told us that God gave us a brain and to use it, if we made a mistake or got into trouble we were to use our brain and figure out a solution. We had to, she was not going to suffer our foolishness and molly coddle any of us. Does this make her different? At the time I certainly thought so. When all my friends bragged about their parents giving them the answers to homework problems, kids picking on us at school or about how so and so parents was screaming at someone about their child’s actions my mother sat back and said to us, “You figure it out.” How I hated that, I wanted normal so bad and I didn’t have it, but it taught us to use those brains and boy did we figure it out.

Normalcy was not ever in abundance with my mother. Living in an area where racial slurs were the norm, my mother taught us to respect everyone equally as a human being regardless of skin color. She taught us to look beneath the surface of a person’s outer skin and find the true essence of who that person really was. I never knew what racial discrimination was until I became an adult and heard it. It was shocking to realize that the person making those remarks was so narrow minded. I guess witnessing such narrow mindedness opened my eyes to the fact that once again my mother defied what was normal and instead of seeing things in the standard black and white, she saw those gray areas. I never realized as I was growing up that she taught us from those gray matters more than from the black and white. As a young child I was allowed to watch what I wanted to on television. Most parents shudder to think what a child would choose, not my mother; she just sat back and allowed us to make those choices on our own. Instead of choosing stupidly we chose wisely and by doing so were taught a valuable lesson, the reward system. If you show that I can trust you, I will extend your freedom, but if you mess up you lose that freedom. I can honestly say our freedom wasn’t yanked away very often.

My mother will never be a polished gem; she will always be a diamond in the rough. Like an uncut diamond she has many flaws that I once saw as imperfections and now badges of courage, lack of selfishness and a kindness that is so overwhelmingly generous. I was taught it is better to give than to receive and always thought, "you’ve got to be kidding, right? You can’t really believe that bull!" But time and time again, we learned through her actions she meant just that. Her kindness and generosity to family as well as strangers will linger forever in my mind. What I saw as a weakness in character, thinking she was being taken advantage of, was an error on my part. You can only be taken advantage of if you let someone do so and she never allowed that. She showed strength in choosing to help those in need instead of doing the easier thing and ignoring them. She did without when others needed because she felt they needed more than she did. She didn’t just talk to us about these things, we saw her doing them time and time again. My mother taught us about the beauty found in the art of giving, the courage to love when you wanted to hate, to be strong when you wanted to be weak and to have the strength to go on when you feel that you are failing.

My mother has not lived an easy life. The choices she has made are choices she has to bear, but bear them she does. Sometimes in frustration, in wishing she had done different, sometimes with laughter as she recalls a happy moment, but however she does it, she always bears them with honesty. She explains, not lectures, about her mistakes she has made along the way, in hopes that we will not have to go through the same things. I don’t look at them as mistakes though, because without the things she has witnessed and gone through herself, she would not be the person she is today and that person is my hero.
















Wimpy Daughter and Mildred Ratched (1996)

Monday, November 28, 2011

BEHIND BROWN EYES

Somedays I have to remind myself that being alone is okay. Others days I know being alone is better than being with the wrong person...or the right person at the wrong time. Sometimes I feel compelled to say out loud that "finding home" or my center of gravity isn’t anything I can discover externally. This quest is all about me and no one else. I've had a void in my life for so long that I’ve come to accept it as being as much a part of me as are my long legs. Every now and then I throw myself into the abyss of relationship uncertainty and drama. Each time I explore it, what I find is the same old thing. That brick wall never gets easier to run into no matter how many times I do it. The inner peace and happiness I’m lacking is not in someone else nor is it somewhere else. I know that happiness lives within and radiates outward. The missing factors in my life are factors that left me at an very early age. The void I feel I often times think is simply the childhood I never had and will never have. How do I fill that void? I often wonder who I would have been if I had grown up in a family where love was not a painful thing or if I had never left home as a young teenager. Would I have perished or would I have survived? Could I have thrived? Would I have learned to stand and fight instead of running away? Would I have learned how to ride something out from beginning to end? Would I have ever known the taste of sweet success? And would I have learned how to love myself without this path I chose? Can anyone really answer those questions with absolute certainty? I certainly can't!

Sometimes nostalgia floods my thoughts along with thoughts of "what if". What if I just stopped running into that brick wall time after time? The last time I made that mistake was several years ago. I allowed myself to once again believe that loving someone could change my life. Silly me! I really did know better than that, but foolishly got caught up in flood of feel good moments. I let how I felt when I was with this person grow into believing that love conquers all obstacles. What I forgot was that unreciprocated love and one-sided relationships conquer nothing. From my track record, one could assume that I’m everything from a glutton for punishment to being just plain stupid where love is concerned. In reality, I’m neither. In reality, my interest in finding that special someone has waned drastically to being almost non-existent. Now finding home has become more of a quest for inner strength as I deal with my declining health.

As I've developed several health problems and often times feel as if I'm quite literally falling apart, I find myself less interested in the whole relationship scene. The memory of my last cruise on the Love Boat still haunts me. My entire worth was measured in terms of my physical performance or should I say my lack of physical performance? How could I have been so wrong once again about someone who had captured my heart? I remember feeling crushed, disappointed and unworthy. But unworthy of what? Of not being able to do something I’ve never been exposed to doing before or ever attempted to do before this person came into my life? Would anyone be able to climb a high mountain on first try without climbing the small ones first? I now believe by letting this fish go without a fight, it was I who lost nothing. In my quest of finding home, I found where home isn’t and was reminded that being alone is okay.

SLOW DOWN! YOU'RE MOVING TOO FAST

Holidays are usually hell on anyone who suffers from any chronic ailment. We do way too much, eat all the wrong foods and as a result of pushing ourselves past our normal limits, we don't get the proper amount of rest/care our bodies need. With that said, my ass is still dragging today, so this post will end with something that makes me feel good. This photo is by Wimpy Daughter of my Shih Tzu, Fenway. It's the real hair of the dog that bite me (with love). Thank you Wimpy Daughter for capturing all our furry family in photos so we can always cherish them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

TO ALL WHO VISIT MILDRED

I hope your Thanksgiving was spent with all those people you hold closest in your heart whether they actually had a seat at your table or were with you in spirit only. I hope the food you ate put you in the sweetest turkey-induced coma you've ever had and that when you came back for round two, there was at least one piece of your favorite pie left with your name on it. I'm truly thankful for each of you who visit here whether it's frequently or just every now and then. I appreciate the time you take to read what I write and to share your thoughts, opinions and feelings with me and others. The bond people develop as a results of blogging is a unique one and one that I feel honored to have been part of since 2004. Yes, people do come and go, but those diehards like myself seem to seek out other diehards and together we somehow become a family with skeletons that rattle, joyous memories to share and sometimes tears to cry and rage to feel.

In my biological family, I always eat a turkey wing in memory of my great aunt Leah who passed away many years ago and one for myself. I know there's not much meat on them, but I've been eating them since I was a kid. The only time I would have to share was when Aunt Leah joined us for dinner. So each Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always announce at the table that I'm eating this wing for Aunt Leah. The other (the more tasty one, of course) is mine to savor! I started wondering today who would carry on that tradition when I'm no longer here. Who will remember me and Aunt Leah? Who will tell funny little stories about us and feel a tug in their heart?

Last, before I go out shopping in the madness of Black Friday (I can't believe I'm doing it), Wimpy Daughter insisted on putting purple streaks in my hair yesterday. I guess this must have been in celebration of the turkey fairy finally bringing her the red boots she had wanted.
Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of "life" surrounds you

I think I smell a new Thanksgiving tradition in the making...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

This is what happens when birds of a feather flock together and become part of the herd. Okay, all you turkeys, let's get our "MOOOOO" on and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST

My memories of Christmas don’t involve lavish gifts or miracles. No, Christmas during my younger years wasn’t like that at all. Although I must admit I don’t remember ever wanting something and not getting it eventually. My children would (in unison) tell anyone that ideology and practice is called "delayed gratification" and delayed gratification builds character. My memories of Christmas as a child have more to do with the simple things and of the people who touched my life each Christmas season.

As a young child our tree always seemed so huge, but thinking back on it now, the tree was probably no better or bigger than any "Charlie Brown" type tree. If memory serves me correct, my father used to go out into the woods and cut our tree each year. My mother would probably have a different memory of that occasion and tell me he was too drunk to do that. Regardless of whose memory is correct, each year we did have a tree from the woods of Maine and the tree was amazing! Maybe the elves brought it! Who knows? What I remember most about the tree is how my cats loved it. The ornaments seemed to give them endless joy throughout the Christmas season. The one ornament I remember clearest were ones made of tiny pinecones and painted white. Somehow they were fashioned into looking like birds. Needless to say, the cats found them along with everything else hanging from the tree fair game and put there for their amusement. After all isn’t a Christmas tree just a giant green cat toy?

I was a quick understudy as a child. My brothers taught me if a string was pulled across the gifts very slowly, the cats would "accidentally" tear open the wrapping paper just enough for a peek inside. Of course, we were always warned not to do that, but mysteriously each year the gifts almost looked shredded by the time Christmas would come along. Those pesky cats were so naughty at times!

Some winters would be barren right up until Christmas Eve and then miraculously come Christmas morning everything would be dusted with snow. The new fallen snow added to the spirit of the season and the anticipation of getting outside after being penned up in the house was almost unbearable. New snow meant sledding and snowball fights!

While at Barnes and Noble recently I saw a Christmas card that was so "me". The only reason I didn’t get it was because I didn’t like the verse written inside. I usually go for some "beachy" Christmas scene to send to all my friends and relatives up North, but this year I opted for a cute kitty card. The card at Barnes and Noble that I saw made me think of my misspent youth. The picture was a black and white shot of a little boy bundled up in winter clothing standing next to a metal pole (most likely a flagpole) with his tongue stuck to the pole. I can’t remember how many times as a child I used to do the same thing. Why? Just because I could and probably because I was told not to do it. Guess what? I still have my entire tongue!

Each Christmas morning after unwrapping our gifts, my brothers and I would clean up the mess while my mother cooked a meal fit for royalty. One year my mother told my brothers that when I stopped believing in Santa, we would start opening our gifts on Christmas Eve so that the house wouldn’t be such a mess the next day. Let me end this entry by sharing that at the ripe old age of 5, I opened my gifts on Christmas Eve and have been doing so ever since. You see, my family is so good every year that Santa puts my family at the very top of his delivery list.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

Originally written and posted December 13, 2004:

As we sat eating dinner at a very busy restaurant before taking the children to see Christmas lights, everywhere around us there were families and couples. Before I knew it, my daughter was crying. She silently wept as I tended to the children. She tried to hide her tears so no one would notice. The holidays are hard enough to manage under normal circumstances, but when a person has a broken heart, Christmas becomes a cruel ordeal. A well-dressed Afro-American woman walked towards us and stopped. She leaned in close to my daughter and told her that she had been sitting across the restaurant and had noticed the distress she felt. The kind lady shared a personal experience with my daughter in support of my daughter’s sadness and left by telling her that she would find the answer she needed most. A few minutes later I turned to see where the lady was sitting, but after not finding her, I assumed she had finished eating and left the restaurant.

We drove to St. Anne’s, a local Catholic church known for its Christmas light display. The children raced around the grounds full of excitement in anticipation of Christmas. The cool night air had chilled our faces, so we were glad when we entered the church. Inside was magnificently decorated. The spirit of Christmas lived within the church as the chorus sang various Christmas hymns. The children (three of the four with us were Muslims) asked me a million questions about the church and as I ushered them through the church, I noticed my daughter had knelt to pray. Although we are not religious, seeing her kneeling in prayer didn’t surprise me. I slid into the pew next to her and the children followed me. As my daughter looked up from praying, standing across the church from us was the same woman from the restaurant standing there smiling at my daughter. By the time we made our way across the crowded church to once again speak to her, she was gone.

Later that night, my daughter told me that when she knelt to pray, she told "God" that she didn’t know what to say. She said that her inner voice told her to ask for the courage to accept things she could not change. I smiled at her and told her that what she was saying was the serenity prayer commonly recited at 12 step meetings. She blankly looked at me, so I went to the Internet, found the prayer and printed her a copy. She read it and then told me that was basically what had gone through her head.

The tears came again and she asked, "Mom, that lady was real, wasn’t she?" I thought for a moment and told her that I had seen her also, so she must have been real. My daughter was deeply touched by the act of kindness a stranger had shown her and we both knew that the true spirit of Christmas was alive. That lady forever more has been referred to as my daughter’s "black angel". She now keeps a statue of a little black angel on her bookcase as a reminder that she did find the answer that night in the following words:
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."

Monday, November 21, 2011

A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Because I don't have anything else right now (I'm still not feeling well)...

Three alcohol-related bumper stickers that says it all:

1. A "4" and a six-pack make a "10".
2. Don't drink and park, accidents cause people.
3. Cab fare is cheaper than a DUI.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MY SECRET ADMIRER

After moving away from Pensacola to get a "clean" start someplace else, I took the summer to get my head together and to figure out what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. One day while my children and I were at a secluded spot on St. Joe Beach, I spotted a man walking towards us in the shallow surf. He had long dark hair and dark, piercing eyes. Tanned and shirtless, he effortlessly navigated his way through the shallow surf. As he approached, I saw he was dragging something behind him on a line. My kids got excited when they saw all the fish he had caught. He stopped so they could investigate his catch. As they frolicked in the water playing with his fish, he sat on the beach making smalltalk with me. As he eyed my lean, well-oiled body, I kept expecting him to make his move, but that never happened. When he left I watched him walk away until he was no longer in sight. It wasn't until that moment, I realized we hadn't even exchanged names.

It was just a random meeting that meant nothing, but it remained stuck in my head for some reason. Who was that mystery man? Each day, we went back to the same spot, but I never saw him again. It really was just a brief meaningless encounter. By the end of summer, the trips to that secluded spot on the beach came to an end with the start of school. I also had taken a job at a local motel on Mexico Beach and worked my way very quickly from maid into the general manager's position. The owner, who was more than burnt out seemed eager to relinquish her duties to someone capable and willing to be manager so she could do other more important things like shop until she dropped and visit her daughter in Tallahassee a few hours away. As my life settled into the sterile reality of life without drugs, I seemed to work more and more until my life was filled with little else.

One morning Robin (one of the maids) raced into the office to clock in before going to work. Before leaving, she turned and quickly told me I had a secret admirer almost as an afterthought. As she stood there waiting for me to respond, I noticed she had one of those "oh girl, you're gonna get it" smiles on her face. I looked up from the desk and coyly told her that I accept roses from all my secret admirers. What else could I say? The idea of having a secret admirer seemed ludicrous, but the very next day, a dozen long stem red roses were delivered to the motel with a card saying "I accept candlelit dinners!" I immediately looked around to see who was watching me. Was I on Candid Camera? I even wondered if one of the guests might have sent them.

At first it felt creepy, but as I looked at the roses throughout the day I felt flattered and wondered what the man was like who had sent them to me. Curiosity got the better of me and by the end of the day being manager was at the bottom of my list of priorities. I had a new mission. I needed to meet my secret admirer. When Carol and Robin (mother and daughter) came to work the next day, I cornered them for details, but all they would tell me was that my secret admirer was a house guest of theirs from New York. He was family friend who was visiting and who had made some very typically male comments about me when he saw me a few times when he had dropped them off at work. I saw my interrogation wasn't going to net me any real information, so I was going to have to keep my eye out for this man, so I could discreetly check him out for myself. When I got home that evening, there was another dozen roses waiting for me with a card saying "Well?".

I hardly slept that night wondering what thoughts were going through this man's head and what he wanted from me. I figured I knew what he wanted, but I guess what I really wondered was where all of this was heading. I had never played cat and mouse quite like this before and wondered if this was how it's done in New York. If so, maybe Florida wasn't where I needed to be! The next morning as I got ready for work, my thoughts were still on him...whoever he was. Should I meet him? If so, how should I meet him? Where should I meet him? When I went outside to leave, my car wouldn't start. Carol and Robin only lived a few blocks from me, so I called and asked if I could hitch a ride to work with them. Robin told me she'd be there in a few minutes to pick me up. A few minutes later, a car I had never seen before pulled into my driveway and sat idling by my backdoor, but no one got out!

All of a sudden it hit me who was sitting in the car. My secret admirer had come to give me a ride to work! As calmly as I possible could, I walked towards the car and then hesitated before opening the door. As soon as I opened the door and slid into the front seat, this mystery man, my secret admirer wearing a huge smile on his face, asked me where I wanted to go. To my utter dismay, it was the fisherman I had met on the beach four months earlier.

I asked him to drive me to the store before going to work if he didn't mind. He howled like a wolf in response. I laughed and thought I must be even crazier then he was to be in his car with him, a complete stranger. I made it to work in one piece and without me asking, he was there to give me a ride home. He asked if he could look at my car, so I felt obligated to cook him dinner...no candles, but a meal that definitely started the ball rolling. For the next few days while my car was being repaired, he told me to use his car. Each day when I returned home, I fixed dinner and we seemed to fall into an easy way of doing things that felt right. He howled a lot and I laughed at him for doing it. And in those first few days, we had some of the most mind numbing sex I have ever had in my life. If nothing else, for me that definitely sealed the deal. Over and over again I asked myself, "Who is this mystery man?" And what did he really want from me? A few years later when the truth finally surfaced like it usually does if you wait long enough, I found out he had removed my distributor cap in the middle of the night to disable my car from starting. Our meeting from start to finish was just another one of his elaborate manipulations.

When he let me borrow his car while he worked on mine, I discovered that he had a duffel bag full of laundry in his car that had somehow gotten wet. I asked him if he wanted me to wash and dry it before it mildewed and got ruined. He thanked me and said yes. When I had finished washing, drying and folding all his laundry, I asked him where he wanted me to put it. At that point, it seemed like a logical thing to ask since he hadn't left my house since the day I met him. He told me to put his stuff wherever I wanted to put it. I hesitated for only a second or two before walking into my bedroom and putting all his freshly laundered clothes away in the extra dresser I had in my bedroom. That decision started a 5 year relationship in which I learned that Italians and Irishmen are a fiery combination and one that would have been better suited by putting his clothes back in his duffel bag and sending him on his way. And as many times as I should have done exactly that, I rode it out for 5 years until I was just a broken shell of a person and all I had left was my very bruised survival instinct. That bruised instinct was what finally saved me from my nemesis and secret admirer, the Anti-Christ.

HOW A NIGHTMARE BEGINS

When I stopped doing drugs at the grand, old age of 30, it felt like I had already lived a long, action-packed life. The absence of drugs left a huge void in my life because drugs touch every aspect of everything. They seep down into every nook and cranny until they consume the entire person. I scrambled in many ways to fill that void without even realizing what I was doing. I replaced drugs first by becoming a workaholic (a nice, respectable addiction), but worse, I replaced drugs by having a relationship with someone I later nicknamed "the Anti-Christ".

I think I knew from the start Sal was bad news. At first, it was just a vague, nagging feeling, a twinge tinkling my survival instinct, an ignored hunch. The more I found out about him the less I really knew. The more I found out, the more unsettling the question marks became. Most people starting a relationship open up and bare their souls to each other. With Sal, what information he revealed was selective and seemed more like hearsay than fact. I always wondered if the tidbits he threw my way was done to test the waters to see how much "truth" I could handle and if I could be trusted with that "truth". The drug culture molded a warped sense of who to trust and distorted my sense of loyalty to the point of having no regard for my own or my children's safety. I was a ripe candidate for anything Sal wanted to toss my way.

Right from the start Sal become my new drug of choice. I've always liked bad boys, but Sal wasn't a typical fun-loving, bad boy. He had an air of mystery surrounding him. He was dark and brooding. I jokingly claimed it was because he was Italian and from New York, but that joke stopped being funny over time. I soon stopped asking questions because I sensed the truth might have be something better left unexplored. There was something about him that scared me, yet drew me closer to him. I felt like a moth being drawn to a flame.

Soon after we started living together, I suggested that he move his belongings from the storage unit he had been renting into the two empty rooms I had off my enclosed carport. I couldn't see him continuing to pay for monthly storage when I had plenty of space available. Soon after my suggestion, he began moving all his worldly possessions which had been neatly packed into various size boxes to their new home. Before long he had completely filled one room from floor to ceiling leaving barely enough room to open the door. During one of the many trips to his storage unit, he brought a fabulous sound system inside the house and hooked it up in the living room. I immediately jumped at the chance of listening to some "real' music. I put Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" on and cranked up the volume. The house vibrated with "I want my MTV..." It was then, I realized just how little he and I had in common. He looked positively mortified by my choice of music. I suppose a little country something something would have been more to his liking, but that was never going to happen on my watch. Not in this lifetime!

A few days later the sound system was abruptly removed from the house. Sal announced it was "hot" and that he had been tipped off that the police were on their way to arrest him. I didn't have time to question him. I just lapsed into disbelief as the police served me with a search warrant and they went through my house. Although what they were hoping to find was no longer on the premises, they still arrested Sal. He was brought to Bay County Jail about 30 miles away. If I had been smart, that would have been the end of the story, but for me it was only beginning. For me, I eagerly jumped at the chance to play the dutiful woman whose old man got dragged off to jail. Oh, the tangled webs we weave!

A few days later, I was contacted by family services with a complaint of alleged child abuse. WTF? Child abuse? Seriously? A representative of the State was going to come to my house to question me and investigate the complaint. This whole thing was beginning to feel like a nightmare and as if I was being set up to be railroaded out of town. Instead of waking up and seeing the writing on the walls all around me, the constant upheaval and drama fed a sick need in me. Instead of running for cover, it made me dig my heels in and revive my old "I'll show them" attitude. But what was I really going to show "them" and who was going to be my audience?

When the agent came to my house, I first had to bring her on a tour of each room. I showed her that we had food to eat and where my children slept and played. Special attention was paid to each bedroom. When the agent questioned me about the sleeping arrangements for each of my three children, I began to realize that the complaint had originated from the deputies who had been there a few days earlier. I had been in the process of painting my sons' bedroom at the time, so the room was completely torn apart. I had made them a "bed" on the floor in my room with sleeping bags while the paint dried and the fumes dissipated in their bedroom. I tried to make it fun by pretending we were having a "camp out".

When I realized a faulty judgment had been made by the deputies without ever being questioned, I became furious. Unfortunately, we are often times judged by the company we keep and until we love ourselves and our families enough to step away from harm's way, bad things will keep on happening. Our lives will be in a continual downward spiral. When I could finally speak without totally flipping out, I asked the agent if putting my children to bed in a room with strong paint fumes would have been more acceptable to the deputies. The complaint was found to be unsubstantiated and was dropped immediately, but the memory of feeling violated stuck with me for a long time. Why the same feeling of being violated didn't occur in the early stages of "the Anti-Christ" era still troubles me. I had all the facts staring me in the face and I chose to give my heart to someone who had nothing to give me in return. Like a drug, Sal started with euphoria, but quickly turned into agonizing pain from which there was no escape.

Friday, November 18, 2011

TO KAREN FROM KAREN

There are few absolutes in life. With the exception of birth, death and taxes everything else falls in a hazy gray area subject to loopholes, pitfalls and mediocrity. There is however one other thing I can say with 100% certainty about my life in general. No one should ever use my life as a model for sobriety. The road I've walked to get here has been an exhausting one. I did everything the Mildred Ratched method instead of doing them in a way that would have been faster, easier and with better results. Never being able to completely surrender has always been a huge problem for me. My inability to learn by other people's mistakes and having to do everything the hard way isn't due to any genetic mule-like tendency. My real problem stems from lack of trust.

When a person is damaged at a young age, they spend their entire life either trying to heal or trying to run away... or both. Their futile attempts of trying to gain normalcy is like some slow emotional death sentence. Somehow they manage to prove ourselves right time after time by the unhealthy relationships they form and the tangled, drama-filled situations in which they become involved. The outcome is always the same...disaster, disappointment and despair. Throughout life I have learned how to skillfully navigate through failure, but never have learned the proper keys to success.

As long as I manage to remove drama and negativity from my life, I'm able to stay afloat. As long as I isolate myself from having any intimate relationships involving love and sex, my thinking stays relatively unclouded. As long as I have virtually no life, I can live drug free. So what! So what if I can say "Hey, look at me. I stopped doing drugs!" My life absent of drugs is far from what anyone would call a life. Every fiber in me screams at anyone looking at my life for answers to look elsewhere. Anyone looking at me needs to quickly come to the conclusion that they need to do things the right way and not the Mildred Ratched method. They need to find a way to let go and trust others. They need to stick with it and know anything good in life requires great patience and extreme effort.

So here I am 50 something years old and I'm wondering when the hell that happened. How have I managed to come so far, but never leave square one? The ugly truth is that I isolate myself just to stay sane, sober and safe. Surely, there could have, should have been some other way to get here, but Miss Mildred Mule picked the path of least resistance. She picked the path where all she had to do was do what she does best...listen to herself and no one else. Trust herself and no one else. In doing so, Mildred picked the path once again of self-destruction. Mildred's addiction without drugs is like a gun. She just keep loading her gun, placing it to her head and firing away. So far, her gun has shot blanks. So far all her gun has done is numb her to its horrors. So far, all her gun has done is kept her from living, from being able to succeed and be happy, from being able to accomplish anything that requires effort, focus and stamina. Pulling that trigger everyday is the easiest thing Mildred has ever done!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS

As I was riding around town with the Wimpy Daughter in her princessmobile, Infiniti after having been thoroughly sated with lunch downtown at The Wine Bar (unfortunately, no wine included) and purchasing a pair of sparkly flats, a pair of black boots and a pair of brown loafers (just because I wanted all three), I made an amazing discovery. No, I didn't discover I have a shoe addiction or that I buy things I don't really need.

I had seen a billboard during the photo shoot Wimpy Daughter and I had the previous Wednesday that I wanted to shoot. By the time we reached the billboard I had three big problems. One, the billboard was located along a busy thoroughfare with no place to pull off for an emergency like this. I thought maybe if the Wimpy Daughter drove slow enough I could just hang out the window and snap the picture, but number two on my list of problems made doing that impossible. After almost 2 months of no rain, the skies finally opened at that precise instance to give way to a torrential downpour. In this case, no, I'm neither sugar nor the Wicked Witch of the West who might melt upon saturation. I'm also not a mogwai who would reproduce with a good soaking. It was simply raining too hard to get a good shot of anything. My third problem became glaring apparent as soon as I discovered the billboard was a digital one which had various advertisements revolving on it every few seconds. My crappy little camera doesn't click, click, click quickly like an expensive camera does (Santa, are you jotting this down?), so I scratched the whole idea of the photo and was disappointed because I had started to compose a blog post in my head to go along with it. Don't you hate it when something doesn't work out the way you had planned?

So it was off to Oh Snap! a few blocks away to get my weekly cupcake fix my daughter allows me to have. Having diabetes is a real pain! While munching on a delicious chocolate cupcake, I discussed with the owner various aspects of the bakery business. In my head, $32/dozen for cupcakes seemed pretty steep and I was trying to get a feel for her overhead to see if that price was justified. The conclusion I formed after getting several facts was that although the cupcakes are truly decadent, they're overpriced. Someone needs to cater to the poor cupcake crowd and give Oh Snap! some competition. Perhaps a nice "ghetto" bakery might be just the thing to have for all the cupcakeless people on the Westside of Pensacola.

As we made our way south on Davis Hwy. after a rather involved shoe shopping session which yielded my 3 pair and my daughter's new pair of boots (an annual Christmas tradition), there it was! The rain had stopped. The sun once again was shining brightly. My daughter quickly pulled over into a parking lot so I could get out and snap the photo I had previously been unable to take. As we continued along Davis Hwy, there it was again, but this time nestled amongst the various "gentlemen" clubs that line that section of Davis Hwy. I immediately laughed and told my daughter that I bet those businesses hated having a syphilis billboard overhead, but since this is after all in the Bible Belt some cheapshots towards the morally corrupt can be expected. All total, we saw 6 billboards wanting people to get tested for syphilis. It became apparent to me what I originally found amusing is actually a serious problem here in Northwest Florida. When I told a friend that evening (who works for a local group of surgeons) about the "epidemic" I had single-handedly discovered, she told me that I was right in the conclusion I formed. What a sobering thought!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HASSELBECK VS MAHER

I've never quite understood how anyone in the public eye can come across as being wounded when they become the material for a some comedian's joke. While all president's are a constant target and sometimes are the brunt of rather tasteless comedic material, they manage to let whatever is said roll off their backs. But people like Sarah Palin and Elizabitch Hasselbeck, seem to suffer from moral indignation whenever their name is mentioned. Most people realize nothing is sacred when it comes to the realm of comedy. What one person finds funny the next person might find offensive. Like most things in life, it's a matter of preference. If you think someone is offensive, turn the channel. It's as simple as that.

In the case of Bill Maher's comment about Elizabitch last February, she finally was able came to her own defense 9 months later when Maher made a guest appearance on The View yesterday. Maybe I'm stupid, but I didn't quite get the point of her making what he said an issue. Does she really thinks Maher supports crimes against women? What I think Elizabitch needs to do is either grow some thicker skin or step out of the spotlight altogether. Better yet, perhaps a show like The View, but on some another network (FOX News) featuring her kindred spirits: Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Christine O'Donnell and Liz Cheney would be a better fit for Elizabitch.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

THE PATHOLOGICAL LIARS CLUB


The Pathological Liars Club is now accepting applications for membership. Please make all inquiries within and state your qualifications for consideration by the prestigious membership committee. Club meetings will be held at the following location:
The Pathological Liars Clubhouse on every 3rd Monday of the month.

WHEN KRIS KRINGLE DOESN'T JINGLE

It's always bothered me when people complain about the usage of the phrase "Happy Holidays". For some reason Christians believe they have the market cornered on the holiday season and everyone should say "Merry Christmas" to each other when in reality 66% of all the people who call Earth their home are not of the Christian faith. Quite simply the list of the world's major religions and their populations looks something like this:

1.Christianity: 2.1 billion
2.Islam: 1.5 billion
3.Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
4.Hinduism: 900 million
5.Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
6.Buddhism: 376 million
7.primal-indigenous: 300 million
8.African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
9.Sikhism: 23 million
10.Juche: 19 million
11.Spiritism: 15 million
12.Judaism: 14 million
13.Baha'i: 7 million
14.Jainism: 4.2 million
15.Shinto: 4 million
16.Cao Dai: 4 million
17.Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
18.Tenrikyo: 2 million
19.Neo-Paganism (Wicca, Magick, Druidism, Asatru, Native American religion and others): 1 million
20.Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
21.Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
22.Scientology: 500 thousand





During the months of November and December which are traditionally viewed as the holiday season, many of these religions have major holidays. For example:

Samhain - Beltane (Wicca/Pagan)
Eid al Adha (Islam)
Guru Nanak Dev Sahib birthday (Sikh)
Birth of Baha'u'llah (Baha'i)
Gkuru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom (Sikh)
Day of Covenant (Baha'i)
Hijra - New Year (Islam)
Ashura (Islam)
Bodhi Day (Buddhism)
Hanukkah (Jewish)
Yule (Wicca/Pagan)
Litha (Wicca/Pagan)
Christmas (Christian)
Zarathosht Diso (Zoroastrian)
Kwanzaa (secular/noneligious)

Since we do live in a melting pot, doesn't it make more sense to say "Happy Holidays" to a stranger out of respect for other cultures and religions than to say "Merry Christmas" to someone who may not celebrate Christmas?

Information gathered from:
adherents.com
infoplease

Monday, November 14, 2011

FOREVER YOUNG

From the time we're small children we're taught that growing old is something to be feared, dreaded and avoided at all costs. Just look at what advertising is geared towards! No wonder so may people go through upheavals as they reach middle age and start to show signs of wear and tear.

Vanity tells us that as our outer beauty fades we become less desirable in many ways. We see the fate of the elderly and know that someday we will sit where they are. As we furiously diet and exercise to stay fit, is our strife solely for health purposes or is it just a feeble attempt to hold onto our vanishing youth a little longer? Are the botox injections, breast implants or cosmetic surgery another step closer to the fountain of youth or something that society pressures us into considering as a desired partner in the aging process to help us through the mid-life vanity crisis?

Should we focus on the outer beauty and struggle to stay youthful or should we concentrate on the inner beauty and wisdom that comes with age? Shouldn’t we be able to know and feel good that within each of us is the same person we were years ago without feeling self-conscious that the physical part changes? I think I’ll stick with the philosophy "aging is inevitable, but growing old is optional…" That way I can just do whatever feels right for me regarding gray hair and wrinkles, but at 35, I have a few more years before I have to worry about my fading youth.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

THE CATERPILLAR NEST

Over the past several days I've been "writing" a blog post in my head. It's difficult to have negative things thrown my way and just turn the other cheek. The more negativity tossed at me, the faster my brain composed the words. I think what inspired me most was a response I got on a previous post titled DOES NATURE SPEAK THE TRUTH? from Adi. My blog post included a couple of butterfly pictures I had taken in Columbus, Ohio two months ago with two quotes about butterflies added to the photos. The quote Adi referenced was by Anton Chekhov.
In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans it is the other way around: a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar.

I think Adi wrote what everyone else was thinking: "Was Anton Chekhov referring to BBC?" [Thank you, Adi]

The mental imagery threw me into a frenzy to find just the right picture to include with my mental blog post. Sadly enough, the picture I liked best was a photo of a nest of caterpillars. I envisoned BBC's "campground" as being like a caterpillar nest...destroying everything that stands in their way. Although comical, it didn't scream "kiss my ass" loud enough, so I filed the last few days under being just another learning experience or just another unpleasant reminder of my MS Spaces days when flamers left their stamp on people's blogs by being lewd, crude and rude and then I let it go.

It stayed in that special place where we store things that aren't really worth addressing until I checked my email late yesterday. I have to admit I was pretty surprised to find the following cartoon sent to me by BBC with no personal commentary attached. I guess being obnoxious is reserved for the masses:


Okay, the poor, old, misguided codger obviously thinks the whole world needs to be packing heat. Yep, that's the way to settle a dispute...blow the head off your adversary and be done with it! No more dispute! Alas, the status quo is instantly restored!

Somewhere in all his divisive ramblings he posted this week, he got confused and made assumptions about me that are grossly inaccurate. He sees the world through narrow eyes that need everyone to think and act as he does or he sees them as being wrong...period...no room for discussion! I don't share his world view. I find that the world would be a pretty bland place if we all were cookie cutter images of each other. I feel people are entitled to their own opinions and lifestyles. If they're different than mine then they're just that...different, but not necessarily wrong. If BBC chooses to run around threatening/bullying people with violence at the drop of a hat in his corner of the world, then that's his choice. Maybe that type of behavior is acceptable and even welcomed where he lives, but where I live people take a different approach. I don't choose to own a gun for protection and/or sport because I have never felt the need to own one, but I do stand in support of anyone's right to bear arms. I find it pretty comical that he can't stand in support of my rights and choices. Do peaceful people threaten him and his way of life that much?

One final point I'd like to make and that's regarding the power of words. Sure, a bullet is swift and final, but words, spoken or written have a much mightier and far-reaching effect. The only thing a bullet can do is destroy whereas words have the power to penetrate in ways a bullet cannot. The old saying "the pen is mightier than the sword"...or gun in this case, is true in the world in which I live. That world still clings to the hope that someday brotherly love will prevail and peace, not violence will eventually fill the hearts of men. Until then, BBC if you're going to post any more comments/opinions on my blog, I'd like to remind you of a comment I wrote earlier:
If at all possible from now on unless you suffer from ADHD or some type of "social" Tourette's Syndrome will you stay on the topic when I post something?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

ARE YOU A SUNFLOWER?



Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower also. He attracts and follows.
-Jean Paul Richter-

THE SISTER I NEVER HAD

Margie came into my life at a turning point. We were still children by society’s standards, but in today’s world we would have been looked at as something a little more. We weren’t small, innocent children, but we far from being experienced adults. We were thrown together during that awkward stage of life when very few things make sense. It was definitely a time of turmoil for both of us, but our friendship blossomed and somehow kept us both afloat. Although we both had “best friends” before, our friendship seemed to transcend the normal boundaries of friendship and crossed over into what I imagined sisterhood might be like.

Together, Margie and I looked like Mutt and Jeff. I was a tall, lanky legged preteen and Margie, a couple years older than me was much more developed. She was short and petite with long, silky, dark brown hair that formed a “V” as it draped down her back. Mine had been cut short because my mother thought the Twiggy look was cute. What I thought at the time was that my mother truly hated me and was trying to sabotage my whole femininity by branding me with a fate worse than death. It only reinforced those feelings of being unwanted. After all, I was supposed to be a boy, wasn't I? And what I ended up looking like was a shapeless preteen boy. It was then I vowed to never have short hair again.

As we spent much of our time contemplating the complexities of the opposite sex and thinking up creative ways to stay in trouble, we rarely opened up and discussed the issues that really held true urgency in our lives. Sometimes, people just can’t find the words for the horrors they’re living. Sometimes just getting through another day was all anyone could do. Yes, some things were certain...the sun was always going to rise, the winters would be extremely cold and Margie was always going to be there for me and I for her.

Oh, but how things can change as life takes its unexpected ups and downs and twists and turns. Not only can friendships change, but so can the ways people protect one another. I was never really a bad kid...spirited maybe and always quick to be the first to do anything. I always was eager to push the boundaries and test the limits of everything. Consequences never seemed to be foremost in my mind. As I grew so did my impaired judgment and my thirst to explore new things. My mischievous pranks gradually morphed into acts with serious outcomes. My friend, my newly found sister didn’t deserve to become another one of my ugly battle scars. I was sure of this. She deserved better. She deserved friends who could be strong and weather the storm with her. I really didn’t know how to protect her from the inevitable...my spiral down the path of addiction.

All it seemed I had to give as my life darkened was pain and disappointment. How could I be a rock when I was quickly stepping towards having a complete emotional shutdown? How could I save her when I no longer had the strength to save myself? When cancer claimed her mother's life, I knew I couldn’t be the person to comfort her. As I look back now, I remember little surrounding that actual event. By then I was gone...completely gone. I had nothing left to give. Would it be cruel to back away? Wouldn’t it be more sister-like to fade away into the oblivion I had found? I could spare her the agony of watching yet another slow demise and so I did. I faded away and Margie, like so many others was left with only nagging questions regarding my disappearance. Margie not only lost her mother, but she lost her closest friend as well. Now, many years later, a lifetime actually, we’ve been reunited. Although our lives took two completely different paths, the closeness we once shared immediately returned. What I discovered was that true friendship does withstand the test of time and distance and of pain and suffering. Just as hope springs eternal, so does true friendship and for that I am truly thankful.

Friday, November 11, 2011

DOES NATURE SPEAK THE TRUTH?


Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
-Nathaniel Hawthorne-



In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans it is the other way around: a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar.
-Anton Chekhov-

WHEN KAREN MET MILDRED

I started this blog as a therapeutic tool. My "yo yo inspector" as I so affectionately called her wanted me to keep a journal. She said she didn't care what I wrote about, but wanted me to end each entry with a gratitude statement. Since I already was a well-seasoned blogger by the time I started therapy, it made sense to me to do my journal in blog form.

I think I need to back up here and go all the way back to the beginning. No, not to my birth, but to when I first started blogging. A few of us were the brave souls who opened MS Spaces back in 2004. At the same time I started a blog there (Abnormally Normal People), I started one here by the same name. The one here was like my vacation home I sadly neglected over the years. Spaces was home to me and I rarely went on vacation. As with most things, Spaces eventually evolved into oblivion forcing most people to either go elsewhere to blog or to call it quits. I moved into my vacation home and changed its name from Abnormally Normal People to Mildred Ratched Memoirs and here I am.

So why was I in therapy? After years of banging my head against the wall in the relationship department because I have zero judgment where love/sex is concerned, I put myself in time out. What was supposed to be a brief period to reflect and to decide what I needed to do differently turned into a 6 year stretch in which I became a hermit or troglodyte (cave-dweller) as I was once called by one of the infamous flamers on Spaces (who will remain nameless for reasons I don't care to revisit). How could a perfectly good saucy tart and once vibrant social butterfly become a hermit? Easily! It's a lot less drama filled and nothing can penetrate the wall of rubber around my heart. You see, I used promiscuity and being sexually uninhibited as weapon before to act as my barrier in relationships and now I have a hermitage that does the same thing without all the freaky entanglements I seemed to always find whenever I went trolling. Now, I've convinced myself that it would be unfair to get involved with anyone due to my physical problems. From where I sit, it appears all I've done is switched excuses to keep me away from the edge from which I constantly teetered. It was an intricate dance I lived and dammit, yes, I miss being on the edge. Now, the edge I'm on involves health concerns and other mundane things and lacks the fun and adventure I miss.

Part of me hates this way of life because like most people, yes, I would like to have a healthy, fulfilling, long-term relationship and since I am smart enough to admit I was/am clueless and needed/need some help I went into therapy. The therapy was actually twofold because not only was I having issues sorting through and making sense of my battered inner child and bruised psyche, I was having a hard time dealing with my mother who is a very healthy 83 year old woman who CHOOSES to do absolutely nothing, but sit in a chair and rock all day 24/7. That's a ongoing struggle and one in which I have finally sought out professional help to see if she can be coaxed back into the land of the living. I have to admit dealing with her sometimes is more than I can bear. I look at her and the transformation she has undergone is truly like aliens abducted my mother and left this hollow pod in her place. Nothing about her now is familiar to me. Okay, I know why I went into time-out, but the big mystery at hand is what sent her into the hermitage. Was she looking for her lost daughter and lost her way? That thought made me smile and for just a second, it made me feel loved, but it's a thought that's sadly a lie. Whatever reason she went there has nothing to do with me.

Recently, I switched medical doctors because I no longer had confidence in the ones who have been treating me. I got tired of having them prescribe drugs to me that people with liver disease shouldn't take. I got tired of their collectively uncoordinated efforts and their passive in and out approach to everything. I'm sorry, but I'm partial to my body parts and would like to keep them if possible. I'm sorry, but I want my doctor to at least fake giving a shit about me. This whole liver disease thing on top of all my other health problems has still got me in a tailspin. I know very little in life is fair, but it really blows my mind that with all the alcoholism that runs rampant in my family, the one who doesn't drink is the one who ends up with liver disease. Each time someone I know passes away from liver failure, it scares the hell out of me. So far, in the past few months that has happened twice. I've always prided myself on being fearless and now that seems to be all I feel. Okay, they say karma is a bitch and maybe all my past "sins" are coming back around to bite me in the ass. Is that really possible? Is that really the way it works? Let's hope not!

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful those those people who know me and love me because of who I am and not who they want me to be or think I should be.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A TREE FOR ROSALIE


Give fools their gold, and knaves their power; let fortune's bubbles rise and fall; who sows a field, or trains a flower, or plants a tree, is more than all.
-John Greenleaf Whittier-

ELECTRONIC CRACKHEADS


The world today really isn’t so much different than when I was younger. Wars happened, natural disasters happened, politics and religion were corrupt, demonstrators marched, our parents didn’t understand us and yes, we even had the wheel and fire way back then. The biggest difference I see is with how the basic building blocks of childhood are developed. What we didn’t have was the kind of electronic “crack” that children today are exposed to 24/7. Children actually played outside from sunrise to sunset exploring their own little corners of the universe and watched television only on Saturday mornings and in the evening before going to bed with the rest of the family on the one and only television in the household located in the livingroom. Children used their imaginations and weren’t dependent solely upon outside stimulus for entertainment. Our minds were our greatest asset, not our gaming system or computer.

In schools, we had physical education, art and music. At home, we rode bicycles, ran, jumped and climbed trees. Some of my fondest memories as a child were of the games we’d organize as a neighborhood. We’d play hide 'n seek, kickball and dodgeball just to name a few. We'd have water balloon fights and snowball fights. My days were filled with interacting with other children and not being stuck off in my bedroom alone with my computer and who knows what! When I see how lazy and unmotivated most children are now, it easily explains the obesity and apathy that runs rampant in the youth of today. Sure, I ate potato chips and drank Coke, but I ate them and worked them off. I didn’t grab a bag of chips and a can of Coke and then barricade myself in my room for the rest of the day only to come out for more food. We only remained inside on those days the weather prevented us from being outside with our friends...and enemies. On those “bad” days we usually read books or played board games with our siblings or with our closest neighbors. The amount of sophistication required now to hold a child's attention is ridiculous, not to mention very costly. No wonder so many of our youth suffer from attention deficit problems.

Is there a solution? Not as long as parents use electronic devices as babysitters. Not as long as parents don’t see the long-term effects of the “crack” their children are given. Not as long as parents stay as unmotivated as their children are and don't take an active roll in their child's upbringing. Try having a “family night” for starters. Turn off the TV and play a board game or go learn to play a sport as a family. Try getting together with the other parents in the neighborhood and organizing “play days” for the young children. Find afterschool activities that require not only social interaction, but also physical activity. I think all children should be challenged to go some extended period of time without having access to televisions, computers and any electronic devices while at home. This isn’t as a punishment, but as a learning experience. We did that on occasion and actually found it to be a welcome break at times and nice to connect with each other on a more personal level. After the whining ceased and the effects of cold turkey withdrawal subsided, my children prevailed and discovered sunlight did not cause spontaneous combustion and social interaction didn't cause some terrible social disease.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

DEAR SANTA


With all the hoopla about Christmas today, I decided to cave in and make a Christmas list. At the top of my list is this house. It has always been my favorite one here in Pensacola. It over looks the bay and I believe I could feel right at home in this lavish monstrosity.