Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Post #7 of 30, If we forget tomorrow existed, which I aim to do...

I’ve decided that considering I felt so rubbish yesterday, I honestly believed that I had posted when I, in fact, hadn’t, yesterday didn’t actually exist, as such. That said I am not guilty of not posting yesterday, because yesterday never happened because the world stops when I am not feeling up to coping with it. In keeping with the honor system of Namblopomo, however, I do have to now content myself with being an honorary member as opposed to a contestant, as such; which sucks, because I was doing so well up until now!! Why the hell do stomach flu’s only take place when other, more important things are going on?

As an honorary member, I will still continue to update this blog on a daily basis, however, any day I do not update this blog is now considered a “non-day”, as opposed to being considered “the day I blew it”.

Today has been a rough day, to say the least. Things went slowly most of the day, which is to say, I spent most of the day feverish and in bed. Unfortunately, things took rather an icky and eventful turn during dinner. We had cold deli salads in an effort to avoid unnecessarily upsetting anyone’s tummy. Apparently, my tummy fails to follow this most important digestive etiquette, because I found myself racing to the toilet halfway through the meal. Guess what? Once I got there, GOOD NEWS, the toilet is plugged up; which means that everything I just deposited in the toilet cascaded down the bowl and swirled delicately about my toes in a sea of toilet water. Even BETTER NEWS, I am a single parent, so guess who cleans up the throw up soup an inch thick on the bathroom floor? If you said ME, you’re getting too good for this game and I can no longer fool you.

I finally managed to clean it all up, and in my sick and delusional state, then saw the remaining vomit in the toilet and couldn’t help but think “someone ought to flush that, really…” which I then did. This, of course, made for round two of the throw up soup/ lake on the upstairs bathroom floor very nicely. I have now spent the last two hours cleaning this off of my bathroom floor…and I’m still posting!! Don’t you folks think you could forgive me yesterday in light of this? Because I really think you should…really.

Anyhow, I’m now dehydrated and weak, so I’m off to the bed to lay down and moan for many minutes and several seconds. Thank you, that is all.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Post #5 of 30, AKA~Still Dreaming, only more concretely so...

Post #5 of 30, AKA: Still Wrestling Incredibly Strong Invisible Bugs

Its 9:30pm, and this is the first I’ve even so much as thought of doing my duty for the month, and spitting out a post of some kind. Frankly, it’s hard as hell to keep posting at the moment. My adorable little one has seen fit to do her part as a member of this loving family, and share her virus. I think it’s hitting me so hard because my immune system is already comprised, what with my medical problems. Whatever it is, it sucks ass.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been throwing up, pooping out everything my bowels ever had a hard time extracting, and walking like a damn drunk due to an inexplicable complete and total loss of my equilibrium. Right now, I feel as though I’m going to lie down and die any moment now. Not to mention the fact I’ve puked up everything I’ve put into my mouth, including medication. How in the hell am I supposed to keep Gravel down if I’m throwing up every five seconds? Fortunately for me, the good people at Gravol thought about this little nugget too, and as a result of their innovative thinking, we now have Ginger Gravol in “Soft Chewable Lozenges”.

I hate being sick. It’s one of those things that I don’t suppose anyone really loves, but I hate it more than anyone else. (I know that because I asked everyone… in the entire world …and they all said I definitely hated being sick more than any of them, so I have proof!!) Because I hate being sick so much that I hid from it all weekend by lounging about in a pair of satin pajama’s, reading things on the computer and sleeping. (Which reminds me: I highly recommend wearing satin pajama’s when you are sick, particularly if you happen to be afflicted with a stomach virus, as the satin slides off the bed smoothly and easily; making it possible to vault out of bed and shoot into the bathroom at speeds you never would have believed possible Despite the obvious disadvantage of being on crutches, I was still able to shoot out of bed and sort of pole vault into the latrine, which I would have thought fabulous if I wasn’t swallowing vomit as quickly as I could as I pole vaulted along in an effort to keep the carpet’s clean…)

The little one seems to be feeling far better, mind you, which makes life a little easier. She magically developed a wee tummy ache and nausea early this evening upon realizing it was, indeed, Sunday night, with a fresh school week commencing bright and early tomorrow morning. Though I suppose I could have offered her Gravol for her troubles, oddly enough, telling her that unless she burst into a giant ball of orange flame, she was damn well going to school tomorrow seemed to work just as well. Puddin’ is currently doing acrobatics on the floor beside me, which is making the entire house shake as though we’re experiencing an earthquake. I often wonder if the neighbors believe I throw her body about when she has these little bursts of energy and leaps about like this… (Though I confess, there are times I want desperately to throw her about when she’s leaping around… it’s enough to drive a saint to distraction!)

I have to admit; lately I’ve been feeling incredibly old. I suppose this is likely a product of having so many medical problems I can easily keep up with the old ladies when they talk about their aches and pains. I’ll be honest and tell you that despite what it looks like, this was never one of my long term goals for life. I know I’m good at being a gimp…hell, I’d even go so far as to say “expert”, but the time has come to discover what else I can do to make use of my many talents.

I’ve actually been giving a lot of thought as to what stage I’m at in my life, and how I would alter that picture if I could. I firmly believe that type of self analysis is important, primarily because, as nutty as it might sound, I completely believe we have the power within us to make virtually all of our dreams come true. More than likely, when you read that, you’re going to ask yourself why it is, if we can make virtually all of our dreams come true, more of us aren’t out there doing just that. The answer is really quite simple; because making dreams come true takes an awful lot of hard work.

I remember when I was about fifteen; I lost a whole bunch of weight. Up until that time, I weighed roughly 180lbs, which at my 5’1” or whatever, made me look as though I was sporting an ass on both the front and back sides of my body. I did this by working out each and every night, watching what I ate, and walking wherever I went; in other words, it was a lot of hard work. About six months afterwards, I happened to be at a church event with my parents, and a lady I used to know when I was grossly overweight approached me and inquired into how I’d managed to lose the weight When I answered her with “working out every night and really watching what I eat”, she seemed disheartened. Why? Because she was looking for an easy answer, something that would achieve the result she desired without requiring any effort or commitment on her part.

I think this is really a rather sad reflection upon our society. Most things in life can now be created in five minutes or less with the use of technology. Nothing really takes great commitment anymore, and because of this, we tend to believe that everything in life should come easily, when that simply can’t, and shouldn’t, be the case. More than that, life can easily become something of a merry-go-round for some folks. They wake up, go to work, make barely enough for their family to survive, and go home. Because their life is so hand to mouth, they don’t dare take steps to change things fearing that they will lose it all if they do.

Making dreams come true is something like losing weight, in that it takes time, commitment and effort, but I do believe it’s entirely possible. That said it’s high time I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I’m going to be taking a good, hard look at that analysis I’m working on, and forcing it into three separate columns: a)things I like about my life today b)things I don’t like about my life today c)if I could wave a magic wand, what would I change about my life today? One of the easiest things for me to isolate when I look at that list is the single parenting thing. I don’t want to be alone anymore; however I’m terrified of bringing the wrong person into my baby’s life. On the other hand, I miss sex so much it hurts, and there are days where I would really love for someone to ask me how my day ways, or compliment me on a meal I cooked them.

Clearly, the thing I would change is my single-ness, and if I could wave a magic wand, I would manufacture a sensitive, loving, compassionate and sexy man who would hold me when I cried, help me when my body hurts, make love so well it would damn near heal me, and be the father little one has always wanted. So, the million dollar question is, how the hell do I get from here, Single Town: Population: me, to there Happily Married Town, Population: fantasy me and fantasy husband? There’s a whole lot of thinking that’s going to have to go into this one, so I’m going to off and get that done. I’ll post what I’ve come up with tomorrow. In the meantime, “Internet”, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on how to meet nice men, and how to ensure that I’m the type of woman that will attract the really nice men, instead of the men who are only nice until they manage to get into your pants and wallet...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Post 4 of 30, AKA: I'm SIIIIICK!!

I have my daughter’s flu bug. I feel like shit, and all I want to do is sleep. This, of course, is what inevitably happens when I do stupid things like signing up to update my blog everyday for a month. Meh.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Post Three of Thirty, AKA: What Dreams May Come?

When I was fifteen years old, I was kicked out of the house and left to bounce around through a total of 26 foster homes. The unstable nature of my life left me skittish, especially given I had no control over whether I was going to stay or go in any one given place. My inability to put down physical roots led me to manufacture emotional ones via my dreams and fantasies. I created myself an imaginary boyfriend who would hold me close on those nights when the dark closed in around me and threatened to pull me in. He was extremely athletic, compassionate, gentle and intelligent. When I didn’t know how to deal with the adult situations my lifestyle demanded, despite my young age, he was always able to lead me in the right direction. Most importantly, no matter what I did, or how I did it, my imaginary boyfriend never gave up on me, never stopped loving me, and seemed to think I was the most beautiful girl he’d ever laid eyes on.

Looking back on it now, I doubt very much if I would be here today if it weren’t for him. That may seem high praise to give to a product of my imagination, but I fear it’s very true. When you’re fifteen years old, have been kicked out of the house, and are now finding that no foster home will keep you more than a couple of months, you can start to feel like the most unloved person on the planet. My imaginary boyfriend prevented that feeling of being unwanted from becoming a primary focus, and it’s possible that in so doing, he actually also saved my life. That’s a formidable feat for a figment of my imagination to accomplish, and I believe it’s also a strong testament to the true power of our dreams.

When we’re children, we believe anything is possible. Ask any little one what they are going to be when they grow up, and you’ll get answers like “famous singer”, “movie star”, and “astronaut.” If you venture into your average University class, however, a place where each and every individual in attendance is supposedly there to pursue their ultimate career goal, you’ll find the answers are far less ambitious. Things like “I’m just tying to get through my internship”, or “If I can manage to turn this paper in on time, I’ll be so sleep deprived, I won’t be able to go into work until late into the 23rd century,” are far more likely to be offered as answers to your question. Why? Because we are taught to kill dreams with “realism”, and in so doing, we forget we ever possessed the ability to really dream in the first place.

I know for myself, I’ve allowed circumstances to convince me some of my most sacred dreams would never be. The truth is, however, that nothing is impossible until you believe it to be impossible. Providing I’m still willing to believe I can make my dreams a reality, the possibility exists that I can absolutely do just that. In order to prove to myself that this theory of mine does hold true, I’m going to spend the next year plus achieving every dream I can make happen. At the end of the year plus, I will pull together a list of all the dreams I made into a reality as my own personal proof that any dream you believe truly is yours to achieve.

And yes, I know it sounds sappy. Sometimes, I need to be sappy. Get over it. Or I’ll come over to your house and beat you up with my dream list.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Post Two of Thirty, AKA: Piles & Piles of Puke

Last night proved to be rather more exciting than I had originally hoped. I was downstairs clearing up before heading to bed for the night when suddenly, a thoroughly unpleasant wet and squelchy sound filled the air. It was a sound all mothers are unwillingly incredibly familiar with, a sound that fills maternal hearts with black dread…the unique splattering noise that can only be produced by a child’s vomit hitting freshly washed floors and walls. I raced up the stairs, laundry and kitchen mess temporarily forgotten. Puddin’ was hunched over the toilet, which provided me with a rather foolish false sense of security in thinking the noise I’d heard was actually vomit hitting porcelain. Striding confidently into the bathroom to aid my ailing princess, I suddenly slipped on something far too warm and chunky to be anything but that which I fear most.

Single parenting only fully reveals its joys when your child falls ill. Not only do you become the sole cleaner of vomit (regardless how many times doing so is going to make you get sick yourself) you are also elected doctor on call, nurse on staff, maid on duty and cook on demand. After spending the entire night awake, rubbing a little one’s back while she empties the last three sips of water she drank into the toilet, you are fully expected to be up with the sun to wait upon your wee patient hand and foot. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my daughter so much it hurts; somehow, however, I can’t muster that same sense of adoration for either her vomit or her diarrhea.

At the end of the day, I phoned the school to discuss with them possible causes for this sudden illness. I don’t really know what made me do it, beyond that Sally and I had been discussing the possibility that it could possibly have been an allergic reaction. Whatever prompted the call, I’m grateful because as it turns out, nearly thirty children experienced the same vomiting/ diarrhea/ fever my little dumpling has. Understandably, this concerned the school to the degree that they contacted the public health authority and had them come down to investigate. Though the officials involved had not yet discerned the cause of the illness at the time I spoke to the school, I was told that my daughter, along with all of the other children currently ill with this, was to be considered under quarantine. The timeframe for the quarantine is to be 48 hours after the last incident of vomiting. At the time, I imagined that would mean she would be released from quarantine on Saturday as she'd last upchucked early this morning. I further assumed I could sneak out of the house for a brief visit and perhaps a vodka orange with my neighbour on Saturday.

In thinking in this manner, I broke one of the fundamental laws of parenthood. You all know the one: Don’t ever make plans based upon your child’s illness, particularly if those plans involve you being able to enjoy yourself after a certain time period. Children hear plans of this nature, and will instantly instruct every molecule within their beings to revolt in order to ensure said plans are duly foiled. This is their job; just as scolding them for inserting their fingers into their nostrils will be forever ours.

I had no sooner envisioned myself sipping my delightful vodka orange on Saturday than I heard a moaning type noise escaping from the upstairs bath. There sat Puddin’, a puke bowl in her lap and her blue eyes enormous as she sat on the toilet looking miserable. “I don’t feel good, Mama.” The words came out in a rush. When, nanoseconds later, projectile vomit landed firmly upon my feet, I understood what those words were fleeing from. The 48 hour countdown has thus begun anew, as has my effort to cast the invasive smell of vomit from our abode. Meanwhile, I am still working on my list of possible reasons for elderly gentlemen to offer me Halloween candy, so keep your guesses coming. (Which I’m really only saying to one person, as she seems to be the only individual reading/responding to any of my posts. Due to my preference for deluding myself into believing I am rich and famous however, Lisa, you henceforth shall be referred to as "all of you." Other names you may go by include “all my loyal fans”, “my dear readers” and “the internet.” Please feel free to alter your driver’s license accordingly.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The November saga...Post 1 of 30

Right, so here we are on November 1st, 2006! Due to the fact I’ve gone completely crazy and signed myself up for NamBloPoMo, I’m posting every day this month even if my arms fall off and I’m forced to type with my teeth. (Yes, I’m well aware that is quite a commitment, and I’m even more aware of the fact that I suck sweaty goat balls {TradeMark:www.dooce.com} at sticking to anything; however I’m determined to turn over a new leaf in life by doing this one thing.)

So, last night was Halloween, and after my rant the other day expressing my hate for all things Halloween, I feel rather guilty and sheepish admitting this but…er…I had a perfectly lovely time. In my defense, the only reason we had such fun was because we opted to go with my best friend and her wee one. Best friends make even the dreariest of chores lighter and filled with a lot more laughter. Thank you, best friend of mine, for redeeming the once hated All Hallows Eve for me; quite simply, you rock my socks.

The evening began with my best friend and her two year old arriving, and us walking them about the area. During this walk-about, something occurred that I’m afraid I’m at a loss to interpret. We arrived at a lovely little house on the corner, and the two little ones went on up the steps to trick or treat their dear hearts out. An elderly gentleman answered the door, cheerfully handed the kids their candy, and then proceeded to get something of a gleam in his eye as he looked over their heads at Sally and I.

“What about that little one down there?” He inquired, smiling at me. Suddenly, I was in rather a predicament. Was this eighty year old man suffering the beginnings of dementia, or did I seriously look as though I was a ten year old dressing up as a disabled mother?

“Oh, I’m a mother…” I stammered. “I don’t need any thing…” At this point, I honestly didn’t know whether to be flattered or offended. In either case, the man in front of me was eighty,so I felt uncertain about engaging my ‘slap them until they fall down twitching then run’ technique.

The elderly gentleman was not to be swayed from his mission. “No, I’ve got something here just for you.” He disappeared into his house for a moment, returning a few moments later with what I believe was a bundle of suckers, and handed them to me leaving me no option other than to mumble a humble “thank-you” and accept them. In order to do this, he had to descend a fair number of stairs, as I can’t climb icy stairs in crutches without rather unfortunate results. The mere fact he actually did this proves that man desperately wanted me to have that candy. The question that lingers in the wake of this event is; of course, why the fuck did that elderly gentleman insist upon giving me a bundle of suckers?

I am asking you, dear internet, to aid me in solving the sucker bundle mystery. Please post your thoughts in the comments below. For my part, I shall construct a list of possible motives, which I will post tomorrow. Until then, be good to yourselves and don’t forget to eat lots of your children’s Halloween candy. It’s not really stealing; it’s just saving their teeth and worrying about their health…who could possibly blame you for that?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Hallows Eve

It’s Halloween today. I hate Halloween. I’m not just talking about some slight dislike of the holiday…I’m talking a hatred that would likely melt the face right off of Halloween…if of course, Halloween had a face. To celebrate my adoration of the holiday, I refused to get costumes/ candy/ or into the spirit until the last possible moment. That last possible moment occurred today at the drug store, while I was waiting for my prescription to be filled, and spotted the devil costume my daughter desperately wants. It was 25% off, namely because the shop keep have no idea that some crazy mother hating all things Halloween will actually buy one of these costumes the day the event is supposed to take place. Their loss is my gain, and allowed me enough extra cash to purchase an oversized novelty pitchfork to go with the costume. (Why the makers of the original costume I bought didn’t seem to feel a pitchfork was a required necessity for a devil, I don’t know.)

Because my daughter is not in public school, but rather a chartered Catholic school, she was not permitted to wear the devil costume to her party today. (This is why I was afforded the luxury of waiting until the very last second to do anything about getting the damn thing.) I admit to being slightly taken aback by that. What do you mean my daughter can’t wear her devil costume to school? WHY? It was patiently, and somewhat condescendingly, explained to me that due to the fact that Catholics believe in the devil, no children are permitted to tempt Satan by imitating him. This makes me wonder if perhaps the school has had trouble with Satan in years past. Was there once a case of a child being consumed by flames and devilish laughter whilst dressed as Lucifer last year? And if so, are there any pictures of the soul harvesting I could (cough*sell on eBay*cough) view to properly educate myself about this fatal danger?

As a result of not being permitted to tempt the devil, my daughter opted instead to go to school today in a Princess Peach costume we fashioned out of things around the house. I’m actually quite good at throwing costumes together from odds and ends in the house because I’m really a very (cough*cheap*cough) ingenious little person when I want to be. Unfortunately, I very seldom want to be.

My daughter did have to threaten to spontaneously combust to enlist my aid in this matter, mind you. Like I said, I hate Halloween. I didn’t buy candy this year for the other kids, either. I figure when we get in from trick or treating, we’ll go through little ones haul and redistribute the shitty candy she doesn’t want. Which brings me to my next point; why in hell is Halloween candy so freaking expensive? I looked at it today in the hopes of buying something, and discovered that unless I was willing to shell out $14.99, I wasn’t going home with any neatly package M&M’s. That was just about the time I decided to re-gift the crappy candy my kid gets this year. Tis the season, after all…

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The day I discovered I was both fat AND stupid...

I’ve noticed that my blog has been rather on the boring side lately. Fortunately for all of my three readers, I believe I’ve isolated the problem. The problem is I’m lazy and don’t feel nearly as intelligent as I used to. Though I’d like to believe that my present feeling of being less than brilliant is due to some manner of temporary setback, I fear the real answer finds its roots in something somewhat less fleeting…I’m not nearly as egotistical as I once was.

In the past month, I’ve discovered much about myself, my general idiocy is really only one small thing in comparison with the whole. I’ve also learned that I’m slowly becoming the size of a small house…which depressed me so much I ate the cat. (Fortunately for him, he got caught in my throat and I coughed him up as a hairball minutes later.)

Being stupid and fat does, however, have its attributes. For one, I no longer have to worry about what to wear when I get out of bed in the morning. Only the bath towels fit. On a completely unrelated matter, my daughter has quietly but firmly requested that I stop picking her up at school, or, for that matter, appearing in public in general. To be fair to her, we do live in a very small town; so small, in fact, that I’d likely envelop it if I stepped outside.

On a positive note, I’ve recently entered a contest which has me making a post a day for the entire month of November. From what I can tell, I will burn enough calories typing this coming month to finally be able to fit into my Dom DeLuise hat by Christmas.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Long Awaited Smoking Rant

For some strange reason, as I entered my twenties, a group of diabolical nerds began to put their evil strategy to take over the Universe into action. Pocket protectors at the ready, they marched fearless and unwavering into the offices of our politicians and our Health Ministers. This group was carefully compiled of each and every geek, nerd or outcast you and I ever blew smoke in the face of, or disgustedly flicked an ash at. Little did we know then, these assholes were carefully documenting each humiliation suffered at the hands of cool kids and their cigarettes. Documenting because the geeks knew, my friend, that with a few careful words, a smattering of trumped up statistics and the odd well placed tear jerker ad campaign, they could make us their bitch.

It was done ever so cleverly, I’m sure you’ll agree. Despite their full intentions involving making us beg for mercy at the end, the nerds only revealed enough information to the Heath Ministers and politicians to ensure they would gain a little much needed ground. So, it started small, folks…small but deadly. You see, the first thing that the geekoids did was seek a non-smoking environment for their children to eat in. Now, as far as I’m concerned, if non-smokers want a place for their kids to eat in, they can put their fucking kids in a bubble and bounce their asses down to the restaurant where I’ll be eating…with my cigarette in my mouth…and large clouds of smoke enveloping my entire table.

But did the government think to tell people to put their non smoking pussy ass kids in bubbles? No, they did not. Now, I know what you’re thinking…the government couldn’t possibly know what I was thinking, and therefore couldn’t accurately articulate the beauty that is my thoughts. Except that I emailed the whole bubble solution to them…several times… until they politely asked me to stop, if you must know. Now, stop interrogating me and focus on the issue at hand, and that issue is that instead of implementing the purely reasonable bubble solution, the government instead implemented the completely unreasonable “No smoking in any facility unless they had a designated smoking section with ventilation adhering to our ‘six-thousand-rules-for- ventilation-because-we-really-don’t-want-you-to-have-a-smoking-room-at-all’ clause.”

Now, let’s talk for one brief shining moment about those so-called ‘smoking areas that adhered to the rules outlined in the by-law. Basically, what happened was this: restaurants immediately began to speak out in regards to the ‘no-smoking anywhere but in a designated smoking area where proper ventilation must be present and anyone under the age of 18 must not be’ bylaw due to their grave (and as it turned out, valid) concerns that such a by-law would be very costly and may still cost them substantial business as most smoker’s were not apt to take kindly to being forced into a little bubble type room. (Damn straight…those are only for the non smoker's kids!!) Moreover, such a room would incur substantial debt in some cases, and what guarantee did these businesses have that the laws wouldn’t be changed again in a week? The government assured them that their fears were completely unfounded. Studies had proven that smokers genuinely enjoyed the exotic plastic like feeling that only smoking in a bubble could give them. As far as changing the laws again so as to make the bubbles useless, come on now…would the government do that to you? (Legend has it that following the utterance of these strange words, the government gently scratched the restaurant owners under the chin, cooing “who has a government who loves them? Who has a government who loves them?” until finally the business owners retreated from the politicians offices feeling confused and vaguely dirty.)

The law was swiftly implemented, causing many restaurant owners to install properly ventilated smoking rooms in their establishments in order to keep their smoking clientele happy. Sounds like a happy ending of some kind, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, unlike most happy ending’s this one involves non-smoking crazy ass mother fuckers, and the non-smoking crazy ass mother-fuckers forget to let things end, ever...no matter what. As a result, they marched their crazy asses back into the offices of our politicians to engage in some merry bitching, the purpose of which was to discuss how unfair the smoking bubbles really were to the non-smoking population. How, you ask, could a properly ventilated smoking bubble completely encased in glass so that the virginal non-smokers would not be subjected to the vile killer that is latent tobacco smoke ever be unfair to a non-smoker? Because when smokers are going in and out of these properly ventilated bubbles, they may allow a tendril of smoke or two to escape, which could easily cause a non-smoker to curl their nose up in disgust and then yell "Avenge me" with their last dying breath because, as we all know, latent tobacco smoke kills innocent non-smoking lungs on first contact.

So as not to force the delicate non-smokers to have to deal with such an atrocity as the odd tendril of smoke, the government began deliberations in regards to how best to eliminate this mighty horror. Meanwhile, smokers became annoyed at the mounting number of non-smoker’s who felt it their divine right to slap cigarettes from smokers’ hands and then grind it out with the virginal heel of their delicate non-smoking foot. As a direct result of this frustration, smokers began the first round of negotiations to turn "Smoking Area" signs into "Mandatory Smoking Area" signs, allowing us the freedom to fine non-smokers for failing to light up in smoking areas.

In California, a bylaw is passed making it illegal for a smoker to roll down their car window whilst having a cigarette. On a completely unrelated story, vehicular accidents in California soar, smokers say that vast amounts of blue smoke clouded their vision rendering a tremendous number of on-coming non-smoking pedestrians completely invisible.

In Ontario, laws are passed making it illegal to light up in any public place whatsoever, bars and bingo halls included!! Charities relying on the bingo halls as primary fund raisers start feeling the effects the “Smoke Free Ontario” campaign inevitably has on their primary source of funding. Ontario residents are told that allowing smoker’s to enjoy a cigarette on any type of covered patio will no longer be tolerated under the new bylaws. In addition, despite the politician’s repeated promises not to allow the “Smoke Free Ontario” campaign to affect nursing/ psychiatric/ addiction recovery homes, (as these types of institutions were being used as the patients home and therefore should be exempt from no-smoking bylaws,) the instant the laws were passed a myriad of the aforementioned institutions used these new bylaws as a method of forcing residents to quit smoking altogether. Imagine how wonderful it would be, in the twilight years of your life, to be given the amazing privilege of quitting smoking at the age of 95!! Senior citizens the world over rejoice!! Your long awaited return of the Gestapo has come at last, and this time, it’s the smoker’s their after.

Back to my happy little corner of the world! Bylaws have been passed now to make all our public places non-smoking. For us too, this includes bars, casinos, legions and bingo halls alike. What of the restaurant owners that installed the smoking rooms and incurred substantial expense in the process? They lost double the money in the end, first losing the money they spent/borrowed to create the smoking room, then incurring additional expense to revert that room they went to great expense to create back into a part of the restaurant. The government is not planning on compensating these restaurant owners, because regardless of the fact that they told the restaurant owners it was the only way to retain smoking clientele, and regardless of the fact they all but promised with blood that the laws would not change in any way that would make this investment a waste, they are NOT to blame for the restaurant owners actually believing them and doing it.

The smokers who check into hospital are also out of luck because now, in order to light up they need to be clear off the property. What does this mean? Well, what it really means is that you all are going to be seeing a lot more smokers on the city block preceding the hospital puffing away in their spiffy hospital gowns. What does it mean for the patients? It means an increased occurrence of pneumonia in all hospitalized smokers, yours completely free, courtesy of the government. This hospital wide ban on smoking does indeed extend into the palliative ward. Patients that are dying of cancer, AIDS, diabetes, etc are now forced to not only make the interminably long walk downstairs (which I assure you it is when you are feeling horrible) so they can step out to smoke, now they must also walk for an additional five or ten minutes to get themselves clean off of hospital grounds prior to lighting up.

If you’re an astute type, you’re apt to be asking “How would they even get downstairs, let alone off of hospital property, without a staff member if they’re dying?” The answer is simple, they don’t. Patients that are in the palliative ward do need assistance to go anywhere, including the bathroom, and I assure you that going all that long way to have a cigarette is no exception…in terms of them needing the help; unfortunately, it is a glaring exception in terms of them getting that help. Consider this for a moment, if a nurse or doctor takes a patient off of hospital grounds for any reason, said nurse or doctor accepts sole responsibility for that patient for the duration of that patient’s time off hospital grounds. Now, realistically, if you were a doctor or nurse working in the hospital with palliative patients that could realistically go any minute, would you DARE to take them off hospital grounds for a cigarette? Considering that they could easily die while in your care, and considering that if they happened to be with you having a smoke off of hospital grounds when that happened you easily could be sued in connection to their death, for most sane minded people, the answer is a resounding “no.” Not, you understand, because all these nurses and doctors are cold-hearted, or because they are vigilant non-smokers because nothing is further from the truth. A good many nurses and doctors are just as outraged, if not more so, about these laws as are the patients. Unfortunately, the laws as they are prevent staff members from taking a patient outside for a cigarette.

So what happens to the patients unlucky enough to need to be hospitalized for a long period of time? Simply put, either they have family member’s kind enough to come in and take them out when they need a cigarette, or they get a patch slapped on their arm by the hospital staff and told to “cope with the cravings best (they) can.” Now, thinking just about the palliative patients for just a moment, why the fuck would they want to quit smoking? Seriously, if you were dying of lung cancer, wouldn’t you think it was a little like closing the barn door after the horse is gone to be forced to quit in your dying hours? Remember Barb Tarbox? Well, she was adamant about the anti-smoking crusade. She spent the better part of her dying months speaking at schools to kids about quitting smoking. However, when she was admitted to the hospital, they put her on the palliative ward, which included a smoking lounge at that time. A little place right down the hall from the patients’ rooms; decorated sparsely and adorned with a few cigarette burns, but convenient and accessible to the palliative patients nonetheless. If she were to be admitted to hospital today, she would be told that she has to quit smoking in her final hours, and a patch would be duly slapped on whichever body part was most accessible at the time. What a lovely thing to put a dying patient through…withdrawal from tobacco.

Okay, now let’s consider the bars, who are also now being subjected to the vehement anti-smoking crusaders. Bars serve a little something called alcohol. Alcohol, for those of you who don’t know, kills brain cells and dehydrates the body. In fact, when you wake up from a night of drinking with a pounding headache, it’s actually the sac around your brain, which is usually full of fluid to protect your grey matter, completely dry and sticking to the brain itself. Don’t tell me that isn’t what your hangovers are, either, because guess what folks? That’s what everyone’s hangovers are!! So, this whole drinking thing, doesn’t really sound all that healthy does it? However, apparently, people that are frequenting these establishments in order to kill brain cells and dehydrate their bodies are much better off if we can keep them away from second hand smoke. Oddly enough, the people that are frequenting these establishments don’t seem to agree that they want a smoke-free environment. In fact, the patrons of the bars seem to feel quite strongly about being able to either a)breathe second hand smoke or b)breath first hand smoke, from the cigarette…that they are smoking…while they are drinking….because the two naturally go together.

The best part of these anti-smokers who are charging about selling this drivel to the government is their colorful license with the truth. For example, they proceeded to tell restaurant and bar owners that after an initial lull in business, they would experience an increase in clientele because non-smokers would flock to their non-smoking environment in droves. They said the same to the bingo halls and casinos. Let’s see here…since Ontario forced its restaurants and bars to disallow smoking, many of them have closed their doors, citing a lack of business as the reason. Bingo halls are reporting large decreases in income, which has also adversely affected the charities that rely on the revenue from bingo’s to fund them. Casinos are no different, and similarly, the chartable organizations that rely on casino’s to fund them are suffering greatly. It would seem that the increase in business these organizations were supposedly going to enjoy in the wake of the non-smoking blitz was actually in the form of invisible customers. Invisible non-paying customers…

Similarly, we were all originally told that the reason for the pressure to quit smoking, and remove smoking from all public places, was that the health care costs would be dramatically decreased by removing second hand smoke from all public places and encouraging smokers to quit. Well, let’s see here, last I heard, the health care costs are actually on the rise!! Yes, that’s right, health care costs have reportedly gone up from $1.2 billion to $1.7billion dollars over the same period where smoking has reportedly gone down nearly 20%. Soooo…uh…I’m really confused. If stopping smoking was supposed to save the government all this money on health care, then how is it that when smoking went down nearly 20%, healthcare costs are nearly half again what they were the year before?? Something sure smells rotten in the state of Denmark, and I don’t think it’s the cheese.

What’s the bottom line? Well, I think the bottom line is very much about what the government finds it convenient to get behind. Realistically, by standing behind the anti-smoking movement, they gave themselves a perfect license to raise the costs of cigarettes continually, thereby increasing the amount of tax revenue they receive. Who’s going to bitch about it guys? Surely not the diligent anti-smoking activists, and if the smoker’s bitched, who cares? They’re the bad guys that created this whole problem of second hand smoke anyways, and are constantly putting our lives in danger by their very existence on this planet, so why should anyone listen to them? It’s an easy cash grab. Now, if you can believe it, the same government is whining about the increase in black market cigarettes. Yes, that’ll happen when you decide to tax people into the very ground they smoke on.

BUT, considering that the government makes a very large portion of its revenues off of cigarette taxes, what would they do if we all listened to this campaign and quit? I’ll tell you what; they won’t be dancing in the streets with the anti-smoking activists if that happens. Not AT ALL. In fact, they would be scrambling about searching for something, anything, to replace the billions of dollars worth of revenue smokers give them each and every year.

What’s the answer? There isn’t one. Smoking does kill, let’s face it. It kills the smoker, and it can certainly have a very detrimental affect on non-smokers living in the same residence if they are smoked in the house. On this point, the anti-smoking activists do have a point. The real problem is how far things are being taken, and where those things are going now. Consider this, how much longer do you think it will be before social services cites “Smoking Home” as the reason to apprehend a child? How much longer before parents are charged with abuse for smoking in their vehicle if their child is in the car? How much longer before we are told that smoking on our back porch is ‘polluting the air’? My personal fear is that we aren’t far away from these and other developments. Do I think quitting smoking is the right thing to do? Well, it would really depend. First and foremost, it would depend upon your age, your health and your reasons. If you are ninety years old and dying of cancer, no, I don’t think you should quit smoking. You’re old and you’re dying, what the hell good would it do? If, on the other hand, you happen to be a thirty year old parent, then yes, I think you should quit so that you can watch your children grow up and get married. I know that’s why I’m doing it. I just resent being told all that by a group of zealots who haven’t had sex since I was five…that’s all.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh Brother...

*The following is a post I did some time ago and sadly then promptly forgot to post. As such, there are references to the Big Brother Finale being “tonight” that, without this explanation, have a very good chance of making me look a little senile. In truth, I am not senile…I am simply very, very, very, very, very lazy. There’s a big difference. Senility means that you intend to do something and then, most unfortunately, find yourself putting your underpants on your head instead. Laziness means that you intend to do something, however always think that tomorrow would be a MUCH better day to do it, especially if someone might be visiting tomorrow that could do it for you.*

First and foremost, allow me to apologize for the long span of time that has been allowed to occur between posts. If it’s any consolation whatsoever, I’ve had a stern talk with me…I know I was rather hard on me, but I darn well deserved it! The whole thing ended with me promising profusely to get on to the updating more regularly; though I was skeptical of me, I decided to give me just one more chance to prove myself. As a result of my delinquent posting, there is a plethora of news that I have to add now over the course of the next few days. I am ashamed to admit that part of my failure to post as regularly is Big Brother All-Stars, for which I have now acquiesced live feeds. I like to think it’s the voyeur within me that caused me to turn into a woman possessed as I begged, cried and threatened to shrivel up into an enormous heap of sobbing flesh until I got the live feeds safely installed on the computer.

Since the arrival of the live feeds into our lives, I’ve begun to notice a rather fascinatingly disturbing phenomenon taking place. The first sign that something was amiss came in the form of my daughter asking if cinnamon bun dough could be her supper because she could make that herself and then I wouldn’t have to leave the Big Brother house to help her. At that moment, I felt like the worst mother in the entire world. As I roused myself from the computer desk in order to make little one supper, I noted that vast amounts of cat hair and other bits had settled themselves into the carpet. Never mind the mess I was in, with a pair of old jogging pants that are about twelve sizes too big, my hair piled on top of my head because it’s too greasy to do much else with and not a stitch of make up on. Now, this type of obsession might be considered somewhat understandable, if not acceptable, had the house guests been engaging in wickedly exciting conversations, lots of action, and perhaps a few juicy arguments. If all that was happening, perhaps people could relate to my sitting by the computer until my body gives out and I have to move to the bed to watch. However, none of this is happening on the live feeds. NOTHING AT ALL is happening on the live feeds, really.

Occasionally, I get the fabulous opportunity to observe Erika or Mike picking their noses, but other than that, nothing of note really goes on. Why I am so completely addicted to them, I honestly can’t tell you. I think it’s the idea that you have the inside information that a lot of people don’t have. Even if the inside information is complete drudgery, you still can’t help sort of feeling somewhat important that you know it just the same. At the present moment, I am writing this blog entry and observing both of the houseguests sleeping in various locations about the house. (I know, exhilarating isn’t it?) Actually, the whole Big Brother excitement is something that I find rather dumbfounding. Realistically, all the show consists of is as bunch of strangers sharing a living space and trying to keep themselves from getting voted off. Now, granted, I don’t face the wrath of another housemate where I reside, but I too could easily harbor the fear of eviction…all I’d have to do is miss a couple of rent payments.

So, we’re really watching a group of people living as though they hadn’t paid their rent, only they are doing it in one big house…all together…with video cameras everywhere. Other than that, it’s just like my life, except, of course, that it’s only me, little one and the cat in my house, and no one magically drops off food every so often despite how often I’ve wished someone would to save me the pain of going out to the grocery store. It’s not going to the grocery store I mind, it’s not even grocery shopping that I mind; what I mind is that each and every time I go to the grocery store, I land up behind some fat lady named Bertha who is desperately trying to get those chocolate bars she’s buying for ten cents cheaper per dozen. Unfortunately, this whole scene eventually starts to really get to me…to the point where I am moving past the point of visualizing myself beating her with my crutch and moving to the point of actually physically beating the snot out of her with my crutch. Even more unfortunately than all of this, beating some fat lady at the grocery store with your crutch because she stupidly would not stop beaking off about the price of bonbons is one of those things that Canada considers against the law. You and I know that whoever made that law hasn’t ever been stuck behind that lady at the grocery store, but it is a law, and because it is a law we are bound to follow it regardless of how unfair it may be. However, as none of this has anything to do with Big Brother, I digress.

This past month has been a flurry of Big Brother activity, and the entire time I was watching the show, I was hoping against hope that somebody somewhere would pull out a crutch and beat the hell out of Janelle for me. She wasn’t standing around a grocery store arguing about the price of the incredible amount of chips she was consuming; however she was causing me severe psychological damage with her continued annoying presence. Given that I genuinely liked Will, Janelle’s final move prior to being voted out hardly inspired me to make joyful expressions of exaltation. Her finally being voted out, however, certainly did fill me with an enormous amount of euphoria and glee. The mere fact that I had these types of emotional responses towards a television show has given me cause to spend some time re-evaluating my sanity.

Tonight, we are supposed to be viewing the question and answer portion of the finale, wherein the evicted houseguests that remained in the sequester house as part of the jury will question the two final houseguests. Usually, this portion of the game gets a little heated, namely because, although you do have some members of the jury that have been in the sequester house away from the emotions of the game for a good long while, you also have those houseguests that were in the Big Brother house up to two days prior to this question and answer period. Those houseguests often feel slighted or hurt by the way they went out and, of course, by the fact that they have lost their opportunity to win $500,000.00. I’m curious to see how they all react tonight, including Mike Boogie and Erika Landin, the final two houseguests. From what I understand, Janelle’s blurb to Erika should be quite juicy!!

I wonder why it is we, as a society, get so wrapped up in shows such as Big Brother, or Survivor. Certainly, there’s that element of voyeurism that piques our curiosity at the onset, but following that initial interest, it’s the characters themselves that capture us. I think that watching Big Brother is something many people enjoy for a few basic reasons, the first is, of course, the voyeurism; but beyond that initial response, I think that Big Brother gives people the opportunity to almost play the game along with the houseguests. Because the game itself is so basic, individuals can easily put themselves into the houseguests shoes and think about what move they would make in the same given situation, or how they might react to that person if they said that to them. It’s the element of familiarity that we feel with individuals going through something we can identify with. Given that we can all identify with living with people in a roommate type situation, we naturally connect with the houseguests. This connection grows exponentially stronger when the houseguests begin to experience emotional up and downs on camera because once they react on an emotional level, they become human as well as being people experiencing a familiar situation. On top of all of this, their lives are not our lives, and therefore they provide a nice escape from the real world.

Escaping from the real world can sometimes be of the most paramount importance. It’s not that you don’t want to deal with life; it’s more that for that moment in time, you need to feel alright and sometimes allowing yourself to just enjoy something like this helps you to do that in a safe, non-chemical fashion. To quote Martha Stewart: “That’s a good thing.”

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Thoroughly Modern Millie!!

Millie Garfield turned 81 on Friday, August 18th!!! To celebrate this wonderful ladies birthday, I thought I’d write her a wee poem. This poem is a celebration of all that Millie has taught me through her humor, wit and inability to open things!!
I LOVE YOU MODERN MILLIE!! HAVE A FANTASTIC EIGHTY-FIRST YEAR AND MANY HAPPY RETURNS!!! Please click on the title of this post to visit Millie's blog! It's well worth the click! (I am stealing all the exclamation points in the universe in this post. I hope that there are no documents going without because of my exclamation point hoarding, but a birthday is an event that requires many!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I. How to smile in the face of adversity, and keep on keeping on. Thank-you,Millie, for coming into my life through your blog at a time when adversity had me down, and teaching me that no adversity in life can make me feel useless without my express permission.

II. Always make light of those things that frustrate us, particularly if it is possible to do so in video format…

III. Particularly when said video has the chance of including Millie spraying her glasses with a perfume she previously couldn’t open. Thank-you Millie, for teaching me that laughing at the little frustrations in life robs them of their power to upset us.

IV. Participate in all the wonderful things in life, missing nothing and enjoying every day you are given. Millie, thank you for having so much zest for life, and in this way, teaching me how to love my own.

V. You can be beautiful and elderly at the same time, particularly if your name is Millie Garfield, who, at eighty-one still looks as though she's in her mid-fifties! (Oil of Olay, eat your heart out!!) Thank-you, Millie, for teaching me that age and beauty are not mutually exclusive entities!

VI. Bring a smile with you wherever you go. It is the most important thing any of us will ever wear, and lights up the faces of those around you. Thank-you, Millie, for showing me, through the power of your own beautiful smile, how incredibly infectious a good mood can be.

VII. Instead of lamenting about the complications of today’s world, smile and remember a simpler time where Green Mansions and a driver made for all the laughter and love in the world. Millie, thank-you for teaching me that
remembering beauty is far more important than lamenting inevitabilities.

VIII. Recall the beautiful memories of a loved one that’s passed over instead of dwelling on the pain of having to say good-bye to that person. This keeps them alive in your heart and strengthens your soul. Thank-you, Millie, for teaching me how to let go with love, and so keep those dear to us with us forever in spirit.

IX. The past is like an old photo album, and, just like a photo album, it should only be taken out and looked at if you can remember the events and people contained therein fondly and with tenderness. Millie, thank-you for showing me that the only memories worth keeping are the ones that fill my heart with gladness.

X. Health and happiness are choices, not circumstance. If carrying eighty-one years doesn’t stop Millie, than crutches and a bad back sure as heck aren’t going to stop me!!Thank-you, Millie for teaching me that the strength of my spirit is my choice, and mine alone!

XI. Daily life can get all of us down, but daily laughing can just as easily bring us back up again. Millie Garfield makes me laugh as much as the cat that shares her last name. Thank-you, Millie, for bringing so much laughter into my life.

XII. As long as you have a working mind and loving heart, you are never alone in the world. Thank you for teaching me the value of myself, Millie; until you and your blog came into my life; it was a commodity I devalued far too

XIII. You may not be able to control all the events in your life, but you can sure control how you react to them. Thank-you, Millie, for teaching me that happiness is not a destination; it’s the way you travel.

XIV. Make the statements you feel you need to make with love and kindness. You never know when what you have to say will be the exact thing someone else needs to hear. Thank you, Millie, for teaching me that speaking my mind doesn’t have to mean turning the air blue, and in so doing, giving me the gift of a lot
more power and class.

XV. In all things, to thine own self be true. Thank-you, Millie, for just being you, and in so doing, giving me the strength to do the same.

XVI. Love is the most powerful force in all the world. If you love all things, all things you love will be softened by your touch. Thank-you, Millie, for teaching me to be a little softer, and give more love in my writing. You have changed my writing style for the better, and my heart for the best.

XVII. Let others love you, it will enhance all you all and all you do. Thank-you, Millie, for reminding me to let others into my life. Before you came along, my anger over my circumstances led me to shut people out of my life. You
have helped me to re-open my heart and soul. Thank-you for this wonderful gift, Millie...words can not express how it has changed me.

XVIII. In all things, let there be a life lesson. Thank-you, Millie, for your ability to find the lessons in every day life, and in so doing, teaching me to do the same.

XIX. Each thing in life is neither good nor bad, it is merely a challenge sent to teach guide you. Rejoice in these challenges, for they have created the wonderful person you are! Thank-you, Millie, for teaching me to accept my disability with grace; to learn from it rather than loathe it. You have made my life rich again.

For all these wonderful gifts Millie has given me through her poignant writing, her witty videos and her fun-loving nature, this poem seems rather a sparse return. Millie has faced much in her eighty-one years, overcoming her many challenges in life with a grace few can manage. She has had losses in her life that would have left many gasping for breath, proclaiming bitterly “I can’t do it!!” Yet, never once have I read an entry in her blog that so much as alludes to defeat. Defeat is not a word in Millie’s vocabulary. She has lived an extraordinary life simply because she has touched so very many of us with her hope, her laughter and her love. I cannot repay her for the many gifts and lessons she has given me at a time when I needed these lessons the most. I can, however, thank her from the very bottom of my heart and soul for giving me hope again, and teaching me that carrying on is all we can do; but carrying on with laughter and love is the best we can do. Happy Birthday, Millie!! It’s is such a pleasure to know you through your writing, and such a gift to read your blog. May you enjoy another eighty-one wonderful years, and may they all be filled with the same hope, love and laughter you have given your readers.

With much love and gratitude,

Yet another faithful Modern Millie Fan!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Millie Garfield stars in "I can't open it!"

I’m postponing my smoking rant, which seemed incredibly important the other day, to talk about someone that is a lot more important than some silly rant. The lady’s name is Millie Garfield, and she’s the oldest blogger on the Internet! (Though I certainly hope to look as young as she when in my eightieth year!!) I was first introduced to Millie Garfield’s blog (www.mymomsblog.blogspot.com) shortly after finding out that I would be unable to walk without crutches again, likely for the rest of my life. At 27 (which is the young and virile age I was at that time) learning such a thing can be quite a blow. In addition, the fact that being in such a position incapacitates a person, and makes it difficult to go outside was downright depressing. Then came the beautiful morning I discovered Millie, and watched my first in the funniest on the Internet series, “I can’t open it.” It wasn't the post of the day, but with some digging, I had found it!!

At that time, it was Nescafe, (and I am with her on this one, because I had the same silly problem with that particular container!) and I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks. Since that time, there have been many more episodes of “I can’t open it”, each funnier and more poignant than the last!! I recall telling a good friend of mine about Millie Garfield, and having her look at me somewhat incredulously, “What on earth would you have in common with an eighty year old lady??” The inquiry was a fair one for most twenty-eight year olds; I suppose…but not this one. One of my best friends in this world is 67, another is 58, and I love them both to pieces because of their wit and wisdom. Millie is certainly the most advanced in age, (and, by default, also wisdom!) and of course I adore her blog!! I’m suffering from the same aches and pains in my life as most seniors do, number one, and number two, I’m really an old lady at heart!! (Which, by the way, I say with a great deal of pride. It means I’ve gotten past the partying and general tom foolery of youth, and moved on to the wisdom of age!!)

Recently, that line of thinking got tested when I was faced with someone I love very much dealing with a problem I couldn’t handle. Like any good old lady, I turned that problem over to people better able to deal with it, said a lot of prayers for my sweet friend (who will probably never speak to me again because I had to tell someone about how bad things really were getting for him) and cried myself to sleep that night. Why? Because I’m not young anymore in spirit, and I’m unable to bear the burden of not telling someone that could help and having this person lose their life. It’s difficult to lose a friend, though…especially when you are in a position like this, where it’s difficult to make new ones. I hope he understands someday that I did what I did with love, not malice, and that I still think of him daily and have to wipe tears from my eyes.

But enough of that, as my keyboard is getting wet from tears talking about it, and I fear I’m going to electrocute myself!! Millie made me feel hope again, and forced me to realize that life is what you make of it. If I don’t fight hard for life, I won’t have a life worth living. She makes me laugh, and, sometimes, she too brings a tear to my eye; but it’s a different kind of tear. It’s the kind of tear that makes you nod your head in agreement, and feel refreshed for having cried it. In honor of her, and her wonderful blog, I’ve made a decision about my own. Starting today, dear readers, this blogger is going to find adjectives that don’t involve turning the air blue, and causing the more sensitive of readers to shake their heads. Why? Because Millie Garfield is truthful, funny and real without ever having to swear once, and it’s time for me to make that last transition into adulthood. Besides, one day soon, my daughter will stumble onto this blog, and I’d rather her not adopt some of the language contained herein!

For those of you that haven’t had the opportunity to visit Millie Garfield’s blog, please give yourself the pleasure and head on over to www.mymomsblog.blogspot.com . At the moment, she is featuring one of my favorite things about her blog, the “I can’t open it” series!!! And Millie, if you’re reading this, please know that I owe you much in my life today, you’ve helped me through some very difficult times with your words of wisdom, and you’ve inspired me to write my own experiences. Feather, I still love you dearly, and you will always be another blogger I look to for cheer and comfort…but I’ve done several Heather bits now, and it’s time for age to come before brash!:)

Lots of love to all my readers, and to Millie Garfield, the oldest and definitely one of the funniest bloggers today!!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Marley The Smoking Cat

Have you ever spent most of your day on the phone with a good friend? It’s sort of a warm and fuzzy feeling, as you chat about everything in your lives. These marathon conversations reveal new things about your closest friend, and all too often they uncover much about you as well. I enjoy these marathon chats, if only because they remind me that someone in the world finds me interesting enough to spend ten hours talking to me. Unfortunately, these days are not productive vacuuming days; which is most unfortunate considering my carpet looks as though it is wearing a fur coat at the moment.

The fur for this particular coat comes directly from my Maine Coon, Marley. Marley is a wonderful companion, loving friend, and a first class shedder. Actually, Marley doesn’t shed so much as he gives birth to little Mini Marley Minions. I am quite sure these tiny little cats that are scattered so innocently about the house are, in actuality, laying in wait for Marley to give the command…at which point they will rise up and kill us all…or make us their slaves…or something equally horrific and frightening. This belief did not simply appear in my head one day, it has been carefully cultivated over the years, fed by the fact that the very instant I vacuum, Marley stalks by, shudders his little black body and releases thousands of these Mini Marley Minions, or Triple M’s, everywhere in the house. Marley does not like to be without his supporting army of vicious fluff balls, it distresses him deeply.

My cat is actually quite bizarre. He loves cigarettes, eats Coffee Crisps, and sleeps on my pillow. Unlike most cats, he comes immediately when his name is called, and adores being picked up and cuddled. Except when he doesn’t…at which point he. will. cut. you. I dislike Marley’s love of Coffee Crisps most passionately. The instant I open one (they happen to be my very favorite food in the entire world) Marley appears instantly at my side, having teleported his tiny furry self from wherever he happened to be in the house when the crinkle of the wrapper was first heard. Once there, he will look at me longingly and stand up on his hind legs, begging patiently for three whole seconds. If the Coffee Crisp is not shared with him inside of these three whole seconds, Marley will reach out with his paw and attempt to spear the chocolate bar with his claws. If your hand happens to be in the way of this attempt, so much the better; you may consider it your punishment for withholding the Coffee Crisp from His Majesty.

The smoking is much the same really, though he does do this a little more on the sly. Unguarded ashtrays in the house are a source of longing desire, and if one is not careful, they will find cigarette butts all over the house, and Marley in the corner looking rather stoned. See…oh God, how do I explain this?? He sucks on the cigarette butts. Marley knows better, mind you, than to suck on all the butts he manages to ascertain at once; carefully stashing the ‘un-sucked’ butts round the house for later highs. I think this is due to the fact he once did suck them all at once and found himself with a terrible case of the runs for his trouble. Now, for all of you that are now itching to write me nasty letters about how I am a terribly irresponsible pet owner, (not to mention person) for allowing my cat access to cigarette butts, I have a few things to offer in my defense. First of all, I did not, at any time, pin the cat down and force him to suck on a butt. (Wow…that sounds terribly wrong, doesn’t it?) He steals them, sucks on them, and stashes them. Read HE does this…NOT ‘WE’ do this. Secondly, as soon as I realized that Marley was sucking my cigarette butts, I started emptying all my ashtrays the very second I was done with them. Unfortunately, though I take these precautions, I am, as of this writing, unable to locate all of Marley’s previous ‘stashes’, which I find as annoying as you all find horrifying. Thirdly, this is a disgusting habit of his, however I am assured by my veterinarian that it is NOT life threatening. Fourthly, yes, I smoke…and my lungs and I thank you to leave us to it. Not only is this my life, but these new baboon lungs work quite nicely, thank you, and I don’t need any sanctimonious “you should quit” talk. Frankly, I strongly believe that all high and mighty non-smoking do gooders with firm intentions to make all us smokers move to Siberia to have a puff should all jump naked into a swimming pool full of wolverines. I’m not going to get my wish, and I don’t see why in the hell you should get yours.

That last line reminds me that I intended, some time ago, to do a “Smoking Rant.” I’ll have to get onto that soon…it’s time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Worry Yourself Thin...The New Fad Diet!!!

I’m so tired I could just cry. This past while, I’ve been suffering from insomnia…and for those of you that don’t know insomnia feels like, imagine walking about your days looking like ass, and feeling as though life is about to end as you know it. It sort of like your own little personal Apocalypse. Why is this happening? Well, I can think of only one factor, huge confusion which unfortunately in this particular case, also comes with huge hurt.

I’ve attempted to do a couple of entries vaguely discussing this past month of my life, but each one has had to be discarded as they would be an invasion of someone else’s privacy. I can invade my own privacy here as much as I see fit, unfortunately, I can’t see my way clear to doing it to someone else. Suffice it to say, it’s been a difficult month for me and certainly one steeped in deep perplexity, bewilderment, puzzlement, mystification, and grave uncertainty; almost definitely caused by an enormous misunderstanding. With God’s help, hopefully there will be an answer to all of this and more importantly, a resolution, soon. Until then, I’ve got to find a way to let it go, stop trying to figure it out, and get some fucking sleep!!

I am a champion at holding onto things, I really am. If you don’t believe me, have a look around my house sometime. I haven’t thrown out grocery store receipts from two years ago just yet in case I might need them. However, I SUCK ASS at letting go of anything, particularly if it’s really important to me. Sometimes, letting go really sucks ass, and I suppose that explains why it is that I suck ass at it.

On the up side, I’m finally losing weight. I’m going to market my special method for doing this just as soon as I’ve reached my goal poundage.

It will be called either: “Worry Yourself Thin…How Deep Bewilderment Can Lead to A Thinner and Healthier You.” Or “How Apologizing Profusely for Something You Know Nothing About Can Help You to Achieve Your Ideal Weight.”

Feel free to comment with your preference.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Shitting for Serenity

I am cleansing my bowels at the moment, and in accordance to the instructions on the canister, I shall be scrubbing my intestines for the next thirty days. I decided to do this wonderful thing for my body upon learning, via internet, that my bowels were terribly unkempt. From what I understand, every human being on the planet has dirty intestines, and the only way one can avoid dirty bowl syndrome is to take herbal cleanser for a month. The bowel cleanser comes in powder form, which, when mixed with water as per the directions, looks very much as though it might well be the aftermath of the intenstinal eradication experience.

Good times, I’m telling you.

I’m doing this in order to clean out my system and jumpstart into a new phase in my life. In other words, ladies and gents, I’m on a diet. Yes, that’s right…I’m going to die with a “T”. It’s all part of my master plan, folks…my diabolical master plan to rid my body of all shit contained therein and then take over the fucking world.

Most of you are asking why at this point, aren’t you? Well, let me enlighten you a little; I firmly believe that when you are hurt, and hurt badly, there are only two things you can really do about it. One, you can sit at home in your pajamas, eating bowl upon bowl of ice cream well fervently wishing that Father Time would turn things backwards just long enough to reverse the painful experience you've suffered. Though this method certainly has its merits; (for example, you discover amazingly tasty ways to fix a bowl of ice cream you previously would have been completely unaware of...) it also comes with some serious drawbacks. Not the least of these drawbacks being that depression easily becomes routine, something that, once you fall into its hungry mouth, devours you, completely swallows you whole; depression is the beast from which there is no escape. Soon enough, you find yourself expanding physically, astounded at the sheer number of chins you have managed to construct with your ice cream consumption; all the while shrinking mentally at an alarming rate. Fortunately enough, depression and the subsequent development of enough stomach fat to form an ass on your belly, is not your only recourse.

Instead, you can decide what you really, truly want out of life, and then take all energy produced by the pain, and use it to make those dreams come true. For me, the first step in this journey is to work on my body, which I feel needs a good fine tuning…hence the firm decision to extoll the virtues of the wonder all living things can experience from a hearty bowel cleanse. It has been my experience that when my body looks good, I naturally feel good; so, I’ve opted to go this route in dealing with the pain right now. Though I can’t really work out, as such, what with my legs and back in the condition they are, I can certainly do my level best to walk as far as I’m able, using floor work to tone and strengthen.

Understand, I’m not trying to peddle easy answers. I know as well as anyone that when someone is hurting over something or someone, there aren’t any activities, books, or magic words that will make the pain go away instantaneously. However, there are things we can do to minimize how much we allow that pain to affect our lives; moreover, we can turn dark hurt into positive changes in our world. Working on goals instead of counting sorrows is but the first step in that journey, and one well worth taking. Cleanse your bowels for cheerfulness, shit for serenity, and poop your way towards peace!! You can do it!! Charmin can help.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


It’s late. I want to sleep. My brain, however, appears to have another plan for me. Why the hell does it have to work that way? All fucking day long, not one coherent thought, but the minute the sun goes down and it’s time to lay my head on a pillow, my mind has LOTS to say.

I think that if this doesn’t stop soon, I’m going to take a page from Homer Simpson’s book and. Poke. My. Brain. With. A. Q-Tip.

That’s sure to teach it a lesson.

The worst part?? They’re not brilliant thoughts. You’re reading them now. You know… they are just thoughts. Stupid thoughts. Thoughts that somehow coincide with a cartoon character created to showcase human stupidity at its best.

I shan’t wait by the phone for that call from Mensa then…

Monday, June 05, 2006


Today is a milestone day, folks. I finally cleaned my house for starters, which may not sound like much to you, but considering that the dust bunnies had grown so large they were actually wrestling the vacuum from my hands, it is a big deal to me. Now normally, I avoid housecleaning with the same intense ferocity as I avoid great white sharks when I’m out in the ocean, but today I have hope, and hope leads to wanting to improve myself, which naturally leads to wanting to improve my surroundings. For me, my house completely reflects where I’m at, if it’s messy, chances are my mind is taking off on a tangent as depressing as it is unnecessary, if the house is clean, I’m happy and working on something exciting. There really isn’t an in-between in my world. I’m either happy or sad. There is seldom a gray area in my world; I’m one or the other, black or white and absolutely nothing in-between.

So, today, I cleaned. I did this because my world is starting to change for the better, and it was time to reflect those changes in my surroundings. I don’t think it wise to say too much about what those changes are, as I don’t really know how things are going to play out as yet. Suffice it to say that I finally found the courage to email a person that I very much respect and admire, and this person may be able to help me to make some of my goals into a reality. Two amazing things could come of this, the first being that I will finally be able to make some money off of my writing, and the second being that I think I’ve a great deal to learn from this individual, and I’m honored to have her help on this project. All of this means that I finally have some hope again, and let me tell you, hope has been a hell of a rare commodity round here lately.

A lot of that comes from my world changing so dramatically after I found out that I was physically unable to work in the conventional sense any more. I went through so many emotions, from high to low, from hating myself to loving the lack of schedule in my world. The worst part of all of this was suddenly finding myself with all this time on my hands with which to think. I sat and thought, and thought…and thought. Nothing is more deadly to a person that is prone to depression than too much thinking. As a result, I slipped into some dark places and some even darker times. I can’t tell you why…depression is not something that tends to offer an answer or solution. Depression is something that just is, something that takes your personality without warning and bleeds your soul with no apology. I tried to fight it, but the darkness is a formidable foe, and it managed to take me places I would never want to visit again.

One thing kept me going through this time, and that one thing was the sunshine that my little girl brings to my world. For her, I willed myself well, and fought the darkness in favor of basking in her light. Children do not understand how all encompassing an emotion that blackness can become, nor should they be made to. I got through the hard times by reading my two favorite blogs on the internet, and trying to keep myself as busy as possible. I refused to admit that I was going through depression to anyone in my immediate world, namely because I was still refusing to admit it to myself. That’s the funny thing about depression. I mean, for most illnesses, a person isn’t ashamed. When I found out that my hip was shot, that my back needed disc repair and my uterus was prolapsed and needed to be removed, I told my family and my friends. No problem there; that was what was going on in my life, and that was what I told them. Depression is a totally different ballgame. It is a mental disorder, and carries with it a terrible stigma. When my sister and I were kids, I had a friend named Val who was 33 years old and chronically depressed. My mother spoke of her in desperately condescending tones, constantly reminding me that Val was a loser, a dredge of society, a leech on the welfare system.

When I was fifteen, I had my first bout with depression. I remember being ashamed of myself, and feeling that I was letting my family down. No matter how much I tried, however, I couldn’t stop feeling the way I felt. Couldn’t stop the darkness from closing in around me. It was like I was drowning in a sea of blackness, and there was no one there to help me, no one there to understand why I was so terribly sad. I remember my mother and father asking me why I felt the way I did, and I remember not being able to aptly explain how I felt. Nothing that I could point to was the cause of the feelings; nothing that I could remember created the unending emotional torture. It was just there…it just existed, and nothing I could do was stopping it, and nothing I remembered started it. All I really knew was that it was choking the life out of me, and that was enough for me to want to be out of this jail cell that my brain had decided to throw me into. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work to make it go away…it was just always there, sapping my soul from me and stealing my personality.

I can’t really remember when it ended for me then; it’s sort of like when you’ve just broken up with someone you care deeply for. The pain is there and it’s so intense for so long, and then one day, you wake up and it’s gone. You can’t remember when it stopped or how, you just know that you feel okay again. That’s how it is with depression. With one key difference; with depression, it lurks behind your eyes, waiting for the right time, and the right moment, to come back and take you back to the depths of hell.

I’ve learned over the years how to combat the enemy to a certain degree, and busyness is something that can work. So is reading. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There is no formula to take it away. You can think you have it all figured out, and the minute you stop for a second, it can take you down once again. My mother had a hard time understanding that, I don’t. But then,I understand only because I’ve been there more times than I care to count, sometimes for a long time, sometimes not. Only one method really works for me, and that is finding hope somehow. Something to point to that tells me it will get better, that I can win this battle of life or death. Today, I have Puddin’, and she makes me want to live everyday, even at my worst. Today, I have hope in the form of a project I desperately want to succeed. None of these things mean that pain won’t come back when I’m lying in bed at night, and the darkness surrounds me. It just means that it’s been a long time since I’ve thought of escaping that pain through death and that in and of itself is amazing to me. Hope in the form of a child, hope in the form of a woman that understands and has battled far worse demons in her time than I can ever hope to comprehend. Today is a milestone, folks. Today I feel like I can make it. For that…I am more grateful than you could ever know.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Domino Harvey

*This article is written on my perceptions about Domino Harvey based upon what I have read and envisioned about her. I did not ever know Ms. Harvey, nor was I present at the time of her death on June 27th, 2005. During the scenes in this piece where I am “speaking as her” I have imagined what I believe she would have said or done. In many places, I’ve had to also imagine other bits, such as what a heroine high is like, or what she was thinking before she died. This is meant to be a piece in her honor, and hopefully to, in some small way, reclaim a little of what she lost to an increasingly relentless media after her death. May she rest in peace.*

Domino Harvey passed away in the bathtub of her Hollywood home following an overdose on a painkiller that is reportedly 80 times harder than morphine. The movie depicting her “life story” had its release delayed due to her untimely death; reportedly to rewrite the ending. I just finished watching “Domino”, and though I found it to be a decent flick, if it chronicled her life and times, I’ll eat my gitch. Since Domino’s death, rumors have circulated in regards to why the beauty “committed suicide”. Many say that Domino was depressed because the movie took creative license with her life, and as such, she felt that she had lost the only thing she truly owned…herself. Given that the end of the DVD has several photos and video clips of Domino Harvey herself, laughing and having fun on the set, I have a hard time believing she was dead set against the movie. It’s possible she believed the film would turn out differently than it, in fact, did, but given she never actually saw the final release of the picture, that’s a little hard to believe also.

Further speculation goes into the narcotics charges Harvey was facing due to being caught with a large amount of illegal substance. Sources say that the world famous bounty hunter was released on 1.2 million dollar bail, for which she put up the cottage she shared with her sister, Sophie, was degradingly adorned with a parole anklet, and sent home to await trial and sentencing. Apparently, Domino had decided that the hard and heavy life of chasing one more chemically aided high was no longer her preferred rush, and as such had requested that some friends from AA watch over her during her court imposed recluse. It’s unclear whether the individual with her at the time of her death, on the evening of June 27, 2005, was an AA member, or just a dear friend. Either way, Domino was found dead in her bathtub after going into the room for a “quick soak” some time earlier. At first, reports erroneously stated that Harvey had drowned; later on it was released in the media that an overdose was the cause of death. Immediately, word of the beautiful bounty hunter’s death hit the news stands. I wonder how Domino, an individual famous for her dislike of the media’s intrusion into her affairs, would’ve felt about such fanfare over her passing…

So, Harvey “committed suicide” because of the movie betraying her real life story, because of her pending charges, because of God knows what and God knows why. But the media can always find a good story, can’t they, lovey? What if, just what if, the real story is far less sinister? Hollywood loves a good story, don’t they? Just for fun, though, how about you let me paint you something a little less glamorous, a little less made for front page news, and a little more Domino Harvey than suicide could ever be.

Imagine this for just a moment:

Domino has been under court imposed house arrest for too long, and though her beloved Pit Bull, Blue, makes her happy, he’s not enough to feed the need that burns within her for the “rush”. She’s vowed to stay clean and sober, so illegal highs are completely out of the question, and the world is starting to close in on her more than just a little bit. Desperate, she calls a good friend of hers and asks them to bring her something that will mimic her drug of choice, heroine, without showing up in a piss test. Any slip up in that regard will definitely seal her fate, and land her in the slammer, and that’s a fate Domino needs to avoid. Fuck, she’s a God damn famous bounty hunter…not the most popular people in prison, mate. Her friend comes through for her, providing her with a strong opiate that will mimic the high without any of the legal bullshit. Relieved, Domino takes the drug…it’s in pill form and damned if it’s not taking a hell of a long time to kick in. She’s used to chasing the dragon, and with that, the rush is instantaneously and, pardon her, fucking incredible. Deciding the drug isn’t working, she takes more and more…her friend, well he warned her not to take over a certain amount, but Domino Harvey has never been one to follow the rules. People that follow the rules don’t get the real highs in life, the true “rush” living is supposed to be all the fuck about; besides, she’s been doing it for years. She can damn well handle a fucking piss ant pill!! She downs enough to damn near kill a bull, and then decides to bugger off to the water closet to get away from the prying eyes around her. Friend of foe, everyone needs a little privacy sometimes, and she’s a lady that needs it a little more than sometimes. Since that movie, she’s been drowning in bloody attention, in fact, she’s betting on that movie being the reason she got busted in the first place. Being high profile has its drawbacks, she’s always known it, too…why the fuck do they think she stayed out of the so-called limelight for so fucking long? Maybe a hot bath will make those bloody pills kick in a little faster.

She draws the water and slips in, closing her eyes and willing the world away. Damn it’s peaceful in there…no one to demand her attention, no image to live up to, no one else to be but her; the one and only Domino Harvey. “My life’s a fucking bore…” she sighs, to no one in particular, lighting a cigarette. The movie she’s just finished gallivanting around the set of is just another bloody reminder of her glory days, as much Scott did take his fucking “creative license”. Those were the good days, the days that made her happy to be alive…gave her reason to get up in the morning and happy to draw breath at the end of the day. The rumors now circulating about her are doing anything but leading to glory, and that is something she means to set right in a God damned hurry. “They think it’s over, don’t they…” she grins lazily. “My life isn’t over yet, boys…not by a fucking long shot.” Exhaling a cloud of grey smoke, she’s thinking about how little it’s going to take to show them all, and make every one of those fuckers eat their words. Those pills are kicking in now, and she’ll be damned if they aren’t half bad, either. In fact, she’s feeling pretty bloody good for a girl that supposedly washed up, and at the end of her best days. “I’m not even fucking forty yet, for God’s sake. No ones dead at 35, mate…in fact, all that shit was just the dress rehearsal. You wait…” The old belief in her self is back, and for some reason, the comeback seems so simple now. She closes her eyes and smiles again. “No…you haven’t seen fucking nothing yet…” But it’s in like a lion and out like a lamb, isn’t it? Found dead later on that night by her friend on the verge of the greatest fucking comeback those stuffed shirts ever did see. A bloody overdose on something as harmless as little pills after a life of staring down the barrels of guns and not ever so much as flinching!!! She’s likely still sardonically grinning over the irony somewhere.

This picture of Domino seems to fit far better for me than the one of a woman so wrought she opts to knowingly take her own life. Harvey may not have been the happiest woman in the world, but she was a fighter. No matter how hard the situation, Domino always came out alive…always won the crap shoot. This is hardly the type that would go quietly into that goodnight. She would have fought with every breath, every step, every word to turn her fate around and land on her feet…and knowing Harvey, she would have done it too, if only she’d had the time. People say she hated the movie, and this I have a hard time believing, not only because she herself appeared in it, but also because her mother and friends were interviewed in it shortly after her death. People say she was running from her charges, committing suicide to escape the mess her life had become, but Domino had faced worse than this in her life, and had always somehow managed to come out on top of her game. It’s not fitting for me to think this lady would be the type to give up so easily…if she had been so willing to throw in that proverbial towel, then why had she surrounded herself with people in recovery in an effort to reclaim herself? Not the actions of one waiting to die, now is it? No…Domino Harvey died the way she lived, she pushed the envelope, rolled the dice, and this time, when she flipped that invisible coin in yet another game of “heads you live, tails you die”, the damned thing landed on tails.

Who’d have thought? I suspect she had a good laugh over that, the world’s greatest bounty hunter finally meeting her end by taking too many bloody pills, of all fucking things!! I bet that’s just the kind of thing Domino Harvey would’ve found just fucking hysterical.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Storms On Ice

May 5th, 2006

I am now a hero in my daughter’s figure skating club. A hero, I tell you…and all it cost me was a little over 20 hours on the phone, four months of severe depression, and as yet undiscovered amounts of psychological damage. I took the my daughter’s figure skating troop to Stars On Ice, inclusive of a pre-show rehearsal pass and meeting and greeting the skaters. Needless to say, the skating parents adored me for it, and that was a good thing…in a small town, sometimes something like that is your only hope for acceptance and your daughter’s only hope for attention amidst the children of the town’s doctors and lawyers. Stars on Ice offered us both of these things, for which I must admit to being grateful. If allowing people to gaze adoringly at John Zimmerman is all that it takes to gain their utter adoration, so be it.

I watched the kids looking at their heroes with adoration and love. They nearly fainted in excitement when Elvis Stojko skated over to us and allowed the kids a photo opportunity with him. It was all very heart-warming, particularly when I noted that our VP was pushing children to the floor and stepping on top of their backs in order to prop her up over the boards to leap into Mr. Stokjo’s arms. Our club has seldom received such inspiringly positive PR. The whole thing brought a tear to my eye…particularly the part where several children were shoved unceremoniously onto the ice in order to afford our VP the opportunity to club Elvis with her shoe and desperately attempt to deposit him in her handbag for safe transport back to her residence.

Later on in the rehearsal, I was called upon to perform hostage negotiations. John Zimmerman stood center ice, surrounded by our club parents, many of whom were wiggling their arms in the air whilst gyrating their hips wildly. It took me several minutes to fully comprehend the nature of the commotion, by which time the club president had folded Mr. Zimmerman neatly into a piece of luggage and attempted unsuccessfully to exit the arena. The show of passionate arm waving was nothing more than a cruel hoax!! By the time the nature of the ladies diabolical plan was unearthed, John Zimmerman’s quiet sobbing could be heard throughout the arena. Having found escape impossible, the club president had instead opted to store him neatly in the overhead compartment. The poor man was hot and sweaty, and had long ago ceased to enjoy his folded state.

It was the hope of the Stars On Ice cast that by donning a leotard and frilly hat, I could force the president to see reason thus releasing Zimmerman from his hot and foldedness.
Sadly, though the frilly hat did begin the process of trust building, no one was willing to relinquish the promise of the unfolding, due to take place shortly after the show. Finally, Kurt Browning stepped in and blinded the president with the glare from his head, slapped her silly and ran backstage like the wind, tugging the suitcase containing John Zimmerman behind him.

Okay, fine…none of that really happened. I would have enjoyed it dearly had it happened, however. The truth of the matter is actually far more mundane. We went to the rehearsal, we went to the show, we went home. Now, how in the hell am I to make an entire blog entry out of THAT, I ask you!! This is why sometimes writers take creative license, folks…for YOUR benefit!! Our job as authors is to keep you riveted to our blog entries /novels/ short stories etc. for the duration. Creative license allows us to hit the nail on the head far more often than not.

At least, that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Starting Point

This is the story of how I came to be disillusioned about life, and my future, within the working world.

When I was just twenty, I had myself some lofty ambitions in life. I was going to go and produce the world’s largest exhibition figure skating tour, and damn was I going to be something. Armed with this ambition, I began to research post-secondary institutions that could aid me in the realization of that dream. As a typical kid, (which, let’s face it, is all you are when you are still in your early twenties) I jumped at the first opportunity to get into college. The recruiter at this particular institution lied without remorse about the virtues of their particular brand of education, citing statistics that were more out of date than Zoot Suits. I, as a stupid kid, readily believed these statistics, believing the degree they were offering me in Business Operations with a concentration on Production Management would lead easily to my ultimate goal of producing the professional figure skating tour.

It took about two years of studies, (and roughly $20,000.00 in student loans) for me to fully realize the extent to which I’d been taken in. Production Management, under this particular Institute of Higher Robbery, related specifically to factory production. Factories were places that, even as child, I’d found more depressing than the holocaust. Sadly, by the time I figured this out (namely because up and to this point, the courses had been relatively generic, focusing on basic managerial practices and the like) I was too far in debt to turn back. What choice did I have?? I had to continue on taking the courses that would eventually reward me with a degree in a field I not only had no interest in, but would rather take my own life than be employed by.

Now, when a person loses interest, and not only loses interest, but genuinely abhors a subject matter; mustering enthusiasm for the same is next to impossible. As such, my grades soon slipped terribly, causing my instructors to query why I had morphed overnight into a D student where I had previously been on the honor roll. I explained to them carefully, hoping to find answers but getting only embarrassed glances and red faces. They knew, you see, that the structure of the recruitment department depended upon filling the seats in order to pay the recruiters salary and their own. My story was in no way unique. Most of the students there had been coerced through the doors via a recruiting officers lies, and made to stay through the debt they’d already incurred via student financing. Sometimes when you have a large number of folk in the same position, the unethical nature thereof is normalized enough to almost make it appear acceptable…almost.

At any rate, when I walked out of the Institute of Robbery, I did so two courses short of a degree. I had the good sense to change the wording of my resume to make it appear as though I had completed the full degree…but soon found out that due to the Institute of Robbery’s questionable name within the industry, the degree meant very little. My first job upon “completion” of my degree was in a credit union. Never in my life have I hated a job so intensely. I was made to stand for eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, due to the fact that our manager deemed it “unprofessional” for a bank teller to sit while dealing with customers. How she figured it appeared more professional for us to be shifting our weight from foot to foot in a desperate attempt to evenly distribute the pain is beyond me. On top of the physical strain of that job (which, in retrospect, I think greatly contributed to my hip and back finally deciding they both hated me and going on strike) my co-workers made the experience all the more unbearable. Here we had a bunch of women that felt their role in the credit union was to look as fashionable as possible at all cost. Given that I couldn’t afford Prada shoes and Gucci handbags, I was deemed unfit for their clique. The teller manager was, by far, the most immature and outspoken among them; our fearless leader in group stupidity and high snobbery.

There was a lady working there at the time that was in her eighth month of pregnancy. Sadly, like me, this lady was unable to afford the latest styles and was therefore deemed unworthy of humane treatment. Our teller manager’s favorite trick was to refuse Angela a seat, making her stand during her entire shift. Needless to say, this is not possible for a pregnant woman, and Angela often had to choke back tears through the course of her workday. This marked the first time since “completing” post-secondary that I realized many people in management positions were incompetent asshats; far more interested in competing in some vague popularity contest than in actually effectively managing a body of people. Working under such individuals was enough to make me want to cry…and believe me, cry I did. I don’t know what made me feel the most despondent; the horrible nature of the job itself, or the terrifying realization that these were the types of careers I could look forward to for the rest of my life.

At the end, I was laid off for two reasons. The first being that, following the bank’s implementation of increased service charges for senior’s, I made it my mission in life to reverse those charges so allowing these senior’s the luxury of eating. The teller manager spoke to me about the importance of continuing to rob the seniors and so increasing branch profits several times. I smiled, nodded, and proceeded to carry straight on reversing those charges. The second was a letter I opted to submit to the branch manager in regards to the teller manager’s unethical behavior. I quickly learned that there are certain things the low man on the totem pole probably shouldn’t do…pointing out the general incompetence and abject stupidity of management is decidedly one of those things.

I remember the day I was laid off with perfect clarity. I had gone to work that morning with a heavy heart, wishing fervently that my body would be run down by a vehicle prior to my arrival. When I walked into the bank, having had no such luck, I noticed a cab parked in front. Two minutes later, I was called into the branch manager’s office and handed my walking papers. I looked right into his eyes, and sighed heavily. “You could have phoned me this morning and saved me a trip in, you know. I mean to say; now I’m going to have to pay a cab to get home.” He hastily informed me that the cab out front was for my benefit, and that the company would pay the bill to ferry me home. Without waiting for any further explanation, I began to smile widely. I was FREE!!! I practically danced out of the bank, and then got a very startled cab driver to take me on a tour of the entire city prior to depositing me back at my house. The bill came to over eighty dollars, adding to my general joy significantly.

That job taught me a great many things, the chief among them being that my fabulous education at the Institution of Robbery afforded me absolutely no working future to speak of. Any ‘career’ the degree afforded me would start at a whopping $12/hour, putting me under people that had less common sense than my shoe, and daily solidifying that Darwin had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. To this day, I don’t know which part of this revelation depressed me more; knowing that no matter how hard I worked I would never make enough money to support myself and my daughter, or realizing that the second rate education I’d been sucked into ensured that whatever employment I was capable of ascertaining would be something I’d hate passionately.

By the time I received the documents from student finance demanding repayment, I was so resigned to my position in life that all I could do was laugh manically. They wanted me to pay back $45,000.00?? Really?? Umm…okay, sure…let’s see here, I was making a grand total of $12.00/hr. At eight hours a day, that totaled a whopping $1350.00 a month after taxes. My expenses at the time were roughly $1500.00, and that didn’t include food or any sort of clothing or entertainment for little one. Given that I was operating at a deficit of about $750.00 a month; repayment was simply out of the question. Frankly, they were damn lucky I hadn’t jumped out of the top story of my townhouse upon reading the total amount owing.

When my health started to go, despite the physical discomfort I couldn’t help but feeling a little like it was a blessing. As difficult as it is sometimes to go through the day, and as painful as it is sometimes to perform basic activities I used to take for granted, in some ways it also sets me free. My disability makes working impossible, as I can’t sit/stand/walk or bend properly. As a result, posts like these take up to a week to complete. I realize all of this sounds very negative, but you have to see this from my point of view. Disability gives me a far better income than I could ascertain working, especially now that my medications, (which disability covers and working does not) run over $500.00 a month. More than that, I can now afford to get glasses for my daughter, and take her to the dentist, because these things are also covered. Yes, I am in pain, and yes, sometimes I am intensely frustrated by the fact that things I once took for granted are now near impossible for me to do; but at least I can afford to live, albeit frugally. That’s a lot more than I could say for myself in good health in the working world. More than that, now that the government is aware I am on long term disability, with very little chance of a change in my condition, I am no longer expected to pay back this $45,000.00 loan that I received to attend the Institute of Robbery.

It’s sad, non? I am in better financial shape now that I’m incapable of working than I ever was when I was capable of working. What does this say for our society?? Is it really fair that the only average folks able to scrape by are the ones that are either fortunate enough to be married and have a dual income, or unfortunate enough to lose their health and require long term aid from the government?

I’d like to be able to say that now that my financial situation has improved to the point of being able to live, though incredibly sparsely, I’ve found great happiness in life…this is not, however, anywhere near the truth. I want to work. I want to be able to use the mind that I was blessed enough to receive to make a difference in this world. The fact remains however, that disabled or not, this is not reality. Not today, anyways. The reality is that every day is agony, and this agony is a combination of the physical and emotional hard truths that are mine to face, and mine to change.

What if I don’t get better and I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life living in subsidized housing on less money than most educated people make in a week? What if I do get better and my job prospects don’t? What if the dreams I dreamed when I was looking for a post secondary institution are just that…foolish dreams that have no hope of coming true?

Today, I’m learning to stop my mind and not think. Thinking too hard about reality is enough to kill a body in my position…literally. The doctors are hoping that they can improve my health with surgeries, possibly allowing me to return to the workforce part-time in a few years. I sit here not quite knowing what to hope for. Part of me is screaming to not allow them to touch me because damn it, if they do succeed in making me well enough to return to the workforce, I’ll be condemned to a meaningless $10/hr job with the student finance wolves eagerly panting at the doorstep for half.

I can’t possibly explain accurately the frustration of this position. You see, the mere thought of returning to the blue collar workforce in a few years fills me with a dread I can’t properly articulate. It’s an exercise in daily degradation; as you helplessly watch your self-esteem falling away from you by the hour. Each time a person ten years younger and four life times stupider gives you an order, you want to either break down and sob, or cause them severe bodily harm. Standing in the local fast food establishment, wearing a shit-brown uniform and hairnet, your biggest aspiration in life quickly becomes avoiding being seen there by anyone you know. Each day, as you get dressed for work, you feel the panic starting to rise in your chest; knowing in your heart that this is killing your soul and breaking your hopes and dreams into little bitty pieces. You hope your child doesn’t know that this is where Mommy works because damn it you want better for her than you have been able to manage, and you hate that when her friends come in you have to serve them like they are the fucking Queen herself because your asshat teenaged boss keeps tapping that infernal sign that reminds you “the customer is always right.”

You know in your mind that you could do so much if you only hadn’t made this choice or that one, but now…now you’re fucked, baby. You are forever stuck in this hole of debasing hourly hell with no escape in sight. Today, for me…it’s a choice between this horror and the horror of daily pain and hourly physical agony. God forgive me, but I truly believe that the prison cell that my body has become is far preferable to the humiliation quietly awaiting me in society. I have avoided discussing the procedures that might just free me from this agony for fear of having them work; releasing me unwillingly into a torture I deem much, much worse. At least in the safety of my home, I can sometimes ignore my pain for long enough to dream, and sometimes when I dream long enough and hard enough, I can almost believe that I still have the power to make those dreams come true.

I am not the only one in standing forlornly at this station in life. Many people live on long term disability, ignoring to the best of their ability any treatments that may alleviate their physical discomfort. It’s an action executed based on the knowledge that the physical pain is easier somehow to bear than the emotional anguish awaiting them should they ever “get better” and be deemed “employable” again. This is our tragic truth…but more than that…this is also frustratingly enough, our even more tragic choices.

As I review this entry, I see the bald truth I’ve never dared to speak to anyone, and it frightens me more than you could possibly know. I’m nearly thirty now, and knowing how bleakly I see my future leaves me with mixed emotions. In part, I know that I’ve spoken from the heart, and revealed the secrets of my real feelings to some people that it may well surprise, anger or sadden. My sister will be thinking of how she used to think that I would be something special, someone that would shine in life and really take the world by storm. My best friend, on the other hand, will be thinking about how quickly she can get into her car so she can come over here and beat the fuck right out of me.

All of you…know this. I wrote this because I had to. I had to see this whole thing in black and white so I could process it. I had to realize how far down I’ve let this go so that I can figure out where the hell to put the ladder that gets me out of it. If I allow this entry to become my mantra, I will never be any more than I have described today. If, on the other hand, I look at this truth and know in my heart that living it another day will kill me, I can change it. This blog has been a place where I previously posted little anecdotes about life, in the style of www.dooce.com. That’s been a lot of fun, but it’s not what I need this for anymore. Now, I need this blog to become the story of my journey…and for every journey, a person needs two things; a starting point and a destination. This entry is my starting point. Making my dreams come true, no matter how hard it is, and no matter what the fuck it takes…that’s my destination.

I no longer want to run a figure skating tour…that dream was one I created when I was still na├»ve enough to believe that happiness and fulfillment was achieved by being with someone that was all that you wanted to be. Today I know that happiness comes from achieving my personal best, using my own gifts and talents. Now, the dream is to write. That’s my gift. Finding a way to make that into a living is my challenge and doing it in a way that allows me to shine for who and what I am is the goal. I tried, at first; to do that by copying the style of someone I admire…just like the figure skating tour, however, this isn’t going to work because it’s still not me. I haven’t gotten to the point of knowing quite how to get there yet, but I will. All I can promise myself, and all of you, is that I will. It can’t be any harder a journey than sitting in the hell I have described above…and I’m willing to lay odds that in the end, it’ll be a hell of a lot more fun, too. Wish me luck, all!! I’ll keep you posted.