Saturday, January 31, 2015

Politics Are A Scary Thing

Right now I'm reading "Dead Wrong - Straight Facts on the Country's Most Controversial Cover Ups" by Richard Belzer, David Wayne and Jesse Ventura and I'm reminded anew that our government is only as good as the people we elect. Plus, if you can do just enough obfuscation over a scandalous happening you can also protect your reputation and have another run at higher office.

I just finished the section on the mysterious suicide of Bill Clinton's childhood friend and crony Vince Foster and it's chilling. What is even more frightening than the story of what looks like a large scale government cover up over the death of Vince is the fact that as Hillary Clinton is preparing to run for president in 2016 the Republicans and the main stream media seem to have forgotten that it's likely she has Vince Foster's blood figuratively on her hands.

Back when Vince Foster died I still believed that our government and politicians were mostly good, having the best interests of our citizens in the forefront of their work. Then I experienced my own realization that government sometimes makes things look one way when it's actually something entirely different. I know the guy that found Vince Foster's body.

That guy, Patrick Knowlton, used to stop by our country store in Madison County, Virginia, because he had a weekend place mere minutes away. I always liked Pat, he was a straight forward kind of a guy, likable and he always doted on my youngest, Laura. He used to adore her and anyone that did was a awesome person in my eyes. We never talked about his discovery of Vince Foster's body.

During our time owning the store I was also the town postmaster, not really much of a job, just a few minutes mail sorting and handing it out every day. I was un-involved with politics and believed what the media said about Foster.

But over the course of a year or so I had various investigators stopping by my little country store to ask me about Patrick Knowlton. Sometimes the badge they carried said they were with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, sometimes the Treasury Dept. Once the badge was Secret Service.

There wasn't much I could tell them. Patrick was a nice guy, he played with my toddler daughter when he came in, he sometimes bought beer and he owned a convertible car. That was about it, the extent of my knowledge of Patrick Knowlton.

What was so weird about all of these exchanges is that the questions were many times very leading, trying to get me to say he was  drunk, or a homosexual or some sort of 'subversive' type person, but I always stuck to what I knew of him, that he was a nice average sort of fellow.

Later I spoke to Pat, let him know that various government agencies were noising around my little redneck Pepsi-filled corner of the world, what they asked and that I told them what I knew, he was an okay sort of fellow. He told me a little of what he was going through. Years later he ran into Jim and filled him in on the years, we're talking years, of harassment he received at the hands of the Clinton administration.

I've always believed him. Seeing it set down in writing, Patrick's testimony, in a book, makes me almost shake thinking about how the Clinton's apparently used the power of Bill's office to harass someone that certainly did not deserve it at all.

I would love to have a female president, but I shudder to think what might happen if Hillary Clinton was elected. If what happened to Vince Foster and to Patrick Knowlton merely because he found Foster's body are past history of the Clinton's it could be anything goes.

Found out that Patrick wrote a book about his experience, it's going to be my next read - Failure of the Public Trust

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sad Conversations

I had more than a couple of sad conversations yesterday while I was laying in bed trying to recover from my asthma.

First with Margaret, my eldest daughter. I had to re-emphasis to her to always ask my permission before handing out my phone number willy nilly to the ex in laws. We talked about her father and how his fear of hospitals and general lack of personal responsibility wasn't going to help out her grandmother any. He's refusing to step up and take over the care of his mother, or even to fight for legal control of her. Taking her into his home to care for is out of the question too. He won't even confront Lynn on the things she's doing he dislikes.

Dan is still Dan. He's always been like this. He takes no action, yet blames those that do. He's been telling Margaret for years how happily married we were until I left him for no reason. She's believed that all these years and has openly blamed me for leaving him. I'm hoping that she's now seeing into his character a little bit, and maybe will realize that he's not as blameless in his life as he pretends.

Had to point out that he hates confrontations, doesn't do them well and he's never going to step up to confront Lynn. If they want to take their grandmother out of the control of Lynn someone else is going to have to step up and do something, take the first steps in taking control from Lynn.

Lynn has been diagnosed through the years with a laundry list of mental illnesses and lived on SSI. She cannot work because of her mental illness, or at least she claims she cannot. I'm encouraging Margaret to hire an attorney and go after custody of the grandmother, she and her cousin are the two most likely to make better decisions in this family for my ex maw in law. Lynn is just too immature and mentally ill. While Margaret has her moments and her problems if she and her cousin the ICU nurse held control jointly it would still be better than the rest of that family at monitoring the ex maw in law in the nursing home.

The other sad part of that conversation is that I found out exactly why animal control seized the kids cat, the one I'm fostering for the county. It wasn't because my granddaughter threatened to kill the kitty, it was because Margaret kicked the cat! I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to hear that considering I'd been told something else these last couple of months.

That poor sweet cat with her very loving personality! Who would kick her?

This is one of the reasons why Margaret and I do not have the same close relationship that I have with her younger sister Laura. Laura doesn't lie to me, but I have a hard time separating fact from fiction with Margaret and find myself consistently disgusted that I've been lied to yet again. I hold her at emotional arms length until some crisis happens and while I'm trying to help her with whatever is going on out it tumbles that she's been lying about one thing or another.

Which is why I think her lifestyle is a dangerous thing indeed. It's just a matter of time before one of the kids tells CPS about the rampant drug use and strange men and women coming in and out of the house. The eldest is 13 now and you cannot tell me she doesn't pick up on the fact that they're smoking more dope than a Rastafarian. I smell it the minute I come in the front door, so how long will it take Animal Control and CPS to figure out the same thing? Which weighs heavily on me for the potential of sheer awfulness coming if they don't stop what they are doing and fly right.

All that kind of makes the idea of Margaret having control over the ex maw in law sort of wrong, I guess. I take back what I said about her having control. With the drama in her life it would be no better solution than Lynn.

After all the Margaret conversation I ended up going into the accountants office where I'd just started working and told the owner that there was absolutely no way I could work one on one with the public because of what it had done over the course of one four hour shift. She was nice about it, but I felt bad letting her down at the beginning of tax season. At least all the classes have me better prepared for doing our taxes this year.

When Jim came home he wasn't pleased with me not doing taxes this year. He keeps wanting to know why my asthma is only a problem sometimes and not all of the time. I had to explain anew that because in my personal day to day life I take some pretty extreme measures to avoid chemicals and things that trigger the attacks. In an environment where the general public is tromping in and out I have absolutely no control over those triggers.

My old doctor used to say I'd be better off sealed in a bubble, like Bubble Boy, but that's just not practical. I did see my old doctor yesterday at our local department store. He asked about my asthma and I told him. He reminded me yet again to take control of the triggers, which I am doing. Unfortunately Tuesday's attacks were so severe that I'm still wheezing and coughing, spending most of Wednesday and yesterday in bed. Today looks like much of the same except I think I'm going to take a turn around the park for some fresh air. No power walking, just some very gentle exercise in the clean fresh air with no triggers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

And Then It Gets Crazy

Shortly after I posted yesterday my phone started ringing. Margaret had given out my phone number to someone in Louisiana in my ex's family and I started getting calls asking if I could contact a family member in New Orleans that is a judge to get an injunction to keep the ex maw in law in the nursing facility and out of the hands of Lynn.

I had to explain that while I do have two extended family members who are judges it wasn't going to do any good to contact either. My great uncle is a retired Federal judge and I have a distant cousin who is an active judge at the state appellate level. Neither could issue what they were looking for.

So typical of them. Don't do anything for yourself, like hire a lawyer, fight your sister and fight to get the right to care for your mother, but expect someone else to bend over backwards for you. While you do nothing.

Not happening here. In fact I told my ex that even if I could I was disinclined to help him because the last conversation we had he was threatening me with bodily harm. I didn't throw in what I was dying to say, that being put on the spot by federal agents when he was suspected of trying to mail a bomb threat to the head of a television studio didn't endear him to me either.

What I could do and did do was block him and his relatives from calling me. I am not getting drug into their mess.

Plus I had my first day of work, which didn't go well for the dumbest out of my control reasons. The reason that I'm writing this from my bed this morning.

I haven't had an asthma attack since September, the longest stretch since I've been off Xolair or even on Xolair. Longest stretch since 2006. Eight long years. That ended on Saturday night when Jim ripped into an industrial sized can of peanuts from Costco while I was driving. Before I could ask him to roll down the window just so I didn't have to inhale the peanut smell and possibly have an asthma attack I was fully having an attack.

Sunday I was walking past my dishwasher while it was running, hearing the water pouring out of it and into the pipes under the sink when I had another asthma attack. I'd switched from the phosphate/sulfate free organic dishwasher soap to a major brand at Costco, this was the first time using it. Apparently I'm very allergic to whatever is in non-organic dishwasher soap.

Monday's was the dumbest of all, I was cooking with a brand new teflon coated pan that I'd thoroughly washed and I reacted very badly to whatever fumes this thing was giving off.

So yesterday I had that all under control. Saturday, Sunday and Monday I did my asthma control plan, took the drugs, monitored my oxygen levels, etc. etc, very boring routine that shuts it down. Didn't work well last night.

I get to work and find my airways getting tighter and tighter with each client I had to deal with. Universally each one either smelled as if they'd been rolled in an ashtray. One reeked of gasoline fumes and still another from something else unidentifiable. By the time I left I was wheezing big time. Got home, did my routine to stop it, right down to injectable Benadryl and laying down. It was touch and go on using my epipen and going to the hospital. If it hadn't backed off at all I would have gotten Jim to take me to the hospital.

I'm not much better today, my oxygen levels are in the high 80s and my chest is still in that vice grip. I cannot get a good breath all the way down to the bottom.

I don't work again till tomorrow, so I don't know if this was a one-off or a regular thing. I'm going to have to talk to the boss and see if I can do something else that doesn't involve face to face interaction with customers or I'm going to have to quit. I cannot function if it's going to make me this sick every time I work. This is why I have a horrible time keeping a job, yet I keep getting rejected for disability.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The View From the Rear View Mirror

It's been an amusing sort of day already, shamefully amusing. I've been watching my ex in-laws family fighting via Facebook. They're squabbling hard, like a pack of hillbillies scrapping over the last jug of moonshine. It's amusing but mostly it makes me so thankful to the big guy upstairs that I ran away from this lot, that even with my maw in law starting to slide into dementia and my brother in law's simmering passive aggressive anger of my husband bullying him when they were kids nothing has ever come close to the level of crazy my ex in-laws bring.

Why are they fighting? Turns out the youngest sister of my ex, Lynn, has made off with the completely senile ex maw in law, who has been living in a nursing home for at least five years now. The siblings and cousins are pissed and Lynn, ever the most attention whore-y of the family, is posting up photos of the ex maw in law wearing a variety of comedic and insulting hats on Face Book. It's clear from viewing the photos that ex maw in law isn't aware that Lynn is doing this to her.

While it's tacky, stupid and humiliating to the ex maw in law there is no genuine harm done by taking the photos, it's just juvenile and par for the course with Lynn.

Lynn is the one that I had one Face Book chat with over a year ago and she started calling up Margaret and claiming I'd said all these nasty things. I ended up emailing Margaret the chat log, which shows I said nothing more than that I was worried for Margaret and my granddaughter because both were having medication adjustment issues. So sue me if I'm worried for my kid! It was nothing I haven't already told Margaret to her face. She realized very quickly that Lynn was clearly trying to manipulate us into fighting, likely for her own amusement. So there is that history of Lynn attempting to stir up trouble not just for Margaret and I, but with various other members of her family too.

My eldest daughter Margaret is very upset over all of this, which is unfortunate. What's also unfortunate is that my ex, Dan, the oldest child in the family, should have been watching out for his mom, instead of being all too 'rock n roll' in his early sixties to be watching out for his mother. Lynn has taken control of the situation with the ex maw in law because her two older siblings have not done anything to help out.

Dan has never grown up, and Margaret cannot see that. She only knows that in her late teens and adult years he's been 'Super Dad' that one week a year they go to the beach. She still accuses me of keeping him away from her as a child, which is completely a lie. The only time I ever stopped him from seeing her was the week he wanted to come visit her in Germany and stay with us that happened to be the same week I was due to give birth to Andy and had been put on bed rest the last few weeks of the pregnancy. I legally stopped that. But otherwise he was free to see her. He just never bothered. Somehow that is my fault.

When I left Dan his irresponsibility and constant crazy of his family played a large part in the end of our marriage. That last night, Dan so drunk he was flopping around the bathroom floor like a fish out of water, throwing up and crapping his pants at the same time before passing out on the floor. I decided that night I could not take any more of that. No more of his middle sister pulling a pistol on us when we disagreed with her, no more of his mother chewing me out for leaving Dan passed out on the bathroom floor, no more little sister Lynn's constant allegations that the ex maw in law was abusing her with no evidence, no marks, no nothing. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I ran, not walked, away from Dan and his family. Margaret cannot understand that they are all still stuck in some of the old bad behaviors that go back as far as I've known all of them. They'll never change. Dan and Kim want to bitch about whatever Lynn is or isn't doing with the maw in law, but neither of them are willing to do a damn thing but run their mouths and fight.

Pointed out a few times to Margaret that even a backwards place like Louisiana has laws against elder abuse, and if she's that concerned she should give them a call and ask them to check on her grandmother, but she wasn't any more receptive or willing to do anything than her father.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Phthalo Blue

After a stressful morning realizing that the mainstream church I have been attending is morphing into a very conservative fundamentalist church filled with people who don't give a real damn about anyone else and going to fetch a pizza for Jim only to be stampeded by a pile of extra extra extra large people when the doors opened who were all buying six or more pizzas each I decided I needed relaxation.

Used to be I painted in oils every Sunday after church. But I mostly stopped that, I don't know why because I love to paint and have been painting since my first art lessons around twelve years old.

Yesterday I did a big canvas of a shell path leading through the wild sea grasses and oats to a deserted beach. I feel a strong need for the ocean right now. I got no sea time last summer and yeah, I know we're in the middle of planning a Costa Rica and Panama trip in about a month but I need it now..

It was when I was almost down when disaster struck. Kiki, my older male dark tabby decided he was going to jump up on the table. He landed, his two hind feet firmly enmeshed in a puddle of phthalo blue and cadmium white paints. I tried to grab him, he struggled, resulting in both of us being covered in phthalo blue paint. He was snarling and spitting as I scrubbed his feet, but not before he put blue footprints everywhere.

I have my work cut out for me today, scrubbing random things with a bottle of denaturated alcohol in one hand and paper towel in the other. He even managed to get it all over my new coat, which I neglected to notice till I got into my car and smeared it all over.

I love my pets, I love my pets.... I keep telling myself.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Almost "Done"

I went to church for one of the few times between Thanksgiving and now and was very triggered again. The sermon on controlling your thoughts and ceasing to complain or even dare to mentally criticize is really rubbing me the wrong way.

Like I said recently here and on NLQ I don't think complaining is necessarily always bad, it's the first step toward really getting things done. Sometimes it's the complainers that are the catalyst to getting stuff done, taking names, calling out injustice, fixing social wrongs.

The reason pastors don't like it is because it means those in their congregations aren't under their control or are (in the pastors mind) agitating and causing trouble.

I came away again today with a distinct unpleasant taste in my mouth, listening to what I know in my soul is complete and utter bullshit used to control people. Not one person asked me where I'd been or how I was and the few I spoke with cannot be considered friends in any way, shape or form. The usual people were there behaving as always in their little cliques.

Once I got home I decided I might start visiting other churches in the area, starting with the one my friend Joanie goes to. But when I pulled up their website I saw that the guy that was the burr under my saddle blanket during my old church days had preached a few sermons there. I pulled up his sermon notes and proceeded to laugh and be triggered anew. Yes, Tom Smith, the Tom Smith that created endless drama in my life for the years I attended the old church and has tried to keep on punishing me when I left is trying to tell people about love, God's love. Tom Smith gave a sermon.

His sermon was on how Jesus loves him, and he started his sermon with his simplistic little ditty he wrote that has a chorus like this:
"I like Jesus
Jesus likes me"
Then he says this:
" Loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength will produce automatic obedience.  Love eliminates the striving to obey."
Again, simplistic, but this time quite wrong. Did King David, a man who did love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength, perfectly obey 100% of the time? Well, no, there was at the very least that thing with banging Bathsheba and killing her old man along with other stuff he did throughout his history.

Loving God isn't going to turn you into a Ned Flanders-bot, no matter how much you wish it would.

But to me the sermon capper was this bit, his description of himself before he starts claiming that at 38 years old he started living in love with the Lord and obeying God most of the time along with serving others:
brat, smoking, getting high, drinking by age 13. No friends. Rejection on bus.Saved on school bus. Went strong months and months until we moved again.Became a chronic backslider for the next 25 years."
This is the most absurdest part considering he and I are the same age and I know for a fact he was having an affair with someone else around the same age as 38 or shortly thereafter. I also want to know how he squares his simplistic views of obedience and serving others in that time with the time he grabbed me and shook me so hard I had bruises for a week, the time he chased me and my children across his front yard with an upraised fist to try and hit me, or all the piles of emails he sent me demanding I repent and apologize to him for leaving our old church, calling me names, threatening me with hell and burning coals being dumped on my head, ad infiniteum.

I know he hasn't changed much since then. This is a small Southern town where everyone knows everyone elses business.

He is still a backslider, he's just managed to find a place where many fewer people know that he's behaved in some atrocious behavior for anyone, much less someone claiming to follow Christ.

I know, I know, no one is perfect and we're all human, but my experiences with Tom Smith, and now the people at my big mainstream church leave me thinking that many, if not all, Christians are a load of controlling, shit-spewing, hypocrites living in a hermetically-sealed church bubble with no idea how ridiculous they are to the rest of the world.

I think I'm going to have to be 'done' with church, not with faith or my spirituality, but with organized religion for a while. I'm tired of being surprise-triggered by this stuff. It is starting to drag me down. When church starts to derail you from your spiritual life it might be time to ditch going to church at all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Re - Adjusting, Doing, Viewing, and Remembering

This afternoon's snack when what I really wanted was something carb-y, sugary, crunchy, chocolaty and and oh so bad for me. This is crunchy with some sweetness, but not my mind's first choice.

Yesterday afternoon Laura and I had a long conversation about many things, but mostly about the changes we have both been making in the new year. Hence the above photo of my afternoon nibbling.

One of the things Laura was bemoaning is that many of her friends are turning with up engagement rings and wedding plans and she's feeling envious. She wants that proposal and she wants it now, even if she recognizes that the timing would not be the greatest considering she's working full time at the university and working on her MBA at the same time.

The heart wants what the heart wants. Right now my heart wants a pile of gooey fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip and pecan cookies. Laura wants an engagement ring.

She talked me down from the cookie-lust and I pointed out to her that not only would the timing suck for her life plans if she got engaged or married right now, but it was responsible and respectful that her long time boyfriend Ian waited to propose. He's not in any position to support a family, he's still working hard towards his career goals and has some past mistakes he must take care of first.

We ended up having a funny conversation where I reminded her that planning a wedding could be an extraordinarily stressful affair. I asked her if she was really ready for that level of crazy and then told her about my wedding, warts and all, my mother taking over the planning as if it was her own wedding and driving me around the bend over every small decision and that was before things started going hatefully haywire in the arrangements.

I'd told Jim I didn't want a big wedding, in fact it mattered little me. I would have been content to marry him in the parking lot of the local Piggly-Wiggly barefoot and wearing a croaker sack for a dress. He said he wanted a big church wedding, my mother pounced on that idea and away we went.

After two weeks of trying on dresses in a fleet of high end dept stores and bridal shops I ordered a reasonably priced one from J.C.Penney's, one I could afford. All the dresses had started to look the same to me by that point, giant frosted cupcake-looking affairs that cost way too much. Plus I was trying to keep costs down for my wedding party attendants. The catalog had bridesmaids dresses in the color I wanted that coordinated with my wedding dress. I ordered my dress, veil and a flower girl dress for my daughter from my first brief marriage, Beth, My maid of honor ordered her dress at the same time, from the same catalog, store, etc.

Two months later, we keep getting messages that my maid of honor Kay's dress was back ordered, back ordered, back ordered before getting a cancellation notice. Kay required a size 20 or 22 plus sized dress, which was one of the reasons I went with those particular dresses, because they came in an entire line of plus sizes. Four months left before the wedding and we were left scrambling. After consulting a seamstress, combing many other stores we finally found an acceptable substitute at a local bridal shop. But it had to be ordered. The bridal shop assistant started snipping that we were cutting it way too close ordering the dress a mere four months before the wedding. Apparently back almost 29 years ago you needed to order any dresses from the shops a good six months in advance.

A week before the wedding, no maid of honor dress. I'm freaking out, plus my mother is constantly trying to make me make decisions on things like which color netting the birdseed for throwing as we leave should be, things I don't care about and tried to delegate to her.

A day before the wedding. The dress arrives but needs to be slightly altered. They do the alteration while we wait. But the seamstress has snagged the material, creating a long laddered run in the light knit material that starts at the underarm and runs nearly to the waist. When I complain that they've ruined the maid of honors dress a day before my wedding I'm told tough titty, it was a cheap dress and they could not be responsible for that! Just about hyperventilated and passed out! The dress was several hundred dollars, not cheap at all in that time. We decided it was too late to do anything else and my maid of honor went with the dress with the run under the arm, like cheap pantyhose when you've been dancing barefoot in them on gravel.

The morning of the wedding Kay and I went to have our hair and makeup professionally done at the salon we both love. My hairdresser's sister died in the night, so I ended up with someone entirely different, who ignored my requests for the same style my usual guy did. I ended up with a hairstyle I didn't much like with my veil mashed onto my head at a weird angle and sewn to my scalp.

And then we get to the church and instead of wearing the dress that echoed the cut and color of my bridesmaids dresses that we'd picked out together my mother is wearing satin, a fancy red satin low cut formal dress. My mother in law had on a perfect dress that complimented the colors and design, but my mother was dressed like she was working in a Wild West bordello. She was beautiful as always, it was just so completely inappropriate for a big formal church wedding.

There were a number of smaller screw ups happening, that had happened, like the wedding cake had started to melt in the bakery truck, the icing roses slicing down the cake and social awkwardness like my father telling my future mother in law that the large African American lady sitting up front was my mother's sister instead of her coworker.

But I decided on the spot I was not going to allow any of this to wreck my day, that I was marrying the love of my life and none of this mattered. Forgive, forget and move on. Kay and I drank some wine in the Brides room before the wedding and laughed over all of that. I went out and married Jim before we had a wonderful reception with family, friends and a melting wedding cake that tasted fantastic.

My extended family still refers to my wedding as 'The day Barbara wore a whore-y dress to Suzanne's wedding" which still makes me laugh. It's part of family lore now. I don't resent it, it's just her and she was working through her own issues in her choice of dress.

After I told Laura this story, with a lot more comedic flare than I'm recounting it here, I pointed out that you really cannot waste time wishing things were different that you have no control over, you have to breath in, breath out, laugh and move on.

I feel pretty sure at some point Ian will propose to Laura, they've been together for two years now and they both talk about a future together as a married couple with a family. But right now I get the sense that Ian is the type that will not propose until their careers and educations are completed and he's dealt with remaining things involving his years ago driving under the influence conviction.

Ian, like Laura, was raised in a 'Good Christian' (tm) family and they both have had to work through the aftermath of leaving. Laura and the rest of us in our family have had exit counseling and it's made a world of difference in our being able to leave the church, forgive each other, breath in, breath out, laugh and move on. Ian has not had that opportunity and is still working through those things, handling it much better than many coming out. He's making real efforts to heal and move on.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds for these two and I'm making a vow here and today that I'll not take over the wedding plans or wear a red satin dress when they do marry.

Keep short lists for being offended. Know which battles are worth fighting for. Know that others weird behavior is more about their own issues than anything you have done and try not to take it personally or react like it's personal.