Thursday, February 26, 2015

Up Yours Life Insurance Companies, Ignored Messages & George Takei

This last weekend was sort of stressful as I was still feeling the pressure of the semi-annual Shoe Fight and Jim was also in a mood over that. But by Sunday things felt like normal again, except with the heavy snow we got the night before church was cancelled and we were stuck here together for the weekend. Much napping and television watching ensued.

I know some of when Jim and I disagree is our continuing adjustment from fundamentalism. Some of it is still hang over and triggering from the old stuff. Knowing that doesn't help as much as you'd think it might.

Monday I left in the late afternoon to drive up to Laura's university to meet her. For Valentine's Day she'd bought tickets for us to see Star Trek's George Takei speak in one of the small auditoriums on campus. I was careful to have dinner prepared and sitting out with a note telling Jim where I'd gone and that it was likely I'd spend the night at Laura and Andy's house.

Laura and I had a great time, went out to dinner before going to hear Mr. Takei, Uncle George, speak on his life, from his childhood in an internment camp at Tule Lake, California during World War II through his struggles with his sexuality. It was an entertaining and uplifting evening. Towards the end  he took questions from the audience. Laura and I both laughed uproariously as we watched various people just totally and completely freak and geek out talking to Uncle George, which is why I didn't raise my hand to ask a question because I knew I would have done exactly the same thing and started babbling nonsensically.

The only problem I had was with the weather. It was 8 degrees before the wind chill factor as we were leaving and it triggered my asthma, something not that unusual in super low or super high temperatures. Since I had not packed my nebulizer or meds I decided to drive the hour back home to Culpecker and Jim. I got home around midnight, Jim was in the bed, sat upright and started yelling at me about my thoughtlessness.

Turned out he'd tried to text me during the event and I didn't reply. I explained to him that we were all ordered to turn off our cellphones and I did. Plus going straight from the auditorium to drive home I didn't turn it back on. I've gotten most old lady like and will not talk on the cell while I'm driving. Jim was completely infuriated by the fact that he couldn't get a hold of me and we had some very angry discussions before coming to agreement on the matter of cells, messaging and contact. He apparently had decided I was dead out there somewhere on the road because I wasn't answering. Hee.. I've come to that conclusion with him a  few times. While I still don't think I did anything wrong by not answering my text messages we both agreed to do a better job at keeping each other informed as to where we were. Turns out the post it on the dinner fell off and ended up under the table and he had not remembered that I was going out to see George Takei, so he didn't have a clue where I was.

But then the real irritation started. I updated my resume on one of the job sites I've used in the past and gotten some decent freelance jobs in the past. Apparently the idiots at every insurance HR dept are now trolling that site, pulling off as many email addresses and phone numbers as possible before making your voice mail box and email box explode with crap begging you to go to work for them selling insurance.

Once I realized what they were doing I went back onto the site, erased my phone number and set it so that the only emails I could receive would be through the job site's own message service and put in bold caps on the bottom of my CV that I had zero interest in ever selling any type or insurance and not to contact me with those offers.

Should have stopped it? Right? Nope, I just got more offers, which drove me into super ranty mode, which meant when my phone rang or I got another email touting the benefits of selling insurance I would reply by asking the person if they were reading comprehension challenged or just merely a moron. How could they have possibly missed the large bolded caps telling them not to contact me?  Most fun I've had in a long while!

I'm too old and too mean to tolerate incompetent boobs pestering me over something I would never do.

Today, more snow, but I don't care. The HVAC guy finally showed up and now the furnace is blowing out more heat than ever before. I'm staying in and quilting today. Woe be it to anyone from Banks Insurance, Progressive, Mutual of Omaha, Travelers, Liberty, AFLAC, Geico, or any other insurance company if they contact me today. I'm still loaded for idiot bear.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Shoes, Headaches and Freezing My Butt Off

We had our semi annual shoe fight yesterday. When Jim works from home these things tend to happen. It didn't help that I received a box of shoes in the mail.

I have insanely high arches on my feet, the arches of a dancer. Not that I dance much any longer. The problem with high arches is that you can get as you age problems with your arches. Used to be I could run around barefoot or in shoes with no arch support. I cannot do that now and the custom made orthopedics I have from the podiatrist are like walking on concrete, high arched concrete but concrete just the same.

So in my quest to have shoes that support my arches I've run through a gamut of shoes, mostly European and expensive, so I know to Jim it looks like excess. Like I'm Imelda Marcos on steroids when actually I have precisely two pairs that do not hurt my feet, a pair of sandals and a very worn pair of clogs.

Jim's the kind of guy that owns a pair of sandals, a pair of dress shoes and a pair of sneakers. Three pairs that will cover any occasion. He doesn't get it that for a woman three pairs doesn't cover everything.

Guess what I am doing today? If you guessed getting a huge pile of barely worn shoes to donate to Goodwill you'd guess correctly. One of my friends says I should Ebay them. Don't know if I want the hassle.

By mid morning yesterday it was apparent that my ongoing sinus infection was merely damped down, not completely banished, so it was off to my family doctor. I also have developed the worst headache in my temples that's been getting worse over the last week, ever since I fell and was hit by a car in the Target parking lot.

After getting another round of antibiotics and various drugs for side effects and headache I was sent to the ER to be evaluated for the headache. My doctor wanted me to get a head CT scan asap.

In the middle of the day, mid afternoon, you'd think the ER might not be as busy. Sadly enough it was so busy I was stuck on a gurney in the hallway less than five feet from the ambulance bay door, which is motion activated. One of the coldest days of the year and I was wearing my two pairs of leggings, two sweaters, two pairs of socks, fur lined shoes, coat, gloves and winter scarf in the ER.

But I didn't have it the worse, in fact probably shouldn't even be complaining about the freezer atmosphere of the ER hallway. Someone else was brought into the meat locker temps by the door to wait for a room in the ER, one of the prisoners from the local jail. It was in the minuses because of the wind chill and the local sheriff's dept. transported this poor guy wearing what looked like paper thin orange jail jumpsuit with a jean jacket on top. Not adequate for the weather at all and nowhere near warm enough for the hallway next to the door.

Okay, I know, I get it, he did something wrong and has been convicted of a crime. He's a criminal, but even prisoners should be provided with certain basic things, like weather appropriate clothing.

Turns out that my massive headache was sinus related, not car smacking badness or brain injury. Never have I been so relieved to get a simple explanation for a pain making my life miserable. But I got a lecture from both doctors I saw and the ER nurse about using a squeeze bottle and salt rinse in my sinuses from now on. I'd been using the compressed product Simply Saline for a long time now, but they're insisting it's not as good.

So.. along with my prescriptions for migraine like headaches, antibiotics, future yeast infection from the antibiotic and supplements I picked up a squeeze bottle. The neti pot and squeeze bottle situation makes me just a wee bit nervous because of the whole thing in Louisiana were several people ended up with parasites in their brains from using tap water in their neti pots. I'm using bottled distilled water.

Started using it last night and it's the strangest thing. What pops out of your nose and sinuses looks like something from a freaking horror movie! The greens, the goop, the bloody bits. I hope it works because it's grossing me out and making me gag.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Starter Boyfriend or 50 Shades of Red (Hair)

One of the wonders of the internet is that you can Google (without probable cause, as one troll I knew used to say when you dug up her arrest record) anyone and anything. Yesterday I made the big mistake of Googling up my Starter Boyfriend.

What's a Starter Boyfriend, I hear you ask. A Starter Boyfriend is really your first serious boyfriend, the one that you're with for a lengthy time, that you start out convinced is Mr. Right but you gradually realize that he's Mr. Right Now, that allows you to figure out what it is you like and dislike in a partner.

My Starter Boyfriend started out as a revenge-date. I was going to high school in Baker, Louisiana for a short time and had already had a few dates with a wide variety of guys, like a guy named Glen whom I dated for about a month merely to piss off his brother who made my last year in middle school hell. I took revenge by dating his older brother in front of him. He was predictably outraged.

I used to be all about either having fun or getting back at some one in those long ago days. Now I don't care about revenge because it's just stupid and immature.

There was a girl in my biology class, plain as an earnest puppy, who outed me to the teacher one day. She told the teacher that I was purposely letting the big star of the football team copy off my paper during tests. Which was and wasn't true. He copied off my paper, but I wasn't 'allowing' it to happen or taking any steps to help him. It just happened. Guess who got in trouble. It wasn't the football player.

One day when her cute redheaded boy friend walked her to her next class I decided I would exact my payback on her by taking her boyfriend, the cute but very square Mike, attender of Baptist Youth Group and her hand holder. I did, it didn't take much at all to accomplish and it sure made her mad. I was treated to her whining about it to me, throwing me dirty looks and just general angry flouncing around in class and school by the dumped girl.

But Mike wasn't like my other boyfriends, neither of us got quickly bored with each other, in fact, we got along very well. It was my first really serious male-female relationship. I even went to church and youth group with him. We were joined at the hip (and crotch) so when my mother and I moved away to farther south both Mike and I were bereft.

Turned out that distance didn't matter, now it was Mike and I on the phone for hours on end daily and joined at the hip/crotch on the weekends. It was so serious and intense that after a year of dating he bought me an engagement ring and asked me to marry him as soon as we both graduated from college. I said yes of course, happily planning a future with perfect and perfectly square Mike.

When I had my breast tumor removed and had chemo and radiation Mike was there and he supported me. When Mike had surgery I was there at the hospital holding his hand. I loved him, with that first love that you can never repeat.

I also got to experiment with him sexually, even if I had to coax him into fooling around many times, he was still emotionally invested into being the good Baptist boy and I was the lapsed Catholic bad girl in many ways. But without Mike I was able to explore what I liked in the bedroom, what a fluttering set of eyelashes against my lips felt like, what it felt like to lick someone's bare instep of their foot, suck their toe, be touched and tasted various places and well, you get the picture.

The only thing we didn't agree on was I liked to smoke pot and he loved to drink with his friends until he was blind drunk. I wasn't liking that after all the years of alcohol fueled crazy of my family of origin. Our only fights were about the drinking and my fondness for pot.

Well after we'd been dating for about two years I started to get bored with him. I could see the years of my life mapped out like a long line of beige dominoes lined up straight and predictable. Because of the abuse I'd suffered and the unstable nature of my life up until meeting Mike for a long time I'd liked the stability of what we had. I don't really know why it suddenly started to look like a living hell to me, but it did.

His family was nice and they told us after college they'd give us a big plot of land on their family farm to build our own house upon. I traveled to visit far flung family members with his family, I went on vacation with them. I think everyone was sure that we'd end up married before too many years.

I kind of blew that up. If I had to say why it was because the more I thought about the direction I was going with Mike, the more I didn't like it. I felt restless, bored, like I was missing out by settling at a young age.

It was right around that time that I started singing with a local popular band that played dances and bars. That meant we had much less time together on the weekends and evenings. Eventually I couldn't ignore my attraction to the bass player and I acted upon it.

In retrospect I know I should have been honest with him and just broken it off. But I didn't. I strung Mike along for another six months, till the night of senior prom. Mike got drunk, so I walked out of the fancy restaurant we were eating dinner at and called Dan, the bass player to come get me. I broke up with Mike, leaving him drunk at the restaurant, ending it on prom night.

Looking back now I can see I went from the boring safely of the well organized kitchen countertop to the flaming smoking on the stove frying pan. A really super stupid move. Eventually I married Dan, we had a child, fought all the time, broke up and got back together many times before I realized I wanted something vastly different than Danny. If I stayed with Dan my life would have been drugs and rock and roll. I went back to school, finished college, married Jim and went on to leave Louisiana for Europe before Jim and I started a family.

I did make the right choice there. Jim offered me the stability I craved that led me to stay with Mike without the pressures, conformity and expectations I was starting to experience with Mike and his family. Jim is confident enough to give me a lot of latitude and trust, though truthfully because of how I ended things with Mike I probably didn't deserve a man's trust. Jim accepts me as fully off beat and flawed as I am, and he always has.

But I have to admit, I have thought through the years about Mike, and what my life could have been like had I stuck with the plan and married Mike. Yesterday ended that.

Mike went to a big fundamentalist Christian college, was now an accountant and lives exactly the kind of life I thought he might. He's big into his IFB church and posted quite a lot about his conservative religion and politics on his business website. He's an accountant, married with several adopted kids now.

But the biggest surprise was seeing his photo. My hot Starter Boyfriend hasn't aged well at all. I would never have recognized him had I run into him on the street.

It's good when you get confirmation that you made the right move. Not that there's anything 'wrong' with Mike, but he's wrong for me. My inner voice was right about that. I dodged a bad choice.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Swimming In Hot Water Again

As you recall last week I was still dealing with gossiping neighbors over a neighborhood kid's suicide was called everything else in the book and my own upset over finding out that my step brother was in jail. It only went downhill from there. It's been quite the week or so.

Last Wednesday I was trying to return something to Target, something that ended up in my bag that I didn't buy, and I got out of my car, took a couple of big steps, right into a hole in the pavement and did a header right into the blacktop. Face plant. I never was very good at walking without tripping on my own two feet.

Ten minutes later as I came out of the same store with two ladies behind me and a young woman behind them I had another fall. The young woman started running like her life depended on it, passing the women behind me and myself, running out to her car. Just as I was almost past her car and the two behind me were almost to the car she threw it into gear, hitting me, knocking me to the pavement just to the right of the car. When I popped up, started banging on her car and yelling that she'd hit me just as the other ladies rushed up to tell her she'd hit me the driver threw her car into drive and pulled through, going right over the curb and tiny median garden to get away from us.

I discovered something. Our neighborhood Target does not have cameras in the parking lot, just at the door of the building and right in front of the building. Not in the parking air.

I was mostly okay, more shook up than anything else. But I was frightened because I had groin and hip pain after being smacked to the pavement by the car. Even though I had a complete physical on Monday and a clean bill of health on everything but my asthma and infected sinuses it was back to the clinic. Bruises and bumps only. No broken bones. Expensive week medically between the physical and the xrays. Whew.

Filed a police report but it happened so fast that none of us got more than a vague description of the driver and car. No video of the parking lot so I'm out of luck seeing this young woman prosecuted clocking me with her car and almost hitting the other two.

The next day I had to drive kitty Dora back up to my bipolar relative's home. She's allowed to return after three months and it had been exactly three months.

I took my bff Joanie with me because bipolar relative loves to try and smoke pot around me, try to show me photos of her exploits in swinging, open marriage and the many photos of the different men she dominates. She has hundreds upon hundreds of photos of the most unattractive men in diapers, dressed like babies, wearing tutus and some bondage related things.

Keep threatening to gross out bipolar relative with tales of my sex life if she doesn't shut  up, because I really do not want to hear all the nasty details of her life with various men. It just squicks me out too much, it's not appropriate topic of conversation between us as members of the same family. I was hoping that by bringing uber Evangelical Christian Joanie with me that it would derail most of the filthy details.

When we were out at a restaurant having lunch, just the three of us, Joanie, Bipolar Relative and I, B.R. kept trying to turn the conversation to her sex life, making rather irrational claims and shouting out in the restaurant that her kids had been telling their in home therapist that they hear B.R. and her husband having noisy sex every night. It was awkward and a very uncomfortable moment. On the ride back Joanie asked me why on earth Bipolar Relative was having loud sex with kids in the house. She was genuinely puzzled by this.

I was and I wasn't. It was pretty clear to me, really for the first time, just how deeply disturbed this relative is. She's far more mentally ill than I thought. She spent most of the time we were with her on various subjects, leaping from one to the other at high speed, almost manic. She's on a ton of medication and on twice weekly therapy sessions, so I'm not really sure what more can be done for her.

Jim's been home since Friday and it's been a rather a tense week in the house. He applied for and was interviewed for a job many rungs above where he is now, and it looks like he's not going to get it. Jim was counting on it. The retirement plan was if he didn't get the job he'd retire this December, but if he got it he'd stay on three more years to get the last three highest pay years towards retirement. He's been in a foul mood since it became obvious they weren't going to promote him to this position.

Which has thrown him into making and changing retirement plans every single day, sometimes several times a day. I hate that. Make a plan. Stick with it. But stop driving me nuts with endless discussions and changing vectors. I'm too stressed out from everything else to tolerate it right now.

We did have a nice Valentine's Day with candy, balloons and going out to eat followed by some movie watching. We watched 'Gone Girl', a rather weird one for Valentine's Day, I admit, but I was curious to see what Jim thought of the screwed up relationship between the two main characters.

And then we've been together a day or so longer than anticipated, and I freely admit, it works on my nerves badly. I'm something of a loner, I treasure some essential alone time each day, I need it to feel balanced and normal. But the weather has been insanely cold plus yesterday it snowed, meaning we're bumping up against each other inside. I finally got over that and got over my own stupid self this afternoon.

When the weather is like it has been the last three days, which is very rare to have temps here that close to zero, the pipe to our hot water tank being the closest to the crawlspace vent freezes solid. So during the last three days we've had no hot water.

I don't know how pioneers coped with no running hot water and the long winter without modern conveniences if I cannot cope with a few days of no hot water.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Life, Death, Racism in a Small Town

Turns out that the death of the young boy down the street is even more tragic than I knew. The mother of the house fatally shot her 13 year old son and once the police arrived she killed herself with the same gun. The neighbors across the street saw the whole thing take place from their upstairs bedroom windows.

At least the two gun shots and two people being taken from the home makes some sort of weird sense, but... I cannot wrap my mind around a mother killing their own child like that. Yes, I know it happens, that mothers kill children every day, but usually not by using a deadly weapon like that.

How do you get to the point where you aim a deadly weapon at your child and the only option in your mind is to pull the trigger and kill them? It must be a place of the worst desolation and pain imaginable to do such a thing, a place without hope.

Mothers get pushed to the edge every day, yes, and sometimes they even snap and make a horrible momentary decision like shaking a baby or drowning or suffocating their children. They can snap and take out their rage and pain on an innocent child by beating them ala Michael Pearl. A momentary impulse. Some control it and walk away and some don't. I'd like to think that 99.99% of mothers realize they are on the verge of doing something most terrible and walk away.

Having a stockpile of weapons like this family did makes that walking away even harder to accomplish. Things meant only for violence, death and destruction sends a terrible message to everyone in the household that violence is a way to get things resolved.

I don't understand it, even in my worst moments with Margaret's adolescent angst it never once crossed my mind that death was any sort of answer. She put us through hell in her teen years and her young adult years as she went from drug to drug, horrible guy to horrible guy and I got very used to long tearful prayer sessions up in my bedroom pleading with the Almighty to turn her from her self-harming behaviors. Physically hurting her to make her stop never entered into the equation.

Curiously there's still be nothing about the shooting in our local or regional news at all. The last time something tragic like this happened, last spring, when an African-American man shot and killed his children and wife, it was all over the news here for many days. This situation, involving a white middle class family has caused not one peep except among the gossiping town folks and the pious gossipers on various church prayer lists. Which is why I think church prayer lists suck, because they give the ones in the church that gossip a never ending supply of fodder to chew over. If the media would merely release the news it would deflate some of the horrible gossip going on. I'm not a fan of secrecy and law enforcement.

I got a couple of things wrong the other day when I posted about this. The....

.....and as I'm writing this post I heard from a friend at the local funeral home. Kid was shot by his older brother. There is no second body, no one was taken to the hospital. None of this is going to be released to the media. The people that said they saw it all have to be lying. The mother just pulled up in front of the house obviously alive without any injuries. This is exactly the way gossip works in a small town.

Makes sense that none of this is in the news now because the shooter and the victim are both under legal age.

Gossip sucks. Racism sucks and guns where kids have access really sucks. Shutting up now.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Life, Death and Everything in Between in a Small Town

It's been quite a week. Finding out about my step brother followed by the discovery that his mother had remarried and took out a mortgage on the house my father bought for her and put half in her new husband's name, discovery that she legally changed her name between the death of my father and this new marriage, finding out another cousin is a sex offender who's molested young girls. And people wonder why I left South Louisiana right after I married Jim and never looked back. There is a reason, but even these new happenings surprise me.

But it was last night when the terrible started going down I was already worn out with my thoughts over Frank. Even though I'm not part of Franks day to day live and have been out of touch with him I'm still unset with this entire thing. Frank never had a chance with the way we were raised, as I detailed yesterday. If he had been allowed to receive some real world consequences for his behavior and perhaps therapy and rehab he might not be sitting in jail almost certainly Angola bound right now. But... deep water that's already flowed under that bridge I suppose.

I was trying to distract myself with some pretty terrible programs on television, something about an Amish serial killer followed by something even dumber, chewing gum for the stressed out brain. But I was distracted right around ten pm as I got up to get ready for bed. Three police units, very slowly driving by with lights flashing and sirens hooting as the lead car shined a spotlight on the numbers on the front door posts of houses on my cul de sac street. I watched them go by, and they finally stopped six houses down the street, right in front of my friend Linda's home. Which really made me worry because Linda's son Billy has had his skirmishes with the law since he was sixteen. Billy might be pushing thirty hard now but he still had his moments of drugs and law enforcement.

When I saw that the cars were stopped in front of Linda's I ran to get my coat, gloves, scarf and hat on because it was bitterly cold and if something was wrong with Linda I wanted to see if I might be able to help out, at least get the grandkids out of the way. But when I ran over to Linda's house she was standing on her lawn with other neighbors from our street. She told me that there'd been a shooting at her next door neighbors house. Linda lives right next door and never heard the gunshot. I surely heard nothing because I had the teevee blaring, but the older lady across the street said she heard two gun shots, one before the police showed up and one right after.

Those neighbors no one knows very well. The father works at Wal Mart as one of the managers and the mother teaches. They're very involved with the local fundigelical churches and have three kids...I think. They've lived in that house six years or so, but they've kept almost entirely to themselves, no socializing with any of the neighbors, not even a friendly wave. Just church and family.

I went over to their house several times on HOA business since I sit on the board and talked to the adults in the house. They were not unfriendly or mean, just, sort of oddly disconnected.

They did homeschool the children but I think this year the kids were all in public school. I knew one of their children, a boy of about 13 years old who shoveled our driveway last winter several times. He told my husband he'd been away at 'special school' because he had a problem with anger.

As we watched the father arrived home from Wal Mart and was escorted through the police line and into the house.

Eventually someone was removed on a stretcher and up into the ambulance, taken away with sirens blaring and a several police units as an escort through the lights and town.

I left around eleven pm because it was bitterly cold in the teens plus I was dead tired and finally tried to go to bed, but couldn't sleep between the noise of the running ambulance and noise of people outside. Around three am a body was removed. Turns out that the 13 year old boy who'd shoveled our driveway and told Jim about his anger problems had shot himself. The child committed suicide.

I heard from a friend living with someone that works at the local funeral home that the child had been being badly bullied at his middle school. Thirteen is such a hard age, no matter what type of family you come from, but to be isolated, socially isolated by homeschooling, or church, or fearful parents makes the problems of adolescence seem overwhelming. That poor kid. Hadn't seen him outside in months.

Now I'm experiencing the part of living in a small Southern town that really sucks, speculation over who went to the hospital. Some are saying that the body bag that was transported to the coroner's office was too big to be the boy. Others say he shot a parent or sibling. I don't know. I do know that our local media that covers the most ridiculous things does not cover the most mysterious happenings, like this, causing the town gossips to come up with their own versions of what happened, versions that read like something out of a particularly stupid Lifetime movie.

The second part of the sucky is that the church I have been attending sent around a prayer request this morning for the family and the usual suspects from the women's group (mostly teachers) have been doing that particularly off-putting ritual I hate that they always do - clucking about how horrible it is on Facebook, some sort of weird grief masturbation over someone they never met before. It's almost like it's a competition to see who can be the saddest publicly. I hate it. This is why I think emailed generic prayer lists are actually not a good thing, because it disseminates bad things in a way that also gets people gossiping.

The ones doing the most over the top Facebook grieving are teachers at this child's school. I want to know where they were when he was being bullied?

There have been scads of folks driving through the neighborhood to leave sympathy cards at the family's front door. The family isn't there, they are up in Fairfax where the child's funeral will be held, likely staying with family. So Linda and I have had a conversation about keeping an eye out on the pile of sympathy cards and flower tributes starting to show up on the family's front steps.

This is why I dislike the idea of guns in homes where there are children. This sort of thing happens, senseless and tragic.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Saddest News & Ancient History

Yesterday afternoon my daughter Margaret called me to ask about many of our Cajun relatives she hasn't seen in ages. I spent some time explaining about my grandfather LeBlanc and his pile of wives, great aunt Nan, Margaret's great great grandmother who I always think of as the Triple L, since that was the first initial of her first, maiden and married names. Most of the folks she was asking about have passed on a long time ago.

I don't know why she was asking as Margaret hasn't shown any interest in any of these people since she was five or six years old. I do know she's blamed me to her psychiatrist for moving her overseas to Europe when she was almost ten years old. So maybe this curiosity about family is part of her therapy.

The last person she asked about was my step brother Frank. I'd sent Frank a friend request on Facebook nearly a year ago and he'd neither accepted or rejected it. There's been no Facebook activity on his account since a few weeks before my friend request.

I wasn't sure Frank was going to accept anyway. The very last time Frank and I spoke was about two or three years after my father died. I'd still been pretty firmly Evangelical Christian at the time and was bugging Frank to just go ahead and marry the lady he was living with, who also happened to be the mother of his three little kids. I kept telling him that not only was it immoral and displeasing to God that they lived together without the benefit of marriage, but it wasn't doing the kids any favors either. I worried Frank with the idea of what would happen to the children if he died as a result of a work accident. He needed to marry and claim them as his own for insurance purposes if nothing else. In those days Frank worked for a company cleaning up hazardous waste sites and he'd already had a few close calls on the job. Frank stopped hitting me up on private message after that.

So I Googled Frank and discovered a news article from about two weeks before I sent him a friend request. Frank had been picked up on charges of making meth with the intent to distribute, possession of heroin with intent to distribute. According to the article he had not only meth making equipment and supplies along with the drugs he also had paraphernalia, scales, mini grip bags, glass pipes, etc. A few clicks later and I found his upcoming court date, within a week, and which prison he is currently housed in awaiting trial.

I'm surprised and I'm not surprised at the same time. Frank was arrested many times over starting in his teenage years until about six months before my father passed. Frank never did more than a day in jail because my step mother and my father would bond him out, and then my father would use his political contacts, clout and money to make the charges go away. I remember at one point my father paid a federal judge something like 50K to dismiss a charge when Frank was arrested for muling cocaine over the US-Mexican border. They always bailed him out no matter what.

When Frank was arrested one Mardi Gras in New Orleans for flashing his penis in a bar I could see Dad and my step mom Marilyn bailing him out. But not for all the serious drug charges that kept happening One of the last times my father and I had a very unhappy conversation was when Jim and I were giving him a hard time for the times he'd bailed Frank out or paid something off to make the charges go away. We figured by that point my father had spent something like 200K on Frank.

My father and his mother met when he was two and I was thirteen at a Parents Without Partners meeting and were inseparable for the first. I never understood their relationship because they fought almost constantly and Marilyn treated my father like an ATM. I disliked both Marilyn and Frank from day one, but then again I never really accepted my parents divorce, which they chose to tell me during a family vacation to Disneyworld. I wasn't ready to accept a loud opinionated woman by my father's side, much less a toddler with a tendency towards tantrums.

During the year my dad and Marilyn dated I spent many silent days rolling my eyes and sighing as Frank threw a tantrum or the couple fought. Their wedding did not help matters. My memories of their wedding were the masses of gladiolas, something you usually see at funerals and Frank's cousin Paul being hit by a car in front of the house about ten minutes before the time the wedding was supposed to happen. Because of Paul's head injuries and subsequent rush to the hospital where we were told Paul might not live the wedding didn't happen till very late that night. Paul was never the same again. Makes for some really odd memories.

But as Frank grew up he and I bonded even if I still didn't much like his mother. When I separated from my ex husband I moved in with my father and step mother until I had enough money saved to get my own place. Many Saturday nights Frank and I would stay up late watching 'Saturday Night Live'. I was 20 and he almost 9. After that we were closer than usual step siblings.

When Frank reached puberty I got to see a sad pattern repeated, nothing Frank did was right or good enough in the eyes of my father. I was familiar with that, because it was my experience with my father too. Later when my oldest Margaret reached her teen years the same thing started playing out and my father tried controlling her with criticism and interference too. Luckily for Margaret since we lived a thousand miles away it was very hard for him to exert much force or interfere much.

And then the drugs and the drug arrests started for Frank. I talked to him many times, telling him he needed to stop that crap and grow up, all the while telling him I fully understood that he was self medicating his own pain, but that there were better ways to deal with his inner pain. But you cannot tell people in the grips of drug addictions to simply stop.

When the drug troubles started my father swore he thought it had to do with the fact that Frank had been on Ritalin and other drugs for ADD and other issues from an early age. Personally I think it had more to do with Frank's inner pain. My step mother waffled between being strict and stern with him, yet buying him anything he wanted. My father and he had a rough relationship from about the time Frank was 11 or 12.

I still do not know why my father or his mother never thought to put him in rehab, but it was never an option to them. Sadly, because it might have turned the tide.

The last time I saw Frank was during that awful time when my father was dying. He was the first person I saw when I walked into the hospital after that long frantic drive down from Virginia and he threw his long arms around me and crushed me in a bear hug. It was almost like we were young again and as close as we used to be. We laughed and cried together than long week my father died.

One thing I'll always remember is he and I were in the family lounge at the funeral home, falling down exhausted, so tired we were getting giddy and silly. We were laughing hysterically while we ate sandwiches between visitation times and talking about the fact that Dad's girlfriend and mistress had both shown up at the visitation. It was a silly moment in a week of crazy that I'll never forget.

Because of that I've decided to reach out to Frank. I wrote him today, to remind him that there are still those out there that love him and wish him the best. I hold out very little hope of him not being convicted, it looks likely he'll be sent to Angola. I wish I had known sooner, perhaps we could have gotten him someone better than his public defender. At this point there's not much I can do for him except write to him and put a little money in his commissary account wherever he ends up. It will have to do.

During the years when Andy and Laura were little was when Frank was having much of his arrests and misadventures with drugs. I still remember Andy and Laura adding every night to the end of their bedtime prayers, "God bless Uncle Frank" Breaks my heart.

Bless you Frank. I hope you find a way to inner peace and that your incarceration affords you a chance to deal with the things driving your problems with drugs.