Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Unsilent Night, Ho-Ho-Healthcare and the Granny-Killer

The holiday season was filled more with tension, angst and stress than anything else. Jim and I are dealing with a problem with the IRS. Yeah, yeah, so I know I did the taxes using Turbo Tax but apparently when the broker sent us our end of the year statement for the year in question they neglected to add one of the sheets, leading the IRS to think we made 120K more than we did. We're in the middle of straightening it out but it made for a nasty gray pall hanging over our present giving and chestnut roasting. Not much making merry but lots of sheer freaking out. We shouldn't owe anything by the time we file an amended return, but it's the stress of the entire thing.

In the course of this agita both Jim and I have been reexamining our attitudes, our childhoods and things we may have carried out of our birth families that negatively impacts us now. So it's been holidays, hostilities and self-therapy. I think we're in a better place now but ever since we left our old church it seems like the peeling of rotten onion layers from then continues. Every single time I think we are both past that past something crops up.

Example: My bff invited he and I over for Christmas dinner. But once it came out that she'd also included a few folks from the old church I bailed on the invite. Jim went without me, fortunately I had the excuse of extremely bad asthma acting up to get out of it, and he came back ranting and angry. That's the state I was afraid I might end up in if I had attended. He was triggered mightily and I'm sure he was sniped and sneered at.

I know I would have been triggered becauseI was in such a funk this holiday that I didn't even decorate the Christmas tree. I left it nude and plain sitting near the fireplace. The asthma made it tough to do anything beyond work a few hours and lay down. Plus it left me with no energy or enthusiasm for anything else.

That is one good thing I learned in the aftermath of leaving fundamentalist religion, that rituals like Christmas aren't required at all, it's whatever you feel comfortable with. For me this meant minimal holiday anything, in fact the only thing I cooked and ate on the holiday was scrambled eggs and toast. I was content with that, it was plenty on a day filled with asthma attacks and wheezing. In the church years I would have silently emotionally castigated myself had I done that, feeling like a failure and possibly making myself sicker trying to make it a hap-hap-happiest of holidays.

It reminded me of the year I was twelve and our family Christmas. All three of us, my mother and father and myself, came down with the flu within mere days of the holiday. Christmas morn we unenthusiastically ripped into presents before all of us going back to bed for the day. I remember being especially squicked out by the fact that one of my presents was a ten pound box of Elmer's Mastercraft chocolates. Ugh. Later when I was better I was so happy to have that box, just not at the moment I unwrapped it.

The good moments of the holiday were going to the kids house to eat ribs and unwrap presents. Sleeping, lots and lots of sleeping and recovery from my crappy lungs. Singing at the Christmas Eve Eve service and hanging out with the kids at work. I got a job promotion with more responsibilities.

Work is work, but we did have an admission that killed his grandmother a month before his 9th birthday. I've seen his records, looks like a serial killer in the making. Very likely we'll end up shipping him to a locked facility soon. He's already tried to torture a few animals here. Frightening. 

My doctor dropped a huge bomb on me yesterday. In less that a month he's closing up shop and departing for a position at a far away hospital. Why? Obamacare and the requirements he would have to fulfill to keep his small private practice.

Last month my long time gastroenterologist closed her practice and retired for the same reason. So now our small town will be without either specialist. This leaves me in a huge lurch as my pulmo gives me my treatments every two weeks and not everyone is qualified to do these injections. My asthma has been crappy for a few months now.

But more than that I'll have to find a new primary doctor as my pulmo was my primary for seven years due to the nature of my immune system disorder. I'm not even sure where to start because it looks like my options are going to be going to UVA clinics to be prodded, poked and gawked at by a squadron of interns and residents. That's the drawback of going to UVA with any illness not very common. Or I could drive the other way, towards DC and find another pulmo. Again, a long drive, establishing a relationship with a new doctor and keeping on track with my treatments.

This is going to complicate things considerably for me because I used to be able to call or visit my doc and scream out complaints about my asthma, colitis, neuropathy, sinus infections, hangnails, peeling skin, cough, plagues, locusts and get treated asap.

The fact that Obamacare has good physicians scrambling with career alternatives is a huge slap in the face to me, I volunteered with the teams nationwide to help develop the Affordable Care Act, never dreaming this would impact so severely my own ability to keep getting good treatment.

And my doctor wondered why I had a rare high blood pressure reading yesterday after all this and standing in line two hours at DMV? Ha!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I've started going back to the gym. Must do something to work off the coming onslaught of Christmas cookies and candying the yams, etc.. before my butt swells with adipose tissue roughly the size of the Titanic.

Stopped going back about 18 months ago when I had back and neck problems but I've wanted to go. Once we started our gym membership post-Evangelical church I found I loved being able to use the circuit training machines to build up my biceps and other muscles. It was oddly satisfying to be able to slowly increase the weight on the machines and the number of reps. It helped with the asthma too.

But the most challenging thing wasn't the pool, walking against the current, lifting weights or even days when my oxygen levels were low and all I could manage was trudging around the indoor track. Oh no, the biggest challenge was (drum roll please, and cue the dramatic music) The Dressing Room! (Eeeeek~ Insert scream sound effect)

It had taken a lot of overcoming the old voices in my head to even consider going to the gym. Self-improvement activities, like going to the gym or the hair dressers or anything just for 'you', good Christian mom you, was frowned upon as 'selfish'. Selfish, imagine that! Anything that you might do that wasn't geared towards family, God or church could be labeled selfish. But going to the gym was also something worldly people did, worldly people that cared about how they looked instead of looking to God for their personal validation.

I got over that quickly enough, but the dressing room was a hard one. There were nekkid people there, walking about without a care in the world, all shapes and sizes and it freaked me out. I'd blush and look at the ground and make sure I came from home with my bathing suit on under my workout clothes and have a loose swimsuit coverup packed to wear in the dressing room.

The journey out of the false modest/look-at-me of the jumpers or loose dresses had faded away but I still could not wrap my mind around the idea of traipsing about around strangers with nothing on, just what I'd arrived in when I was born.

But gradually I started to look around, look around with an artist's eye and see the beauty and diversity in all these different female bodies. All so beautiful in the weirdest ways and none two exactly alike, like snowflakes and my fear of being nekkid in that place started to fade.

It's still not the most comfortable thing for me to be, nekkid, but I've started taking baby steps towards accepting and loving my body as it is, right down to painting a nude self portrait.  And yes, I can finally walk around the dressing room wearing nothing but my own skin. It's taken long enough for that to happen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blood Runs Cold

Not a picture of work but one that is very similar to what we experienced on Monday morning.

After all that silly babbling about believing in the paranormal I had the fright of my life the other day at work. This happened Monday after the ice storm.

Where I work at is a large farm on top of a steep hill, so it was hell even getting down the dirt road that leads in. Downed trees and ice coated gravel plus that ever popular mud. Once I got to work it was business as usual. Traipsing around picking up and dropping off stuff bundled up like an Eskimo. It wasn't until I got to the cabin nearest the gate that things got weird.

After I parked I was walking through the woods towards the cabin in a deluge of ice particles and rain falling from above. I walked over the basketball court and up on the deck when suddenly I heard a noise, turning just in time to see a basketball bouncing furiously alone in the middle of the court. It was as if it were being bounced by a ghostly hand. There was no one around, no one in the cabin. I hightailed it out of there thinking this was just too weird.

Later I came back and told one of the house mothers about what happened and she started laughing. Apparently a couple of the bigger boys had tried to go out and play basketball in the snow only to have the ball stuck in a frozen net. The ball just happened to come down right after I passed the court. Whew~ I'm such a fraidy cat

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Bump in the Night

Zak Bagin at Bobby Mackey's 

I'm not going to bore you with my day yesterday involving Costco and the Honda dealership. But on the way back from the Honda dealership my husband insisted I take a 'short cut', an old back road I used to be familiar with but even then had never driven it in the pitch dark before.

Have to admit, I was more than a little spooked considering this farmland was once land that changed possession many times between the North and South in the Civil War. Add in that I've been seeing dead folks in places since I was three and you see why I avoid night time on battlefields.

Yes, I'm coming out of the paranormal closet. I believe in spirits, etc. Too many personal experiences to discount the possibility that there is something 'more' out there. I've experienced things happening at my last two or three employers that I must tag paranormal. It's made for some odd experiences living in a region that was hotly contested during the War Between the States.

But I don't look for it, I avoid it when possible and I stay out of places where I've had experiences, such as the Graffiti House and downtown Madison in too many buildings.

During my years at my old church my ability to see dead people was discouraged, at least until our pastor took a sharp left turn into demonology, removing evil spirits from houses and doing exorcisms. He encouraged my abilities and I have to admit it came in handy for praying for people, being able to glean some small thing about them. Plus I never minded doing a house cleansing but whenever they would do exorcisms I was always torn between skepticism and thinking that the pastor was opening doors he shouldn't have and dabbling in dangerous territory.

Between half the church going to Toronto Airport Christian fellowship whenever possible and also dabbling in the spiritual realm this created the first cracks that widened into an unrepairable gulf between two different factions at the church. There were those described above (myself part of that side) and the traditionalists that wanted only Bible study, hymns and the way it had always been done with no hocus pocus.

When I was twelve I got a Quija board as a Christmas present. I didn't even know what it was, but my inner voice kept telling me that thing was something not to mess with. I never played with it and so unreasonably frightened of it that I put it in the top of the guest bedroom closet. I didn't want it in my room.

I have to think my old pastor pal underestimated what he was dealing with when he tried to battle darkness and the demonic, which I'm sure didn't help the awfulness and backbiting that came later.

There are things in the spiritual realm that you just really do not want to mess with. Which is one of my big frustrations when I watch 'Ghost Adventures' with Zak Bagins. He curses, rants and provokes in places where he should tread very lightly and probably just stay out of.

He has said that he has had negative experiences in the aftermath of investigating places like Bobby Mackay's in Wilder, Kentucky and I believe it. You cannot strut arrogantly into places with such negative energy acting like you're a know it all and not expect whatever the place contains to not react back. But he learned something, and hasn't been quite the same ass when he's gone back.

Unlike my old pastor and others in the Christian community I believe there is likely a scientific explanation for hauntings, spirits, whatever you chose to name it. I think they'll find it has something to do with electrical energy we all carry in our bodies and that physics will have the hard science on why this happens one day. 

Wow, this is not at all the direction I was planning to write about today. I was going to write about getting lost in the back woods and only knowing where I was when I saw the Christmas blinged-out house of an old friend. How friends are sometimes signposts along the way, not my ability to see dead folks or just know stuff I shouldn't know.

But getting lost is how I first stumbled across Bobby Mackey's too. We were driving in rural Kentucky and all the sudden I started getting the weirdest feelings, like there was something supernatural in a bad way that I was nearing. I knew what it was as soon as I saw the road signs indicating that we were in Wilder, Kentucky. When we passed in front of the bar I sped up just to get the hell away from that place as fast as possible.

One thing I have learned from whatever this 'sense' of mine actually might be is that if you have inner feelings and church leadership tells you that it is 'demonic' or to not listen to your inner voice or they become a little too interested in it you should run away from that church as fast as you can.

I think if you ignore whatever version of the inner voice you might possess you're only hurting yourself. That inner voice is truer than anything someone else might say, including pastors.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Turf Wars

One of the things about religious organizations and charitable organizations is that most everyone is involved at some point in a turf war. Today I've run into all sorts of verbal peeing to mark territory, and it wasn't anyone at church, or my old church.

Thank you flying spaghetti monster that today is Friday because I'd be sorely tempted to tell someone off using colorful vulgarities if I had to come in tomorrow to work and play nice with the immature adults here.

At my old church it seemed to be the person marking their territory the most was the pastor's second wife and her brown nosing buddies. Suggest something different and you'd be shot down. But.. if you were known to be good at something you'd be saddled with that chore foreves. Even if you didn't consider it your turf or territory.

Which is how I found myself hosting baptism for a good many years, till the year I became dreadfully sick with pneumonia in mid summer and had a hard time kicking it only to find myself appointed to host baptism again at our pool. I tried to get out of it, but the pastor's wife kept on insisting I do it because I 'do it every year and have a pool at the clubhouse'

That summer Sunday after church after I had schlepped over every towel I owned along with a mountain of snacks and a cake I was so sick I had to lay down on the sofa in the clubhouse party room, laying on a mound of cushions at a roughly ninety degree angle trying to breath between the asthma and the pneumonia recovery.  The pastor walked in, took one look at me and asked "Are you sick?"

Uh, dumbass, what was your first clue?

No, I didn't say that but I thought it. I told him that just because I had hosted baptism for the last six years didn't mean I wanted to automatically host it again. He was puzzled and asked why I was hosting it this year. "Because your evil control freak of a wife insisted I do what she wanted, not what was best for me because she really doesn't give a shit what is best for me, only what she wants. She wanted an indoor pool, enough pastel baptism decorations and crepe paper to choke a bishop and CAKE, CAKE, FREAKING HALLELUJAH CAKE and for bonus fucking points she didn't want to do it for herself."

Again, I didn't say that, I thought it, but I only said that because others assumed I would do it the task was automatically assigned me, but this was the last year. Next time ask me first, don't just assume I'll do it.

Yes, I finally learned in that community to stand up for myself when others wanted more than I could give. It was one of the first little hints that I wasn't going to keep drinking that koolaid like a good little cult member.

Today at work there was all sorts of marking territory but no assigning of duties. I tried to offer to help out different departments that I know needed some help while I was doing the same damn assignment type of the executive office only to be shot down by being told that it was 'part of their job description' so I needed to butt out.

For reals, I am not after anyone up there's job. I wanted to help out on a slow day so I would stay busy in a way that helped the place run smoothly. It doesn't make good sense, economic or workwise, to assign four different people to do the same task in bits when one person could make short work of it. I guess everyone is just busy hanging on to their own little fiefdoms like they were are church. You there, do communion prep, you greet and you make sure you collect the dough.

Near quitting time I got an email telling me I could no longer go to the nurses station and get allergy pills or aspirin or bandages. I've asked for benadryl twice this week when I was so sick with allergies that my eyes tried to swell shut when the work crew pulled up the flooring and exposed the mold beneath. The bandaids were for the time I tripped on the sidewalk and skinned my knee up. WTF is the point of having HR tell us to go to the clinic when we need something medical if they are going to bitch about every aspirin and bandaid you use in the course of your job?

The worst bit happened when I asked if those of us not working tomorrow could come on campus to see the kids put on a holiday performance in the gym. Most of those kids have no one coming from home to watch them sing and act and I like to support them as much as possible. Especially now that I know and love many of them. You'd think this would be a no-brainer.

I was told no and the reason is the dumbest of all. The cafeteria was only preparing refreshments for so many people and that meant anyone not working could not show up to see the kids sing. Huh? I don't give a hoot about having weak punch and cookies like cardboard at all. I just wanted to see the kids. The head of the cafeteria is the one that came up with that. Peeing again.

But it's not all cranky marking of territory and assigning tasks. I did hear through my friends that Mr. Stink Bug helped Big Red pack and move. She did take a job in Vermont after being kicked to the curb at work. Stinky took the rest of the week off to help her move, driving the truck up to the Stowe area. I admit I am intrigued. Why would you do this for someone that treats you like three inches of pig crap? Makes me wonder if all the folks talking about them having an affair are right after all. Oooph! That is not a mental image I want in my mind~! Keep that territory.

I'm going to try to destress with a cup of hot cocoa and a new book of conspiracy theories on the death of JFK. Good times!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Turkey Surprise

I got back to work this morning just in time to witness campus security escort Big Red off campus. She was fired this morning. I've been smiling all damn day.