Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bongs and Stratocasters and Twerking

And on a completely unrelated note while digging around in the basement closet at the AirBNB house we're staying at this week my son Andy discovered the boxes for a fancy bong and a couple of vap machines. Looks like the homeowners like to smoka the wacky weed.

He also uncovered the homeowner's stash of guitars and basses in the basement game room and has been playing and singing up a storm, all the strange bizarre music he has written over the years. This includes a series of punk rock songs involving English soccer riots.

Laura and I had great fun last night making Andy scream and cover his eyes. He was playing something called Japanese Metal Jazz on his IPad and we all started dancing, Jim, Ian, Laura and I. Once the guys sat down again Laura started trying to twerk, I jumped up and joined her. It was a sight too gruesome for Andy.

Waiting for them to get back from Austin for round two now.

Drinking, Games and Mind Games

So.. part of me sort of wishes I could take back my angry ranting yesterday, but part of me still feels the same way. It's obvious something is beyond fubared with my bro in law, but I think it's his new(ish) wife more than him.

He showed up yesterday with a huge pan of tamales and assorted goodies. We all ate, exchanged presents and visited and everything seemed completely normal and non-dysfunctional as could be. We even talked about his accompanied us to a visit to nearby Austin or San Antonio in the next day or so. He left.

There was no mention of the awkward situation that had occurred over the previous few days at all. It was like none of what was said had ever happened.

Let me just state for the record that I really, really, really like my brother in law even if I am puzzled many times by his actions and/or reactions to my husband.

After he left the rest of us had a few drinks and played games galore, starting with Catch Phrase and Exploding Kittens. Long, loud and varied conversations took place. Laura's boyfriend Ian was hysterically funny after he got really tipsy on vodka.

This morning Jim got up early and had breakfast with his mother. The rest of us slept in. Jim came back around lunchtime, clearly perturbed by the fact that he'd called his brother up and left telephone messages about getting together and been soundly ignored. The moment Jim left to run an errand apparently his brother and brother's wive arrived to visit with the mother in law before leaving right before Jim came back. It's clear they're avoiding us. Jim is puzzled and hurt. I'm merely annoyed by the level of crazy going on.

It's nearly 9pm and the brother still hasn't returned Jim's call. We've been here a total of three days now and seen his brother for exactly an hour. I can barely stand to witness Jim's painful feelings and confusing over this. The only thing I can think based on something the brother in law said yesterday is that things aren't going very well in the marriage, and that might be what's driving the behavior we were on the receiving end of coming into town and later. Betting that the sister in law is chewing the scenery, stressed out and pissed off and taking it out on the brother. She's having issues with her children and ex husband right now. We just happen to be here in the middle of this, and she's likely torturing the brother for us daring to show up right now.

They've only been married about four years or so and didn't know each other very long before the marriage, both eager to remarry after their divorces. I think they've hit a rough patch. I'm sorry if they have.

Add in the personality of someone that loves to control everything and everyone and you have a mess on your hands.

I hope they come around and Jim gets to spend some time with his brother. I am so over this mess and just want to go home now. Have told Jim never again will I willingly come here to Texas again for Christmas.

The kids and Jim are in Austin right now, after having waited around most of the day to see if the brother would join them. They're visiting a kava bar and the other sights of Austin. I'm back at the house reading and relaxing. The six rounds of antibiotics have done a number on my IBS and until the probiotics kick in I'm afraid of being stuck in the car and away from the bathroom. Ugh. I would have liked to have visited the artistic parts of Austin.

Hoping I am better by tomorrow. We're going into San Antonio, going to visit The Alamo and Riverwalk among other things. No more waiting around for family.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Turkey and Indigestion

We're in South Texas right now, preparing to have Christmas later today with my husband Jim's 92 year old mother. We don't know how many more years she'll be around so we made the three day drive down from Virginia to the town she lives in. She's in an assisted living facility,  a very nice one. We had lunch there yesterday.

The drive down was largely uneventful. I was happy that I was finally able to use all of our hotel points and get all our rooms comped, free rooms at some very nice places. We stopped to see family and friends on the way down, ate at a few of our favorite places.

The first indication that this trip was about to take a hard left turn into Asshole Ville happened when we left the interstate. First Jim called up his brother, who'd arranged for us to stay at an AirBNB house near the Maw in Law. There was some miscommunication between Jim and his brother, where his brother kept insisting all the information on the house we were staying in was in an email. Jim tried to explain that we'd not seen that email, we didn't have our main email service on our Iphones, we rarely check that account and we weren't at a place to pull out the laptop and get that email.

Jim's brother refused to give him the information over the phone! In fact, he started ranting at Jim that the AirBNB owner had gone to the airport hoping to meet us. We'd made it clear from day one we were driving so I could see my mother and take care of some real estate business in Louisiana.

Jim's brother has for many years now been outright hateful to Jim, treated him, and sometimes me, like we're some sort of hateful shiftless white trash. I don't know the entire cause of it, but the Bro in Law keeps talking about how Jim used to torture him as a kid and how his parents always focused on Jim. He's resentful still to this day.

I don't know, I just know that fifty years is a long time to hold a stupid grudge.

We got back in the car and headed to the city we were supposed to stay. Immediately we drove into a heavy chemical fog and I went right into a very bad asthma attack. If I had to rate it, putting the Fort Lauderdale attack in October as a '9', then I'd put this one as a '7'. We had to switch drivers and I had to swiftly medicate. Later I looked it up online and there was a refinery, a paper mill and two chemical plants in that town we were driving through.

At the same time we've gotten another phone call, this time with the address of the house and directions as to where the key is to get into the house. Jim asks if they want to visit, get together for a little while and is rebuffed.

Get to the house and it is straight up gorgeous!  Beautifully decorated and appointed, but the second I step foot in the house I start having another asthma attack. This time because the house is filled with those plug in scent thingies, very scented candles, mold and there's a hairy dog bed sitting right next to the bed in the master bedroom. For added bullshit make my asthma insane the air conditioning is set at 83 degrees. It's hot outside, it's hot, hairy and stinky inside.

There's not one television in the entire joint at all. Not that I spend my entire life watching the boob tube, but hey, we're in South Texas where there isn't a lot of things to do or open Christmas week.

After unplugging all the air fresheners, moving the dog bed into the room tricked out as an office and reprogramming the thermostat plus tossing in more drugs my asthma eases enough that I can take out Jim's laptop and get him online to check his fantasy football information. Nowhere in the house, not on any of the printed out information from the home owner or anywhere, is the password for the wireless internet. Jim texts the sister in law asking for that information.

Hours pass, no word, then suddenly I get a text from the Sis in Law that has an attachment of the original AirBNB reservation telling me I need to contact the homeowner and get the information and it was all in our email box anyway so she did not know why we were being so obnoxious and bugging them so much over this.

I'd been cranky up until receiving that text and it kind of pushed me over into fucking nuclear pissed off at that point. I had been sitting next to Jim a few weeks ago when we'd gotten a phone call from the sister in law saying not to worry about a thing, that everything was arranged, just show up and meet her to get the key. Now I'm being told we're selfish and obnoxious for not following the directions in an email that didn't even end up in my email box?

Keep in mind also that when this trip was planned months and months ago I'd been researching where to stay, etc, when the sister in law without asking me went ahead and booked the AirBNB house for us and used the Maw In Law's money to pay for it. She didn't consult us at all about what we needed, she just did it. I had a free week coming to us at a resort I was planning on using on their Riverwalk resort in San Antonio for this week.

This is a problem for me because I have multiple chemical sensitivity, severe allergies and my asthma is bad. This is all before the thumbpocaylpse making me even sicker now. The one hotel chain I stay at has my long list of ADA accommodations, no recent painting of the room with latex paint, certain types of cleansers cannot be used, there has to be a outlet for my VPAP within three feet of the top of the bed, the list goes on. That chain has never failed to take care of me and my various issues. My sister in law knows I am sick, but she didn't consult me at all in booking this place. After a day in the house it's obvious too that the house has mold in it somewhere. I am having to pour in the asthma meds.

Using the information she sent me I tried to go into the contact the homeowner site at AirBNB only to be rejected because I did not know the email address that was used to book the reservation. Last straw.

I texted my sister in law back, told her that because our daughter Laura's boyfriend had to keep working (he's a writer for a Bitcoin site) that the internet was required. I explained yet again that without the internet we could not access that old email box they'd had all the emails sent to and that AirBNB would not allow me to view any of the information since I wasn't the one that booked the reservation in the first place. Then I outlined in a very calm and rational manner that not sending me personally the emails wasn't a good thing, that she'd told us just to show up and she'd have the key and most importantly, I had not been consulted on the reservation and was now having problems with my asthma because no accommodations had been made. I was polite and factual.

Within a minute my brother in law called me with the router password. He read it out, I wrote it down, thanked him and hung up.

That was two days ago. There's been no further phone calls. Just discovered a few minutes ago that my personal email box is filled up with emails from my sister in law starting late yesterday. I haven't opened any of them and I am not going to. I just do not need the headache.

Yesterday when we had lunch with my Maw in Law she asked me when we were picking them up to go to lunch at the brother and sister in laws house. I had to tell her repeatedly that I did not know since no one had actually invited us or told us what time. I suspect that is what the emails are about.

On the way down here from Virginia one of my clairvoyant friends told me 'Don't let *insert names here* bully you' and I laughed it off, saying there was no danger of that, no one bullies me. I see now how wrong I was.

All of this just breaks my heart for my husband. I've seen him time and time again reach out to his brother, his brother's first wife and now this new wife in friendship and love only to be rejected, put down, minimized, treated like shit. He's been very upset over the last few days, deeply affected by the negative behavior of his brother. When we were initially planning this trip Jim wanted to stay in their guesthouse, that they rent out, and was told that we could not stay there because he is 'too high maintenance'

I'm not putting up with this bullshit. I'm likely going to call out a few folks today on their ridiculousness. Jim just wants to be with his family, has always been willing to let bygones be bygones. Plus we've opened our house and hospitality to this family many times.

The good. We're here with our kids, spending time with them for the first time in years since everyone's gone off to school and life. My mother in law seems to be doing well.

And as I'm typing this I just heard that the sister in law is ill and we'll be here alone with the mother in law. The brother in law is dropping off food for us. Interesting development.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Answering Debi Pearl

Something very odd crossed my Facebook account in the last few days. It was a prayer request by Debi Pearl, wife of Michael Pearl and author of such toxic tomes as 'Created To Be A Help Meet' and 'Preparing To Be A Help Meet'. You know the Pearls, not only have they authored a ton of books and have a ministry named No Greater Joy, but they also advocate disciplining children with a quarter inch thick piece of plumbing line for infractions as slight as being grumpy or daring to have normal childhood needs.
This is where Michelle Duggar got her controversial training ideas about blanket training - putting a six month old baby on a blanket and smacking the baby with a wooden spoon or dowel when it tried to leave the blanket. There have been children who've died of their beatings where the Pearl's child training book 'To Train Up A Child' has been found in the homes of their murderers. Lydia Shatz and Hana Grace Williams are the two most well known cases where the type of dicipline advocated by the Pearls was cited as a factor in the death of the child.
So now Debi is asking for prayer because she claims she, her ministry and her family are being persecuted by various Christians and others.  First she starts with a story about her husband Michael ministering to a family years ago.
About 30 years ago, several times a week, Mike Pearl drove down the old gravel road to where a hippie family was living in an old school bus jacked up on concrete blocks. He sat around their camp fire and shared the good news of Christ with the husband and wife and four children. One afternoon as he walked toward their camp the family’s three big dogs attacked him. The first German shepherd jerked his legs out from under him and the other shepherd and Doberman went for his throat. They were accustomed to killing coyotes and were very efficient at the task. Mike lay on his back with his head to the ground, grabbing for their jaws. His efforts kept them from getting him by the neck, but they tore large gashes in his arms, buttocks, thighs, calves, and ankles. The whole attack only lasted about 20 seconds before one of the daughters ran to his rescue, calling the dogs off. Some of the wounds required stitches and Mike still bears the scars and numbness in his ankles to this day. Needless to say, Mike didn’t share the gospel with them that day.
Though the attack seemed to be a battle of flesh and blood, God says we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and the rulers of darkness…evil fallen angels that are warring, stirring, blinding, deceiving, and pitting flesh against us. That time the flesh was dogs.
I begged Mike not to go back to that family. But he knew a spiritual battle when one came his way, so after more than three weeks, when he had healed up enough to walk without a limp, he return to their property.
Much was at stake that neither of us could see. In time the entire family would be saved and TJ would come to be a missionary to an unreached people group, having the glorious privilege to translate scripture and other books into more than one Asian language.
One has to wonder if perhaps the 'hippie' family had simply had enough of the Jesus-blathering from their neighbor and had allowed the dogs freedom to dissuade his visits. Seeing how the family later became involved in scripture translation it's pretty obvious this was no some demonic plot of the enemy or whatever fetid satan fantasies that Debi seems to harbor.
Fast forward 30 years. Today, we are wresting the powers of darkness again. This time it is not canines, but the powers that be, even professing Christians. Secularists make no apology that they hate Christians. They make legal judgments against that fact that we would dare to believe God teaches that a woman should submit to her husband, and that children should be trained according to the Word of God. They are the dogs tearing at anything bearing the name of Jesus. Paul said “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers” Philippians 3:2. Jesus described those who railed upon him as he hung upon the cross as dogs (Psalm 22:16).
Clearly Debi is upset that more and more Christians are realizing you do not have to beat your children to cause them to be properly trained. They've seen the fruit of 'To Train Up A Child' and found it lacking. None of the children of this family has been successful even against the anemic standards of fundamentalism. Living without the basics even the most poor in our nation have isn't success. Being afraid to have likes and dislikes isn't success.
As far as 'Secularists' hating Christians, it's not that they hate ALL Christians, it's the hateful behavior, superstitions, the blaming, the shaming and the general all-around evil pouring forth from extreme Christianity that is hated.
We can ignore the dogs of this world who rail at the Christians, but sometimes the dogs come dressed in sheep’s clothing. It is very sad and troubling when the dogs wear Christian faces. One time Jesus turned to his beloved apostle Peter and said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23). It is a sobering thought that Satan can come at us wearing the face of fellow believers—friend even. But if it was so with Jesus and his apostles, we can expect no less.
Few eyes can see spiritual warfare. Satan’s tactics are so disguised that those that think themselves kind Christians become Satan’s tools and fools. The soft furry covering is kind, gentle, and seems so right, yet it can be inspired by hell. You can’t be a friend of God and a friend of those that stand against HIM. It is important to know that when a believer willingly becomes one in spirit with those who testify against God’s written Word, that person, even if they are an apostle, becomes the enemy of GOD.
 When fellow Christians point out that your theology is harmful, extra-Biblical and not the words or intent of Jesus you should likely take a look at why they are thinking this because railing against those Christians being tools of the devil merely makes it seem like you might just be deceived. If you are deceived you don't know it. It takes maturity, openness and humility to at least consider that what someone else says might have at least a grain of truth in it.
No one's perfect, everyone gets something wrong. But the unwillingness to even examine your own thoughts and conscience seems like the sin of pride from here. Not being able to recognize when things you think are wrong and make the appropriate adjustments seems mentally unbalanced. All the while trying to claim anyone that doesn't 100% with you is Satan.
Who is on the LORD’S side? A double minded man (or woman) is unstable in all his ways. God says, Draw nigh to God, and he will draw night to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” God does not value a double mindedness.
There have been many spiritual battles. Most are just memories of victories past. When the present particular spiritual battle was young, God made a statement. There in the gravel driveway of the one who plotted against us we knelt on bended knee and cried out to God, “This one has brought a great delusion that we can’t defeat. Remove him from our lives.” Within hours that one was destroyed. The kind-hearted naysayers looking on spoke in willful blindness, “God didn’t do that, and don’t you say he did, because God is love.” But until now, we said nothing—nothing at all. We were stunned into holy silence. So we silently, behind closed doors, met eyes and fearfully marveled at God’s decisiveness. His answer was more than we asked for, and so completely terminal. The abrupt answer built faith and brought extreme temporary relief in the battle that was waging against us. Now we must face a new enemy and are publicly asking God to make a new statement.
Please tell me that the Pearls didn't pray for the death of someone in that person's driveway only to have them suddenly die? Where in the Bible does it say we're supposed to pray for the death of our enemies? There are passages in the Bible that warn against asking God to release this or that against your enemies because you are giving Him permission to mete out the same to you. All of this goes so against any of the words of Jesus.
We are silent no more. The time has come to declare God’s works so that he may receive honor and glory and praise.
Over the last few years we have seen many of God’s chosen come under spiritual attack. Satan is alive and using the washed-out, tender-hearted, professing believers as his attack dogs. We have seen Christians unwilling to stand with these battle-weary saints. It is one of the signs of the last times. Don’t be the devil’s pawn. Learn to pray fervently, and learn to STAND.
Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? Someday soon there is coming a time when God will send a great delusion (2 Thessalonians 2:11) so that if it were possible the very elect will be deceived. The anti-Christ will be wonderful, loving, kind, sweet, gentle, and so capable and wise. He will bring solutions to so many terrible issues that have eluded the best minds. He will be so god-like. Those that have lived their lives on the whelm of sentiment and popular opinion will be deceived.
From where I'm standing the ministries an 'Good Christians' that seem to be going under are all the ones doing evil or acting not very Christ-like, i.e. Ted Haggard and his scandal, Doug Phillips abusing Lordes Torres before closing Vision Forum, the lawsuit brought by the brave women who were abused by Bill Gothard and many others that have gone down due to the evil they themselves brought. If you really believed in the words of Jesus you'd pray for healing for everyone involved in those sad happenings, healing, grace and justice. And then you'd pray for God to reveal to you any wrong things you'd believed and evils you've done so you could repent and correct. I don't hear any of that in your statement, just that thing you and your husband are so damn good at, blaming others and attempting to shame them.
For the last few years, we (Michael Pearl’s family) have been in battle, and we need the prayers of the true Saints of God. The sweet aroma of ten thousand voices lifted up in praise and supplication before God will cause heaven to rejoice and release a mighty answer. Will you stand with us against the principalities and powers of darkness? This is how we need you to pray.
“Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed is your name. You are great, merciful, and holy. We thank you for the victory you are giving. Lord, bring your kingdom soon. We ask that your will be done in our situation as it is in heaven. Lord God, we ask that you step in and bring down the evil that is set against Michael Pearl’s family. Bring to an end all those that testify in lies and deceit. Give us LORD the victory in your name for your sake. Lead us not into the temptation of struggling without your intervention. Deliver us by your HOLY NAME from this terrible evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. We love you LORD GOD Almighty. Amen and Amen.
Names and details have been withheld to protect the guilty. But God knows, and your prayers will be effectual all the same.
Having people pointing out the toxic wrong in your theology is a very far cry from persecution. Please heed all the voices screaming out the obvious, that children and women are not to be treated with abuse at every turn. Where's the mercy, love and grace in what you teach?
One thing I do know, as long as No Greater Joy keeps teaching the noxious stew of beating children with quarter inch plumbing pipe, staying married to child molesters, women as the cause of every problem along with other lies of the Christian Patriarchy Movement we're going to keep shouting the truth about those teachings from the rooftops at No Longer Quivering and everywhere else. We're  not alone. You cannot silence all the voices.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Very Merry Thumb-pocalypse Christmas and a Happy Grand-Dog

We spent the afternoon with our children Andy and Laura and Laura's boyfriend Ian, plus the grand-dog Keefa, opening presents for an early Christmas before going out to eat a late lunch.

This year I sort of went overboard on the Christmas presents, plus with the opening of the new "Star Wars" movie I'd been collecting the last month or so all the crazy insane stupid 'Star Wars' themed food products for Andy and Ian, like 'Star Wars' Jello and jello mold, mac and cheese, Honey Nut Cheerios. The guys got a laugh out of all the crazy 'Star Wars' products. A success.

But the funniest point in the day was just after Jim and I had carried in the bags filled with gifts and set the bags up on the floor. Keefa kept nosing around and somehow figured out very quickly which gift bag was hers, even if it was tightly sealed. I still don't know how she did that! You couldn't see what was in it and the dog treats were in a sealed bag within the bag. I know she didn't read the gift tag, but she knew which one was hers and ended up being the first one to get their presents. Silly dog. She and I cuddled for a long while after lunch.

The gifts were hits this year and we had a great time with our family. But it wasn't until we went out to eat that something happened that just sort of choked me up. We went to a local place that is popular with the local Central American and South American population. This is a restaurant that the Washington Post claims that Latin Americans going home south of the border bring huge buckets of this restaurant's chicken onto the plane with them. Laura and I love to eat at this place every time we make a Costco run. The food is authentic and very delicioso!

As usual the place was hopping and there were only a handful of Caucasians. Most of the folks eating there are Latin Americans. One of the things I know is true when living overseas is that most of the places the locals eat at have the best local style food. So this was a rare treat.

When I went to stand up to leave I fell down. Straight down off the chair like my legs didn't work. My balance is pretty crummy to start with but add in narcotics and I get very unbalanced easy. It happens. This is why it's lucky my butt is well padded because the only thing hurt is my dignity.

What the surprising and touching thing to me was that immediately, and I mean immediately before anyone with me could react, four different Hispanic men immediately grabbed me, lifting me to my feet before I could even form a thought. Ladies were clucking around me wanting to know in English and in Spanish if I was hurt or alright. Such an outpouring of spontaneous help and caring was a little bit overwhelming and amazing. I was deeply affected by the caring of those strangers.

After we got in the car to leave Laura kept mentioning her surprise at the immediate unselfish help I'd received.. She was deeply touched by that. We talked about how different our society is, and how various times either of us have wiped out in different ways and the indifference of many around us.

Friday, December 18, 2015


And the operative word is 'high' as in goofy from the pain meds. I think I'm going to stop taking them and just deal the best with the pain I can.

Supposed to have done laundry today for our upcoming trip. But I was tripping too hard to get much done. Had a long bout of insomnia last night and was up until around 3:30 am. So tired today that I was already feeling spacey without the pain pills.

Managed to lock myself out of the house without my cell phone after going down the street to check on an elderly neighbor. Ended up taking a nice nap and read the paper sitting in my car waiting for Jim to come home and let me inside.

The closest I came to actually doing laundry was loading the machine, coming back three hours later wondering why I didn't hear the bell telling me the load was finished only to discover I never took the additional step of, you know, pushing the button and turning it on.

Did get the heavy winter bedding out of storage and the winter duvet covered and on the bed. Yippee! Between that and loading the dishwasher that was about it.

Not much productive action going on here. Tomorrow is family Christmas held on the only day we all can get together near Christmas due to various people traveling in all directions. Should be amusing because Jim bought all of us the same thing. I don't know what this 'same thing' is, but I have a sneaking suspicion based on where I think he bought them at that I'm not going to like it much. Oh well, at least he tried.

Later I was treated to the sounds of his cursing and fumbling while wrapping the presents up this afternoon. 

White Gloves and Oozing Pink Thumb

Welcome back my friends to the thumb tale that never ends..

Last night I banged my infected thumb on the bath tub fawcet, the very sharpish metal edge and manage to tear open the infected bit. This morning I was worse again. Another doctor visit, another antibiotic and another bottle of narcotics for the pain, which is excruciating again.

Since the bandages have come off I've been sporting a white cotton glove on my right hand. Actually it's mostly white with a few decorative tracery bits in the shape of medallions in very pale blue.

The glove serves to cover the oozing nasty bit that will likely bear a scar and mostly keeps me from grossing out random strangers when I do manage to go out in public.

One thing I have learned in all of this is that our hands must really be filthy. I'm washing the uninjured one like some sort of jacked up OCD patient on uppers. Why? The glove gets dirty in one big hurry, grey smudges of dirt on the pads of the fingers. Is life really that dirty? No wonder I picked up an infection.

Makes me harken back to my childhood and the wearing of white cotton gloves to go to Mass. The gloves, a hat and a pretty dress - standard issue uniform of good little Catholic girls from about the mid 1960s going way way back.

I don't remember my gloves getting as dirty as these are, and I surely do not remember feeling so restricted and constricted by wearing gloves. I do remember feeling like I was la-de-da fancy.

It is really almost comical how far dress and fashion has come in such a short period of time. In those long ago days of white gloves women also wore slips under those dresses. I'm not even sure that slips are still available in the stores.

Since I've been sick I've been living in that clothing item that makes fundamentalists foam at the mouth -  yoga pants. Yoga pants and white gloves. I cannot zip and unzip regular pants at all right now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thumbs, Swans, Avocado Toast and Purple Batiks

Bear with me, long rambling post with many thoughts.

I am recovering still. Rather slowly. I think I was farther along in my healing from my hysterectomy than this infection in my hand. My thumb still will not bend, I'm on round 5 of antibiotics, round 3 of all the skin peeling off and I'm weak as a baby. Get up, do a few things like updating NLQ and load the dishwasher, run an errand or two or fold laundry and I'm down again. Down and done. Very weak but just grateful I'm not going to lose the thumb or any part of the hand. Just sick of the pain and the constantly draining pus.

Guess I cannot bitch too much as they told me it was going to be a good solid month before I was recovered. I'm just over two weeks out from the first hospitalization and three weeks since the start of this thing. Time, the great healer. I'm just a very impatient person on so many levels.

Thankfully I'd ordered everything I had to buy for Christmas a long time ago. It's just now I cannot use the scissors or easily wrap the presents. Plus getting exhausted quickly by simple tasks has led me to use a small amount of my energy to get large gift bags. Everyone has a filled gift bag. Nothing fancy this year and I refuse to feel guilty about something I cannot help. Didn't even put up a tree, just threw a string of lights on the piano randomly like some palsied crackhead.

In the old days I would have been seriously freaking out at this stage that things are imperfect. Not now, there is no 'perfect' or 'normal' an it doesn't really matter what it looks like. No matter what I was taught in my old church. Normally the guilty would be wracking me about the imperfection of it all. Not this year. Fuck the guilt. It is what it is.

One of the things I've done a couple of times in the four days I've been driving again is go to the park to feed the ducks and walk around a tiny bit. A couple of observations today. I saw a number of Canada geese come to be fed that I'd not seen before, many of them banded like some migratory birds are. There are always a few wild geese that are content to live year round at our park but not the number I'm seeing now. I wonder if this very warm December we're having on the Eastern Seaboard is somehow throwing off the migrating birds. I've seen wild birds in the yard this week that are usually gone by now.

And they say global warming isn't real. Looks pretty real from here.

The other surprising sight at the lake park is that I finally saw a swan, close up, and had a chance to watch that magnificent creature take flight over the lake. Longest neck I've even seen on a swan. I was struck silent for once watching the swan's flight until it disappeared from view.

Years ago there was a swan couple on on the lake and every year they'd raise a few goslings/swanlings/whatever they are. Usually the offspring would disappear, but after a while there was about five or six living at the mountain lake park. Then after 9/11 when the frenzied building started here and most of the residents of Alexandria and parts east started moving into our area one of the local builders had construction run off going into one of the small ends of the lake, the same end that the swans used to congregate. A couple of them died and some disappeared before the county finally made the builder put in a drainage and dam system for the runoff. This was the first swan sighting I've had in years at the lake since the runoff killed a few.

Since I've been ill I've been living on canned soups, deli salads and my newest favorite food, avocado toast. How did I go this long without ever having had mashed avocado spread on toast?

And I had another epiphany this week, one that I'll be going into far greater detail on soon. On Monday I had an interview with a quilting shop a few towns over. It's been so long since I applied, like 18 months or so, that I'd completely forgotten all about it. I'd only applied because for years I'd worked a few hours here and there are the local quilting store just so I could get the employee discount. I was looking to do the same at this place since the other store closed. I got a call to interview and drove down to the shop.

The interview went fine, the shop is considering expanding their hours and were talking to a number of folks about possibly working the expanded hours. It went okay,  I'm not worried one way or another, because it would only be a few hours a week, like I said only to get the discount. High end quilting fabric is ex-pen-sive.

But that's not what started me thinking hard. What did was the fabric dilemma I was having. That was another reason I was cool with being called into the shop on a super short notice. Since I've been too sick to do anything I have spent some time every afternoon working on a new winter quilt for our bed. I didn't have to cut the fabrics because I'd planned, bought and cut most of the fabric six months ago. I'm simply feeding pieces through the sewing machine.

The quilt I started has been replanned twice now. First I started off trying to make a much bigger copy of a quilt I did three years ago that turned out to make my bedroom look cheery and bright. It was a sample quilt made for the shop I worked at in pinks, corals, light aquas, yellows and greys. Something about those colors just came alive in my light blue bedroom, but I was unable to get the exact same fabrics or anything very close. Realized I didn't want an exact copy, redesigned it, recut some of the pieces and away-way we go. Now I've got all the blocks done and needed a filler fabric to piece out the fussy cut blocks in those colors.

Now, I know most traditional quilters would have chosen a white or a off white filler/blender fabric. I was leaning towards a light peach, light blue or light yellow..but... the more I looked the more I started eyeing the purple batiks.

While I was thinking out loud and talking to one of my many friends working at the shop one of them that knows me very well said to me, 'I know you.. you're no conformist, so don't go with a pastel or a white.. go crazy, just jump out of the box and get the purple.'

I did get the purple and am already in the process of piecing it in between the fussy cut blocks. I'm not sure I love it, at least not yet. It does make the colors in the blocks pop oh so vibrantly. But it got me thinking about conformity, what a miserable killer conformity is and how strong the pressure is to conform in evangelical fundamentalist churches.

I'm going to write more on the subject of the dangers of conformity and the church soon, but not today. Still sorting out my thoughts. One think I do know, I'm glad I'm enough of a non conformist to no longer feel guilty about needing down time for recovering from an illness, to not feel guilty because I'm not measuring up to some false standard of perfection, to have the freedom to make potential mistakes, like the purple just might be.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Just Pay My Husband!

Oh I am off on a pain-killer filled rant this morning. Here we are, in mid-December, and my poor husband still has not received one penny from our local newspaper he's been writing for since his retirement. You know, that retirement that started on August 1st, four long months ago.

Even based upon the penny-ante peanuts scale of pay, not including the times he did statistics for other sports writers or tagged along to help the other writers, he's owed close to 500 dollars. Not bank-breaking, but not insignificant either.

Jim has a byline and his photo in the paper for his fantasy football column, spanning the entire season but the Star Exponent keeps giving him the run around on actually paying him. First it was that the proper forms hadn't been filled out, then it was that he hadn't submitted his invoice, then it was that they had no record of the invoice, lather, rinse, repeat and two weeks ago he had to fill out more forms.

So where is his money?

A few days ago one of the regular reporters complained on Twitter that the newspaper was shorting his pay. This is a guy that puts in well over 40 hours a week with the newspaper and has to have a second job to support himself.

Since the paper is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffet I can only conclude that it's a ploy, a desperate plot by the paper to keep denying you a payment in hopes that you've either keep writing for free, or you'll just shut up and go away without being paid. There are others I know in this small town that have had an enormous hassle getting paid by the Star Exponent.

Way to try to screw a guy on a fixed income Star Exponent. I guess the next time our newspaper bill comes due I'll just sent you a note asking you to credit Jim's unpaid writing against what we owe. Actually, no, I think it's time to get the state of Virginia's labor people involved in this. Surely there's some sort of penalty for businesses that refuse to pay their workers.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ten Things Reality Televsion & Christian Patriarchs Have In Common - The Duggar Edition

For over two weeks now I've been mostly in the bed due to a systemic infection that nearly caused me to lose my thumb and part of my hand. I haven't been able to do much, except watch television between my bouts in the hospital. While I was horizontal and unable to use my right hand I started thinking about reality television, something so many people put down as trashy and worthless and what it has in common with good Christian Patriarchs.

  1. Men Only Want 'Good' Girls – Three different seasons of 'Rock of Love' starring 80s hair band singer Bret Michaels reinforced the CPM notion that good girls are the most desirable for long term relationships. While all three times the show was filled with attractive women willing to perform varying degrees of sexual acts with Bret Michaels ultimately he always chose the women would did not sleep with him. 

    This dove tails with the Patriarchal insistence on modesty and virginity being the only way.
  1. Men Compete For Alpha Male Status – During my recent bout of ill health one of the things I was stuck doing was rewatching a lot of bad television, including some ancient reality game shows from VH1, like a pile of competitive dating shows, including 'Rock of Love' loser who scored her own show Daisy De La Hoya – 'Daisy of Love'. During 'Daisy' and other shows like 'Mr. Personality' plus various incarnations of 'The Bachelorette' it becomes obvious that if you put 20 men together in a house to complete for the love of one woman that they will immediately start engaging in bad behavior and crazy stunts to prove what an Alpha male they are. On 'Daisy' we saw men doing things like back flips off lighting rigs to drinking competitions to prove masculinity. 

    Now it didn't always work out well for everyone, particularly one man that ended up with a bloody gash on his head and another that got so drunk that the only way he could communicate with Daisy was by dolphin-like clicks and squeals. 

    While drunken antics are frowned upon in the CPM how many times have we witnessed the desperate attempts to prove Alpha male status in crazy ways? Steven L. Anderson insisting on carrying his wife Zsuzsanna Anderson around the house and claiming that real he men only pee standing up? What about all the insane claims of Michael Pearl about men, manhood and the types of men? His treatment of Debi during that Honeymoon From Hell they took along the Gulf Coast that ended with Debi collapsing from exhaustion? His attempts to have more sex that first night than any of his peers? Tim Bayly's frequent temper tantrums on his blog over any slight thing that might possibly threaten his sense of masculinity. Von Ohlman's control of his family? Biblical Gender Roles advice to rape your wife if she says no, but not to look on her sinning unhappy face while you do the raping?
  1. Appearance Matters More Than Reality – We've seen this one even in Christian reality shows, so I don't have to cite things that have happened in reality television that involve liquor and horny contestants. Best example of this is the cover up by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of their eldest son Josh Duggar's many transgressions against his sisters and another girl during the filming of their reality show. When these things were exposed the family and their supporters have told everyone to shut up.
  1. Holding Out For The Big Payout At The End – Anyone remember the reality show 'Fear Factor'? On 'Fear Factor' you had to perform a series of challenges, usually at least one of them involved having to eat something pretty disgusting on camera. Very rarely would someone refuse to eat the pig rectum or thousand year old pickled egg. Why? Because to refuse is to risk losing out on the final prize. This has been repeated again and again on so many of the competitive reality shows, contestants risking life, limb and dignity to keep their chances of winning high. 

    Holding out of the big payout is a little different in the CPM, it's not so much swallowing your disgust or fear to accomplish a feat of daring-do. It's more a doubling-down on the message or core beliefs because you believe that the big payout is going to be a large family of righteous believers you've spawned or your possible crowns in heaven. 

    Or, if you are one of the Duggar family, you hang in there through sex scandal, media scrutiny or whatever in order to get back on television and earn those big bucks. With tonight's special Jim Bob and Michelle have made it clear that their children, their children's needs and emotional needs are all fungible, on sale to the highest television bidder. That says more about what they actually believe in that any amount of Bible verses they may spout.
  1. Being Forced To Deal With Less Than Optimal Conditions – On 'Survivor' the game is played in a remote location without much in the way of help or resources. You have to rely on your own skills to advance on the show, but other reality shows aren't much better. You might be in a 'mansion' on some of the competitive reality shows, squashed in with assorted strangers and you are not allowed any outside contact. Total control over aspect of your being. How is that any different than the patriarchal control exercised by many patriarchs over their women and children? 

    Does anyone remember the early days of the Duggar shows when the family was in a tiny rental home and the children were shown routinely eating things like white bread and baloney sandwiches? And they are hardly the only ones. Many CPM guys cannot provide a decent sized home for their growing brood, like Steven L. Anderson and his family living in a little over 1,500 square feet with one bath for all of them. Patriarchs always harken back to olden times when entire large families lived in a small log cabin with their animals, but all they are doing is trying to self justify providing a substandard environment for their family. Remember the Pearls and feeding their children animal feed?
  1. There Are Enforcers Who Limit Access To The Outside World– The reality television shows always have lurking staff rarely seen on the show to keep some sort of order, make sure that everyone abides by whatever rules are, and to keep everyone away from friends, family, social media and all news. 

     In CPM families many times the father is the enforcer, the one that keeps the kids off the internet and social media, the one that insists on limiting contact with the outside world. Which is another reason why homeschooling is pushed so hard in the CPM. Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy doesn't believe in even allowing your children to attend youth groups or any function, church related or not, where children might be exposed to anyone different than them.
  1. You Have To Hide Your True Self To Survive – Without even looking at other reality shows you can see this is particularly true with the Duggar family. How long did Josh hide his love of porn, his infidelity and lies? Had he simply been allowed to be sexual curious at adolescence, be his genuine real self, things might have worked out much differently.
  1. For Every Success There Are Lots of Disappointed People – On 'American Idol' and 'The Voice' there are always tons of very talented folks that vie for a spot on the show, only to end up being cut before they've even started. That's not even considering the ones that do manage to compete on the national television stage and get quickly voted out. For the thousands that try out for those shows there is only one winner per year. 

    Even as many patriarchs point at the success of their broods it seems like only one or two, if any, ever manage to carve out a life that is successful, a credit to how their parents raised them. Look at the offspring of Geoffrey Botkin, Michael Pearl, or even Nancy and Colin Campbell. There's not much there to be held up as a shining example of a life that is something to aspire to. There is a lot of living without heat, or basic needs being met. Not such a great example of how their theology always works out. 

    If it were not for the reality show money that the Duggar family has received none of their children would have what little they possess now. Was Josh Duggar even remotely qualified for his position with the Family Research Council? Well, no, he barely had a basic education. The married daughters, Jill and Jessa, seem to be married to men who don't actually have real jobs. That's not success by any measure.
  1. There Are Very Few Genuine People There - In many of the competitive dating reality shows the ones vying to win sometimes seem like two different people. One extra charming personality when around the object of their desire and someone else entirely different when hanging out in the group away from the love interest. That's not even taking into account that being locked in a location and being filmed twenty four hours a day is such a strange situation that it can cause one to behave in an entirely different false manner. 

    In patriarchy children learn very quickly to put on a fake manner or false front and reflect back to the enforcer parent only those attitudes and behaviors required. So many times when someone finally manages to escape the family they go into a completely contradictory direction than how they were raised. 

    So far most of the Duggar children who've gained adulthood have kept with the family line, with the exception of Josh. Josh learned early on to put on the false piety that fooled his parents all the while indulging his carnal sexual nature for many years behind their backs.
  1. It Changes You, Not Necessarily For The Better – It seems like every man associated with one of the Kardashian ladies on 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' has suffered some lessening of stature and wrecked career after they leave the show. All you have to do is look at the plastic surgery nightmare that is Clay Aiken's face, see how many people from “Celebrity Rehab” are now dead and how many “American Idol” winners have filed for bankruptcy to know it's true. One of the few that I have seen manage to change for the better is 'Honey Boo Boo Child' matriarch June Shannon, she's lost over a hundred pounds as a result of the television show putting her in contact with help with her weight. 

    We've seen first hand how many patriarchs start off not too differently that most folks, only to become more and more controlling and restrictive towards their families and followers as time has gone on. Reality television sure changed the Duggars. Gone are the jumpers with huge face-enhancing blouse collars and slight makeup. Gone are all mentions of blanket training. As time as gone by the Duggars have become outwardly more worldly in dress and behavior.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Hanging Lights

After I actually went out and drove my car around for the first time since the thumb-pocalypse I decided I could delay no longer. Time to festoon the outside of our Cape Cod style cottage with ten thousand Italian twinkle lights. No, not that many and mostly imported from China.

Let's just say I was influenced by the drugs and last night's viewing of Clark W. Griswold in 'Christmas Vacation' I put up an outdoor light display every year. This year I did a dozen or so strings instead of the usual overkill. 

However I learned a couple of things. a) no matter how carefully you pack the lights they come out in one giant tangled ball. b) I should never use narcotics and stand on a ladder at the same time.

But it was worth it when I reenacted the moment of Clark lighting up his lights, right down to making Jim give me a drum roll.

Just the distraction I needed from the pill popping, pain and laying around. Still very slowly on the mend here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Fallen into the Hands of Scary Medicine

So I virtually disappeared for a while. I took quite ill since right before Thanksgiving and I'm still struggling to right myself. But not without hospital, medicines and a diagnosis I really do not like. For once this does  not involve my endless asthma drama.

If I owe you a email, and I know I owe about a hundred right now, I'm going to try to get to that tomorrow as I'm still not able to move all my fingers yet. Putting this up while super stoned on narcotics.

What happened between the last posting and Thanksgiving is a lot of classes, homework, going with Laura on a shopping spree and hosting friends for the holiday meal.

First let me start by stating a big old 'Fuck You' to Larry Solomon at Biblical Gender Roles. While I'm in the middle of my medical goat rodeo he posts up that too many people go to the doctor so copays should be much much higher to stop that. If it were Larry-world I would have run up the national debt over this thumb-tastrophe!

Not too long after I'd loaded the dishwasher and started putting the fine china away my right thumb started aching. Not too badly at first, but enough to be a serious annoyance. Seemed I'd nibbled at a hang nail or picked at a cuticle. Not the first or last time this has happened to me but never has it ever gotten this infected before.

And that night I got no sleep. The thumb throbbed, worse than the time I smacked it hard with a hammer or had it bitten by a parrot. I was up most of the night tossing in tylenol trying to get the damn thumb to let me get some shut eye. No dice.

Morning dawns and I take part in that strange lottery at my local doctors office, dialing for appointments. Our town is so devoid of general practitioners that  you must call in at exactly 8:30 and keep calling until you get in. If you can't get through by 9:00 am stick a fork in yourself and your only options are the local Doc in the Box or the ER. I choose Doc in the Box.

Luckily for me the doctor I saw is someone I know that used to have his private practice here and he's good. Takes one look at my throbbing red thumb with a tiny blister of pus rising on the edge, notes I have a high fever and decides to do the nasal swab test for mrsa before sending me away clutching prescriptions. The test is a 'weak positive', whatever that is. So they take a sample of my pus for culturing and sent me away clutching lots and lots of prescriptions, multiple antibiotics supposedly effect against mrsa just in case this is it and codeine pain pills.

I go home with my pile of prescriptions and the groceries I laid in to deal with feeling like shit. Yeah, by that time I'm feeling like crawling into the bed, sick, gross sweaty sick and tired. Much imbibing of pills takes place and I don't move off the bed or sofa except to go to the john. I've even lost my prodigious appetite. It's crackers and diet coke for me.

Except I don't get better. My thumb swells to scary big proportions, develops over the course of days a blood-pus bubble on the top of my thumb the size of the thumb originally. Did I mention I also have a bleeding disorder. I can't bend some of my finger, I'm in enormous pain and now there's a red streak crawling up my wrist, which also hurts like crazy. Still high fever too.

Back to the Doc in the Box only to be sent immediately to the ER. I have to say this is one of the quickest non-asthma attack times I've been taken back to the treatment area. But then it begins. I have to explain to the medical personnel to look at my records on file with the hospital, yes, I have a mild bleeding disorder, yes I have scary crazy allergies, yes I have that thing common with bad asthmatics higher acid levels in my blood which means I always have a slightly higher than normal heart rate.

And why is it if you know you're a hard stick for blood and you show the nurse the only decent place to actually get blood that they feel like you don't know what the hell you're talking about? They go digging for a vein on their own only to end up getting the blood from the place you pointed out in the first place. This happened, but because my platelets are low my arms look like I've been severely beaten because of the bruises.

I kept telling them I was dehydrated, another reason why sticking me for blood wasn't going well and about the only time my blood pressure deviates from norm.

But the worst part of all of this is one of the doctors, a young woman fresh out of her residency/internship, tells me that because I'm fat I have to be diabetic. Not necessarily. My doctor tests my A1C levels and I've been borderline once and took steps to lower my blood sugar.

They kept me the entire day. I got a couple of bags of saline to rehydrate and a couple of doses of IV antibiotics, x-rays to make sure the infection had not spread to the bones in my hand, plus they drained the thumb of doom pus pocket off the top of my thumb, cleaned out some of the nastier bits on my thumbs and hit me with a shit ton of painkillers to accomplish that.

As I'm getting redressed, as if getting dressed the first time with only one hand wasn't hard enough, the only one of the doctors that treated me who tried to body shame me comes marching in. I popped a seriously high blood sugar. Already knew that because the head of the ER told me that mine was very high and he was going to give me some meds to take for it, but that there was a strong possibility that the crazy rise in levels was due to the infection alone. I likely wasn't a type 2 diabetic.

All new set of prescriptions including Metformin for the sugar. I go to the pharmacy with Jim and the funniest thing ever happens.First,  you have to understand that not only did I have trouble dressing myself with one hand I also happen to be dressed like I'm on crack, my pants are old and wrinkled, my sweater is stretched out and wrinkly. There was no way I could handling putting on a bra so my boobs are hanging somewhere around my belt line. I'm not even sure I combed my hair that morning. Between the bruises from the ER festooning me and how sick I am I'm sure I look like an extra on 'The Walking Dead'.

As Jim and I enter the store this elderly man that seems to smell very strongly of beer sidled up to me and said, "Is he your grandpa or your daddy? Do you think he'd mind if I took you out?" Jim and I burst out laughing over the sheer inappropriate absurdity of this moment before I tell the man that Jim is MY HUSBAND, not my father.

While filling the new prescriptions I went ahead and got a blood sugar meter, one of those ones you do not have to use right on your fingertips. With my bleeding I could see me sticking my finger and quickly being down a few quarts like some ancient Pinto station wagon.

Back home. Take drugs, days pass, feel slightly better. Have a good day, followed by a bad day. This is the pattern - good day/bad day/good day/bad day. I eye guzzled a giant pile of idiotic novels and have watched every 'Law & Order SVU' episode ever filmed since between the drugs and the lack of use of my right hand and all the dizzy/unbalances side effects of the Metformin I didn't trust myself with complex tasks like walking or filling the dishwasher.

Checked the blood sugar levels and they fell to just about pre-diabetic within 48 hours. They've since fallen again, but I was so triggered by Doctor Fat-Shamer that I'm back on my low carb diet. Also, this is the first time in months I've been weighed and I'm currently at the lowest weight I've been at in 25 years! 

Wake up Saturday in pain, pretty significant pain. The hand and thumb still hurt like a car rolled over them, but now I have pain in my left knee, left calf and left thigh. Try to stay off my leg, but I cannot recall doing anything that might have hurt them. I've been shuffling like a stoned zombie between the bed and the sofa.

Sunday morning, the pain is much worse. Back to Doc in the Box, who then sends me to the ER because the muscle/joint pain is a possible side effect of one of the antibiotics. When I get to the ER the doctor in charge says it's almost certain because of my size and inactivity that I have a blood clot. Point out to the doctor that my platelets are on the low side right now, so how is that even possible.

More tests, got rehydrated again. They did an x-ray of the knee, an ultrasound and a veinous doppler study. No clot, not only is my leg not swollen at all, the technician points out that the Bakers cyst I've had behind that knee is gone, I have great musculature around my knees and the blood flow is better than most folks my age. I can only credit the gym with this because years ago when I started having knee pain I started going to the gym to swim. It's helped. No knee replacements happening here any time soon! So the news wasn't all bad.

Then the doctor decides it's a sprain. I point out that a) it's not swollen and b) how can you sprain a limb in your sleep. To cap off this unlikely diagnosis I have to point out to him that the two new meds he prescribed I cannot take. One I'm allergic to and the other one is not appropriate for anyone with bleeding issues. I went home and put on my knee brace I scored the time I had a hairline fracture of my knee cap.

I am improving, but oh so slowly. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. Blood sugar numbers coming down even more. Closer than ever to normal. But I think I'm going to talk to my doctor, my lung doctor, about staying on Metformin. I can feel that my bronchial tubes are completely relaxed right now. Did a little Googling and found out that Metformin helps some asthmatics by reducing the swelling in the bronchi.

Today my sense of humor finally returned. Jim and I did a Costco run. I used one of those electric scooters that Jim loves to mutter at people riding by calling them fat asses. We mock fought over that scooter, I played bumper car with the scooter and his shopping cart before driving the thing around in figure eights. So stoned on the pain meds that the riding around was actually pretty fun. I know between Jim and I we likely freaked out some folks in Costco, especially when he was guffawing and telling me to get up and walk while I flipped the bird at him and tried to ram him with the scooter. I'm so glad he is my husband because we love to pick at each other and joke around. So don't be surprised if you see a video of me riding that scooter in a dangerous fashion while flipping the bird at the camera.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Young Love, Good and Bad

Today we spent the afternoon at my son Andy's girlfriend's housewarming party. It was good to spend time with Jenny, getting to know her. We've not been around her very much in the last two years of dating because she's rather shy. Add in that neither Jim nor I were very sure exactly how serious their relationship is. Seems like it's getting more serious than either of us thought.

We had a very nice time. Jenny is lovely, her new home is lovely, her animals are lovely. We enjoyed the long drive through the beautiful fall Virginia countryside to her new home. We were happy to meet various members of her family, especially her parents. Jim and I discovered we had a number of things in common with her parents. Her father is also ex-military, like Jim and we found out that not only Andy but his girlfriend Jenny were born in Germany. Small world.

Her parents were apparently eager to meet us and said some very nice things about Andy. I was glad because you always wonder what the other partner's family is going to be like. In May Andy will be leaving his job and moving out of the townhouse he shares with his younger sister, her boyfriend and a friend of theirs from high school, moving out to the new house in the countryside of Virginia with Jenny. Now that I've seen the house, met the parents and talked to those involved it eases my mind somewhat. Andy will still have to find a job, but I feel certain that something will turn up in the area. 

This led to some interesting discussion on the drive home and later with friends online. I admit I was concerned about this relationship because I think it's the first really what you might call 'serious' relationship Andy has been in. He's dated and he's had girlfriends, but not like this. I just want him to be as sure as he can be, because I don't want him deciding a year or five years down the road that he's somehow missed out or made a mistake.

And mistakes are so easy to make. Jim and I talked about some of our relationship missteps with others before we started seeing each other while we rode home. I cannot help but remember when my first real boyfriend, the guy I necked with in the school cloakroom when I was 14. When we were doing all that cloakroom necking, going to school dances together and holding hands in the local Burger King during our six month romance Mike gave me a present that my father teased me endlessly about. Mike gave me a white pet rat. My father howled with laughter and called it the 'Engagement Rat', saying that boys were supposed to give you a promise ring, not a rodent as a present. We broke up shortly after that, and I had to rehome the rat with my friend Frances.

When I was 21, working, going to school and trying to raise my daughter on my own my old clunker of a car broke down as I was on my way to work after class. I managed to pull into a convenience store cum filling station and get the hood up only to find I had a split hose, the hose that went to the heater core. A kind young man stopped to help me and it was Mike, my first boyfriend. He stayed with me until the tow truck came before giving me a ride home. We talked on the ride and Mike kept telling me he'd never forgotten me and that he still loved me.

Seven long years after our first romance I started dating him again, but it was obvious pretty quickly that there had never been enough there between us, at least from my side. Plus I found his family pretty horrifying on so many levels. While Mike worked a decent job and got decent wages his family lived in and out of public housing and on welfare with a pile of children. The adults drank, drugged and seemed very shiftless. Mike was like a changeling dropped in their midst by mistake. I found myself cringing so many times in their presence. While Mike was a decent guy, a good guy, there was just no spark there, no love and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't summon up any feeling beyond friendship for him no matter how much he said I was the love of his life.  I ended up breaking up with Mike a second time.

That's the thing I learned the second time around with Mike. You cannot fake it, you cannot will up feelings for someone because they happen to have certain feelings for you. Everything else are surmountable problems.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to see Andy with a young woman that loves him, that's a good person and that he has a good relationship with her parents. You can't fake those things, or force them if they are not there. I'm glad he hasn't had the same long search for love that both Jim and I went through before finding each other.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bathrooms and Gender

Warning: If frank talk about bowel movements offends you then you should ditch now....

One surprising and interesting thing the recent elections highlighted is the fact that people still hold the old view that a man, even a man whose chosen gender is female, is considered a threat to the women using that public restroom.

Kind of makes me sick, that old fundamentalist thought that no man can resist no stray vagina and just might fall straight into it. That's not how life works! Most men, at least the ones that aren't weak, whiny, fundamentalist Christian men, and yeah, even the transgendered ones, can control their sexual impulses. Most women can too. It sets us apart from animals, who cannot.

You are way more likely to be molested or raped by someone with real continuous access to your life, like say a pastor, or family member, than some random person using a public restroom.

I guess for me this sharing of restrooms with others of the opposite sex that feel more comfortable using the restroom of their identified sexuality and gender is a non-issue. Why? One thing. IBS, something I've dealt with for years now, sometimes violating the gender rules of public restrooms.

You see all those ads on television promoting medicines for Colitis or IBS that have the hapless sufferer looking for the nearest restroom everywhere they go? Yeah, it's like that. You never really know when it's going to strike and how quickly you can get to that restroom lest you shit your pants.

You don't give a flying fart in a whirlwind what the gender label is on the restroom. When you're having a acute bout you could likely break land-speed records with how fast you run. My husband can tell you there have been incidences of IBS where he's had to guard the door for me because my need was so urgent that I could no longer wait for the ladies room to free up. He's guarded the door and shooed away random guys while I'm in there.

Which is better than some incidents that have happened because of my IBS, like the time it struck when I was locked out of the house and could not drive the three blocks to the nearest public restroom. All I'm going to say is it's a good thing I had just watched a wilderness survival show or it could have gotten ugly. Then there was the time when it struck me when we were traveling and staying in a hotel in Costa Rica. Jim was shaving and brushing his teeth but my need could not wait for him to finish. I did something I've not done in nearly 30 years we've been married, shouted 'Out of my way!", pushing him aside to use the toilet right in front of him. We laughed over it afterward. 

I've reached the point where I just don't care. The need is too urgent and I know the smells and sounds are probably enough to scare off any would-be rapist. Plus I've come to realize that the likelihood of gender mixing in the rest room to lead to sexual assault is very unlikely.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Starbucks Cup-Troversy - Symptom of a Deeper Problem

On Saturday morn I noticed a strange set of memes and videos going around Facebook. Posted on the pages of those people I know that are still going to either evangelical or fundamentalist churches in my area were images and comments on how Starbucks was persecuting Christians. How? By this year's holiday coffee cup design.

This year's cup features a very minimalist design, a bright red fading into a deep crimson with the company logo picked out in deep green.  I stared at the new cup design and went 'huh'? I couldn't understand anyone getting upset over the new design to the point where they could possibly claim that it was somehow 'anti-Christian' or part of the media-created 'War on Christmas'.

Every year Starbucks changes the design of their holiday cup. Usually it has something on it like penguins, or stars, or snowflakes, cheery winter scenes meant to pay homage to the season. This year's design is no more or no less Christian than any of the previous years. None of the Starbucks holiday cup designs have had Christian symbols on them.

This morning I got treated to this manufactured outrage in person, witnessing two older gentleman behaving in very childish ways while demanding the poor barista shout out 'Merry Christmas' loudly and repeatedly before they would pick up their coffee orders at the counter. Did I miss the part of the Beatitudes where Jesus said for his followers to go forth and act like jerks in his name?

 Had a chance to ask the young folks working at this Starbucks if they'd encountered a lot of this behavior. Several said that they had and at first they were taken aback, not sure what was going on. The general consensus among the baristas seemed to be that it was a little on the kooky-weird side.

As I sat in Starbucks thinking about this newest and dumbest bit of martyrdom by American Evangelicals I could not help but conclude this is a big part of what's wrong with the Evangelical church in America. This is why statistics show that young people are leaving the church in droves, why so many are so done with church and why another recent study showed that kids raised in fundamentalist faiths were less altruistic than those unchurched. The Evangelical church has lost its damn mind.

Instead of being concerned with the hungry and poor in our communities they've decided it's more important to complain that the cups are a direct slam on Jesus. There's none of what Jesus said to do, take care of the widow and orphan, or visit those in jail, oh no, nope. Now it's make sure that the transgendered cannot use certain restrooms, telling the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop living on welfare.  The American Evangelical church that is the umbrella that Quiverfull falls under wants to regulate everything about every woman's body so that the nation is Quiverfull no matter how they feel about it.

Fear is being taught from many pulpits and many are being incited to hate those that are different from them. Fear is weakening the church and it has infested just about every doctrine these days. That fear drives so many of the reasons evangelicals are busy putting others down, claiming they are the ones being persecuted when it's really them upset that they cannot force everyone else to believe the same way as them, as well as keeping them distracted from the real problems in the world and the true words of Christ.

Mostly I kept thinking about that old tried and true practical rule of parenting, 'Pick your battles', meaning not everything you disagree with your kid over is worth expending time and energy on fighting. There have been plenty of young people driven away from their parents because the parents chose to fight and nag at them over some small thing, some issue of dress or manners, that really is not a big thing in the scheme of things, while ignoring the glaring obvious thing that needs to be addressed.

 Ultimately I think these moments of outrage are simply a bonding ritual. Used to be in the church that you and your fellow believers did things together as a group for the good of others, and it brought you closer to each other. Everyone is in search of significance, and it used to be that people found that feeling of making a difference and being part of the whole through servicing others through the church. Since that's fallen by the wayside these protests and boycotts seem to take the place of bonding with your fellow believers into the cohesive one for that sense of belonging.

By making a huge deal out of things like Starbucks changing their cup design, yet not saying a word in protest when something worth protesting happens, such as a church covering up for a pastor who makes untoward advances on underage young women (Hello Vision Forum, IBLP and IFB among other offenders!) the message is pretty clear to the outside world. There's no accountability or credibility left, only silly outrage over issues they're being distracted with by evangelical leadership.

This is why the church is dying!

This is why the world thinks the church is filled with nasty mean hypocrites!

This is why people aren't flocking to join the American Evangelical church!

This is why church must change or go the way of the dinosaurs!

Be outraged for the right reasons, for your neighbor being alone on the holidays, for someone needing a hand while they go through treatment for cancer, for children without enough food, for the many homeless veterans, for the lonely, the sick and the needy in our world. Not over some dumb coffee cup that no one will remember by January. But your neighbor that needs a listening ear or a ride to chemo is still going to remember what you did for them many months later.

Evangelicals, grow up and take the words of the guy you claim to be following seriously!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Crimson (Butt) and Clover or How I Got Spanking For Dancing to a Tommy James & the Shondell's Song

One of the few benefits of having been sidelined with my various ailments lately as I've been able to indulge in one of my past times in a huge way. I am a voracious reader. I love books and my Kindle is always loaded with a crazy variety of reads, from biographies to history to straight up fiction to things from university presses.

Right now I'm reading a book I would never have picked up if I hadn't have been watching a religious show on night on television, it might have been 'The 700 Club' and been intrigued by an interview they were doing. It was with Tommy James of Tommy James and the Shondells. Once I heard him talking of his history with the Mafia and his faith I knew I had to read the book.

It wasn't just the Beatles and the Stones that were the soundtrack of my childhood in the sixties, it was many other bands too, like Tommy James and the Shondells. The station in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that my parents kept tuned to on our giant old radio on top of the fridge was WLCS, a top forty station. Songs by the Shondells I heard over and over from the top of the fridge included, 'Crimson and Clover,' 'Crystal Blue Persuasion,' 'Mony Mony,' 'Draggin' The Line' and many others.

The sixties were sort of an odd time to be a kid. By the end of the decade so many things that we'd assumed would stand forever were crumbling and society was in a state of flux. But I was too young to pick up much angst over those things, I just remember the great music.

So I'm reading 'Me, the Mob, and the Music' by Tommy James, reliving some of that era in my childhood. It's pretty decent read. I'm surprised and not surprised by parts of it. One of the crime families James mentions my father was nominally involved with when he hired someone to bug my mother's telephone in the mid-sixties. I only discovered Dad's mob connection after I married and there was an update to my husband's security clearance. Yes, there is apparently an old FBI file on my father.

But mostly I keep thinking about one of the few spankings/beatings I received as a child. It was because of 'Mony Mony' a song James says he named that double name because he was writing the lyrics and looked out at the Mutual of New York sign on a nearby building.

One of my favorite things to do as a kid on those weekends when my mother did endless shopping was for my dad and I to go to Baton Rouge's own personal redneck Riviera - Thunderbird Beach. Thunderbird was a giant man-made pond lined with white sand and with more imported truckloads of white sand dumped around the pond to make a pseudo beach. They also had a back pond with paddle boats you could ride, pinball machine arcade, snack bar, bandstand area with bands on the weekends and a handful of carnival rides.

One of the carnival rides was called The Himalayan, I think. It was some sort of warped merry go round sort of thing that went round and round very fast at some odd angle. The ride was painted in the colors of a winter wonderland with pictures of skiing. On a summer day with the temps in the high 90s there was nothing more refreshing than riding The Himalayan in your wet swim suit.

Out front of this ride was a mechanical go-go dancer on a platform, dressed in the requisite mini skirt, shiny top, long hair and hip looking hat. With the music blaring this thing jerked and shook. I was fascinated.

This was the same summer that 'Mony Mony' was huge, 1968, I would have been eight years old. So after I'd watched the go-go dancer I got the bright idea to climb up on a rock on the beach in front of the ride and dance along with the music and the go-go dancer.

Never made that mistake again. My father, who usually spoiled me rotten, snatched me off that rock quickly and gave me the worst whipping in my life. In public. Why? For acting slutty/whore-y he said. I always think about that incident when I hear the song and still feel a sense of injustice over the whipping. There was no thought of being sexual or attracting the wrong attention from men when I climbed up on that rock to dance. I was just filled with joy and wonder over that stupid jerking manikin.

My father never spanked me again but the memory remains. Funny how the injustices still stay with us over forty years later. I realize now that his own fear drove his spanking of me. Keeping me 'pure' and innocent was something he was strict about, even if he was not Evangelical, but still Catholic at that time. If Purity Balls had been a thing back then I feel pretty sure he would have insisted we attend and I make that vow. As I grew older he spend way too much time trying to police my interactions with the opposite sex to some crazy extremes.

Years later as I've found my way out of evangelicalism I've come to realize that the way sex, sexuality, normal sexual behaviors manifested in children and teens is treated no differently that my father beating me for dancing what he thought was a suggestive manner.  It makes me realize that those poor children raised in restrictive Christian environments who manage to free themselves as adults are going to be dealing with a big pile of feelings of injustice, of being convicted of something they aren't guilty of.

Shame and sexuality. Toxic combo being taught from the pulpit.

Me? I got up and danced early today to 'Mony Mony' as a way of saying 'up yours' to the injustice done to me many years ago. To reclaim myself yet again. Sometimes symbolic actions are necessary to heal from the crap in your life.

Here's the song I'm talking about for all the folks too young to have heard this. Dig that crazy Nehru jacket and all the love beads:

Friday, November 06, 2015

If It Ain't Baroque Don't Fix It

Last month has been tough, and not just because I'm having a serious dose of missing the beach. Mostly it has to do with the ongoing mess that is my health. I've been having more and more asthma attacks, the meds that used to help aren't helping and the new meds are merely giving me more problems.

One of the biggest problems I've had is that after my pulmo went nuts and left or whatever happened to him (he's in another town as a hospital pulmo only) is finding another pulmo I like. I tried the one in the next town over and after less than a year we ended up at loggerheads. She made the mistake of trying to tell me I had no right to be frustrated and upset. No one tells me my feelings are invalid. Ever. I stopped that when I left my old church.

She also said she refused to continue me on the only treatment that gave me much relief, twice a month injections of the DNA recombiant drug Xolair. Right now I have ten thousand dollars worth of Xolair still sitting in my fridge, good for another year. I'm saving it in case I need it. She also wanted me to have a procedure that basically sears your airways open. Hopkins said I wasn't a good candidate for it.

The one good thing she did do for me was to get me over to Johns Hopkins to be seen and put into one of their research projects for the immunio problems I have. They have helped some, but not much with the asthma. The physical therapy I got to learn to keep breathing through my vocal cords trying to close during an asthma attack has turned out to be the best thing ever. I can keep my airways open during an attack.

My new doctor is a young woman, recently finishing up her residency and board certifications at our local teaching hospital. I like her, I like that she's like my first doctor in the way that she's open to trying new things. Started seeing her a four months ago. Now she's changing all my meds around.

Thankfully there are a few new ones I haven't tried. First one I told her I was unlikely to be able to tolerate because it is in an inhaler. Told her I am allergic, react every time to the propellant in an inhaler just like I do to aerosols being used around me. Still tried it. Made my asthma worst.

Being that it was an inhaled steroid I ended up with my low grade lingering sinus infection going berzerkers. I'm getting ready to go back in tomorrow morning and get my regular doctor to give me a different antibiotic as the one they put me on to kill the raging sinus infection from the steroid isn't doing diddily, and I'm having a hard time sitting or standing without falling down because my balance is completely screwed up.

I've been mostly in the bed these weeks, only leaving to do things like go to class or I went one Sunday to get a pedicure, went to brunch and got waxed and styled at the salon with my youngest. I'm sick and tired of being sick... the only good that has come of it is that I was completely relaxed by the piles of meds I'm on at my Spanish test and passed with a high grade instead of being tense and forgetting everything I learned like last test.

Jim's frustrated with me because I've done very little, but he's never really gotten how sick I am. He only 'gets' it when something happens like it did in Florida and I just about go into respiratory arrest. On the way to class yesterday I started having an attack in the car because of the chemicals from the roadwork we passed. Once at school I sat in the student lounge huffing on my nebulizer for about forty minutes until the attack eased. I joined the last half of class. My illness just fucking screws with everything. I'm sick of it. Back frustrated again.

Tomorrow is another trip to another doctor for another fucking prescription of pills. Bah. Feel ready to chuck it all in as living like I have for the last ten years is physically miserable. Limited and limiting.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Importance of Dying Well

About three weeks ago I received a book for review on the subject of dying. The book, "Peaceful Passages: A Hospice Nurse's Stories of Dying Well" written by Janet Wehr, was a fascinating one. Not necessarily a religious book or even a Christian book, but an inspired and moving account of the journey from life into death. I could not put the book down, finishing it in a few scant days.

But whenever I sat down to write a review I blanked, experiencing writers block, complete unable to come up with a fitting review for a book I believe everyone needs to read, if for no other reason than to preparing yourself for losing your loved ones and how to handle the end. I kept staring at the blank word document on my computer screen, willing the words to come but finding I had nothing to say.

At least I had nothing to say until a story broke in the news this week, the story of a dying child and her parent's decision to allow her to determine when enough was enough. Five year old Julianna Snow has suffered from one of the most severe forms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease from birth. Her story will not have a happy ending. Her life has been an endless round of medical tests and treatments that would be tough even on a grown up. Her future is one that could end with the next cold or virus.

What brings her story into the eyes of the media and the attention of others is that Julianna's family is Christian and they've recently asked her if she wants to stop fighting her illness and go to heaven or continue with the painful, invasive and ultimately useless medical treatments in the hospital. The child has chosen to die at home, and no longer go to the hospital. She is choosing, a five year old child, how her end will come. Even a child wants to die well.

The problem is that most of the world doesn't think that a child, the one actually suffering, should have any say over their treatment or final plans. Many argue that a child cannot possibly be mature enough to know what she's giving up by deciding to stop heroic medical measures. They say that the parents are abdicating their responsibility to provide ongoing medical care for Julianna's CMT disease. Julianna's mother is a doctor, someone that too clearly understands what more her child faces from this illness. She and her husband decided that their child, being the one who is suffering, should also be the one who calls the game, when it's too much and her quality of life is abysmal.

Before reading "Peaceful Passages" I would have likely joined in on that internet crowd blaming and shaming the parents for allowing a child to decide her own fate. Not now, now I have to consider that each of us is ultimately the captains of our own futures. Why should the family not honor the wishes of a dying child to have some say over her own death. Even if you remove the religious element, heaven and hell, and look at the situation logically it seems as though even a child should be the decider over her own ending. She has known nothing but a life filled with pain, knowing her illness with bring less and less of a life to her.

Which is what a large part of this book is about, people choosing to die on their own terms. So many of the touching stories in "Peaceful Passages" are about just that, deciding what that end will be.  Janet Wehr's experiences in the book tell me that we all need to have those conversations with loved ones, young and old, healthy or facing a lifelong illness. We need to make sure that those that love us know what we need in order to die well, to have our wishes known and honored.  To be surrounded by those that support and love us as we transition into the great unknown.

I cried more than once when reading through the stories of dying collected in this book.

I wish there was some way to get a copy of this book to Julianna Snow's family because I believe that it would be a great comfort to them in this time and when Julianna leaves this planet. There is nothing more difficult that watching your child suffer like this, as I discovered when my youngest child was four years old and she was in and out of the hospital for ITP (idiopathic thrombocytic purpura) for quite some time. I remember the fear, the bargaining with God to strike me but leave my child alone and the months of slogging back and forth to the hospital for treatment.

One of the big benefits of this book is that it completely demystified the role of Hospice in the end of life. Hospice is shown as it is, a help to both the patient the family as the end nears. When the family understands how Hospice helps make the patient make the most of their remaining time it takes away some of the worries and struggles involved. This is a great read for anyone preparing to help a loved one dealing with a life threatening illness. Janet Wher has done a great service by sharing her years working in Hospice with anyone interested in how to die well.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Finding the Strength to Give Yourself Permission to Leave

I remember the last two years before I walked away from my old church. Every Saturday night or early Sunday morning I would have a nightmare involving church. They always involved church. It might be something like the pastor calling me out for some imagined sin from the pulpit and he and I fighting in the sanctuary. One time I dreamed that my home was filled with an abundance, a crazy wild abundance of things, like opening the bread box to have three fresh loaves leaping out instead of one, or opening the silverware drawer and finding set after set of silver in the drawer. That dream was terrifying because I was attempting to get my pastor to see the heaping helpings of abundance every where I turned in my home and he was scoffing, saying hateful things.

It wasn't only the pastor I dreamed about. Church members that I knew to have issues or to be a bit on the hateful side featured prominently. I woke up one Sunday morning horrified that I'd dreamed of beheading a fellow parishioner in the chapel out back..

But occasionally the dreams would not feature anyone I knew. Dreamed one morning that I was walking down a dark country road late at night and I spied God coming down from the heavens like a white robed wraith. I ran to him, calling out, screaming that He was all I wanted. As God drew near to me I could see him instantly change from the Almighty to a dark demon, who grabbed my hands and would not let go.

The nightmares stopped as soon as my husband convinced me to go with him to a local mainstream United Methodist church. I've not had another nightmare involving any church or pastor or church goes again.

After almost nine years away I've come to conclude now that it wasn't 'the devil' making me have all these horrible dreams. I was told when I timidly asked about nightmares at the old church that I was under direct attack from Satan to stop going to church. But that's not it.

I think now that it was my sub conscience screaming at me to wake up and run! What I could not perceive as unhealthy, twisted and cult-like while I was awake because I was in denial, brainwashed even, my inner mind knew was bad. All stimuli had to be switched off for the message to make its way into my active mind. The inner parts screaming at me to run away as quickly as possible, to protect myself and go.

Starting to know that I had to leave wasn't hard. But what was hard was the actual going, the giving myself permission to leave a toxic environment for a healthier future. After what I went through leaving my old church I think I now have some small inkling on a very primitive level why abused women stay with their abusers. Giving yourself permission to leave is hard. It requires that you recognize and admit to yourself, that regardless of how hard you tried to make things work that it was never going to work. It's admitting a failure, even if that failure isn't caused by you. It is hard to give up a dream, a vision of how things really should be and finally being able to take a long hard look at the reality of your situation.

It goes well beyond the practicalities of detangling yourself financially and physically from a religious organization. It involves almost amputating yourself from the body, sometimes in a radical and bloody way. But it's worth it, after you finish licking your wounds that is. Because no one else at the place you're leaving is going to give you permission to go. They're going to insist you don't have that right, or that you are deceived, to please stay because it is 'God's will'.

Let's get one thing straight, if you are being spiritually abused none of the abusers has the right to stop you from leaving. But they will try to stop you and insist that they are doing it out of love.

Even after nine years there are still people I run into from the old church that insist I'm sinning by having left, or that I'm going to hell for adminning No Longer Quivering, or they think I'm running around doing 'UnGodly' things. They don't understand that I hold all my own power and their attempts to control me are like mosquitoes tried to bring down a Harrier jet.

You don't owe them explanations.
You don't need them to give you permission to leave.
You don't have to keep allowing them to try and make you feel guilty.

You are strong.
You are enough.