Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Heat, Tomatoes and Dead Folks

I was reminded this afternoon about something that happened this last year in our home.

It's very hot here, I tend to only water plants and tend my tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers and various other fruits and vegetables first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I'm gearing up to clean out the encroaching morning glory vines and pick the ripe raspberries first thing tomorrow morning.

This evening, as the sun was going down, I was picking tomatoes, putting them in my basket and stopping every now and again to sniff the smell of ripe tomatoes in the warm sun, a smell like no other. It's also a smell you're never going to get at the grocery store. As I stood there sniffing and picking I was reminded of how my youngest child when she was 3 or 4 years old had the tendency to make for the ripe tomatoes or the pear tree or the apple tree if you took your eyes off her and stand in the patch picking and eating the ripe fruits of your garden. She would do such things as pull her slide over to the pear tree, pick and eat as many pears as she could reach. We never denied her food, especially not fresh fruits and vegetables, but she seemed to share my taste for fresh out of the garden.

The other memory is the years when I've had a bumper crop and given some to neighbors. Which lead me to another memory.

This last winter for the first time I was approached by the dead in my own home. It was a first for me, even if I've seen the spirits of the dead since I was 3 years old. I've never had one in my own home. That morning I was crossing the upstairs stair landing, looked down and seen a black man at the foot of the steps. I did and didn't recognize him. He'd appeared to me about 6 days before in a local movie theater.

But I had no memory of knowing him in real life. At least up until that moment when he showed me a quick memory of him visiting the man living catty corner from our house. He showed me smiling and waving, walking over to his friend. I was dressed like I would for gardening and had a big basket of picked produce, coming over to the both of them and giving my neighbor tomatoes. I have no memory of that happening, but I don't doubt that I did.

This guy wanted him. He wanted me to pass a message to someone about his death because everyone assumed he'd died in a car accident. But he kept showing me that his death and the accident was due to a head injury that he suffered years before. The person he wanted me to contact is someone I had met before at LSU and had only that one time passing acquaintance with. I did and I don't know what meaning or purpose all of that had. I'm not concerned with what anyone does with the information I'm given to pass on about the death of a loved one. Reaction and action to receiving those messages lies only with the recipient.

Mostly I've kept silent in my blog about my experiences with the supernatural because it tends to freak people out. Plus it sounds crazy, fucking nuts, like some post-fundamentalist Christian bullshit. Replacing one spiritual thing with another, one unseen thing with another. But that's not it. For me this predates just about everything else in my life.

But it's not anything I can control. Boy do I wish I could because when Jim's work buddy Glenn passed in April and we attended the funeral Glenn appeared to me at the service and insisted I tell Jim and his other pals that he passed of a heart attack, it was very quick and he did not kill himself. Everyone, including myself, had speculated that Glenn had committed suicide because he was in the middle of a messy bankruptcy. Glenn was adamant I tell them he did not kill himself and the family wouldn't tell anyone what happened. The only thing any of us knew was that Glenn had missed work for three days before work called a family member and he was found dead in his bed.

Eventually I did tell Jim and Glenn's other friends that it was a heart attack and Glenn wanted everyone to know he would never kill himself. That was one very hard conversation to have. Jim knows though that this happens with me. His friends probably think I'm nuts now.

Now whenever I smell sun-ripened fresh tomatoes I'm going to think about the dead friend of the guy that used to own the house across the street. Funny how some smells can take you right back to a place and time.

One of the big things that has happened in the last six years is that instead of merely seeing the dead I hear them. Every single one I've seen in those years has had unfinished business, or a message for someone on this side. I try to honor that, even if it makes me seem crazy sometimes.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Seeing Clearly Now

Back in 1967 when I was all of seven years old my grandfather had surgery. He had his cataracts removed. Afterward he kept asking my father the same question several different times. 'Isn't Miss Emmaline looking poorly?'

Miss Emmaline was his second wife. My grandfather married her a scandalously short time after the death of my grandmother. No one in the family particularly liked Miss Emmaline, but I think it was due to her being foisted upon the family so quickly.

Here's the thing about my grandfather's question. No, Miss Emmaline wasn't looking 'poorly', she looked exactly like she had the entire year they'd been married. His cataracts were so bad he couldn't see her clearly before that moment post-surgery.

This last week has been a week of seeing clearly, of clarity on many things. I had my appointment with a specialist because I keep having blood sugar spikes every time I get another infection or use my Xopenex. It was good. We came up with a plan to keep the spikes from being so bad, I found out the blood sugar spikes have not damaged anything, not my heart, kidneys or eyes. Clean bill of health, new prescriptions and told I was doing most everything right for my health. Always a relief.

Even managed to order all new glasses for better clarity of vision. The only drag was finding out I am developing cataracts like my grandfather, likely from some of my asthma meds. A side effect I was not warned about. My vision has gotten much worse since my last exam.

One of the things I realized, seeing clearly for the first time, was how incredibly horrible the high school I attended was, not just for me, that I knew, but for others. I had a long interesting conversation online with a lady I knew from one of the last schools I attended. I guess I never realized how much more some of the others there were getting picked on and tormented by the football jock chuckleheads. It was enlightening, but I was sorry to discover that others at the school had also been the target of the popular kids.

The funny thing to me now is that some of those same kids that made life fucking miserable for others sometimes pop up on my Facebook page wanting to be friends. I always reject those requests now because if you were a jerk in high school I seriously doubt that time has improved you. I do have some people I went to school with as friends, but only the ones that were fellow survivors of the school that were decent in school.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Revenge Spinach and Migraines

I have a very rare migraine brewing. It started last week before our day running away from all responsibility at the water park and rushing through Costco at the breakneck speed of light twenty minutes before they closed. It started before my discovery that some random person had ransacked my old car looking for money, dumping out the contents of the glove box and center panel only to find an expired bottle of tylenol and four old hospital bracelets. It started well before the almost unbearable din of the mid-August cicadas here in the Piedmont.

I am still laughing over the fact that someone searched my car for money because my old lady sedan does not scream 'Mega-bucks and drugs!'. It more looks like 'I keep a quarter to use at Aldi for a shopping cart in the cup holder' - which, coincidentally is the only thing missing from the entire car. I wish they would have emptied the trash at the same time.

August is usually a very sucky month for my health. The mid and late August weather always creates a week or so of very low oxygen levels, usually just as my pulmonologist is on vacation and unreachable, where I lay down a lot, take extra meds and trudge on through till the weather starts to cool off slightly.

Usually it does not bring a every few years migraine. This year it is. I've been eating tylenol on top of my usual cocktail of drugs like I am in a grudge match with my liver. It's not working.

By last night I was getting more pissed off with this headache, knowing it will eventually reach the point where I will need to take the imitrex and sleep it off in a perfectly silent dark cold room. It's getting close.

In the last few days I've been dealing with the huge overwhelming amount of zucchini that the garden is producing by cooking a large batch every few days. At least those I'm not canning for zucchini relish or baking zucchini bread, cookies, you-name it with. I was counting on not having to cook last night because I've cooked up a huge batch of seasoned and delicious zucchini, a big salad and a number of chicken breasts.

Get up to start dinner, headache like a nagging toothache and discover that Jim has gorged himself on that huge container of cooked zucchini. 'Is that a problem?' he asked me, mystified as to why I would be miffed. Damn straight skippy when I'm fighting this headache. I grumbled, I complained but I served him the remainder of the zucchini and then proceeded to make for myself and myself alone a batch of the most mouth-watering creamed spinach, brave with onions, garlic and the good cheese. I ate it all for dinner while he just stared. Revenge spinach.

Usually I'm not this petty, but this is just one of those triggering things, when someone cannot understand that they shouldn't inhale all of one large amount of foodstuffs because perhaps someone else might have wanted a few. I've dealt with this with my son when he was a teenager many times. Make enough of something for two meals, come back and it's all gone with the things you have in there for them to snack on completely untouched.

After all the fuming and spinach cooking I finally just gave up and took a small dose of imitrex and went to bed. When I'm sick with low oxygen levels and headaches I get crazy, as the above illustrates amply. Still have the headache today but I'm about to kill it with more imitrex and get in the bed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tomorrow Never Knows

The title happens to be that of my favorite Beatles song. An odd psychedelic one. "Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream" is much easier said than done. Particularly at night when you are trying to wind down and sleep and you're worrying about a multitude of things, like if you remembered to pay off your credit card yet or if your relatives in Louisiana are safe from the flooding.

But the other day I got to see a movie that used the song in a sequence 'Sucker Punch'

Not the sort of movie I would usually watch, but this one spoke deeply to me. If you've not seen it the film is set in an insane asylum/mental hospital and one of the patients, Baby Doll, goes into the most incredibly detailed disassociative states.  She even goes into a second state of disassociation that turns her and her fellow detainees into powerful warrior women on a mission to find the items they need in order to escape from the hospital they are all incarcerated at.

That's how I survived some of my childhood and young adulthood, when I was abused, completely disassociated and went somewhere else in my head. It wasn't as detailed, powerful or disturbing as Baby Doll's world is in 'Sucker Punch'.

But sometimes the memories that randomly pop up are every bit as disturbing and unexpected as a literal sucker punch.

Been a tough week. A friend has been threatening suicide because of the increasing pain of life. Another friend has been suffering the unkind slings and arrows of the willfully ignorant and I was sucker punched by these and other happenings.

Yesterday afternoon was the hardest. My SIL has tried to reestablish contact with us, not in a fun happy or even asking forgiveness sort of way, but complaining about my maw in law. She emailed us to recount an incident with the maw in law supposedly throwing a tantrum and tossing something to the floor of her room when the SIL was trying to interact with her.

We're not replying. We've gone no contact on the recommendation of my counselor. But it's disturbing. My maw is law is in her nineties but I've never seen in all the time I've known her a moment of frustration so intense and illogical that she strikes out in a physical way or in a 'tantrum'.

I'm not buying it. I'm thinking there is a heap of bad feelings, possibly even some abusive words or speech being directed at my mother in law. This is just not something she's doing for 'no reason'.  Guess it's time to talk to the attorney again and talk to the maw in law to see what legal pressures can be brought to move my maw in law up here. She deserves better than the barely concealed hostility and rage of a mentally unstable woman.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Church is Always Drama and Historic Floods

The Naked Pastor - David Hayward posted a drawing the other day about, a Venn diagram of church and drama and I have to say it's all too accurate. I like David, we've both been harassed by the same gang of not very nice folks masquerading as social warriors. Big old intolerant cry babies.

But I'm not talking about those people today, nor am I bitching about the scads of people that treat the gym like gossip central or a pick up joint. I got to church today and discovered that one of the people in leadership I've never been very comfortable with either stomped away and quit or was fired. People are all atwitter and gossiping about it left and right. I fended off a few folks that wanted to know what I knew, which was exactly zero. I stay far far away from this guy and most of the people not on worship team.

This fellow was the youth leader, and he held some ideas just slightly to the right of those at my old church. One of the things he did that led me to express some concern to our pastor was that he taught
I Kissed Dating Goodbye' by Josh Harris, pushing courtship as The Way at our mainstream more liberal church. That, and other things, made me feel uncomfortable about him. He seemed nice, but every time I talked to him our conversation devolved into shades of Fundytown. So I kept my distance and most of misgivings to myself beyond questioning the wisdom of teaching that awful book.

Now I'm watching a bunch of other folks verklempting about whatever it was that happened over on Facebook. Why can't everyone just mind their own business. It was announced by the pastor that he left and no details discussed. That should be enough.

But it never is. This was one of the big bugaboos that disgusted me the most at my old church Possum Creek. There was constant drama, people stomping away or dramatic things happened and scads of idle speculation going on. I was telling my friend that went to the beach with me that one of the most hateful hurtful things that happened to me at Possum Creek was each and every time I had terrible problems with my cycle and ended up having to go into the hospital and had a D&C to end my massive bleeding that someone would end up saying I'd had 'an abortion' even though I had not been pregnant. More than a few times it ended up on the email prayer list as an abortion. Why they couldn't just understand that I needed the every three or four month D&C for my period problems I don't know.

Gossip like that hurts. Hurts badly when it's about you and it tells me something negative about the persons around me trying to engage in it. I end up having to break out that hateful snotty elitist attitude of Thurston Howell III every time someone tries to gossip with me. It's safer that way.

I've gotten much better as time has gone on about not taking offense at the ideas and words of others. In fact my friend on the trip said a number of things I think are ridiculous, such as supporting Donald Trump and I managed to not argue with her or take offense. I was more amused by her words and antics than offended, with the exception of her more racist moments. She is who she is (an extremely conservative former Ben Carson supporter), I am who I am (uber liberal politically) and we don't have to agree on everything, even if I find her love for Donald Trump puzzling. I asked her what she liked about him and all she could say is that she liked the things she heard him say. I asked for specifics but she could not come up with any. It was an enlightening peek into the mind of a Trump supporter.

I did have great fun telling her about a recent encounter I had with a member of her new church at our local Starbucks. Went through drive thru, saw that the car ahead of me had their church's bumper sticker on it, pulled up to the window to pay and found out that the car ahead of me had paid for my coffee. That was nice, I thought, right up until the cashier handed me a Chick Tract the people had left for me and mumbled out something about 'God's blessings'. Chick Tracts! I growled, grumbled and tore up the tract right in front of the cashier while inwardly thinking some very dirty words.


On a somber note I'm watching the flooding in Baton Rouge Louisiana and have been on the phone with many of my relatives down there or connected with them on Facebook. So far everyone is relatively dry. My mother swears it's not that bad, but I did see drone footage from her neighborhood and it looks pretty dire. This is concerning. In all the years I lived there I've never seen such huge stretches of interstate 10 shut down before. I hope the waters recede quickly.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Race, Racism and the Beach

Back when I was a child my family used to visit a restaurant on the shores of Lake Ponchatrain that I cannot remember the name now. It was a beautiful large white Victorian style building, brave with as many swirls and sculpted shells as a white frosted wedding cake.

I don't remember what we ate there, but I will never forget the interior of this dining establishment, also all in white, white linen tablecloths, turning white ceiling fans and a large crystal chandelier. I'm sure it was quite expensive, I seem to remember the adults in the party having shrimp cocktails, raw oysters and martinis.

The other two things that stand out in my memory was first the dessert. I always had a scoop of plain chocolate ice cream in a fluted cut crystal goblet.

The other thing was the waiters, all black men dressed in white tail coats, as servile and ubiquitous as black men serving whites in a fancy place could be. I remember being puzzled as to why all the waiters were African Americans and asking, only to be told by an elderly family member that this was the way things should be.

I hadn't thought of that particular restaurant in many years, at least until this last week. I knew when we booked our hotel we were staying in a primarily black city, Norfolk, Virginia. I have no problem with that. The area was primarily black and the hotel had a largely black population. Again, no problem. I've worked, worshiped and gone to school with people of many different races and try my damnedest not to hold preconceived notions about people groups (unless they are Christian fundamentalists or old ladies trying to engage me in conversation in the gym. Those folks I will always think the worst of immediately, particularly fundamentalist Christians and their hate.)

I fail at this, oh so many times, but I still try. One of the deepest desires I hold for this world is that we all finally move past racism, to make color or race not matter. I think it will happen eventually but I think it's going to take my own generation dying out to accomplish that goal. Racism seems to be less endemic in the younger generations.

What was surprising about my beach trip was some of the racist reactions I observed in some of the people around me, both in the hotel and outside, on the beach and in the area. There were loads of white people acting like it was still plantation times and saying and doing some surprising things. Like watching an older white lady clutch her purse to her side when a smiling black man passed her on one of the beach paths near the Norfolk public beach. He hailed her, speaking out a friendly greeting even as she pressed her bag hard to her side. Overheard another complaining that she wasn't using the same restroom as 'insert your favorite racist epitaph here'. A thousand small actions, observing people changing sides of the street or making some small remark. The person I was with exhibited many racist comments, attitudes and behaviors, which sort of made me feel sick. I think this is going to be my last jaunt with her because I end up biting my tongue over her behavior and attitudes so many times. It requires more energy than I have now.

But it was also unnerving to find myself on the blunt tines of the opposite reaction. I experienced a very uncomfortable few minutes in the breakfast room with a large group of blacks, I walked in and all conversation stopped before I experienced what it was to be made the object of hostile glares. I still smiled, spoke to those nearest the door. What else could I do?

But it was just one bad moment for me, not much of a comparison to what many African Americans experience every single day at the hands of other Americans.

I don't blame them. If I've learned anything through the years of growing up in South Louisiana it's that the systematic racism of many people is so deeply ingrained that they are not aware of it on any meaningful level. I've questioned most of my more racist relatives. They gasp and swear they aren't racists, it's just this or that group of folks does this or that stereotypical negative thing. Yeah, then they start griping about our President being a Muslim. It just never ends.

I don't know what the answer is to end racism in this nation, but I wish I did. I guess I'll just keep trying my best not to behave the way I was raised. I am so thankful to no longer be living in the Deep South because I'm not sure I could keep my mouth shut enough to not get in trouble. Maybe that's the answer, not keeping silent about this.

I don't think until this trip I really understood how divided we are as a nation. Be afraid because I think this also means that these are the same folks that will be voting for Donald Trump. 'Make America Great Again' seems more like a coded language for 'Let's all hate and suppress various people groups again like we used to do..'

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Your Standards Are Not My Standards

One of the interesting things to come out of beach week was the fact that I was exposed to the beliefs of my old church and friends yet again.

Perfect example. On the second morning of the trip my friend who went with me mentioned that my husband had yet to call me and she thought that was a troubling sign that my marriage was not a good one. How could Jim ignore me like that, she smugly questioned while texting her husband repeatedly.

Bitch, whatever, is what I wanted to say, but I bit my tongue. We're both adults and both secure in each others affections, not needing constant reassurance or hand holding. We're not the couple that is sugary insincere fakey-pie with each other.

In fact, when I observe folks that are over the top mushy about their spouses, either on Facebook or handsy total public displays of affection in public I always think I should pull up a lawn chair, make popcorn, ice down the cokes and wait for the divorce and/or fireworks. It's the cynic in me that reacts that way every time.

Loving someone doesn't always mean you're going to be joined at the hip every second of every single day. Lack of calls and text messages are indicative of nothing. He did call and I called him a couple of times that week, just to check in mostly. But in fundytown it's a giant red freaking flag. Not cheating, or flirting, or Ashley Madison, just lack of pda.

I'm glad we're not like that because I would find is smothering to have someone lurking around like that. I'm too much the raving introvert to go for that.

But I'll be really glad when Jim gets home tomorrow from his high school reunion (very boring, I decided to skip it for the beach this year). I don't sleep well without him in the bed and I cannot lift the garbage bag of used cat litter without throwing out my back. I need him here. Just not acting like he's Romeo trying to flatter me with honeyed insincere words and actions.

One Very Popular Comedian Sucks Hard

I've been away at the beach and not updated. Now I'm back and I have mrsa again. This time it started because I had an allergic reaction that I could not help but scratch.

And just like that reaction on my eyelid I scratched instinctively I found myself regurgitating some ancient history between myself and a famous comedian who always seems to land in commercials and get his own television show. Was I triggered. Holy cow!

Not coughing up a name, many that know me well know exactly whom I'm referring to. Back, oh say, 17 years ago I did a silly set of websites for a very silly indie film that was never released save for a few film festivals. This unknown comedian was one of the stars of the film.

Through the websites and other primitive social media said comedian approached me. It didn't go well. This guy being pushed as a very clean, Christian and just 'good' comedian turned out to be anything but. Through the websites I got numerous complaints from angry fathers that the comedian had approached their young nubile teenage daughters begging and pleaded for sex, for a three way with him and his girlfriend who is now his wife.

Before it was over he'd sent me a naked photo of his pasty white glow in the dark ass, nuts and dick and I had heard from loads of women in the entertainment industry that had been subjected to his corny pick up lines, sexual innuendos and straight up sexual harassment.

Now we're many years past that and he's marketing himself as 'Father of the Year' just about everywhere. I have to wonder if he's still pulling the same creepy inappropriate behavior or did he straighten up. If he's still in super creep mode I predict he'll eventually be outed as a Bill Cosby level sexual offender.

I gag when people innocently mention him as a great guy and am triggered every time he pops up in those commercials or if I am channel surfing and land on one of his many television shows.