Saturday, April 30, 2016

Opioids

Listening to and reading through the continuing coverage involving Prince passing on has been triggering in some ways and enlightening.

As the news emerged that he had a serious addiction to opioid pain killers I'm inclined to think several different things.

1. That his faith - Jehovah's Witness - likely played a different role in his death than I imagined last week. They did dissuade him from having a hip replacement that would have possibly brought him relief from chronic pain. Instead he didn't have the surgery and sought to mask the pain with legal opioids, likely leading to his death.

2. I still don't 'get' how anyone can possibly enjoy the stronger prescription opioids. I have been on oxycontin and other meds more than once for different types of conditions, some that were corrected by surgery, some that healed with medicine. I never liked the feeling any of those gave me beyond the fact that they killed the pain. You know what else they killed? Emotions and even positive feelings. Hard core pain killer use even blunts your sexual pleasure, making your orgasms like whimpering wet firecrackers instead of nuclear explosions. I always felt like a turnip or a rutabaga fallen off the truck and sitting next to the road, no thoughts or emotions.

3. Those that are prone to addiction must be getting some vastly different feeling from the opioids than I do.

During my years working at the Clinic of Crazy one of my tasks was opening mail, taking all the reports off the fax machine and retrieving medical records from the hospital. Part of that was when the print out came over from the state pharmacy board was going over it looking to make sure patients weren't copying their opioid prescriptions and taking them to different pharmacies. We also got records on how many narcotics prescriptions from other doctors these same patients were getting. I'd go over those lists, make notations and bring them back to whatever doctor or doctors had a pile of scamming drug offending opioid patients before writing the patient a letter firing them from the practice and letting them know that the reason was scamming for pain pills.

Apparently Minnesota doesn't have something like that in place on a state level to monitor the number of pain pill scripts individuals were getting from their doctors or possibly copying to get more. I understand that the law enforcement looking into Prince's death have already started going through the records of several local pharmacies looking for evidence that he had way too many pain pills being prescribed.

People hooked on those things will say and do anything to up their amounts. Once, when I was still working at the clinic, I had a list posted in my office above my desk with a list of the excuses I'd heard for early refill. Everything from 'I went swimming with my oxycontin in my pocket' to 'My dog ate my prescription.' and just about anything else you could imagine.

One lady not only had pain pills but she was getting klonopin and benzos from one of our doctors. She was gassing up at a local place, sat back in her car while the pump was running and promptly fell asleep. The gas station owner called the cops after their knocking on her windows failed to raise her after she was parked at the pump for twenty minutes. The cops busted out her window trying to wake her up, she woke up, started the car and drove off with the pump still attached to her car. The first day she was out of jail she immediately tried to hit us up for more prescriptions. This was after the investigating officer had already been to the clinic to question why she was on so many different pain meds and anti anxiety drugs.

Most of our problem pain pill patients were the patients of one doctor at the clinic. He owned the place and was super arrogant, even for a doctor, and he finally got busted by the feds for his pill prescribing ways. He now has no hospital privileges, or prescribing abilities and only sees a handful of elderly patients.

4. Treating famous patients can be very problematic if the doctor is star-struck or the patient is surrounded by those that make their every whim come true.

Several of patients when I worked there were local celebrities.

From the way the pill prescribing doctor treated the rich and powerful makes me think that whoever Prince's physicians were they likely did the same thing as Elvis Presley's did. They prescribed whatever he wanted because he was famous. Same thing killed Michael Jackson, who seemed to think propofol is a sleeping aid.

All of this sort of makes me sort of annoyed because I've seen what it's done in regard to the ability for people legitimately suffering to obtain pain relief. Our local community here has also had a huge heroin epidemic from those that started out abusing the pain pills before moving on to heroin. Just last week we had about a dozen ods in this little rural community. Law enforcement is blaming the readily available pain pills for hooking locals and sending them into the arms of an addiction to heroin.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jesus Gets a Haircut

Days like today make me so damn thankful I left my old cult church. Yes folks, I've been lurking on Facebook on former church goers pages. I wanted to see what the status of my former friend Cathy is. The latest status her daughter posted said they were trying to find new 'wholistic' treatment options because the places they kept lining up for herbs and prayer keep falling through. In other words - end stage cancer with no treatment. Heads in the damn sand. I just hope all this Jesus-dilly-dallying won't make her time left even more painful and scary.

Jim thinks I'm turning mean since I've turned my back on most everyone I knew at the old church. He might be right, but mostly I see it as having healthy boundaries and self-care now. Example - we went to the grocery store this lunchtime for salads. Jim started goofing around with a Cinco de Mayo display of Corona beers. There was a large cut out of a pretty girl in a skimpy bullfighters costume with a place cut out to shove your face through. He stuck his decidedly masculine face through and begged me to take a photo so he could put it on Facebook as a joke. I did and just about the time I did one of the former members of our old church whipped around the corner with her shopping cart, eye balled both of us and walked past without a word.

He couldn't understand why I did not say hello to her. I had to point out that she was no more eager to see us than I was to see her. If the hello was so important she would have said it first and that I was in no mood for what conversations with these folks always degenerates into - a 'Come to Jesus' conversation.

I'd already had enough of a 'Come to Jesus' meeting the day before when I went to get my hair trimmed. My hair is in a sad state, both before and after the trim. I'm having to wash my hair and sterilize it with the Hibiclens since one of the infections was in my hairline. It's drying out my hair as much as my skin. Five months with no trim equals too many split ends and crazy looking hair, but frankly I was afraid until recently that I've get there and infect someone else with mrsa, plus I've been feeling too lousy to go sit in the salon for a few hours.

This is the longest I've gone in years without professional grooming help.

My hair is in sad shape so I went. Didn't do anything new, had a trim and  deep condition. Usually when I go to the salon I get the whole enchilada, the works, right down to getting waxed and a facial if I'm feeling extra fancy.  I was afraid to get waxed or the brows threaded because I could just see getting a new infection anywhere they waxed or ripped.

Here's where it all went sideways. Shortly after sitting down in the stylist's chair she started talking about the Lord and trying to issue a 'Come to Jesus' on me. I don't know her, but she seemed sweet, if not a little demented. Seriously, who tries for a conversion while they're cutting your hair? I know I could have bitched to the manager, but I just smiled and talked to her.

One of the things she was the most upset about was that her coworkers were talking about smoking weed, celebrity bad plastic surgery and partying, yet they complained when she talked about Jesus. Yeah, well, none of those conversations were any more professional than trying to witness to strangers. But... this is a small Southern town filled with people who think professionalism is wearing a uniform and not spitting into the customers food. You have to take some of these behaviors with a grain of salt, realizing that they just don't know any better.

Please show me where it says in the Bible that you have to spread the word of God in such an inappropriate and obnoxious way? Things like this is why so many people are leaving the church and people are resisting most witnessing. We're just trying to go about our day without annoying religious folks making it even more difficult.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Porn and the Amish, or Why I Watch Dance Moms (Things That Make No Effing Sense)

Every time I would go up to Toronto for conferences back in my old card-carrying Charismaniac days once we got near Amish country I'd notice the strangest line up of businesses along the mostly deserted rural highways. Quilts, Quilts, Amish store, XXX video store, Porn, Porn, Porn, Quilts, Porn, Amish store and so on. Just one big old long line up of porn, quilts and Amish. It made no sense then and it makes no sense at all now either.

But then again neither does my obsessive viewing of Lifetime television show 'Dance Moms'. I'm not a dance mom, hell I was horrified as a charismatic that my youngest child was insistent on being a cheerleader for one season at peewee football. Even my old feminist side was perturbed by the possible wrong lessons she could absorb at the hands of those that think gender defined roles were a good thing. Skimpy costumes and cheerleading moves with some sexualized overtones didn't endear cheerleading to me either. But I sucked it up, let her experience what it was like to be a cheerleader, just like I did when she decided to take up soccer at middle school age and other things she wanted to try that I wasn't wild about.

Allowing your children to have a variety of experiences, even those you're not that in favor of, is an education unto itself.

During my childhood I did take ballet, tap and baton lessons, along with piano and etiquette plus junior Junior Cotillion. Hey, it was the deep South and these things are just what was done back in the Mesozoic era I was raised in. But I repeated very few of these with my own daughters because somehow all these 'lessons' seemed antiquated later on.

I always enjoyed dance class and had the chance to perform in local productions like the carnival balls and gatherings near Mardi Gras time and at recitals. I liked dance.

What I didn't like at the time was some of the mothers, though none of them ever screamed the F-word at each other. At least not in front of the class.

My mother wasn't part of the dance moms that hung around the studios watching the classes. She'd drop me off and pick me up several hours later. She'd run out to the grocery store or the druggist or dry cleaners, taking advantage of that time to do those errands she'd put off.

One of the things that happened that I remember well is that the dance teacher tried to get her to enroll me in children's beauty pageants and my mother had the sense and grace to tell the instructor that she didn't think beauty pageants were something little kids needed to be involved in. She protected me from that and I'm pretty grateful.

The only family at the studio that went after the beauty pageant scene hammer and tongs I remember well. The little girls in the family were with me in dance class. They always seemed to be grubby looking, as though they didn't bathe or wash their pink tights often enough. The little girls were also rather plain looking to me as a kid. But the worst of them was their mom, yelling at them or else ignoring the family toddler who liked to try and eat cigarette butts. I remember even at that young age thinking there was something somehow very wrong in that family and with kids beauty pageants. My mother didn't even have to say a word.

I realize now with the benefit of adult hindsight and wisdom that some of the things the mother did that I found off-putting were all things someone stage managing their children, living vicariously through their children instead of putting the children's needs first.

My guilty pleasure 'Dance Moms' is filled with many such women, except most of them have very foul mouths, jealousy of each other and all sorts of entitlement issues. I don't watch because I like them, I hate-watch. There's only one of the mothers that even comes close to being a good mother on the show.

Jim picks at me when I watch and gripe at the screen when they indulge in bad behavior. I tried to explain to him that it is my personal UFC, but instead of watching guys pummeling the stuffing out of each other in the Octagon I'm watching grown women air complaints and insults better suited to middle school.

I cannot explain why I do it, because these are women I would seriously avoid if I knew them in real life. This season has been particularly satisfying to watch as the dance studio owner Abby Lee Miller has had to deal with the public humiliation of being charged with trying to rip off the government by hiding assets and filing for protection in federal bankruptcy court. There's something so grandly ultimate karmic realignment about Abby facing jail time and watching her stress over it.

But when I call my mom up sometimes I tease her about her sedate behavior and lack of all crazy dance mom actions during my years dancing. I laugh and tell her she was a complete failure as a dance mom those five years because she never called another mother a nasty name and never fought with the instructor. We always laugh over this. 


Fading Memories and Former Friends

Last night I was outraged that the daughter of my dying former friend Cathy was asking for roughly 10K. She claimed that the money was to fly her kids and husband out of New England to spent time with Cathy in her Montana home.

This morning after a little more reading through the pages connected with Cathy and her family I feel sort of ashamed to have been startled and annoyed with the monetary begging.

I've forgotten, forgotten what it's like in those old high-demand quiverfull cult churches that force women to stay home and raise a multitude of babies and men to work menial low-paying jobs because of their lack of education. I'd forgotten that it is a system that runs on poverty and poverty mentality. Sheer grinding poverty.

Even when I attended my old cult church I'd been effectively insulated from much of that type of poverty. My husband and I are college educated and we've both worked jobs with decent salaries. During my years trying to do it all, be a quiverfull momma, I also worked most of those years. We've also been careful with our money, which meant when the time came we were able to pay for all of our children to go to college.

I used to be nasty remarks, pushback, and be lectured by most of the stay at home and have babies crowd at the old church. I'd just state firmly that my husband wanted me to work and doesn't it say in the Bible that you're supposed to submit to your husbands leadership?

What I never said, the unspoken thing, is that I also loved getting away from the home and being around other adults in most of my work situations. I liked having enough money on my own that if I wanted to go to the beach for the weekend or buy a new set of shoes it was not going to wreck the budget and take food out of the mouths of anyone in the family.

We weren't rich then and we're not rich now, but we are comfortable. I still practice thrift most of the time. But we do splurge when the occasion calls for it. Last night as Jim and I lay in the bed drifting off to sleep I was telling him that I'm leaning towards a big purchase for our son's 28th birthday next month, a new paddleboard for surfing. I've been pricing them. I know he wants one badly to go with his new wetsuit.

Conversations and plans like that are beyond most of the families at my old church. The reality is that they are caught on a wheel of just existing, making do with whatever little they can earn.

To me that's tragic. You limit yourself and you limit all the possibilities of your children when you deny education and limit yourself to a small slice of the American pie by only being self-employed in a handful of acceptable occupations.

Back to Cathy. When I knew Cathy and Mike he held a good IT position with a large corporation that handles worldwide digital financial transactions. He made a very good salary. But they always struggled financially. More than once I brought groceries to Cathy because she would not spend money on food, or cook for Mike. I suspect Mike ate out many times.

What Cathy was passionate about and did well was buy and sell antiques. She filled their 18th century converted log cabin with all sorts of antiques, but I knew she was seriously straining their budget to do that. I don't think she really knew how to budget and plan.

In so many of these fundamentalist churches filled with people living hand to mouth it might be a good thing for classes in financial management would be a good thing. But then again most of these places pressure everyone to spend large chunks of their budget on the church itself.

Last night after I was busy acting like a judgmental cunt I saw evidence of how dire the financial straights are that Cathy and Mike find themselves in during her final illness. Their home is on the market, and so is a lifetime of carefully collected antiques. They are moving in with their youngest daughter, being effectively homeless. Now that is tragic, all the work that Mike has done through the years has come to naught.

Cathy is still alive the last I heard. She's gone from one faith healer to another many states away. She and her daughters are proclaiming that she is totally healed due to prayer and Chinese herbs. I hope they are right, but I fear that like the way fundamentalists handle their finances that this is willful ignorance.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Shaken and Stirred

After another day running around and wiping every surface in the house humanly possible with an assortment of disinfecting wipes and bleaching the crud out of my towels, sheets and clothing I had to run off to see my pulmonologist for my quarterly visits for the asthma.

Which I happen to be frustrated with yet again. I'm just about out of treatment options again. We discussed my possible return to Xolair injections, but before that happens I'm being tried on a copd drug I tried nine years ago with no success. Just have to wait out the mrsa first, no immunio suppression when you've got an infection.

Did tell my doc that if the drug has an ---one or a ----oid at the end I'm not taking it. No more steroids. I don't tolerate them well and have so many side effects, the biggest one is that it causes my asthma to get worst. We'll see.

The funniest part is that when I went into the office and they know I have active mrsa is that everyone, and I mean everyone, in the office that dealt with me gloved up and I noticed a lot of wiping down with disinfectant wipes as I was leaving. Just call me Mrsa Sue, or Typhoid Mary.

Then I had to go home and call my Infectious Disease doctor because I'm feverish again, on second round of the antibiotic the culturing swears will kill the mrsa and I'm running a fever.. again.  Another visit with her, and likely a different antibiotic and another visit to the infusion center. This shit just never ends.

You know what else never ends? 'Good Christians' with their hands out asking for money. I was a sent a link to a Go Fund Me page for the former friend with cancer who is dying. Not for her exactly. It's a fundraiser to fly her three grandkids and son in law out to see her. Okay, so that's a reasonable request, and I nearly clicked to donate until I saw the amount they were aiming for. They're asking for a very large amount, much much more than the costs of flying out, renting a hotel suite and eating out. They're asking for so much, sums large enough to buy a new car or equivalent to a partial years salary for most folks! I was surprised by the amount, especially knowing that none is going to go towards my former friend's cancer treatments in Utah or to bury her. They claim the amount is for living expenses. I guess if you are aiming to live Donald Trump or Imelda Marcos it might be appropriate.

I've gotten hit up for donations many times this year and I've given to a fair number, like to the Alzheimer's Society after one friend passed from it, or so people can participate in various healing things. I've given to fund mammograms and food for shelter animals. We've given extensively to the local soup kitchen, food closet and homeless shelter among others. When Jim's friend Glenn died bankrupt leaving his elderly parents on a fixed income to cough up the money to bury him we gave to the fund someone set  up to pay for the funeral.

But... when you're asked to give ridiculous amounts when you know what it should cost you have to wonder if that family member is exploiting the tragedy to line their pockets.

One of my friends in Australia is dealing with avarice relatives right now after her sister was brutally murdered earlier in the year. One of her sisters and her mother, people her sister hadn't spoken to for many years except for at their father's funeral, have set up all sorts of Go Fund Me accounts begging for money to put aside for the deceased lady's children to go to college. Now that the funeral and memorials are all over it's come out that the mother and sister have zero intention of turning over any of the money they raised into a legitimate trust fund for the kids. They claim they are holding it for the kids until they turn eighteen. I seriously doubt they'll hang onto a penny of it. I'm sure they're spending it freely and will concoct some ridiculous reason why they cannot have it if the kids ask.

There should be a special place in hell for those family members that will use tragedy to exploit others for money.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned Playing 'Exploding Kittens'

The Oatmeal's card game 'Exploding Kittens' is now available for Iphone and other platforms. I got to play the game quite a lot over the Christmas holidays, the real card version that I'd bought for my son when it was first being crowdfunded.

If you've never seen Mr. Oats site or looked at his comical take on everything I'd recommend you stroll on by. 

The game is a simple one, sort of like Uno with comical cards with cat cartoons on them. The objective is to be the last one in the room that hasn't drawn the exploding kitten card. You get a card that will defuse the kitten and there are a couple more defuse cards in the pack. There are cards that let you skip a turn, look at the top three cards, reverse direction of play, slap others while forcing them to take extra turns, cards that let you take cards away from others and one that lets you draw from the bottom of the deck. There's even a shuffle the deck card.

The game is part luck and part strategy. 

Now I'm pretty addicted to playing the game with strangers via the miracles of my Iphone. But I have noticed something about playing with strangers, strangers you cannot interact or talk with during game play. In some ways the playing the game resembles real life.

Important things I've learned playing 'Exploding Kittens' against strangers online 

1 - Nobody likes jerks!

People that tend to burst into the game and biatch slap everyone around them with 'slap' cards (which give you extra turns) or use their steal cards tend to get ganged up on by everyone in the room until they are out of cards and forced to draw the exploding kitten card before leaving the game.

Too bad real life people don't deal so directly in a gang to stop bullies and jerks.

2 - Planning pays off!

Sure you could be so cautious that you don't  ever make a move without consulting a peek at the top three cards or deploy a shuffle card, but you're not going to build up an arsenal of needed cards for the merciless play towards the end of the game. This is particularly true with the 'slap' cards, which are really vital towards the end. Some smart ass decides to give you three or four extra turns if you've got slap cards stockpiled you can cat slap them into 9 or 10 moves, guaranteeing they pull the wrong card and blow up.

3 -Always drawing cards towards the beginning when your odds of exploding are low and stockpiling them for later always pays off.

The players that consistently win tend to accumulate lots of cards, hang back without attacking others and go into defense mode against the jerk players.  Just like real life where saving, being cool with others instead of an asshole and having enough money to insulate yourself from some of the bullshit of life makes your world run just a little bit smoother.

4 - Some people are sore losers and will ditch before admitting failure and defeat.

There's always one idiot in the bunch of players that when they get backed into a corner instead of taking their lumps and manning up to take cards when the odds are bad they cut and run. They will log out of the game before being forced to pull a card they know is an exploding kitten.

Just like real life! How many times in life do we see people that drop out of situations or relationships the second things get a little bumpy? Don't trust those people and definitely do not play games with them because they'll overturn the board and cry.

5 - The unknown is sometimes nerve-wracking and nail-biting, but always at least a tiny bit exciting.

One minute you're slapping some nasty player that slapped you first and the next you're trembling trying to figure out if the next card will blow you up. You just never know.

There are those in life that always try to mitigate any risks in their lives. But that's too boring sometimes. Surprises, good and bad, are part of life. It's how you deal with them. Don't run away and hide.

6 - Watch others behavior very carefully because they reveal what they are.

If someone peeks at the top three cards and then plays a skip card to avoid picking up a card is a pretty sure tip off that the next card is an exploding kitchen. Someone playing a lot of slap cards and steal cards is likely to pull dick moves like putting the used exploding kitten card back into the top card of the deck. Don't be fooled with self invented monikers like 'Mr. Nice Guy'

You can apply that to any social situation or relationship. Don't automatically believe someone that screams out what a great vegan or Christian or Rasta Stand Up Comedian they are while they're kicking a puppy down the street.

7 - Play in such a way that you know you're playing with good sportsmanship.

Sure, you can be sneaky or start attacking everyone, but do you really want to do that? It makes the game more interesting when everyone isn't trying to be an aggressive dick.

That translates to life by being good without having some weird deity threatening you with eternal punishment or not being influenced to do crappy things just because everyone around you is doing them first.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Someone Has Organic Brain Syndrome

Today I finally tackled the alpine high mountain of shirts I've been putting off ironing. Seriously, this is months worth of ironing.  I don't know why I drug my feet. I kind of like ironing, it's mindless and it's sort of zen. Running the hot iron over cloth while my mind wanders and music plays or the telly blares.

While I was doing this I got the first in a seriously disturbing bunch of phone calls. They called from my infectious disease doctor's office to tell me that I was scheduled to meet on Monday with UVA's neurosurgeon to talk about the need for surgery.

I was sputtering and spitting, telling the nurse she'd called the wrong patient. I'm the one with the stupid mrsa infection crawling all over her skin, with the infected thumb, hand, finger, ear, eye and now cheek. The lady with the creeping crawling crudies who is seriously pissed off  with all this washing, sterilizing and laundry daily because it's cutting into her goofing off time. It's cramping my style. But the house is clean clean..you could even eat off the kitchen floor and washing machine it's so clean now.

No, no, she insisted, the doctor discussed the need for a brain surgeon with you yesterday at your appointment.

Not me, I insisted again. I might be an oddball with a series of crazy infections, hell I might even be crazy, but no one said a damn thing about getting my skull cut into. Not happening.

After a lot of back and forth I finally got the nurse to get off the phone and check with the doctor. An hour later I got a call back from the nurse. The doctor had put the note in the wrong chart. Whoops.

This kind of blows my mind because in the last two serious real jobs I did outside of the house my positions involved electronic medical records, from auditing medical treatment reports to comply with Medicaid standards to converting a number of medical offices from paper to digital content and records. There were those checking behind the physicians to make sure things went into the right charts.

Yeah, so we're all human and make mistakes but this one really rattled me today.


Did Religion Kill Prince?

Like most of the world I got the news of the passing of artist Prince Rogers Nelson in the early afternoon yesterday. Yes, it was a shock. Another influential musician dead in 2016 among too many others. Please, whoever controls the universe, give us a break on carrying off beloved musical figures for a little while. It's just been too much this year.

While I'd listened to the music of Prince during the early 1980s as a young woman by the time I started having babies and entered a life of Christian submission to my husband I'd stopped listening. The music of Prince wasn't something a committed Christian Quiverfull momma was supposed to listen too. Prince, along with Queen and many other beloved musicians, was replaced with music like Jason Upton, the Newsboys, Petra and assorted Hillsong United or Vineyard worship songs. I missed out on a huge chunk of Prince's career and music in those many years. I knew nothing much of him beyond what was in the media when I was younger and from seeing his film 'Purple Rain'.

Yesterday afternoon after watching Wolf Blitzer and Larry King awkwardly discuss Prince and his life I felt compelled to call up one of my stepsisters, the one that loved Prince for many years. She followed him around the country on many of his tours. She was emotionally shattered, understandably so because of her great love for him, and starting to ask questions about how he passed.

There aren't many genuinely verified details of what happened to bring about his death yet, but the tabloid rumor mill has already started up, churning out possible scenarios.  First claiming that a recent emergency stop in Moline, Illinois was not for treatment of the flu, but was due to opioid overdose. Supposedly the overdose on Percoset was so serious that emergency personnel had to administer Narcan right on the tarmac. I don't know. But the point is that no one really knows at this point what was going on with Prince Rogers Nelson and his health. There's been a lot of speculation about long term health conditions that may be the true cause of his death in the years since corrective hip surgery.

But what jumped out at me from the many rumors was this from one of the more legitimate celebrity news sites :
He kept the illness quiet but began taking his medication RELIGIOUSLY up until about two years ago. Here's what we're told by a VERY trusted entertainment insider: "[The celebrity] believed that he was cured, and he had some crazy [religious] people who told him that God cured him. So he stopped taking his medication and the sickness came back. Now doctors say he's dying, and there is nothing anyone can do about it."  Very sad news.
Is it possible that what we're seeing in the death of Prince is something that plays out again and again and again in extremist versions of Christianity?  Was he told what so many have been told in less mainstream Christianity, to 'Trust Jesus and be healed'? Some many times this seems to happen in extreme faith communities. Even in the one I was a member of I can point out a large number of graves of people with treatable conditions that were told to trust in God for their healing only to die horribly in a short span of time. This is a story that's been repeated here on NLQ and many other communities that track the deaths of believers that refuse traditional or even non-traditional treatments for life threatening illnesses that end with the death of the believer.

I was unaware until late last night that Prince was a practicing Jehovah's Witness. There's evidence that the JW faith doesn't much like modern medicine any more than fundamentalists or evangelicals. They don't believe in blood transfusions or use of any blood products, even if the products form the basis for a life-saving drug.

Sure, pray for a cure, a touch of healing from God if that's your thing. It's harmless and at the least can be comforting. But the idea that others may have influences someone to give up medical treatment that was helping to trust in God only is heartbreaking. I hope this rumor of being influenced to claim healing without any evidence is just that - a rumor. Time will see.

In the meantime, if you or someone you love has a chronic or life-threatening health diagnosis and someone tries to convince you to proclaim your healing by Jesus and throw away all your medications or treatments just say no. Don't do that to the people who would be left behind, that love you.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

His Purpleness

Once I got back today from my morning falling into the scary hands of modern medicine Jim asked me to give him an eye rub. This is his ritual he asks for many times per day, at least four or five. I sit on the farthest end of our sofa, he lays with his head in my lap while I rub his eyes, his forehead and gently rub his scalp. He's a toucher/touchee type.

Usually while I perform my wifely rubbing duties I watch a little television. Usually something like 'Real Time With Bill Maher' or 'Last Week With John Oliver' but sometimes things as variety as 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' to The History Channel or PBS. Today as I turned on the set in preparation to rub it flashed onto CNN with the breaking news that Prince had died. Musician/artist Prince Rogers Nelson of 'Purple Rain' and scads of music.

I've not kept up with Prince, and he's not been one of my all time favorites even though I thought he was very talented. During a large bulk of his career I'd been attending my old church and limiting my musical selections to Christian music. But his music was part of the soundtrack of my life in my early twenties - pre-Jesus.

It was highly surreal to watch Wolf Blitzer and Larry King, both ancient and not anyone I would ever peg as Prince fan's, discuss his influences and career. How sad his passing.

Of course I'd heard of his recent health problems and been suspicious of the news his handlers put out about his medical emergency being the flu. I think as the days wend on we're going to discover he was seriously ill and hiding it from the world. I don't blame him. Who wants their personal business splashed across TMZ?

One of the things I had to do was call up a family member by marriage that absolutely loved Prince. She'd followed him all over the place during his concert tours. She's heartbroken, she seems almost as devastated as she was when her father died. While I didn't take the news of his passing as badly as she did I have nothing but sympathy for her and others hurting from this news. This has been an awful hard year, losing people that did mean something to me, like Dale Buffin Griffin and Keith Emerson.

At least I'm grateful I'm not still working for the floral ordering company. I was working the night that Michael Jackson died and still remember the eeriness of that night. Almost everyone that called in to order flowers either had the news on in the background where I could hear details or they were a weeping and wailing fan attempting to order flowers to be sent to the funeral home. It was a hard night as I ended up doing a fair amount of emotional hand holding of grieving strangers until my shift ended at midnight. I suspect those working for the company are going to see a repeat this afternoon and tonight as the reality of his passing sets in.

For Michael what we ended up doing was taking down the names and phone numbers of those that wanted to order an arrangement to be sent to the funeral home or memorial service before one of the supervisors started working the phones in the morning to our West Coast affiliates to find out who was going to be handling the arrangements.

The outpouring of grief and love was overwhelming when Michael Jackson died and I suspect it will be much the same over Prince.

Music is such an important part of most people's lives that when one of those that have deeply touched them passes on it's like losing a family member.

Triggered Part Five Zillion

I was going to write today about Jim and his dieting woes. He wanted to do a cleanse he keeps watching the documentary for, but yesterday ran up against the hard truth of how the juicing tastes. It wasn't pleasant.

This is what he wanted to do.... till he tasted the juice...no amount of pointing out how the juice recipes weren't necessarily healthy or practical dissuaded him. It took the cold hard reality of the first sip.



Another thing I wanted to talk about was my endless mrsa drama, involving more doctor visits, more treatments at the infusion center and more squeezing of infected parts followed by constant washing and sterilizing. Let's just boil it down to the fact that the antibiotics aren't working like they should. But that ain't happening.

What did happen that I have to spill out here to get rid of or keep gagging like I did when I was dry heaving into the bushes recently is being triggered by hyper-religious hypocrites, fools and other self righteous folks.

Not long ago I went to pick up new prescriptions at my local grocery store pharmacy, following today's entanglement with the medical community. Should be simple enough, right? Zip in, grab the drugs after paying for them, get a half gallon of milk and drag my butt home. Oh no, it didn't quite work that way.

The first part was positive actually. I ran into someone I would classify a fool from my old church, someone that I know has embezzled money and also failed to repay a personal loan from members at my old church. Someone that tried to pull an insurance and workers comp scam, yet after all these wrongdoings loves to rush around like they are perfect.

Since leaving the old church nine years ago whenever I would run into them they would a) lie and say how WONDERFUL they were doing even as I knew the truth and then they would turn around and b) proceed to issue a 'Come to Jesus' while accusing me of being one of Satan's capering minions.

Last time they tried this with me I was beyond snippy, snotty and rude. Today when they kept looking over at me, like they may try the same old thing I shot them a look that shot it all down. They kept to themselves, which is all I ever wanted in the first place. I think they finally realized they were in danger of getting a verbal frailing if they started that same old with me. Score!

I don't wish them ill, I just want them to leave me alone, stay very far far away from me.

What happened immediately next sent my triggers off big time. I witnessed the very holier than thou pious behavior of legalistic fundamentalist mom super x! More than the 'I am so righteous' behavior and long loud conversation sprinkled with 'Jesus' 'sinners' and 'blessings' with the guy I did not want to talk to from the old church, it was the way the family was dressed. It just triggered so many bad memories of my time at the old church in the early days. Triggered me all the way back to my childhood.

The little girls had on 'Little House on the Prairie' dresses in matching calicos with voluminous aprons and the thing that struck dread in my heart during my childhood, bloomers. The girls had dresses that fell halfway between their knees and their ankles with ruffled lacy blooms to their shoes. Ugh! Some of my worst childhood memories involve the year my mother decided instead of me wearing shorts in the same plaid as my Catholic school jumpers that I was going to wear ruffled bloomers that were exactly as long as my skirt. I was about eight when this happened, about the ages of those girls and I spent the rest of that year being teased unmercifully by my schoolmates. Even now, forty plus years later, I feel like throwing up thinking about that crazy long underwear I had to wear to please my mother.

This momma's boys were dressed like Huck Finn, boxy elastic waisted cotton pants, gingham shirts and those woven hats featured on a recent Direct TV Settlers commercial. Seriously, this is what the entire freaking family looked like, except the momma had two long braids like a demented fundy Pippi Longstockings.


The hats the wife and son were weaving? Same type hats worn by all the boy children in that family.

I said nothing, even if I was itching to tell the momma that she was stuck in a high demand cult form of Christian legalism. I knew to say anything was to risk her rushing back to her Bible study or church and turn it into an 'evil worldly woman wearing too much jewelry, PANTS! and a short 1920s flapper hairstyle persecuted us because we're True Christians' I'm not giving anyone in fundytown that joy or satisfaction since you know many of them secretly love to claim Christian persecution. Persecution is when someone tries to stop you from voting, or buying food or living because of your faith, not someone pointing out that you might reconsider your flavor of koolaid.

Plus I'm sure Mr. Scamming Workers Comp would have rushed over and informed her I was the town's token liberal/reprobate/atheist/demon-addled/Christian-hater that attended a church filled with homosexual-loving-abortionists (translation into regular American: A Methodist)

And here's the thing about those type of hyper modest folks that dress like it's the 1840s. They aren't being 'modest', they're standing out like a sore thumb. Paul's advice on how modest women should dress in the church was more about not showing off how wealthy you are, about not standing out in a showy and flashy way that distracts from worshiping the Lord. I don't think even a stripper in lingerie would be any more distracting and sticking out like a snowball in a coal bin than this crew was.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

What Does a 'Good Christian' Look Like?

Today was a solemn and difficult day, especially after all the medical doings of the day before. I woke up drained and listless after yesterday's blood tests and skin cultures, feeling like I was down a quarter. Not the best way to start a day you know it going to be sad and emotionally draining on many levels.

Today is also the day that we buried Jim's coworker and friend Glenn. The funeral was this morning at a mortuary near the college our daughter Laura works at. It was quite a drive from our house, well over an hour. You'd have expected that the traffic would be lighter on a Saturday near the Beltway but that annual vehicular surge started happening this week since it's the peak of cherry blossom season. Every single tourist with an RV is making their way towards D.C..... where there is zero parking for something as large as an RV and no RV parks withing easy distance of the city. Yeah, I know, I gripe every year once spring hits and the people that don't live in major cities clog our overcrowded highways, making some of the worst traffic in the US just a bit more unbearable for those of us who live here.

There's not much I can say about the funeral other than it was sad. I cried quite a lot, many others did too because Glenn's death was a huge shock to everyone who knew him. Out of the blue happening to a man in his early fifties. I spoke to his mother and told her how generous and big hearted her son was. The service was beautiful and quite touching. "In my father's mansion there are many rooms" has always been one of my favorites among the words of Jesus.

After the service I found myself standing near the older priest that conducted the service. It was clear listening to him during the service that he didn't know Glenn, and he spoke of the deceased based upon the words of those that knew him well. Still it was a good service, very touching, the words of the priest both comforting and inspiring.

We ended up making polite small talk, the kinds of things you say when you're stuck in awkward proximity to strangers in polite society. I told him that I found the words and rituals of the Catholic service he gave comforting, drawing strength from the familiar words of my childhood. The priest was gracious and kind, giving me a blessing before moving on to issuing a 'Come to Catholic Jesus'. I was kind of aghast because it wasn't really an appropriate time or place, I'd only seen evangelicals tone deaf to moments that were exactly the wrong moment to place a call for salvation. I smiled, thanked the priest for the blessing but told him that my husband was a true Methodist and I was merely following the lead of my husband and attending church where he wished me to go.

But later I started thinking about what the characteristics of someone who truly follows the words and examples of Christ and how those that shout out what great Christians they are are usually the farthest from what Jesus modeled.

Glenn wasn't someone that was a regular church going kind of a guy, but I know he was extremely kind to others, beyond generous with his time and money and did lots of different things to help others. He was involved with the local suicide prevention. I know he did believe in God, but he wasn't running around thumping the Bible bragging on he was going to heaven. But to me the way he lived, his care for others and overwhelming generosity speaks more of the goodness that I automatically think of as real, much more real than the actions of most self-professed Christians.

Today's priest didn't offend me with his trying to nudge me back to the Catholic church at all. I could tell by his sensitive handling of the service of someone he didn't know, his demeanor, his actions that even if he's wearing the high collar of a priest that he is what I would term 'real' too. He cares for others deeply. No matter the scandals of the Catholic church there are still some priests that have a selfless caring for others.

While I don't think I could ever return to the Catholic church as a serious parishioner there are things I still love about it. When I was a kid there was an interconnectedness between families, children, the nuns at the schools, the priests. Woe be it if you misbehaved, did poorly in a class or just struggled in general. For good, or for bad many would know and the great thing about that was that many would reach out to help. I love the social works of the church. I love that nuns are teaching, running shelters and rescues for those without and that the priests I've known through the years were mostly a loving and accepting lot. I love that the new pope seems to have a spirit of loving others more than himself or power or position.

Sometimes I learn good things from people like Glenn and those I've known in the Catholic church. Sometimes I've been inwardly shamed by them because I'm not nearly as generous as they, or I stumble and don't realize sometimes that those put in front of me need my help, or my encouragement. I whine about my petty pathetic warped body or about the inconvenience of tourists clogging the roads instead of seeing the beauty of a early spring day or the love of those gathered to celebrate Glenn's life.

I know I don't love like I should. I need to work on that. Trying to be a better person no matter what your personal religious beliefs are is a day to day thing. Like so many things in life you have to be absolutely intentional about it.

I know what a 'Good Christian' or even a 'Good Person' doesn't look like? It doesn't look like someone arriving in a place of broken hurting people and trying to hurt them more by using the words of the Bible to beat them up. It's not sending nasty emails to someone when they give you the natural consequences for your actions. It's not repeatedly sending someone messages calling them a 'bitchwhore'. (Laura and I got a huge huge laugh out of that last bit. We've both embraced this silly quasi-curseword by a self-proclaimed 'Good Christian')

Because of everything I've been through and the continued nasty of 'Good Christians' I think I'm going to have to come up with a new moniker for trying to be a better, kinder, more compassionate, generous person that is trying to follow the words of Jesus because the modern fundamentalist evangelical Christians have forever ruined the word 'Christian' for me. I never want to be lumped in with shouty guys calling women they don't know 'bitchwhores' or claiming there's a demon under every bush, or that believe all women owe them something. It's just too much.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Squozen Part 2

'Let me go, let me go
Don't squeeze no mo
Let me go, let me go
I don't care what color the pus is, take your han---ann-annds off my face'

(sung to the tune of Frozen's  'Let It Go'

Back to the doctor this am and I got squeezed again. Yep, she cut into my face again and squeezed me like a lemon. All week long I've been oozing blood and greenish pus. Isn't that so attractive? Nothing like going to scratch an itch and discovering you've stimulated your face to gush out buckets of weird colored fluids.

Yesterday the tests on the pus came back. Yes, it's MRSA again. But the culture they ran this time was more detailed and they claim they know what antibiotic combo will kill it this time. I have my doubts because this is the same antibiotic I was switched to last month. I'm going to be on it for some months to help permanently clear this thing. I hope it works.

We had a long talk about the next six months, the protocol for those folks like me that keep getting MRSA infections. I just about wept because starting today I have a long list of things I have to do daily besides scrub myself with that awful junk surgeons use to scrub in - Hibiclens.

Now I have to:
  • Wipe down pretty much every surface I can reach in the house with Clorox or Lysol wipes.
  • Wash everything I wear after only wearing it once, even nightgowns, sweaters and bras.
  • Keep separate hand towels, wash cloths and towels from Jim. Bleach the ones I use and wash after only one use. (Don't judge! I have reused my bath towel for the week for years.)
  • Change the sheets every few days. Wash with bleach, the sanitizing cycle on the washer.
  • Use either bleach or some other type of bacteria killer on all our laundry.
  • Do all my laundry separate from Jim's.
  • Run all our dishes, pots and pans and silverware through the sanitary cycle on the dishwasher.
  • Wipe down any place in my car I have touched or touch daily with those wipes. 
  • Keep my oozing pus-y self away from others as much as possible. 
  • Wash my hands an obscene number of times.
  • Rub hand sanitizer on my hands a million times a day.
 So this pretty much doubles or triples what I have to do in keeping everything clean and clothes clean every single freaking day.

Add in the asthma and I'm not exactly a happy camper at this moment. I drove home through thick black smoke of a factory on fire near my house and have spent the afternoon sucking on my nebulizer. Have the shakes now and haven't even started on my daily NLQ tasks yet. Still working on washing and bleaching all of my bedding.

Only good of the day is that  I had to stop at Bed Bath and Beyond on the way home to get laundry additive that isn't bleach that kills bacteria. I decided since I have to use totally separate towels than Jim that I'd get a couple of sets I really really love. One set has the Eiffel Tower and various Paris landmarks on it and the other is embroidered with colorful surfboards and seashells.

I'm trying to keep a good attitude about this and trying not to bitch and complain too much even if the daunting task of doing all this makes me feel like jumping off the nearest bridge.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More Equal Than Others

Yesterday morning I was reminded anew how true the above sentiment is. Why? Because Hokey Gajan died.

Likely you don't know who Hokey was unless you are from South Louisiana and an LSU or Saints football fan. 

In my very brief time at Baker High School in Baker, Louisiana Hokey sat very near me in biology class. I didn't know Hokey well or very long, in fact the only time he spoke to me was to hiss at me to let him see my test paper. Yes, yes, the big football hero routinely cheated on his biology tests from looking at my paper.

Towards the end of my miserable and brief time at Baker High he was caught cheating off my exam paper and we were both pulled into the vice principal's office. Hokey got off with a very light punishment, a slap on the wrist and a promise not to it again. Me? I got an F on that test AND a week's detention. But I was not a football hero. I was less equal.

That was something like forty years ago, I've forgiven him, realizing that we wear both young and dumb, prone to all sorts of crazy foolishness. Water under the bridge now. It did reinforce my dislike over unfair treatment of people.

If I had to guess I'm pretty sure that the rest of Hokey's academic career likely was very similar to what I observed in biology class. LSU is notorious for leaning on staff to pass football players and other athletic stars. My Maw in Law had some tussles with the administration over that during her years teaching communications classes at LSU. They even wanted her to pass players that rarely came to class, much less completed assignments. Anything to keep that player eligibility, screw if they are actually learning a thing.

You have to understand that in parts of South Louisiana football is more a damned religion than an actual sport. Tiger Stadium isn't known as Death Valley for no reason. The names Manning, Brees and Bradshaw are still spoken with deep reverence in the state.

But for those of us that weren't high school or university star athletes it was make clear to us by the way the schools continually made things easy for the athletes that we mattered far less.  Everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.

This is something that happens quite a bit in the realm of Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christianity too. Screw up and have an affair as a church member of commit a mortal or venial sin and see how quickly those around you in your faith community forgive and forget. Likely they'll be throwing that perceived sin in your face for years to come. Stopping you from joining this group or helping in this ministry. Whispering.

But.... let the person doing the sinning be in leadership, high leadership and you'll see them 'restored' to their original position within a year, usually maybe six months, without any negative consequences. They are somehow more equal than the rest of us.

Look at the various scandals and restorations of Mars Hill's Mark Driscoll, ATI leader Bill Gothard and the recent outrage over C.J. Mahaney covering up abuse allegations yet still being allowed to speak at the Together For The Gospel Conference.

Why are these guys allowed to do such heinous things much worse than a dumb schoolboy cheating on an exam, and still viewed as heroes, allowed to return without any real consequences?

It's time we stepped forward and protested the return of guys like the ones listed above that are somehow above consequences for their bad actions. As long as the church is allowing some to be 'more equal than others' there's going to be a continued trail of broken people damaged by leadership.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Squozen

So I am back from the doctor and it was a gross old time. She used a scalpel-type thing to nick my face and she squoze it like you'd squish a lemon to get every single drop of juice. Pus and blood shot everywhere. Copious amounts, well more than enough to do a culture to see exactly what strain of bacteria that's been making me miserable since November of last year. Success.

The lump in my face was nearly the size of a walnut, now I look semi-normal again save for the 'flesh colored' bandaid festooning my visage.

How and why did the bandage makers decide that particular shade of beige was flesh-toned? They always look like a deathly pallor against my olive toned skin, like I'm wearing bits of New England white Anglo Saxon skin in some weird masquerade. 

In three days we will know and likely there will be another meds change. At least with the thing drained the pain will have lessened enough to let me finally sleep.

I also have to bath nightly with this solution I got at the drugstore to kill the bacterial load on my skin to hold down the possibility of more infection. The funny thing about that is that I've started bathing much less in the last year after my dermatologist told me many people in America shower too frequently to the detriment of their skin. I've been doing every other day showering/bathing on days when I wasn't doing anything strenuous enough to break a sweat. Apparently with all the infections I'm supposed to be bathing or showering daily. 

Had to pick up another special solution for my face, to wash with and to moisturize. Because of the allergies I've been washing my face for quite some time with plain old warm water, nothing else and using a tiny dollop of coconut oil for moisture. That's after many years of using many expensive products from the department store makeup counters. Truthfully my skin looked no better and no worse with the warm water routine. It looks like it always does, which is kind of upsetting thinking of all the money I've spent through the years on product when I could have just been using water and coconut all these years and gotten the same result.

There's a Thin Line Between Having a Medical Opinion and Just Being an Asshole

I'm sick again with MRSA, all in the left side of my face from jaw to eye socket is swollen up like some strange plastic surgery filler injection gone oh so horribly wrong. In a few short minutes I'll be driving to my infectious disease doctor where she'll insert a needle and try to siphon off some pus for culturing. I am getting sick with MRSA popping up somewhere new on my body every 2 1/2 to 3 weeks since this started.

It's pretty much a downer, I still don't have full use of my right hand where this infection started and because of the semi-functional right hand I owe a ton of people connected to NLQ emails that I haven't answered. I do the minimum daily and get offline.

One thing I'm dealing with that I've not had to deal with in awhile, which I had to deal with big time when my asthma went crazy toxic insane back in 2007 is everyone's opinion on how best to handle this series of infections.

Bruce Gerencser and Samantha Field both recently wrote on the topic of being sick and everyone, their brother and their dog having a sure fire solution or cure.

Please, just fucking knock it off right now, those of you that are prone to give out medical advice to those dealing with unusual or long term illnesses. You're just pissing us, the sick, off. Sometimes the advice is actually harmful.

One of the few people whose medical advice I would even consider is my friend Cindy Kunsman's. She's a nurse, she's seen things, weird things, terrible things. Most of her advice has been good.

What has not been good is the pile of crap I'm hearing as advice from others over this infection that keeps popping up. Here are a few examples.

  • Put urine on it.
  • Start drinking colloidal silver
  • Start taking probiotics (ugh, dumbass I already am for the many bouts of drugs are screwing with my stomach)
  • Get some sun on the infected part
  • Rub it with kerosene
  • (and my personal crazy favorite) Cut it open, expose it to flies and let them lay eggs in it so that the maggots can eat the infection.
  • And a long laundry list of herbs/supplements/prayer
Can you tell this list is mostly from religious folks that really don't like regular modern medicine? It's not that I think supplements are wrong, no not at all, but I prefer to use both modern medicines AND those supplements that I know help me (probiotics, garlic, etc...) Why all the doctor-slamming/medication fearing?

Yesterday brought me the frustrating news that goes with that type of thinking about my former friend dying of cancer. She was on her way to another state to have some sort of natural cancer treatment from a Christian healer who only uses herbs and prayer.

I'm sick about it all over again, but guess what I'd never tell her that she cannot do that, or suggest that she must do chemotherapy. The reality is that this is her choice. I think it's a very stupid choice because she's end stages with only days to live. To me it looks like a Christian snake oil salesman is going to fleece her out of precious money they don't have, give her false hope and not allow her to complete whatever unfinished business still on the table before she passes.

But again, it's her choice and even if we were still close I'd never insist she do something else.

Neither should you tell someone dealing with a difficult illness or a life long condition to rub pee on their wound or diet or just do this, pray that prayer.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Fear Can Do

Many years ago, back when I was a single mother attempting in fits and starts to work, go to school and raise my child I found myself working at a high end manufacturing jewelers in South Louisiana. The pay was decent, the work easy, the hours regular and it held a small frisson of an elite sanctuary for those with money.

I starred in many of the store's television ads like some glorified floozy, a Cajun version of a 'Price Is Right' hostess smiling while holding out an armload of glittering Rolexes. Working there and being on television opened a few doors for me. I did some side gigs, such as working at a few trade show and conventions in the area.

It was a hushed and rarefied atmosphere with private viewing rooms, all done up in blue velvets and satins. I thought the place looked tacky, like some enormous old west bordello cum low rent castle ballroom. But what the heck did I know, I was only nineteen the year I worked there. I hadn't had enough time to develop taste or even experience true tackiness in its full glory.

While my tasks were easy, selling jewelry to people, the job was sort of boring in many ways. It didn't require much thinking, and the grabby hands owner made it clear to me from early on that I was hired for my looks. In fact the place had a very stringent dress code. Hair, nails, makeup and clothes, you had to look flawless, like you could have afforded the most expensive diamond ring in the entire joint.

The job was great at first, it was low stress enough that I had no trouble keeping up with my night class and I was out of work by 6 pm. I learned very very quickly to avoid the hands of the middle aged owner.

After I'd been there for a full year the boss called me into one of the private rooms, handed me a wad of cash and whispered that I needed to go out and buy a large quantity of pot for him, about 200 bucks worth. This when you could get a baggy for twenty bucks. Apparently his usual source had dried up, he knew I'd once been married to a musician and I still have lots of contacts in that world. I didn't want to do it, but I liked my easy job with the bonuses for filming commercials, so I swallowed my misgivings and went out to score dope for my boss. I'd stopped smoking some time before but I still knew where to score

Turned out not to be such an easy task. As I ran down friend after friend asking to buy I discovered that the town was nearly dry. Finally I made a connection with a guy I knew whose band was playing a middle of Saturday afternoon gig at a bar six blocks from the jewelry store. Showed up, made the buy, let my pal buy me a drink or three before I headed back to Mr. Grabby Hands.

Because I was carrying a quantity of weed for my boss I slowly drove back down the street using the access roads instead of the main highway. I wasn't long out of the bar parking lot when a police car got right behind me. He followed me all the way back to the jewelry store, pulling in behind me when I parked and hitting his sirens. I remember feeling my stomach fall into my shoes and being overwhelmed by fear, more fear than I'd ever felt. More fear than the time my ex, his friends and I were arrested for him playing mailbox baseball. Much much more fear than the time my ex and his cousin were caught picking psychedelic mushrooms while I waited in the car. All the crazy incidents in the short time I was with my ex flashed through my mind including the reason I'd given up all forms of illegal drugs.

He didn't get out of his cruiser, I could see he was a nice looking well scrubbed looking young man, this police officer. He motioned me over so I got out of my car, oversized purse holding the ten lids over my shoulder and walked over. I burst into tears realizing that I'd consumed three margaritas in short order at the bar so not only was I about to be busted for drugs, with a likely intent to distribute charge, but I likely faced a DUI charge as well.

The nice young officer questioned me about the bar.What was I doing there? before launching into a lecture about it being a known drug dealing spot, but he could tell I was 'too nice' of a girl for all that.

I lied to that cop, telling him I'd dropped off a guitar to the band that my ex had left behind and told him I was crying because I was going through a tough time as a single mother, just getting a divorce,  trying to get by working at this jewelry store and selling off my ex's musical equipment he'd left behind (true, just not true in that moment)

He let me go after giving me a sympathetic talking to and more of that 'nice girls have no business at a biker bar filled with drugs'. I slunk back into work feeling lower than dirt, so guilty and hyperventilating over the close call.

I kept thinking about this long ago incident this week. I was reminded of it a couple of times by my reactions to things religion. The barfing in the parking lot after hearing that worship song. The feelings of guilt and looming punishment when an IFB door to door minister came to invite me to his church. Being put in the uncomfortable position of listening to the witness of a former Mormon on his conversion to fundamental Christianity.

So much of toeing the line in evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity is fear-based. We don't want to be punished, even if there are so many rules, written and unwritten in that world. So we tiptoe around, praying we aren't caught if we swear, look at a guy (or girl) in the wrong way, wear the wrong clothes or slip up and take a drink of a refreshing adult beverage.

During my time in fundytown I noticed that everyone has the potential to do anything to avoid getting caught and possibly punished. When you live like that, in that constant state of agitated fear, hyper vigilant all the time, it teaches you to be secretive, to lie and to conform outwardly, even if inside you're in diametric opposition to what you seem to be.

That long ago afternoon I was masquerading as a young woman of class, money, breeding, when really I was a criminal, a coward and a drunk.  In my old faith community I also pretended, lied and hid who I really was.

This is one of the big problems with the child training theology of Michael Pearl. It doesn't actually change the heart or the attitude, it merely makes kids lie, deny and hide.

Don't do it. Be your authentic self. Don't be manipulated by others into doing things because you fear the consequences. Don't lie when your caught.

Eventually I was forced in that job to be my authentic self. It happened one afternoon when Mr. Grabby Hands stuck his hand down my shirt into my bra. I slapped him and was summarily fired. But at least I knew that time I'd done the right thing.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Waiting

I seem to be stuck in a holding pattern these last few days.

My MRSA infection is back. This time it's in my left facial cheek. My face is puffed up on that side like I am hiding either a giant-sized jawbreaker or I'm hosting a passel of gerbils in the left half of my face. Apparently I stupidly provoked this reaction by scratching the itchy zit on the the left side of my face. Just waiting till Monday when it's back to my infectious disease doctor so she can drain off some pus (Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewww!!!!!) for a culture. Hurts like mad, looks ridiculous. Feverishly weirded out again.

But I haven't been dry heaving in any bushes lately due to being assaulted with old worship music either so  it's all good. Particularly the pain pills.

It's been weird, waiting to hear when Jim's friend that died this week, Glenn, when his arrangements will be and where. His family is living out in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, so I'm guessing it's taking them a few days to get here and start making the arrangements. Feels weirdly unfinished.

Eight years ago Glenn invited us to his brother Edwin's funeral. We didn't know Edwin, but we all went to support our friend Glenn. It was the first time we'd met his family and experienced a post-funeral Philippines foods reception.

The other strange things we're waiting to hear on that are making me sort of squirrelly nervous is I keep waiting to hear of my former friend's death. Unnerving. I know it will trigger another avalanche of phone calls I do not want to receive from from gossip brigade at the old church. I think I'm just not going to answer the phone if it's a local number I don't recognize. Screw that noise. I don't need the hassle.

Jim's mother, the Maw In Law, is in the hospital again and we're waiting to hear what's happening there. I have a funny feeling that this might be it for her, I hope not because that means I'll have to deal with the insanity that is Jim's brother and the brother's new wife if Maw In Law passes on.

I adore my Maw in Law and hope it's just my gloomy imagination at work here. If you read I'm locked up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after brawling at a funeral you'll know she's passed on.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

It's That Damn Onion Again Stinking Up The Joint!

I guess I'm just not there yet. I have my own issues to keep working on in the layers of the onion that is recovery. Had a pretty awful episode today, triggers and PTSD oh my!

All I can say is even before this incident I was already feeling sort of beat up. Not only is my former friend dying but Sunday I got word that a friend in California had passed away and yesterday afternoon Jim and I heard that one of his former coworkers at the Dept of Labor had been found dead in his condo. He was younger than I. Not only was Jim close to him but I knew him pretty well. We're talking years of going to Nationals and Oriole games with him, having him out here for the 4th of July, hiking Old Rag together, parties, get togethers, you-name-it. His name was Glenn, and he was one of the most generous people I've known. When each of our kids graduated from college he took our family out to celebrate. When my father died he organized among their friend group and raised enough for me to have a nice gift card. When Jim had cancer in 2012 he was the one that raised funds again and sent the biggest fruit and gourmet basket for him. He was just so generous, just such a big hearted guy we all loved. Glenn and Jim took some trips together through the years, to Vegas and many times to Florida for MLB spring training camps. He'll be missed so much by us. A great loss for this world.

Okay, back to today. It started off as usual, my updating NLQ between washing clothes and running the dishwasher. Having discussions with my husband over the blocks of copper tile I had started mounting in the kitchen over the counter tops. I knew I had an online webinar I had to attend after lunch, some paperwork I needed to read through involving NLQ and a quick editing job to crank out that was going to keep my hopping until dinner time. So right before lunch I decided I really needed to run out into the sunshine with this week's stale bread and visit the park. I did that, laughing as I noticed that one of the Canada geese not only recognized me but was doing a crazy happy dance with his head and neck swimming over to me. Bobbing his head, shaking it side to side and radiating joy. I needed to see that.

On the way home I decided we needed steaks since it's been a hard week. I stopped at the local Mennonite store to get several of their organic beef steaks for this evening and a few other things, Jim's favorite cheese crackers and some herbs.

As I was pushing my cart over to the checkout counter a certain song started playing, 'Come, Now Is The Time To Worship' - the cheesy slow folky version with a man sappily singing and playing acoustic guitar. A song I've played and sang something like ten million times in my many years on worship team. I had an immediate and disturbingly visceral reaction to the song, feeling like someone had slugged me in the stomach. I found myself suddenly nauseated, gagging as I paid for my groceries and staggered out.

I didn't even manage to get my lone bag of groceries into the car before I started dry heaving into the front flower beds. There I stood on the edges of Route 29 in Virginia attempting to barf up the nothing that was in my stomach.

Why this song? Why nine years after leaving? Why now?

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Re-Revisiting Women As Apples

We're having some crazy weather this week here in the beautiful Virginia Piedmont. Just as my mini-orchard of apple trees started blooming out in glorious shades of pink we're gone from sunny and warm to colder Elsa's touch and quite windy.

Very late on Saturday night I found myself outside, clutching a flashlight and chasing down my heavy lawn furniture as high winds tried to send it to the next county or down to the banks of the Potomac. All this in the dark with the winds whipping down a rain of apple tree blossom petals everywhere.

Between that, yesterday's high winds and waking up this morning to below freezing temps and swirling snow showers upon my apple trees I could not help thinking again about Vaughn Ohlman and his pal and their talking about women as apples. My poor trees trying to hang onto their vastly reduced numbers of apple blooms.

This is another one of those reasons that women are not like apples. I'm experiencing one of the pitfalls of apple farming in this area, the unpredictable nature of Spring weather, which no one has any control of. Hell, weather forecasters don't have much of a clue, it's all luck and timing. So much of life boils down to luck and timing. Fathers and apple farmers have no control over luck and timing...

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Fear of the Onion Core - or Stuck in Unhappiness

This morning as I was helping my husband Jim count the offering at our big mainstream church my eyes fell upon a prayer request card I was pulling from the offering plate. I was immediately sorry I'd seen this request because it was by someone I knew asking for prayers for the marriage of a former leader in our service.

I looked down, my eyes landed on the card and I thought, 'Oh no, not this again!'

This leader had picked up and moved his entire family to the state of Florida in June of this last year in an effort to save his marriage. I knew him well and I knew his wife a little less well. I'd already felt sorry for the wife and tried to befriend her. We had quite a lot in common, yoga, gluten-free eating and some sort of different ideas about God than many others there. I'd befriended her at the behest of her husband, he had asked me to reach out to her because she felt isolated and had ongoing issues with depression. I liked her quite a lot, but didn't envy her being married to such a childish and immature man.

Not long afterward he'd sent out a Facebook message to literally 30 different women at our service complaining about her and his marriage, asking the ladies to pray for them. I took offense at the way he shared it, saying I didn't think a group Facebook message worded that way was respectful towards his wife. Pointed out that most women would have a problem with their husbands sharing something so personal willy-nilly with a pile of women.

Some of the women on the list really said some rather nasty things in the aftermath of my messages culminating in me being called onto the pastor's carpet to explain myself before the pastor told the husband that a) I was right about it being insensitive and improper to his wife and b) the husband and I needed to talk it out. The talk was largely useless, he felt he had every right to call out the prayer warriors any damn way he pleased and me still feeling he was going about it all the wrong way. I've written about this in detail last year.

By seeing this prayer request and how it was worded it was pretty obvious he's still up to the same old same old. He's clearly corresponding with this particular set of women while whining about his wife.

Seeing the prayer request, and knowing something of his wife and his marriage in the aftermath of finding out my other old friend is dying reinforced something in my mind this afternoon. It's that some folks are never going to peel that damn onion of recovery or healing. They're going to stay stuck on the same wilting brown stinky level.

Stacy, his wife, and Cathy, my dying friend, have both been deeply unhappy as far back as I can remember. They also have in common that neither of them is very willing to look at the why of their situations and what they could do to improve. It's easier and more familiar to stay with what you know, even if you sense deep inside you are missing out on what could make you happy. You stay, you stay stuck, you turn off your inner voice and you go through your life on autopilot, fooling no one that knows you very well.

That layer just keeps getting even more rotten, so you move, thinking that it's the location where you're living, but you find that stinking onion is now oozing pus and smells to high heaven.

I'm not saying that depression isn't real and it doesn't require treatment not at all. This type of deep unhappiness and accompanying depression does need treatment, but here's the thing about treatment, you have to decide to do it, to at least examine that stupid onion with a trained guide. You. You must make that choice.

So far neither of these ladies ever has, both dismissing treatment and counselors as unnecessary. Both have moved many states away and still the stinking onion was there. Both have tried various issues with food, food control, control over their bodies to no avail. Both have immersed themselves in extreme cult religion to fix whatever is going on inside only to be disappointed.

There's no hope for Cathy, she's going to die as unhappily as she's lived. I don't know for certain, but if I had to haphazard a guess I believe she's complaining about how unfair her fate is. Yes, it is.

For Stacy there's hope. She's young, she's educated, she's beautiful and she has the possibility of realizing one day that there's no avoiding the hard work you have to do to push past unhappy as a default setting. I have a feeling that facing the onion core is going to involve jettisoning her six foot tall toddler husband. None of it will be easy. But it will be worth it if she can gather the courage to start.

I've been there, I've worked on my stupid onion even if I have days like yesterday where I'm eager to ditch the damn thing, bounce it off the heads of some of those folks in the old church that have been so hateful. All the work has been worth it, even if I never started out from a place of deep unhappiness. Even if I complain here I've mostly lead a life with many moments of happiness and contentment. In hindsight most of the unhappiness and recovery work I've had to do involved trying to fit in, trying desperately to conform and knowing that I was faking it, hiding much of my unbelief and pain behind a facade.

It's why I do what I do with No Longer Quivering. I want so badly to see anyone so twisted up and mangled by a high demand cultic religion to start to peel the layers of their own onion and move towards the core and wholeness. Please don't settle for unhappiness.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Tired of Peeling the Damn Onion!

One thing that has become obvious to me this week is that I'm sort of sick of recovery, of religion and ancient past intruding on the present. I think I'm ready for a change, ready to leave for Costa Rica now instead of next January.

Recovery fatigue. Someone referenced the 'peeling the onion' meme of recovery being like peeling the layers of the onion away to get to the core. I'm ready to take a knife and chop the crap out of that onion and be just done with it! Onion rings! Eat them, be done with it!