Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holidaze

So we made it through Christmas, with only a few bumps and fractiousness. There was some unpleasant conversations going on between Jim and I as I booked out airline tickets for next month's ten day vacation to the beaches of Costa Rica. I could not pin him down to a date and he kept complaining that the ticket prices kept jumping around. By the time I got him to make a firm decision the week he wanted was booked solid.

What was it my friend the therapist called this trait of Jim's? Decision by indecision? I think it's a feature of the place on the autism spectrum I believe he falls on. I've come to the conclusion that he has some undiagnosed autism, just like I was tested and found to have ADD about ten years ago. It can be quite the challenge to deal with when doing something that takes plenty of money and lots of planning. We're going a week later than he wanted, yes, it took some wrangling to pin him down on where to stay too. We booked at a different set of resorts and different Pacific-side beaches this time. This beach vacation cannot come soon enough!

He'll also be interviewing at three different schools that teach English to professionals while we're there, one right in the area we're most interested in living in, near Manuel Antonio.

Now I understand why we went with a travel agency last time. Booking everything from hotel to hotel, to the flights, and the rental car was quite the task. But it's done, mostly, one place is not booked but the nice young man we got to know at the resort in the volcano area is going to book us back there in one of the villas instead of the suite we occupied last time. Jim's ability to make friends sometimes pays off.

We had a good Christmas, even if there was some not so nice drama a few weeks before involving Jim asking me anew what I wanted for a Christmas present and me pointing to the weekender bags the dept. store had on sale and suggesting a new piece of luggage since ours are starting to fray. I had to throw out by weekend bag this summer finally after a handle broke and it developed a rip I could not repair. This place had quite nice bags that were 50% off, very responsible prices. Less than a grocery run.

He turned to me and said, "You don't need that." and boy, I saw red. It triggered one of our very rare fights. I think it was either the second or third one we had all year. I was so mad, pointing out to him more than once that if someone asked you what you want for Christmas and you already have just about everything you want then it's extremely rude and dismissive to tell them they don't need the thing they asked for.

I had already bought him something rather nicer than a weekend bag for Christmas, a brand new tablet, a nice one. Not something he absolutely needed, but something that would make his life just a little bit more enjoyable.

In the end he bought one of the bags for me when I wasn't around, getting one in my favorite color, turquoise. It's going to come in handy for the upcoming trip because I'm going to be packing very lightly this time. Last trip to Central America I ended up living in my swimsuit with a light cover up dress over it.

We had Christmas Eve dinner with the kids and it was quite nice and relaxing. At least until we called Jim's elderly mother so that everyone could talk to her. She asked each of our adult children when they would be getting married. We pretty much all laughed over that because my son isn't dating anyone since that epic breakup with his long time girlfriend this last summer when we had to rent a Uhaul and move him suddenly from her home. Our daughter told her grandmother it would be a while because she wanted to get her masters degree out of the way first, finish up some graphics training and move to San Diego before she would consider marrying the man she's been involved with three years now. My maw in law didn't like hearing that.

When she spoke to me she told me yet again how happy she was that I'd stayed with her son, and that I'd been the glue to hold our family together and done a good job raising the kids. It was gratifying to hear because as I've said I've always felt like the dogsbody of that family, the one not working a glamorous job or doing great adventures, just plodding on making sure everyone's teeth were brushed, homework done and shirts ironed. I've still never been bragged about in that stupid Christmas letter. I've had to come to terms with that.

One of the things we mentioned during the call was that since we're still planning on moving to Costa Rica this spring we wanted the maw in law to sign up for Skype so we could still talk. She said she'd do that. When we were there last Christmas I looked at her computer and it was new enough with a camera so that all she'd have to do is download the program.

She mentioned it to the unpleasant new sister in law, who now has her very agitated because she told the maw in law that her computer was 'too ancient' and she would have to spend thousands of dollars buying a new computer to use Skype. Such bullshit. This is more of the sister in law trying to control how my maw in law communicates with the outside world. She'd told the maw in law that we're going to have to write letters from Central America.

But... where there's a will there's a way. I'm not about to have her dictating to the maw in law who and how she communicates so earlier this week I ordered the maw in law a simple tablet. When it gets here I'm going to make sure to set it up, preload in Skype, sign her up for a Skype account and sent it on over to the maw in law.

This is typical for the kind of thing my new sister in law does. She's sent us a few emails complaining copiously about the behavior of my maw in law and sometimes the maw in law complains about her. Not even replying.

~~~~~~

On a sad control freakish note I discovered today what happened and why so many people have left our mainstream church we've attended for the last ten years. In the last four months there's been boatloads of griping by members of our service, some staff firings and some surprising people leaving. Sad to say it boils down to the usual control freak behavior by a pastor. Some things apparently never change, no matter how they flavor the koolaid.

I'm beginning to think that America in particular is so wrong about anything faith related. At least the churches here seem to be about nothing that Jesus said was important.

I think I'm done with church. I'll likely always still carry some remnant of belief in me, in the spiritual realm, but none of this good old American style country club Christianity. I haven't been to church all month between the recurrence of my mrsa and other illnesses.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Weather is not the Only Frightful Thing!

Sitting here waiting for the last of the Christmas baking to come out of the oven and the icing to harden on my German Chocolate Cherry cookies. I'm also waiting for the snow and sheet we're supposed to get later tonight.

It's been very bitter cold here, in the 20s, over the last few days. My lungs haven't liked it one bit, protesting when I went out today and yesterday afternoon. Yesterday I had a good reason for braving the weather, my youngest daughter came down from the city to go to the dentist. I love it when she comes home for a dental or medical visit. We always hang out together at the office followed by shopping and dinner. A girls afternoon.

Once my daughter went back into the treatment area for a tooth cleaning an older couple came into the office and after the lady extracted directions to the nearest UPS store she informed the office staff that she'd be back in an hour to pick up her husband. She left, he stayed.

I don't know at what point I realized something wasn't quite right. It might have been when he took off and put on his coat about four times, or the fact that he kept moving it to different coat racks in that small office. Could have been when he kept trying to talk to me, but in my avoidance of older guys who might be manthurs I just kept my nose in my book. But by the time he started complaining about the office music it was obvious something was going on.

A word about the music at the dentist. Our dentist is a junior. His late father started the office and until this visit the music played in the office was just to the right of Lawrence Welk. Serious muzak from the late 50s or early 60s. Not even hip enough for Welk, or to ever be on Mad Men.

The other interesting thing about the office that is just a bit weird is the magazine selection. The Senior was a part time cattle farmer, but Junior has delusions of Virginia landed gentry and fox hunting. So the magazine racks aren't filled with the usual Good Housekeeping and Sports Illustrated. Oh no, those racks hold magazines with names like 'Estates, Fine Horses and Guns' (not the real name but very close!) or 'Steeplechase and Ammo' (also not the name). I look through the selection and giggle, stopping myself just short from telling Junior that his dad's cattle farm is in no way a thoroughbred horse farm even if he has a few pretty quarter horses and Tennessee Walker on it now.

Back to the music. At some point recently Junior must have cancelled the old man's muzak service, because now it blasts old rock and roll from  local oldies station. A song came on by Bad Company and the lead singer Paul Rodgers was screaming out the lyrics. I forget what song it was but the lone older gent stares at the speaker mounted in the ceiling and starts yelling that he cannot understand how anyone could screech like that, like a monkey with his nuts caught in a washing machine mangle. I had to stifle a laugh at that, and try to explain how singers like Rodgers can shriek and scream without harming their vocal cords, the mechanics of singing. Yeah, I finally did break down and talk to him.

This went over very poorly, sending the older man off into a rant about the stupidity of rock music. I was saved from having to talk to him further when they had to take him into the back during his soapbox stumping. I had a peaceful near hour of reading after he went back, but when he emerged, about five minutes before my daughter he laid down on one of the office couches and fell into a snore-y sleep. His wife picked that moment to arrive back in the office and he went into copious whining that he'd been done 'FOREVER'! And she was off, angrily stomping off to the receptionist's desk to yell about her husband spending so much time waiting.

My daughter came out at the point, and the lady was still at it. It didn't dawn on me until she hissed at the billing clerk that he is apparently developing Alzheimers and cannot be left alone. I wish she'd have made that clear to them upfront, because I'm not sure leaving him in the hands of others without warning them was the safest thing for him.

It was just such a strange little interlude, illustrative of the general zeitgeist I seem to be witnessing increasingly when I'm out and about now. Between the holidays and the general anxiety most people are feeling post-election I'm seeing lots of unusual behavior in the strangers around me. People wonder why I've become even more introverted lately.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sometimes Dreams Need to Stay Dreams

I have some sort of virus or stomach flu. Yeah, me sick again, must be a day that ends with 'day'.

As a result of the fever and throwing up I slept all too poorly last night, struggled to update NLQ and could not do much that didn't involve bolting down Alka Seltzer.

Last night as I tossed and turned I pondered all the deaths of people I either knew personally or of whom I admired at some point in 2016. 2016 just sucked so hard! So many people I didn't want to see go passed on. I kept returning to thinking about the slow motion tragedy one of those deaths was. I'm changing the name of the dead and his fellow band mates because he has a small hardcore cadre of insane fans I have no wish to piss off, he's a z-lister and his last few years are a perfect illustration about why you let go of those pie in the sky dreams from your teenage years. You don't resurrect them in your fifties and trash your life trying to make them happen.

 You let them go.

One of the things about life is that it's constant change. If you're not changing or moving forward you're stagnant and dying. Everyone goes through phases in their lives. I once wanted to be a rock star, and by the time I reached my twenties I'd stopped with all the singing and bands, realizing I had to put on my big girl pants, grow up and get an education. There have been other important shifts I've had to make in my life, from single gal and college student to military wife living overseas, to mom, to empty nester. From heckling agnostic, to full on kool aid drinker, back to partially agnostic. It's normal to have to set aside some things, and sometimes pick them up at a later date.

During my fundy years I loved to bake from scratch, cook, sew and do those domestic things impressed upon us that righteous women did. After leaving I went through a l-o-n-g period of time when I wanted to eat out, or nuke things. But, eventually after my former faith community was far enough back in my rear view mirror, I found myself enjoying cooking once again. I just do not feel any more 'must dos' about it that I once did. I no longer feel guilty if I decide to open a can of soup instead of cooking.

There are also lots of things I've done in the past that I know the time has passed  for, that I don't do any longer. Example - I no longer do any stained glass projects even if I love them because soldering the lead is hard on my lungs. I used to run several miles a day in my 20s but gave that up when it started impacting my knees. Sometimes the time has passed, even for things you love.

So what does it look like when you don't let go of things from the past, or you try to take them up again when the time to do those things has long passed. It looks like Michael.

I first heard of Michael and the bubblegum pop band he sang lead for when I was about 12 or 13 and was starting to lose my love for the Osmond Brothers. Michael and pals had a band with horns and lots of singers, hitting the top forty with a ridiculous (in retrospect) song with an anti war message. I knew all about Michael and his band from the pages of Tiger Beat and 16 magazines. Bought the albums, called up WLCS and other local south Louisiana AM radio stations requesting their music.

 Michael's band is what you'd call a one hit wonder. One hit song, a few middling songs and a single album before they sank into obscurity. By the time I was 15 and had moved on to bands like Mott the Hoople and Queen their band had disbanded.

Through the years I always wondered what happened to these guys. Did they go crawling back to the midwest and parts of Ohio? Join other bands? It was a mystery, at least until the late 1990s.

I met one of the guys from the band the summer I attended a worship ministry class in Pensacola, Florida, through the Brownsville Revival happening. I freely admit it. I was a revival and conference junkie in those days. There was no happening involving charismatic movements that I did not attend and wholly embrace even if many at the old church called the revival movements emotional sin.

Danny, the former horn, keyboards and bass player from the teenybopper band, taught worship team classes out of the school connected to Brownsville. My pastor pressed me to attend some of the worship team classes at Brownsville. I didn't realize who he was at first, but eventually it added up, his unusual last name and my long ago lust for certain of his bandmates. I got to know him very slightly that summer, happy to see him serving so diligently in the kingdom of God. At least before the nasty splits occurred at Brownsville, and some church hopping going on, almost mirroring the exact same bullshit happening at Possum Creek where I was on worship team.

Through keeping in touch with Danny, the internet and social media I was able to see what had happened to my favorite one hit wonder band. Fate, and time, had scattered them to the four winds. One joined the Moonies, another had a swing band, the guy who was the band leader still performed music when he wasn't running his security business, another had done well in a big midwestern industry, a couple were studio musicians in Nashville and Michael was a middle aged middle management in big business out west. Danny was church/worship team leading hopping through the charismatic revival mega churches

About four years ago Bob, the old band leader, played a gig that Michael attended and invited Michael to take the microphone for a few songs. I've seen the video of this event on Youtube. In the video you see a balding, gray, paunchy older looking gentleman uncertainly picking his way through that ancient song.

What followed his return to the stage is he quit his stable middle management job, got a hair transplant, face lift, dye job and lost roughly 75 pounds. Gone was the sports coat and button up shirt and banlon slacks. He restyled himself into some gross parody of the young hot singer he'd once been, dressing in workout clothes and sleeveless muscle shirts. Before he'd spent more than a couple of years trying to resuscitate his moribund career he lost his wife, his house and his children, and likely his pension too. The most he was able to score was a few times on a 1970s review playing county fairs as part of the 'Golden Oldies'

Michael is one of the causalities of 2016, dying alone, broke and senselessly. I wasn't surprised because all the photos I'd seen of him in concert in those last few years he looked quite unwell, no matter how bright brown he'd colored his hair or hipster clothes he'd donned.

I have to wonder how the back years of his life would have differed had he not heeded the siren call of rock and roll. Was it all worth it? Kinda doubt it. 

Gawd, I am so not going to miss 2016 and I hope 2017 brings far less deaths of folks I know or admire. But it's not looking good from here.







Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Post Storm

I'm coming down from a tremendous meltdown this afternoon. One of the few things I like about hitting that stress wall and having a bad space of time is the peace that follows the explosion after something has built up and been released.

Yeah, it's the trip and move. Jim's still dashing around with stars in his eyes making changes to the plans every day or so and it's getting to me again. Pick a plan, make legitimate plans and stick to it, work through it..DON'T keep altering the plans while doing nothing to carry the ball down the field. It just gets under my skin.

At least this meltdown of mine complete with ugly crying and threats of going nowhere until there are firm plans in place did jolt someone else into finally looking into buying flight tickets.

I swear if there's all this constant talking, talking, talking with no planning I am going to end up in the locked nut hut. I think this is why I'm popping the occasional high blood pressure because I don't handle uncertainty well.


Monday, December 12, 2016

What Does the Book Cover Matter?

Wow, was I in a horrible mood on Sunday night or what? My last post was some crazy whining. Must have been all those wilderness roughing it shows I was watching warping my mind.

This morning when I was working on NLQ one of the things I saw that just made me laugh my ass off were the claims of a set of sisters that they'd given up a potential big modeling career tract to have a ministry instead.

I didn't even bother to dissect their lies about these 'careers' before posting it at NLQ. It's a topic I do have a tiny bit of knowledge about, at least as it applied to South Louisiana in the late 70s and early 80s.  No, I'm not blonde, blue-eyed or as supposedly 'hawt' as they were claiming to be. Funny, those aren't always the requirement to 'model'.

Back in my starving student days I did a number of things I didn't like much to pay the bills. One of those things was working as a 'model' - sort of a catch all phrase for working on a few television commercials for local merchants, modeling hair styles at a hair competition, giving out samples at trade shows in skimpy clothing, modeling for trunk shows at Godchaux a couple of times, lingerie photos (don't ask) and as a model for art classes at my university when money was tight.

I hated it. I felt like a piece of meat most of those times and I fended off some rather inappropriate offers even if I was pretty much an agnostic at that point in my life. I could have had a fabulous career hooking through my contacts in those days, unfortunately I still had to get up and look myself in the mirror in the morning so I said no to the offers. Same to posing nude or doing anything remotely like porn.

It wasn't easy, there were times when it was hard, took hours and was grueling. There wasn't much that felt very glamorous from where I stood.

I was pretty much a failure at it, or liking it, or seeing it as some sort of 'career' path like this twosome did. It was a means to an end only. I knew I had to stop and find some other way to make moolah once my agent submitted me for the Playboy tryouts when they came through town. It was the most cringe worthy photos and interview I'd done up until that point. I came away from my short experience with a book filled with a number of photos of myself.

The reason I did it was the same reasons I waited tables, wrote for the local tourist guides placed in the hotel rooms, bar tended for private events, the list goes on.... because it was a choice between eating, paying tuition and paying rent. I did what I needed to do.

Most young women that try their hand at this not so easy profession likely do it because they have to eat or pay rent and very very few are what anyone would consider financially successful at it. Only a handful are successful at it and last any length of time. I laughed at the claims of these two, thinking about how when you live in that protected careful Evangelical bubble you can make all sorts of wild claims and no one has enough experience of the outside world to call bullshit on you when you conflate the truth.

My husband knows all of this. He's seen the photos and he's heard me speak about this a lot through the years, even if its nothing I'm particularly proud of. He's been with me a few times when someone asked if I was the girl in the Halloran's or city salon television ad. That is the part that makes me laugh about these sisters claims, this is one of those things I'm pretty ashamed of doing because it impacted my psyche so negatively and they're bragging about it.

Raising my daughter I've been careful to try and guide her away from activities, like cheerleading, pageants, some types of dance classes, that teach the unspoken lesson that what you look like is the most important metric ever. Truthfully it's possibly one of the least important things about a person. Looks don't matter much in the long run. People age, beauty is fleeting and subjective. It's not what the container looks like, it's what is inside. Too bad those sisters still haven't learned that lesson.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mind(less) Sets

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm pretty sick of the internet.

Jim's spent the early evening till now flaked out on our old comfortable leaking goose down sofa watching one of his favorite things - those Alaska survival shows. I cannot budge him, he loves those things. They pretty much straight up horrify me.

I don't object to the folks on the shows living off the grid on squirrel guts and moose blubber, but I just so cannot understand or relate. I sit on my comfortable sofa in front of the wood stove and shiver in my heavy sweater thinking that only someone in their not right mind would want to live above the Arctic Circle in what amounts to a plywood shack without electricity. It's sure not for me.

Occasionally I'll watch these shows with Jim, seeking to understand that mind set. My mind always goes to the practical, things like how can you live without hot water, a fully functioning bathtub and no fridge. How much harder and more work living like pioneer days would be.

It's hard to understand what's going on in the minds of some of the folks on the shows. One guy this afternoon said that he was pretty sure Bigfoot had chased him around the woods a couple of times.

I have no room to throw rocks at his belief in Bigfoot considering I once used to believe some things that are pretty wacky in comparison, Like that God healed anyone that asked, but if you didn't see the healing manifest in the natural it was because of some unbelief or spiritual oppression or unconfessed sin within you. Now I go to the doctor, I take the prescribed meds and I rest when I get this sick instead of begging a magical sky fairy holy slot machine to 'pick meeeeeeeeee'  I now realize that many of the religious beliefs I was taught at Possum Creek don't line up with much of anything that is in the New Testament, or science, or common sense.

One day soon I'll have to sit down and outline where my faith, or former faith, now lines up. I'm not exactly an atheist, but I'm sure no longer drinking the koolaid.

But... everyone's free to believe whatever it is they want to believe and live that way as long as they aren't forcing anyone else to live like that or harming others. I would never tell them that they are living wrong, or that they cannot do those things. For me it would be a disaster. I keep thinking about being that far away from my infectious disease doctor and not having the ability to run down to the local Trader Joe's for some good chocolate when you're having a craving or a rough day. Crapping in a plastic bucket in a shed in a blizzard would so not work for me at all. Them? Godspeed and good luck, I hope it makes them happy.

I think that's one of the unfortunate things about the internet, people don't understand your motivations, or even make any effort to consider you might have a different mind set, or perhaps you did this or that, or screwed up because you're having a physically rough time of it, or you've got mood swings, cramps, just having a crappy or happy day. No attempts made to understand a damn thing, just rush in there with a morally superior attitude and take a swing at someone. Everything is just filtered through their own bullshit. Yeah, I know, I'm guilty of this too. I'll be the first to admit it.

The last week while I've been struggling with my health, high pain levels and the addling force of pain pills. I've flubbed up left and right updating NLQ, misunderstanding something I read and then wrote up, putting the wrong image here or there, struggling to make the keywords fit, putting my big old size ten shoe in my mouth. It ain't been pretty, neither my mind or the things I've done.

After the week I've had I think I'm going to have to take an internet fast, just like my friend Cindy Kunsman, because it's gotten frustrating dealing with the mind sets of others, assumptions and accusations. Facebook has turned into a ever flowing river of crap and false news instead of my usual source of kittens, cute animal videos and yakking with friends. Plus the news feed is screwing with the cha-cha that is my vision, adding to the pain pill power puking event going on here.

Watching Jim fighting with friends, family and assorted others about fake news and politics has been pretty hard to stomach on my Facebook feed. Getting sucked into a few of his fights with others has been blood pressure elevating. I'm going to have to research how to put some filters on it before I come back online much more than a few hours here and there. 

Still getting off line and dragging my tired old ass around this afternoon meant I was able to finish up with some of the things I've been putting off while sick. I made the most heavenly smelling soap this afternoon and a six months supply of deodorant. Perhaps that's not such a bad thing after all.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Hillbilly Heroin

I know one thing about myself that's been reinforced over the last 24 hours. I could never be an oxycontin or opiod addict. Never, ever.!

Years ago when I was on Vicodin for months on end while my orthopedic doctor and insurance company wrangled over my carpal tunnel problems. During my months on it I dutifully took it, took stomach meds and antihistamines to deal with the side effects while I went through the months of physical therapy before and after surgery.  Concluded then, based on my experiences, Jim's hatred of taking opiods and all the crazy shenanigans I witnessed during my years at the clinic by opiod seekers that those that become addicted must have something wired differently in their brains. Sort of like how I love cilantro in my food and Jim says it tastes like soap to him. Something that makes some people susceptible to craving opiods and the rest going 'Yuck! Tastes like soap and puke!'

HATE the way that shit makes me feel! I know there are folks out there that crave that hideous numbness of emotion and pain, but it's just something I do not like at all. Add in the nausea, the random puking, dizziness and junkie itch and there's even less reason to take it.

Used to be I only got the junkie itch and numbness, now I struggle to keep down food and stand or sit upright. After a night of up and down throwing up, down and sideways I'm contemplating trying to sleep without it, flayed open nose with nasal mask or not. Has to be better than having my stomach trying to exit my mouth every single time Jim turns over in the bed all night long.

It's going to be either pain or puking. What a freaking choice. At this point I think I would prefer the pain.

I had pill hangover still till afternoon. Jim and I went out for Chinese food for lunch and I could not eat more than a few mouthfuls before starting to gag. But I took it home and managed to eat it after the dry heaves wore off. Score! I didn't have to cook dinner.

Oddly enough when I popped up online this morning to update No Longer Quivering someone pm'ed me on Facebook that I didn't know and.. drum roll please... tried to sell me some weed. Insert huge laughing smiley here! It's still illegal! And this chump is hawking it via Facebook messenger! I was amused but blocked him immediately.

Had a tiny bit of fun with the Maw In Law earlier. She wanted to know what I was buying with the big check she sent me. I told her I was buying a gold plated Siamese cat. I hope hostile Sis in Law picked up that I'm joking though, or I might find this hurled against me at some point in the future during her endless recitation of my crimes.

I'm thinking about using the money to fly down to see my mother and take her to South Florida for a wee vacation. I need the ocean badly again. My health would straighten out quickly if I could just swim in the ocean.

Am I Loathesome Tonight?

Sitting here waiting for a narcotic pain pill, or a couple of them, to kick in so I can go back to sleep. It's late, I'm in pain and cannot sleep.

Biggest surprises of the week. Getting a couple of thousand dollar check from the Maw In Law tucked in with that awful Christmas letter. At least she managed to remember my name when it was time to write the check. She's always been so generous, but this was a huge surprise!

The other pleasant surprise was going into church like a condemned man facing a firing squad on Monday morning only to find the financial officer/bookkeeper lady I've been locking horns with had already started straightening out Sunday's cluster of an offering count. Turns out I was right on the amount and my pal Sharon had entered a large pile of things two and three times in the computer program. She fixed it and miraculously we balanced! Perhaps I've been wrong about her.

Unpleasant surprise. Mrsa infection is back, worse than ever. I look right now like I got a whopping dose of lip fillers, all swollen up like a Restylane injection to the upper lip. Spent the day at the hospital and doctors offices, getting some IV antibiotics and having biopsies of parts of my nostrils and sinuses. WITHOUT much numbing. I cried and wailed. It was pretty awful, hence the narcotics now. This infection is different in that it's involving from the upper lip into the sinuses and up to the eyes, all the spots infected together at once. For shits and giggles I'm wacked out by this because I have a fever of 101.5.

Having my brain operating on stuck on stupid mode right now made updating NLQ something of a challenge this morning. I better start feeling better quickly or things are going to suffer there.

Things around the house are suffering because I'm too sick to do more than load the dishwasher. I had to make fruitcake on Monday because several of the elderly relatives I usually send fruitcake to commented how much they were looking forward to my homemade fruit cake this weekend. Didn't have the heart to tell them I wasn't making fruitcake this year. 

On the intriguing side a couple of things went down this week. First a guy I know well from church, a decent guy with a PhD and years in the banking industry is in jail in Korea. He fell for some version of the Nigerian scam. Looks like he's going to jail for a very long time. It just goes to show you that anyone can fall for a scam. His poor family! I hope they manage to get a good attorney and show that Mal was a victim of a scam.

The other thing that happened was a former neighbor of perverted patriarch Vaughn Ohlman, a guy I've written about extensively at NLQ contacted me. I was gobsmacked by the information he had. He claims that during the 1980s Vaughn was on a mission trip and tried to cop a feel or molest some boys. Now I always figured that Vaughn was a possible sexual predator, but the info it was boys he tried to victimize completely blows me away. I would have assumed it was 12 or 13 year old girls with large breasts since they seem to be the focus of his dirty mind in his book and website. I wish I could post it up at NLQ, but without any real reason it feels weird and grimy to contemplate doing so. Ugh! So so weird!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Cluster You Know What Again

I think I'm done with church now for all time and eternity. As in done done gone forever done.

Today has been an absolute misery.

About 18 months ago Jim was asked to head up the teams that count the offering. Keep in mind our church is the biggest one in about four or five counties, so counting after the three Sunday services is not the most easy of tasks, even if it is one of the most vital.

A year ago I stepped up to help with the first Sunday count. In that time we've gone through three accountant/financial folks, who've had three completely different ways that they want things done, three sets of requirements and three different ways of handling folks. This last lady has been a nightmare to work with.

Last week I took myself off helping out everything involved with the counting team because of my stress levels and blood pressure, only agreeing to count on the first Sunday until we leave the country. After today I think that has to end.

I did the count with my usual partner Sharon today and the computer program (and maybe operator error with Sharon, I don't know) kept screwing up. I would keep doing the physical count and running an adding machine tape. We were right on the first service and the second service counts if you subtracted the computer program errors that we could not fix (counting some entries double). But the final service everything went all to hell. Long story short either the computer or my partner did things like add in a 2K check three times and other snafus that the computer would not allow her to correct in the system so the numbers I had and she had were way way off.

Sharon kept insisting I was off, that the adding machine was screwing up, but, as I pointed out and showed her the tapes I kept coming up with the same figures every time. By this time it was almost 2 pm and we'd been there locked in the counting room since 9 am.

I took a short break to go to the restroom and got flagged down by the church gossip in the hallway. She asked me what was going on I told her we had some computer issues that was making getting a solid number in the system next to impossible.

Faith, that's her name, proceeded to tell me everything that the pastor, the other volunteers, the office staff and the accountant were saying about us incompetent fuck ups. I started to cry at the nasty river of evil coming out this woman's mouth and went off to collect myself.

It's a sore spot, volunteering and never being once thanked, just being treated in a high handed demanding fashion that this new accountant is using. It's starting to feel like Possum Creek 2.0 right now.

If that wasn't bad enough Faith followed me back into the counting room and kept on saying crap. I muttered something about Jim and I leaving in few months. She wanted to know where and why and I told her of our plans to retire to the beach in Central America and Faith started crowing about how Donald Trump was running off craven liberals like us, how shitty we were for being such crybabies that we're leaving rather than staying and accepting that we lost.

Told her no, she's assuming things again, that we would likely do much better with our investments under Trump and that this retirement plan was something we'd talked about for years and been planning for a couple of years now.

But the damage was done, by the time she left I was white faced and shaking, with Sharon insisting again that my adding machine tape was wrong. I told her to pack it up, I did the deposit based on my figures, shot the accountant a note to tell her that the computer program or Sharon has messed up massively so the deposit did not match the reports and she would need to fix that.

A whole day shot on this bullshit on top of being way-layed by Faith. I'm so done. They can shove their thankless tasks up their ass as far as I'm concerned. I'm done with volunteering for places that abuse you and take you fore granted. Even tempted to tell the pastor off right now since Faith lingers around the office purposely picking up gossip about everyone and he will do nothing about it.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

BBQed Christmas Letter

Had confirmation today that the awful mangled crazy version of my Maw In Law's annual Christmas letter officially went out a few days ago. It's the quiet before the storm now, but soon my phone will be ringing and filled with the outraged tones of my side of the family upset about my entire family's exclusion from acknowledgement. Shrugs, what are you going to do?

We met the kids halfway between our house and Fairfax for dinner tonight. We were celebrating Laura's new job. It's still at George Mason, but instead of working with employee benefits shes going to be the newest trainer in the HR dept. Big promotion, big raise and it fits in well with her Masters program studies. So proud of that girl. She's fearless and badassed!

It was great seeing her, my son Andrew and Laura's boyfriend for dinner. We had a great meal. I just wish I had felt better. My mrsa-esque infection has moved from eye to left nostril to lip to right nostril. I'm going to see if I can squeeze in to see my infectious disease doc on Monday or Tuesday because the antibiotics are doing nothing and this is VERY painful, which makes me think it's mrsa again. Gonna get them to culture it and confirm.

Feeling like crap sort of put a damper on the evening and once Jim called his mother, the Christmas letter cheerful fictionalist, more wet blanketing occurred. She started telling her son and both of my kids how she was now ready to die, she had nothing left to live for and just wanted to die.

I didn't speak to her, but I could hear her weak frail voice on the phone sitting next to Jim and I'm starting to wonder if she's having either low oxygen levels again, or the common anxiety that strikes the elderly. Since I'm Satan Incarnate to my new sister in law I see no way to ask one of them to take her back to the doctor to check for those possibilities. Jim's going to ask his brother to do that at my insistence. Yeah, we're still doing the whole 'no contact' thing with the sister in law almost a full year later. Better not to feed the whatever she has going on.

One of the things very common in the elderly I observed during my time at the medical clinic was not only dementia, which the Maw In Law clearly has, but this free form floating general anxiety.

Some of the elderly patients had it bad, one lady had it so severely that she was routinely, we're talking every other day or so, in the local ER reporting all sorts of odd things that made zero sense and complaining she was freaking out from stress. A little Ativan injection and she would be sent home. Oddly she refused to take any of the meds the doc prescribed for daily anxiety control. She had a whopping big prescription for the pill form of Ativan and other anti anxiety drugs but it was hell to convince her she needed to take her meds daily.

I'm starting to wonder if my Maw In Law needs a chemical cocktail daily to help with the dementia and attendant anxiety. This is one of the big frustrations of living so far away and not being in the loop of her daily care. Had to push six years ago for them to bring her to a specialist who deals with the special health challenges of the elderly.

But then again I think my mind is starting to go and I'm a good forty years younger than my Maw In Law. Because of my crazy allergies I started making a lot of my own things, like laundry soap, deodorant, and host of other things. I am almost out of soap and decided this morning was perfect for soap making. I crumbled two pounds of raw organic shea butter into my enamel pot I use for crafting, chopped, measured and assembled the other ingredients in preparation of a soap cook. Went to get out my soap molds and.....   realized when I took the empty box down I store them in that I had donated my cheap crappy ugly soap molds to Goodwill last month during that clean, organize and give away we did to lighten up our possessions for our likely overseas move. Yeah, I gave them away.

Guess who just ordered new very nice soap molds from Amazon? Me!

The amusing of the soap making is that Jim saw the shea butter sitting in the pot on the stove and assumed it was butter. He took a taste! I hope it's not toxic.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Christmas Card Conundrum

With all the excitement of being sick, working on packing the house up and now the Christmas letter dramaz I really fell down on two important things I do every single holiday. a) I made no fruitcake and b) I didn't buy, address and stamp my Christmas cards during the Thanksgiving weekend, all ready to send out closer to Christmas.

Even though I took over the official role of family fruitcake maker back 26 years ago after my great aunt died this year I'm skipping the tradition. Too much sugar. Trying to control my blood glucose levels so I can stay low even when I get infections or react to medicines. It's too much of a temptation to taste one's own goodies and have a hefty knock of French brandy every single time you brandy the fruitcakes.

But when I went to get Christmas cards this week I found that either I'm late buying them or most places are not carrying very many. I end up having a very hard time getting cute or funny cards. Since leaving Fundytown I usually get the funniest ones I can find with a cat on them.

Took seven different stores before I found something acceptable. Which leads me to wonder, is Christmas card sending another thing going by the wayside now? Like not making or eating fruitcake, or pagers, or VCR players?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The First Awful Sign of Christmas

Last night and this morning brought the first annual sign that the Christmas season has officially kicked off. No, it was not buying and sending out Christmas cards, or putting up the tree.

It's my Maw In Law's annual Christmas letter, something I've come to dread like a long slow deep root canal.

Don't get me wrong. I love my Maw In Law, she's been great to me through the years and we have always gotten along very well. I happen to loath her hideous bragging ridiculous annual Christmas letter. One year I made fun of it here, listing the real things that had happened in her family and what she said instead.

Her letter has been a problem for me since the first year of marriage because she always manages to anger my parents and my other relatives with what she says, or doesn't say, about my children, me and my husband. I hear about it. I get outraged phone calls from my side of the family ranting about this damn letter, and have to explain again and again that I cannot control or even attempt to control my Maw In Law.

The letter is pretty hypocritical. In the early years of my marriage to her son she would tell me that she thought I was doing the right thing to be primarily a stay at home mom while my kids were young, putting down my career-oriented Fortune 500 company VP sister in law for having a nanny and staff raising the other son's children.

But when the letter would go out it would have lengthy glowing descriptions of my sister in law's awesome career, all the places she, her husband and kids traveled and did. This would be followed by a short sentence mentioning my poor husband and once in a great while mentioning me, but not by name of course and our children.

It was an annual exercise in humiliation. She would say how much she valued the stay at home mothers and their care for their children, but would say just the opposite every year in that letter.

Ten years ago I finally worked up the nerve to tell her how hurt and humiliated her letter made me feel because of the frequent lack of inclusion of my children and I, and the tiny amount she wrote about my husband, her eldest son. She claimed it wasn't on purpose and was better about it, at least for a few years afterward.

But I have just finally moved on past that, I don't give a rip what she does or does not say in those letters. I know they are gift-wrapped bullshit, so when Jim's brother called last night to say that this year's letter was sheerly awful I just laughed, said 'whatever' and left Jim and brother discussing it.

Turns out the Maw In Law got important details wrong about a recent family wedding, only mentioned the bride and the bride, Jim's brother and the hated new sister in law in the letter, skipping the brother's children, other relatives that usually get space on the letter and everyone else on our little Virginia offshoot before adding some rather bizarre paragraphs about our new president elect.

It sounds and reads like the demented ravings of someone with dementia, which isn't surprising considering she is 94 years old.

Jim and his brother do not want the letter going out like that. Jim heavily edited it and then called his mother with his suggestions. She's upset and refusing to budge an inch on changing the letter. I had to point out to my husband that anyone who knows her and reads that letter is going to realize she's not in her right mind and not hold it against her.

Does any of it matter anyway in the long run?

At least it's not an endless recitation of glory and luxury and European vacations while sweeping all the bad stuff just right under the rug.

Here's the thing about these Christmas letters. People that know me, that I care enough to stay in touch with, that genuinely care about me,  know what's going on with me, warts and all. No bragging needed.

The letter that killed me with laughter was the year of Jim's brother's divorce, two of the nieces came out as gay, another relative was indicted for embezzlement on their job, another died of liver cancer and something else bad happened, but somehow my Maw In Law found ways to either spin these things as glorious positives or just ignored what really happen for a sanitized fiction that would have done Hollywood proud.

I'm not saying you should be very negative all the time, but for God's sake, do not gild a turd! As my Cajun great grandmother used to say, and I wish I could remember it in Cajun French - this is a rough translation. You can polish a turd but all you end up with is a shiny turd. You're not fooling anyone. Just write your letter saying you were greatly blessed this year, add a few highlights but nothing over the top bragging and end with wishes for a wonderful holiday season and new year for your recipients.