Crashing

Well, the doctor did tell me to use the walker, at least till I meet with the rehab specialist.  I rang this week and he doesn’t accept my insurance,  However, he will see me at a clinic.  Tom doesn’t like that but we are just going to have to suck it up and go.

I have been unable to go to the gym this week as Tom is on another binge.  Aside from  the fact that the gym and liquor store are in the same center, he’s been too drunk to really go out in public.  It is what it is.  So, as an alternate measure and part of my plan anyway, I have been doing the stair stepper as much as possible.  The  most I’ve reached is 6600 steps, not enough.

So, what I did on Thursday, was lock the room door.  It is the only room in the house with a door.  This allowed me to do some thinking, writing, reading and even watch programs that I like while I did the stepper. I did get a bit wobbly.  Tom spent most of the day passed out.  After 5, I unlocked the door.  Dunno why.  Just did.  And years ago, he did destroy the door so it’s not like it means anything except symbolically.

The last few weeks I have felt myself deteriorating.  Ever optimistic, I have tried to attribute it to the intense stress that I have been under as well as the lack of activity.  In order for me to take control, I took the walker out from behind the door yesterday.  I need to practice with it before I use it outside and frankly, I needed the extra support.  I almost  never use the spectral leg or cane in the house but I guess life is beginning to change.  I struggled not to weep.  How did this ever come to pass? How can I consider this a viable option?

It happens sometime after you become an    adult.  You walk down the street and see a reflection in a window.  Who is that adult that resembles you if you were grown up?  Wait a minute!  It’s you and you are grown up.  The next step is inevitable.  You catch sight of yourself and….  Yes, I see a little, fragile, misshapen old lady.  How the hell did that happen?

It’s after 5 and I felt a bit weakish.  I didn’t have the cane in my tiny room.  I went to sit down and somehow I didn’t sit on the chair correctly, lost my balance and fell.  I fall well but still make all kinds of noises along the way down.  Tom had been passed out in the other room.  He rushed in bloodshot eyes and all.  This man does not wake up well in the best of times.  I was flat on my back on the floor.  There’s an upside to everything.  Due to drunkenness, I had  a bag filled with bags of tea on the floor.  It was supposed to have been taken upstairs and out of the way.  I can no longer go upstairs without help so it was lying there.  Lucky!  My head hit tea instead of the floor.  So there I was.  I wasn’t hurt but couldn’t move.  This is a man with three sisters and I think he might have played with dolls or maybe not because he has no concept of how real limbs work.  I literally can’t sit up.  First order of business is to get me upright.  He pulled but I have no strength at all apparently in my core.  I slid back down.  It took awhile to explain I needed something to hold onto to keep me in a seated position.  We get there.  Next step is get me to stand or into a chair. Ha!  This is when I discovered my right leg  no longer works.  It cannot bend .   I cannot even cry.  Picture this.  Sometimes, I have problems getting out of the tub.  I lift my right leg with my arm.  If it doesn’t stay up, Tom comes in and lifts it for me.   I explained to Tom that we were going to have to do the same action but not in the tub.  He was still fuddled. Back to I do not have doll limbs.  The video would have gone viral.  Somehow, we got both legs bent.  Then  I flipped over like a bug.  Somehow, I managed to pull myself up onto the chair.  Tom stumbled back to bed.

This was a pretty devastating evening.  I knew I had deteriorated but not to this point.  I guess I need to buy one of those I’ve fallen and can’t get up devices.  I am so scared and frightened.  I WILL NOT BE IMMOBILE.  I WILL DANCE AGAIN.   I must be delusional.  The only thing to do is fight harder  Someone just told me today, in another matter, that my persistence paid off.  I guess I need to keep it up.  I am losing strength all around and crashing

Saved by the Web(Spider) and Other Stories from the ‘Hood

Last week, when Tom was in the  hospital, J and L drove me home.  I have two steps up into my home, covered by a metal canopy awning.  When we bought the house, Tom said the awnings would be the first things to go.  We actually love them and want to replace the ones the previous owner removed. However, last week the awning provided the base for the movie spider from Hell and its web.  I looked up and said simply, “F*ck!”  L said, ” I have never heard you use that word.”  Quite an accomplishment, considering I have known her for almost five years.  J, who loves all creatures had to dispatch it.  “Ya know, it’s trapped about 30 insects in the web so it’s doing well.”  Okay, I really don’t mind spiders.  I don’t like being bitten by them.  I dated someone during the Son-of-Sam summer who was terrified of them.  That fear, coupled with Son-of-Sam, led to minimal groping.  And yes, when I was at camp, I used to bring daddy longlegs into the tent for their mosquito killing abilities.  Natural insect repellant.

When I was married to my first husband, I was growing my hair out because I couldn’t afford to cut it.  I was reading the latest Patricia Cornwall in the tub.  A brown thing dangled by my eye.  Oh, my hair has fallen down. NO!!  Big, hairy movie spider.  Cornwall in tub.  Me screaming.  First husband, deaf and detached.  Reasons to leave, Part 1.

So, J wouldn’t kill it.  I agree.  It’s hard to kill things with bodies.  He captured it and moved it to the end of the yard in the petunias.

Yesterday morning around 1:40  a.m.  I got up to go to the bathroom, not my usual hour.  Tom gets up too as he is nervous about my walking to and from the loo. With this condition, I have been known to stagger, stumble and fall.  He looked  out the front door panels.  “There are cop cars all over.”  Indeed, there were.  There are only three occupied houses on this little block.  Police seemed to be swarming  all over a car parked on the street across from us.  The fellow across the street came out onto his porch.  This is odd.  He and Tom are always being arrested. Their normal reaction to police are flee and/or hide.   His house was surrounded by SWAT teams  a few years back.  We never really got to the bottom of that story.  Then a K9 arrived.  I was in the bedroom trying to stay in a good place to sleep but falling into the urge and peeking at the security cameras through the phone.  The next thing was I saw and heard the police by my bedroom window on the side of the house.  There was a pounding on the door. The huge spider had returned  with a huge web!  We clearly had not been in or out of the house.  Saved by the web.  And kind of amusing to know that Timmy wasn’t the only tough guy scared of spiders.   The police wanted to know if we knew anything about the car parked across the street as 4 men had been reported going into the car lot.  And what about our car in the driveway.  Uh, it’s ours?  One of the reasons we are camera’d up is the amount of flats I was getting in the driveway any time we complained about the car lot (with massage parlor). I was livid at this latest police involvement.  I have called before in the early morning hours when Tom has been out of control, trying to get into the house when I have had a refrain from order.  There were no dogs or multiple cars. I have called and he has jumped the fence into the woods.  No dogs.  Finally, we heard barking.  Four young men were lined up by our mail box.  They  were let go with what appeared to be a ticket.

Now, this played havoc with chief inspector Kitty Bardot.  She  has bad associations with police cars at the  house at night.  Last time they were  here, she ran out and was lost for months.  She survived Hurricane Sandy and the blizzard following it.   The vet said she   would only have survived another night or so, if we hadn’t caught her.  Kitty Bardot was scared.  Upshot? She threw up on my black silk Chinese robe.  Yuck.

It’s getting cooler now in the morning and I needed that robe.  I remembered I had a short, white silk embroidered Chinese robe from Hong Kong in the closet.  My boss at my first fashion job had brought it back for me years ago. She said she thought of me when she saw it, that I was a sexy, little thing.  Ha!  Back to that “little” thing again.  Never thought of myself as little, sexy perhaps, but never little.  And true to family tradition, I have almost never worn it.  Of course, it still fit.  The silk was so much softer and more luxe than I remembered.  Where did that girl ever get to?

And now I can barely walk.  Being sexy is the last thing that matters to me.  And how would I have coped with police around the house? Or spiders? And I worry.  There are always people coming and going from the car lot, at all hours and all days.  I know the owner discounts me because I am a woman and can’t walk living with a drunk.  And I am being  exposed to people who see my weaknesses.  I HATE  being thought of as weak.

I’m gonna depend on those spiders, for now.

Lucky 13

 

Yesterday was my 13th wedding anniversary.  I was in the hospital with Tom from 7:30 a.m. till 8:30 at night.  Our original plan had been to drive out East and either have a nice lunch out there or cash in on a restaurant card the kids gave us for Christmas.  Instead, Tom’s been in the hospital since Monday afternoon.

We had no idea thirteen years ago that this is where we’d be. We said our vows in front of a justice of the peace who knew me from volunteer work.  She gave me a lecture on how she disagreed with the public policy  position of the organization.  Then we did our vows.  It included something along the lines of in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, better or worse.  Of course, we said Yes.  Who really understands what that means? Well, we were older so we were not dewy eyed innocents.  We knew that life would hold challenges.

13 years is a not a long time in the scheme of things but we have really beaten up those vows; each and every one of them.

Life with both of us has been challenging.  He has supported me through the death of both of my parents; the dissolution of my childhood home; the loss of three jobs and of course, my continuing physical deterioration.

On his side, his rampant and destructive alcoholism; cancer; hernia and now this cardiac situation.

Monday, we went to the ER for what we thought would be a meds adjustment and maybe Valium.  Instead, a four day hospital stay with two procedures.  Yesterday morning he had a tee.  A scope was put down his throat to see if there were any clots in his lungs that could dislodge.  He came out of that one convinced he was vacuuming the car. Indeed, when he was released today, one of the first things he has done is vacuum!  Lucky me, I have a house husband. In the afternoon, he had a cardiac ablation. Fun for anniversary.

Truth be told, I don’t hold much with anniversaries.  He is the sentimental one.

I never wanted to have my parents’ lives.  Joke’s on me.  I do.  I was so frightened this week.  Normally, I am your best person in an emergency and I still was calm and collected for everyone.  Here’s the thing – when my father died suddenly and unexpectedly, my mother kept on saying “Daddy had a really good omelet for breakfast.”  Well, you know how they say things about your parents’ deaths stick with you?  Sunday night, we had had the best dinner with Justin and Lisa – good food, laughter, conversations.  My mind kept on howling – just like Daddy.

Another way in which I am the same is hiding things.  I am a firm believer in transparency as my parents withheld information on my grandmother’s health.  I never trusted them again.  I share medical details about me and T to his kids.  We found out after my father died how the two of them conspired to shield us about my mother’s condition.  She had dementia.  I found we have done the same with my walking.  It’s not as if they don’t know I have difficulties but in the house I usually don’t wear the spectral leg or use a cane.  On the few occasions we have been out, they know I walk arm in arm with their Dad.  They had no idea how much difficulties I have getting in and  out of the house.  Of course, when I am stressed I am worse.  I have started to have problems with my hands.  I needed help buckling my seatbelt.  Everyone was great to me but I realized how much we have been dissembling.

As you know I was seriously contemplating divorce earlier this year.  Financial considerations stopped me. He thought I couldn’t do it because I literally couldn’t live without  him.  He ties my shoes, fixes my hair, helps with zippers and buttons.  As they say, “needs must”.  I put on my own shoes, dressed and undressed myself and did my hair.  Fed the cats, cleaned their litter. I can do it.  I did not fall.  Stumbled a few times but no falls.  So what if it took me ten minutes to put on my macrame sandals and spectral leg and it involved bent paper clips and pliers!  Don’t ask.

I know I am a control freak.  I acknowledge that one of  the reasons I married him was when he was in trouble I wanted legal standing.  I was never one of those girls with wedding plans. I used to dream of a house and children but no man.  I used to be told it couldn’t be done.  I am a boomer which explains the attitude.

This week made me realize that even though I can be on my own, I don’t want to be right now.  Pondering how we really did do our vows.  There’s work ahead.  There is a lot of pain and anger on each side.

 

Third Wheelchair Ride

This is beginning to be so unfunny.

My husband gives platelets regularly.  He has a high platelet count and is a universal donor.  He does it just because and has only used his accrued point one time to get a fleece that advertises the Blood Center.  H e went  mid July but they couldn’t do it as his blood pressure and pulse were too  high. H e’d had a steak dinner the night before and had taken his blood pressure meds too late.  Two weeks ago, his pressure was alright but his pulse was still high.  We started to monitor it but it didn’t go down.  In the middle of the night he told me his heart was racing.  I made him call the doctor yesterday and she said ER.  We called urgent care, same answer ER.

We went.  By the time, we arrived, parked and he helped me struggle over, his BP and pulse were catastrophic.  Of course, I walked for crap because I was so nervous.  Now going to the ER here is not a new experience for me.  My first time was 11 years ago, when Justin’s SUV was totaled.  He called to say that the driver’s side was destroyed.  OMG! You weren’t driving?  No, when I saw the truck coming at me, I jumped into the passenger side.  I had to take that call as Tom went completely white.  So, the evil stepmother, aka me, insisted on ER.  He walked out but ended up there 2 days later anyway.

My next visit was 7 or 8 years ago.  I had a restraining order against him for drinking and he was seriously out of control.  I locked him out and he went to his sister’s.  He wanted help but was drinking even more there.  I walked out of work in NYC, dragged him into the car, held onto him as he tried to jump out while it was moving and dragged him into ER.  I can’t remember his blood level alcohol at the time except that it was astronomical.  There was a warrant out for his arrest but he was able to get into rehab.  It was not successful.  Other visits ensued.  One time, they had to guard him and put him in restraints.  Another time, I just checked him in and left.  Twice, after his cancer operation, I had to take him to Stony Brook ER.

All of these times, I wasn’t scared.  Ok, 2nd Stony Brook ER, I was.  However, throughout all of these and his cancer operation and his hernia operation, I worked.  I had that laptop and kept on going.      I can be a monster in that regard.  We needed the money and I needed the distraction.

The difference last night was that he was conscious and aware.  I wasn’t working either.  The other times, we pretty much knew what was wrong.  Last night they did not.  And before, I could always walk.

Alright, for his hernia operation in 2015, my brother-in-law helped.  At the hospital, they thought I was the patient.  A friend of mine was in the ER a few weeks ago and again, everyone thought I was the patient.  Last night, they gave him the visitor pass.

They announced at 7 pm that all family members/visitors had to leave the ER.  This was going to be extremely difficult for me.  I knew I couldn’t make it to the car at all by myself.  They told me they could not release him.  We thought someone could just give me their arm and I would go and wait for Justin.  No Security was  hell bent on getting me out of there.  They provided a wheelchair even though I explained I had only been in one twice before.  The guard even asked me if I could move my feet.  Uh, that is the problem.  I protested as I didn’t want Justin to see me like that.  The guard literally left me in the waiting room.  Luckily, I was able to navigate out of the chair just before the kids came.

They took me home.  I am appalled at my deterioration.

Apparently, Tom may be operated on today. It’s a simple procedure.  At least, that’s what they tell me.  Hopefully, I will be able to get help there and back.

I am so scared this time.

Tomorrow is our 13th wedding  anniversary,  Recently, I was contemplating life without him.  I realize that no longer is an option.

 

June/July 2016 Check In

goofed.  I started this in the first few days of June and then stopped.  I have been blue, angry and pre-occupied.  It should be easier not working to be timely and thorough but somehow it’s not.  I am looking for the spark and the peace that seem to have disappeared.

Wow, I was checking my records and saw that last year I was interviewing and bombing out. too!

How did I feel this past Month?

Still blue.  There was no activity at all job wise.  This is depressing .  I also feel my health deteriorating.  I am not sure if this is a symptom.   The WEDDING  looms.  My stepson is getting married and it’s just going to be ugly on all kinds of levels.  And I continued to be blue through June also although jobs picked up.  I interviewed at three companies in two days and came up empty.  I was reminded I have a major reunion coming up next year.  I want to be able to walk and don’t see that happening.  My friends are retiring and/or having grandchildren so I am fighting regrets.

What did you do for yourself this month?

In May, I  did attend a professional association event.  I was surprised that I liked it.  Goes to show that sometimes you have to let go of assumptions. I also realized  that I had let part of my life go.  I have been  isolated.  I did sign up for two events back to back in June and then didn’t go.  The first one was for a cocktail party at a professional association. It was at a golf club.  The last time I was there was over 20 years ago in a blizzard.  The late Joebe had a DUI conviction and was finishing community service there. It’s beautiful, wooded and slightly hilly.  It was not fun driving his Camarro.   At the last moment last month, T decided to come with me and sit in the car as he thought due to said hilliness, I might need assistance getting in.  It was a beautiful evening with bad directions.  When we finally found the clubhouse there was only valet parking or far parking. I  would have been shot by the time I walked in so we left.  The next night was another professional event but I wimped out as it was rush hour and the Long Island Expressway.  I grew up with parents who had a terror of the expressway.  I have been working through  it but not at my strongest.

Trying to get back in touch with my creativity but feel too cluttered.

What did I eat this month  and how did it make me feel

Still doing my Smoothies.  Cheating a bit on good eating but getting back into it.  When I eat well, I feel well.  When I am blue it just falls apart.

Did I exercise?  What did I do?  How did it feel

The gym has become my new happy place.  However due to blistering in my two day three company interview marathon, I am hurt and can’t wear shoes.  I lost the gym for over 10 days.  I went two days and reinjured my foot.  I am weaker.  It’s a vicious cycle.

For whom or what are you grateful?  What matters most in life?

I am grateful that I am still hobbling along.  I am grateful that despite not working the mortgage is paid and we can eat.  My stepsons came through for me in an awesome way with the blisters.  I am told and shown, I am loved.

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement

No mission statement as usual.  I’ll co opt what I tell my little “elves”- spread joy, do good.

Conventional medicine  Still just Ampyra and Baclufen. I am looking forward to Opera in the fall.  I have just been told about Colostrum and am thinking about giving it a whirl.

Symptoms – Ah, the Raynaoud’s.  The doctor was quackery so I am just coping on my own. Getting weaker in my hands.  My balance may be getting minimally better.

What symptoms are most troublesome  – Independence and mobility.  Hands not working

Do I blame myself for things – Yes, I am still believing it’s food, stress and exercise.

How is stress level?  Very bad.  I think I have reached my limit.  Not working is impacting me on all levels.  I have an enormous amount of anger which I don’t like.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?

Think I am going to get a “tune up” with a therapist.  Amp up the physical therapy, exercise and right eating.

Why I Didn’t Go to the Gym Yesterday

I had every intention of going to the gym yesterday.  I am encouraged that my doctor found that I am a little bit stronger and a little bit faster.  I need to leverage that.  And since I am not employed, I have been losing ground.  Yes, it’s nice not to have to struggle through Grand Central, Times Square and Penn Station on a daily basis.  But easily having 7500 – 10,000 plus steps a day is a benefit to someone like me.

My Jawbone Up tracker has not been working so I have been unable to get a real reading on what I have been doing.  I splurged on a Fitbit Alta.  I am eager to see how that goes.

Also, last week I started adding in the stationery bike on my doctor’s advice.

I like to go around 2 o’clock.  It’s all the old people.  It’s fairly empty and relatively quiet.

As I may have mentioned, we have been having issues with the used car lot that sprung up next to my house and the town.  We have been at odds for three years. The car lot does thing illegally and then the town makes it alright.  In recent weeks they cut down a beautiful old oak tree on the edge of our property on Easter Saturday claiming alternately that it was diseased NOT or that the town required it – not according to the last official meeting.  The last time we called the town, the owner was literally pounding on our door within 20 minutes.  The lot’s MO is to start work on a weekend when Town Hall is closed.  Last weekend they started the fence.  We are supposed to have an 8 foot PVC fence.  Sunday morning someone came up and pounded on the door. Again, we will not open our door.  Most of the fence posts were removed.  Tom goes out yesterday morning to take pictures.  We want a dated history of what goes on.  There’s a guy we believe to be the manager over there.  He comes charging over and tells Tom he can’t take pictures.  I hear the yelling and screaming and come out with phone and start taping.  End of story.    Tom is very upset over the threats.  It’s two old fat guys hurling insults at each other.

Tom always helps me from the house to the car and makes sure I get off OK.  I start to drive off and car lot guy comes into the road and blocks me AGAIN!   He wants to talk about the morning’s “disagreement”  and how he wants to make me happy.  I pull out phone and start voice and video as I have expressed to town everything must now be in writing.  We are talking about a Town Hall that is literally across the street from massage parlors!  Tom sees Rob at the car and thinks I am being threatened.  Ah, male testosterone.  I may be older and have mobility issues but I can mostly take care of myself.  Situation devolves.  I must say Tom is being surprisingly cool.  No mistakes, it’s loud.  Rob snaps and I have him on tape saying let’s go of camera and have this out.  And something about beating his f**king face in. Excuse me?  At this point to my surprise, Tom says I am old and sick and not doing this.  Rob starts to yell, and again, I have this on tape, that Tom is a drunk and the only one he beats up is me.  If you have been reading me or know me, you know that we have had problems but he has never, ever beat me.  Seriously?  Has everyone lost their minds?  And how does Rob know any of this?  At the last public meeting, he told the town that Tom shouldn’t be allowed to speak as he was legally not allowed to be in my house. NOT!!  Yes, there had been an order that was quickly rescinded three years ago.

Tom starts to go back in the house and now manager charges over onto my property followed by some other car lot guys and threatening Tom.  I call out “Get off of my property, I am calling 911.”  Which I do.  911  operator has a hard time because of all the screaming going on but they all realize I am on phone with 911 and by end of call, they are back in lot.

Now, I can’t go to gym because I have to wait for police.  And we have had previous situation with someone with drugs and alcohol passed out across my driveway.  Car lot knew him and have hooks with police.  Very nervous at this point.  Tom is not drinking.  There is an order that he can’t but neither of trust the car lot people or the police.  I can’t file the complaint the cop says because I wasn’t the one who was threatened.  I do have a report.  We will see what it says.  After numerous flats in my driveway, I tried to file a report at the precinct because I felt it was connected to the massage parlor that used to be in the lot.  The precinct translated that one into a message store.

Meanwhile, Tom keeps going off about what he’s going to do. Not restful.

So, no gym and my stress level is through the roof which means my legs are shot.

I am going to try again today.  I refuse to be a victim.   Outside eyes may see me as over 50, frail with limited mobility but that is not who I am.

Convergence, Synergy, Serendipity

I have been out of work for four months.  What a strange phrase to use.  Let’s rephrase:  I have not been paid or going to an employer for four months.  Work is continual and takes different forms.

I was/am beginning to feel a little despair, desperation.

I have always believed things happen for a reason.

I also have wanted to take this time to clear up around the house.  I had let everything go when  I had a job.  Plus, I have hoarding tendencies.  I literally took everything off the top of my desk.   I found a little pamphlet that a friend gave me about 25 years ago.  I did warn you.  The pamphlet was an abridged “The Power of Positive Thinking”.  My parents had the book.  I can picture it in the bookcase at the top of the stairs.  As they aged, they moved things and got rid of things.  I don’t know that is a book I ever would have kept.  I never cracked its spine when I was growing up.  But now, I found this little pamphlet and threw it in my bag when I was going into NYC for an interview.  I started to read it.  Last time I was without work and my first marriage was breaking up and I was probably clinically depressed, my mother typed up a prayer for me.  It helped enormously.  There it was in the pamphlet!  A good sign.  The pamphlet was making sense to me.  I do have a deep faith sometimes.  Sometimes, as is natural, it wavers.  I also read and am a huge fan of Julia Cameron – Good Orderly Direction.  There you go and I am off to the races.

Next event:  I am in the car and hear the beginning of an interview with Marlon James, the first Jamaican to win the Booker prize.  I am half Jamaican and read Caribbean literature at uni.  I dabble in it from time to time but had stopped.  So I decide to get the book from the library.  Of course, I don’t remember its name.  When I do the library search, other West Indian novelists show up.  I order some Colin Chaner.

I was a student of Earl Lovelace’s years ago.  I had no idea who he was until 10 years or so, maybe even closer, a friend of mine mentioned him.  I immediately read him and adored it.  His writing was never mentioned or touted at school.  He only taught for a year.   I just found out that a book of his came out to serious acclaim a year after I studied with him.  No one said anything at school.  In retrospect, I wonder.  Was it racial?  Or was it “intellectual”?  This was a department that touted Coover and McElroy.  I decide let me read some more Lovelace.  Another library search.  Ha, there is a book on Lovelace and Caribbean literature on Goodreads.  The library doesn’t have it.  I go to Amazon.  Well, I am not working so I can’t buy it but I will.  I read the blurb and information on the author.  I call my friend and tell her I should have written that book.  I could have written that.

Onto next topic.  Since I have been at home, I have realized that somewhere along the line, I stepped off my life.  I had older women friends that believed I could and would run a major US corporation!  That had not been my interest for years.  When I was much younger, I had had three major ambitions.  First, right out of high school, I wanted to be the next Henry Kissinger.  Then, I wanted to be the next Calvin Klein.  I had a therapist point out that I wanted to be men.  It never crossed my mind.  It was the position, not the gender.  Last, I wanted to be either president of Macy’s or Saks.  I am not aggressive enough and lost that dream.  Still corporately, I was chasing that vice presidency.  I started the job that just ended,  in 2000.  I knew I wasn’t going to stay there.  Ha!  I was there 15 years.  I stopped and stepped off.  I can’t figure out the complete why.  Yes, my parents died. My father’s death left me responsible for my mother.  She had dementia.  I severed relations with my brother.  I married.  He’s an alcoholic but presently in recovery.  That was pure, utter living hell. And I developed this condition.  Ok, I guess putting it down on paper, it’s enough to derail most people.  But like my mother used to say, “Is your name everyone else?”

Next, there’s an annual short story competition that I have submitted to in the past.  Three years ago, the topic was complicated families.  I was excited and drafted an outline of related stories.  I had a central piece firmly in mind.  Work intervened and I put it aside.

Full disclosure:  my father was a writer.  I was always intimidated to write in front of him as it were.  He was very critical.  When he was older I used to take him to the Edgars, the mystery writing Oscars.  It was always filled with “auteurs”.  People always questioned me on what I was writing, shop talk.  At the last one we attended the year he died, we spoke about it.  He knew I wrote at home and wanted to know what was going on.  I told him that I really didn’t think I was going to do anything till he was gone.  He told me to write and write now.  It was the greatest gift he gave me.  However, he died a few months later and it sort of sucked everything out of me.

So, I am home, not going into work and I am going to finish this complicated family 750 word story and I can’t.  I am blocked.  I do not like the way I am writing.  I call my friend and she suggests I write around it.  I am cleaning and praying (due to the Power of Positive thinking).

Next, a friend from high school is also clearing and comes across her journals where my name is mentioned.  I tell her you must be in mine, too.  I pull them out but can’t touch them.  Two weeks ago or so, I am writing in my current journal and my husband questions me about the whole concept. I pull one of the high school ones off the night table.  An unfinished letter to this very woman falls out.  Queue the Twilight Zone music.  I start flipping through this decades old book.  I find writing that is excellent and then realize it was mine!  Talk about squandering gifts.  It is disturbing to me.

Next:  Plan B.  As I was doing this clear out, I came across folders stuffed with my old writing.  I decide I will type or retype this material.  This will put it in a more stable format than yellowing, crumpled sheets and may rekindle writing. Now, over the past few years, I have  been talking to my friend about the great Carib- American novel and we have also discussed themes of the immigrant experience, what you take, what you leave, what you bring back.  Yesterday, I reach into the drawer to start my project .  I am stunned.  It is the “great Caribbean-American” novel, outlined and with some pages!  The ideas are outlined in some detail.    I have no recollection of starting this. I don’t remember writing this at all.  It is decades ago.  It’s not bad, in fact parts of it are good!

The universe has sent me a clear message. It’s time to write.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Good question.

Right after Thanksgiving, my husband called out to me to come look out the front window.  “There’s something odd out here.  I think it’s a turkey.”

“Really?”  asks I.  This is a man who has had issues in the past. So I gimp out to the front.  I see nothing.  This is not unusual.  I was the child who always finally agreed that she finally saw the constellation or the bride coming out the church door rather than enduring “See?  See?”   I did see JFK on the Belt Parkway though. I am not quick.

“no, no, don’t you see that black thing.”

And there against the fence across the street was a black chicken.

And then, the chicken crossed the road!  Please understand, we live in a suburban area.  The bane of our existence is a used car lot next door to us that houses a massage parlor from time to time.  Across the street on the corner is a former gambling hall.  I was reading news headlines one day at work that the newly discovered bomb plot by either the Gambinos or the Gallos was directed at that building.  The Feds closed that one down.  And wait for it; we had prostitution there, too!  The house that the chicken bolted from we refer to as Sandford and Son.  A  seriously collects junk when he is not “away”.  Also, think from time to time, “junk” is sold from there.  Uh, cars pulling up with engines running and people running in and out?  And the SWAT team was literally there about three years ago.  Police frequent the house (more on that later).  Sometimes, on a weekend we have copter hovering over and doing a sweep.  No, it wasn’t like this when we moved in and who would want to buy this?

Back to the chicken who has crossed the road and is now in our yard.  Now besides the organized and unorganized crime, we also have woods behind us.  So, we have  a fox, opossums, feral cats,  huge raccoons and dogs.  T says “Do you think it belongs across the road?”  It crosses the road and is pecking at the fence.   “yes, why not?”

“Do you think I should go over and tell A?”

Me:  “Yes, I do not want to wake to chicken guts on the front step.”  We feed the ferals and as a consequence birds, raccoons, Fox and possums.  “We do not need to provide gourmet treats for the ‘hood.”

T trundles over and is gone for awhile.

A admits chicken ownership and is stunned that chicken crossed the road.  He has more than one.  It’s a menagerie over there.  In addition to the pitbull that pinned me in the car one day, there is a cat that we feed.  We call him AC for A’s cat.  We discovered this one afternoon when T & A were talking and AC strolled up and ate the food we leave for him.  A says “Oh, my cat never eats dry food at home!”  Uh, why should he, when he eats with us?  There is a macaw and a little dog, too.

So chicken custody determined, the guys begin to chat.  A discloses he’s on probation for DV.  Coincidence!  T just finished.  I did say more on the police later.  If you have been reading me for awhile you may believe that T is a devoted and caring spouse.  He is when he is not drinking.  He’s an alcoholic.  He is not allowed to drink in front of me.  Easier said than done, no?  So, he has been arrested here about 16 times, no joke.  This means police have been here at least 20!  It’s a small block, hidden away.  No one really knows how to get here except for the precinct.  In fact, one night they were over and asked, “Weren’t we here earlier today?”  No, they were across the street.  Fair disclaimer, T ended up in DV because they couldn’t get him on alcohol any other way.  An ADA even told me once, if we could get him in a car.  He has no license so that’s a non-starter.  The DV is the alcoholism.  It distorts people.  The cops who constantly arrested him realized that when sober, he is wonderful.  Over the years, they have liked the work he has done on the house.  “Wow, you redid the floor!”  We have an almost cordial relationship with them.  And we have been to court so often that we are personally greeted, and people look to me for advice.  Luckily, that is all over.

T was on probation for three years and concluded it successfully.  So, he is in a position to advise A and was giving him helpful hints and tips.  We believe it will be the same PO that T had. The first time she came over the house was just after dinner with the kids.  In fact, when there was a knock on the door, we thought one of them had forgotten something.  I had made stuffed pork chops and used rice wine in the stuffing and had sprinkled it because it was dry.  They breathed him and said he was positive.  We later learned that the amount would not have been recognized if he had been driving.  We didn’t know and were terrorized.  They told me that me or the kids would not know if he had been drinking.  So, not right.  We always know.  We have lived with it. And as I said at the time did they really think that having had him arrested so many times I would tolerate it and not call? I was told I could no longer use cooking wine and they made me dump my almost full bottle out.  Then they trashed my house searching for drugs and alcohol.  When they went through my mother’s antique petit-point purse, I lost it.    We have a tortoise shell cat that we took in from outside.  Of course, the cats are freaking out with these strange, hostile people in the house.  Miss Mollie runs out to hide someplace else.  Officer N shouts, “Is that a raccoon?”

Their home visits were fine after that except for the time they came after 10 p.m. when I was getting up at 4 a.m.  They have come over when we have been drinking coffee on a Saturday afternoon or making Easter chocolates!  And we  had no luck coaching Miss Mollie on how to be a raccoon.

Let’s be clear.   I never considered myself a victim, ever.  I called precinct so that I would not be.  Everyone wanted to fit me into a mold just like they do with this disease/condition.  When I work,  I make very good money so I am not dependent on a man.  The house is mine so I can’t be thrown out of it.  I was always being offered help to get a job and find housing.  Where I did feel like a victim was in the hands of probation.  Even though T doesn’t drive or work, he had to be at places that are very difficult to get to without a car.  There were also huge fees that in essence I was hostage to pay.  I was always told I didn’t have to and he would be jailed.  Does this make sense?  I was told I could give him the cash (they only accept cash) and transportation cash.  Uh, especially in the beginning, money was a trigger!  The situation is designed for people to fail and generate revenue for the county.  We had to discontinue our marriage counseling as we were told it was not allowed.  The program he was in was ridiculous and meaningless, no curriculum.  He was told if it was up to them he would not be allowed to live with me.  The people in his “class” terrified both of us.  There was the guy who had thrown his girlfriend out of the car when it was moving and one who said when accused of choking his girlfriend ” But I stopped when she turned blue!”  T successfully concluded the program.

I refuse to be considered a victim with my condition either. I will not conform to people’s expectations.  The child is father of the man.  My mother used to tell me that I conformed to non-conformity.  It’s turned out to be a good thing.  I don’t buy into the whole incurable thing.  As I have said before, I am not going to tout the advantages and delights of motorized scooters.  I hate the spectral leg.  I hate orthopedic looking shoes.  I use funky walking sticks.  And no, I am not going to apply for disability.  I do not walk well.  I am not disabled.  I am able just not as able in certain areas.  By the way when I am working I literally walk or stumble more than the average American! Yes, 8 – 12,000 steps a day.

So, husband is  giving A advice.  This is going to be interesting as I believe she is not as strong as I am and there is a language barrier as well.  And we believe  it will be the same P.O.s that used to come to us.  We would love to be a fly on the wall as they experience the menagerie, chickens included.

Why did the chicken cross the road?  Goes to show that we are more connected than we think.  And the chicken keeps on crossing the road.

 

Lotteries and Windfalls

As with many people in the US a few weeks ago, we caught Lotto fever.  Over 1 billion is worth a flutter.  Overall, I am opposed to the lottery.  Originally in New York it was supposed to fund schools.  Really?  And look at the schools in Detroit.  But enough of that.

We bought a few dollars worth of tickets and began to speculate.  What would we do?  Husband announces that first thing we get the absolutely best doctor in the world for what we call MC (my condition).  Ok, you may say I am in denial but it works for me.  Everyone is different.  And after that we would buy a nice house.  We would pay off the one we currently live in.  I must paraphrase Hyacinth Bucket a.k.a Bouquet – the house that is now next to the used car lot with the massage parlor.  The parlor or message store as the police referred to it in a report I made after I had another flat in my driveway is temporarily gone.  Funny enough, as soon as we returned from police, the big sign in the front was gone.  Do I need to say more?

Then after a house for us, one for each of the boys and husband’s sister.  And then?  Well, lots to real charity.  In fact, the other night there was something on the news about local people being displaced and renovations  would have run a few million dollars.   Husband said, “We could have done that in a heartbeat if we had won.”  Well, we didn’t.

Recently, I have undergone significant financial reversals.  No, not the stock markets.  More along the line of no income.  It appears that hopefully after all the belt tightening, this is about to change.  As I anticipate this, another list to make.  Late last summer, a man who saw me commuting, pulled up his pants (nothing lewd here) and showed me a device on his leg.  He thought we had the same condition.  It’s a Walkaid and there’s also another product called Bioness.  They cost a few thousand.  We didn’t have any money when we spoke to the doctor about it and she said it might give me the same results as the Ampyra or it might be better.  It tops my new wish list.  I had to cut back on my traditional donations.  I was an officer at a bank years ago.  One of the first things I did when I received it was write checks to my favorite charities,  My co-worker thought I was odd but it used to give me a kick, almost as good as sex, more like a deep kiss.  Donations to AAUW’s Legal Advocacy fund and the County domestic violence unit.  My two favorites.

So what else have I been thinking about and missing?  Well, as I have said before clothing is my life.  Therefore, I shop.  I love the air in stores, the undercurrent, the lust.  It energizes me.  I remember being in Paris once hungry and tired but in track of a shop I had heard about.  I found it and revived like a flower in water.  Due to my own personal economic downturn I haven’t been able to do it for ages.  I am surprised.  This situation has made me less materialistic.  Clothes and cosmetics aren’t really part of this list. When I received word that things were going to be ok, I admit to flipping through a Smithsonian sales catalog and seeing some Christmas necklaces that would be wonderful for my elves next year.

So what else is on the list?  I want a car.  I wanted one for my milestone birthday.  And not just any car, a “luxury” car.  I am known for saying carwise I am OK with a box, wheels and a radio.  I certainly do not see a car as a reflection of who I am.  My ex-husband and my brother always derided me for that.  I wanna Buick, like the commercial.  It’s cute.  My brother-in-law who is amazing with dealers and dollars couldn’t make it work for me.  The car represents getting something for me and for once not settling.  That’s what it’s about.

This is what I have learned during this setback, downturn, whatever you want to call it.  I no longer want to settle. Not in terms of what I do for a living, not in terms of a car, not in terms of my health.  Oh, right after car on my list I have sliders for Zumba for my sneakers and a personal trainer.

It’s been a huge lesson and one way or another, in my mind, I have won my lottery.

Politics, Friendship, and Mortality

I just found out a few hours ago that one of my childhood friends passed away in his sleep last night.  Losing anyone so young is hard.  Well young is relative but I still feel relatively young and as my former sister-in-law said earlier this year “anyone dying before 80 is young.”

So, my mother worked with his father and we grew up on the same street.  His dad drank heavily and so did he but that’s what we did then.  He transferred in high school to an exclusive Catholic high.  I went to college with 6 boys from that school.  They told me that his drinking so disgusted them that they themselves threw him off the bus.  We used to drink at the same bar in our late teens and early twenties.

A memory – the New Year’s Eve  I was 21, I ended up at a party at his house with my two best friends.  The other Tress(same name) and I had dates.  Let’s put it this way, she was going out with Donnie and when I was around we used to double with his best friend who was called Hoppy, seriously.  He was far from hoppy but around 6 foot something and a solid 200 pounds plus.  He was a time filler for me.  Our other friend was just along for the ride.  Our original plan was to have a sleepover at my parents and then the guys came up with this party plan.  Somehow towards the end of the evening we ended up at J’s house.  His parents were there and some others too.  Not mine; not only did they no longer go out on New Years anymore but my mother didn’t like his father – read heavy drinker.  And it must have been very heavy as the first time I was drunk in public  was at her boss’s home(same company)  when I was around 16.  Different era, different mores.  Anyway,  Hoppy takes me over to his parents “Ma, Dad, this is the girl I have been telling you about.”  Big shock to me.  I don’t, didn’t do relationships, especially at that age.  So I am doing the drunken nice girl chat with parents and when I get away, M,  my other friend is in Hoppy’s lap, cooing to him “I want it and want it now.”  Different era, stumbled out of the house and walked the two long blocks home including one block that was a ballfield.  And it was a four lane road opposite parkway woods and a parkway.  A drunk 20-something couldn’t do that now.  Went into the house and my parents called out and asked where everyone else was.  The other Tress is with Donnie at J’s house and M?  M is f*cking her brains out with Hoppy”  Now you have to understand that was a big evil word then and I am known for not using “bad” words.  Upshot?  Parents yell at me for the profanity and M  comes in much later.  The other Tress never spoke to her again.  I am more forgiving but have to admit that I saw her in the subway 20 years ago or so and she was completely grey! Revenge is a dish best served cold.

At that point in time,  J was getting his life back together.  We used to hang in the same bar and have drinks. He was working at the local grocery store stocking frozen food.  He was going back to school.  He was very, very smart.  We had always been in the advanced class.  Then he said he made a girl pregnant that he didn’t even really like (it may have been the alcohol talking) and that was it.

Fast forward years and the advent of FB.  He was mad crazy about his grandson and was a successful guy.  Our high school always has a picnic and three years ago, I went.  Topic for another day.  There’s a candid shot of the two of us jabbering away.

 

But and there is always a but, he was far right and I am far left.  I grew up in Levittown and far right is the way most people lean but back in the day things didn’t seem as absolute.  I always knew that my views were not held by most.  J and I had a teacher in 7th grade who on reflection probably was in the John Birch society.  I vaguely reflect an argument over my not saying the Pledge of Allegiance with J.  Still, see above, we drank together.  However, I just couldn’t take it on FB.  As we and society have aged, we have become more polarized.  I hate hate speech.  Uh, yeah Levittown – 99.6 or 99.7 white when I was growing up.  I was at a high school dinner in Levittown a few summers ago and they were talking about how Nixon was right with Watergate not ‘Nam but Watergate.  Put Obama into the picture and just imagine.  I have only unfriended one person on FB and it was another elementary school onwards person with racist hate.  So, I hid J.  I only saw innocuous likes.

I knew he had moved back onto the Island from a neighboring state.  Today,  I see that he was right here in my town.  He was truly a part of my growing up.  Because I hid him, I didn’t know.  We could have and should have been able to move beyond politics to that common childhood.

When did we as a society become so divisive?  I recently read that people are deciding where to move based on the overall political makeup of an area.  What happened to us?  Where is the veneer of tolerance?  Fake it till ya make it works sometimes.  We are cutting off discourse and therefore growth.  I am guilty.  I am thinking of what I missed the last few years by cutting J off.  It makes this loss huger.

We don’t know what Fate holds for us, why waste time.

I mourn for J and for missteps.

Carpe Diem.  RIP J and I’ll be lifting a glass to Auld Lang Syne.