“My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression.” ~ Philip K. Dick

Highland Ancient Arch 

                   

“I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had.” ~ Margaret Mead 

Sunday afternoon. Mid 60’s, sunny.

Stone Arch, Ayshire, Scotland (Pixdaus)

I had wanted to write yesterday, but I kept putting it off because I just couldn’t muster the energy. Eventually I found out that Corey had spiked my coffee with unleaded. Crap. Apparently, I have a caffeine addiction, and the neurologist I consulted this past week wants me to get caffeine out of my diet as she believes that it is the primary cause for my daily headaches.

No caffeine? Seriously? Haven’t I given up enough? You want to take away my coffee and Pepsi too? Beh. Beh, I say. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of telling Corey, so now he’s mixing the deliciously bold Italian roast with decaf coffee. I think that I may have to take a stand here: You can make me cut back on carbs even though an Asian without rice is like Bill Cosby without pudding. You can take away most of the sugar in my diet. You can tell me not to eat chocolate (notice the wording, tell me?), but caffeine? No. Hell no.

We’ll see.

I asked the neurologist about Botox shots for my migraines, and she said that she had already thought about it, but would have to refer me to one of her partners who apparently handles Botox injections. I’m just glad that they’ve finally been approved for migraines. Actually, in looking back on the appointment, I’m not sure that much of anything happened: a new prescription, a prescription for a drug I already take, lots of hammering on my joints to test my reflexes, lots of questions. She was a humorless woman with sausage fingers (wouldn’t that make a great first line), and she kept asking me about other medicines that I’ve taken. I had to tell her that I couldn’t remember the names as they had all affected my cognitive processes negatively.

But forward progress, as in something might actually happen? Well, I suppose the sleep apnea study might fall into that category, but I left feeling a bit muddled, as in, what was the point exactly?

Please do not mention the caffeine as I will only refer you back to the previous paragraph. I mean, I’ve been told to go off caffeine before. I did. Not much difference. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t having migraines as severe as the ones I’m having now. I did let this new doctor know that on that happy face pain scale that they always show you in the ER (the one that makes me want to rip it out of their hands and tear it into a thousand pieces), my pain level is never ever below a two, as in, pain is always present to some extent.

(How foolish is it to shove a paper on which someone has printed a smiley face and the numeral one and a progression of faces until it reaches Mr. Grimace face with a number 10  in front of someone who is enduring excruciating pain? Just saying . . .)

“When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Archway Leading to Chateau de Jumilhac-le-Grand, Perigord, France

My dreams of late have been very disturbing again: In one, my mother is holding an infant who is very ill. For two nights in a row I’ve been trying to call someone (an unknown male), but cannot seem to get my fingers to work on the keyboard of my phone. I do remember thinking that the number that I should be calling was X, only to realize that X number was my doctor’s office. How strange. And as is almost always the case with my strange sequential dreams, they begin at my old apartment that I had when I was an undergrad.

I do seem to be sleeping a bit sounder now that I’m taking an additional med that my new psychiatrist prescribed. Have I mentioned that I really like this one? I’ve been seeing so many doctors for so many things that I’m losing track. In fact, I cancelled a virtual colonoscopy (virtual?) that my gastro guy ordered because, of course, my insurance is not keeping up with the claims, and I’m starting to get bills for all of these treatments. I’d like to get the premiums up-to-date so that I don’t have to worry about calling to have things refiled.

The concept of a virtual colonoscopy intrigues me. Once I finally have the procedure, I’ll let you know what’s involved. As long as no more probes are inserted into orifices, I can handle it, which reminds me of another part of my dream which I will not discuss in any detail except to say that it was really and truly disgusting.

Corey and I were talking about how his dreams usually seem to be prophetic in some way, that, or he dreams about zombies (don’t ever get him started on his entire theory about the possibility of zombies and how our house is not zombie-proof); whereas my own dreams are filled with conflict. I wonder what normal people dream about?

“For me it is sufficient to have a corner by my hearth, a book and a friend, and a nap undisturbed by creditors or grief.” ~ Fernandez de Andrada

Moon Bridge, Japanese Tea Garden

Let’s see . . . what other interesting and intriguing things have been going on in my little world? I finally got the FAFSA’s done for both sons; so easy, don’t know why I put it off for so long, must be that procrastination gene I carry. Also, I’m in an ongoing battle with the local Ford dealer over the Windstar recall. Apparently, at some point during this process (which began on November 1 last year), Ford decided that they would not pay us the amount they had settled upon but would rebuild the minivan instead.

When Corey told me this, I went into full-on curmudgeon mode, got on the phone, and told the customer service person that they were sadly mistaken if they believed for one second that we were going to wait over six months only to be given back a vehicle that their company had deemed too dangerous to drive off the lot. In lots and lots of words, I said that we absolutely refused to take back the minivan and that we would only settle for what we had been offered. I hung up the phone, and Corey said very quietly that I was actually very scary sometimes.

Really? Had no idea.

That was a week ago. The guy from the dealership calls me everyday to tell me that it’s (our claim) working its way up the chain. I tell him that’s all well and good, but I want results.

Still have not received our federal tax refund, and we both have the feeling that the refund is once again going to be absorbed by some creditor as it has been for the past two years. We really need that money as our sliding glass door is still being held together by duct tape (wonderful thing), which makes it completely useless against zombies. That, and the fact that a new door and installation will cost a cool thousand at least. Plus I need to get caught up on health insurance payments.

And my foray into selling AVON doesn’t seem to be going all that well. My only customers have been Corey and my mom. I suppose people still don’t have disposable income for buying things. My regional rep says that we (AVON) has a new policy that if a rep doesn’t produce, they are kicked out (my words). I suppose I will be banish-ed (say it with two syllables as in Shakespearean) from the ding-dong brigade.

It’s weird how our lives can be rolling along fairly well for a few weeks, and then BAM. We’re screwed to holy hell all over again. Cut off notices, and past due bills, and relentless telephone calls from people wanting money we still don’t have. This is the part of the cycle that, quite frankly, I could really do without.

“Acceptance is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else.” ~ David Foster Wallace

Piscina Mirabilis, Napoli by laura.foto (Flckr Creative Commons)

Just so you don’t start to believe that my life is a lovely little bit of paradise, I’ll mention that I did visit the rehab place in which my m-in-law is residing. I went on Monday (Tuesday)? after my gastro appointment in which the doctor said that I essentially don’t have good working plumbing. Big surprise. More tests. Another big surprise.

But I digress . . .

When I got there, she was in speech therapy, which consisted of the therapist helping her to hold a small plastic cup of water and taking sips. I don’t pretend to know the value of such a thing. When I asked about the peanut butter that seems to be all over my m-in-law’s face and on her shirt, I was told that licking the peanut butter from around her mouth was an exercise. That actually makes sense to me.

Anyway, I rolled her back to her room, and we had a kind of conversation. She was very tired, and wanted to get in bed, but I couldn’t get anyone to come into the room to help put her into bed. Also, she was very shaky, and kept thinking that she was falling out of the wheelchair, so I pushed my chair right up to her so that our knees were touching, and I told here that I wouldn’t go anywhere until she was put into bed.

It was quite unnerving as she would drift off and then awaken with a start and stiffen her entire body as she thought she was falling. I would hold her and assure her that she was not falling and that I wasn’t going anywhere. The strangest part is that the way in which she stiffened her body is exactly the same as the way that Patrick (her son/my b-in-law in Germany who is a paraplegic) stiffens his body when he is in pain or is upset. I did not mention that, of course, as any mention of Patrick would have upset her.

The doctors have concluded (big surprise here) that she will never be able to live alone again. I can’t stand the idea of her being in that place, so I mentioned to my sis-in-law Ann that perhaps she could get a reverse mortgage which would allow her to stay in her home and possibly afford full-time in-home care. I just think that if she were around her own things, around her cat, she would probably respond better. Unfortunately, none of this is up to me, so I make suggestions and let it go at that.

At 4:50 (hours later), someone finally came into the room to get her ready for bed. I gathered all of her dirty clothes and took them home to be washed, feeling as if it were such a small gesture, one not nearly enough for this woman who has been so integral to my life.

This, I cannot write about any more, so I’ll sign off for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Mazzy Star, “”Fade Into You” (Live)

                   

Men at Forty*

‘Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it moving
Beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practices tying
His father’s tie there in secret

And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.

~ Donald Justice

*I love this poem and have always wanted to write a companion piece about women at forty . . .

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“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” ~ Wayne Dyer

 

                   

“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.” ~ Elie Wiesel 

Republican Kansas state legislator Connie O’Brien (Tonganoxie) really stuck her foot in it at a hearing last week when speaking against the subject of in-state tuition being granted to illegal immigrants who had met Kansas state residency requirements, which has been the state’s policy since 2004.

REP. O’BRIEN: My son who’s a Kansas resident, born here, raised here, didn’t qualify for any financial aid. Yet this girl was going to get financial aid. My son was kinda upset about it because he works and pays for his own schooling and his books and everything and he didn’t think that was fair. We didn’t ask the girl what nationality she was, we didn’t think that was proper. But we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country. […]

REP. GATEWOOD: Can you expand on how you could tell that they were illegal?

REP. O’BRIEN: Well she wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion.

According to an article in ljworld.com. this is, in fact, what happened:

The dispute was over testimony O’Brien gave last week to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee in support of a bill that would repeal in-state tuition for certain undocumented students.

O’Brien told the committee about an incident last year when she accompanied her son to enroll at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

A woman near them in line was requesting her scholarship money, but when the clerk asked for her photo identification, the woman said she had none, O’Brien said.

The woman then asked for someone else to help her, O’Brien said. O’Brien told the committee that the woman was going to get financial assistance, and her son, who was born and raised in Kansas, wasn’t.

“We didn’t ask the girl what nationality she was. We didn’t think that was proper but we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country,” O’Brien said.

Rep. Sean Gatewood, D-Topeka, had asked O’Brien how she could tell, and O’Brien replied, “She wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion.” O’Brien said she had a son-in-law from Afghanistan, who had olive complexion, so the woman could have been from Afghanistan.

Another committee member, Rep. Mario Goico, R-Wichita, told O’Brien during the committee hearing that the woman O’Brien had been speaking about, if she was an undocumented student, could not have received any federal or state scholarship funds.

“To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.” ~ Amos Bronson Alcott

I’m so fricking angry that I’m spitting, and there exists a real possibility that I may kill my keyboard from typing too hard. And it’s not over the illegal immigrants thing (which is a whole other issue), but over the blatant racism: “She had the olive complexion.” (emphasis mine: the, as in there is only one kind of olive complexion?)

Excuse me . . . what? Olive complexion? You mean like mine? You mean like my sons? That olive complexion? The one that we got from my father who fought in three wars for this country? That olive complexion?

Oh, you know what? You, Connie O’Brien, and those of your ilk aren’t worth my dying from an aneurism from high blood pressure. Do all of us a favor and just sit down and shut up. Your extreme ignorance and racism are showing.

“Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.” ~ Margaret Mead

As recently as Monday, O’Brien wasn’t certain that she was going to apologize, saying she needed “time to think.” O’Brien said that she thought that “the Democrats were making a big deal out of nothing ‘like they did with Bill Otto.’ Otto, a Republican state legislator from LeRoy, was criticized for making a video in 2009 in which he criticized President Obama in a ‘RedNeck Rap,’ while wearing a hat that said ‘OPOSSUM the other Dark Meat.’ Otto said he didn’t mean for his video to have any racial overtones.”

O’Brien’s apology today? “I misspoke and apologize to those I offended. I have learned from this situation and will be more careful with my choice of words in the future.”

I love that word—misspoke. It’s the ultimate in back-peddling: I said something, but actually, I misspoke, because I meant to say something less offensive, you know, something that wouldn’t cause a backlash, but as to my original sentiment, well, what can I say?

Misspoke/misspeak is so 1984: If you don’t like history, rewrite it, say that you misspoke. Or just use 1984‘s duckspeak, to speak without thinking, or as is the case with so many politicians who misspeak, they seem to get their singular brand of truth from Minitrue (the Ministry of Truth). I could go on, but really, you probably understand fullwise the day order of political doublethink.

But I digress . . .

I mean, certainly Bill Otto certainly didn’t mean anything offensive about “the other Dark Meat.” How could anyone with a brain believe otherwise?

Oh, wait. Operative phrase being with a brain, which, apparently, too many people in positions of power seem to be without.

Entertainer Josephine Baker said in 1963, “Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one’s soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood.”

Obviously, that day has yet to arrive.

More later. Peace.

Music by 30 Seconds to Mars, “Hurricane (This is War)”

                   

The following is one of my favorite Langston Hughes’ poems, and I taught it in every literature class that I had. I did not pick this poem to go with this post because Hughes was a black writer. I chose it because I believe that this is the kind of message that all mothers should pass on to their children: Life isn’t always easy, and it may not always seem to be fair; life isn’t always beautiful, and sometimes, you might seem to be stumbling around in the dark, but that doesn’t mean that you give up or that you quit trying. And by the way, Rep. O’Brien, you could learn a thing or two from Hughes.

Mother to Son

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So, boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps.
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.