Thursday, May 31, 2012

I *LOVE* Anonymous Blog Commentary!


I love anonymous blog commentary! It shows incredible inability to detect sarcasm in my blogs!



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

YESSSS!!!!! Sassy Pants, Sassypants and The State Department of the USA.



The US Department of State in Washington, D.C. is reading my blog. Why, hello there!!!

In case you don't already know some random facts about The Offbeat Drummer, I offer the government the following publicly:

My late father can't really be considered a military veteran, though he was honorably discharged from the US Navy after enlisting without having graduated high school. Over homesickness. Or excessive drunkenness, though if that was the issue, wow, thanks for the "honorable" discharge. We think. He never made it past the Great Lakes training base, that much is certain. My favorite Dad memory? Watching "The Gong Show" together and laughing our sassy pants off. I think it'd be more effective for us, as a country, to run elections the way they ran "The Gong Show." Oh wait! Chuck Barris was (or was he?) a CIA secret assassin. Does that disqualify him as the emcee? 'Cause he was fucking hilarious. Rip Taylor is still alive and kicking. He can be one of the judges. (Not to be confused with Rip Torn, who's a hopeless drunk.)

I live in a state where two of our last 3 elected governors are in federal prisons for corruption. No wonder you're scrambling to investigate the residents of IL who have big mouths and public blogs. By the way, could you post a prison photo of Rod Blago? I'm dying to see what jail's done to his hair.

I voted for Barack Obama, rallied for his win in Chicago in 2008 in Grant Park on a warm November night, but plan to write in 2 members of The Flaming Lips for President and VP in 2012, who would make sure everyone in the country loved everyone else, marijuana would be legalized (though I don't use it or any other illicit street drugs) and "Race For The Prize" would become the new National Anthem. Though the Coyne/Drozd ticket does seem a little green and tree-hugging for my personal tastes. But have you seen these guys? They are, by far, the hottest possibilities, so....

(Their quiet bassist could be a cabinet member or something. Or at least upgrade the government's computer infrastructure.)

I became a registered Democrat in 1992, purely because the Clinton/Gore ticket was the hotter pick of the candidates and I was a randy 20-year old. Speaking of randy 20-year olds, it is my personal opinion that this fine country saw nary a more prosperous, stable, peaceful time than when President Clinton was being blown by his intern. Happy President  = Happy USA. That Kerry guy never had a chance in Hell, for he was not being secretly supported by a worldwide cocaine cartel like George W. Bush was, who had the intelligence of a mushroom, the respect of a bleeding hangnail and the stench of a full ashtray. (I have more piercings than W. has IQ points.) Maybe if that motherfucker never stopped snorting snow, pardon the pun, the country wouldn't have nose-dived into becoming a worldwide joke butt embarrassment.

I am, for all intents and purposes, single, appreciate Medicaid, am unemployed because I had chronic, uncontrollable diarrhea, was pro-life for MYSELF but pro-choice for every other woman on Earth, though now it's moot since I am uterusless. I'm age 40, live with my mother again, am a mother myself, and declare myself to be a pacifist, peace-loving, generally apathetic anarchist (essentially, a walking contradiction, but does it look like I fucking care?) who is a Practicing Christian-Hindu-With-Buddhist-Tendencies-Who-Happens-to-Attend-a-Lutheran-Church-Christian, saved by Christ but hanging a 7-headed holy Hindu horse lithograph in my room, because I still love George Harrison more than I love most other dead people.

I'm studying to be a counseling psychologist, so I can help people whose mental problems are even more severe than mine, which, believe it or not, are under control, my anxiety-over-anxiety-meds yesterday notwithstanding. I smoke cigarettes, though have been known to cross county lines into a cheaper county to buy them, where I am routinely carded nowadays because they don't believe I am of age. I don't drink alcohol or do drugs, anymore, though I partake of communion wine. When I took the following picture in my church's sacristy, calling to attention what they did with Jesus' blood after services and posted it to Facebook....
...the church mice mysteriously re-named the bottle "Consecrated Wine." I'm, if nothing, a cheeky recovering alcoholic who stirs up trouble in the least likely of places.


I'm in love. One of my closest friends told me, "You're a little bit in love with just about everyone," and that's a fairly correct statement. Except, of course, for my ex-mother-in-law, whom I cannot stand.

See, these two icons have my back! You couldn't deport them!


I'd rather have MY face chewed off, naked by the roadside in Florida, than see the upcoming adaptation of "Anna Karenina" with Keira Knightly as the lead. (Don't people fucking READ books anymore?)

I couldn't help but notice you out-clicked on the "sassy pants" picture. Congratulations, U.S. Government. You're now among hundreds of others who think the term "sassy pants" is comical. In Googling myself + "sassy pants," wow, was I ahead of the curve. I coined "sassypants" (as one word) in reference to my son when he was 8, when he was popularizing our own Miklaszism, "The Sausage Has Spoken," which is what my Polish grandfather and dad used to say whenever somebody in the house said something completely and utterly stupid.


By the way, I would've hoped, with your access to technology, that you'd be using computers that didn't still operate on Windows XP. My son claims most businesses are still using XP, and he'd know better than I would. The way this country is run, it's like you're balancing the budget using an abacus.

I have 3,000 songs in my iTunes library, and know the words to every one by heart, unless it's an instrumental. I have a drum kit that's worth more than some houses in Humboldt Park, but I keep it hidden out-of-town in a secret, off-site location.

My 12-year old son has a hand-held device that uses LED signals that can turn off virtually any television, as well as an Annoy-a-Tron, which is a device more technologically advanced than your capability of hiding your presence on my web site. We like to shop on www.thinkgeek.com. My son was perusing his giant picture book on weapons (that we got at Borders on clearance before they went belly-up) and decided that "Ambidextrous Gun" would be a great name for a punk band. While we're re-vamping the country, could you do me a favor and make everything a little more southpaw-friendly?   Why isn't anyone occupying for the rights of the left-handed? How do ya'll sleep at night knowing I can't handle salad tongs? THE WHOLE WORLD IS BACKWARDS. FUCK.

Was it the State Department that did this to our lawn last summer?


What does this all mean? If you want to torture dissidents, sit them down in a room, forced to listen to Mandy Patinkin singing in Yiddish, and leave us be. Should you ambush Camp Miklasz, you'll be pelleted by these:


Ironically, it wasn't the blog of pictures from the UK Daily Mail of taboo words no one should ever use online if they don't want to be followed by the US government that caught your eye. It was the blog with the title all in Polish, which I hope you ran through your translators, which is really metaphorically more about fat pants than sassy pants, by which you have no practical context to analyze. It was also about sinning and breaking God's commandments. Too bad you don't have Ted Kennedy to run THAT past anymore.  He *did* die, did he not?

Admittedly, I don't pay much attention to politics and the news, more concerned with creative pursuits and can't afford the Sunday New York Times, so I have a friend save me articles of interest.

While invited to protest the NATO summit with the late badass Warren Zevon's family, doing doo-wop parody protest songs, I had to stay the fuck out of downtown that day and wasn't consequently pepper-sprayed, manhandled by Chicago cops and my djembe was thereby preserved.

While part-German, the only Nazi-like quality I harbor is with regard to grammar and proper use of the English language:


Here's me in a nutshell:

Right now, I'm listening to Herb Alpert. Remember him? He's more of a threat to national security than I am. He blows for a living. I don't.

Should you decide to pay me a visit, bring a bundt cake and I'll be SURE to be wearing my sassy pants. Or sassypants (one word).  My sassiest pants are by far my yoga pants, though I don't do yoga. Then again, I own a t-shirt that says "Fuck Everything," though I don't do that either.  Or better yet, I'll wear my almost-neon watermelon corduroys. Now THOSE are sassypants sassy pants. I wore them on a date with a color-blind....never mind. Need to know!

Happy Reading and ya'll come back soon, ya hear?


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Creativity Part One..."Tantrums of Genius"

I got this hard-to-put-down book from Tatus for my birthday. It's called Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. It's a fascinating look into the creative mind from a scientific and research-based point of view. Ironic, really. A scientist exploring creativity. An ironic yet very thoughtful book to give to someone like me. I'm learning a lot about myself, my creative brain, my cognitive functioning, the art I put out and, perhaps even more importantly, why a smart, artistic, intellectual might fail at a job as seemingly simple as the one at the medical practice, which isn't rocket science.

I've deduced the following regarding the latter fact: There was literally no break in the action and pace of the job. Sure, it was quieter in the office if one or more docs were out of the office, or when I'd go outside to quickly smoke 2 cigs in 15 minutes of break time, but the phones still rang incessantly, lab patients, and there were callbacks to do, other doctors calling, nursing home bullshit, Rx's to fill, always something.

The truth of how my brain interpreted such an environment was to shut down almost completely on occasion. My famous "big ball of ick" as I would describe it to my therapist, that I couldn't dissect and the practice co-workers didn't understand or sympathize with. With an inability, cognitively, to recall and dissect tasks, I had to write myself notes about what to do with almost every command. Overload. Clinically, for bipolar patients, such a malady is called "Psychomotor Retardation."

For bipolar people who do work through some of their less serious episodes, they may be suffering from what is called “psychomotor retardation”. This is a symptom of the depressive periods of bipolar disorder that makes everything seem like more work than it would otherwise be. At its most serious, people with psychomotor retardation find it hard to even get out of bed, but people with bipolar disorder can often work through less severe forms.
However, when suffering from psychomotor retardation, everything feels like it is taking twice or more the normal amount of effort. As a result, people with bipolar disorder may need more frequent breaks in order to recuperate than other people might. That one hour between normal breaks feels like two or three. When in a state of psychomotor retardation, bipolar people burn out faster and will actually accomplish more if they can take more frequent breaks (consider why breaks are good for efficiency in the first place).
In addition, the breaks may need to be a little longer. After all, the work feels more intense. By balancing frequency and lengths of breaks, bipolar employees will be able to accomplish more through periods of psychomotor agitation.
Because bipolar employees can often be unsure of where their moods will go, larger projects that are not divided into parts can often be overwhelming. Many bipolar people have learned to divide up projects into smaller parts to compensate for this, but in some cases, employees are given large projects that can’t be divided up except by a supervisor, and the employee ends up working on several aspects simultaneously.
One way to overcome this is to divide up projects into a series of parts, each of which can be done in succession. This allows people with bipolar disorder to focus on smaller projects that are less anxiety provoking, while at the same time allowing them to better slot in those parts as their moods fluctuate. 
(Source: http://www.bipolartoday.com/accommodating-bipolar-disorder-in-the-workplace-part-iii-emotional-support/)

It's interesting, physiologically, as well, to point out that my attacks of hypoglycemia have passed with rare occurrence since I left my job. They still strike unanticipated at inopportune times, I still don't do well with carbs in the morning, but my body is better trained to fight it out and stay awake, and I don't slur my speech a lot, or almost pass out anymore. I'm still not trusted to drive distances. When it overcomes me, and I'm at home, I do lie down, but I try to limit myself to an hour asleep. I DO still walk into walls, but please, I've always done that. I'm a chronic klutz.

(Plus, as I have said in the past, the tasks were mostly left-brain heavy or spatially oriented acts of multi-tasking, neither of which were my strengths.)  I believe that the book illustrates nicely the way of and importance of breaks in the action during the course of the work day to encourage greater functionality and results. At Balderdash & Verities, the pace was always that of immediacy, of urgency, of delegating and being delegated. If a doctor wasn't in, and one had to page him, it was nerve-wracking waiting for him to call back, and fearing he'd be upset by being bothered. Patients were clamoring at the window when the doctors were running late, saying "Did you forget me?" NO. SIT YOUR ASS DOWN.  It was, overall, just...SO. TENSE. ALL. GODDAMN. DAY.

It didn't help that I felt shitty physically a vast majority of the time throughout the course of my 3 year tenure at the practice. I was never in such poor health in my life as when I was at Balderdash & Verities.

Just a chapter or two into the book, I'm finding what were my artistic failures and blocks similar to Bob Dylan's creative slump in the mid-60's. There's a well written, overly kind ode to the lack of creativity we so often encounter after putting out a prolific amount of art--in any medium--in this case, the context of Dylan's songwriting in the earlier 60's (which, for me, is either my blogging, which I abandoned in 2008, or the lengthy emails I'm capable of writing, which I take very seriously, or completing a writing major, concentrated on poetry for 5 years, then ceasing to write poetry for 17 years afterwards).

Dylan grew tired, of himself and his own music. Of being in the spotlight. Of being fueled by drugs. For having fans hang on his every word as if he were a reflection of the Second Coming. He had to back out of the constraints of NYC on a motorcycle, his soul barely intact after a tour of London wrapped up, and retreat to Woodstock even sans guitar, bringing only a notebook and a set of pencils. Even if not the greatest musician, Dylan was and always will be a master lyricist and poet.

He did not think the moments of silent reflection and introspection would ultimately allow him pen one the most memorable songs of his generation, "Like a Rolling Stone." (**Staying in Woodstock would prove to be a good move for Dylan, from both a familial and artistic standpoint. The book doesn't go into this detail but I already knew that Dylan's wife, Sara, and their children joined him in Woodstock, where he famously penned, along with George Harrison, the beautiful "I'd Have You Anytime," which Harrison would record himself.**)


Sometimes, I guess, even artists (whose lives seem crazy to the bland people in the world) need some quiet time. Maybe my insanity and addictions, coupled with a frenzied life, are more behind what stalled my writing of poetry for 17 years, rather than merely me doubting my abilities. True, I was out of practice in writing poetry, but once I started the task, it flowed with scant effort.

Lehrer is quick to point out that most artists/writers/musicians/inventors produce their best work first thing in the morning. That something about being half-asleep results in the most effective creative breakthroughs. A half-dream world. He says that often times, unfortunately, creative people suffer from ADHD, or are misdiagnosed as having it, and are put on stimulant drugs like Adderall or Ritalin to provide them the capacity to concentrate for 8 hours straight, or they rely on caffeine or other stimulants. No small coincidence that most of my best blogs are written early in the morning, over coffee or tea. Physically, anyway, often times, I'm writing said blogs with only one eye open, but they flow cohesively. To me, anyway...sometimes, when I'm on the editing block later in the day, I wonder what the hell I was thinking.

(FYI...Lehrer notes, later in the book, an interview with Rolling Stone Keith Richards from 2010, where he tells the story of having written "Satisfaction" in his sleep, or so he thought, in a relative dream state, as he awoke one morning and found the loop of tape at the end of the recorder, thinking he'd just pressed "record" and gone to sleep. In all fairness, he was probably also doped up, but that's a separate issue. People wonder what I'm doing, blogging at 5am?)

When Dylan would have a great idea that he later thought was crap, he'd crumple it up in the garbage can and, if Marianne Faithfull was around (she was a singer herself, most famously a long-time girlfriend of Mick Jagger during the late 60's), she would call those moments in Dylan "tantrums of genius." Every writer, at some point in his/her career or artistic practice, thinks of an idea or symmetrical lines of thinking that we're sure are nothing short of genius. I've not met one writer who, at one time or another, didn't advertise his/her intellectual superiority while telling everyone else to fuck off if they didn't understand the writer or intent. That, to me, was the beauty of, for example, our senior writing portfolios at Knox. Our poetry writing critiques, where criticism from a vast variety of personalities (not just that of your professor; rather, your peers) afforded the writer the capability of perspective and retrospect. Even if you didn't, as a writer, enjoy your piece being turned from your inner vision to a collaborative effort. Please. We all had "tantrums of genius" and none of us is guilt-free in having taken criticism personally, as if we were all horrible writers who should give up the craft in favor of a more practical college major.

The author of Imagine tells the anecdote of the 3M company and the inventor of masking tape, Dick Drew, who was a sandpaper salesman by trade in the 1930's. After a visit to an auto body shop that was painting on cars, applying tee adhesive, separating the painted from unpainted parts too strongly and stripping the the new paint off the cars, he tirelessly tweaked adhesives at 3M in order to come up with masking tape, then later, Scotch tape (an idea based off some unused cellophane) and the 3M gang came up with Post-it Notes and their R&D team has since invented hundreds of useful products found in every home that we take for granted. Point being, he was evolving around the team of co-workers and often, as the corporation grew in spades, they innovated the concept (long before Google did it) of allowing researchers and developers time to veg out during work, for the forced notion of churning out product was simply too taxing on any one mind.

Whether that vegging out time is spent playing pinball, taking a walk on one of the many campus park-like walk paths, or playing ping-pong with someone, doodling alone or even lying in the sunshine on a nearby couch--it's in the solitude and emptying of one's own thoughts, expectations, and pressures that often the brightest, most innovative ideas thrive. It's a time-tested method of operating a business largely focused on research and development. De-cluttering of one's mind often brings forth ideas and solutions to problems that seem too difficult to tackle head-on under a continuously pressurized environment for long periods of time, which is why 3M rotates it's researchers from department to department, project to project, on a semi-regular basis. A fresh pair of eyes and brains can be very helpful. (Just like at the medical practice...if one of us couldn't read a doctor's scribble in the chart, we'd often times have another girl look at it and it would make perfect sense to her and be clear as day. That was something I WAS very good at.)

Daydreaming, according to the author, often stimulates the brain to find answers to problems and innovations that wouldn't have otherwise materialized. He calls it "fountain spurting." From a practical standpoint, daydreaming (even if for only a few minutes) helps us recharge and regain our balance. At my former job, not only was daydreaming frowned upon severely, it was punishable. Even if you just wanted to take 30 seconds to deeply breathe, look out the window and people watch the parking lot. Tell me, pray tell me, what else you were supposed to do while you were idly, mundanely feeding faxes through a machine next to a window, out of reach of the phone, after you'd charted all the Rx's and paperwork? Sometimes I'd put stickers on charts. Other times, I said "fuck it" and just daydreamed anyway.

Oh, and I was told ESPECIALLY not to let one particular doctor SEE me LOOKING out the window or I'd get HELL. (This was one of many "warnings" about him being the in-house King of Perfectionism and Utter Formality, of which I was told when I started and he was on vacation at the time, before we met, and once we did meet, I was like, "Wait a sec! This guy's nice! He actually calls me by my name! He thinks I'm not an idiot!") What a stupid rule at work and not a team-builder. Or if we girls tried to release tensions by laughing over randomocity for a few minutes. They'd say to do that on your break or lunch, which, fine, but that's another stress-filled tiny microcosm of time allotted to your own thoughts, which largely consisted of worrying about making it back in pole position as efficiently and expeditiously as possible after trying to digest food and catch up on your social networking (or, after I left, evidently the entire office reading my blogs).

It's not unlike a creative artist, this idea of a researcher, scientist or developer, to walk away from a project, gain perspective, and return to the project at hand. I do it all the time. I walk away from a piece of writing, paint on my Buddha board, or go about my day, to return to a blog entry hours later, often with fresh, new ideas and opinions to pen. Or sometimes, I decide to chuck a draft entirely. Other times, the loss of concentration expels the flow. On the occasions when introspection proves fruitful, you feel re-charged. When ideas, all-be-them brilliant a few hours prior, poop out, that's when any writer or artist will deflate, deeming his or herself an utter dullard.

(I did it today. I was on a roll here but the tasks of the day had to be completed, so this blog entry had to be put aside until tonight. I'm still not focused completely on this entry, though I did compose an entire separate entry with regard to my day's doings, which streamed so quickly, I wrote it, edited it and posted it for publication all in less than an hour. (See http://theoffbeatdrummer.blogspot.com/2012/05/karmic-wheels-go-round-and-round.html.) In all art, there's room for instant expulsion that needs to be balanced with introspection and deeper thought. A stream of consciousness, flowing freely, is a gifted trait. The ability to execute it articulately is a whole different can of worms.)

Going back to Dylan's experience, he likened his creative breakthrough, according to the book, to "vomiting" out ideas. He composed 20 pages of lyrics in Woodstock in a very short period of time. He, himself, can't rationalize how the dueling hemispheres of his brain allowed him the capacity to create. I can relate. I took a 2-years plus break from writing and blamed it all on my bipolar stability and medication management. Somehow, I convinced myself that the trade-off for sanity HAD to be giving up my craft. Feeling uninspired and distant from my creative brain, so focused on trying to work at a hopeless job, exhausted me internally. The meds, I assumed, sapped me of any and all creative energy I had, because before I was medicated properly, I was SO over-the-top prolific that even I had trouble keeping up with myself. While much of that can be attributed to manic or hypomanic episodes, in retrospect, I was fortunate to have been writing period, while I was unmediated, as I did in college, as I did on drugs and booze, my self-medication. What was unfortunate and downright psycho to read, were those blogs I wrote nearing rock bottom with alcohol and sick with mental illness. My ideas, to me anyway, were brilliant, lengthy and well thought out, when in reality, they were choppy, illogical rants, apart from dialogues between my son and I, which, because I have a photographic memory, I could remember line-by-line. When I was finally sick of being silent, sick of living my whole life just in my mind, I brought up the idea of restarting the blog to my best male friend. His advice, as an artist himself? "JUST FUCKING WRITE."

Lehrer teases his readers with puzzling logic tests, which, if I read them and was still stumped, he answered soon thereafter, as an illustration of how one-side-brained each one of is dominated by. There were two I *did* figure out.

1) A pyramid has a $100 bill underneath it. How do you get it out from under? It took me a while, dreaming up elaborate gadgetry, until I realized that at no time during the question, did Lehrer ask us to get the bill out INTACT. The answer? Burn the $100 bill. Bingo. My brain had to run through a dozen impossibilities and theories, practical and impractical, before I entertained the idea of torching the bill.

2) III + III = III. Admittedly, an even harder puzzle for a right-brainer to figure out. I thought of inserting zero in somewhere, but that didn't work. I was concentrating too hard on the numerals, instead of the equation being equal. The answer? III = III = III. It was all about the mental connection and not necessarily the end result.

Simple answers to quite complex logic problems.

More on this fascinating book to come.







The Karmic Wheels Go 'Round and 'Round

The goals set out for today:

1) Finish a blog entry on this book about how creativity works that my friend gave me for my birthday. I'm about halfway through the book, plan to finish it during my mother's screening outpatient procedure tomorrow, but had some ideas and thoughts streaming from what I've already read. (Started writing it at 5am and touted how the book theorizes that creatives do their best work "while half asleep," early in the morning, which is largely true for me, but it was too much info to finish that blog before the other goals of the day.)

2) Therapy. (Schlep to Swedish Covenant. Talked about 7,700 word thank-you reply I wrote in response to about a 200-word thank you email I received, which I have no plans on sharing with the thank-ee who thanked me. Instead, I made him a someecard:)

3) Stop at Jewel-Osco, to buy some core groceries and attempt to pick up my anxiety medication, which, naturally, wasn't ready, which only exacerbated my anxiety, but whatever. It's not like I'm THAT worried that for some reason, I can't get a secured connection on Facebook, and that my blog is now being followed by people at Dartmouth, Kent State ("Four dead in O-H-I-O!") and some obscure organization in Israel. Hey, I was the one who invited the CIA to tap my phone. I should think there are other people in this world (2 people in particular) who would be immediately MORE interested in some of my cell phone conversations than the Central Intelligence Agency. 

4) Get my eyeglasses fixed. The nose piece on one side came out, though it fell out right in front of my face onto my laptop. (Trip to LensCrafters.) Included unplanned swing into Trader Joe's for something to make for dinner tomorrow, my night to cook. Gee, I hope my mom likes tamales and a lentil salad after her procedure! And Jesus. Does EVERY Park Ridgean in Trader Joe's talk on her cell with one hand while pushing the cart with the other? Not me, baby. MOVE IT. (I'm kicking myself for not having bought pomegranate seeds.)

5) Impromptu, I've-had-enough-of-this-dust car wash. Drove to the car wash the whole way behind an old man in a Mercury Sable who had a US Route 66 sticker on the back of his car ("I've been everywhere, man...") as well as a baseball cap collection in his rear window. Driving in a 20 mph zone that's kind of a speed trap, but you can usually go 25-30 mph with no gruff from the fuzz, if they're around. I can provide empirical data that suggests that old men in cars with their rear windows adorned with baseball caps, on average, tend to drive 10-15 mph BELOW the posted speed limit. (Yes, he was doing 15, though I wasn't directly on his fender over it...)

6) After coming home for a breather, it was time to pick Luke up from school. I was jamming to the new Harrison CD, again, which I Tweeted, as I Tweet my daily "Schoolhouse Rock" entries as to what I'm listening to while I'm waiting for Luke. (I was listening to "Woman Don't You Cry For Me.") I hypothesized the following on Facebook the moment I saw my son loitering at the bike rack with his posse: "I wonder what Luke would do if I went up to the bike rack and made him hold my hand through the parking lot? I believe he would not-so-politely, yet contextually correctly tell me to FUCK OFF." 

Knowing my mom had asked us to stop at Walgreens after school, I grew impatient of Luke's loitering and backed my car up so that it was blatantly obvious that I was THERE whereupon I FINALLY got his attention and he came over. "What took you so long?" I asked. "I was untangling my earbuds," he said. "For 10 minutes?" I replied. "We have to go to Walgreens for Grandma. And you have to carry a case of water," I informed Luke. "Can I get an AP?" he asked me. "What's that?" "An Arnold Palmer," Luke said. "Sure." (I had thoughtfully packed a fresh bottle of H20 for him en route to pick him up at school, which had warmed up by the time he got his ass to the car.)

7) Go to Walgreens for my mom's Rx, a case of H20, 2 Arnold Palmers, cocoa-roasted almonds (which ended up being a handful for me for lunch at 3:30pm), and 2 cans of black olives for which my mom had a 99 cent each coupon, that if I DID NOT procure, would only serve to reinforce what an utter failure I am as an adult.

Deafened in the parking lot by an SUV in the handicapped spot in which an old man sat in the passenger front seat. The car alarm was blaring at full blast. Luke and I were like, "There's a guy. In the car. Can't he make that STOP?" Soon thereafter, his companion/daughter/whomever came out and bitched at him, "DID YOU TOUCH SOMETHING?" as Luke and I slowly walked towards the store, anxious to get the drama. I thought to myself, "Yes, I pressed the SEAT EJECT button. And it FAILED."

Do you think we could find the damn olives? My mom had asked me, "Do you know where the groceries are in Walgreens?" to which I said, "Yes." "Where the canned food is?" she asked. "Yes." After perusing the grocery aisles, end caps and stumbling across corned beef hash, no, I still couldn't find the God-forsaken black olives. I found green olives in a jar. The black olive partition seemed to be empty. An elderly couple, coupon in hand, was also looking for the black olives, not finding them. "I guess they're all out," I told them. They departed the aisle and for some ungodly reason, I got down on my hands and knees and found 4 cans left WAAAAAAY back on the shelf. I grabbed 2 and put them in our cart. "We should go tell those people," Luke said, being the bearer of a grander moral compass than I. "Yeah, I guess we should," I said. They hadn't gotten very far, so we ecstatically told them where the olives were and proceeded to checkout, where yes, I agreed with the checkout clerk that the cocoa roasted almonds were indeed quite good, and Luke coerced me into buying him gum. I told Luke, "Well, looks like we did OUR good deed for the day, now let's get the hell out of here!" so we went home. 

Once home and settled, Luke babbling about, of all things, asking a GIRL OUT before the end of the school year since she's going to another school next year (EXCUSE ME? HE CAN DATE AND *I* CAN'T??), I called Osco back to find out if my damn anxiety meds were fucking ready already, and they were. So back into the car I went, sans Luke, who by then had stripped down to boxers and was poised with his Arnold Palmer, playing XBox. 

8) I'm not an asshole driver. Yes, I am an impatient driver, but I exhibit no road rage (other than to vocally call people "douchebags" as I'm driving,) routinely drive over the speed limit and thus far, knock wood, the only moving violation I ever received was driving over a double yellow line into a left-turn-only lane, with a Park Ridge cop right behind me during rush hour once. (I did online traffic safety school and it was expunged from my record, and at least he was kind enough not to cite me for my cracked/ sort-of-broken taillight (DUI, whacked my backside into a tree trunk), my missing front plate (no front bumper, which flew off going 65 mph on the tollway with Luke en route to the zoo from back in the day...my car has....lots of scars of my past. Craig calls it "The Rolling Deathtrap" for a reason. I can't park. I am almost legally blind in my left eye without glasses. I have very poor depth perception. And zero spatial orientation skills. And that's all sober!) I abhor people who don't use their turn signals, stay in the slow lane on the expressway but go 70 if I can, race through yellow lights...otherwise, I'm not a douchebag like so many other drivers seem to be around me. 

After parking (decently) at Osco to get my Rx, a woman parked in the handicapped section of the lot in front of the store called out "HELP ME! HELP ME! CAN YOU HELP ME?" and being the superhero I am, in the middle of having spent the day paralyzed with anxiety and burned out from the olive experience, walked up to her and just said "What." "I'm handicapped!" she said. "I see that!" I told her, albeit sarcastically. "I need a motor cart! I can't get out of my car! I can't walk around the store! Can you get me a motorized cart?" she begged. Sighing, I said yes, I would, while wondering to myself if she's indeed SO handicapped, how the fuck she got into her car and drove to the store alone in the first place. Feeling slightly chumped, I located a cart clerk dude and told HIM her sob story, where she was parked, and meandered to the pharmacy. Elderly Good Deed of the Day #2, accomplished, begrudgingly, but you know the Golden Rule and all that jazz. 

Aggravated at the line and not noticing the customers in front of me, I was Tweeting my dribbles and my friend Amy Tweeted me back that I was spending way too much time in drug stores. Twas ever thus. The woman in front of me, who was old, short and had dark hair, announced her name in a trademark way that I shall never forget, for she was one of my patients at Balderdash & Verities. (She's a complete, utter pain in the ass, by the way.) Knowing her nuances, when the pharmacy tech rang her Rx up, and it totaled $3.04, it didn't surprise me that not only did she wish to pay by check, she insisted on handwriting the check instead of letting the register print it out. Nor did it surprise me that she didn't have or know how to use a debit or credit card for a more expeditious checkout experience. Nor did it surprise me that she asked three times what the total amount was. Just as it didn't surprise me that she fucked up the computer signature system you have to sign-off on to get your Rx. "I'll get this right sometime in the next 20 years, God willing!" she said apologetically to the pharmacy tech, who knows me, had my Rx queued up already and raised her eyebrow, as I did mine, in a mutual "Lady, your bones will be dust in 20 years, but that's immaterial." Have a nice day.

Drove home to the tunes on the rest of the new Harrison disc, with little douchebaggery to complain about. Accidentally bumped the light pole where I park in the alley of the townhomes, but that's pretty typical Annie driving behavior and The Rolling Deathtrap can withstand a 1 mph ding. 

The last song that was playing was George's first-take demo of "Run of the Mill," which ended up on "All Things Must Pass." A song my male best friend put on a CD for me when he was really, really pissed at me, that I put on my thank-you-note-emailing friend's birthday CD this year, with an annotation (most of the CD's I give him come with annotations as to why I chose each song...that's how I roll, and he knows that) that I hoped I never would have to send him "Run of the Mill" out of anger. I liked the softer, acoustic demo version, as opposed to the Phil Spector-produced Wall of Sound production the final piece became, which is far more dramatic and thus more typical of my best male friend when he's trying to prove a point or GET AT ME emotionally. The demo isn't as bitter or forceful; rather, it's quite beautiful. It's about choosing to be friends with someone and the responsibilities that are carried with friendship. Sort of like the concept of propinquity, which was the title of the compilation I made for my friend, which is one of the core principles of why we're friends, which I had to explain as a sociological law to his spouse at my birthday party. He'll get the someecard at whatever time he decides to check his email after he comes back from a 2-week vacation in a 3rd world country and catches up on life. Note that while I did indeed send him "Run of the Mill," I did not wish upon he or his family amoebic dysentery from consuming the drinking water. I'm not a douchebag, after all, and geez, after helping all the elderly of the community today, I'm fairly certain my karmic echelon has raised high enough such that I shan't be reincarnated as, say, a roach. :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bad Words You Should Never Say in Public

The Department of Homeland Security vs the internet is on crackdown. The UK Daily Mail, actually, posted pictures of the taboo keywords people use online that are almost guaranteed to have the government of the USA following your every move. I've used a number of them. As far as I'm concerned, the government can follow me all they want. I'm a peace-loving, passive anarchist who doesn't believe the US government should exist at all, though I vote as a registered Democrat, because it's the lesser of two evils. If the CIA can tap John Lennon's phone, I'm sure they can peruse my blog whenever they feel like it. Here is the comprehensive list of bad words nobody should be using, but I will use anyway if I so choose:



With all that in mind, this Memorial Day, I WOULD like to thank all the men and women in the Armed Forces who have fought to maintain my freedom to piss off the government. To Obama? Bring them back home like you said you would months ago. They're all going apeshit crazy in the Middle East. They ALL most likely have PTSD. War is not the answer. Give peace a chance.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Don't Categorize Me."

I like everything this diatribe says except for the fact that they incorrectly used "you're" when they meant "your." And they spelled "labeled" wrong. But then again, if they're touting that they don't give two shits about what other people think, my criticism is moot. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Hate to Use a Journey Song Title, But "Ask the Lonely."

Web sites devoted to the study and practice of psychology/psychiatry are plentiful on the internet. Unfortunately, most of them are geared towards laypeople, and the dispensation of practical living advice, instead of tackling legitimate clinical issues and concepts. (Some sites intermix clinical and practical subjects, like Natasha Tracy's wondrously helpful site, Bipolar Burble (natashatracy.com). Other sites seem to be written for...geez, "laypeople" is too smart a word. "Dumbshits" is overused (see yesterday's blog).  Ok, let's pretend I'm feeling charitable and just call them "Average Joes".

"World of Psychology" on psychcentral.com is geared towards Average Joes. Consumers who research psychology by happenstance, or from a Tweet they scrolled, or they Googled "Am I depressed?" and took a 5-question quiz to self-diagnose before panicking and resigning themselves to a lifetime passport stamped by the Prozac Nation. I was the hapless Tweeter today who, while TRYING to read one of my favorite blogger's brief missives today, Babe Walker's "White Girl Problems," stumbled upon psychcentral's re-Tweeted link (meaning someone *I* follow follows it, not me, you follow?) that asked the question:

"TRUE LOVE: HOW DO YOU KNOW?" 

...and linked their article which attempted legitimacy by virtue of including Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love, which is way too complicated for a one-page Average Joe's psych blog entry. Being single, curious, and most importantly, hopelessly jaded, I read the article, attributed to a PhD who must have received her degree online or something. I've learned much since my divorce and in my singlehood.


After picking apart the article's many punctuation and syntactical errors, taken for what it's worth, I learned the following:

1) That the only attribution to Sternberg's theory is a graphic illustrating his theory, with a pink triangle and little hearts all over it. The author of the article says that Sternberg himself explained the theory SO WELL that it would be difficult upon which to improve, so she certainly wasn't even going to try, and didn't. Here's the graphic psychcentral used:
Having trouble reading it? Great, then, it wasn't just me. I can't even tell you why the hearts are of varying sizes, or why the smallest heart is as equidistant to "empty love" as it is to "consummate love," which are theoretically polar opposites. The author doesn't go on to explain Sternberg's theory, but tries to put it in simple-sentence terms.

Of PASSION, she says, "It's like....WOW! You might hear angels and music!" with regard to physical and sexual attraction. (Appropriate, perhaps, if you're 15 years old. Like wow!) You want passion? Go back and read my blog on one of contemporary society's greatest stories of passion: http://www.theoffbeatdrummer.blogspot.com/2012/04/love-letters-and-total-non-sequitur.html. Or read Anna Karenina. Fuck, read Song of Solomon in the Bible. Read Wuthering Heights. Listen to Derek & The Dominoes' "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs."

Passion tends to peak at the beginning of a relationship, waning considerably over time. If passion maintained its frantic pace for 30 years straight, I think people would literally fuck themselves to death.   (Though I guess that insane Duggar family might be the exception. 20 kids and they haven't died yet. Of course, they themselves haven't actually raised any of their own kids, hence they have so much free time to continue to procreate.) I've known couples who still find their partners brutally hot years into a relationship, which has always puzzled me. A lot of that depends, I guess, on whether or not either of them lets his or herself go and turns into a total schlub. (Hey, I was guilty as charged during my 11-year marriage by adopting a non-hair-style style, gaining an obscene amount of weight, dressing dowdy, etc. So was my husband, until he grew a beard on my command, when he became conversely hotter to me. Note, we didn't procreate until he had a beard. Becoming "typical" and "normal" looking was NOT a good look for me AT ALL. And besides, I knew since college that my husband didn't honestly find me terribly physically or sexually attractive to begin with, when passion should've peaked, as per a psychology paper he wrote that I had the unfortunate experience of reading where he explained that his "current partner," me, he wasn't very attracted to, and frankly had a difficult time sleeping with.  I married him anyway, because he was the first guy who asked. He was the first guy, period. Thank God I waited until my late 30's to trash all that normalcy and bring hot punk back into fashion, by which time my husband was long gone and I got 10 piercings in my head and 2 tattoos, all of which he hates, which makes me happy. I grew into myself, which is by no means a dowdy suburban housewife and I think I look better now than I did when I was 20.

With my psycho ex-boyfriend of 3 1/2 years after the separation/divorce, there was an intense amount of physical/sexual chemistry early on, and we couldn't get enough of one another. Not that HE was terribly attractive to look at himself, though he also became hotter when he grew a beard per my request. (Read: Facial hair on men? Always good.) He was huge and strong, and I looked like an elf in comparison. He also had a belly bigger than the state of Massachusetts that he couldn't manage to tone down. Even given the fact that he'd later severely abuse me, at least he thought I was hotter than hot (I'd lost all the weight by then and took on my style, got my mojo back, even though he attempted to dress me like a prepster/Trixie by buying me a lot of clothes.). But regrettably, I wasn't enough for him either, so he was incapable of commitment, which comes later in the article.

Of INTIMACY, the author says that intimacy leads to attachment, which leads to "becoming bonded" with the other person. To further illustrate her point, she whips out the deeply intellectual statement, "Intimacy grows first by spending much time with another person." She says that intimacy is built on "trust and safety." If the definition of intimacy was that simple, I would be having intimate relationships with my 3 closest guy friends, a few of my girlfriends as well as my own son. Who knew? What a blanket statement.

Of COMMITMENT, the PhD's last factor, she advises that you, as a couple, participate in a conciliatory pursuit of togetherness "no matter how you feel." THAT sounds happy! (Seriously, has NOBODY ON EARTH watched "Annie Hall" in the last 25 years?) Sure, she mentions quick resolution to differences and arguments instead of festering (festering MY word, not HERS). Quick to acknowledge that "commitment" equates to "engagement and marriage," she at least admits that even these institutions are bound to failure sometimes.

Her parting advice?
"True love has all three of these components. Having only a couple will show that the relationship has lost its air and needs help. The famous wise king Solomon once said, that “many waters cannot quench love” True love is like a flame. All the monsoon rains, hurricanes, and floods cannot put out the flame of love. What is your love made of?"
I know PLENTY of relationships that are out of air.  What is *my* love made out of? Suffice it to say that when I list my "relationship status" on Facebook as "it's complicated," I mean that. On the subject of weather disasters and acts of God not separating us from our partners, I had to wholeheartedly, as an ex-wife and a dump-ee, disagree. I know more married couples in companionate or empty loves, by far, than those who claim to have consummate love. Even couples I know who have been married 20 or more years.  The psychcentral love doctor negates a number of other, separate types of love in her article that complicate even the sturdiest of loves, that Sternberg includes in his theory collectively. It's illustrated as this:


Or, if you're sensing that I'm just a withered old maid jealous of happy couples, it's better illustrated as this:

According to Wikipedia's translation of Sternberg's theory:
 "Sternberg cautions that maintaining a consummate love may be even harder than achieving it. He stresses the importance of translating the components of love into action. "Without expression," he warns, "even the greatest of loves can die."[11] Thus, consummate love may not be permanent. If passion is lost over time, it may change into companionate love."
The couple, as an example, who had the epitome of consummate love, throughout their many years together, from start to finish, through bumps and bruises, who each grew foxier as they got older and had it going on?

The, for all intents and purposes perfectly happy couple who bickered out the door of my party over his not understanding what she meant in reference to an obscure lawn/garden item such as solar-powered butterfly lanterns (or some such nonsense, I dunno, I was confused too):

Keep this in your mind, potential suitors, wherever you may be...





Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Wouldn't Put it Past Me. Or Him. Or Her. Or Them.

Best Headline of the Day Award:


Jumiah, Maid In Singapore, Allegedly Put Menstrual Blood In Boss's Coffee

File under, "Damnit, my timing is ALWAYS off." Now, not only do I not work at Balderdash & Verities, I  don't even produce menstrual blood with which to taint my former supervisor's morning latte. Though I was surprised to find out in the accompanying article that in many native cultures, menstrual blood is used as a seduction tool, much like pheromones, which is insanely gross. Not that I'd have to worry about that anymore.

I wonder if she ever noticed that hyper-annoying, random faint beeping in her office from a long time ago that would happen on occasion, very faintly, or from whence it came. No, dumbshits, it wasn't a fucking bomb. I can't make bombs.I don't know of anyone who *can* make bombs. Honest. It's nothing remotely illegal and is sold on a nerd site. Who makes bombs that take like 10 months to go off in the first place? All's I have to say is that thinkgeek.com makes some wonderful products that technology nerds on a budget can use to annoy the piss out of people. (Craig put one in Luke's pencil box one day and drove him nuts at school. Fortunately, my boy isn't as stupid as my former supervisor, found it, figured it out, and ripped Dad a new one after school.) Plus, the battery life is limited. But in the moment, it's perfect.

Could it have been me? Or the freelance computer technician, who was slipped a fin as a favor? Or someone on the existing support staff after I left? Well, when I left, I handed over my keys, so it could literally have been anybody. Her office is so loaded with crap, it would take weeks to find it, because it's really small.

Please refer to Exhibit A:

The aforementioned gadget isn't quite as cool, but nonetheless annoying, as the small, LED-signal reading device my son has that can turn virtually any television on or off without anyone seeing it. Luke pulled that one on Craig's mom while she was deeply entranced by a TV game show, at a heightened moment, which resulted in her shouting "DAMNIT!" at the top of her lungs, all caught on Luke's hidden video camera. That was fucking priceless film making. We tried it out at Target, turning off a number of their TV's, but store personnel thought something was fishy, so we innocently moved on. 

Thinking geeks are notoriously precocious. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nobody Gets Too Much Heaven No More.

News headlines are pouring in about the final moments of and hopefully graceful, peaceful death of Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees. He was proceeded in death by his parents, two of his brothers; his twin, Maurice, and his younger brother, Andy. He was 62 years old and battled colon and liver cancer for several years, and rebounded miraculously recently after pneumonia threw him into a coma. The truth of the matter is that God's plan was for him to have just a few more delicate, loving moments with the people he loved--his wife and children, and older brother, Barry. (Photo: Left to Right: Barry, Robin, Maurice.)



Immediately, the interconnection of Donna Summer's death last week in tandem with Gibb's death today generated blanket "Two Disco Legends Die in One Week" in the press. Donna Summer was a disco artist, by genre, and followed that up with some successful R&B singles after disco officially died (much to the average rock fan's delight, though you had legit "rock" bands and singers doing disco: The Stones' "Miss You," KISS' "I Was Made For Lovin' You," and Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" all come to mind.). It's a natural line to draw regarding Summer and disco. With Robin Gibb, though, it's on a much broader spectrum that winds through the strands of 20th and 21st century rock/pop music.



Certainly, it's fair to say that the era of disco and the Bee Gees doing the soundtrack to the box-office frenzied "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack was their greatest success. It opened them up to a new generation of audiences who preferred them as a disco-jiving group. It's passe of me to admit, but I totally dug disco. It's what I grew up with when I was a wee one, as my mom really liked their stuff and had 8-tracks (which she still has) of Bee Gees music. 

The Brothers Gibb set a precedent for all other disco artists with their brilliantly crafted dance music. But the larger point is that the group grew with the culture of their time. Personally, I prefer their earlier hits. I don't *dislike* the disco, but it's not their best work.

Robin had the more melodic, delicate voice of the group. You would always see him onstage with a hand over his ear so he could hear himself sing (later he'd wear special ear monitors) so he wouldn't drop off key. While Barry had probably the best of the falsettos, Robin always had a strong, melodic harmony if he wasn't singing lead. Maurice was the quiet one, who played the piano or keyboards with the band, though he sang sometimes as well, certainly backup.

Steven and I are both more fans of the earlier, pre-disco songs. The Bee Gees were great storytellers through song, with a lot of passion behind each track. Where do I START with clips? Certainly with our favorite, "I Stared a Joke."


"Holiday":


"Massachusetts"


and a newer tune, from 1997, "Alone"


Robin, thanks for all the great music. The Bee Gees will NEVER be forgotten. God bless!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nienawidzę sprzeczania się z chrześcijan noszenie mojego starego tłuszczu odzież.

Wow, tomorrow's going to have to be another 5:30am wake up, get the venti Starbucks crack, and GET MANIC, because I'm as-of-yet totally unprepared for my birthday party. I haven't even showered yet today and it's 3:30pm. I still have to plan an iPod mix, buy food (and come up with appetizer recipes), buy drinks, buy disposable plates/cups/cutlery, buy smokes, dust my room, get gas, wrap gifts for others, and finalize the ever-changing head count. I wanted to give my friend a mix CD, but I'm not sure I have the brain power/creative energy to throw together 20 poignant songs out of 3,000 in my iTunes before Saturday night. I won't be home Saturday afternoon, going to a gathering at my sponsor's house, so that's time lost on Party Day, which is fine, though I can only afford to stay for about an hour. But I want to go. It just means packing more into Friday than I planned, having had a Shit Ass Thursday.

Today was a clusterfuck (thus far, but I haven't gone to Luke's therapy session yet). Up at 5:45, made Luke's breakfast and lunch, sped him to school, then dicked around for like 3 hours online trying to find a decent price on my Psych book for this summer. The professor kindly emailed us and pointed us in its direction, though I'd been searching by ISBN # and that kept landing me to sold-out sites, the wrong edition, etc. Emailed her back, asking (politely) where the fuck she found it, as I was already failing, and she suggested I search by title and author. Amazon. Boom. $50 instead of $162 at school. Amazon declined my debit card, though it was just loaded with $$ this morning. Turns out, I transposed the digits on the card. My bad. Smooth sailing from there. Abnormal Psychology. Yay, back to learning ALL ABOUT MY FAVORITE SUBJECT, ME! ;)

So Donna Summer died. Rest in peace, Disco Queen, but please. People on Facebook and Twitter? The adage "Today was her LAST DANCE! RIP!" was well-coined the first time I saw it. By the 18th scroll down my news feed, having heard it also from the Official Estate of Rick James, it was tiresome. Feeling I *had* to post one of her clips to my page, I chose the official, 17-minute version of "Love to Love You Baby," which is the moaning, sexually-fueled disco equivalent of "In A Gadda Da Vida." Taken in musical context, however, it IS roughly the length of the average (still married) Baby Boomer/former disco-dancing couple's lovemaking sessions once every couple of months.

Right now, I'm outside trying to stay out of Ma's way, as she's cleaning in the house. I've had 3 dizzy spells today, ate 2 protein bars and had a shake, and am not hungry. I'm stress-starving. One dizzy spell was while I was helping my mom take the screens out of the kitchen windows she was cleaning. She was angered by my near-collapse, which I blamed on getting up too fast and my blood pressure dropping (which happens with my heart condition). I took Excedrin but I have a migraine anyway. I took Meclizine but am still dizzy. As my mother is fond of telling me, "You have an answer and a pill for everything."

Profundity was all over the map today, from Nez to Pastor Dave to my sponsor, to me, to someecards.com.
Unfortunately, I have not yet made it into my literal sassy pants, but my brain was full of it today.

Nez was talking about new music he's developing, and how he's trying to write a song that people will actually dance to, a goal that has eluded him for decades. He stumbled upon the following notion that resounded brightly in my head:
 "Whatever wisdom I may have has come because my soul has been defined in song, and now I sense the song in everyone. That is the spectrum I am on. It is the only one I understand."
LOUD AND CLEAR. I think in songs. I communicate with other people in songs. Songs have been written about me. I'm "The Pattie Boyd of the Northwest Side." That is how, as I was saying earlier, I *can* make a unified, cohesive CD of 20 songs for someone out of 3,000 songs in my library, with little effort. I claim Queen of the Ball on that task, with my male best friend as the King, if not the Total Dictator. 

In other exciting music news (that doesn't involve anyone dying), My Bloody Valentine is coming out with their first EP since their 1991 album "Loveless." SHOEGAZERS! YOU HAVE REASON TO LIVE AGAIN! I said today that you'd have to pry my "Loveless" shirt from Craig off my cold, dead body, but that that would be VERY My Bloody Valentine and apropos. And Dinosaur Jr. are playing in Chicago! At a street fest! On the same night I have band! BOOOOOO to that, because I had planned on stealing Lou Barlow away from his wife and children (as every other 40-year old former shoegazer would be planning. Please. Steven admits to having a mancrush on the guy. He's THAT cute.)

I'm realizing more and more, the longer I circle the drain, that my penchant for fighting with people using words is a craft that both God and Satan bless and destroy me with. If I had the inclination, I'd have made a great defense attorney on paper, though I loathe almost every lawyer I've ever met except for my friend guy friend Joel, but he's like Lou Barlowesque. If you want to fight with me, don't come to my face, whereupon I mentally crumble and just swear a lot. Don't yell at me, because I'm anti-authoritarian. Let me write it all out. It's better than my roundhouse kick.

First of all, don't get me wrong. I honestly love all of my friends. A lot. That's why I've invited them over Saturday night. But life has taught me that you *have* to be selective with whom you tell what, or people who claim to be your friend will use things against you, assault you, misunderstand you, etc. Somebody will invariably get hurt at some point. We're all human.

I have certain friends who know certain things. What my addict/alcoholic friends know isn't necessarily what my grade school friends know. My church friends aren't going to know the same thing as my college pals. My friends in the medical/chemical fields who know a lot won't play with the same cards as my family. Who has Carte Blanche, though? Who knows all of it---good, bad, ugly, indifferent, sick, glorious, amazing, sad, twisted, right and wrong? Kate. Only Kate. Distance, time zones, and chronic illness can't begin to separate our bond.

Knowing me through it all for about 20 years helps. She, having been my resident assistant in the artsy/dork dorm my sophomore year in college (her husband was a Russian professor at Knox, and she is, as I've said, a professional artist), came down to do a load of laundry in the basement, where I was hanging my Clapton tour t-shirt to dry. When Kate tells that story, she insists I looked at her with a "If you fucking TOUCH this shirt, I'll fucking kill you!" look. A "street" look, she says. Over those loads of laundry, we started to talk, liked one another immediately, and the rest is history. (She didn't steal my t-shirt.)

Kate loves Luke, though they've never met in person. Kate left a message on my and Craig's answering machine the absolute very minute (7:28 pm) Luke was busy being, you know, BORN. They've talked here and there on the phone, but Kate watches his videos and to my great surprise, I found out long ago, had been saving every picture of Luke I'd mailed her and compiled a photo album just of Luke. She doesn't doubt my capability as a mother, thinks I'm doing just fine. Kate never had children due to her chronic illnesses. I enjoy sharing Luke with her, and she's a great aunt to many, several who have been named after her because naming a kid "Awesome" is kinda silly.

Kate wrote me what was probably the nicest, most flattering email yesterday, after I'd expressed worry that if I called her when I got home tonight, I'd be "disturbing" her. She said this:
What is this about " I don't want to disturb you?"!
Andrea, I am here for you 24 hours a day, no matter
what is going on. You are family to me. You are the only
healthy relationship I have ever had with a woman.
You call me whenever you want and if Tim says I'm
sleeping you tell him it is really important, even if you
just want to tell me about some hot t-shirt you just got.
I've never had a girl friend who liked men as much as I do.
You do. I never had a girl friend who was anywhere near as talented as you , not at RISD , not at Harvard.
You are the funniest human being I have ever met. You also has suffered more than anyone I ever met. ( you blame yourself , I am going to make sure that behavior stops!) 
You undersand me. If you were not my friend I would be so jealous of you, I'd be really jealous of you.
I feel like a lot of bad things in my life have happened. God has blessed me
to balance things out. You are one of the biggest blessings of all.
Love,
Kate

Wow. Just wow. Not just a huge ego boost, but a very-much needed smile after email bitching all day with someone else. To me, she's the brainiac, the talented one, the funny one, the beautiful one to whom I pale in comparison. She's jealous of me? I can't even hold down a part-time job working for a crew of imbeciles (Lips and Tatus excepted). She finished "War and Peace!"


One thing Kate and I can always agree on is our mutual love of men in general. We both prefer the company of men to that of women, though each of us has our core, small center of women that we're close to and always will be, but again, that's a selective bunch and new candidates in the selection process must pass strict criteria. We're both friends with a lot of guys that neither of us is sleeping with. It was decided that if men can be stereotyped as "womanizers," Kate and I would be "manizers." We both find the majority of women in this world to be inherently catty, bitchy, jealous, gossiping, back-stabbing she-devils. (Consequently, a lot of women hate us. Meh. Fuck ya'll.)


Which brings me to my next subject. Sin and sinners.


Now, technically, if Kate is jealous of me, she's coveting something I have that she wishes she had. (This is a moot point in reality and Kate is ecstatic for me.) She's breaking the 10th Commandment. Let's say, hypothetically, that I had a manservant that Kate was coveting. According to the Bible (Matthew 18:15-18), if Kate was sinning against ME, I am to take that up with Kate. If she doesn't repent, the Bible says to inform 2 or 3 more people of her sin AGAINST ME and if she STILL won't repent, then I'm to rat her out to the Church, who will ex-communicate her until she DOES repent, at which time she'd be welcomed back. 


I checked this factoid out with Pastor today, in light of the bitching fest via email that was going on between myself and someone from church (yes, more church trouble) who unjustly was accusing me of breaking one of the Commandments and had been invited to my party out of politeness and obligation, though her mere presence would unease more than one of my guests. Several of them, frankly, who honestly can't handle her opinions about everything. Mind you, said Commandment has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH this woman. I didn't break the Commandment, and furthermore, the "alleged sin" wasn't against her. Yet in one of her emails to me, the woman said it was her RIGHT, as a Christian, to call me out, as another Christian, if I'm sinning or acting not in accordance with our faith, which put the punk in me. But when she equated one of my guests as being the equivalent of a "bottle of booze," I lost my shit. I told her that was a grave, unfair insult to one of my friends that I simply would not tolerate.


So I went to Pastor Dave, who, incidentally, is one of my guy friends. I asked him about (her term) "Christian Accountability." He said yes, that right is present, as long as Biblical guidelines are followed according to the verses above and only then. He said, "As Christians, we do not judge hypocritically or self-righteously." 


This woman holds a PhD in Self-Righteousness and is one of the most judgmental folks I've ever met. She insists her judgment isn't such, that she's coming from a place of Christian and friendly concern, blah blah. She literally almost grades Christians on their piety or lack thereof. Gasp! I told her in my email today that Pastor knows I believe in and practice some of the tenets of Hinduism and Buddhism and even HE isn't judging me on the Seat of Righteousness for breaking the First Commandment, having other church members gang up on me until I repent, or ex-communicating me. I told her I'm not accountable to a variety of people, who I felt I *was* accountable to, and that ultimately, it was between God and me, not ANY human. Certainly, I wasn't accountable to HER sorry ass.


Pastor asked me of what I was accused, and I told him. I also told him that this woman shared the alleged sin with other church members, which she did in hopes that someone would "influence" me into not breaking the Commandment I haven't broken. Well, guess what? She must have told people who know me pretty damn well, because nobody said boo to me. I know my sponsor is Person #1. I don't know who Person #2 or more is/are. I told her that the people she told must obviously think I'm capable of making my own, good decisions and know my heart and that this woman, who gossips in whispers loud enough in the sanctuary that the whole congregation can hear her, was probably spewing biased conjecture about me. 


A product of her Christian Care and Concern (read: busybodiness) was attempting to have my sponsor recruit me as a sponsee when my first sponsor moved out-of-state and I was sponsorless. She relentlessly pressured her to get in touch with me. Without any knowledge, background, education or, for that matter, necessity, she had to be sat down and explained to that it wasn't how AA works. Potential sponsors don't go out looking for sponsees. My sponsor knew that I had her number, saw her at church, was friendly with her, and that if and when I was ready, I'd give her a call. And I did. And it was one of the best calls I ever made. Talk about someone you can jive with, laugh with, who gets some of your uniqueness because of the common demon of alcohol? That's it, baby. (My sponsor is one of the people to whom I'm accountable. To work my program, to do my homework. To go to my meetings. 'Cause she'll kick my ass if I don't and I want to stay sober. She's also funny as shit.)


The point being, I was uneasy having the Queen of Self-Righteousness at my party because she DOES pry. She does feel entitled to an opinion, is nosy and would make other guests very uncomfortable to the point of defensiveness, which I don't want to happen in my home, where everyone should feel welcome. She'd make all the recovering alcoholics want to run to the liquor store. She'd have the neurotics asking me for Estazolam. The younger crowd would mouth to me "WTF?" I'd be chain-smoking. Everybody's asses would be worn out. She can't believe that I don't believe she has the capacity to behave herself in a social setting. I told her that frankly, I don't trust her. And if there Ain't No Party Like a Christ/Krishna Party, as the signs on the door will tell you, damn straight people are going to enjoy themselves and relax. We're not there to talk about God and Christianity all night (even WITH Pastor there or not there) and Commandments and "Ooh, look what Annie's doing over there! I'm keeping a list and that's the 27th time during the party Annie's taken the Lord's name in vain!"


Kate rattled off a number of Bible passages to rally for me, the most popular, obviously, the "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," so I ran with that as the subject heading of my email retort today. That ate up a decent portion of my afternoon, defending my honor, my friends' honors and justifying things that didn't need to be justified. No wonder I didn't eat, had a migraine and couldn't shower until 5pm. This woman likes to email me back while I'm asleep at night, so IF I hear anything tomorrow, it's going to have to fucking wait because I have rock-n-roll to accomplish. 


If I've learned anything in the last couple of days, it's this: People like to pick on other people when they themselves feel bad about something they are doing/did/want to do. Envy is rampant and ugly. We all sin and have fallen short of the glory of God. No one's blameless. But I didn't break this particular Commandment of which I was accused in a conspiracy with the party guest she essentially called as poisonous and deadly to me as a bottle of booze. 


Not yet, anyway. 


God knows what'll happen if Kate and I see each other in MA over the summer, double if my cousin, Paul, is involved with Luke in the center. And donkeys. On the Sabbath Day. Referring to all our parents as lousy motherfuckers. Chanting to Krishna. Saying "FUCK YOU!" at the top of our lungs to passersby. Killing someone with a knife we stole from a married couple we all screwed. Bearing false witness while coveting Kate's neighbors' houses. Kate eventually winning over my manservant (or one of them, I have so many). Paul thanking all the Gods he's a Unitarian Universalist and not a Lutheran....
















Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Love My Blog Tracking Software, Part I've Lost Count.



As I've said before, I got the blog tracker to keep an eye on my psycho ex-boyfriend, who is smart enough to figure out how to read me anonymously, so that was kind of a fail. Except when he logs in from his grad school email or Comcast downtown, which thankfully, isn't often at all.

Then it came in handy when the gang at my old job were completely cyberstalking my blog and spending endless hours' worth of the doctors' money reading my daily musings from the office, which I captured all on my computer as pictures as proof, should the need have ever arisen. They were all looking for gossip fodder about me and one of the doctors who fired me, who is still my friend, and sadly, there was no dirt to be found, other than we were still friends and hang out once in a while. Since I threatened to send all of the screen captures to the head doctor of the practice, the former supervisor said she'd like to see the proof. I had to laugh. Why, on God's green Earth, would I send the proof of at-work cyberstalking to one of the chiefly accused perpetrators and not her boss? Let's say I did. She'd look at it, then stick it in the locked shredding box immediately. I am many things. Naive and stupid are not two of them.

My suggestion, to be polite, to offer the statistics to the head doctor must have scared the shit out of my former co-workers en masse. Mysteriously, they stopped reading my blog at work. I don't know if the other co-workers, who the former supervisor said were all reading my blog and NOT her (though she was the only one with private access to a computer in her own office) are still reading my blog, because I don't know their IP addresses or necessary locations. If they still are, mazel tov! If any of them are still looking up the words "balderdash" and "verities" in the dictionary, shame on them.

It's also a shame that they're courting, or so I've heard, vendors that will help them switch to paperless charting. Given the quantity and thickness of all the charts, OMG, what a nightmare. An expensive nightmare that the head doctor will poo poo, as he's sort of techno challenged and old school, though I love him and hugged him without abandon as I left the office for the last time, wishing him the best as he did me, before I demanded he go get my doctor friend to walk me out because I was about to utterly fall apart. I even told him as he walked away to take it easy, and called him by his first name for the first time, EVER. (The shock wore off and the relief settled in pretty quickly.) Anyway, it's a shame they fired the most technologically advanced staff member with the worst data entry skills but, if given the opportunity, would've been their smartest computer boon. Too late now, wing dings!

My former supervisor had even been absent from the blog for a short time, only to reappear over the weekend to check in on All Things Annie. She probably just wanted to see if I lived to see my 40th birthday, which mercifully, I did. Silly former supervisor. She used to Google my name to get to my blog, either too dumb to remember what the URL was called, too dumb to bookmark it or save it to "favorites," or just isn't terribly internet savvy.  She switcherooed and started using a new web search engine to get to the blog. Nice try, but her IP address and location were still the same and can't change. (If she logs in on her phone, which she insists she doesn't, it will show a different carrier, so that's tricky. But I've heard complaints that my blog is really hard to read on a phone, mostly because of the old background. Not that the Lennon "Andrea Rocks" background makes things any easier, but I like it anyway.

Then we have the Anxiety-Ridden Church Member whom my comments and diatribes made so uneasy that, to torture herself further, read 13 blog entries over 2 days last month. Nothing attracts readers  and spells out "friend" like an insatiable inquisition to know more about a writer's mindset and belief system, especially when it grains against that of your church denomination, and half the church, minus the Pastor, but including some people who were closer to me than this woman, think I'm bound for hell for speaking my mind, confiding in people who gossip behind my back about who I choose as friends and loved ones and my alcohol problem. That's totally cool to an anti-authoritarian, peace-loving anarchist who doesn't let society OR the church denomination dictate my mannerisms. As the old adage goes, "Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one."

I actually opened myself up to yet more internet scrutiny by allowing readers to see my Twitpic photos at the bottom of the blog page. Previously, those photos were reserved for the 105 people who privately follow me on Twitter, all hand-approved by me and I'm very selective. But I post some silly pictures on there and I'm not ashamed or embarrassed about them, so what the fuck ever. If I can post a picture of myself pre-surgery in a paper hat and a gown, making a dumb face, what modicum of vanity do I have left?

But what's the most fun about the blog tracking software? The utterly insane, crazy ass shit that people Google or web search and wind up on my blog and I have NO IDEA WHY. I really should compile a "Best of" list sometime. I do enjoy all the readership under the guise of "hidemyass.com." That just cracks me up. Internet proxies are actually quite easy to trace.

Best Google searches that happened today of people who wound up visiting The Offbeat Drummer?

1. Wells Fargo Bank, Inc, who looked up the satisfaction of FDIC Section 19, from a blog that mentioned it 4 years ago. You're the fucking BANK. The FDIC oversees you. Shouldn't you be more aware of what their regulations might be? Just sayin'.

2. (This person is clearly more insane than I am.) This reader simply wound up on my home page, the blog about Brian Eno and Craig both being deemed douchebags last night, but read it anyway, after Googling this entire paragraph (you can't make this shit up):


"letters when my black friends came to watch a ball game and smoke pot, i didn't realize my white was ovulating when i talked her into using pot by half my wife ask my 2 black friends to fuck one had a 10" cock the cock was only 3" thick and 14" long both fucked and cun in her over 20 times about a month later the doctor said my wife was pregnant"
Excuse me, but what the fuckety fuck does THAT all mean? Not only is it poorly written, racist and utterly distasteful (trust me, if I find it distasteful, it's distasteful), it makes absolutely no logical sense. Have I written about smoking pot? Yes. Have I written about my pregnancy? Yes. Have I ever uttered the word "cock" on my blog? No. That was as close as I could get to deciphering this utter nonsense. But I had to laugh at it's randomocity. 


NON-SEQUITUR ALERT FOR THOSE OF YOU STILL TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE WORD NON-SEQUITUR!

(For definition purposes, Arlene and friends, not that I employ Christopher language often, but a "non-sequitur" is a "fancy word" for a random, non-linear strand of thinking that does not correlate from idea to idea. It's Latin. I use it when I'm blogging about topics that aren't related to one another in the same blog. Get it? Got it? Good.)

Driving home from therapy today, a filthy Rolls Royce pulled out in front of me, with Kentucky license plates. I was like, "If you're rich enough to afford a Rolls, keep it clean, people!" They eventually pulled up beside me, and I was fascinated to find the driver a man of 60+ years driving, donning a ponytail, a long, scraggly beard and wearing a tank top. His companion was a prematurely aging, wrinkled broad who looked like she was recovering from a crystal meth problem. I attributed the driver and his uber-luxury vehicle to living off of his royalties earned while he was a member of the Marshall Tucker Band. Sometimes the people you encounter are stranger than the people who Google your blog.

Awakened at 5:30 am today and felt incredibly drowsy by 6:30 and couldn't focus my eyes on my computer. I didn't have to be at therapy in the city until 11am. Decided to shower and head to my one major errand of the day: grocery shopping. There's a Starbucks in my local Dominicks (the more upscale Park Ridge store than the Jewel I patronize nearby in Chicago), so to counteract my drowsiness, I ordered a half Pike Place Roast with 3 shots of espresso and steamed soy milk. Stirred in 2 packets of Equal and stuck my cup in the cart's cup holder. Whizzed around the store like a fucking maniac on crack, simply giddy that coffee no longer makes me throw up, among other things.

Arrived at therapy and my counselor asked me if I was manic. I said no. She asked me if I was elated (an expressly elevated mood is a symptom of hypomania, so she had to ask), and I said no, but that I was mostly happy. I attributed my alertness and jibba jabba to the espresso and proceeded to tell her about my upcoming birthday party, and the stress and tension I was feeling surrounding it: from my mom and from some of the guests on the invite list. She explained, and I understood, that my mom wanting the house to be perfect and wanting to wash the doors and windows downstairs as a reflection of my mom's home on my friends, and her desire to leave a good impression, taking pride in her home. I just thought she was being overly neurotic and that my friends, in all likelihood, could give a crap about how clean my house is, but my counselor said if she's willing to go to the effort of cleaning, and making brownies and little weenies in sauce as an appetizer, I should be damn grateful and look upon it as a gesture of love. Re-framing my thoughts worked. Just as Kate re-framing my hostility towards the friend who forgot my birthday centered me and led way to mindfulness and introspection, hence my in-kind respond to his apology text and a pleasant phone conversation on Saturday.

(My counselor also said that I'm so transparent that she can gauge my mood the second I walk into our session. Surprised, I wondered if SHE can see right through me, what must my friends and loved ones think? OMGOODNESS.)

I just want to have a fun party where nobody bickers, or assassinates anyone else's character, or pries my friends about their lives. Nobody's coming to have their lives dissected. They're coming to celebrate that I survived to age 40. Regardless of what opinions anyone might have about any of my friends, there needs to be respect FOR my friends and their families and I want my guests to feel comfortable and at ease in my home. Simple as that. For everybody. The invite list is a veritable motley crew of unique personalities and backgrounds, and I love them all. I'm deeply grateful to those who've offered to help out with things, and hope it goes well. I'm a hapless party host incapable of multi-multi-multi-tasking. My game idea: Everyone paints a quick painting on the aforementioned gift I received of a Buddha Board, I take a picture of their drawing/painting, and make an online album of it as a keepsake. It doesn't matter if you can draw or paint--it's a zen thing of whatever enters your consciousness first and moves you to create something, even if it's stick figures. Lord knows I can't draw or paint. I got it to easily learn how in a practical, simple way. And it's certainly more appropriate than the Hip Flip Swinging Couples game I got at the church yard sale...

Sri Christ, Sri Krishna and always beware of maya...