Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stalactites and Stalagmites, MY SWEET LORD! (Coming Soon to PBS)

Life itself is an oddity, for sure. People have grappled since the beginning of time (a duration which varies depending on your theory) with the sequence of events which perpetuated the formation of the Earth and all its creatures, great and small, and in general terms, it's primarily attributed to a) the beautiful creations of God (the creationists), b) the Big Bang Theory and evolution (the scientists and folks of reasonable intellect) or c) A growing camp, those who believe God created evolution, (the indeterminable, non-committed middle ground). 

Creationists honestly, utilizing their bounty of spongy head tissue, would prefer to believe this illustration is accurate:

Versus the notion that such a creature as this existed, The Uchchaihshravas, in Hinduism (which hangs on my bedroom wall!):

Why, you ask? Because for simpletons and those whose logic is irreversibly stunted, it's much easier and less neuron-draining to lump the Tyrannosaurus Rex with hissing cockroaches, zebras, cows and monkeys on a giant boat and reduce the dinosaur to a peaceful herbivore in lieu of what science has starkly proven time and time again, that the T-Rex (like many other dinosaurs) was a total carnivore. The creationist will say, "No, this can't be! That would mean the T-Rex ate things like other animals, and, gasp, maybe even people! No, no. They ate grass and trees. It's in the Bible here....(licking fingers and flipping pages), unable to find anything remotely referring to prehistoric creatures...but hold on, we're looking, we're looking..." in utter denial that prehistoric creatures eradicated the planet before it was inhabited by homosapiens. 

Hi, yeah, no. 

Perhaps what amuses me the most is an aforementioned (many months ago, a chick who became physically ill after reading an hour's worth of my blog, which tickles my insides!) woman who attends my Lutheran church, who recently publicly renounced her support of and her child's enjoyment of PBS, the Public Broadcasting System, because of whom she perceives is Satan's latest myth-perpetuating, disastrous minion, whose incarnation as an eyeglasses-wearing, preppy dressing, TALKING AARDVARK rejects the Judeo-Christian version of God's creation in the form of:

Sure, "Arthur" seems innocent enough, and you know, take away the show's highly enjoyable (I started watching it BEFORE I had kids) and well-presented positive spins on little kids grappling with life, home, friends and school, insert an 11-minute vignette about stalactites, stalagmites and bats, explaining in logical, honest sense and reason what was involved in cave formation, and you, you, you, you and all of PBS are on a swift pathway to the bowels of hell.

This is the vignette in question, which, at 7:50, begins to explain the cave's formation (where the kids are on a field trip) with the truthful understanding that the Earth is, in fact, billions of years and not 4,000 years old. 

Yeah, trust me, I was thinking the same thing too, but this family takes Lutheranism to the tiniest pinhole of legitimacy vis-a-vis an extremely thin thread of any semblance of remote intelligence, and have made the unfortunate (but to each his own....raise ignoramuses, I give a shit) and illogical decision to ban "Arthur" from their daughter's television time. (If you're not in the know, "Veggie Tales," with its Christian approval stamp, gets really old really quickly, especially if your kid is really intelligent and deduces that he'd sooner watch an upright, humanly functioning aardvark than vegetables with eyes & mouths.) 

Perusing the comment thread underneath SB's anti-PBS rant featured rally cries from other creationist parents, and a special howdy-do from The Bride of Frankenstein, SB;s mother in law. Frankenbride proclaimed her own disdain towards PBS, her renunciation of supporting WTTW-Chicago; furthermore, her membership to the Shedd Aquarium, because the factual accounts of and displays about sea creatures, some of which are or were prehistoric, are likewise mislabeled, misguided fallacies and the Christian God isn't given any a public museum. (Poor thing. She's missing "Downton Abbey.") 

This is all, like, 75% as awesome as the Pope Emeritus Benedict the Roman Numeral resurrecting (for lack of a better term) the Shroud of Turin, which Catholics from around the world are ga-ga'ing their way to Italy over which to fawn. 

Hi, yeah, no.

Multi-million dollar, extensive research and study from both sacred and secular authorities deemed the Shroud an illusion of fallacy like 25 years ago. It's a crafty, man-made thingy a helluva long time ago, which happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to....exactly the way European Christians have depicted the Middle Eastern Jewish Jesus since roughly the Renaissance.  Catholic dictates are even more difficult to grasp than protestant theology, but my humble opinion was that Mr. Ratzinger sprung the Shroud out of hiding to deflect the multiple hush-hush scandals within Catholicism, while publicly (in his farewell address) accusing God of having "been asleep" for the majority of the last 8 years. 

God sleeps?!?!?! 

If I'd known *that* in the past, I completely would've capitalized on the Almighty Creator's snoozing inattentiveness and worked harder at seducing Guy Friend guilt-free, many times over. All these natural disasters, e.g. tsunamis, hurricanes, erupting volcanoes, amoebic dysentery epidemics & SB getting pregnant again must have all occurred during one of God's naps. His motto? "I'm omniscient & omnipresent, but I like to snuggle with a blankie and snooze while my children on Earth get all wacky and eat pig meat, fornicate, take My name in vain and fill sandbags before the levees break. I'm a busy guy, I'm getting old, and my son, seated at my right hand, well, gee, it takes me 3 days to get Him out of bed. Kids."

Concluding with the subject of naps, I arose with an intensely sore throat and a fever, and as I told SuperJuls, I'm a warrior who presses forward regardless. If I feel like lying down, chances are I ain't too peppy. Special thanks to Tuberculosis Freddie situated right behind me on the train yesterday morning, whose liberal and enthusiastic sneezing were barely shielded by my coat hood.  


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Whaddya In For?

February 21, 2008

Above, a beautiful photograph of Diversey Harbor overlooking the Chicago skyline. That's where I *thought* I was going. Harborview Recovery Center in St. Joseph's Hospital in Lincoln Park. I was still married, though separated for a year, and had a great Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance plan, so money wasn't an issue.

All I knew was that I needed to stop drinking as much as I was drinking, or else face the brutal fact my doctor laid out that the pace I was running would kill me in a few months. Yes, I was an alcoholic, having spent (in drinking years, anyway) only a few years drinking to the point where it was a daily necessity rather than in casual fashion, uncontrollable. Chris and I had been dating only a couple of months at that time, and I told him on the phone, during an argument over wine I stole from his apartment, that I needed to go away.

Harborview under the Resurrection Medical corporation was one choice. The other was Parkside Recovery in Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where I live (where Elton John did his rehab). I wanted to be far enough away from home where it'd be nearly impossibly for me to get home on my own, so after spending the entire night drinking, I managed to get my ex-husband to drive me downtown after he took my son to school, whom I didn't know if I'd see in a week, or a month, or longer.

I was advised by a social worker to show up to the ER as drunk as possible (and I was) and declare that I was a danger to myself and others to ensure I would be admitted to the recovery center. Craig and I spent the next 10 hours in a partitioned cubicle in the St. Joe's ER, when the delirium tremens started to kick in, I was a shaking, nervous mess and had to be sedated with Ativan to stop me from walking out of the curtain 20 times to see when they planned on taking care of me. I'd gone through 2 banana bag IV's. Turned out, I had to be competent and sober enough to agree to the admission, according to the intake coordinator, which I wasn't deemed until about 5pm that night. (My blood alcohol lever was in the stratosphere.) 

It was winter, so the above view outside Harborview is a little more bleak, but still overlooked the lake. It wasn't until I was taken to my room that I grew immediately fearful. It didn't look like Harborview did on its web page. What *did* it look like? A hospital mental health ward. An insane asylum. 

And it is, my friends, exactly what it was. I don't know if the homicidal and suicidal proclamation (neither of which were true, though I was an active self-harmer (cutter) at the time) were what led to the commission to the ward under the diagnosis of comorbidity or dual-diagnosis, two terms for the same thing: having mental illness and a substance abuse problem at the same time. 

After copying important phone numbers out of my cell, which wasn't allowed in the ward, I compiled the friends I wanted to contact during my assigned telephone time. I had to hand over the laces of my running shoes for fear I'd try to strangle myself with them. My mom scrambled to buy me a few track suits, as zippers were allowed but drawstrings not. I handed over more of my belongings than I remember, but I do remember being allowed to keep my Curious George, thank God.

I'd spend the next 10 days or so detoxing from the booze, warding off the withdrawal with a lot of Librium, Campral and Antabuse, some of which made me very sleepy, but a ton of sleep is not part of a treatment plan in the psych ward. There was breakfast at around 6-7am, followed by 3 hours of intense group therapy, then lunch, more therapy, and finally dinner and free time. We also had nightly homework for group therapy, but I'm pretty sure I was the only one who vigilantly did the assignments. If didn't take a genius to realize that the more you complied, the more you participated, the more you took charge of your own recovery, the sooner you might be allowed to go home.

Group therapy was very depressing, given the dozen or so patients were uniformly suicidal but not otherwise dangerous over on our east side locked partition. People would compete to see how many more cutting scars we all had, but never once did I say I'd rather be dead. The dangerous psychos were on the west side, also locked, and they kept all of the exercise equipment over there, so I couldn't work out.

As I've said in previous blogs, the other patients were all pretty weird, including my first roommate who took a pee in the garbage can next to my bed my first night there, and her catatonic follow up roommate was just dazed and confused the whole time. I met with my son and Craig in a locked, supervised visiting room, not unlike jail. Luke had recently turned 8, and I can't imagine what he thought I was doing in that crazy hospital. I seem to recall my ex-boyfriend visiting me in perhaps the cafeteria (?) one evening and my mom came to see me in my room (with the "safe" clothes). And also as previously discussed, yes, trays of food are thrown, patients throw fits of rage or ill-control and are tethered down and sedated, and bedlam frequently ensues.

There were people I witnessed and things I saw in the psych ward, where I, at the time, though bipolar, was the sanest of the lot, which is frightening. I befriended a few people, all of whom had been in the psych ward for MONTHS.  Some patients were plain-clothed like me. Still others wore hospital gowns, I believe quite frankly, that a lot of them lived on the streets and had nowhere else to go. I had a child to raise and I was stable, so I was granted a "Get Out Free" card. A clusterfuck of problems prevented me from doing much outpatient rehab, and I stayed sober on my own for over 4 years (the NyQuil incident notwithstanding). Minor detours have soiled my 5 years of attempted sobriety, but I worked damn hard to still be here.

Thus was my time in alcohol "rehab." That was my time in the "loony bin."

February 21, 2013

In my professional community, to have done a stint in rehab is the rule over the exception (with clients anyway). Across the board, if you are over 40 and say you've been to rehab (whether that's once, twice or 34 times), nobody gasps or chastises. Rehab is so common it's about the equivalent of having insanity endured taking your child to Chuck E. Cheese. And only for a week and a half? Most of my colleagues wonder doubt whether or not I'm even an alcoholic, which I am, at present, not so sure about myself anymore. But am I bipolar? OMG, yes.I'm going to get this for my manic/depressive mood swings:

We've come a long way in the area of addiction medicine and counseling psychology since I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital 5 years ago (yesterday). At school, the vast majority only know what a psych ward is like because they read about them in undergrad textbooks. Being a patient in one is totally different. Asked many times if any of us have been patients in a psychiatric ward, I'm the sole hand-raiser. The follow-up question is always "voluntary or involuntary." "Involuntary," I say, which is true, because I wanted to go to Harborview instead. Such a statement rises me to the highest level of wisdom and I'm like the Yoda over there.

It was neither fun nor enjoyable but highly educational at St. Joe's, and cemented my idea to become a psychologist specializing in substance abuse or dual diagnosis patients myself. It's sad, scary and freakish. Rehab is an experience I'd never trade but don't necessarily plan to repeat, unless I'm working in one, during which I'll probably lose what precious is left of my gray matter.

Seeing it just recently, I'm enamored by and drawn to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."  As you know, some things have changed for the better, and some things are still held by strict ethical codes of conduct as determined by the American Counseling Association, just as they religiously followed in the 1960's, during the time span the film covers. I don't have a lot of compelling  evidence these days to see how rituals of group therapy or addiction therapy are run (I'm still a grad student!) but I'm taking group psychotherapy this semester. I feel odd there, mostly because it's during the awkward pauses and silences (even if they're deliberate) I want to insert something--anything--to alleviate the mood. Usually, we're sitting in a circle and smack dab in the middle is a 4-outlet metal electrical doo-hickey. It'd be unusual for me NOT to point out the fact that I'm staring at it most of the time.

When I was in therapy as an inpatient, I was calm, happy and restlessly depressed (all at once) but had my wits about me, unlike the rest and felt 10 times more recovered that any of those other poor souls when I left. This montage of "Cuckoo's Nest" along the song along to a song by Gary Jules, is entitled "Mad World." This clip is heartbreaking, funny, and humanizes the patients versus the robotic nurse amazingly.

Never going back. (I did eventually get my shoelaces back.)

I have to give a shout out to who have recommended "Rhythms" as being a topical and mental health-related site, which in a roundabout way, it is, if one can meander through my complicated personal life to eek out what's socially relevant. To "Stand Up for Mental Health," as I do, visit:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Week Bereft With First World Problems. Plus Guy Friend Hates Me.

In the "WHOOPS!" department?

Pope Benedict the Who-Knows Roman Numeral is quitting Popedom. So what does the Good Lord do to the Vatican the night of Mr. Ratzinger's resignation? You betcha. Sends a big ol' bolt of lightning directly over, well, THE ACTUAL VATICAN. Jesus was like, "Nobody likes a quitter!!!!"  So off he'll go to a) retire & golf, b) sin a lot just because he can and c) reflect on all the sex he never had.

The Polish Guy Who Reigned Supreme:

So the Catholics are pushing to grant Sainthood to The Cool Pope, the late John Paul II. Being Polish was at the epicenter of his coolness, naturally, but he did all kindsa cool shit during his Poperacy. Such as...

He swatted oncoming doves with a bitch slap!

He was occasionally befuddled!

He strangled babies!

He shaved! Himself!

He blessed koalas who clung to him for life!

Very confused African natives welcomed him, though they had no fucking idea what his deal was. 

He hung out with Bono & was sport enough to try on Bono's sunglasses. Awesome.

The ENTIRETY of Chicago came to see him in 1979. Badass. 

I think the successor should totally, definitely be Ozzy Osbourne. 

Golly, you'd think Pope John Paul II was almost as cool as: 

What's Become of Guy Friend? 

Guy Friend was uncharacteristically chatty via text this week, not to mention snazzy and playful. Twice in one week! Until I scared him away and now he's ignoring me, which draws out literally every negative, self-defeating feeling of dread in my shredded being. 

Tuesday being Paczki Day, or as some call it, Fat Tuesday, while still others call it Shrove Tuesday, commonly known as the Last Hurrah of Gluttony Before Lent. In MY neighborhood, anyway, it is requisite (especially if you're Polish like me) to stop at one of the many overflowing Polish bakeries and pick up a batch of paczki. (For my family, I bought 2 chocolate custard, 2 blueberry and 2 strawberry. We ate them all in one day and trust me when I say that they leave a sensation, while delicious, of an 8lb barbell inside your gut.) Having sent Guy a picture, he replied back with the lone paczki left in the office out of 3 dozen. The gluttony aside, what threw me into a fit was that they were boxed and from a chain grocery store and *not* a Polish bakery. OH MY NO! I don't know who in the office bought them, as Guy didn't say, but  you Just. Don't. Buy. Them. At. The. Store.

It was a blast while it lasted, but Too Much Annie eventually wears out literally everyone. Especially when I'm manic. And I'm needy. And I want him to swoon over me. And sometimes he does. First, he was mad that the Catholic hospital was making him work on Easter for no pay, in the name of altruism. Essentially, Guy was like "WTF?" so I told him to tell the hospital he couldn't work because he was having an abortion that day. Hardy har. 

"I think I will give up logical thought for Lent. My stress level will be much lower if I BS my way through each day," he said.  "Think of the FUN we'd have!" I replied. I told him if he gave up logic, I'd give up chastity.  Win/Win. Nothing over-the-top. Typical Annie flirtatious bantering, which  works about 75% of the time with any man I might or might not be involved with.

Guy referred to me as Alice going down the rabbit hole, which might make more sense if I knew that whole story in the first place. (Later in the text conversation, I WAS the rabbit, and I'm not sure what THAT means either.) I was trying to brainstorm with him about a good medical excuse for Luke to get out of a shitty choir obligation he didn't want to attend. Guy kept throwing me communicable illnesses & plagues, which I vetoed for fear of inciting undue panic. I whipped out the DSM-IV-TR and flipped around until I reached a diagnosis for Luke as having disassociative amnesia. It made sense. My understanding of it is that something awful happened, you forgot about it, then you forgot you forgot it, and you remember it, and then you don't want to remember it again, so you forget it once more. Too much? 

My snarkiness on the requisite permission slip (on which I wrote Luke's diagnosis) might have been less hostile had whomever typed out this official letter for parents done so without mixing up affect/effect. That drives me BANANAS. Frightening? Guy noticed it on the slip BEFORE I DID. Or we were thinking the same thing, but I was slower on the draw. When I did point it out, he said, "Thank you, Ms. Obviouswoman." Am I THAT transparent? In any case, I responded "You're welcome, Captain Sensitivity." (Best Male Friend asked me if I was writing all of this down, which it was saved in my texts, because he found it all highly amusing.)

As per usual, I was up at my computer that night, Tuesday running into Wednesday, until far too late, and all drugged up, and when they say Ambien is a sedative/hypnotic (my favorite thing, incidentally) that will loop you the fuck out if you don't immediately crawl in bed when you take it, is a warning to heed. But I stayed up an extra hour and found an innocuous someecard for Guy that tied into kind of a cardiology joke. The message that went with the someecard, however? Loopy insane and senseless ramblings that somehow included Justin Bieber, all of which I have no memory. Guy told me to "cut back on the drugs, babe." If only I could. I told him to just ignore it, like the emails I send him late at night which also make no sense or say way too much information, which I ask him the next day to not read and delete for the love of God. Who knows if he does, but holy damage control!

The Valentine's Day Massacre: Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear:

Newsflash! Or as he called it, "Spoiler Alert!" Guy doesn't send Valentine's Day gifts or letters. 

I said, "Of course you don't. You think this is news?" recollecting the days we worked together and we'd all try to coerce him into at least getting Lady GuyGuy a freakin' card on the way home from the office. Whether or not he did, who knows, but naturally, underneath my encouraging facade, steam was about to come out of my ears. Hell hath no fury...or something. The green-eyed monster (er, wait, I have green eyes). 

Got a bit snippy with him during our next text exchange, which, in hindsight, I really should've chilled, because the line between being assertive and blunt about what you want and being a bitchy nag is anorexically thin. I was bossy and overbearing, and one of my friendship duties is to be an antithesis/ fun sassy cutie with whom to hang out. If he wanted crabbing, he could've gotten that at home. 

Since it was Ash Wednesday, when I was at the train station at 6:45 am that morning, I mistook a plain-clothed nun/priest mashup who were dispensing ashes upon commuters and I assumed they were Jehovah'a Witnesses, so I ran past them. I also didn't want to double dip Catholicism and Lutheranism in one day for over-repentance. Got my requisite annual smudge in church:

I happened to tell Guy that being fucked up on Ambien was why, in the mail that day, I received a $40 Kate Spade cell phone warmer, because First World Problem of the Week #1 which leads to First World Indulgence #1: allowing one's cell phone to get chilly. If you can't keep your phone cozy, you might as well try and use mittens because you can't type on it at all. The thought behind the phone cozy is the same as with the Spade hand warmers (I bought myself for at Christmas) I have. These hand-knit overpriced useless items ARE made by refugees or poor people in Bosnia, so it's like a charitable contribution almost. Or at least that's what I'm convincing myself, because it's the utmost in aggrandizing hyper-materialism.  (Remember? The hand warmers were the thing I asked Guy for, before he surprised me with the insanely sweet and awesomely ingenious "Twelve Days of Christmas" gifts to open.) 

First World Overindulgence #2: 

"Punjammies," which are technically pajama pants (though I'd wear them out in public), hand sewn by rescued former Indian prostitutes. It keeps them busy and out of the streets being productive for hoarding, snooty Americans who wish to dazzle. They're so boss! I also ordered a pair of (clearance) Ralph Lauren skinny jeans, which look faboo on me. (At 11pm last night, I apparently went back to and ordered *another* pair of jeans and a cute Tommy Hilfiger sweater. Lord, somebody put a lock on my computer past 9pm, you know? Crazy shit.

So I was telling Guy Friend about all these, uh, financial decisions regarding consumerist merchandise under the guise of being charitable, and firmly (rather impolitely, really) told him that if there's nobody else to spoil me, I might as well spoil myself. Got snarkier & reminded him of CD #2 that he ASKED me to burn, which he hasn't yet picked up, and for Valentine's Day, I bought him a copy of Fyodor Sologub's The Petty Demon, my favorite Russian novel, which is only THE most difficult literary work in the First World. At NO time did I anticipate, expect or ask for a reciprocation of my own gestures though I think he was overwhelmed when I told him, not asked him, to take me out, which evidently was the final straw.  

Oh my, did he respond angrily. He said that I "needed a sugar daddy among other things," and said, "Can't you be a little more in my face? Have to get to the office." 

(Cue very sad Annie face with no response to my brief apology.)

Excuse me, did I hear you correctly?

The choppy waters of right vs. wrong, what-to-do confusion is, I think, uncharted territory for Guy, who's not used to having someone hang on his every word with wide eyed adoration, and his boat is capsizing. I immediately took offense to the sugar daddy comment, having broken up with the ultimate sugar daddy and am still involved with an even sugaryer daddy, and I didn't ask him for anything either, though he did give me a gift that arrived today, which was small and appropriate. 

I get it, if Valentine's Day isn't a big deal, just a Hallmark holiday, a "have-to," I guess he and Lady GuyGuy don't make a big deal out of it (maybe it's never been a thing for them) and neither would I. Yet dipping his toes in the ripples of a shallow pond of what he perceived my expectations to be regarding the holiday, to me, contradicted the perpetual "We're just friends!" thing we've struggled with for, well, a few years already. We're just friends, remember? Friends who clearly have cataracts and can't see between the lines. Did he find it necessary to inform his obvious harem of girls crushing on him that he wasn't doing Valentine's Day for *all* of us? How many could there be? Seriously, it was aimed at me for a purpose. 

I sent him a graphic on Valentine's Day that seemed apropos to how he feels about me: 

PS, Guy, it wasn't my idea to arrange 12 Christmas gifts for me. That didn't inflate my expectations apart from perhaps a quick text wishing me a good day, to which I would've responded with the same sentiment and left the someecard as my only thing, w/the CD and the book. I love to give, and I give with my heart, even when I shouldn't. That's how I'm hard-wired. I don't expect anything in return 99% of the time.

Remember what my biggest pet peeve is of all time? Wishywashiness.

I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.

Furthermore, what are all these "things" I need? To lose 20 lbs? Tummy tuck? To read more? To color the gray in my hair? Extensive psychotherapy? To just fucking leave him alone for fuck's sake and take my crazy elsewhere? Expounding on all that would be quizzically relevant for sure. At the risk of confusing him further, based on previous communication, dare I say that odds are stacked I'd be more inclined to be less irritable, whiny and difficult if some of my needs were being at least remotely met, even in little dribby drabs, and that wouldn't even fall under a weird umbrella. I'm wracked with feeling foolish and like a total asshole. But! Just as I can't stay mad at him for any length of time, my friends are trying to assure me that Guy will be back, because he always comes back and this isn't the first time we've been on this ride. But does it sorta suck? Affirmative. I hate icky things with Guy. Like I'm not unstable enough, friendship anxiety whacks me out.

First World Overindulgence/Problem #3: Pomegranates?

I really dig pomegranate seeds for a snack. Imagine my horror when I opened up a brand new package of them, only to find out they'd gone bad? I was so bummed, my whole afternoon was kinda ruined. No, I am not buying a pomegranate & cutting it open to extricate all the damn seeds. That would require ambition and patience, neither of which I ever have.

I *did* get 2 Valentine's on the actual day, both from my ex-husband, ironically. The first was this, which was hysterical:

And knowing I'm a big Rush fan, a Geddy Lee Valentine, though he knows my heart belongs to Neil Peart:

A song featured on CD #2 for Guy, actually, Badfinger. Oh, wah is me!

Yep, Guy, please cut me some slack. I've been manic since last Sunday. 

Oh! Speaking of Valentines, My Bloody Valentine released their first record in 20 years, a follow up to one of the 90's greatest alternative albums. It's pretty good, though after a while, to me, all MBV songs begin to sound alike. Meanwhile, I am still in possession of my ex-husband's MBV "Loveless" t-shirt from 1992, which he outgrew and gave to me. You'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands. I told Craig to spin the record on this, my middle finger, while I scoped eBay and noticed said t-shirts were going for upwards of $120 apiece. No, I refuse to sell mine. It's an icon.

I suppose that's the sentiment I'll leave for the night and crawl into bed. Fuck it. 

"Loveless," by My Bloody Valentine. Sums things up nicely.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Playtex Thinks You Reek, By the Way.

Surely you're thinking, The Offbeat Drummer's dry, boring, chaste, lonely, (& I believe I've forgotten how to have sex by this time)'s intimacy sabbatical has passed and I am not living like a nun anymore.. "Mazel Tov!" you say, if you're judging from the first picture below. I will say this about the strangely packaged item that  has confused both men and women for several years. While functional, it causes eyebrow raising if it accidentally falls out of a purse. It confounds family. Friends say things like, "Wow. You come prepared for ANYTHING."

What's in there, anyway? Not what you think.

A lavender-scented sanitizing wipe (assume for faces or hands, not the nether regions). I don't remember on what flight or vacation I received or may have purchased them, but at a certain point, I had like 10 of them. I'm on my last one. This was released by some French company who probably snickered at Americans who bought them, knowing they bore a total eerie resemblance to condoms.

But now we have an "Oh, Playtex" rally cry. It'd be too easy to say your research & development team has tampons for brains. Soaked tampons, actually, full of tequila, that the CEO sucks on all day in his office when he's making important marketing decisions.

The obsolete douche, now ill-advised for usage by OB/GYN's across the board, has new competition in the female freshness market, despite decades of proof from common women, scientists, doctors and researchers, who have uniformly deemed the vagina to be as efficient and practical as a self-cleaning oven (even with burnt pizza cheese on the inside) and quintuple-a female cavity that takes care of itself in a woman's body without needing to be laboriously cleaned. That's the honest truth.

 "A clean beaver always finds more wood."

With the excitement of the now-wildfire-vernacular insult of "douchebag/douchetard," Playtex is coming out with another product that is completely designed to make females even MORE insecure about their bodies. While we're busy coordinating cute outfits to wear on dates, or vainly attempting to hide our gray hair, trying to decide to have sex with or without a light on, living with husbands who are just roommates, or working our asses off to be attractive to men, the Grand Poobah of the sanitary supply world, Playtex, dare I say, has joined the Pat Robertson/700 Club shitwagon about wives being so hideous looking that it gives just cause for disgruntled men to drink heavily and start sleeping around. (To be impartial, there are some hideous wives out there (see a few blogs ago), and a few husbands who really *should* be sleeping around but aren't.)

Now that society has us convinced that we're an eyesore unworthy of affection, we can fret about this, thanks to Playtex:

Guys think your nasty snatch reeks. Marvelous? Totally.

Married women probably wouldn't bother or don't really care anymore how their obligatory romp in the sack once or twice a month actually affects their partners' olfactory sense. The figures elude me at the moment, but the percentages of  non-newlywed women who initiate, suggest or, uh, jump on such things in bed dwindle dramatically after a love/lust plateau has been reached, and it takes all the energy the long-term-relationship survivors gather to get that half an hour over and done with so both partners can finally Go. To. Sleep. Go. To. Costco. Procure. Food. Invite the neighbors over for cocoa. Whatever. For a lot of couples, especially women, the whole thing gets to be a drag after a while.

After all, "a polished knob always gets more turns."


Playtex's answer to the "OH MY STINKY VAGINA!" crocodile tears I'm sure all of my devastated female readers are sobbing, is a brand new Girl Parts Makeover, which, thankfully, just arrived. May I present to you:

Refresh and glitz up the packaging, the "Fresh & Sexy" wipes are available in a tub (which you should totally keep next to your bed, next to your Pope John Paul II framed photo and a dangling rosary, or in individual packages, as I had above, which are probably more pragmatic for prostitutes, or sexy gals who travel light.

The updated and totally 21st century wipes for gals? I'd bet my only child on this: Some marketing moron convinced Playtex to repackage this item: Baby wipes. Why pilfer through Junior's ass-wiping stash when you can spend triple the money for a tenth full of packages of these:

"A clean pecker always taps it..."

I swear, it could only have been a boardroom full of men who came up with these ridiculous advertisement tag lines, employing as many vaginal and penile nicknames the laws of decency (boo!) & censorship would allow. They're just goofy.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rumors of the Reincarnation of The Offbeat Drummer.

February 1st...

"Beware of Darkness" from Harrison's monumental "All Things Must Pass" release, performed at the "Concert for Bangladesh," August, 1971.

This song is foreboding, creepily beautiful, a musically complicated trail of melodic warning with relation to the ills of what humans encounter in the material world, put very simply. Anyone with a layperson's knowledge of the Hindu concepts of karma and maya would probably not refer an individual to this song if that loved one was in the hurricane eye of terrifying Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which, as a sufferer, can be defined as a trudged up panic over latent fight-or-flight points in time that happened in the past which impede the consciousness of the present moment and overtake the mind with a flood of looming and inevitable dread. Hindus might say that the erupting and interrupting negative and corrupting thoughts are what Harrison forewarns (further in the tune) introduce maya, or utter, distracting illusion.

Watch out now. Take care, beware of thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness surrounds you in the dead of night
Beware of sadness.
It can hit you. It can hurt you.
Make you sore and what is more? That is not what you are here for.

At a critical psychological moment Monday night, in between looping inside and outside my classroom, vomiting or otherwise having my gastric system go cuckoo, while I paced the halls of Adler trembling in the hallways, attempting to go outside for air in the cold and back into the security-locked down office tower that holds the school, trying to explain to a few friends the how and why of utterly freaking out, my not-so-nimble fingers backspacing over typos and incomplete thoughts and sentences, in his infinite love and boundless tact, Guy Friend (who was on his way home from work) simply texted me back this: "BEWARE OF DARKNESS. GH." That certainly packed a greater right-in-the-stomach punch than his previous text soon before, in which he indicated he was listening to the Commodores' "Brick House," or that he'd been enjoying the guitar riffs of The Knack's "My Sharona," which I'd included on the latest compilation of tunes I'd made for him, uh, the week I died.

At the time, I grounded my teeth at Guy's overwhelming insensitivity in text, especially given in the middle of needing to be soothed, while awaiting the late train out of the Loop towards O'Hare, he casually said to the effect of (paraphrasing), "Well, I'm home and going to eat dinner. Take care." BOOM.

Either he knows me so well to know I didn't have the Anna Karenina in me to flail in front of the train before it stopped and trusted that the PTSD was something I had the wherewithal with to muddle through, he fully comprehended the enormity of an earworm as complex as "Beware of Darkness," which I highly doubt, or, my knee-jerk reaction, that pulling his hybrid into the garage abruptly ended his Relegated Period of Giving a Damn.

Not having spoken with him since, as he left for a long skiing weekend in Colorado without saying goodbye to me, with Lady GuyGuy on the slopes, for whose birthday he trekked up to an outlet mall in Wisconsin with a buddy (who was wearing a dreaded North Face jacket, of which Guy took a picture) and procured her request of a new daily handbag (also pictured) and, as I understood it, a "satchel" as well... my perpetually fatalistic conclusion is that I'd exceeded my monthly allotment of Guycentric Warm Fuzzies.

My impression at our last, uh, mingling, was that Lady GuyGuy shipped him off to shop with a specific goal in mind, and he kind of did what he was told, and came back with something requisite per her request, about which he seemed rather blase. My friends are quick to point out that said activity took only a small percentage of ingenuity and thoughtfulness he put into Christmas gifts to me. Lady's birthday spiked his obligatory "Go get me these...thingys," followed by an appeasing yet fun enough mini-vacation, given Guy enjoys skiing.

As if having to go a female friend's dad's wake today, Dad's Last Day Wandering Through the Coils wasn't surreal enough, and that Guy Friend's own dad would spend the evening of February 2nd trying to revive my father after what was a fatal heart attack from alcohol withdrawal, before the idea of chemically easing withdrawal was the way to go, I was having kind of a harsh week to begin with.

February 2, 29 years ago.

It was 29 years ago that my dad died in the 2nd of February. It struck me strange that on January 29th, which was the last day I saw him alive, the number of years gone matched numbers with the date, which I Googled and found out that 29 is actually a prime number, and furthermore considered a "Lucas prime number" in mathematics. That's freaky.

En route to the wake, which was a good hour & 1/2 in bad traffic, Guy texted me a simple, "About those 2 cd's you..." which sent me into a panic of "AND?" I thought he was going to explain criticism (I gave him complete liner notes as to why I chose what I chose) but as it turned out, I somehow accidentally gave him two copies of the same CD. I honestly thought I'd successfully burned both, but I didn't, and he wants to hear the 2nd CD, so I told him I would burn him a copy for next week. Then it struck me...he's thinking about the CD's, which means he's thinking about me while he's swooshing down a big hill, with old what's her name, which is totally awesome. Unless he went w/his guy buddies, which he didn't clarify but then it would be doubly awesome.

Lady GuyGuy got a Michael Kors bag as her gift from Guy, no less, which, please...(possibly faux, but certainly not classy-ish) ostrich on what looked big enough to hold one of those gravely annoying Little Dogs? Did he not know you can get Michael Kors stuff at T.J. Maxx? If I may get all marketing business fashion kooky for a second, which is really *not* punk of a rule, a designer's legitimacy and value cease to exist once that designer is reduced to supplying goods for the purpose of, well, reduction and clearance at a mega-chain. Kors is a trained architect, not a fashion designer, and his garish and consistently tacky totes bearing "MK" initials confused me at first into thinking they were designed by likewise tasteless actress/fashionista Mary-Kate Olsen...Put more bluntly: It ain't no fuckin' Kate Spade.

Spade's designs are whimsical, classy, sharp, sophisticated and subtle, minimalist cutting edge with enough traditionalism to be functionally sassy, and, apart from the Louis Vuittons I own from my "Living in the Material World," years and my fondness for Burberry, are the only persnickety non-punk attributes about my choice of wardrobe and accessories. (Hell, Best Male Friend is just like me but has Burberry pajamas.) Kors' designs try to have the status renowned by Vuitton, but in the shape of some of Spade's or Prada's trademarks, with enough Hermes wannabe to pass off an "originally $400" handbag into $99 at any number of retail establishments aimed at bargain hunters.

But oh my, did I ever digress!

My original point being, to realize the intensity and intrusion which accompany a trigger of PTSD is close to impossible, even with the best of intentions and the utmost of empathy. Our professor in Community Psych (who's wonderful) on Monday night showed us a "20/20" clip of a man literally (and not staged for TV) beat his wife to a pulp. It struck such a fearful nerve, that I'd left the room for extended periods twice in a matter of an hour and a half, maybe? I knew the topic of class was domestic violence, and I was ok with hearing more about ways to treat it, if only for my own personal edification. I feel strongly I am not a victim of domestic violence; rather, I'm a survivor of it. 

Yes, I understand that I will have clients who present with problems similar to what I've gone through. But the ethical model we follow in the psychological practice is to refer a client out to another therapist who may have more knowledge, experience and tough skin to handle a domestic violence case if I can't, because I am too jaded and afraid. I explained to the professor later, on the train home, what was the scoop. My therapy partner from last semester, who is also in my class, stayed after class to fill the Prof about what's happened to me, which I said was fine. I feel bad that my prof felt bad showing such a graphic video. While blessed with a strong stomach for most things, I was not prepared for the discussion about the makeup of the domestic abuser. (Hint: It's usually the guy everyone thinks is the nicest and most outgoing, seemingly wonderful guy around, which is completely what Chris was like.)

To those for whom my heart actively beating and synapses rapidly firing were intrinsically important or engaging, my death was notably feigned, even if its Pythonesque means lacked the intended humor. For any other sorry sods who probably didn't give two hoots in the first place, or for irritating simpletons and life's annoying miscreants, yeah. I died jet skiing off of Turks & Caicos & the conjecture and speculation thereof was completely purposeful. (Perfect example: Guy kind of convinced two of his colleagues at Balderdash & Verities, "Gumby & Pokey," or "Dumb & Dumber," as I would call them (well, they DID get their medical degrees in Guadalajara), that I *did* die, but still had work to do on the oft-obituary-scanning, obsessive-enough-to-check-with-the-county-coroner office manager.) Let's say I was really dead, and in a pure gold urn, which is Luke's vision of things, and they spilled me accidentally, I'm sure he'd have a similar reaction such as this, Python's tribute to Graham Chapman, which I personally find hysterical:

I wonder, snickering, if anyone who saw the more-faux-than-ostrich-faux news accident report stopped to ponder how in the Sweet Name of Fuck *I* could afford to vacation in Turks & Caicos in the first place.

What's doubly silly is that the older I become and the more sardonic I approach my mortality, the seemingly less funny my demise comes across to others. I chalk it up to being one accidental OD shy of completely being sniped. To all that I would ask for some slack, given today is an historically really poopy time of the year for me.

So what took Jesus 3 days took me a week and I don't even have stigmata with which to impress my friends and assuage the naysayers. It's almost like I never left in the first place.

Resurrected. Reincarnated. Tomato....

Did I go to heaven? Not quite. Did I rest in peace? Hardly. Was I deserving of nirvana? Health long and short of it was "Nuh uh." The Good Judeo-Christian Lord Almighty collaborated with Krishna and Buddha (at a big conference table, no doubt, over lunch) to revert my soul back to the planet with only a small concussion and a sprinkle of Tough Shit after the unfortunate wipe out in the tropics. Turned out I was, at the very least, one PTSD flip-out and an intense hypomanic episode away from any semblance of paradise in the afterlife.

Such is the depth of the sarcasm of God.

Mixed reactions to my reincarnation reveal the world's overall intoleration of  Me as An Even Bigger Asshole Than the First Time Around (subtitled: We Didn't Think That Was Possible.).  I jest, but I'm sure there are people out there who wish that my life's end was for real.

During most of my psychological vacation into the afterlife, I was pretty severely hypomanic. As my mind fluttered from point A to point F to point Z, wrapping and weaving through the other 23 letters of the alphabet, I was surviving on about 3 hours of sleep a night, and doing things like every-detail cleaning my entire bedroom/office looking for my custody/child support paperwork, frustrated I couldn't find it, & kicking myself when I was done because, while my office area sparkled and organized, all I had to do would have been to call Craig and have him email me the documents, which he had scanned into his laptop a long time ago. Argh. My mania was further compounded by the separation anxiety of both Guy and my best local girlfriend leaving town simultaneously. Don't misunderstand me; I'm not blaming them for my mania, but there are a number of external circumstances that exacerbate an already fragile mind.

I was capable of focusing enough the evening of the room-cleaning to play with my band, and, if I had to venture a guess, was operating on about 80% mental capacity and performed as required over last weekend.

If my memory is correct, the mania eased by Wednesday, I think, and I proceeded to spend much of the last 72 hours dead out asleep, rising only for the occasions of obligations related to my son. Wednesday morning, I had to be downtown at school at 8am and had overcompensated on my caffeine by having coffee at home, a Starbucks (featuring a triple shot of espresso) on the way to school, and an Earl Grey tea at school, before coming home, dozing off on the train, and assuming I'd sneak in several hours' additional sleep before it was time to pick Luke up from school.

Nonesuch was to be had, and I lied in bed with a frantically pounding heart for 4 hours, growing increasingly aggravated, unable to get the mental scenario of working the kinks out of Guy Friend's muscles out of my head, which frustrates my frustration. (Guy'd been complaining before he left for Colorado of a very sore neck from ice-chipping outside several days ago, which I offered to massage out of him had it not been for my sore hands, which broke my fall on said ice when I wiped out in the alley the night before, taking out the garbage. In lieu of physically remedying Guy, I told him to pretend I'd kissed his neck, which'd have to do, which naturally pretty much gave him his own panic attack. And I wonder why he skipped town without texting me so much as a goodbye...)

The depressive slump resulting after the hypomania, yes, comes at an inopportune moment in my year's chronology, but I'm not going to palaver at length about my dad's death, because it seems like I do that every year and furthermore, it serves no purpose other than to make me *more* depressed. So with all the capacity for love in my giant heart, I will gently say "Dad, I miss you every day, and for every day I miss you,  I love you even more."

Heartfelt thanks to those of you who kindly left eulogies and condolences within my last blog. Don't think your love and affection weren't appreciated or noticed.

I have to give a shout out to who have recommended "Rhythms" as being a topical and mental health-related site, which in a roundabout way, it is, if one can meander through my complicated personal life to eek out what's socially relevant. To "Stand Up for Mental Health," as I do, visit: