Friday, July 17, 2015

Why Do Defensive, Ann Coulter?


I didn't say you were transgender, but even if you were, why would you be so defensive and testy about it? What's the big shame issue? No one's accusing; they're just speculating. It's human nature. Perhaps concentrating on your being one of the world's meanest, crappiest quasi-journalists would be a better use of your time, instead of threatening lawsuits against EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY website that might imply that you may possibly be transgender. If you're 100% chick, rock it out, sister. Frankly, I don't care about your gender issues...I just think you're a bitch.

I will say, however, that your Adam's apple is INDEED impressive.

[Hiding under a bush]

Monday, May 4, 2015

Very Quickly: My Existential Crisis over The Colbeard Is Over!

Montclair, NJ Film Festival, May 1-10, 2015, with Richard (hubba hubba) Gere!



I know, I know. I haven't written a proper blog in 2 months. Like Stephen, I was in hibernation. While I did not grow the gray bush of mush on my face as my beloved favorite comedian did, I just didn't feel the love to write much recently. Interesting, given I've had nothing but down time for the last 2 months myself. I'm still on the fence about his longer hair...it's kind of sexy. Unlike Colbert, I'm getting a haircut tomorrow. After all, both of our birthdays are coming up in the next few days.

But this had to go:


Mr. Colbert, with all due respect, thank you on behalf of all of us who love you unconditionally, as long as you do not don this look ever again. How freeing it must have felt! Next time, see Steve Carrell. His beard is BOSS.

Love!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

How To Help Someone With Bipolar Disorder Who's In a Depressive Episode

Understandably, friends and family feverishly worry about a loved one who is manic/depressive and in a depressive episode. There are several tips and suggestions to help you adapt to that person's depression, which is just as hard on loved ones as it is on the bipolar patient.

From my experience, here are a few:

1. Please, whatever you do, do not ask us why we're depressed. While there may be triggers which precipitate a depressive episode, most of the time, we don't know why this feeling is looming over us. Ignorant questions irritate us further.

2. Try not to veil understanding of how we are feeling unless you're educated on bipolar disorder, because there's no possible way you could comprehend how we feel unless you've experienced it. It's a very dark place, and one we wish no one else would have to visit. Don't say, "Everyone gets depressed," because you have no idea how this type of depression presents itself.

3. Trust that the mood will pass in time. Please don't ask us when. We're just as anxious to feel normal as you are for us to feel normal, though we don't know what "normal' is. We only know "stable," and for those of us who "rapid cycle," stability doesn't last very long before we find ourselves either manic or depressed again.

4. Suggestions such as "Go out and get some fresh air and you'll feel better" don't work. Don't say, "Go exercise, go for a walk," because literally, we can barely move. We don't really feel like doing anything. Friends asking us to go out or do something helps a lot, so if you have free time, see if you can get us out of the house for a while, even if it's just to talk. Don't think your problems or feelings are any less important to us than our own, but we may have trouble iterating it. Just because we are wrapped up in negative thoughts doesn't mean we don't or can't offer constructive, happy thoughts to others. We try our best not to be selfish, but we have to be in order to take care of ourselves. Understand that most days, we need to sleep. A lot. If we're in bed until 2pm, or take a nap, don't chastise us as being "lazy." It is a struggle to get up and function.

5. Most of us mask our symptoms in order TO function and fit into regular lives. We're all good actors. Inevitably, we crash, though. Sometimes, we cry. Sometimes we get angry. Sometimes, we just want to go back to bed. If we cry, we often do it in solitude so as not to draw attention to ourselves or be pestered with questions.

6. Hug us if we ask you to. There's a power of the human touch which alleviates negative emotions and uncomfortable physical sensations, and it releases seratonin into our brains, which we need. If we're at our lowest and you still love us, let us know that. We already feel unlovable. (A lot of that has to do with the amount of criticism we receive BECAUSE we're depressed.) We want to be loved and cared about. We are still good friends and loved ones.

7. We take a lot of medication in order to survive. Please don't criticize our medications, how often we take them, what we take, or why. Don't assume "less is more," because that's not your call. It's between the patient and the psychiatrist. Don't wish we could be free of medications, because that's the quickest way for us to kill ourselves.

8.  Most of us don't want to die, but in the depressed moments, sometimes we wish we could. It is not a character flaw or a reflection of how we feel about other people. If we're in serious suicidal danger, take us to the hospital. If we just feel hopeless and pointless as individuals, kind of leave us alone, unless you have positive reinforcement to offer.

9.  Help us get the right emotional support and therapy we need. It's just as important as the medications.

10.  Make us laugh. A good belly laugh about something does wonders.

11. Empathy? Yes. Sympathy? No.

12. We'll talk when we're ready to talk.  Kind of like wearing a hotel's "Do not disturb" sign around one's neck, it's not an insulting slight against you if we just don't feel like socializing.

13. Please don't tell all your friends and other family members that your loved one is depressed. This isn't a gossip column.

13, Give us consideration that it takes an incredible amount of energy to stay on-task. As is same with mania, our brains are all over the place and it's close to impossible to start a task in depression or finish 18 tasks in mania. It's frustrating to not have the energy or interest to get things done that need to be done. We may only leave the house if we absolutely need to, and that has to be okay.

14.  It doesn't really help when you tell us, "Quit crabbing and feeling sorry for yourself. Other people have things harder than you do. Count your blessings." We already know this. We don't feel sorry for ourselves. We don't want pity, nor do we pity ourselves. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it's aggravating. We're doing the best we can.

15. One of the WORST things you can say to us is "How did you get bipolar disorder? What happened to make you this way?" That's a grave insult. We don't ask you how you got cancer, or diabetes, or that ugly mole on your neck. Bipolar disorder is not a transmittable disease. You won't catch it from us. It's an incurable brain disease. The latter sticks in our minds and adds to our hopelessness that things will never get better.

16. Your agendas and priorities for us will not likely match our own agendas for us. Take that into consideration before placing demands on us we cannot accomplish. We're neither misbehaving nor defying others' wishes.

17.  We can love you and hate you at the same time.

18.  If we have children, we are terrified that they'll develop bipolar disorder or other mood disorders as they grow. We watch them like hawks. Sometimes, they are not only the ones who love us the most unconditionally, but also our best barometers of our own moods, especially if we are very close to them. They understand us, why can't you? Taking care of our children is more important to us than taking care of ourselves. We'll deal with ourselves after tending to the needs of our children to the best of our abilities.

19. Our tempers are short. Don't take it personally.

20. We may not shower, eat, or get out of our pajamas for a few days. Deal with it.

21. You getting depressed because we're depressed compounds our depression and makes us feel like everything's our fault. You can't change our brain chemistry, so please just accept us for who we are in the moments we're in.

22. It's not you, it's us. Don't make it all about you.

23. Encourage us when we DO get something accomplished. It took a lot of energy and determination.

24. As has been said before, bipolar disorder is not an excuse. It is an explanation.

25. Perhaps most of all, just love us, even though we're biochemically flawed. We miss "us" as much as you do. We'll get better. Right now, we're sad. It just takes time.

That's the tip of the iceberg and are all truisms for people with clinical depression as well. While I'm speaking from a bipolar point of view, Be kind, be patient, be available. Don't be a jerk over something we can't control. There are a dozen other things I should be working on at the moment, but this seemed more important to put out in the open, because my depression is interfering with my functioning, and this took me two days to compose, when normally, I can rattle stuff like this off in half an hour. Ideally, someone will find this list helpful and honest.











Friday, February 20, 2015

Existential Crisis: The Colbeard.

I love this FitBit thingy. It keeps track of everything, almost. It's especially useful for tracking my sleeping patterns and how active I am (read: not very). But last night, I slept 11.5 hours and only woke up twice, as opposed to the other night, when I woke up 34 times. Of course, my new antipsychotic, Seroquel, might have something to do with it. It's a trusted knocker-outer. And the doctor quadrupled the dose in one day because I'm so depressed.

Still behind on work, and not getting a lot done, but I have a fresh full ADA accommodations letter being faxed to the school to alleviate some of that stress, so I'm just not going to worry about it, as I haven't been worrying about most things lately. I'm just apathetic.

Apathetic until this morning, when I hopped on the internet and saw THIS:


STEPHEN COLBERT GREW A BEARD!

I need a drink.

Now, ok. I LOVE facial hair on men. Love it. Stephen looks sexy and distinguished, and older. I'm used to his boyish, fresh-faced clean face. It just takes some getting used to and adjusting my fantasy life around it. Hence, my existential crisis. I just wasn't ready. 

I'm easing into it slowly, like Seroquel. I'm ok with it. My only criticism of his beard is that it could be a little...smaller. I like the cropped look. But hey, he's had time on his hands and it's his face and who am I to judge?

As long as he doesn't do this, as the last living man I adored allowed to get WAY out of hand in 1971: 


No, no, no!

Now, on Harrison, THIS was fantastic: 




I'm thinking on Stephen, this would be absolutely smashing: 


Yes!

Now, there are some men who look MUCH BETTER with beards and should never shave them off. Eric Clapton and Michael Nesmith are two of them.


DEFINITELY.


OH MY, YES.


I'll have to program the FitBit to gauge what % of me is happy and excited when I see the Colbeard. He is adorable any way you look at him, I'll just miss pictures like this: 


Will he keep the Colbeard for the new nighttime gig in the fall? He's not sure.

 For sure, it sets him apart from every other late-night host and newsman, even fake newsmen. 

What's funny is that every man I've ever dated (or married) who I thought would look better with a beard has grown one for me. So why am I freaking out about Stephen Colbert's? Maybe because he didn't ask me first. 

I wonder what POE will look like when he gets home. Hopefully as beautiful as he did when he left. He's a fan of the 5'oclock shadow. That works for me. 

I should be the LAST person to judge someone's appearance. Keep the Colbeard for now, Stephen. Let it grow on us, not you. Be as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

I jumped.

I was incredibly busy doing....I don't remember what....that I didn't fall apart and grieve on the anniversary of my father's death, 31 years ago on February 2nd. I didn't cry, as I normally do. That's not to say the wound isn't still as fresh as it was in 1984.

Lately, I've been going through a period of deep depression, which is impacting my school work, my social and personal functioning. I'm disinterested in anything except waking up in the morning and surviving each day. And that cycle repeats itself. I'm tired. I'm tired of having to dole out dozens of pills in cups every day to take 3 times a day, just to stay out of a mental hospital. I'm tired of being behind in my work and being unable to concentrate. I'm tired of being in my bedroom, feeling lonely and having too much time alone with my brain.

Somehow, I manage to plug along, help other people, exhaust myself with school, and raise a child, when inside, I'm an absolute wreck who doesn't allow herself the breathing room to glue herself back together.

Something really triggered me today. My mother asked me, as I was talking about school, how much longer I'll be in graduate school. Truth is, I don't know. There are a number of variables which haven't been figured out yet. She asked me what my point was, what my goal was in all of this. Instead of unconditional positive regard for the hard work I'm doing, I'm perpetually questioned about my courses, my school and what the hell I'm doing with my life, when those are questions I can't even answer right now.

My depression tells me I have no goal, other than to stay alive. I got a really reassuring email from Meg tonight about how others view me versus how I view myself, which I really appreciated. Part of my personality is to hide or disregard my own personal crumbling apart when it comes to being there for the people I do love, and I told Meg that my facade of strength is difficult to keep up. I'd rather help other people heal and be well and feel loved, and worry about putting my shattered life back together later, on my own. The hard fact is that statistics aren't really good for the mentally ill. Or the chronically ill. We just want out. If left untreated, my chances of suicide are huge, which is why I stick to that giant cocktail of pills every day like clockwork, and even then, some days it's a struggle not to cross into the oncoming lanes of traffic.

I don't know if I want to counsel, or teach, or write. It's difficult to plan a future, in which I want to be successful, when I'm viewed by so many as a permanent liability on this planet. My greatest enjoyment comes from writing--not research papers, not APA-styled reflections or client paperwork, but utilizing the creative, vibrant side of my brain still capable of penning these words.

Luke probably understands my mood fluctuations better than anyone else, because he's partied to them the closest, even closer than that of my mother, and he's certainly more empathetic and understanding. I have few years left with him with me before he goes off to explore and learn about the world on his own and will need me less and less. As a result of paying close attention to me, he doesn't have to ask if I'm depressed, stable or manic. Moreover, he doesn't ask WHY. He knows why and doesn't judge me because of any of it. None of my close friends do, either. Society might, school might, my mother might, but never those who can gauge my emotions and allow me the breathing space to talk about them if I want or need to, or if I just need to go to sleep for the entire day.

Getting back to my father, I told Meg I needed my dad and regaled the following anecdote;

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I was at the local public pool, and my dad was watching my brother and I from the other side of the fence because he was smoking and they didn't allow that in the pool area. We were by the diving boards and the 12' deep pool. I wanted so badly to climb to the top and just jump into the deep pool (I couldn't dive) but every time I climbed up, I chickened out and climbed back down. I ran to my dad by the fence and said, "I can't do it. I'm too scared." "Yes, you can!" he said, and must have said it a dozen times. He promised he would watch me. It did help me was an advanced paramedic/firefighter then!

I nervously climbed up one more time, amid the annoyed other kids who thought I'd chicken out again, didn't run, and just stood at the edge of the diving platform and jumped down into the 12' of water. I knew how to swim and while it was a deep plunge, I floated back up. As soon as I got out of the pool, I ran over to my dad, who was ecstatic. "Daddy, did you see me? I did it!" I said. He was so proud of me and I was so proud of myself that I wanted to do it again, though I can't remember if I did or not.

Point being, it doesn't matter if you're 9 or 42. We all need those shots in the arm of courage and support which allow us to jump into the water, casting our trembling fears aside. I try to give those shots to the people I love, even if I don't receive them back in kind. I have no doubt that if my dad was still alive, he'd be cheering me on to this day, not constantly questioning my day-to-day activities.

If I can't predict my moods over the course of a week, how am I supposed to figure out my graduation plan or career path with any clarity? Meg told me if my goal is to live, then live. What's difficult is that the quality of life I might lead is annoyingly unpredictable. I told Meg I would like to have hopes and dreams again, and things to look forward to, but I don't see them right now. Logically, I know this depression will pass, like it always does, though it remains latent in my brain and can re-emerge at any time (usually the most inopportune).

Until I can look in my own mirror and see myself as awesomely as Meg or my other friends or Luke see me, I will have to rely on their words and feelings to remind me. For that love, I am deeply grateful.






Friday, February 6, 2015

I Was Raped and I'm Not Ashamed.




Delegate Brian Kurcaba (R-WV) was quoted by multiple news sources today as having said, "Obviously, rape is awful. [But] What is beautiful is the child who could come from this." This is on the heels of West Virginia GOP leaders attempting to revive and repeal a woman's right to choose an abortion in cases of rape or incest.

As the result of these articles, which I posted to Twitter, I angrily replied that perhaps Kurcaba's parents should've aborted him, (Because what a stupid, insensitive asshole this guy is!) I have been besieged with violently angry Tweets from conservative religious extremists who are intent on lambasting my character, my beliefs and my choices. These individuals maintain that I only read the headline and not the article, which is untrue. I read the article from several different news sources. In brief, I was called a "knee-jerk liberal" who "hates kids and wants to kill them," and a "baby killer," among other sickening insults, such as "It's not rape if you're willing."

I responded to each of the hateful Tweets by attempting to redirect their anger into compassion by telling them that I was a repeated survivor of violent rape. It's impossible, in 140 characters, to tell my story as to why I would have an impassioned retort towards Kurcaba's statement. I said what I could in a Twitter-span and promptly blocked those users who came after me. They're still coming after me.

I didn't ask for it. I didn't coerce the man into raping me. I wasn't dressed provocatively. I didn't get drunk or high. I was in a relationship with the man who raped me. Still, it's difficult for a 120 lb woman to fight against a 280 lb man holding her down, forcing sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal and anal) upon her, penetrating her with kitchen utensils, and urinating on her. All of this happened to me during the course of our relationship. I was emotionally and verbally abused as well.

The question on everyone's mind is always, "Why didn't you just leave him?" That answer is impossible if one hasn't been in such a situation. "Why didn't you report him to the police?" Because knowing his neck choke-hold, he would've killed me. He's also a very high-profile business executive in Chicago who has millions of dollars. I am a struggling single mother who would get crushed in court. I finally did leave him, but it took a long time.

Before I left my ex-boyfriend, I did tell my ex-husband that this man had slapped me across the face more than once. Some time after I left the man, I mustered the courage to tell 2 of my physicians what had happened to me, and soon thereafter, my therapist, who diagnosed me with PTSD and severe anxiety disorder. I was literally petrified of men being near me or touching me (even a hug), except for a very select few with whom I was still vaguely comfortable. Certainly, I was in no realm of shape to be intimate with a man, and haven't been in a sexual relationship since I went through that experience. (Though, I will say, through a lot of therapy and time, I am ready now to date again, but it's taken almost 5 years.)



Fortunately, after I had my only son, I experienced secondary infertility, so it was literally impossible for me to get pregnant. Still, I am vehemently pro-choice and believe it is solely my decision, not the government's, not my church's, not my family's, not my doctor's as to whether or not HAD I gotten pregnant as a result of these rapes, if I were to choose to have an abortion. There's a difference in being pro-choice and pro-abortion. I'm not pro-abortion. God doesn't get to decide this one. I do.

My personal opinion is that there is nothing "beautiful" about being governmentally forced to carry a pregnancy and have a child as the result of a rape or in the cases of incest. It's unthinkably horrible. To have a baby you resent with a man you detest, who should be in jail, does not make for a happy family situation. I wouldn't put myself or an innocent child through a life like that. "Andrea hates kids." What bollocks. I love my son with every shred of my being.

I'm not a "baby killer" or a "fetus murderer." I didn't have a freakin' abortion! All I said was that if I was placed in that awful situation, I probably would have had one. Most of the people I know, never mind a few dozen complete Twitter strangers, do not know the extent of my medical and mental health issues with medications and disorders which need to be managed, which would endanger and possibly terminate the gestation of a zygote or fetus without me even having to go through an abortion. Call me selfish, but I would put my own life and well-being ahead of an unwanted zygote's. I already have a child to raise, who was planned and wanted, and was a blessing.

Am I a liberal? Oh, most definitely. A bleeding-heart liberal. I'm also a practicing leftist Christian.

Here's an idea! Let's HAVE all the rape/incest babies, gather them together, and have the GOP raise them during sessions of Congress. You know, diaper bags with their respective state seals embroidered on them. More crying and crabbing than Congress normally does on their own. Having all of this "beauty" around the GOP in the form of rape and incest babies would cause the Capitol to glow in rainbows of miracles sent by the Good Lord, who, of course, founded our great country.

Oh! Update! I've just been called bigoted, gullible and someone wished my parents had aborted me.

Thanks.

Wait! I have an even better idea than Congressional babysitting. Why don't you all spread your legs while you're held down, have a kitchen scrub brush with a long handle penetrate you (as you scream for your attacker to stop and say no, and he doesn't stop) and then wonder if that's better or worse than having a cluster of cells removed from your uterus. (Moot point for me. I don't even HAVE a uterus anymore.)

I refuse to be in or play the "victim" role and I never have. I am a survivor of rape. I didn't die. I am deeply scarred, deeply angry and unforgiving towards the man who assaulted me, He took years off of my life, which I'm fighting to get back in my own way and on my own terms.

My story is not told out of courage. It is not told out of personal defense. It is the story of how a woman who is repeatedly assaulted responds to incredibly insensitive and erroneous comments made by men in positions of political power who mistakenly think they have a stake in what they deem a beautiful miracle, which is actually an unthinkable horror. Guess what? Neither politicians nor conservative extremist right-wing evangelical whack jobs get a vote in what happens to the body of a woman who is raped or assaulted.

That said, those of you assassinating me on social media? I'm laughing at your ignorance and I feel deeply sorry that you are so misguided in your patterns of thinking. It is my wish that should bills once vetoed re-emerge and are passed into law, and that women lose their right to choose, Mr. Kurcaba is chased down with a tire iron shoved up his anus, because it'd be a nice taste of the medicine doled out to me over the course of the relationship with my rapist.

Now, Ye Olde Conservatives, tend to your own youngins, don't forget to leave your loaded guns where the kids can get a hold of them (because YOU get to exercise your Second Amendment rights), read your Bibles (especially Leviticus!) and, if you have any compassion or brains, maybe visit a domestic violence shelter and have a talk with the women there. Talk to women who have had to make difficult choices in their lives with regard to unwanted pregnancies and find out how they're feeling instead of grandstanding either from Washington DC or the sanctity of your Twitterverse.

There's very little you can say which would insult or hurt me any more than I have already been hurt in my life and I do not take your comments seriously, certainly not in 140 character nibbles (though that's probably the extent of your intellectual capabilities in the first place).

I know I'm not the only survivor of rape and assault who feels this way. My wish is that my written testimony helps those who feel they have no voice HAVE a voice vis-a-vis my openness.
















Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spectorulizing


EEP!


2013 mugshot, California State of Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Legendary record producer and arranger Phil Spector is 75 years old and a far cry from the flamboyant, larger-than-life persona with which he carried himself since he produced his first hit at the age of 17.

He is currently doing 19 years-life in a California state prison for the murder of D-list House of Blues hostess and aspiring superstar, the leggy blond Lana Clarkson, "star" of several B-list movies and small roles, who died of an inflicted gunshot wound to the face in Spector's Alhambra, CA castle in 2003. The gist of the case was whether or not Clarkson committed suicide, shot herself accidentally while intoxicated, or if Spector had shot her dead.

Phil Spector has both the past of a musical genius and that of a cold-blooded killer. He has the reputation of being the creator of what's called "The Wall of Sound," a largely orchestral undertone with echoed vocals to the pop songs he wrote and produced. His studio techniques turned ordinary tracks into the extraordinary. Most recently, a song he produced, The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," was named the single with the most airplay in the 20th Century. Not only did he amplify the careers of the girl groups in the early to mid-60's; he also produced The Beatles' "Let It Be," John Lennon's "Imagine" album, "The Concert for Bangladesh," and George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" LP. He also produced a record for The Ramones. After winning several professional "legend" accolades in the 1990's, he seemingly disappeared into his Alhambra, CA castle and made few public appearances formally, other than to see and be seen at Hollywood hot spots. Clearly, he did not want to be forgotten.


While several women came forth to the grand jury claiming Spector had brandished a weapon in front of them and had a history of violence and abuse, none of them had filed a police report against Spector, including his ex-wife, Ronnie Spector, or his children (adopted or biological). Spector went so far as to film himself in a short video clip offering a check for $100,000 to anyone who was willing to take a polygraph test regarding his history of violence. Nobody took Spector up on his offer.

Now, if I were an aspiring singer, or an aspiring anything (Oh, Hi, Stephen Colbert!) and lived in L.A., I would make sure I put myself smack dab in the middle of Phil Spector's wigged face. That was Clarkson's idea, as was the motive, in my opinion, of Rachelle Short. Short had moved from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles to further her singing career. Short is an attractive, youthful, blond Barbie-doll type. Well, just like every other woman in Los Angeles.

The first trial of Spector for murdering Clarkson resulted in a hung jury. Due to a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo I don't fully understand, essentially the judge in the original trial, while attempting to "clarify" some blood splatters on Spector's clothing the night of the murder/accident to a witness, effectively made himself a witness in the second murder trial. This was the first time such a circumstance had occurred in California, and there was no prior precedence with which to refute the judge's little boo boo. Naturally, the prosecution used the judge's influence to corroborate their case against Spector the second time around. Physical evidence was muddied and unclear. Testimony on either side was confounding. After deliberation, however, Spector was found guilty of second-degree murder.

Honestly, I don't know how I feel about the whole trial and conviction. Phil Spector is and always has been ONE. STRANGE. DUDE. Then again, a lot of geniuses are. I'd never make it on the jury because I'm too biased towards his musical talent versus his accused violent predatory reputation. I sympathize with the loss within the Clarkson family, though I don't know what the real story is, chiefly because I'm not sure Phil Spector even knows what really went down.

In an interview conducted in 2013 on Katie Couric's show, Rachelle, who met Spector while she was in her 20's, claims to have had no idea who Spector was when they met. I'm sorry, but I'm calling bullshit on that. I knew what the "Wall of Sound" was and who the Ronettes were, and his production value on Harrison's and Lennon's work when I was around 14 years old, because it was fascinating to anyone interested in musicology. My theory is that if one wants to make it in the music business as a legitimate singer/artist in Hollywood, YOU BLOODY WELL KNOW WHO IS PHIL SPECTOR. Her claim is as difficult to believe as that of Heather Mills, Paul McCartney's one-legged, landmine- dodging second wife, who insisted she had never heard of The Beatles.

Let's suspend our disbelief for just a second and assume Rachelle Short was as dingy as she has made herself out to be:

Rachelle: "Who's that guy that everyone is gathering around and buying drinks for?"
Random Person: "That's Phil Spector!"
Rachelle: "Who is Phil Spector?"
Random Person: "Only the most successful, influential, legendary pop producer who ever came out of the the record business."
Rachelle: "Oh, okay! I'm clueless and have never heard of him before!"
Random Person: "You should go introduce yourself to him."
Rachelle: "Oh, okay!"
Random Person: "He might be able to help you get a deal..."
[Rachelle hikes up her skirt, tousles her hair sexily and toodles over with a drink and a huge smile.]

Short became the assistant to Spector's assistant (that's a lot of assistants...I'll apply to be the assistant to the assistant who tailors Stephen Colbert's suit jackets, even though I can't thread a needle...essentially the same principle with Rachelle) after meeting him in a restaurant where she was a waitress (shock!), "fell in love" with him, and the two were married, after "dating" for 3 years, in the same Alhambra castle where the murder/accident took place, in 2006. That, in and of itself, is creepy. Her claim was that they chose to marry in the same property where they were trying to "build a life together," regardless if a heinous act/accident occurred in the castle. (Yes, he constantly refers to it as a castle, probably rightfully so, because the guy has like a zillion dollars. But seriously, people, DO something about that maroon carpeting. It's hideous.)  Soon thereafter, Rachelle (while Spector was on trial, which Rachelle claimed she only found out after a Google search on Phil) was granted full control over Spector's business affairs. Zing!





I would've taken the $100k and I don't even know the guy! After all, he never came after ME with a gun!

Rachelle, in the Couric interview, says that she got a pilot's license in order to quicken the 3.5 hour drive from the castle to the correctional facility, where she says she would go every Sunday to spend 5-6 hours with Spector and said he's the warmest, kindest, most gentle, funniest, wittiest man on earth. As of 2014, Spector was no longer in the general population of the prison and certainly, if I were him, I would have spent gobs of dinero on finding fellow inmates to protect me. As of the last news reports, he was being indefinitely held in the prison's hospital ward due to the fact that it's suspected he has Parkinson's Disease, and at present, cannot speak due to polyps on his vocal chords. His health seems to be rapidly deteriorating in prison and he won't be eligible for parole until he is 88 years old. I'd bet $100,000 he won't make it that long.

Rachelle, meanwhile, isn't exactly succeeding at her musical career without the external production assistance of her husband. She told Couric she firmly stands by him, and had for the last 10 years. While Couric purported that Mrs. Spector had been labeled a "gold digger" (shock!), the missus insists she could have bailed years ago (at the time of the interview, she was approximately 33 years old) but, instead, chose to stand by Spector throughout the trial and the aftermath. That said, it is difficult for me to *not* speculate that there is something in what HAD to be a pre-nuptial agreement which pledges that Rachelle would need to remain married to Spector for a certain number of years in order to maintain her status as his business manager or to be entitled to a portion of his estate should he pass away in prison or otherwise. Come on. In order for me to collect a portion of my ex-husband's Social Security when we're old, I had to have been married to him for at least 10 years. (We scraped by. We were married for 11 years.) 

Out of morbid curiosity and my bullshit radar, I chose to follow Rachelle on social media. Oh, she has a pilot's license. And a nice, big plane. (Which I'm sure she paid for out of her own pocket, mmm hmmm.) I cannot re-post any of her photographs with said plane or the exotic places where she has traveled, because she copyrighted all of them. (Or rather, her attorney told her to.) Here's my beef: after scrolling through her Instagram, I find it incredibly hard to believe that she makes it back to the Cali correctional facility every Sunday to visit her OLD man after shooting pictures of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or meeting Barry Gordy in London, who we can only assume she's never heard of either.

From her comments, she's having a REALLY great time enjoying her life and freedom, while Spector rots in prison. She prides herself on expensive hobbies and baubles, but none of the Instagram comments ask "How's Phil?" or "Have you seen him recently?" I'm sure if I inquired about the status of their relationship, I'd get reported on the site for abusive comments and blocked from her account. Point being, Mrs. Spector (the 4th or 5th) would be back to waitressing if it not for "sticking by her innocent husband and fighting tirelessly on an appeal for his murder conviction." 

I will say, however, that I do not trust Rachelle Spector as far as I can throw her. While Phil might definitely harbor the gentle, loving nature she says he has, my guess is that there are 100 musicians with whom he worked over the years who would have a different characterization of the man. "No one knows him like I do," Rachelle says. Sweetheart, no.

(And for the record, no, I did not see the Al Pacino cable film loosely based on the case.)

As counselors, it is not our job to judge an offender's guilt or innocence. If Spector committed this crime, the most I would be able to do is empathize with him (especially if his health is rapidly failing) and try to understand the motive behind it and perhaps what led up to his penchant for violence and weaponry far back into his youth. To find out if he, himself, was abused before he even realized it. He may have harbored fright and anger for years of an unknown origin without extensive psychotherapy. Or maybe he's just a psychopath with a lot of musical talent. I don't know. Above all else, he is a human being, and I believe there is good in all of us somewhere deep down.

Rachelle Spector, ok, she is a gold digger.

Yet, as he pays for this crime in a prison, my personal choice is to respect and remember the good work that he DID do. The ingenious methodology and follow-through he perfected to make golden pop and rock music. Definitely one-of-a-kind.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

It Snowed A Little.

I'm foregoing the Stupid Bowl because sports, and because I've been out all day shoveling a never-ending amount of Chicago snow on this, the first day of February. It's all blizzardy and blowy outside. I've heard nothing about the Super Bowl, other than a text from my best friend saying she wished Missy Elliot had punched Katy Perry in the throat during halftime. As a general rule, I'd have to agree with her, regardless of the performance circumstances.



In any case, once 8pm rolled around, my mother took over the television in the living room with the booming English dialog of "Downton Abbey," the volume on 74 and the closed-captioning on, because British people are apparently very hard for her to understand.

An elderlyish neighbor paid me $100 to keep her front and back porch, and sidewalk free of snow for the winter while she's basking in Florida. I'm sorry, honey, but today was about a $650 job, and I didn't quite finish. It would've been easier had 4' drifts not blockaded me from getting anywhere near her domicile. The snow started at about 9pm last night and hasn't let up yet. Now, I know. Chicagoans are tough. We can handle our winters. We sympathize with Boston and the many feet you had befallen. But up until today, Chicago had received a paltry 3" of snow for the ENTIRE season thus far. A little shell shock today. Our shoveling muscles have atrophied. Come to think of it, all of my muscles have atrophied.

Lake Michigan is being nasty and they've closed off parts of Lake Shore Drive in dribs/drabs as the waves crashed inland and the winds picked up to gusts around 50 mph. People with any sense stayed home. Those who were en route to Stupid Bowl parties braved the elements and, I don't know, risked drowning in the lake.

Here in our suburb across the street from the City limits, we live in connected townhomes, and my next-door neighbor has a snowblower, but he gave up after 4 rounds around the courtyard and sidewalks. I don't know where all of the other strong men/people are in the 'hood, but it was I and an older female neighbor (recovering from a hip replacement) who were the main diggers today.

What of my brawny teenage son, you ask? Why wasn't he out shoveling with me? Or FOR me? A) He slept until noon. B) He was working on downloading mixes for a soundscape he's been working on for a long time. C) I'm an EXTREMELY lenient mother who actually enjoys shoveling snow...UP TO A CERTAIN POINT, when it becomes utterly ridiculous and a colossal waste of time.

At first, his high school put out an email that they weren't going to make a decision on whether or not to close school until 5:30 am tomorrow morning. I called bullcrap on that one, and sent them a nasty Tweet about how many absences to expect tomorrow should they decide to leave the school open. About a half an hour ago, I received the email, the email from the emergency closing center, the email from the school with a voicemail attached to it, and a voicemail on my cell phone all indicating that yes, the school was closing tomorrow. Woot! I am DRAGGING that young man of mine out to dig if it takes us all day tomorrow. We live in one of those municipalities where you can be fined if your walkways and sidewalks aren't clear, and, really, we should be nice to the postal carriers.

Just as a visual aid, this is the present state of my SUV parked on the main thoroughfare off of which we live, which plows me in from the driver's side and I'm drifted in on the passenger side:


I told Luke that even if there was school tomorrow, there was no fucking way I was going to attempt digging that out at 5 am in the dark. Did I mention that I think I heard tomorrow's high temperature is supposed to be 12 degrees? Oof.

Winter in Chicago. We bitch, and bitch, and bitch. Few of us ever leave (save for the elderly snowbirds). Time to find the ibuprofen and a hot cuppa. 

UPDATE!!!!

I called in the Armed Forces. Actually, there's a giant young Marine who lives across the way who I saw cleaning out his car behind mine a little while ago. Being desperate and aching all over from yesterday, I offered him $50 to dig me out, which I thought was a fair price. Luke just woke up (at 1pm) and is suddenly complaining of "neck pain" which he says precludes him from doing any shoveling.

My dearest Luke,

Fuck you.

Love, Mom

UPDATE #2!!!!!

Luke got his butt outside after some heavy prying from myself and my mom, and actually cleaned up most of the snow himself. He did a great job, all things being equal. The Marine refused the money for help. Glory! You can tell my car is red again! Thanks, Luke, and sorry for flying off the handle.

Love, Mom

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stephen Colbert? Let's Negotiate!

"Stephen Colbert: Let's Negotiate!" 
By Andrea Miklasz
Rhythms from the Offbeat Drummer
Originally published 1/15/15
I don't care if you you republish it, just don't claim my words are yours.
HERE IS, LITERALLY, MY "SHIT IN THE DARK"





There are fewer "degrees of separation" between myself and Stephen Colbert than he has honorary doctorates from various colleges and universities in the United States. Why yes, I did enroll my 4-year old in an improv workshop at Second City. Talk about progressive parenting! (Ok, it was a disaster and he only went 2 weeks.)

Psychology. All that whining to listen to again. Pull yourselves together, people. I'm a graduate student here in Chicago (born and raised, yes) in Clinical/Community Counseling. I''m 44 and I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. Perhaps too late in the game for some, but all I've ever wanted to was write funny stuff.

If I may take a moment to pause my horn-tooting since you've moved to CBS, I listen to the content of the show very carefully. It as been more than three occasions where the writing staff has prompted you to belittle the mentally ill. Why tell you I have bipolar disorder? Because I am not shamed. But come on. I think the first one was a slight against Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett's schizophrenia.

Writing is my real passion. I tried to be a "serious" writer just as Colbert tried to be a "serious" actor. Poetry was my concentration in college, which, while not a financially pragmatic path, gave me satisfaction and made me feel like an Artist. (Note the capital "A.") Most of the time, I was just playing with words. I'd take the thesaurus (in paper!) and randomly pick out words, and craft them into logopoeia, or language poetry. I'd draft and draft them until they made a semblance of sense to read. Trial and error. For every goofy, deep-fried word combo platter which worked, there were 100 that didn't, much the same as jokes.What was particularly interesting was that 15 people read the same poem, but each individual envisioned something different. That was the plan all along!

I've written exactly one poem since I graduated 21 years ago. It was all in the name of love, and the noodlehead muse didn't understand it, when it wasn't just word play. Sure, it had metaphors and inner meanings if one were to read it logically and was really quite beautiful, but it failed to woo. Having typed out my writing for so long, it was created by handwriting, sitting outside in the sun one atypically warm March Chicago afternoon. Reminiscent of my early work, it was penciled out in scribbles and verses, with arrows reversing everything, scratching out fluffy words for fluffier words, or fluffier words exchanged for words the noodlehead might actually understand. (I had to explain to him what a "muse" was in the first place, so, since my feelings were hurt, I told him he was basically just a bowl of fruit I was trying to paint.)

Willing to relocate? Holy Lord, yes. Luke, my 16-year old, in addition to Northwestern, is checking out NYU film school. And New York really is just a much bigger Chicago with more rats.

Suggested salary requirement? Such an awkward question. I need to thrive and survive, but what happens if I need an Emmy gown?

While I've been writing this blog since 2008, there have been horrible entries, bitchy entries, moderately humorous entries, hysterically funny entries, and ones only I find funny and spend an hour just screeling to myself.

Having said that, I present a list of reasons to you, Stephen Colbert, as to why you should meet me and give 5 minutes of consideration as to letting me collaborate with you (after you give me a big hug):

 I'm a graduate of Knox College. My major was English-Writing. I only graduated rite, by a hair, but got A's in all of my writing classes, except fiction. That's doubly embarrassing, given my professor is now emeritus and has become a nationally successful novelist. But give it up, Stephen. You, yourself, (er, your character) said Knox students were "geniuses" because we (I mean that collectively as a student body) gave you an indestructible honorary diploma and I take personal offense at you mocking my alma mater, but I forgive you because if I could find my diploma, certainly there have been times I've wanted to burn it.

We both know Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips. What a pair! They really like you, and Steven's an excellent judge of character. You autographed the back of his guitar. He was starstruck.



My birthday is on May 9th with yours on the 13th/
We're both Tauruses with birthdays four days apart. We can be bullish and get into a huge intellectual argument, if only for the sake of the fact that my best friend is convinced I can match wits with you, which is no small undertaking. I've picked a topic.


GO! And you can't steal the joke I probably stole, which is, "Rectum? I damn near killed him!"

I did a senior high school Literature of Chicago project on Second City which I copied from my brother 4 years before, pictures and all!(OMG, thy wren't even pctures--they were slides!) Academic integrity is my #1 priority. And lest we forget, good artists copy. Great artists steal. I won an award for God's sake!



Sometimes, when I'm particularly full of ideas, people will say, "You're on fire!" Half of the time, I take them literally, stop, drop and roll.

Speaking of Chicago, you graduated from Northwestern. That's in Evanston. I'd be extremely surprised if you have never heard of or have been to the nearby suburb where I live. I'm sure you know your way around downtown, probably better than I do. (Wouldn't you agree that taking the L is really scuzzy?)

We both have more than one pair of eyeglasses. I wrecked my bifocals (excuse me, "progressive lenses") falling over things and injuring myself too many times and they're too scratched up out of which to see. Going to school Sunday in the early morn, I walked into what I thought was the entrance to Starbucks but waa actually just a giant pane of glass.

Those Emmy Awards you won? I used to work for R.S. Owens & Co, their manufacturer. They also make the Oscars. Had I still been employed there the years you were victorious, I might have stupidly made the mistake of curiously seeing just how hot the award statuettes were when the base metal came out of the oven, as I did with one Oscar in particular in 1998. (Turns out, they're somewhere between 500-700 degrees.) While the awards are dipped after baking with layers of shiny, precious metal, some fortunate Oscar award winner owns a trophy bearing my severely singed thumbprint underneath all that golden glory.



A local radio station is having a contest. My guess is that neither of us would mind sitting on a sandy beach on a free trip to Mexico, but would cringe at the grand prize being a private concert performed by Starship.

Barring contributions to your show via my primary craft, I can reasonably play the drums in your house band.*Sorry Joe Saylor for tagging you in all of my drumming videos.

I'm almost deaf in my right ear. You're deaf in your right ear. That would make it really awkward to try and stand side-by-side to talk, but maybe we could invent a yoga pose to make it simpler. Or just yell.

We've both met Al Franken. While you know him more personally, he told my son, who was very young at the time, and arrived at Franken's book signing wearing Spider-Man pajamas, to "grow up" in the wry way only Al Franken can away with.

I am also taller than Jon Stewart.

I declared myself a Democrat in 1992 with no prior knowledge of or interest in politics or world events. I was at Knox at the time, and my chief reason for siding with the Clinton/Gore ticket was that I thought Bill Clinton was hot. (Which hurts, given you ripped his foam likeness apart with your degree, you ingrate!) It took me a while to embrace the "liberal" of the liberal arts college. As I've matured, I've become well-educated and interested in the world around me and the future of America. That has drastically changed teh older I get. I am heavy into politics.

I idolize your pal, Neil deGrasse Tyson. I think you being a Sunday school teacher is very sweet, but if you're passing off the Earth as being 6,000 years old, um....wait! I can rattle off the books of the Bible in about 20 seconds. Your Bible has more books than mine. Please don't hold it against me that I'm Lutheran and not Catholic, though my late father was. My denomination is way more conservative than I am, hair-ripping-outly so, but my contribution to church is to play my drums in their contemporary praise band, even though the songs all sound the same and grate on my nerves. Because Jesus.

While never having read any "Lord of the Rings" books, so eloquently penned by Pope Pius XI, I did get through Keith Richards' "Life," however. I'm thinking of writing a literary critical article comparing the histories and similarities between "Life" and Betty White's last book. Their lives...astoundingly paralleled.

NOW HERE IS THE NIT/GRIT: If you fronted a Rolling Stones cover band when you were younger, ESPECIALLY A SHITTY ONE, and you were the lead...while I cannot boast a similar singing voice as Mick Jagger, the moves in the "Start Me Up," for whatever reason, I taught myself when I was a kid ("Tattoo You came out in what...1981? I was 9.) I personally challenge you to a Mick Jagger-off impression of the "Start Me Up" video, which I still sometimes perform during the 45 seconds I'm going through a car wash. WHY DON'T WE LET YOUR AUDIENCE DECIDE IF I AM FUNNY AND COMPETENT ENOUGH TO ADD TO YOUR WRITING TEAM? APPLAUSE METER? SHOW OF HANDS? THIS MAY BE MY TOTAL SHOT IN THE DARK....BUT SORRY, COLBERT...BROWN SUGAR IS HARD TO SING, I WILL GIVE YOU THAT....THE EXACT JAGGER DANCE MOVES IN "START ME UP" ARE TERRIBLY UNIQUE. SHIT...WE NEED 2 PAIRS OF WHITE SWEATPANTS. CAN YOU GUYS ARRANGE THAT? SHAZAM! 

One of my hobbies is making up neologisms. My personal favorite is "shenaniganathon." (Definition: A series of shenanigans which go on for a lengthy period of time.) I missed making up "truthiness" by an inch.

The pronunciation of my first AND last name were both a) Chicagoized and b) Americanized.

 I have questionable taste, morals, tact, standards and methods, delusions of grandeur, and  I have a habit of not giving up on things until I get what I want.

Have you ever watched the YouTube video of the theme to the "Price is Right" sped up 800 times? Jesus. You have to.

Let's confab. That sounds like  being con-fabbing, so let's just Facetime or something and yes, most definitely, send me the "comedy writing packet" which evidently is Step 2 to get a foot in the door.

Thank you for your time and consideration, though you probably stopped 3 sentences in it...er, your assistant did.

Love,
Andrea














Free Raif.

Saudi Arabia are set to resume the flogging of Raif Badawi this Friday. 


Sunday, January 11, 2015

And Then They Uncovered Them, And This Happened, etc.

Off the antipsychotic, I've found that I'm happier. I'm less out-of-it. My son says I'm more sharply witty. But piss me off? I'm a violent yeller with Tourette's Syndrome. It's kind of like this:



Such was the case when I got to band practice last night, uncovered my extremely expensive drum kit and found it had been TAKEN APART somehow, fiddled about, cymbals turned backwards, snare picked up and put back on the stand backwards (and that's a HUGE no-no) and my hi-hat coming apart. A tom-tom was unscrewed and falling off its base and the entire tom set up could be lifted off of the bass drum. I was FUMING. That is NOT the church's equipment to fuck around with. I found out later that the church custodian polished the floors before Christmas, me having missed the last service and leaving my drums covered. Dude. Go around them or for Christ's sake, take a fucking picture with your phone as to how they're supposed to go when you're done polishing the floor and screw them back together properly and put them where they belong, you dickwad! The vintage, original hardware is difficult to tighten and line up. The hi-hat is tricky, but not as tricky as the Dynasonic snare which has to be at a certain angle in its stand so I'm not hitting the rim constantly and can hit the skins. I didn't care one shit that I was in the house of God. I was almost screaming obscenities as I kept finding more things wrong. 

I'm kind of like this, like Ringo, only less polite: 



On the plus side, however, it was perhaps the first gig where I actually felt honestly talented. Our douchebag band leader included 2 brand new songs into the set list (we've bargained with him to limit it to one, but he's gone back to 2), Neither I nor 2 of the singers had ever heard these songs, so it was a huge act of improvisation on our parts with only 2 run-throughs on each song. But I nailed it. Right away. I came in once I heard the initial beat at practice and just pounded away. That almost never happens unless I'm on the djembe. I had asked the band leader 4 days ago for chord sheets to follow along with and a YouTube link in order to hear how the songs went, but he claimed he never received the email (when I copied the WHOLE band, and they all got it). YouTube searching would be fruitless, because with CCM (Crappy Christian Music), there are dozens of covers with different arrangements and God, literally, only knows what is in the leader's mind. 

On the double-plus-side, I had another EKG this week, which showed that this pesky Long QT Syndrome has since resolved itself coming off of the antipsychotic. The psychiatrist agreed with the Uber-Specialist Heart Lady. But it still came out abnormal, which Uber said is up to my cardiologist to figure out. I had the echocardiogram, which he still has to call me about with the results, and set up a stress test. There's a bet whether or not he'll see me or pass me off to another doctor. I saw him through a door at the hospital in Cardiology, and he knew I was there from the chitter-chatter while I was checking in, but he didn't appear in person in front of me. I fear he ran darting in the other direction, clutching his wedding ring and shouting Hail Marys.

If the psychiatrist wants to wait and see if I have a psychotic break before putting me on a different drug, I'm not sure I want to tell her about last night's violent outburst. We're giving it a month. If I Hulk out more than, let's say 5 times, I'll call for a new medication. Or maybe I just need to learn to control my temper. Nah. How bland would that be?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

This. Honestly. Yes.

Expanded post to come.

For now, this is SO SO SO true.

And it made me feel less crummy about myself.

So that's a good thing. Because this is true.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Arrhythmias From the Offbeat Drummer


Things I shouldn't have to answer, explain or justify to a medical assistant:

1) What are your hobbies? (I'm a dominatrix. What? Don't look at me like that.)
2) What CHRISTIAN denomination are you? (Whichever is the least Christianesque at the moment. What if I wasn't a Christian to begin with?)
3) How many cigarettes are in a pack? (Oh boy! Are we going to guess how many jelly beans are in the jar? I get a keychain?)
4) You're STILL divorced? (Ok, this conversation is over.)

The appointment with the Uber-Specialist electrophysiologist, whose job it is to decipher and treat conditions like arrhythmias and like my other heart thingy, POTS, was EXTREMELY confusing. Right call on, uh, my cardiologist's part to refer me to her for the Long QT Syndrome, but as happens so frequently in the medical Wimbledon, I (the bouncy yellow ball which frequently goes out-of-bounds) have been volleyed over the net (score: Advantage Uber Specialist) for an ace against the cardiologist. Long story shortened, she'd already started a note to him, and whacked me (the helpless ball) back to the cardiologist to read tomorrow's echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart), take a look at my swelling, and figure out why, on the third line of the EKG, there's so little activity, it looks like I've flatlined. That said, we all die a little bit more every day, don't we? She also wants him to order a stress test, since I haven't had one in 5 years. He'll be THRILLED, unless (and if you've read this blog, you know who he is) he denies me the mercy of treatment and sends me on a long, drawn-out hunt over the course of the next few months trying to find another cardiologist in our hospital who'll accept my insurance. Be a nice Guy.



Let's pretend, for a moment, that I know anything about cardiology. Let's also factor in that I DO know a lot about psychiatry and the side effects of those medications. Comparing the EKG from December, which the Uber-Specialist looked at with me, yes, the QT intervals have improved from 469 down to 409. I was a little tachy today, pulse over 100. This doctor thinks those QT numbers are "normal." My psychiatrist is still going to flip out against that when she takes into account that result and what it means in the grand scheme of what Geodon, the antipsychotic, has done to damage my heart.

Once again, as is my modus operandi, I have managed to baffle beyond comprehension the very well-trained specialists I've seen. I wonder to whom I'll be bounced next. Probably back to the psychiatrist, because obviously, I've lost my mind (again).

But I'm not hearing things when Uber says, "I can't tell if you've had a heart attack or not!" or "I honestly have no idea why that line is so flat." When she asked me if I had any questions, I bit my tongue and said no, when in actuality, I wanted to ask her if she had a better way of explaining the EKG other than, "See these little mountains and valleys? There aren't any here."

School tomorrow for Luke was canceled because we'll have like -30 wind chills. I still have to go out to the hospital for the ECG and (for more reasons not understood), an ultrasound of my upper right abdominal quadrant.

I suppose if the cardiologist can't look into my heart, at least he look at my heart.

















Sunday, January 4, 2015

It Was What It Was: 2014

Can we just pretend 2014 didn't happen?

Help me, 2015! You're my only hope!

Long story short: 2014 sucked. Apart from my son's Confirmation (which, since, he's become an agnostic) and his elementary school graduation and turning into the most popular schmuck in his artsy crowd in high school with his own radio show and Peter Framptonesque long tendrils, and being Student of the Month in his photography class, the year was wrought with disaster after disaster, which sucked, Luke being the gleaming north star at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Luke saved my life from a paralyzing panic attack late this summer, that I'll credit him. I got stuck in the mud, literally, needed a Valium (which I had on hand), he bummed a fresh bottle of water off another fella, and pulled me out. Later that evening, we got to visit with a dear friend I haven't seen in a couple of years for a good, long while. (Yes, THAT friend.) He adores Luke, who wouldn't? He loves me, who wouldn't? The mud trap sucked but, uh, that friend most certainly brightened my life in spades. After many suicidal considerations and plans and means to carry it out, I kept peeking in at my boy, we'd talk or get laughing and the impulse would pass. It's nice that I have a teenager who doesn't hate me, who doesn't think I'm a bitch and still hugs me goodnight every night.

I had to switch grad schools, which turned out to be a big old mess because I have to repeat 2 courses due to absences for health-related problems. My current school has these ridiculous in-residence intensive weekends, for 3 days, and if you miss ANY of that class time, you automatically fail the course. That's when I got a serious infection in one of my right fingers after a doctor and 4 nurses had to cut one of my rings--my thickest ring--off of my hand because it was getting infected underneath and wouldn't come off, because I was so water-weighted down with edema. The infection caused me to miss 2 days of this particular residency weekend, so booted was I. It just sucked.

In the other class, I simply couldn't keep up with the workload because I was in and out of doctors' offices on an almost daily basis while my medical team tried to figure out the swelling. The diuretics finally worked and in a matter of a little over a month in November and December, I lost 35 pounds, which helped my back pain and knee pain. (I still have to go to physical therapy for the pain in my knees.)  So I now have skinny legs again but I'm top and neck heavy. Most disproportionate, which is embarrassing and aggravating. I'm a little woman trapped in a heavy body, which has done a number on my self-esteem. My asthma is also slowly improving the more weight I lose. Most of that still sucks.

Never mind with the school, I can produce dozens of medical visit reports, doctors' notes, etc. to corroborate my absence and lack of completion of work. It just sucked.

I had a battery of tests and long visits with an ear doctor because I was getting piercing earaches in my right ear when I was lying on it, which would wake me up from sound sleep. Several doctors looked at my ear, and it wasn't infected. It, as with most of my medical problems, was a mystery. Had an ear MRI (leaving all my piercings in, thank God) and the ear doctor was baffled. I went for a hearing test, and apart from markedly poor hearing in my right ear (huh?), I'm just using numbing drops when I get an earache. That sucks and doesn't suck. Ok, well, yeah, it sucks.

This Long QT Syndrome issue is still of prevalence. Getting in to see the electrocardiologist won't be happening until the middle of this month. I've tapered off the antipsychotic which was to blame, and my liver function issue should also be improving. (Geodon malfunctions the liver, the heart, I swear--every rare but life-threatening side effect has befallen me after having taken the drug since 2009.) Next week, I'm having an EKG, an echocardiogram and an abdominal ultrasound, then seeing my psychiatrist on Thursday. She wants to see an EKG to see if the Long QT has improved or escalated. Did I tell you that my psychiatrist was really intrigued with a long-term study that came out which blamed Geodon for multiple cases of pancreatitis? Well, if that don't beat all. Let's rewind to 2010-2011, when I had it 4 or 5 times and was in the hospital or operating room.

'Twill be a busy week with tests. I don't start school again until the 15th, and I'm lucky I don't have to be on campus that day. Uber has become my best friend. Parking downtown for school costs twice as much. That just sucks.

Sad to have said goodbye to "The Colbert Report" right before the holidays, as it was one of my favorite shows. I have not only deep respect and find Stephen Colbert a comedic genius, but he just seems like a really sweet guy out of character as well. That, and he did receive an honorary doctorate from my alma mater, Knox College, in 2006, which he tried to burn on his show at some point, but it wouldn't start on fire. Between "The Office" reruns, "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," I don't watch much on the boob tube. Colbert's finale was a star-studded spectacular, and I'll have to start DVR'ing the "Late Night" show when he replaces Letterman. But then I found this picture on Pinterest, and it's just too much oof for me to handle. What can I say?



Christmas wasn't necessarily stress-free but it was enjoyable after all. My nephew and his boyfriend (who was also part of the festivities) got me "Cards Against Humanity" as a gift, which, if you haven't heard of it, has the tagline: "A card game for horrible people." It's filthy and insulting. And who played it with us until 1am on Christmas Eve? My mother! Oh, Mylanta! Christmas Day was just my mother and I, so we ate a fancy dinner she whipped up and watched "Silver Linings Playbook," which was most excellent. (I wonder if Guy ever got the "Lego Movie" I tried to anonymously send to him after he kicked my ass to the curb.) That all didn't suck too badly. Nobody killed anyone. Always a good thing.

New Year's Eve could've been more boring, but the TCM channel was showing "Elvis on Tour," "A Hard Day's Night," "Gimme Shelter," and "Tommy." I was pretty much set, with my laptop in the dining room, spending time with my mom. Luke was out at a house party until 1:45 in the morning (yes, the parents were home).  Toasts with sparkling grape juice that I wish was champagne, some good snacks, so that didn't suck as badly as it could have.

I missed a lot of band this year because of illness, injury and school, which bummed me out. I even missed the contemporary Christmas carols service because my knee was too swollen to play my drums and I was in too much pain. All of that alternating heat and ice. Heat and ice. Heat and ice. THAT sucked.

I'm not writing as much as I could be, given all the free time I'm seemingly allotted. I just haven't felt creative spunk lately. It's bad enough I'm blogging now, relaying all of my woes of the year and believe me, my friends, family and acquaintances all concur that 2014 was just a plain shitty year. It was all over Facebook--friends bidding adieu to the year which has thankfully passed. In all seriousness, I haven't seen THAT many people proclaim unhappiness in synopses over a few days as I have since around the 30th of December. Those poor people! The year sucked across the board! It wasn't just me!

Other friends have had serious problems too, both physical and emotional. I've tried to be the rock that holds everyone together, but like a globally warming glacier, I'm disappearing. I can't remember the last time I was truly manic, though right now I feel a little hypomanic (probably because I was looking at pictures of Stephen Colbert on Pinterest) and not yet sleepy. (He really should hire me as a writer. I am hella witty and sharp when I want to be, when I'm not constantly bitching.) Mostly it's been bipolar depression. I would love to exercise, but I'm not cleared to yet, and even if I tried something relaxing and healthy like swimming, I could go into cardiac arrest. That would suck.


The burgeoning year, 2015, you know, things can only get better. They have to, because too many of us have seen and been to the depths of hell and back in the last 365-ish days.



Heading off to make my Sleepytime tea (which I'll no doubt spill on myself in bed trying to use the laptop and drink at the same time, and one more smoke (down to half a pack a day with the e-cigarette!) outside in the rainy sleety mixture that's supposed to turn into 4-7" of snow by the end of tomorrow. Super. I can't shovel, which I actually enjoy. It's an OCD thing with me.

My wish is that you all fare well, have happiness and not suckiness in your new year. Don't make resolutions you can't keep, or promises which are empty to the people about whom you care. Don't break anyone's heart if you can help it. Smile a lot and make up jokes. Be free. Don't cast the first stone. Eat, drink and be merry. Do your best to tell the people you love that you love them, but if you don't really love them, don't say it at all. Support gay marriage and marijuana legalization, and the women's right to choose what happens to her body. Don't watch Fox News unless it's for amusement purposes only. Eat less cheese and drink more water. Those are the best pieces of advice I can muster at this late hour.

Most of all, don't suck and don't let the year suck you down.

Happy New Year, 4 days late, from The Offbeat Drummer! Wish me luck!