Monday, August 26, 2013

on the blue moon . . a few days late

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild Darling!

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face into mine.
Breathe into me.

Close the language-door,
and open the love-window.

The moon won't use the door,
only the window.

--Jelaluddin Rumi, 13th century


The moon won't use the language-door, only the love-window. Isn't that beautiful?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Today is my sixtieth birthday

This is the first milestone birthday that has risen to the level where it got my attention. Thirty, forty flew by.  Fifty, I made a serious suicide attempt about a month before my fiftieth. When my kid had been a baby and her dad was suing me for custody, I was depressed. My therapist couldn't get me to focus beyond my miserable present so he started asking me "where do you see yourself when you are fifty?"  I was, like, 29 at the time.

 I would pause a moment and actually reflect and then think and say the exact same thing every time. I would say, "let me see, Katie will be 21 in 2003, so she will be safe from her dad, so I want to be dead."  My poor doc. It was a decent intervention for a person depressed in her present reality but I was so frozen by my husband's petition for custody, I could not see beyond "custody of my baby".  We did not know, ha ha ha, that I am a borderline. Borderlines think in rigid black and white. I was thinking in rigid black and white every time my doctor asked me "where do you see yourself at age 50?"  In black and white, with Katie of legal age at age 21, in my mind, my value ceased.

I guess she agreed with me cause she stopped talking to me and seeing me in 2001!

So when she dumped me, for the first three years, I thought constantly of my fantasies of when she'd come back, altho I knew she was gone for good in my heart, which is why I was miserable. And then I remembered that I would soon be turning fifty and I remembered that old therapy trick that had not worked then. The therapy 'trick' took on a horrible meaning.  I dwelt on it. Obssessed, one might say. I kept thinking "there is no reason to turn fifty and without Katie in my life, I don't want to turn fifty."

So when I was 49, I moved across the country, got a new psychiatrist, a moron psychiatrist who NEVER asked for my old therapy/medical records. IF she had, she would have discovered my suicide drug of choice. The idiot prescribed it for me. I also asked her for antedepressants, and depakote (pretending I was manic depressive, which was my wrong diagnosis for a long time so I knew about it), risperdal and other poisons sold as drugs. I had taken shitloads for years so I knew what to say and that witch took my word for all of them. One med check and I walked out with prescriptions for a shitload of serious drugs.

Then I'd get them all filled and toss all of them out but the one I wanted for suicide. I started when I was forty nine cause I knew I needed a lot -- from past failures. And I knew if I asked for high doses right away, I wouldn't get them.  So month after month, I'd go see that malpractice-level psychiatrist -- it was malpractice not to send for my old records and it is so easy to do that. FAX.

Gradually I increased the dosage, tinkering the amounts of all the drugs she prescribes to fake her out. I got the others filled and dumped them just in case someone smart ever looked at my medical records. I wanted the pharmacy to show I had filled all scripts.

Then, a month before I turned fifty, I had 150 milligrams of a Class A narcotic. My research showed 120 should be enough to kill me. I swallowed them all. I loved how the smallish pills clattered on my teeth. I had never had pills clatter before because I never swallowed dozens at a time before.

The next morning, unconscious but alive, my landlady's teenage daughter came in to borrow my sewing machine and saw my suicide note on the desk next to the machine. I had said she could come in and get it whenever she wanted. She called her mom at work, who called me and said "if you don't pick up, I'm calling the police" I heard her but I couldn't move.

The ER doc said I could not possibly have taken that much. But I did. The hospital doc, where I got stuck for a long holiday weekend cause a 72 hour hold only counts business days. Can you believe it?! Someone official has to let you out and they don't work on Monday holidays. Duh.

I had to talk to an asshole psychiatrist every day. Every day he asked me "why do you think you made a suicide attempt. There was not enough of the drug you said you took in your blood to back up your story. do you want attention?"

I couldn't wait to get out, to see if I had barfed it up or if I had changed my mind and tossed some in the trash. But nope. No signs of barfing. and trust me, I had made a few attempts already and there's no way I could have barfed while loaded up with toxic suicide drugs without making a mess. Once I barfed all over my entire kitchen. Man, that shit dries hard. It is very hard to clean, dried barf. I went through all the garbage, even the landlady's looking for signs of my untaken drugs.

But I did take them. The clattering on my teeth will always stand out.

For folks who have never been suicidal, you might not realize that folks who are serious about wanting to die, well, they are very angry when they realize they failed. Really angry.  I was so angry in the hospital and I decided to act as angry as I wanted to. What were they going to do to me, lock me up?!!! I was awful to the staff, knowing they couldn't do anything to me. Once, to the most awful nurse, I said "I can't wait until I never have to speak to you again." and she said, fair enough, "me too". Fun times.

I was angry and it tooks weeks to come down from the anger. I was also aware that a miracle had kept me alive. I concluded god, love, spirit, the cosmos had something in my future in this life and wanted me alive.

And here I am, ten years later, alive. I've got lots of new friends. I've connected with some good old friends. But I never got my kid back.

Sixty.  I am going to be a sexy, desirable, and sexually active, maybe even promiscuous, sixty year old. I'm going to have fun. I love me. More today than yesterday.

But not as much as tomorrow. Happy birthday to me.

my kid did all the laundry from 5th grade on

Katie took over doing the laundry because she was so OCD that she did not want me to touch any of her clothtes. She knew that I would fill the washing machine with a blend of her clothes and mine, picking like colors.  I was not going to waste water or electricity and so small loads of her things and small loads of mine.

I trusted her, when she took over the laundry, that she would continue my practice of using full loads to save on the water bill but I bet she never put our clothes together. I don't know how she did the laundry because she asked me to never step into the laundry room again. I walked through it to get to other parts of our large basement, where I had things stored but I never did go in the laundry room again.

She asked me to never enter her room when she was not there giving me permission and I never did. Truly.  I respected her boundaries but it wasn't so much about boundaries. It was about how hard it was for her to have me in her space.

Many OCD folks 'hate' those closest to them the most. She got so she did not want me to touch her. She said I was the dirtiest person in the world. And she passed this attitude on to my sister and niece -- her whole family, for all intents and purposes.

I got so used to never touching her that when she was hospitalized on Xmas Eve, for a health matter I will not write about to maintain her privacy, when she was as white as a ghost and I was afraid for her, I did not touch her. I brought her good soups. My sis, niece and I celebrated with all our Xmas gifts in the hospital room. But none of us hugged her, even though it was Xmas Eve and she was as pale as a ghost and very sick.

Everyone said I spoiled her. Anyone who said that, and my sister said it all the time, did not understand that her suffering was real. She did not say her mother was an untouchable to hurt me. She said it because she hurt. And she may not have anything to do with me now -- I have not seen her since August 2001 when I dropped her off at Cornell -- and she may still think I am awful.

A former boyfriend of hers wrote to me here on my blog, offering in comments I did not allow to appear on the blog, to tell me 'all about her'. He also wrote 'now she hates me like she hates you'. Gosh, until I read that, I had not quite thought of Katie's rejection as hating me. I thought of it as irrational OCD shit, something she was stuck in. This guy said he was with her two years. He's a hottie, I give him that, but he musta been a bit of an idiot. A boyfriend of two years could hardly accumulate the same level of antipathy that Katie feels for me, her mother, now, of 31 years.

Katie, are you reading? Do you ever read my blog?

I turn 60 today.  I could have colon cancer, which my mom had at sixty. I could die of complications of diabetes, which my dad did at age 62. Are you really ready to live the rest of your life without ever seeing your mother again? Believe what you will, my main concern is for you, not me. Someday you will learn that I am dead and you will not be able to undo the choice you made about me. I keen for you for that day.

I turn 60 today. Happy Birthday to me.

living with unlocked doors, locked doors and OCD

This is a very different story -- the one you shared, Jean, is great -- but I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, in two different houses. My parents never locked our house -- ever. It got started when they bought our first home and the sellers said they didn't have a key to the front door. It was a very old house and a rare lock. Geez, it wasn't until I was in my thirties and a homeowner myself that I realized my folks could have unscrewd the lock, taken it to a locksmith and got a key made Dad kept saying he didn't want to pay a locksmith. When we'd go out of town, the whole family, like on vacation, we'd lock up and leave one basement window unlocked and send one of my brothers in when we got home, through the basement window. Dad said "If anyone needs anything I have worse than me, bad enough to steal it, they can take it." When we moved to a newer house with keys to all doors, by then, we were all used to living without locked doors.

In my first job, one year between college and grad school, the ladies at work used to fret constantly that I lived in a perpetually unlocked house. It was not my home. It was dad's home (by then my mom had left) and not my decision. But it never bothered me. I found my dad's attitude very comforting: we had nothing worth stealing, I would assure myself. And it never occurred to me that anyone would enter to commit anything but theft. I would try to imagine our most expensive belongings -- and all I could come up with was a TV and appliances which are pretty big to steal. Used clothes? Dishes? Books?

My daughter was diagnosed with OCD at age 10, her pediatrician referred her to a psychiatrist who supposedly specialized in OCD but Katie and I knew instantly that he was not the guy for us. She and I had already decided on the drive to his office that we would not have her take meds for it but when we met the guy, she almost ran out screaming. He reeked of cigarette smoke, which freaked her out on any person cause of her OCD. Plus he actually gave her - or tried to -- a huge bear hug while reeking of cigarette smell. He touched a new OCD patient with a big, messy, smelly hug without asking if he could touch her. maybe he thought he was evaluating her but it seemed invasive to me.

So when she got very upset and turned to me and said "Mom, please don't make me talk to this man" I said "We're out of here". And never saw the guy again.

I believe it is OCD that keeps Katie from talking to me. When she started to withdraw from me, I would say "Katie, you know what happens. If you cut yourself off from me, you won't be able to come back. You'll get stuck in your obsession. We've seen you do that a million times. If you leave me you'll never come back. Please."

I knew it was futile even as I begged her not to do it.

The few who knew us very well when she was a teen and suffering intensely from her OCD, used to tell me I coddled her when I 'gave in' to her obsessions. But to her, they weren't made-up things. To her, if she got fixated on something to the point of OCD, it was her illness, not her. I could not punish her or, as many advised me, be strict and not 'give in'. If she was terrified over nothing, the terror was real to her.

She and I never lived in an unlocked house. She could not have borne such a thing. She checked that our doors were locked over and over. And over and over. Every day of her life. And she had to have a bedroom the furthest from the entries to the house, and a bedroom past me.

I fell in love with a house, also in Seward where we lived, but a whole lot nicer than the one we bought. I knew instantly I wanted to buy it. And it would have been a better investsment. It was gorgeous. But the fancy master suite was on the top floor, the secondary bedrooms on the second floor. Katie instantly pointed out that if we lived there, she''d have to have the master suite with the jacuzzi tub and the skylights under the night sky -- over the jacuzzi and over the bed. Even she knew it wasn't right to give the child such a wonderful room which clearly belonged to the head of the household -- me. I was actually proud and happy, also disappointed cause it was a beautiful house, that she culd see past her OCD and see that giving her the top floor fancy bedroom was out of the question. And I know she was happy that I understood she could not sleep on a floor below me. If our home were invaded, she fearfully, OCD'edly reasoned, the maurauders would get to her first.

We ended up with a nice house, with the master suite on the second floor and two small bedrooms on the top. Safe. I was the front line to her fear. Anyone invading us, not that we were ever at risk of home invasion, had to pass me first and she needed that to be able to sleep.

I know a lot more about OCD than I wish I did.

I loved how my parents lived in Chicago with unlocked doors. And I loved living with my daughter with her obsession on locked doors. I love loving the people I love.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I am not a meaningless speck in a meaningless universe






In 1972, age 19, studying in Mexico as a college student, I took some peyote. Cute Mexican boys fllowed us blonde gringas ceaselessly, all hoping to score sex with what they believed were promiscuous American college girls. None of those guys believed I was a virgin but I was.

One group of boys hoping to both impress us and get us high enough that we'd have sex, went out into the desert and dug up a bunch of peyote. They cut off the poisonous parts. We trusted they knew what was edible and what wasn't. How naive was that?! Then they put it in a blender and we drank it. It tasted like puke. And I ended up puking. It was a long, high night.

When we got home, to the family home we paid to live in, I used the toilet and then paused in front of the mirror. All I could see was the pupils in my eyes and through those pupils I saw myself in relation to the whole cosmos:  I was a meaningless speck in an infinitie universe. I was nothing. Meaningless.

It was awful.

My traveling pal and roommate had already done things that night that ended our friendship. I had not told her about my realization that she was not my friend. I figured I could just tough out Mexico and get home and away from her.  But I did gasp and say "I want to tell you what I just saw." Peaches said "Don't tell me. I don't want to know what you saw. You shouldn't have looked in the mirror."

What a cunt. If she had sought my support, and she did constantly, she would have received it. That was the whole dynamic of our friendship:  it was all about her and I was just her audience and lackey.

Anyway, I went to hell on peyote. I stopped doing marijuana after Mexico. My whole marijuana career  lasted less than a year.  I am not inclined to drug or alcohol addiction, eh?

my secret, shameful supper

I buy containers of spicy hummus at Trader Joe's and eat it by dipping slices of cucumber in it, like chips only low cal and low carb. I try to eat only half, which is about 400 calories -- plenty for supper and that doesn't count the cuke calories, which are minimal.

Why the shame?

I keep telling myself I should cook more.

One big batch of soup a month seems above and beyond the call of duty. My fridge is full of red lentil soup, chicken curry with white legumes and spinach, and even a couple jars of very bland chicken soup with just chicken, spices, onion, garlic and celery.

But I eat the hummus and cukes.

Hanging my head in shame.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

two no smoke

Katie and I frequented a Chinese restaurant in suburban Edina, MN, which was a few blocks from where we lived, called The Great Wall. It was very good Chinese food and probably the restaurant we went out to the most.

Most of the staff was comprised of recent immigrants from China, probably family members sponsored one after another. The hostess had fairly fluent English. She would ask us if we wanted a table in the smoking or non smoking section, this, of course, being long ago when restaurants still had smoking sessions. Remember smoking in restaurants?  Yuck. So the hostess would ask how many were in our party and did we want a smoking or non-smoking table in decent English and then she would turn to an underling and say 'two no smoke' and the underling would show us to a table in the no-smoking section.

One day, I cut to the chase and when the hostess glanced at me -- we were regulars, in there all the time, they knew we wanted a table for two in the non-smoking section -- I said "Two no smoke." The hostess' jaw dropped, her shocked at my racist mocking language obvious. The owner, a normally warm friendly guy who definitely knew we were regulars in his business, came from around the counter to investigate. Had I been ridiculing the staff? My daughter was embarassed, screeching to me in a kind of teenage hissing, "Mo-o-m-mmm! You are being so embarassing."

But I had spoken in genuine innocence. I had heard that hostess say 'two no smoke' many times and I had just instinctively picked up her language.

I am linguistically impressionable!

The two no smoke entered the pantheon of ourfamily stories. Katie loved to tell about the time I was a racist, ignorant jerk at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  It wasn't racist. My 'two no smoke' was friendly. And I am linguistically impressionable.

Come to think of it, she must not have thought I had been so awful because she did keep going back to that restaurant. sometimes, the hostess would even joke and say, as soon as she saw us enter, "Two no smoke?"

All's well that ends well?  It remained our regular go-to place when we decided to eat out on the spur of the moment.

In hindsight, I should have cooked for her more but my kid was always a very fuzzy eater. She wouldn't eat most things I offered her. Going out was easier. Her fuzziness presaged her eating disorder, I think.  When she would stay with my mom for visits, my mom and her husband always took ot to Wendy's. Katie did not get burgers and fries:  they went to Wendy's because it had a salad bar and katie could control what she ate, fussily choosing things from the salad bar. Maybe I missed the message then. Maybe the message was more salads, mom.

But I sure thought she liked the mandarin chicken at Great Wall. It was the only thing she ever ordered and we went to that place for several years at least once a week.

I loved eating out. I miss it. I can't afford to and it is healthier to eat at home but I miss it anyway.

Two no smoke.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

this is from something I wrote in June. . .

I am deleting lots of things from my FB wall -- something I regularly do. I like my little essays though, so I am posting some here before deleting them from FB. XO to me.


Yesterday I took the commuter train between Santa Fe and Albuquerque to get back to Berkeley. I got dropped off way early. But lots of folks got there early. AT one point, I was chatting away, in Spanish, with a bunch of folks from Peru. They have lived in the states a long time. We swapped South America stories. And then along came a group of very white, bleach blonde old ladies (even older than me! I turn 60 in August -- that sounds old, at least to me but these gals were older than me, I know cause they were sisters and talked about a quarrel they had in the fifties as little girls) . . but one husband was Chilean.

So much fun.

When the Chilean guy and his wife first arrived, his wife asked me what I had been doing to kill time. It was kinda rude because I was surrounded by chatty friendly Peruvians, all smiling and talking with me, obviously. So I said I am enjoying my new Peruvian friends.

A few minutes later, this gal, who was pretty sweet, remarked "Gosh you guys came all the way from Peru just to see Santa Fe?" and I said "I did not say they lived in Peru, I said they were Peruvians" -- all of this in spanish. The Peruvians laughed hard at this, enjoying that I had said 'they are Peruvians' but the gal assumed they lived in Peru. then we had a lovely conversation about how simple sentences can be interpreted in very simple but wrong ways.

I had such a great time.

Then on the train I sat with a janitor at a hospital in Santa Fe who commutes to work from an Albuquerque suburb. His hobby is making bird houses and he showed me his portfolio. Again, all in Spanish. His love of birds and the love he puts into his bird houses was so touching.

The world is full of love and loving people maybe?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

why do we use plastic bags for garbage?

Plastic grocery bags have been outlawed in many parts of the Bay Area. When will we outlaw plastic trash bags? I think plastic trash bags do more damage than grocery plastic bags. Don't plastic trash bags prevent the garbage inside them from biodegrading, so landfills are full of plastic bags full of weirdly degrading trash?

Just wunnering. . . .

Growing up, my folks always used paper grocery bags to line our kitchen trash container. I have always used paper grocery bags for the same thing. I have never bought a plastic trash liner  It always has seemed wrong.

Now, where I live, paper grocery bags cost ten cents. I buy one once in awhile, then I use it until it gets soiled. I dump the trash down the trash chute in my building and reuse the bag. I reason my trash, un-embalmed in plastic, will help degrade the landfill, acelerate the necessary process of recycling the earth's energy, cause that's what garbage is:  energy that needs to be returned to the earth to be reused somehow.

just wunnering.

We've all read about that big island of plastic floating in an ocean somewhere. How could that plastic island not include plastic trash bags?

Why do we allow everyone to use plastic bags for garbage? Garbage needs to biodegrade in landfills and reenter the earth's cycles.  Right?

Thursday, August 01, 2013

camping, Yosemite, and bears, oh my

I have never been to yosemite so I have decided to give myself a trip there for my sixtieth birthday.  I need a tent, have a sleeping bag, can use my own cookware.

What I'd like is companions on the trip.Any takers? Berkeley to Yosemite for three or four nights?