Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thanks for the Memories

Thought I'm soooo glad to see 2013 go, I thought I would take some tome to say thank you for all the experiences.

I'm deeply grateful to Glenn for his generous spirit as my store started failing. He believed in us enough to help us through the last couple of weeks.

When I look back, I'm proud we went as long as we did with our store. I know that it could work with someone with a better plan. My hope is that someone will figure this out and grow it into something wonderful.

Yay for medical coverage that could deal with my cancer  quickly and that nothing spread. Thankfully, my scars are healing and my spirits are good.

I'm thankful for the Coos County Library System. The DVD section entertains me when I'm low and the access to interesting and amazing books keeps me informed on a large variety of topics.

We found a wonderful friend in Nick, who tends our yard and does odd jobs. He delights in science and science fiction as much as we do.

Life works best when you are willing to accept the less than perfect. We found a used spa tub to redo our master bathroom, a closeout vent/microwave for very cheap and Murry bought me a slightly used tablet for the holiday. Now we just need to find a deal on some cabinets.

It might sound silly, but sometimes you gotta sit down and thank the most insignificant things. Breathing comes to mind. I also have the ability to type, think and hear reasonably well. I can see some.

Strange things I learned this year include: You can cut your own hair and get noticed but changing your glasses doesn't register on anyone's radar. Vegetarian isn't so bad, once in a while.

I raise my glass of wait.. I don't have anything but water.. heh oh well.. DEAL. I raise my glass of water to the new year. How can it help but be better than this one!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hell on Wheels

Goodbye 2013!

I hope to write something else before the last day of the year, but I wanted to start early wishing this one a big ole aideeooose.

Martha Beck outlines a simple strategy for knowing if you're on the right life track. She suggests looking at what you are doing and how it makes you feel. She says if it feels like you're shackled, limited in mobility and feeling "stuck," that's not what you should do. If you feel happier, freer and more hopeful, you should do more of that.

She calls it "shackles on" versus "shackles off."

Starting 2012, I felt deeply shackled to our store. It leaked money like a sieve, We had way too much overhead and I lived with too much stress. Our relationships with some employees broke down and I wanted Murry to start stepping up.

When 2013 came around those stresses and feelings only got worse. I suggested the employees start looking for work. I told them I would accommodate if they got something else. Finally, at the end of March, I couldn't take it anymore.

One of my workers was so angry with me she told me that ended our friendship. I told her I understood. She's since talked to me and while we're not "best" friends, at least she understands I didn't do it on purpose.

Well, okay, maybe I did. I felt overwhelmed and decided to stop that feeling. I do like that about me. I wont stay FOREVER in a bad place. I will stay maybe longer than I should, but that's just hope.

I've already said this today, but it bears repeating. I will always be the person who digs through horseshit looking for the pony. It's just my being. Again, not forever, but long enough to see what I can find.

After we sold off a lot of inventory and paid employees and as many creditors as we could, we locked up and left. I told the landlord what was happening. He said he understood. I felt terrible. He lost the building.

Since I'm disabled and I was feeling terribly useless, I applied for disability. I got it and got on the health plan. Good thing too. Two months later, I found a lump growing on my leg.

I've outlined that on this blog so I'll just tap the highlights. I got melanoma cancer. I found out that people with albinism, like me, have the cells to produce pigment, but they don't work. These melanocites are what give you melanoma.

Lucky for me, it didn't spread. I spent two more months being poked and prodded and had surgery to make sure. I still gotta be checked to make sure no new lumps come up. As Pooh would say, "Oh, bother!"

On the same day, my hubby came home and tells me the big box store he works is closing its doors. So he went looking for another job at a little box store. They hired him as holiday help and he worked there long enough to get his employee discount card.

Then yesterday, they told him Tuesday is his last day.

My life is pretty simple and I don't want for much. I can handle it, he can find another job of some kind. It will be alright.

Strangely, though I should feel shackles on about him losing the job, I don't. I think it will be okay. Butt.....

Grab a shovel, help me find that damned pony.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Baby

If you got no one to love this holiday, have a look in the mirror. That person needs love and attention.

Listen to Ertha Kit and ask for what you want. Make a plan, take a few steps and see what happens.

Before I met the Murry, I wrote down that I wanted a man like him. I also wanted a house. Murry had a house.

All I did was want those things. I had a clear definition of what they would look, sound and feel like. When I found them, they were familiar.

People like me, who grew up with an chaotic family sometimes find that familiar. Even if they vow they don't want what they lived, they find themselves repeating family patterns.

We can fill in those ruts and make a new path. It's not always easy or fun, but it's WORTH the outcome.

Make a plan, buy some sand, fill in those furrows and get working on a better life.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Great Balls of Fire

When I complain about my bad childhood and have those low moments when crying seems the only reasonable thing to do, I often lose sight of the wonderful gift it gave me. It's not some subtle abstract gift. It made me fucking awesome.

If you can't deal with that assessment, feel free to comment. Though maybe read the whole post first.

Some years before I started back to college, I talked to some friends about going to Europe. I had saved a few bucks from scholarship money and I found someone to be my companion. I thought, I'm legally blind, might be useful to have someone as a sighted guide.

Since I was paying the way, I thought that I should direct the itinerary. She didn't want to go where I wanted, see what I wanted and generally became distant. I'm not sure if I'm bossy or it just wasn't meant to be or what. None of it happened that way. Though I did get my passport.

As college wound down, I got the chance to go to a study program in Oxford, England. As part of my planning and research, I decided I wanted to see Italy and more in Europe while I was there. I got an extended ticket for a month and bought a couple of guide books and a rail pass.

With 34 fellow students on the program, I imagined I would find someone who would want to go at least a few of the same places. I made a few friends and asked them where they were going. None of them had any similar plans.

Faced with the choice of going alone, or not going, I chose to go by myself. I had blind person tools, like a magnifier  a small set of binoculars and a white cane. Though my cane wasn't a full sized used for walking one. It was just what they told me was an "indicator cane." only about three feet. It worked as just a kind of "hey, if I run into you, I didn't mean to" kind of thing. It worked well.

I also had a little translator computer I bought at Radio Shack. It was supposed to let me enter a sentence in English and then give me the phrase in the local language. It frustrated me and I never used it "in the field."

My experiences in the UK while going to school gave me confidence to do the trip by myself. I missed the school bus to go to Stone Henge so I had to find a way to catch up. I hopped a train and wandered around Salisbury, England, hoping to find the group.

As it was raining, I was wearing my rain poncho with the hood up. It occurred to me that my beacon like hair would probably make it easier for others to spot me, I lowered it. Seconds later, someone shouted my name and I caught up with our group.

It helps to be clever. After school ended later that month, I flew to Paris.

France proved a tad tricky but I'm not above asking for help and I managed to find my hostel and meet some friends. When I go back, for sure I'm buying an A to Z map of the big cities I visit. I got blissfully lost in Paris. While a joy, it's nice to get back when you want.

The guide books advised a backpack over any kind of suitcase. It leaves your hands free. I picked the lightest internal frame pack with hip strap I could find. I also took my denim day pack and a "bum bag" to carry as a purse.

Nice is nice so I said it twice. Then I hopped a train down to Rome and roamed. Okay, I'll stop now. I LOVE Italy. Aww heck, I love traveling. Got lost in Rome too. With a sighted lady who spoke Italian! She had a map. Eventually I took it from her and found our way back.

Yep, a blindish me took a map from a sighted woman and found our way back. She wanted to go see the Sistine Chapel, but we were in the wrong part of the Vatican. We did go inside St. Peters and wander around the square. Very quietly and to myself, I sang Vatican Rag by Tom Lerher. Cheeky geeky American. (sorry I wasn't going to do that anymore.)

I even LOOK American at least to one Italian guy. I approached as he sang a rousing song while unloading a truck. He broke into English and sang, "I wait for you pretty lady!" Swoon.

I stand out with the white hair and I think I was committing the cardinal travel sin of wearing sandals with socks. I never thought that was a good thing until my feet were too sore to wear regular shoes.

I found some other travel companions and I did make it to the Sistine Chapel. Though there's little comparison to it's stunning beauty, my favorite part was listening to "oh wow" in every world language.The faint scent of must and paint added to the ambiance.

After a few days, I hopped the train to Florence. The Tuscan countryside reminds me of wine country near Napa, California. Only greener and more bucolic.

The hostel couldn't accommodate me so they gave me a list of local hotels that rented rooms for fairly cheap. Twice the rate of the hostel, but I didn't have to share. I think I was there three nights. It felt like I could walk the whole city along the red terracotta roofs.

I followed some ladies into a line next to the Duomo thinking it was the way inside. Turns out it was the line to CLIMB the dome! Hundreds of steps with my bad knee and chunky body, I should probably have passed, but I was too embarrassed to beg off.

I'm glad I didn't. These breathtaking views show the awesome power of the Medici family wealth. Next time I think I'll climb the bell tower.

Exhaustion and the awesome view combined to set me on a depressive path. I contemplated throwing myself off the dome. I felt so alone up there. Obviously I didn't. I started to think no one would notice or care and no one would know how to contact the people I did know in America. Whatever reason, I took these awesome photographs and climbed back down.

My cane came in handy when a group of gypsy children approached me in the Duomo square. The guide book said that it was common to distract someone by holding something in front of them and then going in their pockets. The kids surrounded me and held a piece of cardboard toward me. I waved them all back with my cane. I didn't hit any of them, but I made sure I kept safe.

I left Florence and headed for Venice. I spent the day there rode around on the vaporetta Grand Canal boat "bus" and went over to St. Mark's square. I didn't go inside the Doge's palace but I did see the beauty of the mosaics inside the cathedral. The drizzle must have kept tourists in their rooms as the square sported more pigeons than people. Cool with me, I like birds better.

I selected the special of the day at the one sit down meal as the sun set. Lasagna, a salad and a mimosa made with thick apricot juice and some kind of Tuscan sparkling wine. Though I ate alone, I felt content as I floated to catch my train.

I'll write more about my ballsy adventures in later posts.

See? Fucking awesome. Told ya.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Take this Job and Shove it

I hate Steve Jobs. I know, I cannot REALLY hate him, because I've never met him and the stories I've heard may or may not be true. But I hate the idea that everyone calls him the great visionary and how he saved Apple.

I hate how his presence overshadows the brilliance of Steve Wozniak. Here's a guy who built and created things of beauty. like the Apple I and II. These systems had neat open architectural that could be expanded and made to do really interesting things.

When the IBM PC copied that structure (not from Wozniak, from Intel's processor handbook) they created quite an interesting personal computer marketplace. While Apple went the closed end proprietary market with the Macintosh, Wozniak's original idea grew into something amazing.

Honestly, I don't know who's idea it was, but I can tell you, the ideas that Jobs had for the Apple Lisa and later the Mac weren't his. Xerox created a research lab called the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and they came up with the mouse and the idea of a graphic user interface. Jobs just used those to build the whole new computer category.

It didn't work as well as he hoped and he paid the price for it. He also failed to understand the threat of software innovations on his systems. While IBM couldn't capitalize on their system because it wasn't propitiatory to them, Apple foundered from a closed system.

More and more companies developed PC compatible add on hardware and software that fully utilized the open architecture. In those early years, some creative businesses used Mac, but many many more used PC, MSDos and eventually Windows.

Apple's performance lagged and Jobs got ousted. He spends a few years trying to get back into the computer game and creates another closed architecture system called NeXT. It didn't pan out. Though according to Wikipedia the NeXT OS became the basis for OSX.

When he went back to Apple, it's clear he never fundamentally understood why companies like Microsoft worked. The PC market spread its base in many hardware and software directions. Microsoft became more than an operating system, they wrote software that bridged various hardware systems.

Yes, I also know that iPad and iPhone are twice as popular as the more open and late comer Android market. I'll give him the credit for being first with this concept. Allowing outside companies to make apps for iPhone opens up the market in interesting ways. I think eventually Android will beat it as they have more variation on their developers.

Sometimes, too many cooks spoil the soup, but sometimes a lot of cooks perfect the soup in ways no single cook could imagine. Sure, single minded individualism has value as the starting point of innovation. I'm doubtful of it creating long term value.

None of this is why I hate the man. They're crumbs of information that I gleaned from observing the computer marketplace from the inside. In the 80s and early 90s I build and sold IBM PC compatible systems. I arrived just after the industry started to explode with expansion card, hard drive and other add on manufacturers.

I sold parts to Belkin Components when they were a couple guys making cables in their garage. I saw the fringes of Apple II and Tandy TRS 80 and even took some programming classes that used them.

In the late 90s, I worked with Macintosh systems running graphics problems and pagination software. These systems resembled more their PC cousins with the ability to add on interface cards and a larger variety of external hardware, like printers, scanners and monitors.

I still don't understand why Apple never opened up their operating system, Mac OS to a broader market. They held it close as a proprietary hardware, software tether. Wouldn't it be nice to have a choice when you buy a computer? Windows or MacOS? Then you'd find out which was truly the better software.

My guess is at some point Apple and Microsoft signed some kind of agreement that Apple wouldn't market it's OS without pairing it with proprietary hardware. This probably happened around the time Microsoft funded Apple to keep them in business. Microsoft was having a lot of anti trust problems with many states and keeping Apple alive and somewhat competitive helped their legal case. This is pure speculation on my part.

The reason I don't like Jobs is because of his reputation for being an asshole. People dress it up as perfectionism and "demanding, " but from the reports I hear, he just sounds cruel and slave driving. And people prostrate themselves, begging for more.

I hate that some people think that this is the right way to get business done. To demand and rail against people you work with in order to get them to make the best product. And screw you if you have a different idea from the head man.

There's a new movie about Jobs coming out with Ashton Kutcher playing the lead. Kutcher appeared on a talk show called Jobs the Da Vinci of our time. OH MY GOD!

The man has never created anything in his life. He's observed and made real technologies he's seen others originate. That's a skill and has value, but is NOTHING on the scale of Da Vinci. The comparison is flat out ludicrous.

So that's my rant for today. Comments welcome, even the Jobs lovers can bitch me out. I don't care. It's not going to change my mind.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Heart Belongs to Daddy

A couple of people have said they were working on quitting smoking. Congratulations to them.

Everyone in my family of origin smoked. Everyone except me. Some have since quit, but at one time or another, all three of my siblings and both parents lived with this lung destroying addiction.

Both my parents and all the men my mother married drank to excess. She denies that she "drank that much." Compared to an ocean, a lake isn't that much. But it's still water.

So just after my parents divorced and my father had custody of me and my older sister, it wasn't uncommon for him to have cans of beer on the coffee table. He'd leave four or five just strewn there. Often he'd have a few sips left in one, forget he already had one and open another.

I can hear his throaty "yeuck yeuch" as he sat in his green shirt and boxers laughing at HeeHaw and sucking his teeth. A wisp of smoke trailed from his jutting cigarette as he curled his fingers to reach for the Coors can.

On more than one occasion I sipped a few dribbles myself. I was around five. Yeah, dad couldn't ever be called the most responsible parent. He was doing the best he could.

One day, I came by and started sipping the dregs of his cans.The tang of the amber liquid tickled my nose. I must have been exceptionally small or the table larger, as I remember bringing the cans to the edge, tipping and sipping. I grabbed one, raised it to my lips and poured stale beer and cigarette ashes down my throat 

I've heard that kissing a smoker for a non smoker is like "licking an ashtray." I've kissed a smoker and I drank an ashtray. They're not the same.

I cannot get that experience out of my mind and whenever the thought of smoking or beer drinking comes up, I can't help but gag. Daddy had no notion of the valuable gift he gave me. He just liked his drinking and smoking ways.

I know addictions are rough things to get through. I hope those of you who are trying to change your lives have wonderful success.

Kind comments always welcome.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Don't Bring Me Down

Do something to improve the life of someone else. Just do it. Try something. Smile at everyone and be okay. I get that we can't all be happy, just choose okay. 

I had so many other things to write about today. Too many ideas in fact. Finally I decided to write this. To just ask everyone to chill out and lighten up. Grab on to kindness and don't let go. Buy your co worker a cup of coffee or have a brief chat. Whatever you can spare from your own busy life. 

Short and sweet. Kind comments welcome. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Something from Nothing

I started to cry as I watched people pick through trash for pennies a pound. I wondered about a world that regards people who do this as trashy themselves. The 60 Minutes report went on to show how a music teacher created instruments from the trash and formed a makeshift orchestra.

Humans amaze me. It takes little digging to find cruelty and waste, yet among all the flawed brokenness, beauty shines.

I live with a master scrounge. He wont dive into a dumpster, but he's been known to lurk behind stories that put unwanted items near there. He thinks nothing of asking repair crews for left over materials. Our store had an entire light bank scrounged from a store remodel, including lights.

Can you imagine what we can do when we start looking at everything and everyone as valuable?  Imagine a world where many more people had access to the basics of food, shelter and safety? How can we create such a world? How can we employ people in activities that spark their minds and show their skill?

I choose to start with deciding to see value in everyone. I urge you to do the same. Start looking for beauty and value everywhere. I bet you'll find more than you ever expected.

Kind comments welcome.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Workin on the Chain Gang

My perspective may be a lot skewed by being entrepreneurial by nature and having few real world jobs, but I don't get staying miserable at work. Maybe it's the questioning part of me. I see it as a kind of equation.

       work = pay = happy
       work+grief = pay-happy

You spend time doing something for pay. At the end of an agreed upon period of time you get compensation. Though there are lots of kinds of compensations that don't involve money. Prestige, education or even health benefits can all enhance a work experience.

Then there are work stresses that people put up with to gain money. Some of them are emotional, like being a caregiver to the elderly or sick. You risk the sadness at their passing or the stress of their pain. Working as a carpet layer can hurt your knees and logging and mill work can injure or even kill a worker.

Most work that has high hazard gets compensated monetarily at a higher rate, but sometimes that isn't the case. Caregivers might feel a sense of compassion as they help someone reduce their suffering. Then one person's compensation might be another's torture. It really depends on a person's perspective.

My confusion begins when someone complains about their work and I ask what they plan to do about it. They often react like I'm crazy for even thinking that.

One friend recently told me that her boss yells at her. When I tried to find out what was going on, the girl threatened to kill herself. I get that it's very painful to get yelled at and there is way more going on than a lousy boss. Still, that might be a drastic reaction to her pain and stress.

The person involved struggles and I take her pain serious. I know enough about her to stay calm and just remind her of little things to alleviate her suffering. I have tried to get her to find a way to look at the boss as someone who yells at the wind. I asked her to let it brush past her and just go do her work.

I suspect that she, like many people, gets something out of the interaction. Maybe it fits her view of herself. Maybe she believes she deserves to be mistreated and therefore this confirms it. This is what I suspect as she refuses to take ANY step, even in conversation, to change her life.

Something else that I find interesting. I know a guy who works as a security guard who complained about a work site that didn't allow guards to use the fridge. Plus he had some comments about how some areas could be secured better. His supervisor told him that they didn't want his input.

He doesn't want to be doing security in the first place and keeps going on interviews for different kinds of jobs. I just wish that he could find some okayness and not stress over the job he has now.

He also complains about other guards not doing enough. I really wonder why people do that? Constantly compare themselves to their coworkers in an effort to one up or one down themselves. How does that help your own life? I have never heard anyone that complained about a coworker benefit from that complaint. Even when they weren't doing their job.

Suggesting an improvement that has clear benefits to the company may change things. Feel free to make a proposal that saves time, money, energy and improves safety. Also, making an employer aware of unsafe practices and refusing to DO unsafe practices should be the only time to take a real stand. That's simply self preservation.

Why continue with an employer who does not share your sense of values? If you want an open creative place where people pull their wight and share their experiences and you don't have that, make a plan to move to a workplace that does. If you choose to stay and believe you can improve the one you are working at, realize, you made a CHOICE.

I can tell you it IS possible to keep a job you mostly like and improve it through how you act. Rarely can you throw up a list of demands. Think being manipulative is a bad thing? Then it's time to find another job. Humans manipulate each other all the time.

Pay more attention to the people who are doing good things and who respond to improvement. Start isolating and making less fuss over what goes wrong.

Just a little side note that I thought while writing this. Have you considered one reason you're not getting anywhere with your complaint is someone has decided to isolate YOU? It's great to know you're good at your job, but what if you're not as good as you think you are? How about asking for help in improving even if you think you're doing your best?

Sometimes we find ourselves seeing something wrong everywhere. Certainly leave any hazardous workplace, but be careful to not take your fault finding with you.

Whether you stay or go, consider re framing your complaints into something that will benefit where you work. You could also re frame then as unimportant. How about if someone is lazy, suggesting the whole group needs a bit of extra training? If you don't like the rules but they don't HURT you, decide to let that go. Don't use the work fridge, bring food that doesn't require it. Use a thermos to keep your drink cold.

I realize that much of this post is complaining about other people's complaints. I want you to know that I hear what you are all saying and my one sincere hope is that you find a wonderful life that brings you what you most desire. You spend almost a third of your life working. Shouldn't it be at a place that you enjoy?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

King of Pain

Every time I go to the doctor, the clerk gives me a piece of paper with general symptoms on it. I always put down what I observe, but the doc almost never comments on my knee pain. I'm sure she chalks it up to my fatness and therefor isn't really important. It will go away when I get thinner.

I do not seek meds for pain. I rarely take them. I worry about addiction as my family could get caught up in that. Though I suppose I don't really worry THAT much. It doesn't seem to be my thing. Addiction I mean. I can take a single drink of alcohol and not want any more.

I tried pot when I was younger and only smoked a few times. When I realized that the effect seemed like being over tired, I saw no need to continue. Over tired is free and legal. Though, the feeling isn't that great so I don't even do that.

I have no idea where I got the idea, but I started directing my energy away from pain and toward feeling okay. I mean even before I heard Iyanla Van Zant expressed the "Choose Okay" sentiment.

Writing always helps me figure things out. It's not like I just deny any and all sources of pain. I think that's dangerous  As I've said before, it's there for a purpose. "Don't do that. It will hurt."

So I write up the painful things so I can sort through them. Then I can set it aside and use my mental energy to think about the areas where I feel contentedness and joy.

Indiana Jones went through a massively painful event where he got scrapes and bruises all over. His girlfriend began kissing him and he complained about the pain. So she angrily asked where it didn't hurt. He presented his elbow and she kissed it. Then he pointed to various other parts and she kissed those too.

Treat yourself the same way. Let the pain be real while paying some attention to the places that feel fine.

I find I bring more feelings of peace into my life when I think thoughts of peace. I find calm when I look for calm.

Today, I ask you to write down your most prominent pain. Now set that aside for a moment. Think about the spot on your body or the place in your mind where no pain exists. Wallow in the splendid spot for as long as you can.

I find that whenever I do this, I feel less pain even from the very real hurts. Never deny the powerful and amazing lessons the universe has for you by giving you the gift of a painful experience. Give yourself the gift of learning those lessons well enough to go on without the pain.

Kind and gentle comments welcome.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Stop! In the Name of Love

I love it when I interact with someone and they come away feeling better than they felt when they started the conversation. Life sometimes sticks and it just needs a little gentle nudge to start moving again.

My greatest asset comes from scouring my memory for connections to sticky spots. Maybe I haven't had that exact problem, but maybe I had something similar. Maybe all I have is a different view.

Biology built pain as a warming. Since we evolved a contemplative mind, we started using emotional pain as warning too. Like a stop sign, pain guides us to avoid certain interactions.

Sometime past experiences come up in our brain and distract us. The pain of these experiences can cause us to veer off the road and send us into a ditch.

I believe that their purpose often gets neglected. I neglect the guidance often. Then I remember that all interactions, even so called "negative" information can keep us on a safe wondrous path.

Use the directions nature gives you. Have pain? Stop, look both ways, when clear, proceed at a careful pace.

Even the most cautious driver makes mistakes. Have a strategy for getting out of the ditch. For me, the most common "ditches' come in the form of what John Bradshaw calls "shame spirals."

Bradshaw says that when we feel we are not worthy and something happens, like we miss an important deadline, we can pile on every misstep and attribute it to our lack of worth. Instead of doing that, have a back up plan.

Many people now carry cell phones at the very least for "emergencies." Find yourself in an emotional ditch? Phone a friend. Text if you must but try a real live human interaction as soon as possible. Make sure the friend doesn't have anything to do with the problem. That way they are less likely to get caught up and wind up in the ditch with you.

Maybe you'll need a mental tow truck? If you had a tough life like mine, therapy REALLY helps. Make sure that you find a reputable one. A good therapy person will help you get calm in order to help you. Though therapy does bring up pain that seems to hurt MORE sometimes, they should never EVER cause it.

Those days when we need more time to sort through our emotional car wreck, put some flares in our tool kit. Phrases that you practice while you're running smooth that you can pull out to alert friends and family that you need help.

I like to ask for understanding without judgement. My most common confidant is Murry so I say that I need to talk and the only responses he can give are "I understand" or "I don't understand. Please explain."

Another flare that isn't mine but Murry's "Too many inputs." It means he can't handle any more information and he needs some time to process what is going on inside his head.

Sometimes our emotional vehicle needs fuel. This can be a literal sense of we need to eat or a figurative sense in we need joyful experiences. When I am upset or in pain, I can both put off eating or eat lots. I try and remind myself that all basic needs serve to keep me in good running order. I check my fuel gauge and fill up on something I really like that is also good for me.

I will look at flowers, cuddle a kitty or puppy, think about pleasant things like the memory of seeing a yellow butterfly land on a purple gladiola. We all have those fond tidbits in our past. Use them to fuel up our psyche.

What emotions would you equate to what road signs? What tools do you keep in your mental trunk to help you out of a problem?

Kind comments welcome.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sweet Dreams

I told someone about a desire I have that I keep close to my heart. Thankfully my trust was justified and she let me dream without criticism. That hasn't always been the case in my life.

While riding with a friend I was happily babbling about a horse property I'd found. It was more than I could afford so I was musing about boarding animals for other people. I have no horse experience, but I thought how hard could it be to rent space.

My friend started screaming how it was hard work and I shouldn't even consider it because I didn't know anything about horses. It wasn't even like she was trying to steer me away from the idea, I felt she was calling me stupid for even thinking it for a second. After a few minutes of stunned silence, I muttered that I wasn't planning on torturing horses.

We're no longer friends. I can't stay around people who crap on my dreams in the planning stages. Kind guidance and pointing out pitfalls can actually excite me. Then it's a feeling of you're taking me seriously. Just screaming "stupid idea" makes me think of YOU as MEAN.

Part of my idea involves contact with people who have disabilities. Though I may still work on this project, I kind of don't want to at the same time.

As a kid, I frequently got lumped into the group "handicapped." Now I am a realist, my vision gives me grief and I wouldn't want others to have it. If I could cure it and the cure had a good percent chance of working and wouldn't hurt me trying it, I'd do it.

So lumped into the group, I found there were nice people and there are not nice people with disabilities. Duh, groups of humans has every kind in it. Though, far more imperfect people have a "poor me" attitude than I like. That gets on my nerves.

I want to be around people who grab the world by the tail and go for it. I want to view the world and share my views and be admired and praised for that.

Perhaps I am not in control of the kind of people I will meet and just need to keep MY attitude and let other people have theirs. Now I feel a lot better. I am not in control so why lament that? Do what I can to encourage and admire others and not be the mean friend who finds fault with the lives of others.

Funny, I started this post with one thought and now I'm ending it with another.

Kind comments welcome.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Steam Heat

Controversy about a film doesn't automatically turn me off so when I heard "The Heat" had some objectionable scenes related to albinism I waited until I saw the film before commenting. Hollywood has a very bad track record with the portrayal of albinism and even constantly making off hand remarks about someone being so pale as to be "albino." It wears on you after a while.

Don't get me wrong, Hollywood screws up all kinds of things. Computers always make more noise and usually have way more blinky lights than in the real life. Just imagine what life would be like in a real ER with all those doctors screwing around, getting beat up and brain tumors? Okay, so I am not EXPECTING reality. I do expect some level of courtesy.

There are countless examples of albinism portrayed as bad, evil and villainous. Even when characters aren't identified as having albinism, the made up to look like us creates a climate of hostility. "Powder" was supposed to be a hero and martyr to his goodness, still, the whole mystic aspect created myths that set people with albinism apart.

I will only mention the film "Foul Play" for it's "albino" sharp shooter for the galling mockery of people with vision problems. "The Matrix" characters didn't seem to be called "albino," but I think that identifier was taken out. Whether it was out of concern, or maybe it just ended up on the cutting room floor. That does happen.

"The Heat" is a comedy about two female cops who end up working together.  plays an ambitious FBI agent who gets sent to track down the leader of a drug ring in Boston. She meets up with  and together hey intimidate suspects and try to find the ring leader.

I like both these actresses but found neither of them funny in these roles. For me, it lacked all suspension of disbelief. Their back stories were devoid of depth or balance and they could have titled this Dumb and Dumbest as they bumbled through their police work.

Albinism came into play with a character as a DEA agent. Most people with albinism I know have poor eyesight. I know some have close to normal vision, but I've never heard of anyone having eyesight good enough to be in law enforcement. McCarthy's character berates the DEA agent for his pale skin and they exchange insults. It's all very grade school.

What bothers me most is the knowledge that someone knew of the controversy of characters with albinism and purposefully threw it on our face. Earlier in the movie Bullock's character channel surfs past both "Foul Play" and "The Matrix" scenes with characters who look like they had albinism. Sometimes doing something like this could be what they call "foreshadowing." Taking a seemingly random event earlier in a film to show some insight into future events. It's a nice technique when used as an enlightening purpose. In this case, it only served to show either the director or the writer, to be an even bigger asshole than their insulting characters.

Defamation and exploitation serves only to support a culture of bullying. I ask for balance. Treat all people as humans. We all have flaws, bad days or times we're rude for no reason. Fine. Show more happy healthy courageous people in whatever light they shine.

Avoid "The Heat" for it's lack of decent plot, poor character development and boring lack luster physical comedy. Even though the whole post is about albinism in film, that aspect of this film comes fairly far down on my list of dislikes. Stop it, it's not cool to create harassing environments for people. Not cool, Hollywood, very not cool.

Resurces on albinism in film. This is only a partial list:
Internet Move Data Base to "The Heat":
National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I'm a science geek. I love thinking of things in terms of experiences, experimentation and evidence. This brought me to the conclusion that I doubt the existence of god as practiced in most religious faiths.

Though I haven't spent extensive time studying all tenants of major faiths, my casual examination leads me to atheism. I would adjust my thinking should a reliable source confirm a god like higher power.

I do see many things greater than myself. Things like group think, the ocean and nature in general leave me in awe of their great power. I find social connection to be amazing and it's my belief that biological connection may be behind intriguing studies on the power of prayer.

I'd like to single out the Christian faith for a few events that pushed me more toward atheism. Mainly because I have more contact with Christians.

I grew up loosely associated with the Mormon faith. My youth made it all seem so silly when it wasn't down right crazy. It didn't help that the crazy Mormon lady I lived with disobeyed the faith by drinking Coca Cola. She taught me that even though she demanded rigorous adherence to her ridiculous standards, she couldn't live up to her own set of values.

Later in high school, my friends talked some about their faith and I felt a little left out. Like there was something powerful in their connection to a power greater than themselves. I wondered what I was missing. I am afraid of "the faithful" because of the abuse I suffered.

I do respect other people who choose an organized faith path. So long as they let me alone to believe as I choose.

Still later, at holiday time, I often felt hypocritical because I didn't believe in the faith aspect. I heard another atheist speak of it being a social time of connection and gift giving. I felt a lot better after that. Though I do see some of the rushing around and worry a bit too much stress. I try and stay out of that.

While at the home of some relatives of my friend, I heard a Born Again Christian tell his children that there were dinosaurs on Noah's ark. It saddened me to see someone hold so tightly to their mythos that they fail to realize the power of their story.

This same father refused to take yoga for fear of being corrupted by the Indian mythos. I started to wonder why the power of "Jesus" didn't prevent this from happening? I've heard from other sources that "God" gives believers free will. Okay, I like free will, but what is their faith FOR if it doesn't give them the power to exercise without falling prey to a new faith?

My illusions of faith finally completely broke down after an online conversation with a devout Christian young lady. She desperately wanted to be in a relationship, but said she couldn't go out with men. She was so afraid the man would excite her into a sexual frenzy. Since that would be against "his plan," she refused to date anyone.

This floored me. Again, her belief didn't seem to comfort or guide her. It just kept her stuck. Clearly these people are not typical of all people's of faith. I know plenty of Christians who take and even teach yoga and plenty of deeply faithful young women who date without hopping into bed with the first person who smiles their direction. However, what they showed me was the lack of power in their "Jesus."

I started to feel the power of my own brain. If I don't want to sleep with a man, I wont. I don't happen to have any faith guiding me against it, so I view it as a choice. I can do what I think is in my physical  mental and emotional best interests.

I do understand that some may take offense at my commentary. Please understand that my conclusions are for me. If you find power and comfort in your faith, I have no interest in influencing your choice.

Kind and thoughtful comments welcome.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Suicide is Painless

No worries, it's just a title used to illustrate a point. I am not at the moment and rarely have feelings of suicide anymore.

A friend of mine lamented online about her job and I asked her what kind she wanted? Her reply that she wanted to shoot herself in the head. I never encourage anyone to hurt themselves, but I never belittle that feeling. I told her that we should save that for a last resort.

Some of us have very real pain and confusion about our feelings. Sometimes we get low that we think there's an option of ending it all. Mostly we want to just stop all the feelings of ouch. Mental or emotional ouch frustrate people looking at us from the outside AND when we look at ourselves.

It takes a lot of effort to figure out what the actual real feelings are, then sometimes those emotions change, hide or turn out to be related to something else. If someone grew up without examples of healthy feeling models, it's so much harder to know how to act.

I STILL cry when I'm angry and get angry over some trivial thing when what I really am is depressed. I had to learn how to be from TV to some extent. I loved the Brady Bunch because the parents got along, they talked about problems and worked toward a solution. The kids got into trouble and got punished in a way that didn't involve crazy acts of senseless violence.

People tell me, but no family is like that. Here's the thing, it's a better model than what I saw. Even as a child, I knew it wasn't "real," but it was still "real enough."

So to people who feel so much pain that they contemplate suicide, I ask that you consider that as the absolute last option. I would remind you that it is a very permanent solution to a probably temporary pain. Maybe spend a few years searching for alternatives that have a potential for alleviating your pain.

Here are some of mine.

Breathing. I breath in on a count of 4 hold for 2, out on a count of 4. It reduces pain and stress and clears my mind. It's way easier to find an alternative with a clear head.

Go for a walk and look at something natural. Sometimes just seeing the sun, a patch of blue sky, a leaf, smelling the smells of "outside," can ease up on the stress. Even cities have patches of nature. Life abides. It clings to the sides of buildings or cracks in the sidewalk. That's life affirming.

I count what I have. As I sit here, I have my fingers, toes, a mind, hearing, a sense of taste, enough eyesight to do what I need and the rest of my body functions well enough. I have a roof over my head and am managing to pay for food, transportation and utilities. I have friends I can call, chat and text. I had enough therapy that helped me gain skills to sort through my low points.

I choose OKAY. I remind myself that things that happened in the past are NOT happening right now. Even if they come into my mind, that was then and now I am safe. I have way more choices and I'm not six or seven years old. No one has power over me and if they try and hurt me, I can call the police and ask for help.

I understand how someone can feel so much pain as to seriously contemplate suicide. I always think, "wow you must be in a lot of pain," whenever I heard someone say that. That's what I want from people I love. Just to hear me. You cannot take away someone elses pain and denying that is the way they feel can often just push their pain deeper.

I prefer to hear, I understand you are feeling a lot of pain, what can I do to help? You don't even have to do "big helps. " just the act of the offer is often enough to help me. I cannot say what will help another, but I think others will respond to kindness too.

One big thing is to let us feel, but you don't have to feel the same thing or anything at all. Our emotions can be overwhelming, but it doesn't help us or you if you get overwhelmed too. Stay as neutral as you can and if you can't handle our pain, be kind  and tell us that you can't. Ask us to see if we can find someone else to talk to.

Even my dearest friends can't handle some of my hardest days. I don't currently have a therapy person, but they're an excellent third party. A well trained person can keep themselves from being washed overboard. Though telling someone to "seek professional help" can be quite shaming. Just tread light and act with kindness.

NEVER EVER suggest anyone act on suicidal thoughts. Saying you understand they are in pain does not support suicide. If you have acted with kindness and the person still speaks of suicide, YOU pick up the phone and call a professional.

Here's a link to numbers to call:

I have not called any of these personally so you will have to investigate their usefulness on your own. 

1-800-784-2433 (National Hopeline
1-800-273-8255 (Suicide Prevention)

1-800-799-4889 (Hearing Impaired)

1-800-448-3000 (Boys Town)
1-800-999-9999 (Covenant house)

Online Emotional Support
Hours Vary - Approx
12hrs daily / 7 days

I'm Alive Crisis Chat
I'M ALIVE - An Online Crisis Network
Suicide & Crisis Chat
I'm Alive Chat

Share with all your friends, please. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

The Oregon coast gets a lot of rain. We don't call ourselves the pacific north WET for nothin! So when the sun comes out, it reminds me of that Beatles song, Here Comes the Sun.

I first noticed it when I lived in England for a few months. Since George Harrison came from Britain, I figured he knew a thing or two about rain. I felt like singing when I saw sunlight.

We're getting a few days of respite between storms. Sadly, my man has to work so no "go for a ride in the car!" Ah well. We haven't got any money, anyway.

I'm going to keep this short, today. I haven't been keeping up, and I just wanted to post SOMETHING.

May some sunlight shine on you today.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Coward of the County

"Jail Bars Icon" by Antonu - Own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via
Wikimedia Commons -
Fear used to rule far more of my life than it does now. It came mainly from a person who put the fear of crazy into me when I was six. I've spoken of her before, but I'd like to expand what happened and why I am far less afraid of her insane rages.

My parents divorced when i was four. I have no idea what happened with them, they were both always too bitter to get to any reality of their relationship. I was told there was violence, but I didn't see any. I believe it in that she had violence in all her other relationships.

Now, this confuses me as one would think that a mother's first instinct would be to protect her children, but my older sister and I went to live with dad. I have no memory of ever being hurt by dad. So maybe it was the best option at the time, but it still seems inconsistent with a mother's love.

Dad had a series of babysitters take care of us, I remember a kindly old grandma lady. I am not sure where they came from, but possibly the Mormon Church. We had this one, Ellen, who I didn't like at all, but she did things with my sister like take her to youth groups and the like. Cokie, my sister, liked the attention.

One day, Cokie and I stayed home from school. I was in kindergarten and she was in junior high school. I went over to the little store down the road to buy donuts and when I got back, there was a lady sitting in her car outside. She knocked on the door and took us both to this place called Child Haven for truancy.

After that, somehow we ended up living with Ellen. We saw dad occasionally but I don't remember seeing him often. I went to school with Ellen's son Teddy for the rest of kindergarten, but in first grade they put me on the bus to go to school with the other sight impaired kids.

Ellen's strict ways manifested in cruelty. I suspect the transgressions that got me in trouble came mainly from "being a kid." She turned toys into weapons by "spanking" me with hot wheel track. She regularly beat me while I was eating and had strict toilet rules. To this day, I will cry if I have to poop in a public bathroom. I try and avoid it, both the crying and the pooping, but sometimes ya just gotta go. I do better if I remind myself that I am safe and allowed to do it.

Once while playing a board game with her son Freddy, he and I got into a tussle over a game piece. Freddy bit my finger to get it out of my hand and I cried out. She called us into the living room where she was ironing. I have no idea why either of us would argue in ear shot of her, but once we were standing there, my biggest fear that someone was going to get burned. Ellen had a different idea.

After she knew the story, she decided that I should bite Freddy's finger. I feel such shame that in that moment, I wanted to make him bleed for hurting me. I'm truly sorry, Freddy, wherever you are.

I have no memory of what I had done to get a beating this one afternoon, but as part of the punishment after the beating, Ellen made me stand in the middle of the room. I passed out and came to in a puddle of my own blood. I'd fallen on a drawer knob and cut my chin open. Ellen did take me to the emergency room and I got stitches in my chin. My dad was there, but I don't know if anyone ever told him anything about what was happening. Cokie never told anyone. I think that's sad that neither of us had anyone we could tell.

During a holiday gathering, Ellen took me with her when she needed to go pick something up from a store. Again, I have no memory of what I'd done to set her off. We were in the car when she started by pulling my hair and thrashing me from side to side. Then she wrapped her fat arm around my neck and began to choke me. I wish I knew what made her stop.

She made a second attempt on my life another night, only this time she didn't care there were witnesses. I don't remember which one but one of her sons was pushing me while we were riding in the back of the car. She slammed on the brakes and told me to get out of the car. She told me to walk in front of the car and get in the other side. I told her NO and I turned and ran into the desert. She would have left me there, but Cokie wouldn't let her drive off.

Toward the end, two incidents stand out. First, I went to first grade without wearing underwear. I didn't have any clean in my drawer and I asked her for some but she said I should just stay home instead. No way was I going to be alone with her so I went to school without any. I don't know why I went on the monkey boars. The look on my first grade teacher, she was so frustrated with me.

This time I remember exactly what I did to get a beating. Ellen took us to church every Sunday and I took two pieces of bread from the sacrament tray. She took me into the bathroom, picked me up by my collar and my underwear and threw my head against the sink. I could clearly hear the congregation, so I'm sure they could clearly hear me being abused.

She put me in the car and after services I saw people file past and stare at me. As I sat there with blood dripping down the side of my head, I cried. I'm not sure if they talked to Ellen or if it was her own idea, but not long after, she took me to Child Haven and told them "She is an unmanageable child."

Mom came into the picture and Cokie finally told that Ellen was abusing me. I had to stay at Child Haven while they sorted the custody.

I carried version of Ellen inside my head that kept me fearful for many years. In my late 20s, I found a therapy guy who helped. He suggested I draw a picture of her in order to confront her. This TERRIFIED me. I had no idea how much she scared me until he suggested that.

She would come off the paper and GET me! He suggested I draw a cage around her. I couldn't figure out how to draw the cage, so I drew me some body guards first. Then I drew her, then I drew the cage. From that moment on, the fear I felt decreased by 90 percent. I didn't even need to "confront" her. The act of drawing her out, confronted enough.

I still carry some damage. When I'm feeling low, I hear "unmanageable child" and feel like I'm worthless. I can usually get out of it by checking on the facts.

I try and remember to hold my head up. I am not defined by what was done to me. In a way, Ellen gave me the gift of courage. She taught me that I can be afraid, and still go on and do something. That's why I write this blog. I want to remind others, wherever you come from, whatever you've been through, it doesn't have to be everything about you.

Lets go do something bold.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting to know you

This is number 4 in a science fiction series I started. Here are the links to the previous ones if you wish to catch up. This is completely made up as I go and started on a suggestion from a chat. Comments welcome. 

  Georgia awoke to chimes that vibrated the whole house. Not loud, but low frequency so it would carry through the paper membrane homes the Chentry preferred.
  She leaped behind the "couch" she was sleeping on and tried to make herself small. Benhi scurried past   griping over his shoulder at her to "calm down, it's only my delivery."  She blinked a few times and tried to wake up but remained hidden.
   Benhi lowered down a platform out his door and pulled up his delivery. Once the platform rose to the same height as the floor, he flipped a switch and a force shield held it in place. He buzzed something to the delivery team and went about moving things off the "door."
  "Make yourself useful and come help me, Kapkah."
  Georgia glanced up from her hiding place and saw packages of various sizes. Most wrapped in the paper like substance the Chentry use, but some were square wooden crates.
  She moved out and began pushing things off the door plate. Benhi pointed here and there when he wanted something moved to a certain place. She huffed a couple times when something was very heavy and he came over and put anti grav discs on the side and things slid much easier.
  Once the pair put everything in order he asked her if she wanted to leave right away. He offered to open the door, but if she would stay a bit longer and help him a bit more, he would give her breakfast. She agreed to stay.
  This Chentry fascinated her. He asked what she wanted to do and treated her with respect. She glanced at him as they worked, trying to puzzle out his angle. Everybody has an angle. She'd learned that much in her short life.
  After they unpacked and sorted through what she could only guess was contraband, she started to work out that Benhi dealt in black market Chentry and human goods. No wonder he didn't turn her in. She had no status to turn him in either.
  He gave her some breakfast and sat nearby to talk. She ate more slowly than the night before. This time he gave her some guava nectar and she sipped it slowly. She knew the Chentry loved the drink but she'd only seen it once at the orphanage. Some of the other students intentionally spilled some so they could taste it while cleaning it up.
  "How long have you been on your own"" Benhi asked.
  Georgia looked down and fidgeted with her food trying not to answer too much. The night before he knew when she lied. She tried a bit of a sob story line to see if he would buy it. Told him she ran away from her "family," but he just glared at her.
  "If you are gonna work with me, Kapkah, I'm going to have to teach you how to lie," said Benhi with a chirpy laugh. She shot him a look of surprise and then realized her impertinence and fell to her knees in apology.
  "None of that, now, " he said gently. "Get up and let me have a good look at you." He motioned for her to lift her arms and asked her to raise her hair. She worried that he might be contemplating selling her into prostitution and she risked his wrath and told him she wouldn't do it.
  "You're too clever for that. What has it been, two years since you left the worker training orphanage? You have that look about you. You know how to behave and not to ask questions, but I need you to pass for upper class. I think I can teach you, if that sounds interesting?"
  Georgia didn't know what to think. She had questions of her own. Keeping her eyes averted, she shrugged.
  Benhi chirped a chuckle and went to his phone. He called up another Chentry and spoke so fast she couldn't catch a single word. He turned and looked at her and said a few more things and then hung up.
  "Tell me how you survived so long on the streets? I ordered you some new clothes and a portable shower unit. It will take a bit for those to arrive. We might as well get acquainted."
  "I don't know where to start," Georgia hedged. She wanted to keep her secrets. She was still reeling from being called clever. In school she often felt the sting of a whip for speaking too soon or figuring out how to do something without being instructed.
  "look, Kapkah, I trusted you enough to help me so far. I feel I've earned enough for you to trust that I mean you no harm. How about you start with your name?"
  Georgia took a deep breath and told him her first name. Then she confirmed the two years on the street. He invited her to sit down while they talked and after a few minutes she'd told him of her petty thefts of clothes, food and occasional shelter. He nodded and told her that he knew that there were quite a few underground humans scurrying about. He'd done a little business with a few and used them to run errands for him.
  He proposed a trade. He would help her with a reasonable status, so she wouldn't have to ever worry about being sent to forced labor. In exchange, she would work for him. She looked up at him when he asked, not told, but asked if she thought she could work with him. She held his gaze for longer than she thought proper and agreed.
  "Now you're learning, Kapkah!" he bellowed. He reached out to pat her on her back and slowed when she flinched. He only tapped her gently and tossed his head back in a smile.
  "Please, may I be addressed by my name from now on, "she asked.
  "Yes, my new friend, Georgia, " he said with a bow of respect.
  "Thank you, my new friend, Benhi, " She replied, returning the bow.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stop! In the name of love!

Some of us with albinism avoid using the term "albino" because it was used as an insult. I have other reasons that include, if you have cancer, you don't call the person with cancer, cancero. I am more than a medical condition I have. Though some of my friends, with and without cancer, like the term cancero. They're just funny people and I let it slide.

Here's the deal. Bullying with words can leave deeper scars than physical bullying. I chat online. I'd say a good 50 to 70 percent of my Facebook friends are from chat groups. The Internet is rampant with verbal bullies. The anonymity and lack of consequences emboldens cruel minded resentful people.

While sitting and watching others chat, a causal acquaintance called someone else a "retard." I sat there trying to think of some response that would let the person know that was NOT okay with me. Honestly, I never came up with anything.

The very next day I saw someone else in a different chat room say that something at his work was "retarded." That time I spoke up. I just asked the person to use another word. He was a bit defensive, but he understood.

I've had debates with people about the "albino" comments. People tell me it's used as a medical term. I have used it and I will probably use it again in the future. I have a preference for NOT using it. I do correct medical professionals who use it, but I don't press it. I do consider someone who uses it once I asked them not to to be a bully.

Feel free to express dissatisfaction with things, but consider how your words may effect those around you. Don't give me that line of crap about political correctness. When you walk in someone's shoes, or ride in their wheelchair, then maybe you can comment about how tough it is for you to find a better word to use.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Doctor, Doctor!

Doctor, doctor, gimme the news! Well the week came and went and no call about the biopsy. BOO. I  guess the results didn't come in on his regular office hours. I bet I wont hear from him until Tuesday, like last time.

I waited until Thursday to take my shower. I wanted to be able to call the surgeon's nurse if we saw anything of concern. We didn't. It took a whole hour to wash, dry, get re bandaged. I scrubbed most of the beta-dine off, but there are still some patches here and there. Scars look fine and are healing well.

Good thing Murry is clever because I was right and the bandages they gave me were far too small. He had to engineer a way to cover both spots. Though only the wide one on my lower leg required duct tape. There's a lot of stitches in both. I figure they're going to hurt like an SOB coming out. All kinds of scab formed around them. Ah well.

After my shower, I went off to learn how to exercise at Curves. The very nice owner showed me all the various machines and I tried nearly all of them. One I couldn't do because either my leg or my arm wouldn't fit. I forget which it was. A couple more I chose not to try because I thought it would be rough on my wounds. I was there 45 minutes and feel it was a good workout. I don't really like the loud beat in the music but whatever. I can deal with it for a few mins.

I didn't get my heart rate up very high but I was taking it very easy. It'll be a nice compliment to Tai Chi. I'm going back Monday or Tuesday and a couple more times over the week.

Murry started a new job and he's been gone weekend days. Friday he went in to his old job so he had a REALLY long day. He's doing good and I'm proud of him. I feel a little abandoned but I'm not blaming him. With Kmart closing, he needs another job. He also got Kmart to give him flexibility so he can take me places I need to go.

I've got another post mostly written, I just need to proof it good. I'll post it soon. Comment if you like.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Luck be a Lady Tonight

Bright and early Monday morning I crawled out of bed, put on my rather nice jammies with the striped Capri pants and wandered off to the hospital. No sign of the sun, but the neighbor's rooster crowed his little confused head off. I don't like this new guy, he needs to learn to shut up when it's dark.

I asked them to put my name spelled phonetically on my wrist tag. So if they were trying to talk to me, they would use a name I recognized. Donay seems to work the best. For a time I was using a nickname of Didi, but I abandoned that long ago. Old roomie and some friends from back in that day still call me Didi once in a while. And if I am ordering I use it at a restaurant  It's annoying to have a strange name and I hated it when I was a kid. I love it (and my white hair) now though. 

So my group of "short stay" denizens had to wait for a couple minutes for the staff to come get us. To keep me calm I told Murry all my cat stories. I actually started it in the car on the way there. We saw a cat scamper across the road and that reminded me of my old rommie's cat Fuzzy. His sister found her on the road. She was soo tiny.. and had some bald spots and so he ironically named her Fuzzy. 

I wont go into all my stories here. I have a number of them as cats is funny ;) (bad grammar intentional al a Larry the Cable Guy. He says "I don't care who you are, but farts is funny."  and I agree! so is cats. ) So it seemed like a long wait, but eventually they came and herded us into the unit.

They put me at bed #7 woo. The curtain featured a beach scene with palm trees and though I couldn't see them, Murry described the two pictures on the wall as boats on water at a distance. One had three boats and I don't remember about the other. 

Big scary operations scare me so my pressure was high and it never really came down. A couple times the machine beeped at me. They had a little trouble putting my IV in my right hand, surgery was on the left side, so we didn't want to start on that side. Unfortunately they couldn't find a vein so left it was. 

The nurse anesthetist Mr. Garcia spoke to me briefly. He did tell me his first name, but it was unusual so it didn't stick. The first nurse started with Diana, then after a while Colleen and then Leila. 

First place I needed to go was up to radiology so they could inject a dye to find the lymph nodes. A nice radiology tech named Gerald came and got me. Once up there, he helped e out of my bed and put me on the COOOLD table. It warmed up after a bit though. He chatted with me while he injected four small needle pricks around where the area where the lump biopsy was taken last month. 

My surgeon came in and looked at the scan and the leg and put his initials so we made sure the correct left leg got the operation. He just put his hand on my good leg and talked nice to me. He definitely has a way better bedside manner inside the hospital. The radiology tech told me that my surgeon has a really good eye and can find lymph nodes without super fancy scans, but he gave him good ones anyway. It's nice to hear good things about a guy you barely know who's gonna be cutting you open. 

They were putting fluids through my IV and so after laying there in Radiology for 45 mins I had to pee. I nearly got all tangled up trying to get out of the bathroom, but I managed. Back down at bed #7 I talked to Murry for a bit and they gave me some medicine that helps keep you calm and I remember them wheeling me out of the alcove and then I was back and groggy. Thems some GOOD knock out drugs. 

I went under general anesthesia so they put a tube down your thought. This unnatural act gives you a sore throat. They gave me some ice chips and after a few minutes asked me what kind of juice I wanted with a list of choices. I picked Grape or Apple, whichever you see first. I got grape. It was like the best juice ever. Probably I was still high from the medicines. 

They talked to me about cleaning myself on Wednesday  (today) but I really wasn't with it enough to remember. I'm going to call the surgeon's nurse to ask her how to do it. They gave me a bag of bandages and antibiotic cream. The surgeon came by and again squeezed my leg and talked nice. He prescribed a pain pill and an oral antibiotic. 

I tried to tell them that I didn't think I needed a pain pill but they kept telling me not to be brave. I really don't feel Tylenol works on me and that's what was part of the pill I got. My pressure had one reading where the diastolic was below 100 so they took out my IV and let me get dressed. It's much easier going pee without battling an IV stand too. It hurt a little but not bad at that point. I took a lap around the nurses station and was feeling fine so I did another. I stopped and rested standing up for a bit then did a third lap.

The nurse Leila went to get me a wheel chair for discharge and she was just driving up when I was coming back from the third lap. She said she doesn't usually have to chase people down to discharge them. I pawed in my bag for my sun glasses and got them on just before it got too bright. 

We parked just outside the entrance so Leila wheeled us right out to the car. She wished me well we went off to get my meds from the pharmacy. I thought a Slurpee would help my throat so I told Murry I wanted one after my pills. 

My pharmacy has a walk up window so we parked near that and I wandered over and told them my name. They said it would be five mins so I walked the length of the front of their building. I felt a little loopy but not so I would fall. Murry went off to the dollar store across the parking lot and got some candy. 

When I got back to the window, there was another customer there and she was taking a while. So I sat down. I didn't care that I was in jammies and a robe. I'm not vain about being in public in imperfect condition. I don't think anyone even cared. 

So I got my meds then off for Slurpee! I stayed in the car and chatted with a 711 employee on her break. I asked her if she knew Lark, who works there and told her Lark used to work for me. She looked about 12 but said she'd been there almost three years and has a baby of her own. I think she might have mentioned her name but I don't remember it. 

Once home, Murry made me a nice bowl of chicken soup. I thought when I started it, I would only eat half, but my hunger grew and I scarfed the whole thing. A couple hours after that, Mur made me two tacos. I thought well maybe I am over doing it, but I was fine and it really felt good to eat. Later that night, I had a small bowl of cereal with my antibiotics. 

I didn't even try the pain meds. Yesterday, Tuesday, I had some pain that persisted for more than a few seconds so I took some Ibuprofen. Most of the pain up to that point was like.. being slapped on a sunburn. Not a tap or a bump.. but slapped. It usually went away as quick, and it usually happened while I was getting up or sitting down. This morning I took another couple Ibuprofen. 

I forget what medicine but one of them turned my pee a beautiful azure blue. The pre-op nurse told me this would happen and it tickled me to see it. It only lasted 24 hours, though. Then my poop had a bit of a blue hue to it. Exciting toilet time ;)

They gave me some glycerin soap so I washed off some of the beta dine around my leg. I was very careful not to get the bandages wet. Man that stuff is sticky and it took some effort to get myself clean. There's more and it's gonna be a chore to get myself washed and re bandaged today. 

So that's what happened to me this week. What's your life been like? ;) I find out sometime today or tomorrow if there are signs of spreading. I'll meet with an oncologist regardless. Might not be anything to do though. Melanoma isn't really a cancer they have "great" treatments with. They cut it off and take it out, but if they don't have anything large enough to see on a scan, there's nothing much they can do. And they're so different from person to person. It's a good sign that the tests haven't shown any masses to this point.

Thursday I am going to an exercise gym and getting on their program. I am going to take it SUPER easy. Then I have a weight loss group meeting in the evening. Lots of goings on. I'm feeling emotionally great and physically okie dokie. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Oops I did it again

Pre-op consultation day went okay. I talked to a very nice nurse lady named Karen and she went over procedures and had me sign some things. Will I take blood products, yes and some others I don't remember.

My blood pressure was high, but she used a different cuff and it was closer to normal. She wrote down what size cuff to use and hopefully it'll be fine Monday. I have severe white coat (really just STRESS) pressure spikes. It's been fine in the regular doctor's office. She got me all used to getting it taken by having me go in and test it three times a week. I bet if my reg doc's nurse Pam took it, I'd be close to normal.

So Thursday night, I went to my first weight loss group meeting and instead of the regular meeting, they were having a pot luck. I met some people, asked some questions and ate their food. It was nice to have my first meeting be so casual. I feel I can hang out with these folks well enough so I think I will try and go with this group.

I have to go to these meetings to get a gym membership for free. They had some pretty tasty and mostly healthy food. Someone made an apple pie with Splenda that tasted like apple pie. They had a Hawaiian theme so they gave us those flower necklaces called leis. I told someone that on chat and they didn't know the word was spelled lei. Funny spelling.

When I came home I hung the lei up with my jacket. When I went to grab it this morning I didn't realize I grabbed the lei too. When I went to take off the jacket it fell down. I decided to put it on.

Okay, so evidently I do cosplay for medical tests! ;) Maybe it was a subconscious on purpose thing. I might bring it with me to the operation. I know they wont let me wear it during any procedures, but at least I can have it on the way in and out. Oh, wait, I just remembered, no jewelry. Dammit. ;)

Scared, but I'll get through it. Remember, tell me a joke and make me laugh. Funny pictures welcome! Post a comment, but after Monday I might not get to it for a day or two.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Let go of mad GET GLAD.
Why are some people just assholes? Yeah, I get it, I've been online and on the Internet for years and I get that the anonymity gives some people permission to say things they wouldn't dream of saying to someone's face, but what's with the jerkness in the deep hearts of some people?

I so wonder about how people feel the need to tear down and hurt, just because they can? Who are they to question someone's grief or coping mechanism? What makes them think they could handle HALF what the other person is going through?

It's not a question of manners. There's a lot of netiquette. Like DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS. It's called shouting. If you want to get to know someone, talk to them, asking age, sex, location will turn people off. You can find way more out a person by asking about their hobbies or favorite TV show.

Maybe it's a shitty plan to gripe about other people, maybe I'm doing exactly what I dislike. Typical of me, judging others that which I abhor in myself. ;)

I dunno. Be NICE dammit. Just try. Let someone else have their feelings and talk about their problems and listen patently. Direct their energy toward a solution, but you're not in charge of that either. Some horses don't want your water. So what? Put water out anyway.

Love people for whatever place they are. I love my mother, but that doesn't mean I want to talk to her. I wish her peace and occasionally I try and sort out my feelings by talking about her.

I guess that makes me think of her as being kind of like one of those insensitives  Having no concept of how much people like her create their own life. Flat out rudeness is almost like breathing to them.

How SAD and painful to watch.

Okay, I am off to do stuff.. and to try and be nice to someone jsut because I want to. ;)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Slavery: Part II

I started writing this a while back and I've just been putting off posting because I wanted to go through some fact checking. The other day, I read a black man posting how president Obama and his wife are racist and hate white people. He didn't give any examples, he just stated it like "it's obvious." They're also communists, according to this guy. Truly these things are simply political rhetoric to appeal to a right wing base. Much of it would be directed at any white democrat. Claims of "we must respect the presidency" during the Bush era, seemed to be only for Republicans.

This whole idea of slavery started to occur to me after seeing news reports of the disabled being paid subliminum wage and mass casualty fires and building collapses in places like Bangladesh. Garment workers toil long hours under terrible conditions for low pay. It struck me and I read someone else suggest this just moved slavery from our vision. "Fiddledeedee, I'll think about that tomorrow!"

African Americans continue to suffer the effects of enslavement even today. I knew that slavery didn't end with the civil war. It changed to mass incarceration of people of color coupled with segregation and culminated with the drug wars began in the 1980's.

In his book, Slavery by another name : the re-enslavement of Black people in America from the Civil War to World War II, author Douglas Blackmon (yeah, great name huh? He's white too!) tells of how the south denied former slaves their liberty. Using court documents and historical letters, Blackmon describes a post civil war south that continued forced labor by means of incarceration. Thousands of men and women, ill equipped for a free life, got duped into jail and then "sold" to companies as prison labor. 

White men would stop healthy looking young black men and charge them with vagrancy or some other petty crime. Once jailed, other white men would prosecute, judge and sentence them to a fine these people could not pay. They would then be required to perform forced labor until their fine was paid off. Jailers would tack on fees for room and board, growing a six month "sentence" to an incarceration term of years. All for basically "walking down the street while black." 

The prison documents often failed to include what crimes a person was convicted of or the term of their sentences. They were just cogs in the machine. If they broke, the system would just find a replacement. 

Blackmon goes on to say this treatment made slavery look kind in comparison. As slaves, people had monetary value as livestock. Though this is demoralizing, it means there's less incentive to injure or starve your assets. Labeling prisoners as "bad" gave those jailing black people an excuse to abuse them. 

These practices got the attention of the federal government in the early 20th century and several white men were prosecuted and fined. Some were jailed, but many refused to pay. Since the people enforcing such fines were the very people who jailed the prisoners in the first place, hardly any whites suffered any punishment at all.

With the advent of mechanization of labor and after World War II, blacks began to move away from the harsh treatment from southern states. These practices ebbed. Segregation began to repress people of color. Through legal battles and legislation, slowly blacks gained standing as fully engaged citizens of the United States. Still, few white men abusers and oppressors suffered any consequences. 

Imagine watching a white man hurting your friends and neighbors and knowing that he'll get very little punishment. Imagine having your whole community accused of being "uppity" just for asking for your turn at opportunity. Might you not reason there's a high  chance of you going to jail on a bogus trumped up charge and might you decide that if you are going to jail, you might as well live it up and do a crime? I'm very law abiding and I can imagine it.

In The new Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander suggests that drug laws and unfair sentences created from the drug wars of the 1980s continue the legacy of repression of the African American community. Different rules for powder and crack cocaine sale along with mandatory sentence differences keep more blacks in prison. Many states also ban felons from voting. 

In the 21st century, of all men in their early thirties, African-Americans are more than twice as likely to have a prison record and serve longer than whites. These sentences run roughly 10 percent longer than whites jailed for the same crime. According to the 2000 US Census, 2.2 million blacks enrolled in college compared to the Bureau of Justice figure of 610 thousand black inmates.

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report database, in 2010 58 percent of hate crime offenders were white (including latinos), 18 percent were black, 8.9 percent were multi-racial and 1 percent  Native Americans.The report states that among hate crime offenses motivated by race, 70 percent were composed of anti-black bias, while 17.7 percent were of anti-white bias, and 5 percent were of anti-Asian or Pacific Islander bias.

Prisons charge inmates more for toiletries and other personal items and the "store" has a monopoly on their business. Though the reasons for this involve many legitimate concerns, it just pushes more financial burden onto an already impoverished population. 

So you're charged more for some basic needs and then paid far below minim wage for your work. In a federal prison labor program called UNICOR inmates make between .23 and $1.15 per hour. In fiscal year 2008, UNICOR employed 21,836 inmates: 17 percent of eligible inmates held in federal prisons. The company generated $765 million in sales. Of these revenues, 74 percent went toward the purchase of raw material and equipment; 20 percent went to staff salaries; 6 percent went to inmate salaries.

States have similar programs. Prisoners with a financial obligation to pay for their crimes are required to pay 50 percent of their wages to reimburse victims. Working while in jail does benefit inmates by giving them skills and it alleviates the boredom. 

Shouldn't prison industries be subject to the same rules as non prison employers? There's a mechanism for garnishment outside of jail. How can it be fair to anyone inside or outside the system to pay people less? Victims would get paid sooner, prisoners would no longer be treated as slave labor, outside contractors wold be able to compete fairly on labor and it would remove the incentive to keep skilled workers jailed. 

People who do bad things need to be taught to stop doing those bad things. But what we have now, are warehouses for slaves. For half the cost, drug treatment and life skill training centers could replace most non violent offender rolls. The echoes of slavery persist because few people ever consider the reasons for over representation of ethnic minorities in prison. Most of us just think, bad people go to jail. Good people avoid it. 

Even people in the black and Latino community blame things like drugs for the problem. They may form groups that try and change minimum mandatory sentencing or efforts to end prison overcrowding. All valuable concerns, but these groups fail to realize how much bigotry still drives the jail system. This system that should have been dismantled 150 years ago persists in repression of minorities. 

How about we do as I suggested above? We start shifting toward parity in incarceration and creating cheaper true rehab for drugs and life skills? Baltimore, Maryland is doing it with juveniles. They have conflict resolution programs where they bring together all parties to a conflict and everyone works toward a solution. We can be a better country and live Dr. King's dream.