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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Moderate to Severe Silliness

Sometimes I just have to get a bit silly. At other times, I just can't seem to help myself. Either way, I try to enjoy these moments or days when the feeling strikes me. I really needed some silliness yesterday; it would appear that my lupus is trying to flare up and cause me extra pain. As is often the case, it ends up being worse at night. Hey, nothing like adding pain to insomnia to make you exhausted and a little bit crazy. And exhausted, I did mention that, didn't I?

I was also a bit stressed, which can increase the pain associated with lupus - it can cause flares, my most hated f-word. I went to bed Tuesday knowing we had some things to accomplish on Wednesday, things that might go smoothly or might just be dreadful. Here in Colorado, we have a one-month grace period to renew our license plates. Ours expire in February, a time of year at which we often seem to be in the throes of things like increased insurance premiums and a brand new yearly deductible. AKA we find the money situation a wee bit tight. No big deal, we just get the renewal done in March.

Since March is dwindling away, we knew we had to get our act together and take it on the road. Another thing we have here in Colorado is clean-air inspections for automobiles older than seven and younger than thirty-five. Since Mae Mobley (our car, who lived in Jackson, Mississippi before moving here, and is named after Mae Mobley Leefolt from the book The Help) fits inside that wide time span, she was due for her every-two-years test. So here's the stress part. Mae Mo is sagging a little in the tushy. Her exhaust pipes and muffler are not as perky as they were before her age began with a two. And I was really worried that the State employees would take one look at her and say that testing was impossible.

So the worrying about the car, combined with pain and a sprinkling of insomnia, left me with not enough rest. But I woke up feeling silly. I stepped into the thinking room and returned to Trent with a serious look on my face. "Trent, I just wanted to see if you were aware of something." When he asked what it was that I was concerned about him knowing, I replied in a serious tone, "Did you know that the wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round?" He laughed, called me a goof, and invited me to vacate the area, all in a matter of seconds.

So we jumped in the car at around 1:30 to go to the testing facility, following which we planned to exchange our modem for a newer model. Okay, to be fair, we didn't exactly jump in the car. At our ages and with our physical challenges, it really isn't wise to do a great deal of jumping unless one has the desire to spend a few days in bed recovering. Anyway, we were off. No, not in that way! Well, maybe compared to some people. Or most...

We drove to the testing facility, nervous but hopeful. Before we knew it, we were in possession of a certificate declaring to whomever read it that Mae Mobley had passed the test. We got back in the car and told Mae Mo how happy we were and how important she was to us. I got another attack of the sillies as we headed to our second destination, and told Trent that I needed to ask him an important question. "Do your ears hang low? No? So they don't wobble to and fro?" Sometimes I feel sorry for the poor guy. And then we arrived at our second stop, our Cable/Internet provider, to get a new modem. We walked in and saw a line at the check-in area. Yikes. If we had to wait behind about four other people to sign in, how long was this going to take? About fifteen minutes. What a wonderful streak of luck.

Since we had done so well at the first two stops, we decided to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get our tags. Again, a line to check in. And once again, a fairly brief wait and we were on our way home. We had left at 1:30, made three stops, and installed our new modem, all before 3:30. Wait! Four stops! We had to get a soft drink in between stops. It was close to 80 degrees, after all. Mae Mo doesn't have functioning air conditioning either, unfortunately.

We chilled out for a while and went out to dinner, finally using the gift card we received at Christmas. After we got home and activated the modem, the day was still young, with plenty of time to relax.

Now, Brutus D Fatcat is currently Without Mom. As I have mentioned before, she is visiting her daughter while the bun finishes baking in the oven. In addition to feeding and watering said cat, I have tried to make sure he isn't lonely. He is an interesting creature. He is a bit leery of men, probably because his dad was quite a yeller. And he's not the most sociable of beasts. He spends much of his time hiding under Liz's bed or under a recliner in the living room.

Several times a day, I will walk into his room and say hi even though he is not visible. In the afternoons or evenings he will get up on the bed, and I come in to give him the opportunity for some quality time. If I sit on the bed he will allow me to worship him scratch his chin and neck. He will then flop down on his back so that I can give him belly rubs. And then the biting starts. I guess that it's a cat thing. They show their pleasure with the belly rubs by grabbing your hand with their front paws and biting hard enough to draw blood. Liz calls them love bites but I call them ouchies.

After everything went so well for us, I really didn't want my hand to be covered with various cuts and punctures from cat bites. Brutus bit once or twice and I told him to be nice. He moved into another belly rub position and reached for my hand with his paws. I pulled my hand back with a firm but gentle "No." He kept this up, his eyes getting that frantically wild and crazy look while I deprived him of his right to bite. And then the stinker hissed at me. At me, who has been feeding and watering and petting and cleaning his poopybox and such! At me, who whose nickname is Mother Nature!

I looked at Brutus, who was sitting and glaring at me. "You are being a bad cat. I am done with you." I walked out of the room thinking that arguing with a cat was the height of silliness. Just not a fun variety. A few minutes later I went back in the room and Brutus was all purrs and loving, as he was later when I went in to tell him good night. I haven't had the evening visit with him yet today, but I'm curious to see how it goes. And so is my hand.

I have tried to be a little less silly today. I haven't broken into song or done any spontaneous dancing yet. Poor, brave Trent. My dancing is a) pretty bad, and can possibly be seen as b) either scary or funny, which I guess means I'm lucky because he has only c) giggled or guffawed instead of d) running away screaming in fear. Life is good, even if I do occasionally argue with the resident cat.


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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Clocked

It's no secret that I do not like Daylight Savings Time. It seems to come earlier and earlier each year, and stick around longer and longer. Theoretically, the changing of the clock was supposed to make life more convenient for people like farmers and ranchers, because the clock, and therefore other people's schedules, were supposed to be more in line with the agrarian lifestyle. I disagree. Someone who cares for farm animals and/or grows crops isn't influenced as much by the time on the clock as they are by the time that the sun is shining. 

Every year, various states try to legislate DST out of existence, and there are always people who get up in arms and want the change to continue. They say things like the time change makes the day last longer. Umm, no. The tilt of the Earth on its axis, along with its rotation around the Sun, makes the day longer. Do you really think that the day changes its duration based on what the clock says? That makes me think of a comparison attributed to Native Americans. Cutting a foot off one end of a blanket and sewing it to the other end does not make the blanket longer. Whether the clock says 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m., the duration of sunlight hours has nothing to do with what our clocks say. Yes, the sun may seem to set later, but that doesn't mean the day magically got longer. The sunrise was later, too!

Statistics show that DST and the time change are very hard on our minds and bodies. I've read that fatal heart attacks increase around the time change, as well as other causes of illness and death. As for me, and many others I have spoken with about this game of musical clocks, it really messes with my body's and brain's internal schedules. Things just seem...off. It's almost like having jet lag without the fun of traveling. What a rip-off!

On Saturday night before we went to bed, Trent and I changed the time on our watches and such. Liz was leaving town on Sunday to spend some time with her pregnant daughter while the bun finishes baking in the oven, so I didn't get to the clocks in the kitchen and living room right away. When I thought about it, I didn't feel like doing it. I had the brief rebellious attitude of 'it's stupid, I'm not going to do it,' but I knew that I would fix the other clocks before bedtime on Sunday. I also knew that it could wait until after I watched The Walking Dead and anything else that might delay the task.

At about ten minutes before 10:00 p.m. I knew that the time had come to change the clocks. Now, our kitchen has a wall clock, a microwave oven clock, and a stove clock. Let me pause in this narrative to remind you that the time change messes with me, makes me tired, and screws up my internal schedule and such. When I changed the time on the first clock, I had ingrained in my mind that it was nearly 10:00. My flummoxed brain changed that around to it being during the ten o'clock hour, and I changed the clock forward two hours instead of one. By the time I changed the second clock, I realized my error and corrected it, but was kind of embarrassed/disgusted with myself.

I told Trent that the time change was screwing with my brain and how I had set one clock forward two hours. In a sweet and gentle voice, he asked, "Why did you do that, honey?" I replied that I did it because I was a big fat idiot. In the same overly-exaggerated sweet voice, he said, "Oh, honey, you're not fat." I burst out laughing at the joking insinuation that the latter half of what I'd said was true. I gave Trent two fives and a baby five because of his quick wit, and we got a good belly laugh out of it.

In case you're wondering, no, I have not adjusted to the time change. My mental clock seems to have broken a spring or two and I have no idea of roughly what time it is any more. By the time I have it sorted out we will probably be close to going back to real time. Sigh. Thank goodness for watches. If they're set correctly. What time does mine say? Is it really that late already? Gah!

Postscript from The Lunatic:  No feelings or husbands were harmed during the incidents related in this post. We thank you for your kind concern. 



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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

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Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Woman's Story

What is a woman's story? What makes her the person she has become? To me, a woman's story is not a line that goes from Point A to Point B, zigging and zagging along the way, although it can often seem that way. I think it is something greater. It is a cloth woven of teaching and experience. It is a tapestry embroidered with the hands of many different dreams, beliefs, and opinions. And each woman's is different. 

Along my path, who has helped direct the weaving and embroidering of my cloth? My life, my story, my essence, is the result of the influences of many other people, both male and female. I have been taught things that I still hold close to my heart and things that I have dropped by the wayside. I have learned from the joys and sorrows of others, storing the pieces of their lives in the depths of my heart and mind. And this has all shaped the person that I have become, the person who is still, I hope, growing and evolving.

Although she was only a part of my life for a short seven years, my mother and her life still influence me. She moved to this country with her husband and children after a failed revolution in her home country made life unsafe for them. She gave birth to her last child, me, after being in her new country for less than three years. As a child, I always knew that she was unhappy. I didn't know why. But I knew that my father was someone I both loved and feared. She probably felt the same way. At least the fear part.

My father, in his kinder and more nurturing moments, always encouraged me to be smart and do well in school. He already had two pretty daughters, so this ugly duckling was apparently destined to be the smart one. Even after he went to prison for my mother's death, the few letters that I received from him stressed that I should be a good girl and learn well. Fairly early, my feet were set on this path.

After time spent in an orphanage along with my sister Liz, fate and distant family brought us to the Denver area. While I had always thought that my mother didn't love me, I never felt that she actually hated me. That was what I got from my guardian's wife, Alice. The physical and emotional/mental abuse was designed to break my spirit, and in many ways it did. I bear the physical and mental scars to this day. Instead of being regarded as a bright little girl, I was the human refuse that had been forced upon her. She fairly quickly turned Liz over to her mother, no relation to us whatsoever, and I followed quite some time later. 

While I was with Alice, I learned a deeper fear than I had ever known. Her tongue and her beatings were vicious, and her temperament was wholly unpredictable. It was impossible to learn how to behave while I lived with her. An action that resulted in a beating would convince me to change my behavior the next time I was in a similar situation. My attempts to change my behavior and avoid her fury made no difference. The beatings and humiliation would occur again and again. When I was playing next door and skinned a knee, my friend's mother insisted on putting a bandage on it for me. This resulted in my being beaten for trying to get attention. A week or two later, and another skinned knee. I went about my solitary play because I didn't want to get beaten for trying to get attention. Instead, I ended up being beaten for being too dumb to come in out of the rain. From her, I learned the fear of not pleasing others and the consequences that might be involved. I learned that others' happiness was more important than my own.

Gram grew up without a mother; her mother died along with the twins she was carrying in 1908 when Gram was not yet two years old. Although her beloved father was very progressive in some ways (for example, having her read aloud from books that he picked because they had been banned by the Catholic Church), he was very much a traditionalist in other ways. When she begged to have her long hair cut short for comfort, he wouldn't hear of it. Ladies let their hair grow long. When he came home from work to find that she had raided her piggy bank and gone to the barber for a short haircut, he didn't speak to her for several days. And when she discovered that she had a love as well as a talent for making hats, she told him that she wanted to be a milliner. Again, he was furious. A lady did not work outside the home. She gave up her hope of a career, but never forgot it. She told me of her squashed dreams many years after. From her I learned that the world and its expectations and assigned roles weren't always fair, and that regrets and longing can live with us forever.

In addition to these and other women that I have known well, there is a parade of other women and other experiences that have shaped me. When it struck me one day, several years after my father's death, that his less than five years of punishment for killing my mother was terribly short and terribly unfair, a sad and burning thought took hold of me. According to the law, a woman's death only warranted a short prison sentence. After all, my thoughts seemed to taunt me, they saw her as only a woman. 

Now, I've never considered myself as a feminist or any other similar label. But I have a great sense of fairness. A woman, a man, a child - all have worth. A person who ends their spouse's life violently shouldn't pay for their crime based on some set of variables like a sliding scale. The life of a mother is of no less value than that of her husband who works as a janitor, and his is of no less value than that of a bus driver or school teacher or politician or doctor, no matter what their gender. A woman who is raped does not deserve to be killed for shaming her family. A girl should not find it impossible to get an education because she has to miss one week of school each month since she has no access to hygiene products. A person should not have their private life legislated by others. I could go on, but I think I've made my point.

These and so many other ideas, feelings, and experiences contribute to the weave of my life's fabric. They aren't all my stories, but they are all stories that color my life's tapestry. They are they colors of sadness, love, fear, hope, anger, shame, and so many other things that make us human. They change us as well as changing with us. And the becoming, the story, becomes a part of the greater fabric of humanity. May your colors never dim, and may they always shine for you.



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The Tip Jar:

As always, I am happy and honored to write for you. It brings me great joy, and I hope that it gives you joy and/or food for thought. If you'd like to support the cause, please visit:

https://www.paypal.me/TheLunatic




Thank you for reading!