Saturday, December 29, 2012

Drawings of Food in Snow

Success/Failure
Like pretty much everyone in this country, I don't enjoy doing things I'm not very good at. I don't mean to say that I avoid doing things that are challenging for me because I do like a certain amount of challenge. But I don't like, say, hmm. I'm sitting here trying to think of things I don't enjoy doing but so far I've come up with "working in sales because I'm really bad at dealing with strangers/customers" and that doesn't feel like it conveys what I mean. I thought about saying "wood burning" but I don't know how to do that and I don't want to say "I don't like doing things that I don't know how to do" because, who knows, maybe if I learned I'd enjoy it.

Ooh! OK, here's one! I don't like to paint because I'm really bad at it. I don't have the fine motor skills required or the necessary instincts or whatever. But! And this is the point of this whole mess, I do really like drawing even though I'm not very good at it. The goofy drawings I sometimes do with computer paint programs are fun and are meant to be comical rather than works of art. The pencil drawings I do are meant to charm the people I love. I know they aren't very good and I'm fine with that. I do wish I were better but I just have zero sense of depth perception and so cannot figure out perspective. Start with a cross and draw a circle out in the distance. Use graph paper. No, I think I'm too impatient to even learn to understand and get the whole perspective thing. Kudos to all of those who are awesome artists because you have skills I admire and appreciate.

I just find it funny that I delight in drawing - especially the drawing I do by hand rather than with computer programs - when I'm not very good at it. It's interesting (to me only, I'm sure) because I'm a decent cook but I don't really enjoy it that much. Yesterday I made scrambled eggs and went all out. I sauteed mushrooms, cut up some cilantro, grated cheese, the whole bit. If I am going to cook, I like to use a lot of ingredients and do complicated things (not that my eggs were complicated but I certainly dirtied a lot of pans and things making my breakfast). Hunter and I texted about my breakfast and about cooking in general (because we are a pair of 80 year old women) and I told him "I can cook - I began learning when I was twelve - but I'm not a creative cook, I just follow recipes." And that's true. OK, I did figure out that adding thyme to scrambled eggs is awesome but, for the most part, I'm just able to follow directions and not screw things up. Hunter, who can kill and clean a deer all by his lonesome, caters weddings in his spare time and - again, old ladies - frequently tells me about what he had for dinner, which frequently consists of things he just thought would taste good.

You will never hear me say that I made myself something that included some white wine in the sauce unless the recipe calls for it. Hunter will throw in the white wine because it makes sense to him. Hmm. I wonder if Hunter and his missus would be willing to adopt a 32 year old daughter and an almost four year old guinea pig. That would be awesome and I bet the vitamin deficiencies I think I might be suffering from would disappear. Seriously, I bought some apples the other day because I think my hair is coming out from lack of eating fruits and vegetables. I know, right? Isn't that just awful? I'm working on fixing that, hence the cooking of breakfast rather than eating ice cream. 

Snow
It is truly Winter here in Columbus. I think most people forget that Winter officially starts December 22 but no matter because we have lovely cold temperatures and really pretty, if inconvenient, snow. Said snow is falling as I type. It's Saturday so I don't have to worry about driving in it to and from work but I still hope it goes away because I want to drive to the laundromat before I end up with fifteen loads like last time. Maybe it will melt, maybe it won't. Meh, not that big a deal really. More annoying is the fact that my neighborhood doesn't seem to believe in putting up signs to mark the handicapped spots. Sure, there are outlines on the ground, but if the ground is covered in snow...

I never would have thought about this if not for my neighbor. She uses the handicapped spot and has been known to get me when someone is parked there who shouldn't be because she knows I'll knock on doors or put notes on windshields. This time we couldn't really blame anybody because they simply could not see the paint on the ground. Neighbor said she'd talk to the head of maintenance and, in the mean time, I made this:

Paper, electrical tape, magic marker, and a wooden post hammered into the ground. Back off lawbreakers. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Thank You from an Asshole

I think I've proven what an asshole I am. Not just because of how irreverent I am or whatever but because I realized that I throw tantrums that would put a toddler to shame (I mean, come on, put your 3 or 4 year old up against me? I'd totally win).

But I still manage to have friends. The Laundress expressed her condolences regarding the death of my Viking. She doesn't know me beyond this blog so she can be forgiven for 'liking' the asshole that I am. But the others who have been so kind to me, including Teacher, who has known me my entire life, they have no way out.

Some of you just truly like me and care about me. My broads, my Hunter, Kara, my BFF. They all care about me even though I'm batshit insane, even though I have treated them badly, even though I'm me. They all wrap me in the warmth of their love, their care, and their thoughts.

I've known since I was what we now call a 'tween' that I am a very lucky girl. I've known for the last ten years that I'm lucky because people care about me and love me regardless of who and what I am. You know, I called Tits recently and said to her "I really appreciate the fact that you are my friend. I mean, I'm bipolar, I'm an atheist, and I own a gun; I'm a trifecta of scary". She started laughing. I was so sincere but she laughed at "trifecta of scary" and frankly, I can't blame her (though I don't think her take of "trinity of darkness" was much better). But that is why she and I are friends. I can be totally sincere and outline these reasons why others might be afraid of me and she'll just start laughing hilariously and make me joke on my own sincerity. Fucking cunt.

There is a lot wrong with me, so much. There is a lot wrong with us all. I know I have it better than most but part of why I can say that I have it better than most is because I always have people who love and care for me and who will be there for me.

I have Hunter, my best friend, who can make me laugh and calm me down.

I have BFF, who once kicked the couch and said "wake up and help me eat these tater tots!" and who now has an adorable little tater tot that I CANNOT wait to meet.

I have Teacher, who always has a book to recommend and who will talk to me via video so that I can see him and his beautiful wife and children.

I have my Broads, who will take me out for fried food and drinks and listen to my ridiculous woes.

I have Mark, who knows me through Cassie, who knows me through my ex and yet is still there with a kind word.

Jeremy and Laura, the fucking wackiest couple I know and the couple I most want to shoot with.

Upstairs Kid.

Powerful woman.

Work friends.

So many friends.

I have Kara, who will bring a bottle of wine to my mom's gatherings to get me through them and who keeps a blog that I love.

I have Health Nut, I have BFF's sister and mother. I have so many wonderful and lovely people that I love
so much and who, for some unknown reason, love me.

I am beyond fortunate, beyond grateful, beyond in debt to all the love and loveliness shown to me. And so here I am, cracking my knee as I bow down in the gratitude that only a bad ass Sho Gun can, saying thank you, to all of you.

I don't celebrate religious holidays because I'm an atheist, but I am not a terrible person who does not know gratitude. I wish I could be one of those people who could name you all but I'm not that great. All of you, and you know who you are, you are important to me and I'm so thankful to you for being there for me.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On being an asshole

I pride myself on being pretty self aware but every so often I have a moment where I start to wonder if I might not fall somewhere on that autism spectrum that people are always talking about. And I'm not making fun of autism; sometimes I think there must be something very wrong with me.

Sometimes I upset people. Do you know what they don't do when I upset them? They don't tell me to go fuck myself or say hurtful things. Of course they don't, why would they? But I do. I've told my favorite people in the world to get fucked when they've said something that upset me. I've said hurtful things to them. Upset me and I apparently throw a tantrum.

I never realized how upsetting this must be for my friends and loved ones. It's like with my swearing. I swear all the fucking time and it is just second nature to me. If you say "fuck" or "cunt" or anything like that, it doesn't faze me one bit. So if I say "fuck" or "cunt" I don't necessarily register that it might upset someone. I say hurtful things or tell my friends to get fucked because it is my knee jerk reaction when I get upset. I don't mean it; I never mean it. But I forgot that my words actually can and do hurt people.

And what the fuck? I'm 32 years old and only now I am realizing that I'm a big baby who pitches fits? How do you make it three decades without realizing that you don't behave like a normal person? Sometimes I'm really stunned that I do have friends based on the way I act. J told me about my volatility over a year ago and it was quite surprising to me. Now I'm realizing that I'm pretty much an asshole without meaning to be. How's that for self awareness? My friends have to walk on eggshells with me because I might just explode.

I really am a child. I wouldn't want to be friends with me. I'd better reign this shit in. And maybe work on my swearing while I'm at it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ammy

I know it is ridiculous seeing as she passed on December 15th and I chose not to go to her funeral. But it still hurts so much. I know her story, how she met my Pop and came to the States to marry him. Pop used to call for her and the neighbors would say "how sweet! They've been married so long but he still calls 'oh love! oh love!'" He wasn't calling "oh love", he was calling "Olaf!" the name she had when he met her. He used to also say "lowel". I can't explain how to say it unless you are here to hear me. But he was calling for "Lal", the short hand for Lalla, the name she took legally when she came to this country. Lalla is the nickname for Olaf in Iceland apparently.

I lost Pop when I was 12 or 13. I remember that day. I had on these linen pants with stripes. My mom's friend picked Teacher and me up from school and we wanted to know why. We wanted to know why she was bringing us to Ammy's house. Mom's friend gave us ambiguous answers. But we got to Ammy's house and I saw Mom on the couch and I knew. I remember wanting to run away. I don't know where but I wanted to just run away from it so that it couldn't be real.

Today I don't even want to run because I'm no longer a child and I know I can't. Ammy isn't anywhere. She isn't going to make me sugar cookies, she isn't going to mend my baby dolls after the dogs rip them apart, she isn't going to make cookie bars, crab cakes, crepes, or anything that Teacher enjoyed so much. She isn't going to do any of those things ever again.

I truly am happy that she is at peace. But, selfishly, I fucking hate that I don't have her anymore.I actually apologized to someone today. They told me, upon hearing the news of Ammy's death, that their daughter was going to be sad. I basically said "Tell your daughter to talk to me about sad". I apologized because I finally realized, after all these years, that I never owned Ammy. She wasn't just mine and many people loved her. And I'm glad for that, I truly am.

I just find it hard to accept that other people got to have her without asking. Because she was MY Ammy. She was mine. And now she is gone and I don't have her anymore.

Mental

What happened at Sandy Hook, in Newtown, Connecticut was, obviously, a tragedy. We now need to discuss things like gun control and better treatment of mental illness. One of my concerns, a concern shared by many, is the further stigmatization of mental illness. Below is a quote from a friend on Facebook, responding to another friend's post (he gave me his permission to post it here):

"What scares me is that mental health is not an isolated incident. People with mental health problems are driving cars, flying planes, etc. This is just as dangerous as a nut with a gun. I am just a big fan of individual rights. I think we should do more to get rid of the illegal guns first. However I am also a firm believer that we should have more responsibilities associated with the rights we do have..."

I read this and thought, what the fuck? So I messaged him and all but begged him to understand that mental health problems do not automatically lead to mass murders. I told him about how I'm bipolar but that I'm not about to take my gun and shoot up a room full of people. I read his post as saying "we have all kinds of mentally ill people doing dangerous things all the time and that scares me". I took it to mean that he thought mentally ill people were ticking time bombs. 

I'm glad that I messaged him because he told me what he really meant and let me know that he did not believe that every person with a mental illness was a criminal or should be quarantined. In fact, he has a history of mental illness in his family. He explained that his fear was the untreated, those who are beyond help.

But what if he meant everything that he said in that post as a sweeping generalization? There are people who already think that those with mental health issues are "nut jobs" and dangerous. There are those who will now fear that any mental illness will lead to a tragedy on scale with what happened at Sandy Hook. I am uncomfortable telling people I work with that I'm bipolar because I don't want to be judged or discriminated against, as I once was. I only tell those that I'm close to. And I worry now that even those that I love will look at me differently because of what may play out in the media. 

The young man who did this, the young man who took those lives, those of children and adults, may have been mentally ill. Maybe that is what led to his crime. But that does not mean that every person with a mental illness is at risk for doing the same. I've said this over and over again; the worst thing to happen to the mentally ill is the label "mental illness". It isn't some nebulous emotional problem. It is a sickness or a physical disorder just like diabetes or multiple sclerosis. It happens in the brain, not in an aura or some unknown entity. If I had brain cancer you wouldn't look at me like a weirdo. In fact, you know, MS is a central nervous system disorder, which includes the brain. Well, bipolar is all about the brain and its neurotransmitters. It isn't that I'm crazy and hysterical. Hysteria, for those who live in caves and don't know, means "wandering uterus" and was attributed to women who had problems back in the day. The stigma of being different, whether because of mental issues or physical issues, has been alive and well for centuries. This latest travesty may give fodder to those who look at us askance, who look at us with the fear of the ignorant. 

I worry that I will have to go further into hiding due to my disorder because of it, because I don't want people to worry that I'll lose my shit and kill people. I get mad, I get frustrated, I get really upset. And I own a hand gun. But do you know what I do when I get really upset? I cry and I draw cartoons making fun of things. That is what I do. I don't take it out on people, not on the innocent or those who pissed me off. OK, well, maybe I treat the people who pissed me off with a bad attitude but that isn't like I stabbed them. I have zero interest in hurting people, not emotionally or physically. 

Take my gun away, tell me I can't use it. That's fine. But don't take it away because I'm bipolar, take it because you don't want anyone, mentally ill or mentally well, to have one. Because yes, I am "mentally ill" but I am not a criminal. My heart breaks for those who lost their lives and I know this post is selfish with my fear for myself, but I don't want this tragedy to extend any further than it already has.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Selfish or Taking Care of Myself - Feel Free to Judge

Tomorrow is the funeral. I was supposed to get on a plane yesterday and fly to Philadelphia, meet my mom, and drive to Delaware to bury Ammy. I canceled after talking to my mom and letting her know that I couldn't go through with it. "It's going to be closed casket*" she said, as though that would help. "I'll still know it's her in there" I responded.

There are multiple reasons why I chose not to go. One of them is that I really didn't want to watch a box that contained Ammy be carted out and placed in a hole where she'd be buried. I don't have a problem with funerals or anything - I mean no, I don't like them but they don't creep me out like hospitals or horses - but I always feel uncomfortable and like I'm not in the moment and so am being rude or disrespectful. I also don't really like to grieve in front of too many people or weep too much. My very sweet neighbor took care of me the day it happened. Tits and Golden Rod talked to me on the phone. Hunter was very kind. Everyone was very kind. But I don't want to prolong the grieving and draw it out like some martyr. I also don't want to make this such a big deal that this is what I remember about Ammy. One of my strongest memories about her husband is the sandy colored linen suit I wore to the viewing. My cousin making fun of the food and saying something akin to "well, now I know never to come to the Hunter's Den again."

I don't want to remember the funeral. I don't want to remember the parts after she died. I want to remember the last time I saw her, how happy she was to tell Teacher that she was on Facebook because I took a picture of her and posted it. I want to remember when we went to Disney World years ago, when my cousin was about seven, and Ammy was willing to push her around in the wheel chair we'd gotten for her old lady behind. I want to remember all the wonderful things about her while she was alive.

And yeah, OK, I also just flat out didn't want to go. I didn't want to get on a plane again, I didn't want to board the pig again, I didn't want to come home to a filthy apartment again. If I'd gone, I would have had to leave work at 2PM, stop at a grocery store for veggies, rush home, throw clothes into a suitcase, grab the pig, go to the vet, and then drive to the airport. I would have been cranky the entire time and not of any help to my mother. I felt sick with anxiety until I canceled my plans.

Yes, I feel guilty for not being there to support my mother but she will have others and sometimes I really just need to do what is best for me. If I had gone, I would not have been allowed to grieve appropriately for me and I would have walked away annoyed and resentful. I would have been filled with anger. I probably would have said really inappropriate and impulsive things to people. Not because I'm horrible but because I can't always do well under stress.

Some people think I should have gone to be there for my mother. Others think I should have gone so as not to regret NOT going. Well, I need to support myself and I know I won't regret it. I said my goodbye and, actually, I saw her grave years ago. When I was in Delaware by myself, after mom moved to Arizona, I visited my grandfather and then, very disturbingly, saw a grave with Ammy's name on it. I broke down and wept because I wasn't expecting to see that. Sure, she'd just bought a plot but still, a bit creepy when you aren't expecting it. So I got that shock out of the way about six or seven years ago and I've said goodbye in person and I've wept. Now all I want is to take the day tomorrow, the day of her funeral, and, in my own way, mourn and remember my beloved grandmother.

Anyone and everyone can and will think what they want. But my not attending this funeral does not make me a bad person, it just makes me a very flawed one; which is to say, it makes me human.

*Almost forgot the footnote about the closed casket. Yesterday, whilst talking to someone, they asked if it would be a closed casket. Here is how the conversation went. Her: "Is it going to be an open casket?" Me: "I assume so. I mean, she didn't die fighting a dragon, she died in bed, so why a closed casket?" That is what came across my mind, "she didn't die fighting a dragon." Not "she didn't die in an accident" or "she didn't die of a disfiguring disease." No, "she didn't die fighting a dragon." What the fuck is wrong with me?"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Personal Tragedy

It almost feels wrong to be crying for myself when such a horrific event has taken place but no matter what goes on in the world, we still have our own lives.

Viking died tonight. My mother called me. I heard her ring tone and sort of knew. She told me that it was over, that Viking had passed 10 minutes earlier. I was the first she wanted to tell because she knew how upset I was.

I knew it would be today. Today is my niece's fourth birthday. Viking used to tell me that she knew when my birthday was because it was the same day her mother died, December 9th. I was born December 8th but I guess my great grandmother died on December 9th and it was so close that she got it confused. Well, Viking died on December 15th and when it happened, it was already December 16th where my niece lives.

I am devastated, obviously, but for me. I know it is for the best. She's at peace now, without the pain and the confusion. She is no longer suffering. But I just wasn't ready for it. And I'm so sorry for my mom. She got off the phone with me quickly. "I have to go because I can tell that you are going to lose it and if you lose it I will too." My poor mother, who has never been good at telling me the bad news, so bad in fact, that she used to make Teacher tell me. This time she had to tell me and it was the worst news thus far.

I called my cousin to let her know and she was incredibly sweet, asking if I had someone who could come stay with me. She and her brother weren't as close with Viking because of where they lived. But she was so kind that I was touched.

I ended up going to my neighbor's apartment. She is a grandmother and we are friendly and she was so nice and hugged me and sat and talked with me. Her little granddaughter had a card and a stuffed reindeer she wanted to give me. They were the best thing for me. Neighbor and I talked and reminisced about our grandmothers and it calmed me so much.

I knew this was coming. I felt in my bones that it would be today. But I also thought I'd handle it better. I was wrong. 

One of the things Neighbor and I talked about was the things we wanted from our grandmothers after they passed. The one thing I'd like is a sewing box that I grew up seeing. But, as I told Neighbor, if I don't get anything, I'll still walk away with more than most because I've kept a journal for 22 years and so I have my memories. I remember Viking teaching me to sew, setting up the dining room table so that Teacher and I could do our homework, bringing out coin wrappers and Pop's jar of change so we could roll them, letting me help polish her silver. I have my memories. To me, they are the most important.

I am going to miss her always. But I will always carry her with me. And part of me is going to engage in the fantasy that there is something after this life. So I like to think that my Pop is combing his hair and getting into his military uniform so that he looks his best as he greets his wife for the first time int 9 years.

I love you Ammy, my Viking. I always will. Thank you for being a part of my life. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

How do you look at a child, a five year old, a seven year old, a ten year old, and shoot that child? How do you go on to shoot 19 more children?

What happened in Connecticut today is among the most disturbing and horrific events to have occurred in this country. Maybe we don't know exactly what has happened but the idea that a young man would walk into an elementary school, with kids aged five through ten, and open fire on these innocent human beings is just sickening. It doesn't make sense and we, as humans, want things to make sense.

Mental illness? OK, well, how did he get the guns? It is easy enough to acquire a weapon in this country; I know, I have one. It took me three times to fill out the paperwork correctly and then a fifteen minute Brady check and I was allowed to walk out with a 9mm Beretta. I own my weapon for one reason, target shooting. I don't imagine a person when I pull the trigger. I don't think about someone or something that has pissed me off. All I think about is getting better at aiming and hitting my target. I can't imagine aiming at a child or multiple children and continuing to pull that trigger.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims, both the children and the adults. My heart goes out to the community. To those related to the trigger man because people who are related to killers end up being ostracized even though they may have had no idea.

It is a tremendous tragedy and nothing I can say can encapsulate the horror. But my heart goes out to them all, those who lost their lives today, those who lost their loved ones, those who have suffered this sort of thing in the past. I am a firm believer in being allowed to own weapons but I also believe in regulation. And I abhor knowing that the U.S. is rife with this sort of incident. The Portland Mall. The man who shot up a salon. Aurora, Colorado. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Our country is known for this sort of thing. Sure, we don't have civil war or suicide bombers but are we so much better?

It's tragic and upsetting. And there is not one damn thing anyone can say.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Giving

OMG, did you watch the CNN Heroes Awards? I made a joke to someone about how there was this America Gives awards show or something on my birthday so my plans were set. I thought it was funny and didn't care. Well, I ended up taping the CNN version and I'm watching it today and all I can think is "holy shit!" There are some great people in this world. A little girl with brain cancer felt bad because the other kids getting treated had to stay in the hospital while she got to go home so she made Joy Jars. Another little kid took it upon himself at the age of seven to start raising money for his town's food bank. A woman started a school for girls in Afghanistan. My god! There really is a lot of greatness in this world. We just don't see it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Birthday/Dorkdom

OK, I'm so giddy right now that I would think I was manic if I hadn't been taking my meds. I'll explain that in a moment. First...

I'm 32! Today is my birthday and I'm a great big girl and it is my fucking new year! Yea! And Whoo Hoo! And fireworks and the rest of it.

Everyone kept asking me what I was going to do, what my plans were, and all I had to offer was chores because I've been celebrating since the week of Thanksgiving. And actually, yesterday was really awesome. I got to work to find a "Happy Birthday!" banner and some balloons in my cubie (OK, one semi full balloon and one abortion of a balloon). Then I was treated to lunch, was given 24 cupcakes and a card, and received flowers. The flowers were the best because they were the funniest. I was up towards the front of the office and ran into the office assistant cum receptionist who thought I'd seen her email. She told me I had flowers and my knee jerk response was "who the fuck is sending me flowers?" To hear me would have been to think someone had insulted me. So I go to reception and get the flowers. I open the card and read "Happy birthday, baby" and think "who the fuck is calling me 'baby'"? It was my mother, of course. I didn't see it coming because she'd already given me my presents.

So I take my bouquet back to my cubie and I run into some people, including Tits who says "who sent you flowers, your mom?" I respond with "why do you think my mom? Maybe I have numerous male suitors." Her retort? "Uhm, because your mom emailed me yesterday asking about florists?" Sold out. "How does my mom know you?" "Uhm, remember you were going to spend Thanksgiving with my family..." Oh, right. So yeah, my mom sent me flowers and I couldn't lie and say they were from one of my many admirers.

Yeah, yesterday was awesome. On Thursday I received gifts from Stalker, one of which was "The Dark Knight Rises" or whatever the last Batman movie was called. And here is where the giddiness kicks in... did you know that the whole sentencing trial and death/exile of the rich was based on 18th century France? I did! I knew that! I read a biography of Catherine the Great and I'm almost done The Scarlet Pimpernel and so I know. I know! And my poor mother, who tried to call me earlier but had to leave a voice mail singing me Happy Birthday, had to suffer my calling her back and explaining it to her even though she never saw the movie and had no idea what I was talking about.

I am, if nothing else, a huge dork. But I had a great fucking birthday, complete with talking to Teacher on video chat last night and one of the owners of the beer and wine store giving me a hug and a free bottle of wine when I just stopped in to say "hi." I think 32 is going to rock.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stuff, Nonsense, and New Year

Horrors
You know the brother I don't ever talk about because we have no relationship? I think I've mentioned before that his wife has synovial sarcoma, a very rare form of soft tissue cancer that strikes younger people. She was diagnosed about three years ago, I believe, and she had her right leg, below the knee, amputated three years ago around Christmas. Then she underwent chemotherapy and she had good results only to have the cancer come back. She then did a clinical trial and had good results, only to have the cancer come back. Then she had surgery, in which they broke her ribs to get to the tumor(s) and had good results, only to have it come back.

When I visited my mom for Thanksgiving, she told me that Brother told her that SIL was no longer talking about treatment and that he was afraid to talk to her because he didn't want her to push back even more. You wonder why someone would do that, give up and not want to continue treatment, but think about it. She has never felt ill save for how the treatments have made her feel. And after all the pain and sickness of said treatment, she's had good results only to have the cancer come back. At what point would you give up and not want to undergo it anymore? How many times could you deal with being teased, undergoing grueling treatment, getting good results, only to be defeated yet again? SIL lasted three years.

I received an email from my mom last night stating that SIL's tumors are back, one the size of a baseball. She needs surgery, chemo, or an experimental treatment but they have to test her to see what her body can withstand. We've always known that her chances of seeing 40 were slim and we are up against it now. We aren't close but my heart breaks because she is so young. I think she is 33 or 34 at the oldest and she's led a clean life; she's been a vegetarian ever since I knew her (and she's been with my brother since I was about 16), she doesn't smoke or drink. She's so young and her life might be over.

Brother and I have never gotten along and don't have a a relationship but my heart breaks for him as well because I don't know what he'll do if he loses her. It's tragic.

Lighter Side
I received a card from Shared Solutions (makers of my DMT) today. I thought maybe it was a birthday card since I'll be 32 on Saturday and my work sends me a card every year, but I was wrong. Oh, it was a happy anniversary card, but it was literally a card congratulating me on having taken my drug for a year. It suggested that I celebrate my one year commitment by going out for a fun night on the town or staying in and watching my favorite movie or show. I looked at it and thought "are you fucking kidding me?" Who celebrates their year anniversary of taking a medication? I think Birdy was the one who said "does Hallmark make a card for this?" It cracked my shit up.

32
So yes! My birthday is on Saturday and I'll be 32! This will be my first birthday truly alone as J and I hung out last year. I went to AZ for Thanksgiving and my mom totally caved and gave me my birthday presents. My best friend gave me my presents this week. As noted above, my company already sent me my birthday card. So all the fun birthday stuff is out of the way and, since Teacher is in the U.A.E. (which is turning 41 this year), he will not be calling me and saying "hey, I was listening to the radio and they mentioned that John Lennon died 32 years ago and that reminded me that it is your birthday." Cause he will only have known me for 32 years and John Lennon for exactly zero years.

Hunter, my best friend, had his birthday in June and it sucked. Leading up to it, I was trying to convince him that it was going to be awesome because it was his Birthday!!! and birthdays are awesome. They are your day, when people wish you well and lavish attention on you. He commented that his birthdays usually sucked and that made me realize that my last couple haven't been that great. But I still look forward to it every year, including this one, even though I didn't do my usual two to three month warm up of "my birthday is coming up soon" nonsense. Part of it isn't my fault. Mom was born June 1st and spent years having her day rolled into Memorial Day weekend and she hated it (I think you can tell how much she hated it by the bold, italics, and underlining). So when her youngest was born on December 8th, she made the decision that not one damned person was going to think that it was at all OK to put the birthday with Christmas. Decorations were never put up until December 9th and if anyone asked if they could give me both presents at once she let them know it would be fine and she'd do the same for their child. Later in life I would do the same. "Do you mind if I give you your birthday and Christmas presents together" they would ask. "Not at all, I'll do the same," I would reply. "But my birthday is in April," my gentle interlocutor would respond. "Yeah?"

I grew up thinking we all made a big damned deal out of our birthdays and it was until a few years ago when I asked Mom if my brothers did the same that she explained it to me. Part of it is just me though. Mouse, a very good friend of mine, was born on December 6th. Every year that I was in Delaware and I knew her, we would just treat the week like we owned that shit. We'd even toast a kid she'd taught back in the day when she was a kindergarten teacher whose birthday was December 7th (she threw a record once, as part of a performance, and I think he got hit). We were insufferable. But we rejoiced because it was OUR new year, OUR birthday. So even if I have had a few bad ones, I still look forward to it like most kids look forward to Christmas. It gives me a good out, as well, when people ask if I'm revved up or ready for the holiday season because I can say"I don't do celebrate the holidays". When they ask about it or press me, I can say "I was born in December and so that is my holiday."

It is, after all, a Catholic Feast Day (Day of the Immaculate Conception in case you were wondering. Tits thought she was telling me something new when she learned that from her mom. Her response was akin to "I'm sure Simply, my atheist friend, will be terribly interested to know that."

So happy birthday to me and long live the Wu-Tang and all of that.

I know why zebras have stripes, do you?