To quote Ralphie’s Old Man, “It’s a major award!” Or naddafingah.

I’m a writer. I know it, my friends and family know it, and it has long been a bone of contention amongst all of them that I should be pursuing it so that I can become famous and, like, make them proud and all. Then they can boast about knowing me and maybe, after I write a blockbuster novel, I’ll take one or all of them on a book tour. Can you imagine? Me and my family and my most cherished friends tearin’ it up in the book stores all across the nation. I’d probably want to call it The Merry Mayhem Tour, but Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie already own that name so I guess I’d just call it Lori and Co.’s Truly Excellent Escapade.

Anyhoo, I’ve blogged in various forms for over a decade now, mostly on that dinosaur, MySpace, and then on Facebook. I briefly attempted a regular one on Blogger but honestly, life was sucking so hard back then that my heart wasn’t in it. There was too much anger and not enough brevity or humor. I was dark, and¬†am dark, but I’m funny, too, and when that wasn’t coming through, I knew better than to be proud of those few, pathetic offerings.

Then I discovered The Bloggess. Jenny Lawson is not only hilarious, and smart, and deliciously twisted, but she is also me. A version of me, that is. The depressed, anxious, completely off the rails me. She is also brave, and kind, and viciously honest, and did I mention brave and hilarious? I started following her many months ago and then I was buying her books and crying with laughter and feels. ¬†I was telling everyone, “Here, READ her! You don’t understand me, but through her, you can! Because this is me!” You can read her here.¬†You see, up until Jenny, I really didn’t like to think about where my life was going.

I started out taking my meds and thinking that those little pills were magically going to fix all the issues that had been creeping into my life. I’ve never been adventurous and daring, not even as a child. The two times I was daring as a kid – and by daring, I really mean reckless and f’n stupid – resulted in a compound fracture to my arm and a broken ankle. When you’ve been afraid to learn to ride a bike until you were 10 and your mom buys you a second-hand bike that your grandma rode in the 40s, you DON’T try to “peel out” in a mud puddle with a pipe sticking up out of it. Trust me. I¬†did achieve some brief fame as “that girl who did the coolest peel-out ever”¬†but the bone sticking out of my arm and kids running away, screaming in horror wasn’t eactly worth the week’s stay in the hospital and the two surgeries I endured. If I were adventurous and daring, I’d probably argue with myself and say, “Oh yeah, IT FUCKING WAS!” but I’m not. Consequently, you’d think that I would have learned my lesson, but despite my above-average test scores and the school’s urging to my mom to put me in the “gifted” class (she refused because she didn’t ¬†think I needed to stick out like the sore, awkward thumb we all knew I was) I was incredibly f’n stupid and attempted another daredevil move less than a year later.

Here’s the thing: when you’re a chunky child and all your clothes come from the Husky section of the Sears Catalog, you should not try to leap from a piece of playground equipment,10 feet up in the air, to the ground. Chances are, your weight is going to be your worst enemy and something’s going to break. In this case, it was my ankle. After that, I no longer was referred to as daring, but as “that fat girl who jumped off the flying saucer, DUH!” Oh, how the mighty fall. Hard.

By 11, I was becoming the person I really metamorphosed into at 44. That’s when I began to really lose my shit and that’s a long story but suffice it to say that I may have had blogs in me, but they weren’t good ones. I think that the work now might be….and so it was a totally delightful shock to me to find that my tiny, fledgling blog has been nominated for The Liebster Award for new blogs. One of my handful of followers (not like Joe’s followers on that creepy-ass cool Kevin Bacon show) nominated me, and I have to admit that I shed a few tears because I don’t feel quite worthy yet…..but I’ll take it!

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The rules are pretty interesting, and I am going to use another blog to answer them because they’re really quite detailed and Karen, or http://www.kayrayiam.wordpress.com deserves a proper set of answers because she was kind enough to nominate me. Here’s her blog of pure awesomeness.¬†You should check her out because she is one of Jenny’s people, and we are quite the entertaining, twisted, disturbed, kind, cool bunch. Just ask us, and when we’ve taken our meds and completed the rituals we have in order to feel less anxious about being human for the day, we will validate this with part humility and part “Oh-my-fucking-God-someone-is-talking-to-me-what-do-I-do” panicky dorkishness.

Now you must excuse me, because I need to make a paper crown to wear around the house and irritate the husband with my austere delight.

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Postal Security

Normally, I’m not going to go on a rant about government offices because it is what it is, but I’m pretty irritated about this morning’s foray – which bled well into the afternoon – to the “local” Social Security office in Olean, NY. This is as close as one gets to such an office if you live in Bradford, PA. Not the worst drive; 25 miles or so. Just inconvenient. My brother, henceforth referred to as “the Male Sibling Unit”, lost his original Social Security card and needs it to be able to obtain a state-issued ID. Why my mother or his caseworker never got him one, I will never know. I certainly bitched about it enough before Mom died and he moved in with me. Apparently mentally challenged individuals aren’t encouraged to own some form of acceptable ID. Unless they decide to become a Democrat so they can “vote for Bernie Sanders,” as the Male Sibling Unit recently announced. I’ve put off taking him over there simply because it meant taking him out of workshop for a day and disrupting his OCD routine, but I could procrastinate no more. His nightly inquiries about the Democratic Primary and needing to “make my vote count and make that asshole Trump go away” forced me into action.

The Social Security office is monstrous. It’s a huge, cavernous office space seemingly in need of all that square footage for the thousands and thousands of manila files housed there in this age of electronic filing. At the time that we were there, the office appeared to employ two representatives and a security guard. Both reps were safe behind what might have been bullet-proof glass ( in case some senior goes on a bloody, geriatric rampage and tosses his walker against the glass, I suppose) with a little trough to funnel paperwork through.

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3rd February 1953: A model posing with a selection of office equipment. (Photo by Chaloner Woods/Getty Images)

The electronic check-in system was broken, so a handwritten sign advised all who entered to “take a number”. We took #40. Soon after, the rep called on #22. We settled into cheap, plastic chairs amongst the poor, unwashed, and elderly masses wearily resigned to waiting their turn. Most only had a question when summoned by number, over the loudspeaker, to appproach the glass. ¬†We were soon to find out that there was not a #23, 24, or 25. They just didn’t exist. There was not a #37, 38, or 39, either, which did hurry our wait time along. Before our number was called, an elderly man came in and walked up to the window. The guard, who appeared not much younger than the guy, sternly told him he needed to take a number and wait his turn. He said, “I just wanted to tell you that I tried to call, but I kept saying ‘Representative’ and it kept asking me if I wanted to speak to one. It took me less time to drive here.”

When our number was called, I explained that we were there to obtain a replacement Social Security card for my brother so that he could go get his State ID. I said we had already printed the application, filled it out, and brought the acceptable “other” forms of ID as outlined on the fact sheet accompanying said form. She took his birth certificate, insurance cards, and the application and looked at them for a while.

“I can’t take these cards,” she said, “because they don’t have his Social Security number on them.”

Apparently some cards from Pennsylvania don’t have that information on them. Hence the need for a Social Security card, maybe? I asked why that appeared as an accepted form of ID if NOT EVERY STATE had the proper information on them. Her answer wasn’t even bureaucratic bullshit.

“I don’t know.” She shrugged.

She then told me that if I could get my brother’s doctor to affirm, on company letterhead, that my brother was a patient at said practice, we could “just mail that in” with the application and we “didn’t need any” proof of ID. Because OBVIOUSLY, his doctor knows who he is better than me, his sister ALL OF HIS FREAKING LIFE. Oh wait, I forgot: I am less credible because I am not a doctor. Ummmm….but seriously? Why not make THAT little nugget of info available on the website instead of incorrect, erroneous information? You know, “Just get your doctor to verify your identity.”

Oh wait. It’s a government website. No need for further explanation. I gotcha. Our tax dollars at work, people. ¬†I would never, ever wish going postal on those three lost government employees in that warehouse of an office, but that’s because I am semi-possessed of my mental faculties.

At least there will be plenty of space for them to hide if someone does get tired of being asked to ask for a Representative as he or she waits on hold, and comes in a-shootin’, overpowering the elderly security guard tasked with protecting those two chicks behind the glass.

Needless to say, “Those douchebags” will most likely be the topic of the Male Sibling Unit’s conversation tonight. It will make for a much-needed departure from the usual “Fuck Trump” convo.

There is a silver lining, I guess.

 

 

Gag me with a genetically modified egg.

So Easter. Yeah. The one holiday that, if it were to be banned, I would not miss at all. If the collective world leaders were to get together and do a Bergermeister on Easter and say “Nein!” I’d breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Thank Christ!” Which is ironic.

I’ve always hated Easter. For one, the wishy-washy pastel colors make me want to puke. I’m not a big lover of chocolate, so that never lured me in. I never, ever believed in a rabbit that visited all the good little girls and boys and left them treats and gifts. Everyone knew that rabbits were just tiny, little, cuddly things and besides,¬†Santa did that, DUH. Coloring eggs? Yeah, boring. And messy. And never as pretty as you want them to be. Nowadays, I’ve read enough literature to suggest that the bunnies and the eggs are derived from Pagan beliefs, which makes that part a little easier to stomach. I’ve never expanded upon my fear of He Who Wears The Creepy Bunny Suit except to shudder in violent distaste. The truth is¬†that I deplore the idea that we’re really celebrating the murder of a human being. Yeah yeah, “on the third day, he rose again” but really? The Zombie Apocalypse isn’t real, and doesnt that seem like something the dreaded Satan would do? Reanimate a dead guy? ¬†Unless he wasn’t actually dead when they stuffed him in that tomb, I’m fairly certain that Jesus was¬†still dead three days after he was tortured and then endured a slow, agonizing death. Maybe someone absconded¬†with the body? ¬†I’m gonna float a wild idea here: Maybe the story was carefully embellished to pull in the masses who took, and take, the Bible literally.

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I used to read the Bible when I was young. It was the most wonderful and frightening book of fairy tales that I ever encountered as a child. I’d have to say that it rivals Stephen King and JRR Tolkien for horror and fancy combined. It BLEW MY MIND that the adults in my life expected me to believe that shit was real. Adam and Eve created all humanity (which makes us all related and ewww, incest)? Moses parted the seas? Jesus made water into wine? He made bread and fishes multiply? Okay, so what you’re telling me is that the world was filled with magicians “back in the day” who made the Wizarding World of Harry Potter seem weak in comparison. You know those horrible TV commercials with the starving children? Remember the times when you didn’t want to finish your dinner and you were chastised and told that “there are starving children in Africa who would absolutely love to eat your Spam loaf and peas.” My smart-ass response was always, “Get me an envelope. I’ll mail it to them right now. How many stamps?” Well, I didn’t ¬†so much¬†say¬†that as¬†think it, but you get the idea.¬†

Anyway, I always wondered to myself that if Jesus could magically make all that food appear, why wasn’t he doing it for all the starving children in Africa? They would love that fish and gobble that bread up and while he was at it, he could transform some water into a decent Cabernet so the parents of all those kids could get shitfaced while the kids were running around like lunatics after having such a fortifying feast. Okay, the last part I made up just now, because when I was a kid I had no idea that parents sometimes got shitfaced in order to deal with their kids. Maybe that’s just a recent response to all the ADD-afflicted kids running around today. You¬†know, “Here, Joey. Take your Ritalin and go play. Mommy’s going to have a glass of wine.” We all know now that studies show ADD is an epidemic because of all the genetically engineered and antibiotic-infused food we feed kids.

If Jesus’s hat trick was a real thing, we could have been making organic food appear all this time and Monsanto wouldn’t exist and ADD would be unheard of. And parents wouldn’t need to make multiple trips to the liquor store. ¬†Since there was no ADD or Ritalin when Jesus was alive, I doubt he realized that parents actually would have paid him good money for his little magic trick. Thanks a lot, fairytale writers of the Bible. And while we’re at it, thanks Obama!

Okay, I went off the rails just a little bit there, ¬†but it is only early afternoon, and I haven’t had any wine yet. Wine that I bought at the liquor store myself. Because Jesus didn’t make me any for Easter.

 

 

 

 

Honesty is such a lonely word.

Honesty is such a lonely word.

“What’s on your mind?”

Those fucking words.

What’s on my mind, Facebook? The truth is, I’m feeling pretty low. I’m not going to post ambiguous statements and memes alluding to this fact. As much as I don’t care for peoples’ posts that track their every movement or announce their latest battle with someone, there does come a point when it is essential to be honest about feelings, state of mind, and the things in our lives that we hold dear. This world has become pretty social-media dependent. No, it doesn’t really pass for the reality of one’s day-to-day life, but for many, it is an essential link to the outside world. I am one of those people, not by choice, but by necessity. I don’t like to be out in public. I quake with fear and shudder with revulsion. It makes me sick to my stomach to know that if I go out, I might have to make eye contact or talk to someone. If you see me walking, you see me with my head down. I count my steps. It keeps me from having to do those things. I can escape that fear on social media, and it is a necessary tether to the outside world. I deem it necessary because I fight demons every single day in the form of Major Depressive Disorder with Severe Panic Disorder.
I could list those without capital letters, but the truth is, they are such a constant part of my life that they need those caps. I’m not proud to say that I have these diseases – and trust me, they are diseases in that they invade every aspect of my life and have made it difficult to even HAVE a life – and if I could somehow make them disappear, I would. There is so much shame involved, no matter how many people support me and cheer on my efforts to overcome them. I have run the gamut of treatments, from drug therapy to counseling, and back to drug therapy again. Self-help books. Daily affirmations. You name it. Except for short periods following the end of my first marriage and then again when I underwent a hysterectomy, I had never been medicated until nearly 2 years ago, when the urge to lay down and die battled with my inability to stop trembling in terror uncontrollably every single morning.
You may ask, “Why would you want to lay down and die? What the hell do you have to be afraid of?” The truth is, I don’t have answers to those questions. Yes, I have family and they love me. Yes, I have a small band of really good friends who know me and still like me. Yes, I have intelligence and creativity and interests that could keep me constantly busy if I lined them up back-to-back. I feel blessed and fortunate and very lucky to have my life. I know that things could be so much worse. Why are those things not enough? The fact is, I don’t know. Events of the past shaped me into the person I am today, and no amount of therapy or self-help can change that fact. That I choose to soldier on despite the past’s efforts to destroy me is a testament to how badly I want to continue to go on living, to make the most of each day, to smile and to love and to feel.
I have done stupid things. All my life, I have made wrong decisions based on a crucial moment, a circumstance, and sometimes, just because I was filled with such self-loathing that I figured, “Who gives a fuck?” I acted and reacted to situations based upon the words drilled into my brain from a very young age.
You were a mistake.
I regret that you were born.
You ruined everything in my life.
and
You mother should have aborted you.
I should have made her.
I can still make her get rid of you.
Hard words to overcome. I did overcome, and I didn’t. Those words took a small, newly-formed child and twisted her into a scared, angry, sad, self-destructive shell of a human being who hid herself away behind her intelligence, sarcasm, and a seeming disdain for everyone and everything around her. Those who got in were still relegated to an outer wall INSIDE the other outer walls. When the people who were supposed to love you unconditionally don’t, who the hell is left who can? Every now and then, I would meet someone who seemed to possess the key to unlocking me from my self-preserving exile, but invariably they would either disappoint or I would come to my senses and change the locks. I didn’t want to, because it is so achingly cold and lonely inside, but I felt I had to. There is no sense in protesting, “But none of this was your fault” because I know that already. My head knows that and my heart has ached and I have cried countless tears. I have attempted to never, ever make the mistakes those who hurt me did. I have lain my heart out bare to those who I love. That’s not an easy thing to do. Because it’s delicate tissue and it can be destroyed very easily. There will come a day, if I am not careful, when it will either decompose or simply turn to stone. I fear that. And I welcome it. Because without a heart, I won’t have to feel. Without a heart, I can continue going through the motions that make up my closeted life without the pretense of feeling anything.
Why am I putting these dark thoughts to paper, so to speak? It’s simple: they are eating me alive. They must be put out to pasture. I must set them free before they do the damage they want to, and then this fucking Depression wins. This Fear wins. I have to be honest with myself and those around me. I am not okay. I am lying to you when I say that I am happy, that nothing’s wrong, that life is good. They should be true. They need to be true. But they are not and it’s because something misfires in my brain and always has and without a heavy cloud of drugs to blanket me and put the demons into a coma, it always will. I hate the drugs. I stop taking them from time to time, just to allow some light in. This has been one of those times, and it was again a big mistake. When you return to feeling after being gone for a while, every emotion is magnified and unbearable. It doesn’t feel safe sometimes. This is one of those times. So I am giving my darkness wings and returning to my safety blanket of dullness, and a doctor visit will be necessary so that I can confess that I haven’t got a lid on this and yes, she was right.

In the past few months, our community has lost some young people to¬†heroine ¬†addiction. Too young, in their early 20s, with their whole lives ahead of them. They join an endless list of victims who couldn’t get the monkey off their backs, who struggled and lost to a terrible disease that has been at epidemic proportions for too long. Depression is like heroin. It robs a person of their strength, their dignity, their joy. Depression is a drowning cushion of sadness and, like a heroin high, when you’re in it, you don’t care about anything else. I don’t want it to win. And so, if I seem to disappear right before your eyes, it’s only because I am doing the hard work of living. My goal is to put my monkey back into the deep forestation of jungle, where it belongs. And then to run, fast and far, and pray that it doesn’t follow. If you’ve taken the time to read this, thank you. But please don’t feel sorry for me. Just be there for me, and recognize that this was an act of courage for me.

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