Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Time Heals........ or does it?

The cliche is that Time Heals All Wounds.  Some would almost call it a truism rather than simply a cliche, because for so many people, it is indeed the case.  I'm finding though that sometimes, time doesn't actually heal a wound.. it simply allows it to scab over a bit so that it's not a glaring, gaping, open sore oozing emotional pus all over everyone around.

There are a few emotional wounds in my past that it took me years to finally actually get over.  It didn't take that long because I somehow "wanted" to hang on to the wounds or the emotional grief they caused me.  They simply..... never quite went away, no matter how hard I tried to forget, or whether I talked about them or didn't, or how frequently I told myself that it was useless to hold on to the ache and that I should simply let it go.

All my life, people have been telling me, "just let it go - it's over, and there's nothing you can do to change the past, so why bother to keep talking about it (or why do you still ache from it?)"  Various psyche sorts, family members, and the odd boyfriend now and then, have all told me that.  If only it were as easily done as said.  Saying "it's in the past, let it go since you can't change it" is really easy - for anyone - even the most compassionate person on the planet.  Actually being able to forget, step beyond the various hurts, and put them behind you without significantly changing you?  Now that's something that's not nearly so easy to accomplish.

It's the most wonderful time... eh, who am I kidding?

That's right boys and girls, it's that time of the year again.  It's the holiday season, the end of the year and nearly time to turn the calendars to a new number.  It's currently the day after Christmas (Yule, technically was the Friday prior - which is what I personally celebrate.)  And yes, it's time for that annual review of how things have gone, what I hope to change in the coming 12 months, etc ad nauseum that most folks refer to as New Year's Resolutions.

Personally, the only resolution I've ever managed to keep with any sort of strength or staying power was the resolution that I made several years ago not to make any more New Year's Resolutions.  I think I'll continue to make that one last - I'm not Making any Resolutions.

So, what about the year in review?  Let's face it, 2012 SUCKED.  It stank with the rankness of Limburger paired with old gym socks and toxic diapers from a toddler.  I've spent the better portion of 2012 sick as a dog, with my Lupus flaring to the point that I've frequently wished I could simply go to sleep and not wake up again.  This year has given me fresh insight into why my mother spent the last 3 to 5 years of her life praying daily for death to come take her, so that she could quit being in constant pain.  While things have nominally improved since my appointment with the Rheumatologist during the beginning of this  month, they are no where near the point that they should be, and don't look likely to improve sufficiently for me to declare myself "well" again any time in the near future.

This past 12 months has seen some major stressers happen in my life.  I lost the family home to property tax crap.  Ah property taxes - that legal extortion from the government which says "Yes, we know you've already bought and paid for this, and that you own it - but you'll pay us each year for the privilege of Using what you own or we'll steal it from you!"  And so the nightmare began on finding a new place to live, which culminated in me moving in with my boyfriend and his two room mates. 

Yeah... about Room mates... there's a Reason that I much prefer to live Alone when I can.  Frankly, I've come to the conclusion that much of the continued stress which caused my major flare back in late August/ early September was due to the stress of putting up with those room mates.  Don't get me wrong.  She's nice enough, and even tolerable a good 85% of the time (at least before she quit work due to maternity leave, which she never went back to prior to them moving.)  Her other half, whom I still refer to as TweedleDum the greatest part of the time, was a different story.  I'm not going to go into it further than that, because I don't want my blood pressure spiking and going through the roof - let's simply suffice it to say that he was a PITA, and not of the pleasant variety.  Of course, them moving out to leave state and live with her family hasn't really put a Stop to the stress that they were part of.  She owned the house that J and I still live in - only it's been in foreclosure for the majority of the time I've known them - and the foreclosure finalized within days of her and her S.O. moving. 

Which means...........

That's right, I'm back in house hunting mode, and have been since the beginning of this month.  Currently it looks like J and I will have until about this time next month to find a place, get utilities set up, and get moved.  Assuming Fannie Mae (the current owner of the property, since they bought it back at the foreclosure auction) doesn't decide to kick us out right after New Year.

So twice in 6 months I find myself effectively homeless and wondering where I'm going to find a roof to keep over my head.  We aren't completely out of options just yet, but that point is rapidly approaching, and I'd rather not find myself living out of my car.  (Yeah, the one truly Good thing that happened this year - I managed to get my driver's license reinstated and get a car.  Which means that the fiasco of having dealt with Matthew the Loser is finally completely over and done with.)

A few other "good" things have happened this year.  After all, even the worst  year generally has Something good to be remembered.  On that side of the scale is my car, getting my license back, being able to go to one of the major SCA events of this kingdom and spend time with my Thunder Family, and a couple of specific friends who have helped maintain my sometimes tenuous grip on sanity. 

That's something for the rest of you to stop and contemplate:  despite everything I've been through in my life, I still smile - not because I'm strong, but because I'm utterly batshit crazy.  That should scare you.

Ah well, in only a few days, the calendar will change to a new set of months, and we'll see what sort of lemonaid I end up making with next year's batch of problems.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Whining like a 3 year old... cause I can.....

Most of the time, I try really hard to keep my comments about how I'm feeling (physically) to a minimum.  I make a concerted effort not to go on long rants about my Lupus, it's effects, what it's like to live with it, or how I cope.  Lately though I've been finding myself less and less successful in actually keeping to that habit, and maundering on at length about the disease process and what it does to me.

I would like to apologize in advance for today's little diatribe.  It's going to be a long one, and it's going to be incredibly whiny, with lots of bitching and complaining, and quite probably a repeat of several things I've said at some other point over the past 2 years of maintaining this blog.  I know - no one really wants to hear about such with the possible exception of fellow sufferers of my illness.  But hey, misery loves company, and I've spent a lot of my time lately being absolutely miserable due to this crap.

Lupus isn't easy to live with.  Even on the best of days, I'm in pain and feeling less than 100%.  When push comes to shove, I haven't had a day when I actually Did feel 100% in... sheesh... close to 25 years now I guess.  Granted, some days - even some years - are worse than others.  These last few months have been the worst in 10 years, since mom succumbed to the pneumonia that "officially" killed her.  This past month (or more accurately, this past week) has been my worst in the last 6 years, since dad had his stroke.  Even when I was going through a nervous breakdown a couple of years ago due to the emotional strain of coping with daddy's health issues, I wasn't having this many Physical symptoms on a constant, daily basis that simply Did Not Go Away.

This extended flare (which waxes and wanes daily based on what's going on, what the weather is like, what work was like the night before, what I've eaten lately, and if I didn't know better the phase of the moon) started back in late February or early March.  That was about the point when I first found out that the family home was in jeopardy, and started worrying about trying to save it.  The flare eased up for a while, when I gave up fighting to save the house, only to start spiking again over work stresses and unsuccessfully attempting to find a new place to live.  It eased up again with a change of position at work, or so I thought - at least the work stress hasn't been nearly as bad, though it's been more physically demanding, in the 2 months since I made the change there from being on the front end to being out on the stocking floor.

I've noticed though that there are certain symptoms that started back in March which have never really gone away this time, even when the flare seemed to be quieting down.  This isn't the first time I've had a bout with the lupus rash from over exposure to sunlight/uv.   I've almost always got a light case of the butterfly rash that is oh-so-characteristic of Lupus.  It never really goes away completely with me, it just fades a bit for a few days at a time and has never been bad enough to cause scarring or look like more than a "rosy glow" on my cheeks, nose, and forehead.  I'm beginning to get more of the lesions that don't ever heal, or only heal very slowly - which is something I've never had to deal with in the past with this.  Fortunately, I'm NOT getting the mouth ulcers that sometimes happen in Lupus - I don't think I could deal with that at this point.

I'm tired.  All the time I'm tired.  Not just when I've been active, and there's some logical Reason for me to be tired.  I'm tired when I wake up.  I'm tired when I go to bed, even if I've slept for 7 or 8 hours already that day.  I'm tired regardless of the weather, what (or if) I've eaten, or what (if anything) I've been doing even if it was no more "strenuous" than sitting at my desk and looking at the various cute kitty pics posted on Facebook by various friends.  And damnit, I'm Tired of Being Tired.

My joints ache to the point of putting me in tears a lot of the time lately.  Not just a little bit, that I can shrug off and tell myself "eh, it could be worse." No, this is the kind where I lay in bed, reluctant to try and move to get up, because I already hurt so much that just breathing makes me want to break down crying and simply beg someone to shoot me and get it over with.  I don't.  I make myself get up, get dressed, and try not to let anyone see me grimace in pain or whimper when I move.  I don't succeed all that well lately, because I no longer have the luxury of living by myself, where I can do so without having to try and hide it, but for some reason I still feel compelled to try and hide it as much as possible.

I'm fed up with condescending doctors who look at me like I'm faking it to get pain pills, like I'm some sort of junkie looking for a quick fix.  I Detest my current GP (general practitioner) - who has decided, in his Infinite wisdom as a non-specialist - that my diagnosis is "wrong" and that the Specialist who diagnosed me some 22 years ago Must have simply been Wrong, because... wha?  Because I'm Not Sick ENOUGH?  Just how Sick do I have to be before you consider me "Sick Enough," doc?  Do I have to be lying in a hospital bed with tubes invading all of my various orifices, or is being in the ER a couple of times from pain, unable to stand or walk without assistance, with my legs so swollen from Edema that my ankles are the same size as my calves, and broken out in a severe rash on both calves and one arm "enough"?  The desire to shake the man by his throat, and snarl at him that he should live in my body for a couple of weeks before he decides I'm "not sick Enough" is strong.  I won't, because no one I  know has the money to bail me out of jail when I get thrown in for assault, but it Is fun to Fantasize about.

So I wait now.  I wait for them to get around to setting  up an appointment with a Rheumatologist, because he wants me to go see yet another Specialist for a new diagnosis.  I wait to see the Rheumy so I can finally get my intermittent leave of absence paperwork signed for my job, so I don't Lose my job (and my insurance along with it.)  That has to wait for the Rheumy appointment because the GP "doesn't do paperwork."  Nor does he "do" Pain Management.  Which means that getting more pain meds, to try and at least stay Functional, has to wait for that Rheumy appointment as well.  No, the GP's idea of "pain management" was to put me on something that's commonly used to treat Mental Disorders such as Clinical Depression, Anxiety, and Bipolar Syndrome.  Great - so my mental/emotional issues are being addressed, and I have an anti-inflammitory that I could just as easily get WITHOUT a prescription and take extra of the OTC variety - but nothing for pain, nothing for water retention (his solution for the Edema was to suggest I go buy a pair of support stockings rather than to actually Treat it) ........ come to think of it, nothing at all.  Nothing from the GP other than condescending looks, platitudes, and being put off until whenever the insurance company decides to approve the appointment with the Rheumatologist.  Next time I see him, I'm going to have to watch myself, or I'll end up asking him "If you won't do pain management, and  you won't do paperwork, and you won't actually Treat any of my symptoms, then frankly - what good are you and why should I bother coming back to you?"

They always ask, "But WHY?"

Those who know me well are aware that I am several things.  I'm not talking about the mundane "mother" or "girlfriend" or anything of that nature.  I'm referring to being things like an avid gun owner, an advocate for the Second Amendment, and a staunch Constitutionalist.  Inevitably, when people who don't know me well talk to me, and find out these things, they ask, "Why?"

Some of them want to know "Why are you so passionate in your defense of the Constitution?".Others are curious as to "Why do you own guns?  Are you afraid of something?"

The first question I'll answer later.  For the second, I'm frequently tempted to jokingly quip "I own guns, there's not a damn thing on this planet that I need to be Afraid of!"  Or perhaps to tell them, "A gun weighs a lot less to carry in my back pocket than a cop."  However, I don't consider it to be a joking matter.  Over the past few months, there have been a lot of net memes going around Facebook concerning the Second Amendment, gun ownership, concealed and/or open carry laws, and the idea that those of us who chose to carry a weapon are somehow "afraid of the bogeyman in the dark" or some unknown and unknowable evil.

Let me make this perfectly clear.  I'm not worried that there might be evil out there.  I Know that there is Evil in this world, and frankly, it is up to me to protect me from that evil.  It's a foolish woman (or man) who relies upon others to protect them from those who would disdain social order for their own benefit.  While I may sometimes come across as a bit of a ditz, I'm far from foolish, and I'm not fond of the idea of barricading myself in my home like it's some ivory tower, waiting for someone else to slay the dragons for me.  I'm no princess, and I can slay my own dragons thank you very much.

I'm not simply an advocate for Concealed Carry, the Second Amendment, or Gun Ownership.  I'm radical enough to be of the belief that it should be considered the Duty of every physically able and mentally stable person over the age of 16 to own their own weapon, be well versed in it's maintenance and care, able to use it accurately, and be required (like some European countries) to produce that weapon once a year (at Minimum) for inspection and proof of capability with it.    Yes, that's right - Everyone.  Male or Female; gay, straight, or bi; black, white, brown, yellow, bronze, or patchwork; of every religion; and every national origin in their ancestry.  All of us, without exception.

I of the firm belief that the Second Amendment IS my Owner's Permit and Carry Permit, and keep asking "Which part of 'congress shall make No Laws Abridging the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms' has our government misunderstood?"  The Constitution and Bill of Rights aren't simply a couple of old pieces of paper, of no interest except for their historical value.  They are pertinent today, and all that stands between us (the general population of the United States) and the ability of the government to turn us all into nothing but slaves of The State.  Not that they haven't already managed to do a pretty good job of that, as our rights slowly erode due to apathy, fear mongering by a "well meaning" nanny attitude in some parts of the population, and ennui.  It wouldn't take long at all for things that "can't happen Here - we're Americans!" to do just that - happen here - if we were to allow the Constitution and Bill of Rights to be set aside for some reason.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist.  No second shooter in Dallas, or unknown "Them" calling the shots of all the world's governments or anything like that.  Far from it.  I'm a realist.  Power corrupts.  Those in power typically, due to human nature, tend to want to Keep their power - sometimes by whatever means happen to come to hand.  A government which is not afraid of it's citizens inevitably has citizens who are afraid of It, instead.  And I don't intend to ever allow myself to become Afraid of my government.  So long as the Constitution and Bill of Rights are still in place, respected by the government and upheld by the people who are governed, I won't ever Need to be afraid.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rhi's Baked Chicken and Rice Classico

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

(For Marinade)
2 1/2 Tblspoon worchestershire sauce
1 Tblspoon minced garlic
1.5 teaspoon dried chopped parsley
1.5 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dry rubbed sage
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry dill
1/4 teaspoon sirracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon papprika
1/8 teaspoon red pepper powder
1.5 cups medium bodied semi-sweet white wine

2 Cups rice (Wild/Brown is good, but Jasmine or Arborio work well also)
2.5 cups water
1.5 packages (aprox 24 oz) frozen chopped stir fry veggies or fresh chopped veggeies of your choice
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 24oz jar prepared pasta/spagetti sauce

Mix marinade ingredients together thoroughly, coat chicken breasts and allow to steep in mixture while rice cooks.

While chicken is marinating, parboil 2 cups rice, allow to cook almost until done and cooking liquid is absorbed.
While rice is still hot, add 1.5 packages frozen stir fry veggies, mix thoroughly.
Add one (1) 8oz can tomato puree, and 1 jar of your favorite prepared tomato based pasta sauce (or aprox. 24 oz of your own, prepared before hand) {I used ditoscana Classico Tuscan Inspired Olive and Garlic this time} and mix thoroughly with rice/veggie mixture.  Spread into deep sided pan into an even layer.

Place chicken breasts on top of rice, spooning minced garlic and a small amount of liquid from marinade onto top of pieces to help keep them moist during cooking.  Place pan into 350 degree oven on middle rack for 45 minutes.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Round and Round She goes, where she Stops...

I sure don't know.  I doubt anyone else has a clue to that one, either.

I've never done particularly well with change.  I am most definitely a creature of habit, and have been for a very long time.  I have my routines, I'm comfortable with them, and when circumstances force me to step outside the boxes of those routines my mind tends to go a bit haywire.

Lately everything has been changing.  The changes have been sweeping and most definitely life altering.  My home is gone.  The 2 cats that had been with me for 6+ years are both gone to wait for me at the rainbow bridge with their various per-deceased furbaby adopted brothers and sisters.  A friend died from heart problems at the age of 42.  I've moved in with my boyfriend despite our agreement that while we work in the same place on the same shift, living together probably isn't a great idea.  (So far it's working out, simply because we each have our own room, which means we each have someplace to escape to.  I'm not certain how long such will be the case, though, simply because my paranoia gets to me at times.)  Then there's the lawsuit that's pending against the con artists who are trying to rip me off for the rest of the money from the sale of the house, having to deal with a lawyer on that, and the uncertainty that always surrounds legal proceedings.

I'm finally beginning to get a few routines set back up (altered, really) now that I'm pretty much settled in here at James's place.  Some of them are easily enough altered, simply because they were relatively simple routines having to do with work to begin with.  I'm setting up a few new routines to cover some of the areas that have changed so drastically, mostly having to do with my smoking since I can't inside the house.  (That was going to change regardless of where I ended up - I had already decided I wouldn't smoke inside the new place, as an added incentive to help me quit, which I think is going to work doubly well over here.)

The question I find myself asking this past couple of days is "when am I going to have the Opportunity to go look for a new place of my own?"  Well, I ask myself that, and I ask myself, "should I wait to look for a place until I have a chance to pay off the old fines and get my drivers license back, and possibly have a car?"  That one  though I've already formulated a plan to deal with, provided the lawsuit doesn't go terribly wrong.  Even after the lawyer takes her cut, I'll have enough to pay off all the fines and get a fairly nice car and get it tagged and insured.  

Moving isn't going to simply entail finding an apartment or rental house to move into.  It's also going to require some planning on my part to account for things like renting a truck to move everything out of storage (about $100 there as far as moving expenses go.)  It's going to require replacing all the stuff for my kitchen that ended up getting left behind as not worth the trouble to box up and move, mostly because the vast majority of it was either worn out anyway, or in need of washing before it Could be boxed up, thanks to the plumbing problems that were prevalent over at the old house.  That's going to be tricky to put a price tag on.  I'm going to have to replace dishes and silverware - about $50 between them.  I'm going to have to replace all my pots and pans - there's another $200 for a decent set.  I'm going to have to replace the dining table and chairs - opps, there's another $150 for a cheap but serviceable set.  All the small appliances are going to have to be replaced as well - which will run anywhere from $300 up to about $1500, depending on whether I get a few of the things I've wanted for a long time but didn't get because of either financial factors or because I had a working whatever even if it wasn't as nice of a model. 

Either way, moving out of here and into a place of my own is both imperative and expensive as a proposition.  Hang on kiddies, the ride isn't slowing down any time soon.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pick Up Sticks...

The tree that was my life had itself chopped down at it's roots, and turned into so much kindling.  Now I'm in the process of picking through the branches and sticks, and seeing how much of it can be salvaged for replanting elsewhere, and how much is just so much kindling to use for lighting a Samhain fire to feed the pain to the past.

It's been nearly a week now since I had to be finished with moving out of my old family home.  The keys have been turned over to the new owners.  My household items (at least those which I kept) are safely in a storage unit.  My bedroom has been set up in the spare room over at my boyfriend's place, and I'm slowly getting everything in order and finding a place for it in a vastly more limited space than I'm used to dealing with.  The dog settled back in as though he'd never left.  (He's one of the last litter of pups that my boyfriend's dog had, whom I had taken over to my place with me.)  The cat is adjusting well, and has come to his own terms with the roomies' resident cat, Pandora.  (Rather aptly named little psychopath that she is.)

The sense of dislocation is intense.  Despite my boyfriend and his (now my) room mates doing everything in their power to make me feel both at home and like part of this extended family, it feels far from "Home" to me so far.  Granted, I've only been here for a week, and I'm still putting things away, but that hasn't helped in coping with the nearly overwhelming changes.

Every day - pretty much every 2 or 3 hours while I'm awake that we're not at work - I'm reminded forcibly of just how vast the changes are when I have to go outside to smoke if I want to put a stop to the insistent nicotine cravings.  Going in the back yard feels strange, simply because I didn't make an attempt to disconnect the hot tub from it's separate fuse box and bring it over here. (It would have been a rather useless lawn ornament if I had - requiring the time and money to get wiring installed so it could be run, and then requiring that a service tech take a look at it to finally determine what was wrong with the pump so that it ran in the first place.)  All of my various paintings and other artwork is in storage, so the walls of my bedroom are bleakly bare of the hangings that I'm used to having up. 

The sounds and sights and smells of this house ... just aren't..... "right" somehow, to the subconscious portions of my brain.  It seriously hasn't had time to adjust yet to any of this.  I keep reminding myself to give myself some time to get used to it.  Then I tell myself that I can't afford to get Too used to it, since I'm still looking for a place of my own to move into, and at some point in the next few months I'm going to have to go through the whole danged process over again.  Though at least when I move out of here into my own place, I won't have to go through the tedious pain in the rump that is boxing everything up and moving furniture from one house to another - just from storage into whatever apartment or rent house I happen to finally locate.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Deep thoughts at the end of a phase of my life

I was sitting here tonight, probably the last night I will ever step foot in the home I grew up in, played in, slept in, wept in, laughed in, cried in, raised one of my children in, came back to multiple times during the course of my life when things got rough for me, alternately loved and detested, cleaned, made messes in, learned both joy and pain in.

A lot of my past has come creeping out to pat me on the virtual head tonight, as I sorted through family photos and got them boxed up to go to storage.  Friends and family members now dead or gone their own ways came back for that brief second to offer a nod and a glimpse at what was.  Many of the memories have been good.  Just as many of them weren't so pleasant.  And then I stopped and sat for a while asking myself why I was lingering on some of those memories.

I've spent the majority of my life in and out of this house.  It has been a fixture throughout the years, a point of stability.  It has been, more than any other place or person or idea or institution, the solid point of reality that I could return to no matter where I was in life or what was going on.  And that point of solid reality is now gone.  The lifetime spent living and learning here is over.  The walls of this house will soon echo with another family's laughter and tears, to find a mirror in the mists of forgotten memory and time.

My roots have been severed, and I'm not certain yet where or when the tree will be replanted.  I don't know whether it will retain the strengths it gained here, or lose them and grow in a completely different direction and form now.  Summer's over, and my life has entered it's Autumn. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Going in Circles and Getting No Where

So I've learned a few valuable lessons (relearned them, really) concerning this whole business of moving from one place to another.

I really... Really....... REALLY...... dislike moving.  I hate it.  It's a giant pain in the rump, and it's not even the fun sort of pain in the rump that you can chuckle about afterward.  It's messy, it's emotionally exhausting, it's time consuming, and it's financially draining.

Did I happen to mention that I Really don't like moving?  Yeah, I thought I might have.

When I moved back from Georgia several years ago, at daddy's request as his health began to fail, I settled back into the old family homestead and reset my roots, never intending to move again.  I had lived all over this one city during the early portion of my adult years, while raising my older daughter.  In and out of various apartments and rental houses spread throughout the Oklahoma City greater metro area, mostly in the Mid-Del suburb near where I grew up, close to where mom and dad and my grandfolks were all living.  It was convenient during that time span, since it meant I knew the area well and was close to my babysitters for those times when I absolutely had to escape the pressure of raising a severely handicapped kid by myself.

Then grandpa died, and I moved into the house that the grandparents bought when momma was just hitting her teens.  I'd half grown up in that house, and it was comfortable.  Then momma died, granny the bat went off the deep end more than usual having lost both of them, and gave me that house.  So what do I do when my oldest turns 18, and I have a real chance of starting over to an extent and getting my life back?  Do I do the Intelligent thing, keep that house, go back to work or school to have something resembling a career, and settle in for the long haul?  No - not me.  I sell the house and high-tail it out of Oklahoma as quickly as I can put it into the rear view mirror.  Idiot.  I sell the house and all it's contents that won't fit into my tiny car at the time and I go.

Fast forward 10 months and .... let's see.. OK to PA, PA to MD, MD to GA, GA back to OK... four moves later, and I'm back at the old homestead ready to settle in again for the long term, determined to avoid moving around at all if I can help it.  Short lived plan, as daddy had his stroke a year later, and 6 months after that I moved back out of the house to escape the constant threats from my brother.  6 months later again, and I've evicted my *coughgag* darling brother and moved back into the house, hopefully for good this time - or at least with the plan that I was going absolutely No Where until daddy finally died once and for all, and I could once again leave OK without having to worry about familial obligations pulling me back into this particular black hole in the center of the country yet again.

Fast forward several more years, some ups, a few downs, 3 failed attempts at various relationships of which one was a live in, several failed attempts at room mates to help keep the bills paid more easily, and a year spent with dad back here at home with me while he was on hospice and we waited for him to die (so much for that plan - he's still drawing breath in the nursing home) a nervous breakdown, finally pulling my shit back together (or so I thought) and beginning to get things back in order......... only to find that the financial problems started that my brother precipitated not long after dad's stroke are coming home to roost, and I didn't get them as straightened out as I had at one point thought they were.  The house is sold for back taxes, and I'm once again in a position of having to move - much earlier than I ever planned to get out of this little hell hole.

The search for new housing has been a bust so far.  I don't make enough money to satisfy most apartment complexes or landlords who have rental homes available.  Those who are willing to overlook the fact that I don't have some sort of high paying job where I make tons of money take a look at my credit score and tell me "good luck in your search, but... "

The apartment that I thought I would be moving into - which, in fact, I should have been moved into by now with all my things put away, living comfortably and getting used to the new space - waited until the day before I was supposed to move in to inform me (when I called them to find out the apartment number, so I could have my utilities transferred) that I had failed to qualify in their application process.  Great.  I had a week left to get out of this place at that point, no means of finding another potential place and getting moved in that time, and zero options left.

Or so I thought.

Fortunately, the man in my life at this point borders on sainthood at times.  We've been together happily as a couple for a bit more than a year, and things have never been better for me on the relationship front.  Being the kind of guy that he is - one of the good ones - he had a solution in mind that I hadn't (and normally wouldn't have) considered.  Move in - temporarily - with him and his room mates in their 3 bedroom house. So I went and rented a storage unit which all of my household items are going into, and got started packing things up.

 Dear gods what was I thinking when I didn't just go rob a bank to pay the back taxes so this place didn't get sold??? (Oh wait - I was thinking "prison orange is not my color."  That's what I was thinking.)

For the past 24 hours, since the storage unit was acquired, I've been going through and attempting to get everything packed up and ready to shift into the unit.  And of course, separating out the few things that will actually be going over to the other house with me rather than going into storage.  That's a short list, consisting almost exclusively of clothing and a few personal items.  There are only 2 pieces of furniture on that list - my bed and my desk. 

What I didn't realize until last night as I was sorting things out, and putting some of it in boxes to be moved into storage, was just how much accumulated Junk there is in this house.  I never had a clue as to just how much sentimental crap remained that I hadn't quite managed to get around to chucking into the trash from mom and dad's tenancy of this structure as a home.  The boxes of books, of photos spanning 4 generations on both sides of the family, miscellanea, and unsorted clutter that I had managed during the past 3 years to put out of my mind and ignore unless it was specifically in my way is....... a nearly overwhelming mass of mess.  When I find a place during the next couple of months, I'm going to have to go through things much more carefully as I move stuff back OUT of storage, so that I can effectively toss out a large percentage of that miscellanea,  and cut down both on the number of boxes needing to be moved, unpacked, and potentially repacked and moved again later, and to cut down on the sheer clutter of a lifetime's worth of collected junk.

It's surprising what sorts of things we'll end up keeping as sentimental reminders of some point in our life.  However, I learned a lesson years ago (both from moving so frequently from one apartment to another, and from a procrastinator's email list on cleaning tips) - if it doesn't make you smile when you look at it, or doesn't immediately bring up fond memories when you hold it, it's time to chuck it rather than letting it sit around collecting dust and taking up space.  I've been slowly doing that with mom and dad's various left over items for years now - but it's a time consuming process, when you consider that they had 30 years together in this house in which to collect things that were precious to them.  I'm still finding stuff that I had forgotten that they even had.  And my own collection of oddities, rarities, miscellanea, and nick knacks gets to take precedence in being kept - at least for the time being.

But either way, all of it has to be boxed up and moved into the storage unit during the day today.  And I'm already sick and tired of loading boxes up with stuff and looking at the remaining mess still to be dealt with.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Living with a Chronic Illness

A short time ago at work, I was told by a well meaning idiot (at least I Think he was well meaning - I'd hate to think he's simply that stupid, ill informed, and insensitive) that my "real" problem (while speaking about stress, and it's effect on my Lupus) was that I "take everything too personally and too seriously."  Really?  That's your answer to living with chronic pain, an illness that has No Cure, that I will die With even though I won't die Of?  The temptation to knock the ever lovin dog snot out of him was almost overwhelming.  Thankfully, I restrained myself, since this well meaning idiot is a member of the management team at work.

For the clueless amongst you, let me fill you in on a few details about living with a chronic illness.

Think back for a few minutes about the last time you were sick.  Remember that feeling of lethargy, the apathy, the aches in every joint and muscle and bone, the feeling that your head is about to split itself from back to front and not necessarily along the lines of the bones in  your skull, the desire to do nothing but lay there curled into a little ball while you prayed that somehow  you would simply die because it would hurt less?  Remember telling yourself, more than once, to just hang in there cause it would be over and life would be back to normal in a day or two?  Remember hearing that from well meaning friends who thought it would cheer you up to realize that it was going to be a short lived trial?

Now, think about all that on a daily basis.  Think about waking up like that Every Morning for the Rest Of  Your Life.  Think about not being able to look forward to a time when you Won't feel that way any longer - unless you're looking "forward" to when you Die.  Think about knowing that time won't make it better, drugs won't make it go away - they'll only temporarily mask the symptoms, and sometimes the side effects of the drugs to mask the symptoms are worse than the actual symptoms.

Now think about how you are going to feel, every time you hear someone tell you, "if you'd just Do more"... or maybe, "it'll be better if you just give it time".... or how about, "you're just using it as an excuse to be Lazy"... or "well if you're so Sick, then how come you aren't in the hospital, or at the doctor's office"  or one of my favorites..... "If you're so Sick, then how can you look so Healthy?"

Do More?  There are days when simply getting out of bed long enough to walk to the bathroom to piss is a trial - forget "doing more" or "being more active."  Moving more isn't going to make my joints, bones, muscles, and connective tissues hurt Less - it's going to make me wish some random gang punk would do a senseless drive by and accidentally kill me.  It's going to mean that instead of actually feeling well enough to stand at the sink for half an hour tomorrow to do dishes, I'm going to be in to much pain to do more than lay in bed hoping that my heart will spontaneously stop, because that will hurt less than how I feel at that moment.   Do More?  Sure - as soon as my doctor quits arguing that pain meds are "addictive" - despite the fact that he knows as well as I do that Nothing short of Class 3 Narcotics does anything to even Dull the pain, and I'm going to live in pain for the rest of my freaking Life, whether I've got pain meds or not.

Go to the hospital?  Why? So the doctors and nurses can treat me like I'm simply a drug addict looking for a quick fix?  So they can be condescending to me, and act like I'm a child in grade school who's faking it to get out of class on test day?  So I can be told there's nothing they can really do for me, short of giving me a shot that will last perhaps 5 or 6 hours before I'm right back where I was when I headed there?  So I can have ever higher bills that I have no way to pay, because insurance only goes so far before the insurance companies decide that you're a bad investment and stop your coverage?

Go to the doctor?  Why? To be told that nothing has changed, and nothing is going to change?  To have him look at me like I'm a hypochondriac or a fake looking for drugs because he's not a specialist?  To get argued with that I can't Really be in as much pain all the time as I say I am, or I'd have taken myself to the hospital?  To get told that they won't give me any kind of decent pain killers to make life bearable because I "might get addicted" to them?  WFT?  Do I look like I Care whether I "might get addicted" to something that I'm going to need for the rest of my life Anyway???

Give it time?  Oh that's rich - give it time.  Time, despite the old cliche, does Not heal all wounds.  Time Kills.  Time just makes me remember that I'll be alive and coping with this crap for a Very Large Space of it.  Time isn't going to make this simply go away - it's not a broken bone that will eventually set and grow new tissue over the break point.

Excuses.  I quit bothering with excuses years ago.  This isn't "my dog ate my homework" or "sorry honey, the car gave me trouble starting and my cell phone was dead - had to wait until some random stranger could give me a jump start before I could plug my phone in and let you know I was gonna be late."  Going to the boss with tears of pain streaming down my face asking to go home because I can barely move isn't some Excuse not to work - I can't turn the waterworks off and on at a whim.  And calling in, barely able to move enough to pick up the phone To call  in - same thing - that's not an excuse to sit at home being lazy, that's wishing I would just die and get it over with because it would hurt less.

So how is it that I manage to smile, to get on with life, to not end up in the nut hut a gibbering loon, or in some rehab facility screaming in withdrawls because I can't get pain meds?

I've dealt with this for 20 years now.  I've learned to live with it - for the most part.  I've learned that dreams are for other people, unless it's a dream of being able to live pain free and some semblance of "normal."  I've learned that whether I laugh or cry, it's going to hurt the same.  But that when I'm crying, everyone disappears because they don't want to have to deal with it, and if I'm laughing they at least can pretend that I'm as normal as they are.  I've given up the hobbies that made me hurt so much for a week after taking part in them that all I could do was pray to die quickly - and that's a lot of them, especially any of them that are outdoors in the extreme heat or cold unless it's at night when the sun has gone down.  I've learned to (kind of_) like living like a vampire to avoid over exposure to UV, so that it doesn't cause me to flare worse.  I've learned (mostly) to do what I can to manage the stressful areas of my life so that they don't cause me to flare up worse than usual.  I've learned (sort of) to ignore the pain until it reaches a level where "normal" people would be screaming for narcotics before I even bother to mention that I hurt "a bit."  I've learned to come up with other, at least semi-legit, reasons why I can't go out and do this that or the other with friends, so that they don't think I'm looking for sympathy. 

And I've learned to do my crying over lost hobbies, extremes of pain, a loss of normalcy, or the fact that I'll have to cope with this for the rest of my life in private - both because the crying does little good, and inevitably someone thinks I'm just looking for attention or sympathy over nothing.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

An update on the Search

So I went and looked at more apartments on Thursday and Friday.  And, barring something going terribly wrong in the application process, I've finally found a place.

For a one bedroom, it's actually got quite a bit of space.  710 square feet, as opposed to the 1200 that I've had here,  in a 4 bedroom, 1.5 bath house with attached garage.  All the modern conveniences.  Well maintained.  And community standards that automatically disqualify anyone with certain types of criminal activity in their background (sex offenders of any sort, physical violence convictions, property damage convictions, or any sort of felony conviction at all.)  The rent is reasonable.  There isn't an outrageously high pet deposit (only $150 per animal, plus $10 a month extra on the rent.)   Gas kitchen, but gas and water are both included in the rent, so the only utility bill that I'll Have to keep maintained is Electric - my cell phone isn't technically a utility bill, and while I "can" live without Cable, my internet connection is kind of a "must have" for me - so I guess I should count the cable bill as the second utility that I'll have to deal with beyond the rent.  On duty police patrol on a regular basis at night.  2 pools, on site laundry facilities that are open 24/7, and not that far from work or boyfriend's place.  (His place will be in much easier walking distance, work will be out of walking distance, but I think I can live with that.)

The fly in the ointment, of course, is that I don't know yet whether I've been approved - and won't know until at least Tuesday.  Which means that Wednesday, I could be back to looking, and down to the wire of taking a place in one of the ghetto-tastic junk heaps that I've been desperately attempting to avoid.

Sadly, my rent will consume all of one paycheck per month, and the cable, cell, and electric will consume the majority of the other paycheck, which isn't going to leave me much in the way of disposable funds once the bills are paid each month.  On the bright side (if you want to call it that) since the majority of my paychecks will now verifiably be going to pay for housing (half, really) I'll most likely qualify to start getting some of the taxes that I pay in back in the form of food stamps.  It galls me to think that something of such a nature can be looked at as a Positive outcome at this point.  But hell, since the government isn't going to cut me any slack on my taxes so that I don't Need the help, at least those tax dollars that *I pay in will be coming Back to Me, rather than going to some welfare junkie whore with a dozen kids spawned by as many different men because she'd rather spread her legs than make any attempt to find a job.

When push comes to shove, I won't be losing that much space really.  3 out of the 4 bedrooms here in the house haven't been used As bedrooms in a long time, so there's only 1 set of bedroom furniture to think about moving.  There isn't a lot of living room furniture, my dining set isn't huge, and I don't use all the cabinet space I have in the kitchen so that won't be an issue.  There are 3 walk in closets - 2 in the bedroom, 1 as a "coat closet" in the hallway off the living room - so there's actually going to be plenty of space for storage as long as I organize it as I'm moving things in.  There's a lot of stuff in the workshop which is probably simply going to go in the trash - old, open bottles of specialty oils and such, which I've been needing to get rid of for a while now.  The made stock is already in storage containers that stack easily, and will all readily fit into the walk in coat closet, with plenty of space remaining for my camping gear.  Since the bedroom has 2 closets, both of them really large, it'll be easy enough to put my in season clothes in one half of the first, my out of season clothes in the other half, and my SCA costuming and miscellaneous "stuff" in the other closet, and still be able to find everything without a hassle. 

Because the place is about 500 square feet less than this house (man, I never realized just how Small these bedrooms really Are in this place!) it won't be nearly as spread out - but that also means it won't be as much of a temptation to allow the place to get cluttered up, like it is here.

I'll be starting over with a clean slate.  That will be good for me on several levels.  New environs will give me a boost in motivation to keep things more in order.  Having to deal with rent that's due by a certain day of the month will put me back on track as far as being a bit more financially responsible and accountable to myself.  Everything will work, and if something breaks, there will be maintenance people to come fix it in a timely manner.  And being out of this beat up, run down old house will give my friends new motivation to actually come hang out every once in a while, rather than me having to go hang out at their places. 

I think I'll start planning now for a housewarming party for the first part of August.  I'll be moved in, I'll have things put away.  There will be a paycheck come in a couple of days after I get back from my planned trip to Waco, but I won't have to worry about Rent again until Sept 1st.  (Because of when I'm moving in, I have to pay August rent as part of the move in.)

Life is looking up.  Just keep your fingers crossed, knock on wood, light a candle, say a prayer, send good thoughts - whatever it is you prefer to do - that everything goes Ok in the application process and when I hear from them on Tuesday it will be to tell me "you're all set to get moved in on Friday."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Search Continues

For the past couple of months, I've known that I was going to have to move.  There turned out to be nothing I could do to keep the house from going up for sale at the state tax auction, and therefore I started looking at alternatives prior to the auction taking place.

Unfortunately, the search is still ongoing, and time is running out in which I have to find a place, get packed, and get moved out of the old homestead.  The new owners are already whining at me on a far to regular basis about why I haven't gotten moved Already, and are bugging me on an every 4 day basis about whether I have successfully located a new abode.  I'm getting tired of hearing from them.  I've long since been tired of the search.

Granted I could probably be making "more of an effort" but let's face it, when you have to rely on your friends (and work around their schedules) to do anything, it kind of limits the number of opportunities you have in which to go looking.  I don't live in a city where mass transit is an option.  Public transportation in Oklahoma City is a joke at best.  Cabs are expensive.  And with the summer temperatures routinely well above 95F, walking more than a mile to go look at apartments is simply not a valid option unless I'm hoping that a hospital stay for heat stroke will buy me some time and sympathy from the vultures who bought my family home.  That last one isn't an option that I'm willing to make any favorable bets on, so let's just call walking "not an option" shall we?

The new owners are getting more insistent that I GTFO of this house, so they can get to work on fixing/flipping it.  They aren't even willing to consider the option of doing some of the necessary work (like replacing the water heater, fixing the kitchen plumbing issues, or re-roofing) while I'm here - or better yet, fixing the problems and signing a lease with me so that I continue to live here, but not as the erstwhile owner.  Oh no.  They would rather harass me about moving more quickly, and hold off on doing any of the needed work. 

While they originally agreed with me (verbally, not in writing) that I had until August 1st to find a place and get moved, the closer to the middle of July we get, the more insistent they become that I be out prior to that tentative August 1st deadline.

Finding a new place isn't easy under the best of circumstances.  When you're under the gun to do so in a limited amount of time, it becomes just that much more stressful, and that much more of a pain in the rump.  Every rental place, whether it be an apartment complex or rental house, wants a $25 to $35 "application fee" just to consider you.  Unless they're downright ghetto-tastic, they expect you to have a lengthy (and easily verifable) rental history that is less than 10 years old, and a perfect or near perfect credit score.  Or if you don't have a near perfect credit score, 5 years of employment (at the same place) and a co-signer who is willing to be held legally responsible for the lease should something happen and you be unable to stay the duration.

I hate to break it to the various slumlords out there, but anyone who has that good of a credit score isn't looking to rent - they're buying, and not from you.  

At 46, I have way less than perfect credit.  And so does everyone I know, in the current economy.  Co-signers?  That's a joke, right?  My parents are either dead or in a nursing home (which disqualifies daddy from co-signing anything, even if he still had sufficient brain to not be considered legally incompetent.)  My only living sibling is an alcoholic drug user who has tried to kill me.  My friends are having enough trouble just keeping a roof over their Own heads to worry about whether I'm going to find a roof to keep over My head or will be living on the street in short order.

My choices are rapidly being reduced to 2: move into a ghettofabulous apartment that's falling apart, with drug dealers and prostitutes for neighbors and no choice but to keep a hand gun within finger's reach for when they attempt to break in (assuming they don't simply wait for me to go to work to do so, of course) or leave everything I still own behind for the new owners to dispose of, and start living on the street. 

Moving in with the boyfriend is not an option.  He has room mates, the room mates are expecting a child, and they might all soon be having to move if the bank manages to finish foreclosure proceedings.  Finding a room mate has not been particularly successful either.  There were several room mate disasters prior to the house going up for auction, which is one of the reasons that it ended up sold that way to begin with.  None to certain that I want to risk the room mate route again, though at this point I don't see that I'll have a whole lot of choice in the matter - the economy simply isn't good enough for someone to keep the rent and bills paid on their own unless they happen to be a CEO.

I'm going later today to look at yet another apartment complex in this general area.  I was told about it a couple of days ago by one of the women I work with, as another possible alternative, as it is a complex she and her hubby have been looking at as a possibility.  It's an all bills paid place, which in some ways would make things a lot easier.  No utilities other than my cell to worry about, and possibly my cable/internet.  Hopefully they will be reasonable about what sort of rental history they expect out of someone who has lived in family owned properties for most of the past 12 or 15 years.  Wish me luck, because at this point, I need it.  And I'm getting more than a bit discouraged by the whole thing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

For the love of lil green apples

I pray that I'm wrong.  I sincerely, absolutely, positively, without a doubt hope that some of my acquaintances are not nearly as naive, blind, or just flat out stupid as they are currently coming across.  By all the gods and goddesses that humanity has ever conceived I honestly hope it's all some sort of massive (if really bad) joke, and they haven't drunk the government's kool-aid on this one.

This whole ObamaCare thing isn't about universal health care.  It's not about leveling the playing field, or forcing companies to sell at a loss.  It's not about making your life easier. It's about creating 165,000 new IRS agents who's sole job will be to determine whether your insurance policy merits a fine, and putting 10 Million more people into the health care system on the receiving end, while making no provisions to recruit new doctors or give young people any sort of incentive to go to college for a medical degree to take the strain off the system.

It's about CONTROL.  It's about America turning into even More of a socialist Nanny State, where the government is the sole entity to decide what is and isn't good for you.  It's about giving up personal freedom for the illusion of safety.  It's about forgetting that the government is supposed to be our servant, rather than the other way around.

It's about all the thousands of pages of regulations that are now going to have to be drafted to ensure that "everyone gets treated the same."

And what is the "same" going to be?

Say hello to the government telling you what you can and can't eat - because hey, that greasy hamburger is making you obese, and obesity is costing the country billions of dollars each year in health care and lost wages.

Say hello to the government telling you what hobbies you can and can't participate in - because hey, that's dangerous, and risky, and you might fall down and hurt yourself - and that would cost the country money in health care and lost wages while you heal from your injuries.

While you're at it, say hello to some pencil pushing number cruncher in D.C. being the one who decides whether or not you Really need that dental work, or those medical tests, or that medication.

Because if you actually LIKE this new law, that's what you've signed on for - and signed me on for as well, despite the fact that I don't want it, don't like it, and would prefer to do without it.

I do not need some government geek telling me what is good or bad for me.  I certainly don't need them deciding what I can or can't or MUST purchase.  I don't want them dipping further into my already over strained wallet to give yet more of my hard earned paycheck to some twit with a twat who can't keep her legs closed and has a dozen kids by as many men, or the brainless dicks who knocked her up because they're too busy getting high and being ghetto terrorists to get a job and pay their own damned child support for the multitude of brats they've spawned.

Reclaiming myself - from myself

Taking a look at my life, I've realized that I would make a really good case study in clinical depression.  I have spent every year since my early teens with at least a portion of my time depressed to some degree.  Some years I've spent more time in such a state than I have in a "normal" (IE non-depressed) frame of mind.  Sometimes there is an isolatable trigger event which brings it on, other times it is completely random and nothing appears to be linked as a causal factor.  I've learned over the years to work around it, and to (mostly) hide it from easy observation by the general public.  There are points when I've been much more successful at hiding it than others.

I have no reason, at the moment, to be depressed.  My life is pretty much back on track.  The past is the past and there's nothing to be done to correct various mistakes, so there's also very obviously little reason to dwell on them or cry over them.  The decisions that needed to be made have been made, and now it's simply a matter of living with the consequences of those decisions and getting on with the act of living.  Everyone's life has the occasional hitch in their git-along, so my life is not exceptional in that regard, to dwell on the various current problems or lack thereof.

Why, then, would I have feelings of random despair, hopelessness, dejection, and basic "meh" towards life?  It makes no sense, but that is the crux of clinical depression after all.  Random, baseless, feelings of ick on the emotional level when things should be looking more up than down.

The rational, cogent brain reminds me frequently at times like this that I have the capacity to bring myself out of such slumps.  The other portions of the brain then proceed to whine a bit, crawl into a hole, and flip the bird at that rational, cogent portion.

Depression on this level is a complex and evolving organism which tends to take on a life of it's own.  There's never any way to really know what's going to set off the loop.  Random thoughts can trigger it even when everything looks positively peachy otherwise.  It is, however, a rather nasty downward spiral which is ever widening and which tends to feed upon itself.  It affects not only a person's emotional responses to what's going on in their life, but their physical well being.  And left long enough, nothing short of serious medication and intensive therapy will pull a person out of the down leaning trend.

In a way, this blog is it's own form of personal therapy.  It gives me an opportunity to vent my various frustrations with life in a manner which no one else is Obligated to deal with.  It imposes on no one but myself to ever go and read, or re-read, the various ups and downs and personal opinions which I write about.  It has no critical voice on the other side of the conversation, telling me to suck it up, or that it's not as bad as it looks - or not as Good as it looks, sometimes - to either worsen or brighten my mood based on the other person's understanding of  my drivel.   In many ways, it's a much cheaper (and less judgmental) route than going to see a professional, and it precludes me having to explain to a psychiatrist why I'm vehemently opposed to 99% of the medications currently on the market intended to treat my various emotional and mental problems.

No doubt I'll continue to blog, both drivel and opinion, for a long time to come.  After all, there's still a lot of crap for me to work my way through in some form or fashion, and this one seems to be working.

Talking to the Voices in my Head

I joke frequently that if you hear me talking to myself, not to be concerned.  Don't even worry if you hear me arguing with myself.  Unless, of course, you happen to hear me Lose an argument with myself, in which case it's probably time to start thinking about calling the local nut hut for an extended visit with the men in the clean white coats.

While most would no doubt rather associate "voices in the head" with Schizophrenia, I'm a tad more forthright than that, both about myself and about what I've learned over the years concerning human nature.  Yes, I have them, as do we all at some point even if we don't admit it to anyone other than ourselves.  No, these aren't the psychotic voices that someone truly off their rocker would associate with "god" or "demons" or anything like that.  These are the little voices of internal conversations with a variety of folks. 

You likely know what I mean.  That conversation you daydream about having with your deceased parent, to fill them in on what's been going on in your life?  Yeah, it's one of those.  What you would say.  How they would respond.  What the two of you would be doing together while you talked.   Or the one you have, silently within the spaces of your mind, with that idiot driver on the highway who just cut you off.  How about the various ones you have with your spouse or significant other, over various slights that you otherwise let pass unremarked upon, or things you would like them to do or not do?  Or the one with  your boss, or your boss's boss, about how things are going at work, or that promotion that's potentially on the line?

A great many of the conversations that take place only within the confines of my own imagination wouldn't go nearly as well if they were actually held.  There would, after all, be consequences to deal with after all was said and done.  At least when the conversation is only within the spaces of fantasy and imagination, one can also Imagine a perfect world where the consequences are always in our own favor, we win every argument or disagreement, and the world is suitably impressed with our witty zingers, our righteous anger, and our remarkable self restraint in not going on a completely postal killing spree.

Earlier tonight I had another series of such conversations within the confines of my brain.  I won't divulge with whom or over what, because that's no one's business but my own.  Suffice to say that by the end of said imaginary conversations, if they ever actually took place, my life would change - perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse, depending on one's point of view and whether the conversations followed the course of my imagination, or of what I am fairly certain reality would actually throw my direction when the consequences came home to roost.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Just another form of legalized extortion

There has been a lot of talk over the past several days concerning the so-called "ObamaCare" mandate from the current administration, held up yesterday by the Supreme Court even though they called it what the politicians wouldn't for fear of losing reelection: a new tax.

My liberal acquaintances are lauding the SCOTUS upholding this travesty as some sort of win for "universal health care."  I have sad news for them - it isn't.  It does nothing to set price caps on health care providers.  It does nothing to mandate quality of care.  It does nothing to set price caps on the insurance companies, nor what they are legally obligated to cover.  It does nothing to guarentee that any given health care provider is obligated to accept YOUR insurance policy or chosen insurance company.

It does one thing and one thing only.  It obligates you to purchase insurance, whether you want it or not, whether you can Afford it or not.  It doesn't give you any sort of tax credit to defray the cost of that insurance once it's purchased, and in fact simply adds a whole butt load of new taxes on both you and your employer concerning your now-mandatory purchase.

At no point in the history of the US have we been so low as to allow the government to dictate what we will or won't purchase as supposedly free citizens in a supposedly consumer driven market.   Until now.  Now we've effectively given control over our bodies, and our right to purchase or refrain from purchase, to the government.  We are no longer free citizens - we are glorified slaves.  We no longer have a voice, because only those who are their own masters have that.

I grew up with a sense of pride that I was a citizen of the greatest country in existence today.  I no longer feel that pride.  If anything, I have a sense of shame that we have allowed this to happen.  Yes, WE.  We the people.  The folks who putting self serving corporate stooges in office.  The folks who haven't had the sense to fight back and say "No More!  No More Walking all over the Constitution and using it as so much toilet paper!  No more bullshit, no more unlimited terms in office, no more corporate stooges, no more politicians living off the public teat but refusing to call it what it is - Welfare on a significantly more massive scale, at $150,000+ a year For LIFE, than any ghetto breeder ever dreamed of bilking out of the pockets of those of us who Work for a living!"

I am saddened, and ashamed, that we have allowed this to come to pass.  I'm disheartened to realize just how many blind sheeple are out there who think this is some sort of Victory for the working class folks of this country, and who will willingly hand over what remains of their rights - and mine simply because I'm shouted down - to the very people who are assraping us all on a daily basis.

Say goodbye to the semblance of making your own choices, people.  Corporate Amerika and it's stooge the Federal Government now own you.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Howling of the Wolf

Yes, children - this is going to be a long one.  I've been having to cope with a flare up of my Lupus for the past couple of weeks, which doesn't seem to be going away on it's own despite my best efforts, so I need to vent about it for a while.  Bear with me - maybe you'll learn something in the process.

Systemic Lupus Erythmatosis.  Sounds nasty, doesn't it?  It should.  It is an autoimmune disease complex, loosely related to such little gems as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diabetes in that it is retro-viral, life long, has no cure but can be (nominally) controlled, and makes your life miserable if you happen to suffer from it.

What causes it?  They aren't really certain, even though research has been going on for a few decades now.  They know there are genetic factors - you are more likely to come down with it if other family members also happen to have it.  Certain genotypes are much more prone to it than others - with the Negroid races being at the top of the list, followed closely by those with Native American bloodlines, then Hispanics, then Euro-Caucasians, then Orientals.  They know there are environmental factors - simply because not everyone in a family with a predisposition to it eventually has it.  They know there are emotional factors - stress makes it worse, which sucks for the sufferer because having a chronic illness Produces stress on certain levels.  They know there is a hormonal factor - 7 out of 10 diagnosed with Lupus are females between the ages of 16 and 35, during the prime child birthing years, and 6 out of those 7 will have various problems with their female cycles that run the gamut from irregularity to endometriosis.  Of the 3 men who are diagnosed, at least 2 of them will likely have several female family members who also have (or show signs of, but are not yet diagnosed with) SLE at some level, and all 3 are likely to show signs of decreased testosterone/increased estrogen/progesterone in their blood work.  While it becomes somewhat easier to manage once you're out of the childbearing set, it doesn't discriminate and can still affect those who are slightly younger or much older than that age range.  You're simply Most likely to come down with it during that age range - even if you aren't necessarily Diagnosed until you're post-menopausal.

What does it Do?  That's perhaps the most difficult question to answer in layman's terms.  The disease doesn't strike any 2 sufferers in Exactly the same manner, say the way that Parkinson's or MS follow a rather set and highly predictable course.  There are groups of symptoms which come and go randomly, affecting each person differently, some more severely than others.  The most common symptom that nearly everyone displays (or at least notices in themselves) at some point is what is referred to as the "butterfly rash."  It shows up as redness on the cheeks, nose, and frequently forehead areas, often being mistaken by the unknowing for a "rosy glow of health" when in fact it's a good indication that the person is sicker that day than others.  Pain and swelling in the joints, mimicking arthritis, comes and goes and can't be guaranteed to be in the same joint even all of a day that it happens to hurt - pain might start in the morning in one shoulder, and over the course of a single day move around from there to a knee or elbow or hip - you never know what area it's going to cause a problem with  until it does and you never know how long that pain is going to last or how intense it's going to be until after the fact.  And yes, multiple areas can all hurt at the same time, to a lesser or greater extent.

The simplest explanation I ever heard for Lupus from a medical professional was years ago, not long after my mother, grandmother, and myself were all diagnosed by the same Rheumatologist who specialized in doing Lupus research (mostly because he had it himself!)  What he told us by way of explanation is this:  you have essentially become allergic to yourself.  You see, the immune system, instead of not working at all, has become over active.  It works, perhaps too well.  When there is not a bacteria or virus in your body for your immune system to combat, it turns on your own organs - skin, muscles, nervous system, circulatory system, connective tissues, you name it, it becomes a target for the overachieving immune response.  While it's not a completely accurate description, it's the best I've been able to find that isn't highly technical.

You don't Look sick.  You look healthy and vital.  Unless you happen to be dealing with a specialist who has experience with Lupus, who knows what to look for and which specialized tests to run, you'll likely be misdiagnosed as a hypochondriac, or the doctor will simply scratch his head and keep running tests and tell you "I have no idea - all the tests are coming back negative, so you Should be Fine, but you're clearly Not - unless you're lying about your symptoms."  I've heard that one from enough doctors in the years since my original diagnosis, now that the specialist retired a bit more than a decade ago, that I got to the point where I avoid going to the doctor at all if I can.  I'd rather deal with the pain by managing my stress levels, staying inside during the daylight hours, avoiding any sort of strenuous outdoor activities (even though it has meant giving up a Lot of my favorite hobbies) avoiding certain foods that I love, and making damned sure that I live my life within a rather narrow range of "comfortable" temperatures - than deal with having doctors accuse me of lying, faking it to get drugs (which are largely ineffective in the first place) or being a hypochondriac or a mental patient rather than actually having something Physically Wrong with me.

It isn't easy to diagnose.  Back in the late 80s, when all of the women in my immediate family were diagnosed, there was a list of 11 symptoms used to decide whether it was Lupus or something else.  A patient had to display 9 out of those 11 symptoms regularly and consistently for the diagnosis to take place.  Only 3 types of blood work were in place to help determine whether or not the diagnosis was accurate - SED rate (sedimentation rate of iron in the blood - practically always elevated in Lupus and Fibro or Poly myalgia patients), an ANA or Anti Nuclear Antibody test, and a false positive for syphilis.  Many doctors these days take a look at the list of symptoms, run an ANA test during bloodwork, and use that to decide.  It doesn't always work though - because some family groups (my own, for instance) show all the signs of Lupus EXCEPT being ANA positive.  We have what is referred to as "Atypical ANA Negative Lupus."  Atypical because with the exception of a few rare family groups, a positive ANA screen is practically universal in Lupus patients.  It's been so long now since I've bothered with a specialist that they may have more accurate tests in place these days, or an updated list of criteria symptoms.  I can only hope that such is the case.

It brings with it a whole host of other (relatively lesser) problems as well.  Besides traveling pain, localized swelling in the joints, issues with the circulatory system, an inability to tolerate much UV without getting desperately ill (which makes summer a real bitch, and means that I subsidize the companies that put out seriously high SPF sunscreens) there's also things like Shogren's Syndrome - aka a chronic dry mouth, because you don't produce sufficient saliva.  And of course the dental problems that This creates.  Then there's Renaud's Syndrome, which causes circulatory problems specifically in the extremities of the hands and feet, leading to chronically being cold in both, and frequently having a blue tinge to the skin of those areas when the winter weather sets in.  And then there are the days when the circulation problems cause me to feel like I've been dipped in acid - from the inside out - and if I could just unzip my skin and scratch the Inside portions of it, it would help.  I take a lot of benedryl on those days because it acts much like a severe histamine reaction.  Or the days with migraines that make it feel like my head is trying to implode.  Or the memory issues, at least in short term memory storage, though I've been lucky and unlike mom it hasn't (yet) affected my Long Term memory capacity.

My case isn't what could be considered "severe" in my experience.  Having watched my mother go through this crap, and have a much worse time of it than I've had, I know just how lucky I am - and how much worse it could be if it decided to get really nasty.  Then again, I learned a lot from watching mom have to deal with this crap, and studying along with her to find out what could be done (other than massive amounts of chemical "help" that I didn't want to deal with the consequences of) to control my disease and keep it at least somewhat manageable.  Watching her I learned a lot about what Not to do, and what to make Sure that I do, and how to cope when management doesn't seem to do the trick.  I have to admit though, I've long since gotten tired of hearing the "but you don't Look sick" comments or the comments about makeup (specifically blush) that I'm Not Wearing (because my butterfly rash is out in force.) 

Best are the ones who make the rather obnoxious assumption that if I would just Do more and Get Out of the House More that I would somehow feel "better" than I do.  I think those are really the ones that I'd most often like to bitch slap into the next year.  Oh yeah - I'm allergic to the UV of sunlight - I can't go out in the daytime without massive amounts of sunscreen and/or clothes that effectively cover me from direct sunlight regardless of the weather conditions (though I frequently ignore that last one, much to my own detriment, especially in summer when it's hot out) - yet here you are, assuring me that getting out - into the sunlight which I'm ALLERGIC TO - in order to Move Around (despite the fact that my muscles hurt so much that I lay in bed for several minutes after I wake up, just gathering up my courage to move at ALL without whimpering or crying from the pain) is somehow going to make it all Better?  Are you on Crack or just Terminally Stupid? 

Some of you are no doubt asking, right about now, "if it's that bad when you go outside, then why do you keep going to SCA camping events, which are by necessity outside?  Isn't that counter productive?  Or does it just put the lie to you being all that bad?"  I keep going for several reasons.  It's stress relieving - which means that it helps me manage the thing that is Most likely to cause me to have a major flare.  I can't allow the disease to win Completely - if I stop doing Everything I enjoy because of the disease, then life is no longer worth living, and I have no reason to stick around on this mudball we call Earth.  Going is not without a price.  When I was in my 20s, and into my very early 30s, I went to events rather frequently.  The older I've gotten, the more important it has become to me to carefully pick and choose which events I will attend, to avoid some of the consequences of going.  I generally go to only 2 or 3 camping events per year these days, in the early spring and late fall, when the temperatures are going to be their most mild, and the sunlight isn't as intense.  I put on sunscreen before I leave my tent during the day, and I stick to the shady areas when at all possible.  And even with that, I still pay for the couple of days out in the woods when I get home, with increased muscle soreness, achy joints, increased headaches, and a much more prominent butterfly rash (which people mistake for sunburn from being outside without enough sunscreen.)

It's something I've had to learn to live with over the course of the past 20 odd years.  I don't like it, it keeps life from being nearly as enjoyable as it Could be, if I didn't have a chronic illness.  But it's not going to go away, they aren't going to suddenly find a miracle cure for it, or inform me that it's simply "disappeared."  It's a fact, and is going to remain a fact until the day I die.  While I won't die From it, I will die With it, just as I have learned to live With it.  But if this little discourse does nothing else, I hope it will make you take a moment and think before you make those Ever Helpful suggestions to someone with any of the "invisible" illnesses.  Think about what they cope with daily before saying something stupid.  That moment of thought will possibly keep them from getting even more stressed out - and might just save you from a punch in the nose if the "suggestion" or comment is the straw that would have broken the camel's back.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Better Living Through Chemistry?

Earlier today while I was on Facebook (yes, I have an account there, and I'm semi-addicted to checking it regularly, for a few games and for status updates/comments from various friends and acquaintances) I was reading a short rant posted by one of my casual friends.  This rant was about those who bemoan the evils of Chemicals in our everyday lives, and pointed out that "chemicals" (in the form of the basic elements) are the very basis of life, and everything in it, from the air we breath to our very bodies and what we put in and on our bodies. 

While I cannot and do not disagree with her premise that "chemicals" are the building blocks of everything in life - good, bad, and indifferent - I do disagree with her premise that there is no cause for folks to be wary of "Chemicals" in our air, our food, our homes, and the items that we come into contact with on a daily basis.  Not all "chemicals" were produced by nature.  Not all "chemicals" are harmless, or necessary for life, or a good thing. 

Many of the "Chemicals" that people worry about these days aren't simple elements gone amok.  Oh no.  That wouldn't cause much in the way of alarm.  No, what we worry about - and preach against - are the lab produced petroleum based "chemicals" which nature never intended and genetically manipulated abominations, which the human body doesn't cope with nearly as well as the BigPharmas and Monsanto would like us to believe we can.  Our bodies are not designed to eat, or bath in, the converted remains of dinosaurs.

While I will no doubt begin to sound like a raving conspiracy theorist, some of the points made by those loons are valid, and (should) lead to deeper thought.  I'm one of those whom my friend's rant was likely aimed against.  Then again, it is in my own best (business) interests if people eschew buying certain Types of products that are heavily laden with lab produced petroleum byproducts.  After all, I run a small hobby business within the Indi Cosmestics/Bath & Body industry, making all natural soap, lotion, etc.  People who are leary of those lab produced chemicals are much more likely to look for someone that produces the same product withOUT those lab chemicals, using only chemicals that are found normally occurring in nature.

How many of the government officials these days who are employed at the FDA (that would be the Federal Food and Drug Administration - the regulatory body which oversees things like pharmaceutical companies, food production and sales from basic farming through restaurants and grocery stores, mandates health codes and standards of cleanliness for same, oversees research into new drugs and other chemicals both for direct human use and to do everything from controling pest populations to fertilizing those GMO seeds which are specifically created in the lab to be sterile so you can't save seed for the next planting but have to purchase new seed each year, regulates packaging and labeling of consumables, and determines whether chemicals and drugs are safe for use by humans whether by direct or indirect consumption or absorption) have been on the payroll of either Monsanto, one of it's competitors, or one of the major pharmaceutical companies over the years?  Oh yeah - that would be ALL OF THEM that are in an actual position of Power within the FDA, making the rules that the rest of them work by to enforce "FDA Standards" on companies and the general population of the US.

Can we say "massive conflict of interest" boys and girls?  I knew we could.  That's the wolf paying the salary of the sheepdog that's supposed to be protecting the flock, so the dog looks the other way when the wolf and his pack come to make a call.

So what does that really Mean for Us - the consuming public - John and Jane Q, the taxpaying consumer base who are rapidly enriching the companies which make all these never-seen-in-nature-possible-only- in-the-lab-supposedly-safe chemicals and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and bankrolling the government which is supposed to be "by, of, and for" those same people and look out for those peoples' best interests?  What it means is that we're getting screwed - anally raped, really - by both the companies and by our government regulatory bodies who are supposed to watchdog those companies - and they aren't even bothering to lube up, wear a condom, or kiss us first.

It means that instead of looking out for the best interests of the taxpaying consumer - that would be Us - the government regulatory agency is busy looking out for the interests of the former employers of all it's agents, to our detriment.  It means that drugs and other potentially harmful chemicals and GMOs are getting rubber stamped by those same agents, whether research has actually proven it's effectiveness and safeness for human use.  It means that a lot of the drugs that are coming onto the market today haven't been sufficiently tested, and like a whole slew of their predecessors, they'll get pulled from the shelves within the next 5 years as the result of massive class action lawsuits when those supposedly safe drugs turn out to be killing you more effectively than the disease process they were supposedly designed to treat, via particularly nasty side effects.  And in the meantime, the big pharmaceutical companies get richer and richer, the government agencies get more and more corrupt, and we the taxpaying consumer get sicker and sicker and told that we can't use anything to make us healthy that doesn't come from those same companies.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Making of Destiny

I firmly believe in Choice.  Life is, after all, a series of Choices.  We always have a choice, even when we think we don't.  Sometimes the choice is between what we perceive as good or bad, sometimes between good and good, sometimes between bad and bad.  Frequently the choices life offers us don't feel like "choices" at all, depending on the beliefs we currently hold.  There is, however, Always an "out" in some direction other than straight ahead.  Lately, I've been faced with the process of making choices concerning whether to continue attempting to save the house vs allowing it to be sold by the state at auction and moving into an apartment or rental property somewhere. 

On the surface, the choice to fight for what my parents worked hard to pay off and own free and clear is pretty set in stone.  It was supposed to be my inheritance.  I don't have to pay rent living here.  I don't have seriously close neighbors on the other side of a wall, potentially being a problem.  No security deposits for my various pets, and plenty of room in the back yard for the dogs to run in. There's lots of room, which meant I could spread out, and no individual room was To terribly overloaded with accumulated "stuff" that I've collected over the past several years.

The opposite side of the coin isn't as clear cut, but it has as many "pro" areas as retaining the house seems (on the surface) to possess.  An apartment is Much more limited in space, and therefore a natural inducement not to waste money I can't afford on accumulating junk I'll never use or will only use once.  Limited space also limits the number of pets that I am willing to obligate myself to take care of - no dogs, because they have no room to run (and I simply won't tolerate cat sized yappy little ankle biter breeds) and only 2 cats because more than that would overrun things in a hurry even spayed and neutered.  Limited number of pets = strictly limited amounts of pet food I have to pay for each month, limited number of potential vet bills, and limited opportunities for things like flea infestations.  Lack of space also means I go through and prioritize what I already Have, get rid of a bunch of stuff I don't use and don't necessarily Want, and toss out everything that's broken/waiting to be fixed or simply a space taker that serves no purpose other than to collect dust and eat up space.  Another thing that I personally consider high on the 'pros' list for an apartment - no maintenance issues to deal with out of pocket.  Along the same lines, there will Never be a lawn maintenance issue in an apartment complex - because there is no Lawn.  Other things I've been looking at include completely getting rid of 2 utility bills - gas and water - along with the yearly property tax bill and any issues pertaining to same.  Granted, those will be replaced by suddenly having to pay Rent each month, which I haven't had to do in Years, but that could be a good thing in the long run.  Having to be responsible for the rent on a place on the first of each month will force me to actually pay attention to my spending habits, and to get back into the practice of accounting (at least to myself) for everything that comes in and subsequently goes out, financially.

There are other choices involved in this that aren't as clear to outsiders looking in as the ones involved in fighting to stay vs letting the place go/moving.

I have to face a choice of continuing to fight for the house - and it's attendant stress - or step back from the fight, conserve my emotional strength for a battle I can potentially win, and get rid of all the stress that's currently playing a huge roll in things.  After all is said and done, if I kept the house, I would still have significant amounts of stress over it - there would still be maintenance issues, lawn issues, clutter issues, to many pets issues, past and current property tax issues.  And ultimately, there would be the fight with my brother when dad DOES finally die, over his contention that the house "should" be his simply because he's 16 months older and male.  (I still fail to see where his logic comes from.  I will probably Always fail to see the logic behind his argument.) 

We make our own destinies.  Each choice we make closes the doors on the choices we might have made previously, and opens doors to choices further down the road.  Each decision has consequences, each consequence leads to further choices.  We never truly leave the cycle of choice/consequence/choice - even in how we deal with the fact that we have to make choices and deal with the consequences of those choices.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Family - it's a Relative Issue

I've long been a proponent of the idea that Family is Chosen, while Relatives are a trick that the gods play on us to see how well we handle conflict resolution.  I still believe this.  What I'm finding though is that sometimes, the two aren't really so different.

My relatives are, without a doubt, some of the biggest pains in my life.  At least those who aren't already dead or who haven't already been specifically cut out of my life for being such a pain in the rump, are still some of the biggest pains in my life.  I really don't have all that many Relatives left in my immediate family.  Most of them are dead from either old age or chronic illness.  C'est la vie, life is one of those games that nobody wins, and nobody makes it out alive.  I've still got plenty of cousins amongst the living, but I haven't had a whole lot of contact with any of my cousins in the decade since my mom died.  After all, they're all cousins through that side of the family - mom is dead, grandpa is dead, and I removed the bat from the attic and sent her packing quite a while back - so there's really not much left in the way of connectivity there.

My chosen Family, on the other hand, has for years been the SCA "Household" that I'm a member of, and have been a member of for closing on 2 decades.  That "family" has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 2 decades, and now has branches in pretty much every state of the US, as well as folks overseas in several other countries.  It is comprised of an amalgamation of people from practically every walk of life, with a wide range of hobbies, vices, educational levels, incomes, and preferences.  Some of us know each other only rather vaguely, having met perhaps once or twice at an SCA event somewhere along the line, but considering each other Family in that we are both part of Thunder as a Household.

Now, like every conglomeration of folks who have little in common except a single mutual hobby, there are those amongst my Family who are rather dear to me.  I love them as much as if we had been born of the same mother, rather than having met as adults.  And then there are those who, quite bluntly, I view in the same light as I view my Relatives - I detest them, could happily live the rest of my life never seeing or speaking with them again, and frankly can't stand to be around them (although for the sake of good manners I'll be socially polite to them when I absolutely Have to be.)  These are folks that I don't particularly consider to be part of my Family, despite the fact that we're both part of the same Household, and ostensibly everyone in the Household is considered to be "Family" via membership.

Frankly, though, I have to admit that I find it difficult at best to consider some of these people (and I use the term "people" here rather loosely in a few cases!) to be part of my extended family of choice.  I didn't chose them.  I didn't even have a say in the choosing process when they were given entrance into my Family.  Granted, they didn't have a say in the choosing of ME, either - but I was there before a lot of them were, so I was simply part of the package deal that they signed on for, like it or lump it.  The ones that I really despise the most are conniving, manipulative, backstabbing, emotionally abusive, two faced domineering control freaks who have no compunction about lying or cheating to get what they want, typically to a personality politics end - everything that I hate in my still living Relatives that made me cut them forcibly out of my life.

Right now, I'm considering sending a few more folks to the chopping block - folks who are only nominally family, who act more like relatives, and who - quite bluntly - I would rather not have to deal with any longer.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stop the World, I wanna get Off!

Get your mind out of the gutter, I don't mean anything at all sexual by that title!  There now, isn't that better?  I thought it would be.  Anyway, on to tonight's mad musings.  This is a long one, because I have a lot to get out of my head and written down - so if you're short on time, or simply don't like relatively long reads, I suggest either skipping this one, or reading it when you have ample time to digest all of it's contents and ramifications.

I am, without a doubt, one of the world's Worst money managers.  Almost singularly amongst my friends, I can't manage money to save my soul, much less save a few pennies here and there.  If you were to look at my finances over the past 20 years, you would scratch your head and start asking if I took my financial management training at the hands of the big banks that got government bailouts earlier this year.  Yes, it's That kind of bad.  Sadly, since I'm strictly small time rather than a mega corporation whose funds got "mismanaged" into the CEO's pocket, I don't qualify for government bailouts springing from taxpayers' wallets.

Oh no, I have to try and bail Myself out of the hole that never seems to get any shallower.

And therein lies the problem.

In some respects, I'm at a distinct disadvantage (to myself, at least) when it comes to sucking up, pulling myself up by the bootstraps, and gettin' it done.  I spent all of my childhood and teen years relying on my parents, and rarely being denied what I wanted - and Never being denied what I Needed.  In my early adulthood, I prided myself on not accepting any more help from my parents than was absolutely necessary in order to assure that my children had what They needed, even if I had to frequently deny them what they Wanted in order to see to the first part.  I did remarkably well during De's early childhood and teens, when the entirety of my household budget was approximately $500 a month, from her SSI.   Only looking back, I've come to the realization that I never really worried about it, on the occasions when I would indulge myself rather than being strictly responsible - because mom and dad were always there, and always willing to pick up the pieces for me or be my bailout when push came to shove.  Always, in the back part of my brain, I was aware of the fact that I "could" fail - almost with impunity - because my folks would always be there to make up the difference, help me out, and see to it that Somehow both ends met in the middle even when they shouldn't have.  I took it for granted.  It was simply a fact of life.  For all my pride in not Asking for help, I always knew that I 'could' if I needed to. And for all my pride in not asking for it, and not Expecting it - I still relied on it always Being There and Being Available if I DID happen to seriously need it.

That was then.

Now things are a damn sight different than they were while I was growing up, and while I was raising Deirdra, my oldest (now 25 year old) daughter.  Mom has been dead for 10 years, and her ashes occupy a space in one of the curio cabinets, waiting for dad's to join them.  My maternal grandfather - another source of "it will always be there" help, and not-so-subtle financial bolstering through the years - has been dead and buried for 15 years now, since 1997.  Dad has been in a nursing home for the majority of the past 6 years due to stroke, his parents are both deceased and my maternal grandmother (The Bat) is still pissed off at me that I didn't turn all the money over to her when I sold my old house back in December of 2004. 

I don't have my backup systems any longer - but somewhere deep in my subconscious, they are still there, and if I just close my eyes and think hard enough, one of them will step out of the shadows and suddenly everything will be OK again.  The bailout will be there, things will return to "normal," and it will suddenly be off my back to make an earnest attempt at being both responsible and self reliant.

This is especially true when it comes to daddy.  Even after all these years, and all the headaches, kvetching, griping, and bitchy snarling I've done concerning dad "dumping" everything in my lap when he had his stroke, there is a portion of me that still clings to the belief that if I just wait and have enough faith, he'll suddenly recover and everything will go back to the way it was prior to his strokes.  Consciously, I know this is simply not the case, and is never going to happen.  During my more rational, less emotionally charged moments, I tell myself repeatedly that it isn't going to happen, and that I have Got to make some changes in the way I do certain things to account for this FACT in my life, regardless of how distasteful it is to me.  In some of my Less rational, more emotional moments, I mentally rail at the old man, cursing him for not being here NOW - when I "most" need him to pick up the pieces for me like he always did.  And then I'll spend a few minutes cursing him for picking up the pieces so often in the past, and feeding that subconscious sense of dependence on his help.  And then I'll waffle back and forth for a while between blaming him and mom for all my shortcomings, faults, and flaws ("Why did you let me get away with this? Why didn't you train me better?  Hell, Why Didn't You Beat The Stupid Out Of Me?") to feeling guilty for having even mentally blamed them for a few minutes, to reminding myself that I need to simply suck it up and make the changes that need to be made rather than whining about them.

What all of that brings me to is the present, and my current situation and the thought processes that have been taking place in the past few weeks.  Finances aren't great at the moment, and it's all wrapped up in a combination of things - some of which I could have controlled (at least to an extent) and some of which I couldn't have regardless of whether I had attempted to do so or not.

When my grandfather died in '97, my grandmother couldn't bear living in their home any longer, and it subsequently became mine.  I learned a few things during that period - one of the main things being that while I make a good tenant, I don't make a particularly good home owner.  I don't like dealing with the maintenance issues that come with owning a home - I would much rather leave those to someone else to contend with, especially on a financial level.  Owning a house isn't cheap by any stretch of the imagination, even when it's a paid off inherited house.  Anything and everything that goes wrong has to be dealt with - by you - out of pocket. 

It hasn't gotten any easier in the intervening 7 years since I sold that house - in fact, the prices of replacing worn out or broken necessities (like hot water tanks and roofs) has gotten significantly higher.  Property taxes have increased every year, insurance costs have increased disproportionately, the city has gotten a lot more hassle prone on lawn maintenance issues, and I've gotten no younger or healthier or more prone to dealing with things like mowing when being out in the sunlight for long periods of time makes me ill for several days afterward.

When dad had his stroke, the paperwork was already in place making me his Power of Attorney, his Health Proxy, and the successor Trustee for the family Trust which he and mom had set up just prior to her death.  What that meant on a Practical level is that everything got dumped squarely in my lap, bypassing my older but significantly less capable brother.  That paperwork put me in charge of dealing with Everything - doctors, insurance issues, dad's former employer, all financial matters (remember me saying at the beginning of this just how Bad I am as a financial manager??) managing all his property, seeing to his care, and making all the decisions whether I wanted them or not for the duration of dad's life, however long that happens to be.

What it meant in real world terms is that I suddenly found myself inheriting another house which I was ill-prepared but obligated to attempt to maintain and preferably improve; a lot of headaches dealing with insurance companies about his long term care insurance; dealing with doctors concerning the best course of care to sustain not only dad's length of life but the quality thereof, while abiding by his written wishes in certain particulars, and dealing with attempting to keep my now out of control older sibling half way under control. 

The last of those proved to be an impossibility.  I'm going to leave it at that.

The insurance issues and doctors didn't ever really resolve themselves.  The insurance got cut off when that critical paperwork got purposely "mislaid" by my brother.  The doctors are still dealing with daddy, via the nursing home, and will continue to do so until he finally expires - I simply don't attempt to keep up with what they're doing any longer, other than to remind them every now and then that they aren't allowed to use certain methods or equipment even if that's all that will keep him alive. 

The finances were taken out of my hands by the state when I suffered a nervous breakdown due to the stress of all the rest of it, a couple of years ago.  While the PoA was reinstated once I was released by the psychiatrist, it was made plain to me that any attempt on my part to access any of dad's funds for any reason - even maintaining dad's property - would be met with hostility by the state and I could count on the probability of charges being brought against me for "attempted fraud" and "gross negligence" and "mismanagement."  That stress induced breakdown, and subsequent loss of ability to access any of dad's funds in order to maintain the rest of dad's assets, has come home to roost at last.

And then there's the issue of Property Taxes.  This is the government's way of telling you that even though you own your home, you don't Really own it, and they're going to charge you for the "privilege" of having a place to live that isn't huddled under a bridge somewhere.  That's right, not only do you get to pay for the house, and all it's maintenance, and it's lawn care, and everything in it - you get to pay the government for the privilege of living in the home that you bought and paid for, decorated, furnished, maintain, and take care of!  Oh yeah - and if you don't pay their legalized extortion for using what you already paid for, every year, they're going to steal it from you and sell it to someone else!  And you aren't allowed to do anything to stop them, other than paying whatever amount they deem is "required" in that legalized extortion.  And just like a loan shark backed by the Mob, you can count on the amount to go up disproportionately if you don't have their money when they say it's due.  Although unlike the Mob, they'll "only" steal it from you for not paying their extortion, rather than stealing it from you And breaking your legs.

When all the hoopla came about back in 2007 and 2008 between my brother and myself, one of the pieces of paperwork that he took to the habit of hiding was the bill from the county treasurer concerning the property taxes due on the house.  Which meant that the taxes didn't get paid that year.  In the intervening years, I was without any source of income for a large chunk of that time.  Which means they didn't get paid in 2009 either.  Or 2010, or 2011.  Have I mentioned that property taxes aren't cheap?  Even if they are cheaper here in Oklahoma than they are out on the east or west coasts - they still aren't cheap.  Have I mentioned that if that form of legal extortion isn't paid on time, the government hits you with disproportionately high penalties, to drive the amount even higher and less cheap?

2 months ago, I got a letter from the county treasurer, informing me that none of the property taxes have been paid on the property since 2008.  Along with a bill, in dad's name, for approximately $5000 to catch it all up from then to now.  And the notification, included in the letter/bill, that I had until June 11th to catch up at least $1100 of said bill - the portion of it covering 2008, and it's late fees and penalties - or the house would be sold at auction by the state to cover that tax bill.  I received this letter less than a month after finally getting my old electric bill paid off so that I finally had electricity in the house again after nearly 2 years.

I'm in a bit of a quandry concerning the whole thing. 

I'm not fond of moving.  I hate the packing up, and getting settled into a new place.  I detest having to go through all the accumulated "stuff" and deciding what to keep and what to throw away and what to simply give away to whoever will take it.  I had zero plans on ever moving again, unless it was after daddy finally died and I had sold this place and I was moving out of Oklahoma never to return.  I've lived in this house, off and on, for 38 out of 46 years of my life.  My childhood was spent here.  My teen years, with all their angst and anxiety, were spent here.  The formative years of my children's lives were spent either here, or at least with my parents still living here.  A large part of my memories of growing up, forming friendships, and learning about life are centered Here.  The house was to be a largish chunk of my inheritance, and my children's inheritance after me if I kept it after daddy died.

It is...... difficult, at best..... to let go of all that and move on. At the same time, I have to consider a few things on the practical side. 

I have failed - spectacularly and miserably - to save the necessary funds to get the bill paid during the 2 months since I received the notice.  My attempt to get a room  mate as a financial backup plan, while well intentioned, was also a singular failure - the would be room mate never paid her rent the first time it was due, and skipped out while I wasn't home when the rent came due a second time.  While my employer (Wal-Mart) has a grant fund for associates who have serious critical financial problems to contend with, they have very specific guidelines as to what that grant fund will and won't help with - and one of the things it specifically Won't help with is (you guessed it) any sort of tax related issue.  So that option is not open to me to solve this (Though it will be open to me to help me get deposits paid and get moved into a new place once the house has been sold out from under me. Go Figure!)  I can't simply go access dad's funds - they're being managed by an accounting firm put in place by the state Department of Human Services while I was out of things from the breakdown.  While I thought They were dealing with the taxes, they were apparently told that the taxes were My problem.  Either way, they aren't going to cough up the funds to keep the house from going on the auction block unless some sot of major miracle happens.  Also in the catagory of "major 11th hour miracle happening" would be myself or one of my closest friends winning some major cash via the lottery, and being able to pay it all off that way.  Or of course being informed within the next 5 to 6 days that dad has died, and the insurance will be settled in time for me to pay everything off that way.  The house is falling apart, and will require Thousands of dollars of investment to repair everything that needs repairing, just for it to be considered truly livable again rather than woefully substandard.  The roof alone is going to cost $5000; the plumbing issues are going to cost another $5k to $7k; leveling the foundation via jacking it up on one side will cost about $2500; rewiring to bring it up to code is another $10k; replacing the central heat/air unit is another $3500.  So I'm looking at about $22K worth of repairs needed on the place even if I managed not to get it taken by the state in the meantime.

My choices are not simple. 

Option 1: I can continue to fight to try and save the house.  It has a high likelihood of failure.  The currently due utility bills will have to be allowed to simply sit, probably getting those utilities turned off at least temporarily.  Since one of those is the electricity, and I fought for 15 months to even Have electricity, I'm not inclined to let it get shut back off now even for a few hours.  It also means not getting dog or cat food to keep the pets fed, and not getting any people food for myself - instead making due on what is currently in the kitchen and/or hitting the local food bank in order to keep myself fed.  Foodstamps aka SNAP is not an option for that, because according to the state, I make too much money per month to need any sort of assistance, and like the ACNT fund at work they won't help out when paying taxes is what causes the problem that you need help with.  It means continuing to live in a house without functional hot water for at least another 2 months, because to pay the bill, I can't spend the money that I would otherwise have in 1 paycheck to replace the tank.  It means continuing to have an only partially functioning kitchen due to plumbing issues, and can't do anything about the roof, the electrical issues, replacing the central AC.  It means having to go through this all over again Next spring in order to bring it one more year up to date , unless dad has died or I've miraculously won the lottery in the  meantime.

Option 2: I let the state take the house.  I start looking now for a cheap apartment somewhere in this area.  (Fortunately, there are several decent and reasonably priced apartment complexes within a 3 mile radius of here - it's simply finding one that I can afford without a room mate, because I'm DONE trying to deal with That sort of thing.) I find new homes for both Blue (my pup) and Sheva (the rottie that I've been "babysitting" for someone else who was supposedly looking for someplace of her own to live where there is room for a large breed dog.)  An apartment is way to small for me, 3 cats, and 2 dogs, especially when both dogs are large breeds that need a lot of room.  I start going through my stuff, packing up what I'm going to move with me, and throwing away what's broken, and sorting everything else into piles of "last minute garage sale" and "donate to goodwill."  I lose a large chunk of my inheritance, but also lose the stress that said inheritance has been inducing for several years now.  No more property tax worries.  No more lawn maintenance issues.  No more having to pay out of pocket to deal with other maintenance issues like plumbing or ac units going out or water heaters going on the fritz.  An immediate reduction in the number of utility bills I have to deal with - no water/sewer/garbage bill in an apartment, and no gas bill either - but replacing those with a bill at the first of each month for Rent which I haven't had to worry about since 1997 other than a 10 month span during 2005 while I was living out of state.  (That's right, other than that brief period 7 years ago, I haven't had to contend with keeping rent paid for the past 14 Years since my younger daughter was born - I'm not exactly still in the habit of worrying about it!)  It means living by a much stricter budget, but in the long run having a lot fewer sudden out of pocket expenses to contend with.

I need to make up my mind post haste, because June 10th (the last day I can effectively go pay the old tax bill) is rather rapidly approaching.  I think I've pretty much decided, but it's still painful to contemplate.  I've given up hoping for a miracle - they don't happen.