Monday, February 24, 2014

Lasting and laughing after 46 years!

February 24th, 1968
Forty-six years ago, my parents got married. 46 YEARS!!! I'm having a hard enough time believing I'll be 39 in a month, so 46 years of anything boggles my mind.

In an age when marriages don't last at a shocking rate, my parents have defied the odds. They made it to this anniversary that, unfortunately, many marriages never get to see. The 46 years of their marriage weren't easy. How could they be? I mean, that many years with no bumps in the road? Impossible.

Making it to their wedding day was a challenge of its own. The struggles and drama that led up to their wedding truly tested the mettle of their relationship. As heartbreaking as some of it may have been, it had to have given them the relationship skills to get to their 46th year of marriage.

Originally, they were set to get married the previous August. I believe there was even an announcement of it in the newspaper. But, it was not to be. My mother broke-up with my father; the wedding was off. It was a case of anxiety at its best (which, turns life to its worst). They went their separate ways; Mom to stay with her oldest brother's family in California; and, Dad, in his devastation, did his own travelling. These separate journeys needed to happen; lessons needed to be learned; hearts and minds needed to break and mend themselves the best they could.

They each returned to C-Town and eventually, to each other. However, it wasn't as easy as getting back together. My grandparents, my mom's parents weren't thrilled with my mom's decision. My parents weren't even certain that my grandparents would attend the wedding. My mom's oldest brother was willing to pinch-hit if needed. Another of my mom's relatives, my mom found out later in life, made a comment to others that her marriage to my dad wouldn't last.

After forty-six years, five kids, and all the joys and struggles that are part of the package, my parents are still together and get to have the last laugh.

I love you, Mom and Dad. I don't know how you did it, but I'm certainly glad you did.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Everyone's puzzle is different

This Google Doodle is beautiful to me. What a way to show support for the LGBTQ community when the Olympic Games are taking place in a country ruled by a horrifyingly, anti-LGBTQ leader. I would love to see the smug look wiped off Putin's face. AURGH!!! It is so frustrating to live in a time when there is still such hatred and discrimination.

I had such mixed feelings about these Olympic Games. On one hand, I do wish the U.S. would have chosen to boycott, to take a stand against such bigotry. But, I realize that isn't really an answer and I'm thinking any of the LGBTQ athletes would not like it. I'm guessing they would want to live the Olympic dream and give a giant STFU to Russia while doing so.

I guess I just don't understand such broad-brush hatred. I'd rather judge the assholery of an individual's character, or lack thereof than just have hatred because they fit in a specific category. I'm not claiming to be perfect at accepting everyone, but I try to be conscious of my shortcomings.

When thinking about the LGBTQ community, it helps me to put faces on those letters; to personalize it. I think about a lesbian friend who is raising a couple of really great kids. I don't dispute that, if she were straight, she could also be raising great kids. BUT, if she were straight, she wouldn't have THESE kids. One came into her life as a "step" child because he was her partner's son. She would not have been able to mold him into a fine young man and he would not have been able to mold her into a loving, patient mother if it weren't for her being in love with his mom.

Her wonderful, sensitive, beautiful, artistic daughter would not be growing to make her mark on the world in the way she is if her mother brought her about in a straight relationship because the daughter from the straight relationship would not be this specific girl. Yes, Kristen could have had an amazing daughter with a man she loved in a straight relationship, but that daughter would be different person, would have a different make-up, different talents, different ways of seeing the world. She wouldn't be J.

I'm not saying that Kristen being gay is better than a straight Kristen. I'm just saying that these particular kids and this particular mother wouldn't be who they are today because the pieces of the puzzle of their family would be taking a different shape, creating a different picture. How could anyone not want their family to be?

After all, aren't we all just trying to put our life's puzzle together a piece at a time?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

There must be someway out of here

Had my monthly med check-in with my psychiatrist yesterday. It's always a good time. We were talking about some med changes. Some drugs have multiple uses, so he may say something about a drug being an anti-psychotic or mood stabilizer. It's great to hear "psychotic" when you talk to your shrink. So, out of curiosity (and paranoia) I asked him what, exactly, are the labels he has assigned me. He responded with a nice list of panic attacks with agoraphobia; chronic depression; and, OCD. Impressive, I know, and a relief that the whole psychotic thing wasn't going on there.

When I heard "agoraphobia," I was thinking, "Um, what? I leave my house." It turns out that people keep using that word and it doesn't mean what they think it means. It is actually defined by the National Library of Medicine as, "Panic disorder with agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder in which a person has attacks of intense fear and anxiety. There is also a fear of being in places where it is hard to escape, or where help might not be available." Now that makes more sense to me.

Looking at my life from the point-of-view of this definition explains many things. As a little kid, I hated having to go in elevators and was more than okay with climbing the seven flights of stairs to my Grandma's apartment. I'm still not a huge fan of elevators, but I can suffer through it, especially if Shawn or other friends or family are with me.

Crowds are another issue for me. The idea of not being able to get through to an open area easily stresses me out. Also, getting separated from those I am with adds another component to the crowd anxiety. I get anxious just thinking about a concert I went and grabbing on to my step-daughter's shirt to make our way through. It was as much for my security as for hers.

The one thing that REALLY struck me when reading this definition is when it comes to seating at certain places, like movie theaters, reception halls, and restaurants. As for the restaurant part, it is mostly places without a windows or the windows are not really open for seeing outside. So, as a little kid, when I would feel like I was going to throw-up, it was probably an anxiety attack about this.

I can remember a time when I was older, not a little kid, when I thought I would have a panic attack. I was with my parents, my aunt and uncle, and one of my cousins. It was a bar & grille type of place. I'm pretty sure an Entertainment Book coupon was involved because it wasn't a place we had ever been. Also, my uncle must have been there because I distinctly remember 1,000 Island Dressing being ordered and the place didn't have it. Anyway, I distinctly remember getting to the table and the internal struggle over the seating options left to me. For a variety of reasons, I didn't request a change, one of which was embarrassment at admitting my panic, knowing there was a level of irrationality to needing an exit strategy for a meal at a restaurant.

These are my issues (well, some of them), these are a part of me. I need to be mindful of access to my meds to get through these moments. I still survey places for exit strategies. I'm not comfortable with the inside seat of a booth, or the chair next to the wall at a table. I can handle those seats if I have to. It is easier if Shawn is the one next to me. Along with my meds, he is my comfort, my sense of safety, and my calm.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Perfect harmony?

I've been experiencing a bit of blogger's block lately when, POOF, a soap box appears in front of me. Not being one to pass up a good soap box, I thought I would hop right on it in this post.

So, not being into football, I didn't watch the game, not even for the commercials. This probably makes me un-American to some before even reading the rest of my post. However, thanks to the internets, I'm able to read people's reactions to the game and its commercials (I didn't have to miss out on the commercials because the world-wide-webs lets me do that. Yeah, I got to see the adorable Budweiser commercial---too cute). Also, thanks to friends on Facebook, I was made aware of some controversy involving Coca-Cola.

Now, given some of Coke's history, it didn't shock me that something controversial would arise. What I didn't expect was that people were upset about the commercial that Coke put out for the Super Bowl! Take a look at the ad:

I know! HORRIBLY OFFENSIVE, isn't it? I mean, so unpatriotic and shameful. How could Coke allow our national anthem be sung in any language other than English!?!?

(Yes, some of those outraged citizens believe that "America the Beautiful" is the national anthem.)

Is the song about America? Yes. Do people consider it a patriotic song? Yes. Can non-English speakers appreciate the beauty it captures and share that in their own languages? Ye----oh, wait, I guess not.

The lyrics are from a poem written by Katherine Lee Bates 1893. She wrote the poem as she traveled up Pikes Peak and looked out from the mountain side to see the beautiful vista before her. I have been fortunate enough to experience this view many times. It is breathtaking and never gets old. In fact, in some ways, taking friends and family on the journey up the mountain for their first time lets me experience it anew through them. Anyone making the trip, English speakers and non-English speakers alike, can look out and appreciate the beauty and splendor Katherine Lee Bates captured in words all those many years ago.

So why is it so upsetting for a company, with a logo which is easily recognizable throughout the world, to have this song sung in various languages? I don't know. Isn't it in keeping with the spirit of this other Coca-Cola commercial:

Maybe the people getting their panties in a bunch are just a bunch of Pepsi drinkers.