Saturday, December 23, 2017

Remembering what took my memory away

It’s been on year since you hooked up me
Shocked my head on each side
And made me fuzzy
Twelve months since you shocked up me saying
Get some rest and come back and see me
Twelve months since the waiting room
I realized it was worth a try, and I told you
Last year you signed off on me
But it’s still in my head, “Was I really ready?”

*With apologies to the Barenaked Ladies

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I’m no ballet dancer

I was just thinking that I am most certainly not growing old gracefully. It’s not because botoxing and facelifting the hell out of myself to stop time. There’s nothing graceful about my aging because I’m doing it with bumps and bruises; with surgery scars and accident scars; with the scars of mental illness; with the severe memory loss from ECT; with bottles and bottles of medication, mostly for mental health, but also physical; with sleep that is so ridiculously irregular; and, all kinds of bullshit. I’m growing old, not gracefully, but taking it all is it comes with all life’s trips and falls.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Greeting Cards Have All Been Sent

As I typed that title, Karen Carpenter was singing in my head. Just a little FYI to get us started.

A couple nights ago Shawn and I finally wrapped up things with this year's card. Shawn finished the editing of our photo. We picked out a design from to go with the photo and ordered a bunch. The order was picked up; address labels and return address labels were printed; and, stamps were at the ready.

My process was stuff envelope, lick the envelope to seal it closed, and stick on address label. Then Shawn did the sticking on of the return address label. Finally, I added the stamps. This was done for a little over 70 cards. I found it exhausting....then, I thought about my dad.

My dad is kind of a greeting card legend. His Christmas card and Christmas letter game raises his legend status to whatever is above legend. And, thinking about his legendary status made me feel somewhat ashamed of my annoyance at my own process.

My whole life, except a couple recent years, there has been a Christmas letter. The letter has a pattern. It goes through the year focusing on the events beyond the everyday life. Each of us 5 kids would have our own paragraph (talk about a reason for sibling rivalry, you want your paragraph better than everyone else's). Then it was wrapped up with a memorial section for those who died over the last year, think the "In Memoriam" segment of The Oscars. But, he writes the name, age, connection to him/us, and cause of death. For some we know, like my BFFs, it was a sign of great pride to make the letter.

The letter is an accomplishment on it's own (always multiple pages), but the letter isn't what made me feel guilty. My dad sends out at least 200 cards. He was doing this in the age before self-adhesive stamps. He would send the letter in an average sized greeting card which required multiple folds to fit inside. The greeting card itself was signed by hand. The envelope was hand addressed. The envelope was stuffed and licked to seal. Each stamp was licked. A tester was taken to the post office to check if extra postage was going to be needed and often it was. 

As time has moved on, as it does so quickly, things have changed. He has self-adhesive return address labels. He has started using business envelopes so the letter fits easily, but he has included a card still, just a small sized one that also fits in the envelope. The stamps don't need to be licked. He still hand signs the card and addresses the envelope by hand. He tries to keep from needing extra postage.

Through the years my view of the letter involved some eye-rolling and some mockery. Now, I'm embarrassed to admit those things. Things have changed. There have been a couple years without letters. The handwriting on the envelope is a little shaky. I'm not sure, but the list of recipients may have gone down. If I would have valued it more, the recycling bin wouldn't have the makings of a family history that I could have had.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Terrible Tales of Ta-Tas

The other day I was looking through some photo albums to see if I had pictures my older brother wanted. As I was paging through, I came across a picture that got me thinking --- more about the picture later.

My boobs were a huge part of my life from early on (nice segue, I know). As a kid, I developed earlier than the other girls. It was not a good thing. Some girls, who were pretty flat chested, which was normal for the age, would make comments about how I should give them some of mine. When I was older, junior high or high school, I don't remember, I told them I would gladly give them a donation if that kind of thing were possible.

No matter what I was doing or who I was with, it seemed like my boobs were always brought up in one way or another. I think I started to play into the jokes and comments because they weren't going away. One time I was bra shopping with my mom and sister at May Co. (later became Kaufmann's Department Store and then Macy's) at the Euclid Square Mall. I was in the fitting room trying on bras --- not cute ones because those were for cute, perky boobs. No, I had no real options except white, beige, or black. While I was in there, this HUGE bra came flying over the door and my mom and sister were laughing on the other side. The intent wasn't to hurt me (well, at least not from my mom. A teenage older sister may have). To them, I was in on the joke.

As I grew and the boobs grew, things became painful, physically and emotionally. They looked terrible. These weren't implanted-Pamela-Anderson-boobs that stay up. These were like water balloons hanging from my chest. Picture what it is like to hold a water balloon by the knot. Then add stretchmarks. Sexy, right? I played soccer from 1st grade into my senior year. Sports bras weren't really made for someone like me. I wore a regular bra with hooks in the back which wasn't meant for sports. In the middle of the season my senior year, my back pain took me out for the season. I'm not sure I played enough games to warrant getting my 4th year varsity letter, but I did get it.

When I got to college, I was as self-conscious as ever. That is when real consideration of a breast reduction came in to play. The surgeon had ridiculous standards for me to meet before she would do it. She told me to go on this insane diet. I don't remember how many calories a day I was told to have, but weight came off and I was starving. And, with this diet, she also wanted me to start working out. Again, not enough calories taken in to be working out. Guess what, the weight didn't come off my boobs! Also, my parents' medical insurance wouldn't cover it, so there went that.

Then I was out of college and into my career. It took quite some time, about 4 1/2 years, for me to revisit the whole thing. At a 42 DDD, I decided to give my insurance a shot and see what happened. I made my appointment to see Dr. Seth Eisengart. Everything changed. He had barely said two words to me and I was crying. It was the tremendous relief to have him listening to me; a huge weight lifted off my chest (see what I did there?). I told him about the previous surgeon I saw in college, who was a colleague of his. He told me the expectations she placed on me were not good. He confirmed for me that weight loss from the breasts through diet and exercise for someone like me was not going to be significant. He said he couldn't imagine trying to exercise and play sports with a chest the size of mine. 

My insurance came through to cover having a reduction. So, planned things out. He told me the style he preferred to use. He wanted me to understand that I may not be able to breastfeed. At that point, I didn't care. I wanted this done and I was headed to the convent, so whatever. We went forward with surgery. My company only wanted me to have a week off, he personally, not his staff, called the short term disability group and argued on my behalf. He got me two weeks. A post-op appointment had him telling me that it was about 5 lbs removed, about 2.5 lbs each. Breasts aren't typically symmetrical, so it was a give or take on the 2.5 lbs each. When he told me that, he said he couldn't imagine going for a run with a sack of flour around his neck. All of this was freeing me. 

He was willing to take me as small as I would like, but he said it could look awkward if we went too small. So, 42 C it was. A very scary looking 42 C at first. My first time in the shower I almost passed out as I looked at them. It was the first time they were unbound since the surgery. My mom had to come help me. I called them my Frankenboobies. But, they were healing and the scarring wasn't terrible.

A year-ish after surgery, the convent was a thing of the past and I met Shawn...I had been feeling great with weight loss, I was wearing clothes I couldn't before, and I was on meds for the horrible depression I had been in...and now my boobs had me self-conscious again. Remember, I didn't care about the scarring or the possible inability to breastfeed. There I was with this guy that I really started to have feelings for and could see having a relationship with and I had these boobs I was happy to have, but were scarred. Then, time went on and we were trying to have a baby and I thought about how the results of the surgery could keep me from breastfeeding. Things worked out with Shawn and my boobs. The breastfeeding would end up not being an issue, though, thanks to infertility. But, in the end, the reduction was one of the best decisions I made.

So, what does all of this have to do with a picture in a photo album? I'm starting to wonder myself.

When I graduated high school, I went on a 10 day service experience in the inner city of Cincinnati. It was through the Marianist Volunteers. I was there and so were my big boobs. The picture I came across was of me sitting with four of the head volunteer staff.  We are all smiling and laughing and I notice that the one leader has her arm around me with a big smile on her face and her hand was hovering over my breast, ready to go in for the grab.

I don't remember this exact moment. I'm not sure if I knew she was doing it at the time or if I only found out once the film was developed. Maybe I was in on the joke. Maybe I made myself play along with the joke. Like I said, I don't remember.  Maybe this is my #MeToo. I don't know. 

I know things are different for me now.

And, I just realized, after this blog about boobs, I have my routine mammogram, yeah...there's that.

Saturday, December 2, 2017


I've been in my head a lot lately. Thoughts have been swimming since the ever growing list of celebrity men committing sexual offenses of varying degrees. The spectrum is immense; things I never could have imagined were being done.

A movement took social media by storm, a hashtag movement (I've talked about the hashtag movement thing before). It was #MeToo. People were using it for solidarity with the women coming forward about being victimized by the celebrity men. The popularity of it was to reveal just how many women have fallen victim somewhere on the spectrum of offenses.

I didn't Facebook and Twitter post a #MeToo statement. As I thought about my life, I just wasn't sure that I experienced anything which made me feel like a victim in any kind of sexual way. So, I opted out of the hashtag activism this time.

As the #MeToo posts were flooding my social media, I did find myself questioning the validity of the person posting. In part, I guess I just couldn't imagine that that many people could possibly have experienced something #MeToo worthy. Also, I know some to be wolf criers who love social media. I'm sure some of you have those people in your lives. Those people who jump on a bandwagon and then cry wolf at the top of their lungs for the entire trip. Perhaps my cynicism is too strong, but crying wolf has been around for a long time and social media has taken it to a new level. I'm not anti the #MeToo movement, not at all. It just bothers me that some may hijack the hashtag which minimizes the value of those who really have a #MeToo story to tell. 

If your still with me and haven't decided to hate me for the previous paragraph, I do have some other stuff to say.

As the names of the accused started to roll out, our family was gut punched.

Shawn, Conner, and I have been huge Louis C.K. fans. Earlier this year, we had a family night out including dinner and than going to see Louis C.K. do his stand-up. It was a good time.

And then, months later, we are left with a giant WTF? and how could he possibly have done something so horrible? For me, I won't speak for them, I'm disgusted and done. I felt the apology was some kind of PR written bullshit.

Then, more names start to be revealed.

Early on in our relationship, just a few months, actually, a new radio network was launched. It was a progressive radio network, Air America. It was how Shawn and I first heard of Rachel Maddow and look where she is now! Another personality from the station was Al Franken. For me, his progressive politics were a bigger hit than his SNL career. Shawn and I connected through this. We bought Franken's books and even ended up seeing him at a book signing here in Denver. So many shows on the network were speaking to our progressive minds. we're hearing the stories....of one...then two...then 3 and 4....and 5 and 6 women coming out with stories of Franken's sexual offenses toward them. Again, I'm done. Again, the released statement sounds like such bullshit.

It's weird when you come to realize how much stock you put into the character of a celebrity of whom you are a fan only to have that stock's market crash.

Now, we jump to Matt Lauer. He's the latest to be added to the list of scumbags. However, I've always had a dislike for him. Something just didn't sit right with me. My douchebag radar must have gotten something right with this one.

The lesson I'm taking away from the revelation of his various sexual offenses is that sometimes you should read the comments' thread.

Now, typically, I've been trying to avoid reading comments on posts because it leads to anger and frustration that will not get resolved. Then, a bottle of Ativan later, I'm still trying to bring myself down. I would still say this is a good rule. It's especially helpful when reading articles and posts that have a huge following of strangers. But, thanks to Matt Lauer, I learned it can be helpful to read comments.

When the Lauer shit was hitting the fan, I found that I had many friends and "friends" (social media leads to a separation of sorts) in common when it came to a lack of surprise. Then, there was that one post.

I was scrolling through my news feed as one is wont to do on Facebook. I came upon a post from a "friend" regarding the Matt Lauer story and she said something about being surprised. So, since I wasn't surprised, I headed to the comments to say that I wasn't and I kind of pegged him (not in the way he probably is into) for that kind of pig. As I was heading down to comment, some previous comments caught my eye. Now, I knew the "friend" was conservative, but I still managed to be surprised by some of her friends (they seemed like the kind not in quotes). It was a mix of statements about how this needs to stop; it's getting out of control; stuff is probably made up; these men are being ruined; accused people shouldn't lose their jobs unless the accusations are confirmed; strong women can handle these things. SKREEEEEEECH! Hold on a second! Let me back up and see if that was really there. Yep. Strong women.

In my greatest moment of comment war self-control, a stopped myself from commenting. Now, you may think I should not have backed out and that I should have set that person straight. Believe me, I wanted to at first. But, I was reading a sea of comments that showed me that I had no chance of making an impact. Yes, I wanted to leave the proverbial two cents, but I could tell my two cents wouldn't be received very well. In comment conversations/wars, seldom does anyone give a penny, take a penny like at the counter at the gas station. Everyone just tosses their pennies out all willy-nilly.

In the end, I opted for un-friending that "friend" like I've un-fanned those celebrities.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

So called volunteers

"Did you know that so called 'Volunteers' don't even get paid?" Why, yes, Mr. Simpson, I know that all too well.

This entry touches on something I posted on Facebook the other day. Given that I've been working for a heavily volunteer dependent non-profit, I started to think a lot about volunteering. I really got thinking about the different sides of it. The way people treat volunteers and the expectations people have of volunteers.

I was updating a spreadsheet that is a list of the adoptions for the year. There were over 600 entries. That is over 600 animals who have been saved. Mostly cats and dogs are on the list, but who can forget the pigs, chickens, homing pigeons, snakes, turtles, guinea pigs, rabbits, and more that I'm certainly forgetting. Then, it got me thinking about what is involved in getting those numbers on that spreadsheet. Yes, obviously my typing get them in the spreadsheet, duh. I'm talking in the broader sense.

I'm sure I will forget things because, well, me. The list below includes the work of a handful, like toddler sized handful, of paid staff and volunteers. Just pointing out that I'm fully aware of actual paid staff.
  • There's transport: driving a box truck to rescue animals from other states; the hours to do this; the wear and tear on the truck; the listening to whining and mewing; the smell of piss and shit and animals; the cleaning of the truck 
  • There's maintenance: the truck; the house we work out of; yard work; repairs; building a pig pen and chicken coops
  • Receiving transport: corralling all the dogs in the backyard; taking cats in kennels down to the care center; vetting the animals (vaccinations, preventative care, microchipping, and anything else they need based on paperwork); oh, and doing all of our own paperwork
  • Fostering: coming to a transport arrival to pick up the dog they are fostering; taking them to vet appointments; keeping them until they decided to adopt them or until they get adopted; taking them to meet & greets that hopefully end in adoption, but not always, so they have extra wear and tear and gas for their cars; sometimes bottle feeding if they take on the tiny cats or dogs
  • Cat Care Center: cats are housed in our office building until ready for adoption at a PetSmart or the Denver Cat Company; I could go downstairs but I'm lazy so I'm guessing we have 30ish cat cages; the cages house multiple cats if there is a litter of kittens; there are 2 shifts of cleaning out the cages and feeding the cats; sometimes there is the additional task of steaming the cages; there's medication to be given sometimes; their an isolation room of cages when things like ringworm breakout; cleaning kennels; and cleaning litter pans; laundry from blankets and towels; washing food and water bowls 
  • There's office work of various types. That's my "specialty". Things like spreadsheet updating; microchip registration; adoption packet creation
  • There are adoption events: they involve fosters bringing the available dogs; means more travelling; leash holding; people selling our merchandise; on the spot adoption application processing; the "go home" paperwork review and fee payment; putting up and taking down our fences and tents and tables and such  
  • Adoptions that aren't at an event: reviewing of applications; processing of applications which means phone calls for landlords & vets, sometimes, and personal references all the time; scheduling of meet and greets to finalize the adoption, or sometimes to have the adoption fail; the meeting needs to have the adopter, the foster, and the volunteer or staffer who will finalize the adoption, yeah, try coordinating all those schedules; more travelling for the foster
  •  Other fund raisers: all kinds of work that I've never really been a part of, but I'm sure lots of volunteers are involved
These are all the things I could think of off the top of my head. These are all things people do in their spare time. So, if it seems like a lot, I'm pretty sure there is much more. But, it is what goes into those 600 plus adoptions.

After all of my thinking about volunteerism and Homer Simpson's profound wisdom, I thought about volunteers being people who do favors, lots and lots of favors.

If you need something from a volunteer, be kind, be patient, and be appreciative.


Monday, October 30, 2017

What'chu talkin' 'bout, everyone?

It's about time for another trip down amnesia lane. This is such a part of my life, yet I still manage to be surprised by it.

The combination of the electroconvulsive therapy and my very strong reaction to anesthesia just wreaked havoc on my memory. My life right now involves watching "Stranger Things" 1st season for what I think is the 3rd time. Things do seem familiar this time, so progress? I check with Shawn to see if I'm responding the same way this time. Did I cry like I did now? Back when we watched "Captain America; Civil War", I think it was that, he said I said the same things. It's so bizarre to experience your lack of experience around something.

I wonder if things will get to a point where Shawn doesn't preface statements with, "You probably don't remember...", or "Do you remember?" Will my memory be sharp again? Will it always be slightly off when it comes to present moments, present information retention?  It's certainly not what it was before this shit went down.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Life is better for whom?

Earlier this year, I started volunteering for the animal rescue where we got Jarvis 4 1/2 years ago. It was kind of an idea that Shawn, my PsychNP, and my therapist were all pretty much no board with. My PsychNP and Shawn really didn't think I was in any shape to get back in the actual workforce. Actually, this conversation may have started at the end of last year, you know, the time of my life that is lost to me. For some reason, I think my ECT psychiatrist was in on this whole thing, too.

It took me awhile to work through my anxiety enough to contact Life Is Better Rescue. Then, I think it may have taken some extra drugs to actually go that first day. The first few days involved cleaning out the cat cages at the Care Center. I had this super skinny, super tall, young kid showing me the ropes. One day, I was slated to go solo, I grabbed Shawn for the assist. As the part of my DNA that is strong within my siblings and I kicked in, I was gagging to dry heaving to being on the verge of vomiting. For some reason, taking a little green poop bag and grabbing Jarvis' shit isn't so bad; but cat boxes and kitties covered in the shit they shat is more than a Kendel (or maybe Sawhill, it might be my mom's genetic contribution) kid could bear.

So, I sucked up my overwhelming sense of failure and additional anxiety, and confessed to my ineptitude.

There was still other work to be done. I didn't have to deal with people or shit (it's hard to tell which of those things is worst) nearly as much. I was doing spreadsheet updates and microchip registrations. Officey, nerdy, anti-social stuff. I was fitting into my niche. But, anxiety still reared its ugly head because, well, fuck my life. I am still filled with an overwhelming sense of ineptitude.

New challenges have been added to my plate. I wish I was talking about a nice piece of chocolate cake, but this is the proverbial plate. So anxiety is kicked up yet another notch. My intolerance for idiocy and assholery is strong. I take the comments of bitches and douchebags too much to heart. I need to get stronger. I need to get harder. But, I also need to be tactful in covering up my disdain for those telling me to "contact me ASAP!" about their application; telling me they'll just go to a breeder; and, telling me I have taken their potential "Savior" away.

With all of these things that probably sound pretty miserable, I manage to muster my way through...still with breakdowns because I am still the mentally fucked up person I've been for much of my life.

The rescue's name is Life Is Better. It's about making life better for the animals we bring into the organization. It's about saving Fallon from euthanasia because grass awns (google it! YIKES!) were in all four of his feet and the shelter couldn't handle that. Now, he has a family ready for him and he walks just fine. Or, there's Gabe who was displaced from his shelter due to Hurricane Harvey and managed to survive treading water for 2 days. And, my loves! The Rottweilers Carl and Chloe, a 1 year old male and 6 month old female who were impounded when their owner was busted for drugs.

But, in my time volunteering, I've come to learn that the name applies to the human animal. Life Is Better. I get to play with and just hang out with dogs and cats of all types and ages. I'm almost a cat person, if the litter box isn't involved. I have syringe fed kittens who don't even have their eyes opened yet. I've learned cats have lots of breeds. I've felt the choke in my throat and the tears in my eyes when a dog I've come to love finds the exact family he/she is meant to have. The happiness that comes when a person emails me about the joy they feel knowing his/her application was approved.

So, yes, all of my issues pop up and almost win the fight; inadequacy, anxiety, and all the other shit my medication cocktail should be helping, come at me full force. But, a lot is better for this human animal's life.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Different World View

The other day I was at my gynecologist's for my routine, annual exam. It struck me, again, just how differently I see the world these last few years. There are a lot of things that happen in the world that show a sort of denial about the existence of the infertile. Perhaps some people would call me the "snowflake" of infertility. So, who knows, maybe this post will convince everyone of that.

Getting back to my appointment at the gyno. Since my failed attempt at infertility and my hysterectomy, I have to take a deep breath and brace myself for my appointment. The waiting room is filled with professional portraits of newborns here, toddlers there, and families, too. Then I wade through all of the women in various stages of pregnancy. I think to myself, "Can't they make separate waiting rooms?" How about a waiting room for obstetrics and a waiting room for gynecology? There are more people like me, I think...maybe.

Another place that doesn't always have a view of infertility is the grocery store. I remember when the struggle was fresh and real and I was still getting my period. I went to buy tampons. Where did I have to go to buy them? The baby aisle. I had to walk by diapers and wipes and baby oil and all the other stuff to get my box of tampons. I believe I teared up the first time. Not every grocery store is set-up that way, but I've managed to be in the ones that were.

The world view I really wish would change is the view some people have of people without children. People think it is okay to ask questions and imply things. There's the times childless people are holding a baby, "Oh, that looks good on you?" Or, "The clock is ticking." Those questions/comments are so intrusive, not funny. There can be a number of reasons for not having children and people should start to realizing they should keep their noses out of it. Also, if you do know that the situation is infertility, don't ask about adoption or surrogacy or embryo donation. In my case, not that it's anyone's business, my trying to get pregnant was for Shawn and me to have a baby together. I wanted a piece of me and a piece of him to come together for me to carry. It was about us coming together in the closest way possible.

So please, just think about someone else's silent struggles.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

My favorite color's green except that one shade

Last weekend Shawn and I were at a comic convention to promote his comic, The Specialists. Conventions are always an interesting experience, and this was no different.

As I was sitting there and as I walked around, I took in so much. At the end of it all, I had a mix of emotions. I wouldn't call it envy, that green eyed monster, because I think that has anger behind it. I wasn't angry. I admired the creativity that was expressed; the art and the writing. And then I felt sad. It was a sadness about my wasted talents.

Years ago, I did draw. Not the black & white doodles that were worth framing and displaying in my own house, but realistic images in pencil. The last one and one I'm most proud of was a little over 20 years ago. I did a drawing of my nephew from a photograph I had. Is it convention worthy? No. I probably wouldn't be able to get any money for it, but it was good. I look at it and I know it is him.

Why did I stop taking art after 9th grade? Why did I stop doing it on my own? I don't know. I guess it wasn't on my life's trajectory.

Then, there's the writing. College papers and my creative writing course about wrap up my use of writing. I never wrote very long papers. Really was a minimum requirement kind of gal. The longest story I could manage was a single page. Why didn't I do more with that? I was an English major....I was an English major who didn't want to teach and was headed to the convent where something would be figured out.

These thoughts about my undeveloped talents are happening in the midst of some of Shawn's thoughts about himself as a writer. His doubts about his talent. His thoughts that when he writes nothing good comes out.

Shawn is amazingly talented. His creativity with the wedding vows he wrote put my vows to shame. I mean, Mad Libs and Dr. Suess? Who does that? Who does that well? Then, he writes The Specialists and has a vision of the story that will culminate in 12 chapters. He also comes up with these vignettes about himself and our dog, Jarvis. They are so funny. He is, indeed, gifted.

In thinking about all of this stuff, I've come to realize that my brain doesn't work in fiction. I don't have imagined stories to write with made up characters and places heading toward some plot point to resolve. My drawing needs to have an actual, existing thing for me to follow. And now, my hands get the shakes at any old time they feel like it, so that's not conducive to drawing.

Maybe, if I did more way back when, my brain would know how to make stuff up.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Should have

There's the old "coulda, shoulda, woulda" adage of life. We all have moments of our lives that we wish we had played out differently. There are some times that are filled with more regret than others. It's life. But, that doesn't make it easier.

When I was a kid, there was this woman from our church who was active in some of the same groups as my parents. She was an Italian woman who was part of a Pre Cana group for engaged couples. She cooked for them and wore her "Signora" apron. Her husband had his matching "Signore" apron. That was my first memory of Mrs. Scotese. I was still pretty young when Mr. Scotese died, so I don't have many memories of him outside of his apron wearing.

Mrs. Scotese was a grandma, literally, but also in character and personality. She wasn't an older person toward whom I felt awkward. I would approach her without hesitation. With some of my "shyness" (read as "anxiety") it was nice to have someone who made me comfortable.

Her name was Eleanor, but to most she was, "Ellie". To me, she was Mrs. Scotese since I was a kid. My parents probably would have laid into me if I tried calling her, "Ellie". She drove a Cadillac with vanity plates that read, "Elle", if my memory is right. I can't remember the order, but one Cadillac was a burgundy color and then there was an cream color. Seeing that car parked at church brought a smile to my face.

She lived down the street from us. When she would drive by our house and I was outside, she would honk and wave. I loved that. She was also a school bus driver. Her bus route took her by our house and, again, she would honk and wave. I looked forward to it.

Then, I grew up. Then, I moved away. Then, I wasn't so good at keeping in touch and visiting. Then, we became Holiday greeting card exchangers. I would hear things here and there from my parents.

Two weeks ago, I was in Cleveland. Mostly to spend time with my parents. I thought about Mrs. Scotese. I asked them about her. She wasn't down the street at her house anymore. But, she was down the street in the other direction at Hospice. She was in her 90s and she was declining in health. I kept thinking I should head down to see her. Maybe take my dad with me. My mom was still recovering from some stuff and I figured it wouldn't be wise to bring her. Visiting kept popping into my mind, but I never did. I shoulda.

This morning, I found out she passed away. I wish I would've visited. But, I can picture her honking and waving her way out of this life.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Three years since the day I thought I stopped being a woman

I can't believe I am 3 years post-hysterectomy and that I still have to look up how to spell "hysterectomy". I think I am making progress from year one  and year two. I take that back. I think I'm doing better most of the year. This day still makes me an emotional wreck.

However, time moves slowly, especially without a period to measure it by. Seriously, the lack of having a period isn't the worst thing. But, I was left with my right ovary, which, in case you were unaware, still functions along with the endometriosis. This ovary is kind of getting its panties in a twist which isn't helpful when you are trying to move on from your infertility. Ovaries are assholes.

Here are my first two posts that I wrote just a few days post surgery. They may give insight to how far I may have come.


Things still aren't how they were supposed to be

The sting still stings. The hurt still hurts. I have moments when I wonder what things would have been like if we started things earlier. That's partially because I'm at an age that, before all of this, I didn't want to get pregnant. The "what ifs" can make you mad and I already have enough madness in me.

Hey, SCORE! I don't always cry at baby related things. The gut kick from seeing a pregnancy announcement/photoshoot/ultrasound; a baby shower or a gender reveal; the most adorable baby clothes or furniture or pictures is now a little twinge of discomfort. I will say, I do get choked up at baby and young children cosplayers at conventions (unless it's Deadpool).

For real, things are sort of better. I know that my female reproductive system isn't what defines my womanhood. Steps toward healing are being made. Life is going on, even without a "Happy Period"!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This may just be word vomit

As I start to write this post, the Facebook is blowing up with shares of articles about the suicide of Linkin Park's singer Chester Bennington, a friend of Chris Cornell, who's suicide I wrote about back in May. Today, apparently, is Cornell's birthday. Today's post was going to be about suicide before I even heard this news.

Over the last week, I watched the Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why". Wow. Stop now if you don't want spoilers. So, so many thoughts. Let's get some of the minor issues/pet peeves I had with it out of the way.
  • Hair and makeup was not good; the bruises and cuts left much to be desired to be believable; Hannah's haircut wig was also not believable.
  • Except for Bryce, these kids were sophomores in the flashbacks and then juniors in the current time. How were some of them so heavily tattooed. I'm guessing parental sign-off was no big deal or they had serious connections. 
  • The 25-year-old (I looked him up because I thought he was the least teenage looking cast member. To my surprise he was only 25. I was guessing 30.) omniscient, omnipresent, gay, Latino, with the classic Mustang Tony. 
  • Clay's mom being the defense attorney for the school. Total conflict of interest in my book.
This isn't my first suicide based post and, sadly, I'm almost certain it will not be my last. I will not stop writing; I will not stop sharing.

What brought me to watching the series was an article I read about two families suing the show for the deaths of two girls who killed themselves after watching the series. And, then, in the show the parents of the girl who killed herself are suing the school for causing their daughter's death. These lawsuits really got to me. I was riled up. 

One of the stages of grief is anger. In my opinion, did you catch that? In my opinion, that anger stage is greater in the case of violent deaths and suicides. That anger is being acted upon through these lawsuits. The stage of anger gets drawn out in the legal process. 

Here's the thing, shit happens, terrible shit happens in our lives. The person who commits suicide makes that choice. Perhaps there are cases where someone can get them help and they will grab that lifeline. But, no one should feel guilt or should be blamed. 

This brings me to you, Hannah. Your suicide wasn't a whim; it was thought out. The tapes show just how much you thought it out. I had moments of feeling unsympathetic toward you. I was annoyed when you pushed Clay away and said on the tape that you wanted him to turn around and come back. That is not fair. Don't put that on him. He did what you wanted. You said, "No" and he listened. That is what boys are taught to do. And, then, the Guidance Counselor, stop being vague with him and expecting him to know what you are seeking help for. And then expecting him to come after you. Yes, things were really shitty. You, in my opinion, misread things sometimes. Zach liked you and tried. You went off on him because of an awkward teenage boy moment where he said something that didn't come out in the best way. He brought up the whole "best ass" thing, but he was trying to say that he knew there was more to you than that. Not everyone is an eloquent speaker, especially high schoolers.  

So, here I am, in anger; anger for putting blame on others; anger toward expecting others to know what you want/need from them. In the end, suicide comes down to the decision of the person.

In the moments of my life when suicide was trying to make its way into my psyche, I don't recall blaming people. Most of my ideation was passive. I just wished I would stop existing, not wake up. Typically, I don't develop plans. It doesn't tend to get that far, mostly because I fear failure. Things like, the gun will jam or not hit me the right way; someone will come in the garage; the pills will make me vomit before killing me; the razor blade thing always freaked me out. 

One thought that I often had years ago was on I-271 in greater Cleveland. I was just visiting family and actually happened to be on that stretch of I-271 I'm talking about. This thought usually happened when I was in college, but whenever I drive it now, I have a moment of discomfort. Where I-271 North mergers with I-90 West, it's a pretty significant turn, not 90 degrees, but kind of sharp. I always would think about driving straight, not taking the turn. Again, though, I always figured I wouldn't succeed. 

So, here we are. Someone's suicide is their choice. As always, you NEVER, EVER, EVER know what is going on in someone else's life. 

And, in the words of Ellen, "Be kind to one another."   


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Spidey really did come home for me

Before I met Shawn, there were a lot of things I wasn't into that he brought to my life. I really wasn't into a comic book heroes and the movies about them.

All these years later, I'm all about superheroes and sci-fi. I've gone with him to midnight releases of many a movie. Now, we are a bit older and too tired to stay up that late, but we wouldn't miss the opening weekend for the world....unless it's one we're not that excited about (ahem...DC pics...ahem).

This weekend we saw "Spider-Man: Homecoming". I loved it. It's my favorite version of "Spider-Man" in movies and my favorite portrayal of him. It's now one of my top picks of any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. It was entertaining. That word really fits. There was humor and drama and action.

One of the things I loved the most about this movie is truly human aspect of this superhero. For me, this movie was about a teenage boy, Peter Parker. Yes, he is Spider-Man and, in this movie's depiction, the boy isn't separate from the hero. Tom Holland gives a perfect performance representing a teenage boy; a teenage boy who wants desperately to be a superhero like his hero, Tony Stark/Iron Man and the Avengers; who wants to be Spider-MAN! 

I've heard some reviews talking about the teenagers in the film being John Hughes-esque. I can see this. There's awkward crushes, school competitions, assholes, and a dance. All of these things, however, aren't how Peter Parker's adolescence really reveals itself.

I suppose "Spider-Teen" doesn't evoke much fear from his enemies. This teenage superhero has that teenage sense of immortality, the "it'll never happen to me" kind of worldview. Peter wants desperately to be independent. He wants to prove his worthiness to Tony Stark, his mentor, to join the Avengers, but he doesn't really want to follow "rules" to get there. We all know, to teens, rules doesn't apply because they knows it all. His recklessness gets him into trouble, as it does with most teens. Seriously, I'm not pulling out stereotypes, these are adolescent behaviors and that's what makes Peter Parker a great character. The 15-year-old Parker IS a 15-year-old Spider-Man and that's right where he's meant to be right now. 


Saturday, June 10, 2017

One thing or another

Over the last month my therapist, my mom, Shawn, and my PsychNP have all told me at least once, if not more, that I seem to be doing really well. I guess four against one means they win. To me, what it means for them to say that is that I've gotten really good at the cover-up game once again and/or I've done well to distract myself. But, I guess I should assume they are right.

I'm going through med changes again, so that's always a treat. I've been taking Seroquel XR for quite some time now, but now the immediate release version is being added to my cocktail. A few days ago, I started taking the generic Seroquel XR. My PsychNP was not a fan of my going to generic. But Cigna decided to tell me, "Fuck You" for taking the name brand and charge me $350ish a month and Canadian pharmacies weren't much better, so I'm taking the $10 a month generic.

The jury is still out on how I'm adjusting to the generic. If you are thinking there is no difference, guess again. Think about it like when you buy the Safeway brand or Giant Eagle brand ketchup and then you have a taste of Heinz and you're like, "Whoa, Nelly, something's just not right with store brands". That's what it is like. Generic can't use the exact recipe of the name brand. Once the name brand's patent expires, generic versions make their way to the pharmacy. If you google generic vs. name brand medications, results will say their is no difference. Well I, my doctors, and my mom call bullshit on that one. The generic has to have the same active ingredients as name brand. Your dosage should be the same as name brand. BUT, the inactive ingredients, the stuff it is compounded with, isn't the same. That seems like it shouldn't matter, but it does. People react differently to generics than they did to the name brand, not all people, but some. My mom was on Paxil and changed to generic due to cost, like I am doing with Seroquel. She knew it was different, things just weren't right. She had been a long time Paxil user and was able to tell the difference in generic. If the differences are really noticeable, it could lead a person to give up on it. But, then the rub comes, do you come off that drug altogether and begin the horrible process of finding something else which could take months? Or, do you go back to the name brand and possibly have to sell your organs to pay for it?

So, yay healthcare, health insurance, medications, and crazy ass mental illness!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Did the right thing

In my Facebook memories for May 30th, 2008, this was one of my posts:
quit her job, doesn't know what she'll do, but at least she still has her morals.
So, I posted this today:
Nine years ago today, I walked out on a job with nothing lined up in its place in order to maintain my sense of morals regarding the treatment and unjust firing of one of my employees by my superiors. Sometimes I feel a pang of guilt for not doing more about the situation and for still shopping at Barnes & Noble.
Shortly after my post, I received a private message from the above mentioned employee:

I just saw your post about leaving Barnes and Noble 9 years ago. I don't think I ever told you, but your courage to resign following my termination absolutely changed the way I approach life. You taught me and inspired me to live life with courage and to stand up and fight for my morals and beliefs. You gave me the courage to have a voice. I used that voice to challenge my superiors while caring for many people in nursing homes and hospitals while I was a CNA, and also while I was the Human Resources director at my last job. I wanted you to know that you are and always will be one of the most influential people in my life. I owe you a lot of credit, so thank you, thank you, thank you.
I replied:
Oh my god, you just made my day. You are welcome. I'm glad a positive came out of such [a] horrible situation. When I came in the morning and Daniel told me you were fired, I went to the bathroom and got sick and left. I always lived my life the way my dad taught me, and that was to not burn your bridges because you may need those people again some day. Shawn told me I owed them nothing. I went with Shawn's thoughts. Those were people I knew I would not need again. I called the store and said I wasn't coming back. I wish I could have done more to fight back.
She responded:
You did so much more than so many people in that situation. That entire event changed my life path. I've learned a lot since all of that happened and I often look back and wonder if I could have done more to change the outcome. I have never regretted reporting to my superiors the concerns I had. I do believe that I was terminated to protect a certain employee in the organization, but I don't think I will ever know the whole story. It is suspicious to me that I was terminated within days of making a formal police report concerning the vandalism of my car in the Barnes and noble parking lot. All that being said, the situation motivated me as a Human Resources professional to protect my employees when they had legitimate concerns regardless of who the concerns were about. I was instrumental in exposing a high level executive (and the owner's son) in an embezzlement scheme at my last job and I had no reservations about confronting the problem head on. I protected the informant and went to bat for him time and time again. You taught me that, and you taught me that we all have a choice to do what is right so that we can look at ourselves in the mirror and see the person that we want to be.
I thanked her. The idea that I actually did bring about some kind of positive was, in a way, a sense of relief. After all of these years, after wondering if it really mattered, I received validation for the way I handled one of the hardest moments of my life. That means so very much.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A different look at the cost of war

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. For many it's the kick-off to summer and a time for picnics and barbecues. Those types of celebrations are fine, but the ability to have them should not be forgotten, hence the name "Memorial". This is not Veterans' Day. This day commemorates those who made the ultimate sacrifice while in active duty. The living, who made it home, are honored in November.

I've had a lot on my mind with the approach of this holiday. Most of my thoughts have centered around PTSD. It's a terrible enemy. Many vets who have come home have been suffering from it. Since they made it home, they are veterans to be celebrated later in the year.

But, I've started to think, that in some ways, the men and women with PTSD haven't made it home. They are continuing to fight a tremendous battle against a terribly strong enemy. The brain is a powerful thing; it may not be a muscle, but it damn sure fights like one. These men and women have allies in medications, psychiatrists, therapists, group therapy, and friends and family. Sometimes the allies are strong and sometimes they can't break through. Sadly, far too many men and women lose the fight against PTSD. And, in many ways, the powerful organ of the brain made it so they never returned from battle, they were still actively fighting on the battleground, and, in a sense, that is where they died.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The quieting of the Soundgarden

I received this text from my little brother (yes, I'm 42 and he's 38, but whatever):
Any thoughts on the Chris Cornell suicide? I listened to talk radio all day on SiriusXM. So many callers shared their stories with mental illness, depression and meds. Adavan [sic] never used that, did you?
I love you, sis!
And I responded:
I honestly haven't read about it much. Just wanted to stay away from ignorant comments. I heard a clip on the radio of him talking on Stern's show about Cobain, but I didn't understand why they were playing that clip. Then, later I found out about the suicide. I get tired of people judging someone who gets to that point. No one has any clue what someone is fighting in their head.

I'm on Ativan. The only time I was off of it was when we were trying to get pregnant because it is an absolute no for pregnancy. I was on Xanax then. These drugs all have wicked side effects and everyone responds differently. It's such a difficult process to find the right meds. I take a combination of 4 drugs and that's from a doc who has a reputation of putting people on the least amount of drugs to help them. It's no joke.❤️
He also asked if I knew if our two brothers and my mom were still on meds.

Celebrity suicides bring about different discussions. As much as I would like that the dialogue about mental illness didn't need a celebrity name to bring it about, I guess we have to take what we can get. The text from my brother was part of the discussions that are born of celebrity suicides. It's an expression of concern, but I feel like it's almost expressing fear.

Mental illness is scary when untreated or mistreated. Medications are scary when you are trying to find the right ones. Side effects affect each person differently. Chris Cornell is said to have been taking Ativan, which I'm guessing spurred my brother's question. His reaction to and the amount of Ativan he had taken shows how everyone is different. I take my prescribed dose, with the occasional extra on particularly rough days. I have been taking Ativan for years and I have been fortunate with side effects. In the puzzle of mental illness, everyone's piece is different.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Away she goes

In the early hours of the morning today, my stepdaughter drove off in a U-Haul with her boyfriend to start their new life together in Texas. I did my own driving off going on 12 years ago. So, I can relate to her and now, I can kind of relate to my own family watching me drive off all those years ago.

Conner's moving stirs so many emotions. We hope this new beginning is a good one. It's time for her to branch out. She needs to live her life and follow love where it takes her. I know Shawn has taught her so much about life, love, generosity, hope, and independence. She will make her mark on Texas. And, no matter what happens, we will welcome her with open arms if she needs them.

Good luck, Conner & Shaun, on this new phase in your life together.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Joy and pain, side by side

It's Mother's Day. There's a certain sting to this day. I realize that this day has come to envelope a variety of women who have some kind of parental role outside of biology. But, the sting still exists.

The third anniversary of my hysterectomy is creeping up on the calendar. That day that sealed the deal that no biological baby would be coming from me. And now, I'm 42, older than I ever wanted to be to have a baby. You would think that would help things stop hurting. I still hurt. I'm not sure if the hurt has eased up at all. I'm not sure if it ever will.

But, I'm a step-mother, a doggie mom, and a daughter of a great mom, so I do appreciate this day.

Today, there is joy and there is pain. That is what makes up the story of life.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Breaking up is hard on whom?

There's that old cliché about breakups, "It's not you, it's me". I recently wrote about my convent life. That is coming up on 14 years ago. And, all those years ago, that cliché proved to be true.

I've been thinking about the breakup lately. That is what it was. I was in a relationship; I realized it didn't fit; and, I ended the relationship. Did I end it in the best way? No and I can admit that. When I look back on it, I wasn't in a single relationship. It was a complex dynamic.

There was the relationship with God or what I tried to believe to be God. That breakup wasn't too bad. I mean, once you admit to a lack of belief, then the rest just falls into place. So, this one doesn't really fit the cliché.  This is more of, "It's not me, it's the lack of you".

Then, there is the breaking up with the Catholic Church. Again, not quite so difficult, especially once the God breakup was done. But, for this one, I will admit that it wasn't the Church's fault. I just was no longer able to be faithful (see what I did there).

Here's the part I've been thinking about; this part is kind of messy. In the history of the Community of Sisters I was #998. While I was there, I once said to some friends that the song says, "One is the loneliest number", but for me, it was 998. Then I broke up with a Community, over 100 women. I walked out on them, literally. I packed up my shit and left.

Every so often feelings will come over me, pangs of, I'm not sure what word fits the best, perhaps guilt? In a group of that many women, I cannot say that I knew them all, but some I knew well...very well. Those are for whom I feel the pangs.

While I was visiting back in Cleveland last month, I was shopping and spotted one of the sisters with whom I had lived. I immediately became uncomfortable. She was busy with her cart and looking around. Then, we came close to bumping into one another. We made eye contact for a brief moment. But, I can honestly say there wasn't a glimmer of recognition in her eyes. I was glad to avoid actual contact because, well, awk-ward. But, that incident did bring up thoughts about the breakup.

The other day, I saw one of the sisters on Facebook because we have mutual Facebook friends. She was one of my teachers for all 4 years of high school. I was struck by how much she has aged. Then, I started to think about her. I wondered if she'd take my friend request if I tried. She is a kind and gentle person. Then, I thought about things being strained between us, perhaps, because of how things ended with me and the Community. I'm just not sure what I want to do.

Every once in awhile, my parents will see some of the sisters. They will tell me, "Hello" from them and how they asked about how I was. I always wonder, in these moments, what they thought of me when I left. Maybe the breakup was harder on me.

One of the messiest parts of the breakup was losing one of the sisters who had been such a presence in my life since I was 14 years old. I didn't order a class ring in high school. She ended up giving me hers. We were very close. We tried to hang on after I left. I would still talk to her when I moved to Colorado. Things changed, though. Life was different. I lost the connection to her that I once had. The change in our relationship made me feel that I should no longer have the school ring she gave me. I sent it back to her. That was not her, that was all on me.

Would I go back to those relationships? No, absolutely not. The reality of the reasons for leaving would still exist. Would I change the way I left the sisters? If I knew how to, then I probably would.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Skill set

It's funny the way people will tell you what "you should" do.

I've had a number of people tell me, "you should write a book". They usually think that because I can share a good story about my experiences. That doesn't mean it would make a good book or enough pages to make a book. I write a blog. It's not the same, but it's what I do....too bad money isn't involved, but I'm not sure there would be money in a book by me, either.

People also tell me, "you should do improv". My kind of funny isn't really cutout for improv. I took an improv class and decided it wasn't something for me. I didn't continue to the next level. I think Shawn's disappointed in me for that. I think he thinks a gave up on it to quickly. But, I'm snarky and sarcastic, not someone who can ad lib a scene. So, no money there.

Neither of these things is helping me figure out a resume and a career.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It's been a year

I began my 8 month journey through ECT one year ago today.

What difference did it make? Well, it stole almost all of 2016 from me. Even though ECT started in April, it managed to rob me of memories all the way back to January. I continue to find out more and more things I was a part of, but didn't experience. What I mean is that when a see a picture from something last year, I can see that I was there, I was physically present, but I didn't experience it. Experience, in my opinion, is in the mind and not fully having my mind available to me, I was not having the experience.

Did it change anything else? Honestly, I don't think so. Shawn is probably the better one to ask.

Would I do it again? Probably. I mean, when your brain is so fucked up, you look for options. Also, in some ways, having some of my darkest moments "erased" with electricity brought respite.

Now I'm in the beginning of a 12 week group therapy course. I don't like it. The vibe just isn't working for me. But, I should continue to plug away at it because maybe it will strike something, other than annoyance, in me. I guess we'll see...

Friday, April 14, 2017

Jarvis, the reluctant...hero?

So, just a little description of the neighborhood to help with the story. We live near a retirement/assisted living/ nursing home/rehab facility compound-ish thing. We also live amidst a paved trail system. The two things come together when the trail goes along the back of the patio homes portion of the old people village. Shawn and I refer to it as "the retirement home path". So, the north side of the path buts up against patio homes and the south side is next to grass, trees, benches, and a waterway. At a certain point, the patio homes end, there's a space (probably two car widths) and then the start of a series of garages.

There you have it; our stage.

Last week, Jarvis and I were on a routine walk on the retirement home path, heading east toward home. We could see an old lady staring at something by the split rail fence near the garages. As Jarvis and I get closer she says, "This must be yours." I look and there's a little, white dog just hanging out. So, obviously, I have a big dog on a leash and I'm heading toward a roaming little dog, it must be mine. Dog parenting for the WIN! I told her that it was not and kept on our way with Jarvis' poop in a bag on the way to the poop station.

Then, an older man comes from the other direction and I hear, "Certainly, this must be yours." Again, her theory gets rejected.

DAMMIT! I can't do it. I can't keep going. The dog must be rescued; the owner must be found. We head back. I try to find something to hook Jarvis' leash to so that he secure while I go play some kind of  canine savior. Once Jarvis is hooked, he loses his shit and barks like the goddamn Mailman is trying to do his job and deliver shit.

Meanwhile, I head over to the little dog. I'm not good with breeds, this one looks like it took a frying pan to the face a la "Tom & Jerry" and is forever pissed about it. It also has a tail the stands up and strands of hair hang off of it, kind of like the ribbons on a May Pole before they are May Poled.

I pick this light weight, white, ball of fur up. I'm not sure he's even ten pounds. He gives me the evil eye. What the fuck? I'm trying to find his fucking home and he's so ungrateful.

While all of this is happening, I'm hoping for a large number of seniors who are hard of hearing to living around there because Jarvis cannot get his shit together. I look over and he did some kind of twisted flip without actually strangling himself. Resting bitch (I know, Oscar is a boy dog) face is shaking and growling at Jarvis. I sit down on a curb near Jarvis hoping he might shut up because the dog is not a threat to him. I'm looking at Oscar's collars and I try calling the licensing office. It is a recorded, pick-a-number menu. I decided holding the dog and Jarvis barking are not making this phone call easy. Then, I decide to go to the apartment building hoping for a front desk with a receptionist who can take over for me. Me walking away brings Jarvis' desire to be recognized and hear to the next level. I get to the apartment and there is no front desk and you have to be buzzed in. I don't think a random buzzing to some apartment tenant is going to get me anywhere.

I go back to Jarvis; back to curb sitting; back to collar tag looking. Oscar's "Oscar" tag has two phone numbers. One didn't work. The other went to voicemail so I left a message with my phone number. There I am with Jarvis chained up and barking and a small dog giving me the stink eye. I unhook Jarvis and he wants a piece of Oscar. He's jumping and Oscar is growling while giving Jarvis the death stare. I'm trying to get Oscar to higher land (aka my upper body) because Jarvis wants an ass sniff and a piece of the angry little devil. Fuck me! Jarvis pulls out a tuft of hair. Then another tuft. I get Oscar almost on top of my head while using my other hand to try to choke up on Jarvis' leash so he can't jump high. And, while all this is happening, while Jarvis is jumping around me, there is a bag of shit in my pocket!

I'm almost in tears while also wanting to laugh thinking about what this must look like. For a moment, I think, well, I'm going to have to bring Oscar home and wait for the call. Then I realize, how the fuck am I going to walk home with these two and then what am I going to do with them once I get their. UGH!!!

Finally, I decided it would be best to walk around the senior village and hope for someone to know or own this dog. I didn't pay attention to the name on the voicemail so I call back and get the lady's name. We're walking along, the three stooges, and Jarvis' gets one more tuft of hair!!! Then, there is a woman out in front of her home. I asked if she knew the woman from the voicemail. She did and told me she was in the home next door to where I was. She said something about how it must be Oscar or....I stopped her and said that it was, indeed, Oscar.

Jarvis and I take Oscar to the door. The woman was asking him if he got out again. She mentioned that he did spend a night in jail once. That was about it. I kind of expected a bigger thank you, but I guess if this is a pretty routine experience, she has become hardened to the ways of appreciation.

Maybe Oscar is trying to get away from something and maybe that something has frozen his face into a permanent expression of hatefulness and inner rage.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Here's how my liver is living

I wrote about my physical health a few weeks back. So, blood work, ultrasound, and now an MRI for my liver happened. The results were a benign cyst on my liver, fatty liver, and gallstones. I am supposed to go 3-6 months for another MRI to check the cyst. Then there's diet and exercise to be figured out and acted upon for the fatty liver. The gallstones will just chill out in their home until they decide they want to be assholes and wreak havoc on my gallbladder.

So, all is well...ish.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A big ole what the fuck?

I just got back from a trip to CLE with my husband. During the trip, things came to a head with my friend from this previous post, How did we get here?. I REALLY should have let things go, but my blood was boiling from something she had said to a mutual contact.

A lot of the text argument had me confused. She claimed that I did the blocking on social media first. That doesn't really make sense as to why I would try contacting her daughter to see what I had done to upset her. She told me the messages, texts, and the letter were too much for her daughter and for her to handle. Again, don't understand why there was no response to let me know what I had done. Then, I became more confused when she told me I ignored their requests. I asked her, in this text war, what she was talking about. No answer. I again said that I didn't understand what requests she was talking about. Again, no explanation.

I don't expect things to ever be the same. She says she's living in the present and those things don't matter. I'm merely looking for answers, which don't seem to be coming.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Oy Vary!!!

Well, it's been all ECT, mental illness, yadda yadda, up in here, that it's about time we get back to some HOOHA posts. I mentioned some "female troubles" a little over a month ago. Those troubles meant a trip to the gyno. Yesterday was that trip.

My appointment was yesterday morning. I waited in the exam room for my doctor (I LOVE HER). When she came in she asked me what was going on to bring me there. She also asked what's been going on with my mental health. She isn't an in-and-out gyno, both in conversation and with the speculum. 

Anyway, she decided I needed an ultrasound to check my remaining ovary. You don't even KNOW how awesome an experience an ultrasound is for me. I've had so many doctors and ultrasound techs up in my HOOHA, I wasn't nervous about the procedure. My modesty is long since gone. My ovary is around back which makes it difficult to find. My left one was that way, too. So, when I have to have an internal ultrasound, it's a real pain in the ass, or the pelvis. The tech's use of the wand feels like she's playing Atari and it's one hell of a game. I gave her the heads' up that it was a tricky little bugger. This was probably one of the most painful of all my many, many ultrasounds. The wand goes straight inside and then, because of my ornery remaining lady part, she begins to push it further and further and further to the side. It took a very long time for her to finally find the little bitch (that's my pet name for my right ovary now that she's all I have left). Ahhh, relief and time to get dressed.

I went back to the examining room to wait for Dr. I Love You to meet with me again. She came in and got down to business. The good news was that there was no new trouble with the last ovary. She explained that the endometriosis was still a force to be reckoned with. She said I had some fluid that may have been a ruptured growth that will be reabsorbed and that may have been what caused some of my discomfort. 

Then we moved on to options. She said my endometriosis was a really bad case. The right ovary was still suffering from it. She said I could have surgery, which would be a complicated case, to remove righty mcbitch. This would mean instant menopause, which was the reason for leaving the right asshole behind during the hysterectomy. I could start monthly Lupron hormone injections to stop the ovary from doing its thing. That would be kind of like menopause, but not fully. Finally, I could just wait things out until I go into menopause naturally. She said, as always, it is my decision and she would be there for whatever I want to do.

Well, for right now, I'm going to just wait for nature to take its course. The pain is a mere annoyance. It's just a little cramp. It doesn't double me over. I'm not in search of pain meds when it happens. If things change, I know my options.

Now, tomorrow, on to my liver.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

"On This Day"

Facebook has a feature that allows you to see old posts from throughout the years. It's a fun thing to look through each day.

Now, it is a bigger deal because I've started to get to the point of last year that I began to lose my memory. I thought the memory feed would be a cool thing to go through to help me experience my life. And, it has kind of been neat to see things. There are pictures from our Cleveland trip. Some of them are really sweet showing Shawn with our nieces. There are goofball moments with my BFF Linda.

But, there is also a sadness. There is the realisation of all that I missed out on experiencing...but, I did experience them. It's a bizarre and frustrating thing to go through. I wish I remembered the tender moments between Shawn and our nieces. I wish I remembered being a goofball with Linda. My Dad holding my brother's dog in such cute way. Tasting all the amazing food that it looks like we had. All of these things I don't remember.

It's hard for me to say whether it is better to be completely clueless or to see these pictures everyday.

It will be a long year on Facebook.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Proper pet people

Our dog, Jarvis, had a lot of issues his first year or more. He has one issue that we will be taking care of for his entire life. I'm not sure of the name. He has a small penis. It is too short to push out of his sheath which causes some urine to stay in the sheath. This urine builds up and he has a kind of pus buildup. So, we have to flush it out regularly with a solution.

During one of our vet visits for vaccinations (Shawn told me because I don't remember it. Of course, it was during ECT shit) the vet told us about another dog with this issue that she recently saw. She told the owner what he was going to need to do. He told her there was no way he would do it. Maybe he would do it once. He said to her that no one would do that. She told him about us.

Sometimes, pets have special needs. They have health issues that are minor. Others have more serious problems. If you aren't prepared to take care of your pet with those kinds of things, maybe you should reconsider being a pet parent. Rescues will take them and find a match for them.

Yeah, he's going to be so embarrassed. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Good Times

Okay, I called this "Good Times", but, actually, it's not. There's nothing "Dy-no-mite!" going on here.

I had my monthly, "What's Happening!!" (again, not the sitcom type of happenings) appointment with my PsychNP. You know, the one during which we talk about what level of mess I currently am and what med changes may or may not need to be made.

Well, during my appointment a couple days ago, we went over lab results from my bloodwork I had done at the end of January. Yeah, this was some awesome information to behold. That great moment when you are at an appointment for your mental health and then find out some of your physical health is less than "Dy-no-mite!"

My triglycerides are pretty great. By "great", I mean the number is high, not that the number is good. It seems I may have a trifecta going on that is a mix of my fabulous diet, the meds I take, and possibly some heredity. So, I need to start looking at my diet and pretty much get rid of everything I actually like to eat. YES! Again, don't confuse my use of "YES!" as me having a cheerful outlook.

The other issue is my liver. It looks like I'm getting all the crappy liver problems without the fun of being a drinker. Liver issues weren't a complete surprise. I've had some liver enzyme shit for a while. The Red Cross actually blacklisted me because of my liver a good 15 years or more ago. I donated blood and they sent me a letter saying they couldn't use it, I had elevated liver enzymes, and they never wanted my blood again. They came crawling back awhile later with another letter saying they totally wanted me back and they had better ways of ruling out the issues they had with me.

Anyway, getting back to now. My liver numbers have increased enough that my PsychNP wants my liver checked out with a sonogram. She wants to see if it's fatty liver or if something else shows up. This again, was kind of a combo platter of heredity and meds. So, at some point soon, I will probably getting this checked out further.

Then, I asked her if she checked hormone levels. She said that she did not and asked why I wanted to know. I told her that I've had some abdominal cramps and lower back pain on my right side, which is where my remaining ovary, my last female bit is located. So now I have to add a gyno visit to the list of things I'm supposed to be doing; appointments I should be making. Won't it be awesome if this last, little remnant of my femininity is wreaking havoc on me? Right, little ovary saying, "HEY!  HEY! OVER HERE!  REMEMBER ME? I'M NOT GOING TO BE IGNORED!"

Well, there you go. Shit is certainly happening (not only because my colon is still functioning).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What a year

I was looking at last year's posts from this time and times were tough (Hanging On & Exiting Crazy Town). It probably kicked off the worst part of my mental health journey.

My "Valentine" carried me through that whole, months long journey. His life was pretty much consumed by taking care of me. He took me to every ECT appointment which also meant putting me to bed after getting home from the treatment. He worked from home through the course of my treatments. In the beginning, he was home all five days of the week. He had to do all the driving until some point in October, I think. Jarvis was almost his entire responsibility. Because of the intensity of my memory fucked-uped-ness for several months, I couldn't walk Jarvis for fear of me getting lost. Most of all of that time, he was my everything in a different way than he was before in our relationship. There have been terrible moments since finishing ECT. Those moments are more examples of his amazing love and strength. Moments of darkness; moments of talking me down; moments of considering having me committed; moments of my being an asshole. Through it all, he has endured.

Yes, this is another blog post about Shawn and how fortunate I am to have him in my life. "Our song" is Power Of Two by the Indigo Girls. It's probably more accurate to say "Power Of One".

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How did we get here?

The story of this blog post has been with me for awhile. It's an example of how relationships can change. There can be an ebb and flow between friends. Then, unbeknownst to one, the entire relationship ends. It boggles my mind, but it is reality.

I had a person in my life for as long as I can remember. We didn't really have much of a relationship when we were young. Our relationship developed much more as we grew into adulthood. The bigger events of life seemed to bring us closer.

When she got married, I wasn't only a bridesmaid, but I helped make centerpieces and that kind of thing. I was at the hospital for the births of her children. Well, I was getting ready to head out to get there for one of them and got a call that she already arrived. Anyway, I was there from the beginning. Actually, for one of them I was possibly going to be in the delivery room in case her husband was sitting for a certification exam for work. That didn't happen, but could have.

I was active in her family's life. For one of the kids, I was godmother. Different activities the kids were involved with, I made an effort to be there. We joked around together. A couple of times, I was the wingman for candle parties and that kind of thing when she was invited to them. 

When I moved to Colorado, texted was very important to us. She would also call me when needing to say more than she could in a text. She vented to me and that kind of thing. The kids were also keeping in touch with texts and social media. 

One time, one of the kids had a SnapChat of a very teenage kind of picture, but still should have been thought through before posting. So, I simply sent a message to say that she may want to think about what she's posting and that her mom might see it. Then, there was a Facebook post (may have been Twitter) that said something about not being able to be reached by phone. I jokingly said something like, "Uh-oh, did your mom see the SnapChat?" I'm not 100% sure of the exact details since it is going to be 3 years since this happened. After I made that joking comment I was completely blocked on every form of social media with which we were connected. 

This was a few months before my hysterectomy. I tried calling and texting to ask her to explain what happened. When I was getting closer to my surgery date, I decided to write a handwritten letter. Since any surgery has elements of risk, I wanted to make one more attempt to clear things up. I just wanted a sense of peace heading into my procedure. No response whatsoever. 

I tried checking in with her mom, my friend. Nothing was said about it. She didn't give me any thoughts of her own about it. It was like everything in our lives, except for this, was fine. Then....

She stopped communicating with me completely. All was done. I was left with no idea why things changed with either of them.

I had gotten to a place of acceptance for quite some time, but ever since around Christmas, it's been eating away at me.

One thing I have to remind myself of is that even if I get some kind of resolution, there is no way to get things back to what they once were. That is sad.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

The sweetest thing

I have to say that my moments of infertility/hysterectomy mourning have been fewer and further between. Pictures of newborns in my Facebook feed don't choke me up everytime. I can congratulate someone on a pregnancy with a much smaller feeling of a gut punch.

The other day, however, I couldn't hold back. 

Shawn and I have nieces and nephews back in Cleveland, where I'm from. We stay with my brother and sister-in-law and their 3 girls, the youngest of the nieces and nephews. We're usually in CLE at least once a year.

Anyway, I was looking through pictures from our various trips to see my family. There were quite a few of Shawn with the girls. The girls were at all different ages as I scrolled through. The pictures prove him to be very sweet. There are pictures of him with one of the girls cuddled up on his chest, asleep with a blanket. Another shows him walking while holding one niece as a toddler and she has her arms around his neck and her head resting on his shoulder. One shot shows him holding a bubble wand for one of the girls so she can try to blow a bubble. And, of course, there are plenty of the make-silly-faces pictures. 

As I looked at the pictures, I choked up, then teared up, then cried. I love those pictures. I love watching him with the girls when we visit. I love Shawn. I love the girls.

I don't cry because those things happened. I cry because those things won't happen with children of our own.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Learn how the game is played

I've been watching "Family Feud" lately, despite it being hosted by a complete ass. The ridiculousness of the answers people give just amazes and entertains me. And, I'll admit, it makes me concerned for the state of things in the U.S. in a little different way than the motherfucker we call President.

Anyway, playing the game well can require you to guess answers that you don't necessarily agree with, but what the majority of people surveyed think. Sometimes, if you are conservative, you may need to think like a liberal and vice versa.

The other day one of the families was Muslim-American of Egyptian descent. It consisted of three sisters wearing Hijabs, their brother, and one sister's husband. Steve Harvey was kind of awkward toward them. He made comments about how he probably wouldn't pronounce their name correctly after the first time. When he called over the first person from each family, he didn't call the Muslim woman by her name. I have watched the show and I've seen other episodes where a person has an unusual name, but I've never seen him not even try.

Then he does another thing that he hasn't really done to others, except maybe an old woman. The question was something about what's a reason a woman would stay with a man if he didn't have any money. The other family ended up with 3 strikes, so it went to the Muslim family. The woman answered with the guy would be good in bed. Steve Harvey looked at her and said something about how he couldn't believe that would come out of her mouth. The whole family said that it was about winning, so they said it for the win, which is the point. Her saying that wasn't like she was admitting to sleeping around, it shows that she understands the society in which she lives.

So, lesson learned: A Hijab doesn't make you ignorant to what the rest of the world does and doesn't do.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

It's like a needle in a basilic

I just got back from getting some routine blood work done. It's just another part of having a mental illness. Things like levels of some of my meds in my blood are monitored. Today, I won the HOLY FUCK, I HATE THIS award by having 6 vials drawn.

Being tattooed, I'm sure some of my other inked friends can relate, people don't understand how I have issues with blood work, blood donations, and IVs. Well, here's the story. When I get a tattoo, I don't even see the needle of the tattoo gun. Well, most of my pieces are on my back, but the pieces on my forearm I could watch. Anyway, we're not talking about a long, thin, metal, tube being shoved deep in my vein. I don't have to fear the way I move my arm or hand because an IV all up in there. Then there's the awesome experience of blood work and blood donations where my freaking blood is being sucked out of my body. I DON'T need to see that. NOPE!

So, not all needles are the same.

Monday, January 23, 2017


I have been almost 100% free of most form news and social media from Friday through Sunday. Seriously, I don't think I spent more than 15 minutes total. My time was spent watching three different Marvel Netflix series and "Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown." All of it is too much.

Seeing as this is my blog, many things posted are in my humble opinion. Two things have weighed heavily on my mind; the use of "Hitler" and "Nazis"; and 10 year old Barron Trump.

The first thing, which I may have written about before, has bothered me for years, long before Trump entered the political realm. I wish that people would stop using "Hitler" and "Nazis" to describe someone or some group with whom they disagree. I try to catch myself. I'm talking things like "grammar nazi", "femi-nazi", or calling someone like Trump "Hitler".

These things insults victims, survivors, and those who fought in the Holocaust. Until one of these things selects a group of people and orders them to wear a symbol on their clothing and live in ghettos, orders death marches, loads trains to take people to concentration camps, sends people to gas chambers, starves people, shoots a group to fill mass graves, and any other of the horrors of the Holocaust that I may have forgotten, they are not a "Nazi" or "Hitler".

Don't get me wrong, however, there are some people in more recent history who I would not argue with being labeled "Hitler". First there is Idi Amin, President of Uganda in the 1970s. At first he chose the Acholi and Lango ethnic groups to be massacred. Then he moved on to almost every other type of group of people who may be against him in some way. Another example is Slobodan Milošević. He was brought to trial at The Hague for genocide; complicity in genocide; deportation; murder; persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds; inhumane acts/forcible transfer; extermination; imprisonment; torture; willful killing; unlawful confinement; wilfully causing great suffering; unlawful deportation or transfer; extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; cruel treatment; plunder of public or private property; attacks on civilians; destruction or wilful damage done to historic monuments and institutions dedicated to education or religion; unlawful attacks on civilian objects. That list, I believe, makes him "Hitler" worthy.

The second issue I mentioned is 10 year old Barron Trump. I've heard that some insulting comments have been making their way around social media. The idea that someone would think that's okay boggles my mind. When Chelsea Clinton was the first minor child to inhabit the White House since the Carter administration, people were brutal toward her, mocking her appearance. Why do people think this is okay? A minor child, who in no way chose to be in the public eye, is off limits. I don't like Trump. I'm not okay with him being president. If you want to call him an asshat, douchebag, motherfucker, that is one thing, but leave his 10 year old son alone.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Like a good neighbor, Nana was there

Today is my second oldest brother's 45th birthday. It would also be the 110th birthday of our neighbor at our parent's house. I can't think of one without the other.

Mrs. Finnegan was known to us as "Nana". She was the epitome of great neighbor. It was the classic "borrow a cup of sugar" relationship. But actually more than just a neighbor. Nana really was like a grandma to us. For example, she filled in at "Grandparent's Day" at school.

When I was really young, probably kindergarten aged, she introduced me to the wonderful world of coffee cake. I would make regular visits to see her and get Brach's butterscotch hard candies. We had quite the times together.

By the time my younger brother came along, Nana had moved onto handing out gum. She also abetted him, unknowingly, when he was young and got into some trouble. He and a friend decided it would be a great idea to throw rocks at passing cars. Well, one car came back. His friend took off toward home and my brother ran into Nana's backyard. Nana was back there and my brother asked her not to tell where he was hiding. It turned out, Nana thought he was in the midst of a game of hide-n-seek. When she saw who was "seeking" him, she realized he was in some trouble.

On January 16th, 2006, Shawn and I happened to be in town for a visit. We went over, with some other members of my family, to see Nana for her 99th birthday. She made some comments that Shawn should move back with me from Colorado. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I'm willing to bet my Dad had the traditional Twinings Tea, I believe English Breakfast, and Queen Anne Cordial Cherries. Then, we took some pictures.

Shawn and I went back to Colorado right after seeing Nana on her birthday. In February, when I was back in CO, my mother called with terrible news. Nana had fallen and things weren't looking good. This woman who, at 99 and legally blind, was still living on her own. My mom and Nana's family were regularly checking on, but she did maintain independence. My parents were included with the family at the end.

I will always be grateful for having that last birthday visit with Nana Finnegan.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?"

I find the show, "Sister Wives", fascinating. Now, I think the husband/father is kind of a dorky guy and makes me wonder how 4 women married him. But, seriously, the show is like being in a sociology class. The family is a polygamist fundamentalist Mormon sect. What really draws me into viewing is how liberal they seem. They are so far from Warren Jeffs and his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with the women in "Little House on the Prairie" dresses and braided hair.

Anyway, the last two weeks have been about the coming out of one of the oldest children as a lesbian. She has always been one of the more religious of all 18 kids. She went to religious schools all the way through college. She was also one of the kids who at one point considered living polygamy. She talked about how she had thoughts and feelings that she tried to push away because of what the church she was a part of had to say about homosexuality. But, she came to a point now that just freed her to be herself and therefore come out to her family. Watching the reactions of the family to her news really touched me. People were supportive in a way that I wouldn't expect from their religious beliefs. Her biological mom had a tough time with it, but even in her struggle, she was far from showing anger. I cried while watching it, not that it takes much for me to do that, but because I found myself relating to it on a certain level.

So, here goes a post that I've gone back and forth about writing. It's a tough one and I've written a lot of really self revealing shit on this site. I'm not even going to say that this post "might" bother/anger/offend some people because that seems like a guarantee. Should I apologize in advance? I'm supposed to be sorry for my life, my reality because it doesn't match up with what others may expect? I just can't do that, so here's my story.

I come from a Roman Catholic family with 5 kids. I'm the fourth. Starting at a young age, I was pretty much the most conservative Catholic of the 5 of us.

When I was really little, I was the only one of the kids to go with my dad to weeknight mass. As I grew up, in junior high, one of the sisters told me she thought I'd make a good nun someday. Then, I went on to the expected Catholic high school. I got really involved with peer ministry, a group of kids at the high school who organized retreats and masses and other religious activities. And, as soon as I was old enough, I became an eucharistic minister so I could distribute communion. I started to go to weekday morning masses at my parish before heading to school. I would distribute communion at those masses. I was also involved with a retreat group at a neighboring parish where I would give "witnesses", which were talks about personal faith experiences.

Then, I went to college, the only college to which I applied. It was an all women's Catholic college. It's where I started to meet with one of the sisters of the community of sisters who were the sponsors of the college. They were the same sisters I had at grade school and high school. While in college, I went on a trip to visit a couple of the sisters at the Diocesan Mission in El Salvador.

After college, I went on to get a job at a legal publishing company. But, I continued to be active in the Church. I got involved with helping to run a youth group at my parish. I also became a member of a board for the Diocese that was focused on social justice. At one point, I made another trip to El Salvador for the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the rape and murder of 4 churchwoman. Then, the second half of the trip was spent with one of the sisters at her mission site. My conservatism did cause a little trouble between me and one of my brothers. He and his girlfriend got engaged and were not actively practicing Catholics, but wanted a Church wedding. This pissed me off and I stopped talking to my brother. The priest they were meeting with for pre-marital counseling was a friend of mine. He told me that I should not shut off my brother and that I should see this time as a possibility for my brother to return to actively being a part of the Church. So, after about a month of not speaking to my brother I went to his birthday party and renewed our relationship. Through all of this, I was continuing to pursue a life with the religious sisters. The day after my 28th birthday, March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, when Mary said yes to being the mother of Jesus, I entered the convent...

In the first few days in the convent, I lost over 5 pounds. Things were tough and I was struggling, but I was doing what I was supposed to do. Then I stopped running after work. I'd go to my room, see my running shoes, see my bed, and opt for the bed. I kept trying. The sisters who were my head contacts were doing their thing to work with me. Someone gave me a copy of Who Moved My Cheese?, a self-help book about adaptability and facing fears. It asked, "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?". The answer came easily, but it surprised me all the same. "Fall in love." Fall in love? With a man? Not a common aspiration for a nun. But yes, the desire was clear. I wanted to fall in love.

Of course, I ignored it as with many things. I really tried. Time went on. Things got more difficult. I was at my parents' house for a visit. We went to Sunday mass. At the beginning of the mass, the little kids are called forward to be lead out to hear the readings and the Gospel at a child's reading level. As the kids were walking out, I watched them and got this sadness about them being lambs' to the slaughter. I turned and walked out of the church and walked home to my parents' house. I was a mess and my mom drove me down to my spiritual director. It was an awkward meeting and I don't really remember the exact details. I ended up back at the convent.

I went on another week; trying and trying through each day. I was cussing out the crucifix in chapel. Then, I went to my parents' house. I got into my old bed, in my old room, with blinds and curtains closed. Then, my mom came in and told me she made an appointment for a psychiatrist. He was an old, Irish, Catholic, retired military, FOX News in the waiting room, psychiatrist. Sounds like just the guy I needed to see. That very first visit, he said that I needed to get out of the convent as soon as possible and got me started on some meds.

I let the sisters who were leading me know that I was leaving. My mom and I went and moved me out ASAP. The shrink got me going again. I was addressing my mental health issues. My Dad is quite silent when it comes to really emotional matters and I had to talk to him. With all that was going on, there was something with my dad that was also in the back of my mind. When I was in junior high, one of my cousins told me that my dad only wanted three kids, I'm the 4th. I said to him, "I am sorry if I am the biggest disappointment of your life" and he looked at me with so much shock. He said to me something like, "No, I can't believe you would think that. All I want, ever want for my kids is for them to be happy." I was free. I was an atheist.

After about a month, I went to see the sisters that were my leaders. It was just a kind of final meeting to end things. In that meeting, one of them pointed to the crucifix and said that that was real suffering and nothing I experienced could compare.

That sealed the deal. I was finally where I was supposed to be. I was at peace. I was an atheist.

As I continued through therapy and looked back upon my life, there were a few times when my faith doubts popped up and I just tried to quash them:
  • Making my First Communion, I remember being disappointed that something magical didn't happen after I received Communion and that disappointment would show itself at other times
  • Listening to all the retreat talks from the groups I was a part of in high school and wondering how these people had such deep experiences
  • Taking a Philosophy of Religion course in college that really rocked my faith to the point of taking one of my books to a priest with whom I was somewhat close. He gave it back to me with a message like, "Yeah, I don't know. I have nothing."
  • Other here and there twinges
  • The entire convent experience I wrote above
The shrink, once I was out of the convent and medicated for the depression and anxiety I had (of which, once I looked over my life, I also could find examples of), wanted me to try things I had never done. He thought I should try dating. So, thanks interwebs, I started to go on some dates. WOW, what an experience some of those evenings were. 

Then, October was creeping up and that meant my BFF's wedding. My psychiatrist was like, "Weddings are good places to meet people.". I was like, "Yeah, whatever."

Then October 10th, 2003 brought about the wedding rehearsal; a good place to meet people. All of the bridal party was gathered in the church. --- "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" --- There was Shawn. ---  "Fall in love."