Monthly Archives: January 2020

Some Past Writing I Am Proud Of

I have been so sick that I have had a hard time functioning in the adult world and being an adequate parent to Peej, let alone writing. Having a constant headache is not conducive to thinking and writing. I missed posting yesterday and I’m a little bummed about that.

However in applying for jobs I’m doing the laborious task of digging back through about 30 years of writing to find applicable writing samples to send with my resume and cover letter to particular institutions. In such, I have found a few abandoned blogs I used to write and stumbled upon some writing I have done about mental illness in the past that I’m pretty proud of.

So for today’s blog post, let me share with you a few of these pieces:

Veteran’s Day, November 11th (published via Medium, 2015)

You Are Not Alone: Dealing With PTSD (published via Medium, 2015)

5 Easy Ways To Help Someone With PTSD (published via Medium, 2015)

Hopefully, I’ll feel better later this week when I am able to get to the doctor and get some antibiotics for what I believe is now a sinus infection (British Husband has one, too.) It stinks having to work this kind of stuff around his days off, but here we are. *shrug*

iPhone Cords Are Not Binkies

Today I am using a writing prompt to help me with my entry. I’ve been suffering through a sinus headache all day, so my creative juices are a little muddled. Here is the prompt I am using: A parent is trying to explain something to their child, who just isn’t getting it. Thank you to Reedsy for the prompt.

Parenting is full of stress and peril. It is a serious miracle that parents of children do not expire from having stress heart attacks on a daily basis. Babies get into EVERYTHING.

How do you explain the concept of electrocution to a toddler? Like parents don’t have a million and twelve things to worry about already – are the eating enough, getting good sleep, are they sick, are they hitting their development markers? Now we have to worry about toddlers sucking on iPhone chargers?

It’s not like you can use the illustration of Ben Franklin, the key, and the kite — their brilliant little baby brains aren’t yet sophisticated to understand analogies. Or, complicated historical facts. My child is literally obsessed with cords. If there is a cord in your room, she will find it and pull on it and try to suck on it. But, she has a particular fondness for the iPhone charger cord. So what do you do? You say “NO!” and take the iPhone charger away.

My phone is constantly under 50%. Don’t judge me. I have a toddler.

As a parent, it feels like you spend half your time saying “NO!” and taking something away. NO, don’t suck on the iPhone charger! NO, don’t bash the dog on the head with your toy! NO, don’t put that dishwasher pod in in your mouth! NO, don’t eat Crayons! NO, NO, NO! I am longing for the day when I can start teaching consequences… that give answers to the WHY of the NO! …Like, you could be electrocuted; the dog is old and you could hurt him; the pod could poison you; Crayons will give you a tummy ache.

I am not there yet. She just looks at me with those big blue eyes and tilts her head back and WAILS when I say no… like I am the meanest Mommie in the world. Of course she goes running to Dada anytime she sees him… Dada is nice and plays iPad games with her and flies her around the house like an airplane. Mama is the one who exhaustedly says NO! and makes her eat food she doesn’t want to eat and go to bed when she really wants to stay up and watch Sesame Street.

I think she might understand consequences a little bit. I mean, she is exceptionally bright. She already knows 30 words (most 18 month olds have between 5 and 20.) And, she can complete mechanical tasks and follow basic directions like putting toys away, using a spoon to feed herself, and brushing her hair/teeth. It’s also possible that she understands NO! means “do not do that.” And, she tests those boundaries. Constantly.

For example, a few months ago, she was in her high chair eating goldfish crackers. She kept dropping them on the floor to feed the dog. I said to her, “Penelope, do not drop goldfish on the floor for Max.” She stopped for a moment and turned, picked up one single goldfish cracker, and held it out over the tray of her high chair, then dropped it on the floor, while staring me in the eyes.

Like I said, she’s exceptionally bright.

99% of the time I think she doesn’t understand the concept of “if you do this, then that will happen.” She’s still shocked when she bashes the dog (I can’t watch them 24/7) and he snarls at her. She’s mortally wounded and offended by those snarls. She was just trying to play with him, why did the snarl happen?

Honest to god, parenting is the hardest job I have ever had. (And, I used to be a professional fire-eater and a telemarketer… not at the same time, but you get my point.) Exhausting, full of fright… but, also full of joy. Peej is lucky we love her more than anything on the face of the planet. That a day full of “NO!” can be mitigated by a snuggle and a kiss and a smiley face saying “Mama.”

Still, I look forward to the day when my daughter understands that no means NO! And, can consistently follow directions. That will be a good day. Until then, hide all the iPhone chargers!

Back to the iPhone chargers. I know that babies explore everything with their mouths. Which terrifies me. Because the things I have pried out of her mouth are scary. Two days ago, a screw must have fallen out of the bottom of our couch, neither British Husband or I noticed this… but, Peej did. Luckily for me, I saw her pick something up and put it in her mouth. And, I dove towards her, fingers outreached to pry whatever was in her mouth out of her mouth, and discovered a sharp, pointy screw.

Terrifying. Especially considering that she swallowed a button battery in September and had to be rushed to the ER for a surgical procedure to remove the button battery from her stomach. That remote control had a child lock on it, that shouldn’t have happened. Why are things which are supposed to be child-proof are actually adult-proof, and children can get into them easily?

I end as I start, parenting is full of stress and terror. It’s a good thing these babies of ours are cute AF. =)

Brain Woozels

Using the word “crazy” as a pejorative needs to be eliminated from the English language.

1-in-5 of the American population experience mental illness. (That’s 20% of the population, or 65,000,000 million people for those who would like the math.) 1-in-25 (or, 10,000,00) live with a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder, PTSD, major depression, or schizophrenia.

I am the one in the 25. I live with C-PTSD, major depression, social and generalized anxiety disorders. I am being tested for bipolar disorder. You would never know this upon first meeting me, but I am very open about it, and if you know me more than a few hours I will undoubtedly reveal this in conversation. I am what is called “high functioning mentally ill.” That means that I can perform the tasks of every day life, and even excel in areas like academics and job performance, without being regularly impeded by my diagnosis. Though, technically and legally, I am disabled.

I am not “crazy.” Very few people who live with mental illness are what pop culture defines as crazy: Unbalanced, unaware of their surroundings, irrational, violent, off their meds, etc.

And, it really pisses me off when people use mental health as a way to try to jab at someone. It’s demeaning and dehumanizing and just mean.

Having brain woozles (or weasels, as most people refer to them, but I love Winnie the Pooh) can be a disability, but for many people it is not.

I was 13 the first time I was taken to therapy. I was diagnosed with mild depression at that point, but back in the 80s the solution for children with depression was not drugs, it was talk therapy.

When I was 21 I was put on Prozac. I was on that drug for a couple of years, and felt better, and the doctor thought I had “situational depression” so he weaned me off of it.

At 29 I began experiencing anxiety and more depression. I went to a doctor in San Francisco who diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and situational depression. They again put me on Prozac and gave me a small dose of Xanax to help with my insomnia caused by the GAD.

All during this time, I was living my life as a normal, functioning adult – I held down jobs, I paid rent, I went to school. And, I excelled and succeeded at life. (In general.)

I was not a raving lunatic, I did not march on the corner with a sign that says “The End is Neigh.” I did not wear a tinfoil hat or hoard or act OCD or be the stereotypical pop culture representation of crazy. Maybe I was a little cleaner and more well organized than most people, but those are hardly symptoms of “crazy.”

On Being Sober

I walked into 2020 sober as a judge. This was a deliberate decision I made. I don’t believe I am an addict, (what addict does?) I had a couple of experiences with alcohol in 2019 that led me to the conclusion that booze and me do not mix so well anymore.

This is not a hard and fast sobriety. I mean, I enjoyed two glasses of a really nice wine on Christmas Eve with my Mom and Aunt, and I occasionally smoke weed (it’s legal) and partake in edibles (which generally only make me sleepy and binge on snacks with carbs in them.) Overall, though, I am planning on being sober from here on out.

Addiction runs in my family on both sides, so why mess around with it?

The hardest thing I have found about being sober is social situations where everyone else is drinking. I am an ambivert, (think of that as an introverted extrovert.) And, for years and years, I have used alcohol to cope with being social in situations where otherwise I would have felt uncomfy.

I used to be the life of the party, my dears.

Which absolutely led to some questionable behavior and decisions on my part. Not that I regret anything I have done under the influence of alcohol (except for tearily calling ex-boyfriends at 4am) – I do wish I had been a little more sober at particular moments in my life to consider my options more carefully.

These days, without the booze crutch, I am finding it harder and harder to be social. In fact, my sobriety (and, my exhaustion from parenting Peej) leads me often to avoid making plans with people. I often feel too overwhelmed to deal with people. I would much rather make myself a blanket burrito and watch Bravo.

One place I still can be social with little inhibition is on social media… even still, I have had enough bad experiences with being social on the Internet to make me extremely wary of putting myself out there. Especially, recently when my trying to do something kind for someone in need backfired on me in such a way that I am still recovering from the collateral damage that was done to me by a group of people.

IRL, as the kids say, I’m far more reserved without booze. If I make it out, you’ll find me in the corner playing with my phone, or if you’re really lucky, talking one-on-one with someone I already know. My capacity for meeting new people and dancing with a lampshade on my head seem to have functionally disappeared. This makes it a little difficult here in Chicago, as most of my friends from when I lived here before have moved on and out of the city… I do have a couple of close friends who still live here, so I’m trying really hard to hold myself accountable and make friend dates with them.

It’s also very telling that I find when I am sober a lot of the people who I used to think were cool, fun, funny, awesome people are actually bores. Unfunny. Desperate to be liked. Stupid. Tiresome.

I don’t blame lack of booze for my anti-social behavior, there are a lot of contributing factors that make me kind of more introverted than extroverted these days. I will say this, though – I feel physically and mentally better without regular drinking. Not to mention, booze interacts with my medications and can be very dangerous for me. Parenting with a hangover is terrible, too. Especially with a very active and loud 18-month old child.

The real test of my sobriety is coming, though, when I go on vacation with my family. My brothers (affectionately referred to as the “Drunk Idiot Twins”) like to goad me into drinking with them. On one vacation this resulted in me crawling into my parent’s bed sobbing about how they hated me and were ruining my vacation by making me do tequila shots. Yes, I understand free will. But, the DITs are extremely good at peer pressure. We shall see.

If anything, being sober has cut down on the number of embarrassing photos taken of me with my tongue hanging out.

Public Service Announcement: Doxxing Is Illegal

I have been doxxed. For those of you who do not know what doxxing is: To dox – to search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.

Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve been doxxed. It’s the THIRD.

About 13 years ago, a former roommate decided to give my personal information (including photos of my parent’s home) to a notorious troll group. They published that info anywhere they could think of where it might harm me or my family.

Then about 8 years ago, I was doxxed by an anti-fan of my writing on the website Bleeding Cool. Without getting into specifics on how, it led to harassment and cyberstalking charges against an individual who used that information to *actually* stalk me. (Thank you, Chicago, for being amongst the first major metropolitan cities to recognize cyberstalking and cyberbullying as crimes.)

This morning, I woke up to about 50 text messages and a few missed calls – all from unknown numbers – basically asking me to perform sex acts for money. (Absolutely NO JUDGEMENT of sex workers here, I just am not one.) I cannot tell if someone actually listed my phone number on an escort site -or- if it is someone/someones who are using Google numbers to harass me. Regardless, I have strong suspicions of who is responsible for it. Given that in December I got into a private fight with someone, who then decided to make it public in a group they owned (and, that I was a member of,) and subsequent shit ensued that resulted in me blocking a whole lot of people and leaving all of this person’s groups. I suspect it is a person or a small group of people who are “inner sanctum” with this person. I hope I’m wrong, but it’s way too suspicious and follows their MO for fucking with people they do not like.

Regardless, the important take away of this blog post is this: Doxxing constitutes cyberstalking, and cyberstalking is a federal crime and a crime in Illinois that is punishable by prison and fines. Which means that in the morning I am going to go to a police precinct and file a report of cyberstalking/harassment for the third time in my life.

In case this ever happens to you, here are some tips:

  1. Preserve any and all communication you get from people that proves that your identifying information has been doxxed on the Internet.
  2. Try not to engage with the person who is harassing you (I’m really bad at this, because I always want to know why and how, even today I engaged with two of these dumblefux trying to figure out where/how they got my number.) But, seriously, do not do this. My Mom and the police would tell you this is super important, and I agree… even though I’m bad at it.
  3. File a police report ASAP. Even if they say they cannot do anything about it, you need a paper trail that proves you tried to act in your own interest.
  4. If it gets worse, press the cops to do something about it. They won’t want to, but you have to be a strong advocate for yourself because what whoever has doxxed you has done is ILLEGAL AF. Don’t let them win.

Honestly, I hope I am wrong about who I think has orchestrated this bullshit. It would be a new super-low, even for them. Ugh. I hate the Internet. Apparently, it hates me back.

This and That

Today is the first day in a week when I haven’t had a strong desire or a topic in mind to write about. Frustrating. Maybe because I haven’t had much time to think today? Must be. I have been running around since 9am this morning doing errands. Errand day is the worst, and also sort of the best — quiet time in my car, just listening to music, as I port myself between places. Today I was listening to the Broadway recordings for Beetlejuice: The Musical (Alex Brightman is a fucking gem and funny AF,) and Dear Evan Hansen — two musicals about the same topic (death,) that couldn’t be more wildly different. Don’t believe me? Listen to them back-to-back.

I went to get new glasses/sunglasses today (and, have an eye exam) – which I’m excited about. I think the glasses and sunnies I picked are cute. Maybe I’ll post pictures on my Instagram when they come in.

British Husband and Peej are both sick, so I had to go to Target to get supplies for them. And, my favorite hair color was on sale for $5 each, I bought two. I hope this doesn’t mean that they are discontinuing it. I’ll probably let the ugly red fade out for a week more and then dye my hair… again, pics on Instagram, maybe. I also got myself new mascara and brow filler (I had a gift card) and some of those new fangled magnetic falsies w the magnetic eye liner (recommended by one Claire Max, thanks bae.) On 1/31 I am going out on a friend date with one of my oldest friends, perhaps I will dye and doll myself up for that. Photo worthy. Joan Marie is pretty as she was in high school, I def need to rise to her level of natural beauty.

I consigned the bags I wrote about yesterday. The only bags they did not take were my Whiting and Davis (because, they said they could not possibly get me what they are worth – the 1892 Victorian bag, alone, is worth $2500 in it’s original condition,) and a couple of vintage ones. The rest of them are gone, getting researched by their experts, getting ready to be sold. The manager of North Shore Exchange‘s Skokie location was so lovely and compassionate when I told her why I was selling my massive collection of designer handbags. We talked for at least 30 minutes after she was done inspecting and inputting them into the system. I felt so supported and seen. She has recently been through what I am going through with British Husband, so she emphasized to me that no matter what happens, it only gets better from here. When I can find some time to volunteer there, I’m going to hit her up about coming out to support their mission. (100% of NSE’s profits go to Chicago charities, mostly benefiting women and children and animals. If you are in the area, they have three locations, you should check them out. If you’re not in the area and are in the market for a luxury handbag, check out their website.) As soon as I have a new job, I’m going back in there and buying myself a secondhand pretty… I had to restrain myself from buying a Diane Von Furstenberg lambskin hobo bag… it was so soft, yet so punk rock. I wanted it bad. #handbaghoar

Mostly today, though, I have been thinking about the vacation that Peej and I are going on in April with my family for my Mom’s 70th birthday. My parents have rented a massive beach house about 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, SC. I’m so excited because we’re going to get to spend a whole week with my parents, my brothers, their partners, my niece, and my nephews. I’m also a little sad, as British Husband has declined to go… it just says something important. But, I’m not going to let that get me down. I plan on cooking a seafood feast for my Mom. I make a mean crab bisque. I’m also super excited because my brother and sister-in-law gave my parents a professional photographer for Christmas- on this trip we’re going to have the first family photo taken (on the beach) since said brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in 2005. I’m ordering two prints: One for my wall, one for the desk at the awesome new job I’m going to start at as soon as we get back (I’m manifesting that for myself, so mote it be.)

My family is everything to me. Everything.

I’m also excited about this trip because I have never been to Charleston. And, I am a Bravo addict, and Southern Charm is one of my favorite shows… maybe I’ll run into Ms. Patricia and Michael as we wander around Charleston before we take a sunset dinner cruise around the harbor? Fingers crossed.

Speaking of Bravo, it’s almost time for Below Deck. It’s the week that Captain Lee makes *the* angry face, so I better sign off and get prepared to live tweet it along with my other obsessive #Deckies.

Like I said, a little of this, a little of that, a lot of nothing. Until next time…

Goodbye, Chanel and Alexander McQueen

I’m depressed today. The reason I am depressed is so fucking stupid… because it’s just *stuff* …tomorrow I have an appointment to sell/consign the last of my luxury handbags.

In a past life, I used to run a little business that sold vintage and second hand high-end luxury designer handbags. It didn’t work out. This is actually a huge point of contention between me and British Husband. I sold off all the really expensive bags to Fashionphile years ago. We literally recouped any loss we took when we closed the business with that sale.

However, there are about 10-15 bags that were for *my own personal use* that I decided to keep. Mostly, because they were my insurance policy in case of… well, in case of financial hardship or divorce. Or, both. But, also because I was hoping that I could hang onto them long enough that they would increase in value AND/OR that Peej would come of age and be able to have her pick of a fancy bag for her 21st birthday.

These are bags I hunted down like I was Dog the Bounty Hunter on the trail of some fugitive. That I bartered and negotiated to get at a good price (like, the pre-2010 Alexander McQueen Brittanica clutch pictured above… the seller wanted $1650 for it, I got them to sell it to me for $800 cash.) That I coveted (like the Chanel WOC) and collected (like my cute collection of Whiting & Davis bags dated 1892-1963) or I traveled to find (like my 1960s Christian Dior doctor’s bag – thank you Portabello Road Market.) Bags that were gifted to me by friends (my cool little 1980s Fendi leather crossbody bag, my python Diane Von Furstenburg convertible clutch.)

These are bags that -no matter what my size or situation I was in- made me feel fashionable and special. I have carried these bags to weddings, on the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Dublin, and Chicago. They are “grown up” bags that aren’t very practical, but they are special to me.

I can’t use them anymore. None of them, except the CD doctor’s bag, fit a diaper or any of the associated stuff I have to carry with me every day for Peej. And, top handle /clutch bags and toddlers don’t go together.

But, I loooovvvvvveeee them.

It’s like my cool vintage clothing that fit me 10 years ago or the really uncomfy high heels I used to wear when I was a PR “clacker.” I can’t part with them because I love them, I love how it made me feel to wear them… I love how it made me feel to carry these bags.

It made me feel cool.

And, powerful.

It’s so stupid, I know. I need the money. Badly. I know when I am in a better financial situation I can splurge and buy myself a brand new Chanel or McQueen. But, it won’t be the same. Part of my youth is gone. I’m happy to get rid of it because it will help me provide a great life for Peej.

At the same time, I’m sad.

Goodbye, Chanel and McQueen and Louie and DVF and Fendi and W&D and Bottega and Dior and Théory and cool little vintage bags and all the others in the purple box… until we meet again.

Closer to 50 Than to 40

November this year marked a pinnacle birthday for me: 46 years old.

Some people would think that the age 45 is the real important birthday, but actually it’s 46 that you should be more concerned with. Because the moment you physically turn 46 you are closer to 50 than you are to 40 and more than half of you life is over. (The average age of death of women in the USA is 78.69 years, so really a few months before you turn 40 half your life is over. Men figure out your own actuary tables.)

I mean unless you’re Kane Tanaka and you live to be 117 (and, counting) this is a verified fact. Give or take a few years. More than half your life is gone.

If you’re incredibly morbid (like me) this makes you think about stuff (and, gives you panic attacks in the middle of the night…) things like: My Mom is about to turn 70 this year, this means that I might only have a decade or so left with her, if statistics are right. (I, an atheist, pray that my Mom lives to be vibrant and old like Kane Tanaka.) Fuck, I talk to my Mom every day and she’s my absolute #1 best friend in the world. How do you negotiate that loss or learn how get along without those conversations (my Mom, who as you might guess, is wise and pithy, says “you adjust.” Because she had the same relationship with my Grandma, who left her much earlier due to dementia, and my Mom had to let go far before Grandma died. Sad, true story.)

That also means that (if statistics are right) Peej will likely be in her mid-30s when I shuffle loose this mortal coil (again, atheist, praying for Kane Tanaka.) There are so many more things she’s going to need from me when that happens. How do I prepare myself and her for the fact that this could happen and make sure I tell her all the important stuff she needs to know before it does?

Well – maybe she’ll look back on this blog and my other writing and realize how much love and devotion and care and thought I put into parenting her and she’ll take comfort in that. I hope.

Marital Frustrations

No this is not a post about sex.

As I have stated in a previous post, my once happy marriage is in trouble, we are currently considering divorce as a viable resolution to our union. At the same time, we are also trying to fix our problems with ourselves and resolve our problems with each other, so our marriage may be repaired. Obviously the latter is preferable to the former… cause we have a kid. (Were it just us, we’d have bailed by this point.)

One of my main frustrations with British Husband is that he lacks accountability. He seems to be unable to see how he has participated in or made decisions or neglected responsibilities that have helped lead us to the precarious point we are currently in. He is unorganized and forgetful. It is annoying and it affects *every aspect* of our daily life… and, because I am the one with a good memory, who makes lists, and stays on top of stuff… I end up feeling like I have to either nag him or parent him (possibly both.)

He is my husband, not my child. I shouldn’t have to either nag or parent him… except when I stop, that’s when stuff falls to shit. Let me tell you a story to illustrate this:

It starts with a car. A 2012 Hyundai Accent. Which has been driven into the ground and is a piece of shit. This is British Husband’s car. It was once “our” car (and, when it was it was in much better condition and regularly maintained.) It is dilapidated and sad, at some point in LA someone sideswiped it and knocked the driver side mirror off, which is now held on with spit, a prayer, and a lot of duct tape. It is a white car, but looks gray, as British Husband probably hasn’t washed it since 2017, god only knows when the last time the oil was changed or the tires were checked. It’s a death trap. I won’t even let Penelope ride in it, it is such a junker of a car.

This is not us, but I wish I could wake up looking that dewy and annoyed with a full face of make up…

When we made the decision to move back to Chicago from LA, British Husband and I agreed that we would sell this trash heap and put the money towards paying down some of our debt. Because Chicago is a city where you really don’t need a car that much, and we had my new Subaru for hauling around Peej and her associated stuff, so we didn’t need Frank Underwood (yes, that’s the Hyundai’s name) anymore.

This, aside from driving the moving truck across country with the dog, is the SINGLE task I place onto British Husband’s plate in association with moving: Sell Frank Underwood.

He postpones this until the week before we are to move, saying he can’t consider selling the car when he still needs it to get back and forth to work, despite me saying that he could drive my car -or if I needed my car I could take him to and from work. Just get Frank gone, I say… no, no, no- that will not do.

So a week before we are to move, when my Mom and I are up to our fannies in alligators trying to pack up my house, while my Dad sits and watches TV and Peej – British Husband says to me “Where’s the title for Frank Underwood?”

Um. You’re a grownup, I’ve explained to you multiple times where we keep important documents. Go fucking look, you dumb head.

But, being politic, and not wanting to fight in front of the baby (my Dad is very sensitive, haha) I go to where I keep the important documents and hand him the folder and say “It’s in here, look for it.”

Only he cannot find the title. I tell him to look in his car (’cause he is the kind of person who would put the title to his car IN HIS CAR.) It’s not in there. So I look… through our papers, his papers, my papers, through boxes and cupboards which don’t even have papers in them. No title. It’s lost. Fuckballs.