Monday, May 23, 2011


I don't really like to discuss politics or religion on my blog. Which is probably why I am not posting daily, or even weekly. I'd like to take time out for a brief (and respectfully intended) rant.

Are we still in the era of the Feminist Movement? Or are we in a twilight or Post-Feminist era? I've been thinking about this (and arguing about it) for some time now. A British study recently forecast that men and women will not receive equal pay for equal work until 2067. Link below. Please note that the title of the article below has been corrected in the article from 2057 to 2067.

Wow. Maybe my nieces will get financial parity before they retire. Or maybe my grand-nieces. Maybe someday I'll be busy telling my grandchildren (in between stories of walking 10 miles to school uphill in feet of snow, etc.) about the Olden Days when women did not get the same pay as men for the same work.

I guess I'm feeling a bit cynical today.

Another (but related) topic: Moms deserve Respect. Whether they are At-Home moms or working moms, Mom sometimes needs a day off. Time off, at any rate, so that they can decompress, refresh, and have alone time or grown-up time. (Same for A-Home or working Dads too, of course.)

Enough said. Rant over. Thank you for reading....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I often use the word "balance" when I am thinking "control".  Self-control, learning how to deal with socialization, and letting go of the things you can't control are a life-long struggle for us folks with bipolar. Unless you get into the overmedicated place where you aren't sure if you are dead or alive. The idea, according to my shrink, is to keep your emotions delicately balanced (usually on the almost hypo-manic side) with just enough medication, but not enough to become an emotional and intellectual wasteland. It can be overwhelming.
Doctors are now conducting research on using electromagnets to balance the brain waves and neural patterns. This sounds great, but every meal comes with a check.
There has been a lot of research verifying the extreme creativity which usually accompanies bipolar disorder.
So I wonder- what would happen if I tried this new treatment? Would it strip away my creativity? ECT (a.k.a. "Shock Therapy") is still performed today, although they don't know why it works. The check: memory loss. I cannot deal with the thought of that. My memories are very dear to me, and also I've always believed the phrase that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. And I've earned those memories.
I have earned all the little victories I have won during my battle with Bipolar.  I cling to them on the bad days, and set myself new goals.
An example: one day a friend of mine told me I used my tongue like a whip. I thought about this a lot, and (though he is generally an idiot, lol) this friend was right. I would take out my anger and wound people in the moment, very carefully because I know how to wield words as a weapon. And words hurt; people forgive, sometimes, but people rarely forget those corrosive words. Since then, I no longer seek to wound. I would rather remain silent than hurt another person. Heavens, it has taken a lot of thought, tongue biting, and care. I am still a blunt person, because I hate lies. But I try to think for a second before I weigh in on something. Sometimes that second has saved a friendship.
Now that communication is an instantaneous now- everything faster, I am trying to adapt my texting to fit in with my "do no harm" mindset. And it's not easy. I just hurt a person dear to me by an impetuous text. So now I need to read and re-read every text before I put it out there.
It's time for me to start apologizing. And I know how to start. Wish me luck....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Going down the Rabbit Hole or Going through the Looking Glass....

My younger sister put up a new status on facebook: Looking for Balance. I commented "Story of my life". Sometimes it's scary how our thoughts run in the same channel.
Ironically, Looking for Balance means a very different thing to me than 98% of the population. The other 2% have Bipolar Disorder, like me.
My quest- because it has and will be life-long and epic- is to keep my brain chemicals balanced enough so that the workings of my brain do not interfere with the working of my brain. I have Bipolar I Rapid Cycling, which, roughly translated, means that I experience both Mania and Depression, and I can swing from one to the other in a matter of hours. Depression is easier to understand, because most people have experienced it at one time or another. More Bipolar folks have Bipolar II, which means they get mostly depression, with brief spurts of hypo-mania (a lesser degree of Mania). And I hope they never get to true Mania.
Mania is the Yin to Depression's Yang. They are opposites and partners. Depression can freeze you. Keep you in the house, or in bed, unable to move.
Mania is not just about being able to get out of bed, and get a lot of things done. Mania starts off like that. Hypomania can be like that. Day one of mania, I can get my socks organized by color, respond to a backlog of phone calls, and do errands efficiently. The trouble is, Mania doesn't go away at night with me tucking myself into bed, with a mental pat on the back to say "Well done!" Mania causes sleeplessness. So I can go on into the night, alphabetizing, rearranging, dusting....Until I've had no sleep. That's when it kicks in, and suddenly my mind is whizzing along 10 or 11 tracks, work on projects, and start new ones.
After a while, the projects aren't getting done. And the new projects get stupid, irrelevant, and even dangerous. Rational thought goes out the window, fleeing for its life. I don't always recognize that I'm not thinking clearly. In fact, I get confident that I am getting on marvelously.  At this point, I get irritated at people who don't see the wonderful ideas that I'm having, and don't agree that life is zipping along nicely.  My choices get worse and worse. I can engage in behaviors that are very risky. I'm not going to get into all of the really stupid things I've done while Manic, but while I'm in it, I don't care about consequences. There don't seem to be any, really. After irritation, comes anger and destruction. Some directed outward, most inward. I become dangerous. And really, really angry.  After 4-5 days or so, I can get hallucinations from lack of sleep, lose time, and find myself saying and doing things that I never would, in my "right" mind. So although Mania sounds fun and productive if you've never experienced it, for me, it is by far the worse state of mind as opposed to depression. When I'm depressed I don't say and do the hurtful things I can do manic.
When I was first symptomatic, around age 11, I tended more toward depression. Now that I'm older, I tend more toward mania. I went into a remission from age 14-20. Then I became symptomatic again, and finally, at 22, I got a diagnosis. And the Merry-Go-Round of shrinks and meds began.
Several years (and meds, and shrinks) later, I have learned that although Lithium is a godsend to many bipolar people (like Patty Duke), the amount I have to take to control my moodswings is equal to the amount that is toxic to my body. I have permanent side effects from the lithium and some of the other meds I've taken.
I've learned that I get a minor depression in the spring, and a minor mania in the autumn. I'm okay with this. Because I am faithful to my treatment plan, the swings are more of a blip on my mental radar. I've also learned that, due to my Rapid-Cycler status, meds stop working after a while, and I need to work with my shrink to change them and re-stabilize myself.
I am lucky. I have been on the same med schedule for 5 years now, and they work better than any other combination I have used thus far.  The spring and fall blips happen because I refuse to take a level of medication that would render me, for all purposes, a zombie. I have reclaimed my creativity, my memory skills, and am working on dealing with the side effects of the meds I am or have been on. My hands shake. I can't feel hot, cold, or textures in my fingertips, and some days I have "word search" issues, which means that words will randomly disappear from my vocabulary for a few days. So I let someone else use the scissors, remember to use a hot mitt cooking, and get around the word search by doing a sort of verbal charades game that is similar to describing the plot of a movie and having someone guess the title.
Permanent balance may or may not be in my future. Another reason I tend to live in the Now, I suppose. I'm not ready to give up my quest, though I may just be tilting at windmills. I'll tilt until they tie on the toe tag.
Oh- it's today again. I'd best go saddle up.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


"You can't choose your family"

That concept is ridiculous. I love my family- my huge family with aunts and uncles and cousins, second and third cousins, relatives through blood or marital ties. Hey, I even like most of them. I am constantly surprised (and facebook has been a helpful tool) at how many people in the City of Scranton are related to me in some way or another.

I like Scranton.

I hate "The Office"- can't any of these actors come up with a Scranton accent? Sheesh. If you said, "Nice day tga upt' Providence, ainiha?" they would be totally blank. If you too are totally blank, I'll translate: "It would be a nice day to go up to Providence, wouldn't it?" , or more literally, "Nice day to go up to Providence, ain't it, huh?" But as usual, I digress.

I love my family. Down to the bone. But there are people in my life who are so important, so necessary to me that I consider them family.

I was given a great gift as a child: an extra set of grandparents. They lived next door. Because of their love, I have 9 "courtesy" cousins, who, in turn, have given me 8 (and counting!) little cousins, including some who call me "Aunt Sally".

My two best friends from middle school and I were very close. "Jo" had a baby two days before our Senior Year. The baby is grown, but she calls me "Auntie". I get a kick out of this. She is a joy, and a riot. I'm proud of the woman she has become.

Then, while I was in Community College, the guy I dated for a couple of years brought me home to his family. He is my best friend. And his family adopted me! So I have another set of parents, 2 sisters-by-love & brothers out-law, and four nephews and a niece. For any of whom I would commit a crime, if necessary. This part is still only theoretical of course (Legal Disclaimer. Ahem).

Another dear friend, who  recently passed away, gave me a nephew. He is 15 and a really cool person to talk to. He got me into texting.

When I went to SUNY Fredonia, I met "Michele". After a few shots, pepsi?...I decided that she was my long-lost-sister-from a previous life. It clicked with her, too. When she was going through her divorce, she lived with my (now ex) husband and me. Through most of it, I secretly wanted to boot my then-husband, and just stick with living with "Michele". We are still sisters.

My mom remarried, so I have a stepdad, a stepbrother, a sister out-law and her son, who calls me Aunt Sally. Sometimes. He's 3.

Then my most recent gift: Jen. She and I were friendly at Fredonia, but we both had boyfriends who were really no good for us. I'm not going to bitch about the exes, but now that we have been long-disentangled from them, we re-met, on Facebook. We are so much alike in the coolest ways. She is the sister of my heart, and I'd cut my arm off for her. Her support keeps me from going absolutely screaming bats. And she is such a role-model for me- she's been through some tough stuff, and yet she and her husband are still together, and working at improving their situation with grace.

A Blood relative recently came down on me for referring to a non-blood relative as a cousin. I asked her to consider my views on family. That in-laws and out-laws are as family as blood kin. That even though I can't donate an organ to someone, it doesn't lessen my love for them. I hope she takes this concept into consideration.
Family are the people you can count on to the death. They are the people who know what you are really like, and still love you. Which always surprises me, in the best kind of way- they put up with my eccentricities, my moodiness, and my schemes that would have worked if it wasn't for those meddling kids.

It's my Nana's birthday today. And yes, she was my blood grandmother. I still miss her, especially this time of year, because we used to share birthdays. No one could ever replace her in my heart; but also, my "via-love" family members would also, and have always, been irreplaceable.

I want to just take a moment and thank my whole family, blood, legal, non-legal, renegades-- all of you.

Now, I have a toast to drink to my Nana. Cheers!

Friday, December 24, 2010

From behind the remote control

I am an absolute sucker for a capella harmonization. Have been since before I knew what "a capella" meant. So the other day, I was flipping through the DVR, wondering what I hadn't seen, and I noticed a show that hit an odd note: "The Sing Off Season Finale". I know, I should be shot for that horrible pun. Anyway, I didn't record it, and I didn't think my dad (Keeper of the HD) had taped it. He and I usually have similar tastes in TV.  I shrugged, and started scanning the guide, and lo! Oxygen, home of perennial favorite "America's Next Top Model" reruns, was having a mini marathon of the Sing Off. So I did my research.
"Yo, Dad?" (He was on the computer, doing Dad stuff).
"Yeah, Beth?" (He gets to call me that.)
"You watch a show called 'The Sing Off'?
I tuned in. It started off with a really great group number, an a capella version of "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon. As they finished, I sighed, "Oh I love a capella harmonies"
To my surprise, my dad responded: "Me too." <sigh>.  I think it's cool to learn that other family members like the same stuff as I. Plus, Dad is my housemate, so it's a good thing.
Anyway, back to "The Sing Off". I don't much care for competition shows normally (except of course, Project Runway- Oh Tim Gunn, you are my hero...). This all a capella contest was like food to my ears. My favorite group on the show is Street Corner Symphony. I have a strong feeling that they are going places. The lead singer, Jeremy  has that special charismatic stage presence that could even translate into a solo career project. Have I mentioned he is really, really hot yet? Well, consider it mentioned. I'd buy their album. When they have one. They did such a fun treatment of "Come on, Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners, for the "guilty pleasures" portion of the contest.
I may tune in next season. Via DVR, of course. We have heard rumors of some kind of animal called "commercials". Since DVR, this house has become a commercial-free zone. Officially.
Well, unless Betty White does another Snickers commercial....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do you smell something burning?

I love Facebook. I have used it to get in touch with people whom I thought I had lost. This is a big deal to me, because I am a really curious person, and I always want to know, What Happened Next? My friends, I want to know about your first job after college, how you met that special someone, how your priorities have changed and why. I want to hear the stories about your kids, cry with you over loss, listen to your dreams, and learn from your experiences. I really do. I Don't Get Bored. Ever. I have been wondering, supposing, and weaving little might-be stories in my head. I want to stay in touch, and if possible, develop (or restructure) a great friendship.

That's why I joined Facebook.

Then, a friend invited me to play a game. I resisted at first, thinking, this is a social tool, not a video game. Yeah. I started on the Lil' Green Patch game- the one where if you cultivated your garden and helped other gardeners, you could save x # of  feet of Rainforest. And I used the "slide the rainbow" function without knowing what it meant. I actually thought it would lead me to another cause, perhaps LGBT rights? I thought. Instead, what it did was randomly pick you another facebook user whose garden you could help tend. I met 3 great people that way. Maybe we all saved too much rainforest, or something, but in the past year Facebook fazed out the Lil Green Patch.

But the Lil' Green Patch introduced me to the wonderful world of Apps. I have a $10 phone that I "top up" the minutes with cards I buy at Target or the gas station. No Frills. No Apps. I'm lucky I even get coverage considering most of the cell carrier companies demanded a contract promising my organs, my soul, and my firstborn. I'd really like to meet the person who came up with those contracts, actually. Such deviousness is a true gift. Anyway, the world of "apps" was not a part of my life until a few friends "recruited" me to some of the ones available on Facebook.

I like the "I've Read" app, which lets you keep track of the books you've read. I started with great intentions, but, well, if you know me, you know I am a rabid reader, and it would take me way too long to find all of the books I've read. But it was a nice start.

Now, I have Fashion Wars, Fashion World  (a very different entity) and:
Where I've Been, Baking Life, Petville, Happy Pets, various Causes, Super Poke, Family Feud, Mahjongg, Which Wife of Henry VIII Are You?, Living Social, and Cafe World.
And I have just been invited to Frontierville and Texas Hold 'em Poker.

I'm only active in Cafe World, Fashion World, Happy Pets,  and my causes, and I will get into Frontierville & Poker enough to "help" my friends. Because the more "neighbors" one has in these games, the more rewards are available, plus I can send them cool (free) imaginary stuff. In fact, I'm looking forward to a virtual barn-raising.

Now I must admit:
I am a Cafe World addict.
In fact, although I am by nature a night person, I am only up this late to wait for my virtual Shrimp Cocktail to finish, so that I can hurry up and get it off the virtual stove so it doesn't spoil. Because I have a catering order to fill, and two of my Cafe World friends are also catering, so I'm helping them also.

Funny thing, though. With one exception, the people who are my "neighbors" in Cafe World are also friends with whom I got back in touch using Facebook. And I have learned a great deal more about all my Cafe World friends by the way they play. They share. They send gifts. They help with catering jobs. All with an open heart, an open hand, and a cheerful willingness to assist whenever needed.  As well as a sense of humor about app addiction. I am glad to know them. The experience has taught me that the word "Neighbor" has no geographical boundaries.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go check on my shrimp cocktail.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Magnetic word poetry

Do they call it "free verse" because no one will pay for it?

A  few years back, I got a set of Magnetic Words as a gift, along with a Magnetic Word Calendar. The calendar was a bit impractical in design, but it came with more words. So Lisa and I were goofing off (it happened a lot), and I came up with the following contribution to the fun and exciting world of Magnetic Word Poetry......

i go with bare feet
in the raw summer storm
it is luscious
when the languid powerful rain
beats a pounding spray on my red hair
the woman loves water

I still have it stuck to my file cabinet.
As it was some time ago, my hair was still screaming red (I've mellowed back into blonde land).I wished I still had some of the limericks we came up with, but after some reflection I decided that perhaps it's better that I don't....
Besides, this one had decent possibilities for a blog title. A title that didn't have to rhyme with "pucker"....