Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THE THERAPISTS COUCH: MY HISTORY WITH WOMEN


Welcome to another episode of Jo gone wrong.

I sure am bored of these re-runs.

So, in order to learn to change the channel, I see my therapist once every two weeks.

Poor guy doesn't know what hit him.

Last session he asked what I'm doing for myself and I told him that I did recently renew my subscription to Pogo.com: an on-line gaming site: $40.00 for a year of entertainment.

That counts, yeah?

*Side note: if any of you are Pogo subscribers, my screen name is ejcbtheshamrock4 and you can typically find me playing 'Lottso!' on any given day.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled program.

Last year when Ed and I didn't know where our next meal would come from or how we would pay our mounting bills with his wages being garnished while we were in the middle of filing bankruptcy (Phew! That's a mouthful!), my Pogo subscription ran out and I made the wise choice to not renew.

$40.00, as most of you will concur, is gold when you're flat broke.

There's a line from a good movie with Kathy Bates called; 'A Home Of Our Own' where the narrator says, while window shopping at Christmas: "When you're really poor, everything you see is something you can't have."

I get that.

As I've said before and will likely say again, I learned -- and know -- that there's a big difference between what we want compared to what we need.

During that terrible time in our life last year, I was grateful to have a roof over our heads, a few eggs, peanut butter and jelly and a loaf of bread.

I didn't go shopping regularly to buy meals, I made what was available, which sometimes wasn't much.

Being a vegan, that task was made even more trying for myself.

Usually hot dog sandwiches for Ed (even hot dog buns were a luxury so we used bread), 'Top Ramen' and lots of rice and cabbage. But believe it or not, we were thankful, mostly because I know there are many good people out there like ourselves who were going through the same things -- and some not so lucky compounded with little mouths to feed.

So, during that time once my Pogo subscription ran out, I got on this little free networking site called 'Facebook'.

As I've said previously, that time in my life was lonely and brutal and I was looking for a connection as well as a way to pass my time: I found on there long lost co-workers, old 'friends', nieces and nephews, etc.

I reached out to fill a void in my life only to find out that the position was already filled in theirs.

They already apparently had that archetype of the red-headed zany Aunt, friend, etc. and when I would check in daily, I would see pictures of their family bar-b-ques, pedicures, ladies luncheons and girls night out -- complete with empty wine glasses and big smiles.

This went on and on as I would receive little to no feedback: I would send 'Flair', wish people good days, ask them how their weekends were, comment on pictures, etc.

Call it 'the green-eyed monster', envy, jealousy...whatever euphemism you may have for it, all I know is that for me it started becoming hurtful to see and yearn for a life that didn't include me, a life I desperately wanted filled with friends, family, support and giggles -- a life I didn't have.

I found that I was reaching out but wasn't being reached out to.

It just seemed to make me feel worse. Finally B says; 'It's simple, Mom. Get off of there -- it's bad for you. Period.'

And he was right.

My desperation for a connection was breaking up and in return I only got static.

Okay, this isn't working. So, I left 'Facebook' and it's unhealthy for me toxins behind (I'm only speaking for myself) and began blogging my bankruptcy on 'Blogspot'.

I don't work outside of the home (hell, I hardly work in it-ha!) nor do I live in a community where we know our neighbors or where I have lifelong friends. I've, naturally, had women friends in my life here and there over the course of my many years, but people have consistently disappointed me (and I've no doubt disappointed many) and sometimes they've simply moved -- and time and they inevitably moved on without us.

It happens and perhaps I'm equally to blame.

I've lived here almost 18 years and I can count on one finger the friends I made, and that was only recently. Don't misunderstand, one is all we need and I'm grateful to her.

::Waves hi to Nikki (also lovingly referred to as 'crazy ass woman')::

Before Nikki, there was no one but myself, Ed, B and his friends.

So, my therapist asked me on Friday about my friendships....

Um, yeah...about that.

He asked my history with friends, particularly female ones.

I had to go back.

I had to explain that I simply don't trust people easily -- not to be a trader to my gender but I especially don't trust women.

Back in Junior high school in Paramount, CA. I had a friend named Tammy Bailey (yes, I am using her real name -- f*** it and her): we had sleepovers and listened to records. She was a little wild and seemed to accept this gawky, unpopular, weird girl who had bad skin and non-trendy clothes (nor much of a sense of style) as her friend.

She borrowed a ton of my records and in return she told some girls who didn't like me (one of which was her friend) which way I walk home every day -- and I got jumped.

She was there not only not helping me, but encouraging them.

That was a long walk home by myself bloody and battered.

That was the end of my friendship with Tammy -- and my record collection.

Although her betrayal was quite intentional and hurtful, I do also realize that people change -- we grow and we evolve.

I can only hope that Tammy has and that she thinks of me with regret, as I certainly do for all of my monumental mistakes and hurts I've caused others.

During this same time period I was sitting in the middle of the court yard at school eating my sack lunch and literally minding my own business (I tried to blend in and not draw attention to myself) when some girl I didn't know came over with a crowd of people and dared someone for her to slap me in the face; of course, someone did and I was not only slapped, but also humiliated.

Fast forward to 20 years later when my own daughter was brutalized and picked on in junior high and high school and I suppose it's no wonder.

The look of horror on my therapists face as I sat there reminiscing and crying gave away his usually objective demeanor.

I know what you must be thinking: Sheesh, everything but the mean yard dog chasing me down and nipping at my heels.

Pityful or not, I wish to God this story wasn't true.

Shortly after that, I moved to Colorado to live with my Dad and step-Mom and made a few friends there (a fresh start, if you will) and to this day I consider myself blessed by Sue, who lives in Maine but whom I haven't seen in almost 20 years but with whom I'm also still in touch by phone or letter when life doesn't get the best of us.

I moved back to California after I went a little wild in Colorado and my Mom had an accident. I got a job when I was sixteen at 'Taco Bell' where I worked during the day and went to night school to get my diploma so I didn't have to re-visit my junior high school nightmare.

Prior to getting my first job and after moving back, I swallowed a bunch of pills and tried to end my life.

It obviously didn't work.

There at 'Taco Bell', I met 'D' and we became best friends where we remained so for seven years. I saw her enter a healthy relationship with her now husband, who also worked there. I watched them go to prom and was there when she graduated from private school.

She, in the meantime, watched my downward spiral and by the time I was a single parent with a one and a half year old at the age of 21 and now in a relationship with her cousin, she had enough and I was kicked out of her home (where I lived with her and her parents while I worked and struggled as a single Mom with no child support or Welfare) and kicked out of her life.

I don't blame her -- not one bit. I self-destructed one too many times and my getting involved with her cousin was the final straw.

I ended up marrying her cousin, a great guy named Ed -- and I'm thankful that through all our ups and downs, we are still married.

'D' was there for our wedding but I wasn't invited to hers.

I wish she knew me now (we've had no contact and I haven't seen her in 20 years), not that I'm such a great catch I suppose but I do know now how to be a woman, how to be responsible, how to be a good person and how to nurture those around me.

I know what it takes to be a friend and what it takes to not.

I've been on both sides and I admit, I push people away. Especially women.

My mission, should I chose to accept it from my therapist, is to go out there and make new friends. Female ones especially.

Yikes, he's asking a lot.

I cried: 'But I have YOU....'

He wasn't buying it.

I've been hurt and let down -- and have done some of that myself.

Not sure how to go about this or if I'm even ready for that big leap of faith but...I'll give it a whirl when and if I think I am.

In the meantime, nurture those in your life. Be grateful. Be thankful. Be understanding. Be non-judgmental. Be compassionate.

Be a friend.

Peace, serenity and friendship,
~Jo

Friday, August 20, 2010

DON'T HATE ME BECAUSE I'M POPULAR


It would appear I am suddenly quite popular as I am receiving unlimited E-mail offers of limited time and quality.

It would seem that I am in the market for penis implants and Viagra.

I am so blessed and grateful that the Viagra distributors chose me to peddle their product on as ideally I am the perfect candidate -- being female and all.

Being also of curious nature, I've always wondered what would happen if I took a Viagra: I would assume my tongue would stick straight out.

For hours.

Lucky Ed.

Considering I have no penis, an implant is equally useless -- and Ed's is fine, in case you were wondering, thank you...so, no need for me to forward that along to him.

Oh, and then there are the 'Blow out sales' I just can't miss as well as the numerous opportunities for me to wire money to someone in great need. Usually overseas. But only if I don't tell anyone, mind you, as the headers are always marked 'PRIVATE' or 'CONFIDENTIAL'.

Although with power comes great responsibility, I'm nonetheless extremely flattered they chose me to save humanity. I'm up for the challenge.

And I'd like to humbly thank the person who bought a U.K. Lottery ticket on my behalf. I genuinely had no idea that I had so many friends who were world travelers, but thanks to their generosity in thinking of me while on holiday, I have hit the jack pot!

$7,000 U.S. dollars is now on it's way.

What shall I do with it first, I wonder?

Well, loads of Viagra to begin with, of course. Oh, the endless hours of joy, just me and my wayward tongue.

Then I think I'll buy heaps and mounds of the offer I received just this morning for....'Wingless Angels'.

Yep. I've always wanted people.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MY LAMENT


For the past few months now I've watched quite a few people I love and care about do foolish things with money.

I talk about my dismay with my immediate family but otherwise TRY very hard to keep my comments and opinions to myself.

This is where the talent of 'just smile and nod' comes in handy.

I get it, I really do:

I KNOW this isn't any of my business.

I KNOW this is my problem.

I KNOW that I have an issue with money that isn't going to go away anytime soon.

It's simply my lament and for the time being, it would seem I just can't help it.

I get angrier and angrier...but I say very little to nothing to the ones in question (and there are multiple) and I admit that I'm struggling to find meaning and understanding behind it all.

Perhaps I'm not meant to.

*Smile and nod, Jo. Smile and nod.*

I'm always afraid the look of utter disapproval and disappointment on my face will betray my thoughts:

"Did you really just buy that when you have other more important priorities?"

"Wasn't it just this side of two weeks ago when you were worried about how this-n-that was going to get paid?

Did shopping in excess for things you don't really need change all that?"

All leading to the following questions for myself:

Have I mis-understood this whole time?

Have I got it wrong?

Is this the secret of life and happiness?

Where was I -- did I miss the cue?

What am I not seeing here?

And finally, when, if at all, is it my business to say anything?

Never. It's simply not my place and I know I have to let it go.

I don't know much, but I do know what broke is. Many people do, not just me.

We know what it is to struggle to buy a package of hot dogs.

We know the difference between needing something and wanting something.

That is the lesson I took away from last year.

I'm now 44 years old and I had to learn that the hard way. I save up for the things I want.

I'd like to sit down and teach them these lessons but I know you can't teach these things.

You either know it and already live it, or you have to learn the same way I did -- and hope to God they don't wind up taking the same course.

It's all about balance -- and it took me decades to find mine. Learn from me.

If not, then just please don't show me all your unnecessary 'loot' one week and then tell me you're broke and/or that you can't pay a bill the next.

I can only keep my big mouth shut and my thoughts to myself for so long -- and your lament at that moment may very well be the one that pushes mine over the edge.

Let's not tempt it, shall we?

Peace, serenity & balance.


*EDIT: Just posted a new recipe on my 'Rabbit Food' blog --feel free to grab my 'Rabbit Food' blog button located on my side bar. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

EAT, PRAY...LEAVE


I wasn't planning on posting today -- if anything I vowed that the next time I logged onto my blog, it would indeed be not to write a post but instead spend some long overdue time visiting my blog friends: I owe so many of you a good visit as I am genuinely quite interested in what's been going on.

However, it's so easy for this scatter-brained gal to get lost in my day-to-day with one day turning into two, then a week, two weeks, a month and so forth. Next thing you know I am out of touch and bloggers remorse sets in.

I am forever apologizing with well intentioned plans to visit soon and then, alas...life throws yet another curve (see post below this one). Although, it's never anything too serious (extra money spent on what was supposed to be a one day planned trip, needing a new garbage disposal -- ka-ching! -- doctors visits/bills courtesy of my pinched sciatic which has been all but down right crippling mentally and physically and B's broken hand -- double ka-ching!, etc.), for my admittedly fragile state, I find myself barely able to keep a straight thought and I ultimately flounder....

So, I'll skip the apologies and promises of a t.b.a. visit and just get straight to my point with the hopes that my lovely and patient blog friends (Elle, Steven Anthony, Meeko, Andrea, Herrad, Allen, Kyle, Brooklyn Book Lover, Green Monkey, Jaynie and so many others...) know my heart and that they're all a component in it.

Last year I read Elizabeth Gilbert's blockbuster memoir; 'Eat. Pray. Love.'. As most of you know by now, Julia Roberts is starring in the movie of the same name based on Ms. Gilbert's autobiographical pilgrimage after a brutal and heart wrenching divorce (I'm not sure there's any other kind) to Italy (where she discovered her love of food), India (where she learned how to meditate and pray) and finally capping off her journey in Indonesia (where she ultimately found love).

In my planning on seeing the movie next weekend, I have been doing some research on-line into the after effects of the lives and locales chronicled in Ms. Gilbert's book.

*Before I begin my soliloquy, for those of you who read 'Eat. Pray. Love.', here is some sad news straight from Elizabeth Gilbert's website:

"Terribly sad news. My dear friend Richard from Texas has passed away. He had been a heart patient for years, and it finally caught up with him. He passed away quietly, at home, with a smile on his face. There was no sign of struggle or pain. (I can just hear him saying, "Don't make a big production out of it, Groceries.") As everyone who read 'Eat, Pray, Love' knew, Richard was one of a kind. He was a guardian to my life at a moment when I needed a great deal of care, and I know that his delightful and sometimes twisted words of wisdom have touched the lives of countless others, as well. One last teaching from the master: I once asked Richard if he was afraid of death. He said, "The only thing I know for sure about death is that it seems to take most people by surprise." But I don't think death took Richard by surprise, nor did he fear it. I think he saw death coming, walked right up to it and shook its hand. I think he made friends with it. That was his way. I hope I someday have the grace to do the same. I loved this man with all my heart, and I will never forget him.

LG"


Richard T.:












Now, onto my post:

Since the popularity of her book, single women in their 30's, 40's and 50's from all across the globe are looking to emulate Ms. Gilbert's experience by flocking by the droves to the very places the author herself frequented in the hopes of finding the same enlightenment.

Depending on whom you talk to, especially in Bali, this is either a blessing or a curse.

Tourist dollars are what keep many of the local places in business: they are needed and counted on. Many have 'Eat. Pray. Love.' posters and other book related articles (including the book itself in every language and over-priced flowy, chiffon caftans...) for sale to the highest bidder.

However, there are many locals that are indeed quite unhappy that their quaint villages have turned into a cliche' -- and have put up their own posters: 'Eat. Pray. LEAVE.'

They curse the author for bringing them out of anonymity and obscurity and find themselves and their once quiet villages thrust into an unwanted spotlight.

During the filming of the movie 'Eat. Pray. Love.' in India, for example, many people were at a local Ashram for a yearly spiritual sabbatical which is sacred.

Due to the filming, the costly experience for the people who paid (and prayed) for their own spiritual journey (having nothing to do with the book nor upcoming movie) found anything but peace thanks to helicopters, vehicles, security, film crew and their equipment and found many of their planned activities and destinations blocked by the very filming of this movie.

I have conflicted feelings on this and have my own thoughts and questions:

Shame on the makers of this film for allowing their ill timed and selfish motives to interfere with others' journey. I'm a Karma believing kind of gal.

On the other hand....

Is it really fair to blame the author for merely chronicling her own journey?

Did Elizabeth Gilbert demand -- in addition to the $25.00 'Eat. Pray. Love.' book cost -- that every woman then go out and emulate her journey?

And finally, has it not brought wealth and prosperity to otherwise struggling locals and locales?

No to the first two and yes to the last of my questions.

My thoughts: these women that are dragging Ms. Gilbert's book across continents looking desperately for fulfillment, spiritual guidance, love and enlightenment -- while delighting some locals and irritating others -- are missing the point.

Elizabeth Gilbert made her own journey not knowing what it was she was looking for per se' until she found it.

She planned and mapped out her course making a few provisions along the way, ultimately taking the lumps and embracing the joy that crossed her path.

She found her own enlightenment, not recreating others'.

I suggest these women change their course from hers to their own. Sometimes you don't have to go far. Sometimes you do. It could be found in a book, a walk, a church pew, on a park bench or under a tree in a foreign country -- or in your own neighborhood.

It could be found in a photo album, a documentary, a rest home/assisted living or it could be found in a worthy cause.

I'm not saying to ban Italy, India and Indonesia and that enlightenment can't be found in those places for others, too. All I know for sure is that it CAN'T be found by recreating Ms. Gilbert's journey in following her footprints; where she ate, prayed and loved. Her experience was indeed her own.

Yours has to be yours.

Make your own footprints.

Peace and serenity,
~Jo

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO MY BLOG


Hi, all. Long time no see. I would have been here sooner but.....

Ed and I decided to stay an extra night in Catalina -- we slept a lot on our first day there (we were both battling Bronchitis) and as a result, missed our scheduled flying fish tour that evening. So, we paid for an extra night at The Catalina Inn, exchanged our tickets for the flying fish tour and our trip home on the Catalina Express. Much to see and do but mostly we just walked around taking everything in, rented a golf cart for an hour to go up in the hills and just relaxed, ate, shop, ate some more and rested when we needed to. We found the extra day afforded us a much more leisurely vacation.

We got home Friday afternoon of the 30th loaded with souvenirs for B and all the kids (fresh salt water taffy made daily, jalapeno peanut brittle, pirate mugs and steins...) and then the next evening was the birthday party we had planned for Ed with all of B's friends.

Unfortunately, my usually even tempered son lost his cool at some point in the evening and broke his hand on a bearing wall in our garage. After a few days of it being swollen and us encouraging him to go to the doctor, he finally did so on Tuesday to discover it was indeed broken. It was a clean break, thankfully, so only a temporary cast was needed (one he could take on and off in the shower) and he goes back in two weeks to see how it's developing.

A tough lesson learned.

As great as B is, like us all, he is flawed and I'm still trying to raise a thoughtful, pensive, responsible and think-before-you-act man.

The dogs we've had for over five weeks now have added much strain and less sleep for us all -- our carpet now needs replacing due to many urine stains.

We don't blame the dogs per se' as they've never been taught to let people know when they have to go outside: my mother-in-law simply leaves her door open for them to go in and out from the house to their backyard.

Well, we can't do that here -- this is coyote territory (in which the only thing that separates them from our backyard is chicken wire) and we have an indoor cat. So, we let the dogs out every hour and before bed only to find they still don't get the concept after five weeks. I figure if they haven't gotten it now, they're not going to...and needless to say, Ed is going to talk to his Mom about obedience classes and spending more time with them -- and maybe pitching in for some new carpet! -- upon her return from Europe which is supposed to be this coming Sunday...

Then yesterday I had an appointment with a chiropractor. Remember when I went to the MS camp back in May?

Well, I ran back and forth a lot between the lodge, the cabins, the activity rooms, etc. and a few days later I had an impossible pain shooting down my leg which has not subsided -- two months later -- and has only gotten worse.

A pinched sciatic.

When I cough (which I've been doing a lot as I'm still battling Bronchitis), the motion of my upper body triggers the sciatic nerve and the pain triggers right down my left leg. Getting up and down from chairs and sofas is the same and sleeping is impossible and restless. It's been two months of this and the ONLY thing that takes the edge off is taking some Ibuprofen

I've been to the doctors several times, including a neurologist who took a brain M.R.I. to rule out an MS connection since I have other neurological disorders....

All was well there and so my husband and therapist encouraged me to see a chiropractor.

I made an appointment yesterday and was feeling particularly anxious and neurotic -- blabbed away as I have a tendency to do in my anxious state, which is higher than usual these days thanks to dog-sitting, a highly urine stained carpet, much money spent for our trip and B's now broken hand.

This chiropractor appointment was just an assessment and he took some spine scans which I go back to tomorrow for the results.

I went to pay for my appointment with our H.S.A. (health savings account) card which at last look a few months back, had over $800.00 in it -- and my card was declined.

I had to pay for my appointment with cash and came home to call and find out what expenses has it been used for. Lovely Cigna deducted all our doctors visits: $73.00 for each visit, $271.00 for neurology and my M.R.I. was over $700.00 -- well, that not only wiped out our H.S.A. but also leaves me with having to pay the balance of my M.R.I. and all un-paid appointments out of pocket, as well as my therapy appointment, B's self-inflicted broken hand injury (we're figuring $500.00 at least there) and any chiropractic adjustments I may need will just have to wait. I simply cannot afford it.

The way our insurance was set up, unbeknownst to me, was that all bills go directly to Cigna and they then negotiate down the costs through their contracts with the doctors and what's left to pay was taken directly out of our H.S.A. I never saw a bill so Ed went to H.R. at his work yesterday and changed that so that everything comes directly to me.

Money won't be going back into our H.S.A. until the next 'semester' which is November, I believe (unless we deduct Ed's paycheck and add it in ourselves), which means for all intents and purposes, we now don't have insurance and have to pay everything from this point on out of pocket, including B's broken hand care.

So, I remain in pain and in even more emotional and financial turmoil: I'm almost regretting our Catalina trip -- had I known that upon our return this is what would be facing us, I would never have gone.

That'll teach me to go anywhere.

I hope this finds all my dear and patient blog friends happy, healthy and well. Know you're all in my heart and on my mind.

Peace and serenity,
~Jo