Anger Issues

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SparksFromACombustibleMind wrote a great blog, “I Tried… I Failed”

and while I would have replied directly to her, I could not commiserate as comments were shut off.

Today, I, too, spent many frustrating periods trying to get things done via phone, broken websites, etc., so I feel her pain and extreme frustration.

But, my inability to respond directly opened up a good opportunity that I was already working on regarding a spoken word / poetry piece that one of my cousins posted from an anonymous Englishman, who I’ve since tracked down via You Tube as Chris McGlade, also known as the Northern Monkey or Redcar comedian.  This piece is entitled, “The Right To Hate”, and I’ll try and provide a decent translation of his words for anyone who may struggle with his accent.

Don’t let his title put you off, because he has some valuable points to make about inequality, if you can get beyond your own internal biases.  (and, let’s face it, we all have biases to embrace or reject, whether we believe we do or not).

The author has a very strong point to make about stifling speech through the choice of less-preferred words on sensitive subjects, and I submit to you that – if we prevent people from working through these topics verbally because of the words they choose to express their honest feelings – then we’ll never make any progress on addressing the underlying issues.

Here, then, is my translation of his essay:

You tell me what I can’t say

You censor what I can

You say I’m offensive because I believe my eyes

And I say I see a woman, not a man

You call me thick and racist for not wanting to be a part of a rich man’s club in Europe with no soul, or guts, or heart

You throw at me the slave trade

You tell me my 2 year old grandson is to blame

You point your branding, accusing, intolerant fingers, and tell me to hang my head in shame

I’m free to have opinions, as long as they fall in line with yours

I can fly my banners high and proud, as long as you support that cause

You have to be right all the time,
Yours is the only way

I have to like the things you like,
be they black, trans, left, or gay

It makes no difference if I tell you I’m not the things for which you accuse 

For, once you’ve made up your closed up minds, I’m always going to lose

I have black friends, “So?  You’re still a racist!”

”Homophobic?“  But I’ve shared beds with gay men…

“I’m an anti-Semite”?  But the Rothchild’s really do influence the dollar, pound and yen.

You sip your Pinot Grigio in trendy bars down in the smoke, looking down your noses with loathsome contempt  at 33 million working class folk

Well, I’ve come to this old blast furnace to tell you that you have had your time

Because the winds of change are blowing and bells of freedom soon will chime 

Because my class, my fucking class,

Are waking up and stirring, and we’re going to peacefully attack

We’re going to breech those PC walls of segregation that have divided gay, straight, white and black

I’ve got no malice in my heart

I don’t judge people on their sex or creed or race, 

I don’t even speak ill of absolute cunts behind their backs

Not even the bloke who murdered me Dad

I just tell ‘em to their face

So, to all you branded Liberals who won’t allow debate, 

I hate no man or woman, I just want the right to hate

I want the right to hate like I want the right to love

I just want to dislike what I want to dislike and be able to vocalize it broth

I’m not responsible for slavery

And I’m not taking any blame

Because the white privilege built on black slavery you say that I enjoy,

Well, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, Rhianna, Floyd Meriweather, Alicia Keyes, Jamie Foxx, et al, all enjoyed the same

Beyonce spent 87 million on a house, just through shaking that ass

While me and our lass sit at home lamenting over ways to pay the fucking gas

And I don’t see too much white privilege that lets Eastern Europeans or wounded soldiers live in cardboard boxes

Why do black lives matter and liberals fail to see

Not all white folks live in stately homes, chasing fucking foxes

And I’m not homophobic, transphobic or anything phobic as I don’t fear race or sex or gender

I just won’t bow down to your PC

Don’t confuse my use of slang with racism or bigotry

Don’t confuse my rejection of your shite with spite

Don’t naturally assume that I’m thick or racist because I’m Northern Working Class

I’m not

I’m articulate, sharp and bright, and I will not walk a minefield every time I open my mouth to speak

And I will not apologize for things I’ve glibly said, or spoken tongue-in-cheek

So, shape up or ship off with your fucking madness because I aim to bring you down

I aim to bring working class people together, Muslim, Christian, White, and Brown

I’m going to bring those Globalist’s walls of Jericho crashing around your brainwashed, Liberal feet

And I’m going to blow my loving, inclusive, un-PC fanfare, and your Communist, Fascist, Capitalist, Socialist, Left, Right, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Christian, Black, White, Gay, Straight, Male, Female, Leave, Remain, North, South divides I will defeat

You’ve divided us and conquered us for way too long

You’ve taken the piss out of us, and you’ve laughed and shared the benefits at the top

Well, I’ve come to this “Northern, Working-Class Shrine” of my hometown of Redcar to tell ya

It’s time for your shit to fucking stop

 

Covid-19 and Personal Liberty

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If anyone doesn’t know the story of Typhoid Mary, a woman twice jailed for her asymptomatic transferring of the disease, typhoid, to over 50 people on multiple occasions, I recommend you look at the wiki page.

While there were also asymptomatic men who also willfully carried and transmitted the disease despite being warned that they were infection points, to this day it is only Mary Mallon, single woman and belligerent Irish Immigrant who was held for years without any regard to her personal liberty.

Tony Labella, a man, also caused at least five (5) deaths, while infecting a total of 122 people, but he was never jailed or quarantined against his will.

It is with this particular resolution in mind (i.e., the woman went to jail, while the man was left free to earn a living, and to continue to infect people) that I read the “Thoughts and Theories” blog by PCGuyIV, who argues that preventing people from earning a living is equal to government control.

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As long as we’re not locking up the current band of misfits carrying weapons to peaceful protests, and as long as we’re not sure of the origins of the virus, as well as how it actually transmits, I submit that we are nowhere near the government controlling our destiny.  As far as I am aware, we’re releasing convicted felons so that they can hopefully not lose their lives in tight confinement, and we are not leaving arrested people (for whatever charges) incarcerated as the risk of catching the virus is more serious than someone losing their lives if it is preventable.

Yes, we have converted many jobs to digital, able-to-work-anywhere opportunities.  Or, so it seems from my home county of Silicon Valley.

Yes, we have left the most vulnerable among us – the minimum wage workers – with little option but to continue to work on the front lines, the illegal aliens and migrant workers picking our crops – facing an angry and unruly public with little or no personal health protective gear, or health insurance, and with few options but to risk working or be fired.

It is with the current drama from “Let ’em Die!” Donald that a variety of Americans and Immigrants and Visitors are creating chaos as it’s clear what is the truth – people are dying – but it’s also clear that armed people are willing to kill anyone who argues with their disbelief system.  This crazy Neandertholic belief that might-equals-right is endorsed by the current President – who lost 1 Billion Dollars in assets during the first weeks of the shutdown –  and who believes that socializing and earning a living is more important than protecting individual lives, the lives of their family and friends, and the lives of complete strangers with whom we share this earth.

While I started this blog on May 24th, I never posted it as other events took center stage.

However, it’s a little over a month later, and I’ve started playing board games outdoors on Friday and Saturday evenings, with masks, and via social distancing at a picnic table outdoors.

I’ve also broken quarantine by traveling to the next county, with its more relaxed rules, to get a haircut.

And, as of today, I have also (thankfully) seen my houseguest off to a short vacation with her family, knowing that she brought a bacterial pneumonia home with her when she saw them in February.  A greater risk of dying is worth getting her out of my house for a bit.

The good news is that she’s been approved for subsidized senior housing in Silicon Valley, but the bad news is that we don’t know when she’ll actually get her unit (she’s #21 on the waiting list).

So, win some or lose some – I’m taking some risks because the status quo just cannot be maintained.  I know better, but life is not without risks.

 

 

 

Reprieve

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I try to be a decent person.

I try not to unfairly judge others.

But…  !

When you are a guest in my (admittedly) ramshackle home, is it too much to ask that you NOT get on my nerves while you’re here ?!!!  To not run up my bills or fill my time with now-necessary repairs ?  I don’t think so…

I am so ready for the upcoming (and however brief) reprieve while the houseguest goes on vacation, that you would not believe how ready I am.

Just trying to get my butt in gear to start the day and repair the cabinet door that the houseguest pulled off its hinges…

Why do I say she did it vs. blaming it on wear and tear?  After all, the cabinet doors on the vanity’s in both bathrooms are equally dilapidated…

Well, I blame her because she’s about 5” taller than me, refuses to use a step stool (because she’s not tall enough to reach things on the top shelf without being on her tip toes while hanging off the door for balance…) so, I hope you catch my drift.

And, because it’s the door on one of the cabinets she uses.

Plus, like any good senager, the cabinet broke itself vs. her having the adult sense to let me know she broke it.  “Oh, did you notice the cabinet is broken?” was yesterday’s oh-so-innocent question.  I wouldn’t care if she said, “It broke while I was using it…”, or, “What’s it going to take to fix that cabinet, I broke it yesterday…”  Nope.  Like any good teenager, my senior houseguest takes no responsibility for anything, yet goes out of her way to NOT do what I specifically  asked her to do in order to not physically stress my dilapidated housing.  So…

Cause + Effect = Blame

Adding to my aggravation, I just walked into my bathroom to find she went out of her way to get on my nerves while she’s gone.  You see, she’s a tweaker.  Everything must be rigidly maintained, to her standards, or she tweaks it.

In this case, she hates the set up of my main bathroom and re-arranges the angle of this stupid sign every time she uses the bathroom.

It must rigidly face the front, to match the shelf upon which it rests, versus resting at an angle, to be more welcoming, in my point of view.

So, I just reset it and will enjoy the reprieve from our petty little territory games while she’s on vacation with her family, and I’ll have the time to work on my home at my own pace.  Score 1 for me !

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Unloved. Narcissistic. Whatever…

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A while back I had to write a friend a letter.  It was full of things that I couldn’t simply say.  I couldn’t say them, because she wouldn’t hear me.  Wouldn’t.

So, just like when I write this blog, I emptied all the crap that was between my ears into the letter way back in March or April, (maybe even as far back as Christmas, as time is running together at this point).  Anyway, I polished and edited it within an inch of its content, and mailed it off.

I started by saying, “I love you…”

I ended by saying, “I love you…”

In the middle, though, there were a whole bunch of buts.  And pleas for her to knock it off.  Plus reminders that I loved her no matter what, but that her inability to “hear” others when they said “enough” was driving me crazy.  That friend has tried to circle back to the topics that I don’t want to talk about – mainly her refusal to give in and accept that I won’t change my mind on a topic and we will have to agree to disagree, but need to move on to a new topic.

I am going to be 60 this Fall.  Never thought to make it to that age.  Still not sure of what to do with myself now that I’m almost-60-going-on-12 on a good day.  But here we are.  In the middle of a pandemic.  Some of us are freaking out.  Some of us are peeved.  Some of us are feeling unloved.  Some of us are in our heads way too much.

Whatever it is, it’s bringing out the worst in most of us.

I spent most of last week running back and forth with driver errands to help me stay busy and make the shelter-in-place time go faster.

Another friend, one who is 83 and in the assisted living center and cannot leave the building nor have visitors was feeling particularly badly.  Certain she was unloved.  Certain she had done something wrong to be considered an evil person and locked up, I spent most of the visits trying to talk her off the ledge as she wasn’t allowed to leave her facility and was determined to do so.  Dementia is a heart breaking disease.

Multiple calls from her before a visit, which I answered and reminded her that I couldn’t come in the building and would stop by her window after I dropped things off, and yet still she tried to meet me at the door and leave the building to go with me.  Tears when she was yelled at by the Administration staff of her facility, and more tears when I put up my hands to stop her and stepped back from her.

Tears when I visited at her window, and she was crying because she thought I should have been there sooner than I was, and she was so frustrated at being confined to her room.

Tears because she wanted to give me something, and missed me when I came to her window and called her on the phone, because she’d forgotten I was coming and was out in the private courtyard, enjoying the sun and fresh air.

So, I tell you all that to tell you this.  People are EX-HAUS-TING.  As much as we love them and want to help them be their best selves, you’ve got to keep yourself separated from their constant demands or they will make you crazy.  Or, crazier.

My younger friend is dealing with many issues as she approaches her middle 50’s, but the most problematic one is her need to swallow whole the attention of anyone in her realm.  I tried to get her to understand boundaries when I wrote that letter earlier this year.  While I have gotten her to understand that her salesperson’s persistence isn’t going to change my opinion as boundaries aren’t up for negotiation, she still tries to circle back.

Last week was a particularly bad time for her because she’s trying to negotiate a deal at her current contract position, and doesn’t like the facts.

Fact 1)  When you accept a position, you also accept that rate of pay until the contract comes up for renewal, or a year has passed.  You made the best deal possible, so you live with it unless you’re willing to renegotiate due to misrepresentation, and willing to walk when you don’t get a fair or reasonable response.  Renegotiating in the middle of a pandemic, when they have cut your billable hours down to 20 per week, is possible but not recommended.

Fact 2)  Having your hours cut does impact your ability to live on the rate of pay you negotiated.  Again, though, see Fact 1) before being impetuous.

Fact 3)  You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, sometimes you’ll get what you need.  Life just works out that way.

So, her contract is up for renewal at the end of June, and she tried an end-run around her agency (that I told her NOT to do, as you’re only as good as the agency’s clients, and you don’t want to burn an agency relationship).  The old agency that she would prefer to work with dangled a $2.50 an hour raise to her, but didn’t bother to read that employment contract she’d signed for this job.  That contract said that she couldn’t work for the client the agency assigned her to for one (1) year from date of departure on any assignment without first clearing it with them.  That’s a HUGE sign that they won’t take kindly to her changing agencies in order to get better pay and benefits, but she ignored that language in her contract, and the old agency never bothered to read her contract until last week, blowing up her negotiations-in-progress.

So not my problem.  Especially when she’s just venting and not hearing me when I tell her that she needs to suck it up.

Anyway, those two things were going on, plus the houseguest’s arm surgery and interview to (maybe? hopefully?) get a place of her own in subsidized, disabled and elderly, housing.

My patience was at a very low level, so I began ducking my friend’s calls from Friday onward as I’d had it, my energy was sapped, and I was itching like nobody’s business from all the bug bites I got while fishing.  (By the way, I advise anyone who plays the stock market to buy Gold Bond itch cream shares, as well as Benadryl.  If other people are like me and hiding in the woods and open spaces to get through this pandemic, those are two of the chief products that should see a huge surge in demand this Summer).

Anyway, I tell you all that to tell you this.  I was reading SparksFromACombustibleMind’s blog, Monday Peeve, and I had to laugh.  Her response to the self-help guru fans was very similar to mine.  My younger friend spends so much time inhaling every self-help book under the sun, yet she fails to put any of those suggestions into practice.  By this time she KNOWS what she needs to do to address her issues (constancy and reasonable expectations management being just some of them), so trying to get me to read the book isn’t going to happen as I just don’t see things the same way she does.

So, I tell you all that to tell you this.  I just finished a tear-jerker of a book about the Tennessee Children’s Society or Home, which was a fictionalized account of real happenings.

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And I just want to tell everyone who is feeling unloved and unwanted and unappreciated to go read that book and concentrate on the lead character, “Rill” or “May” (as she was later renamed), and figure out a way to heal yourself and go on with life.

People are going to break your heart.

People and circumstances are going to not live up to expectations.

Whatever it is that’s driving you crazy, nobody else can fix or change.  It’s always up to you.  What I enjoyed about this particular book is that it reminds us that we have choices in life, and it’s what we do with the no-win scenario that makes a life worth living.  Being a survivor isn’t pretty, but sitting in a corner and obsessing over things that you cannot change isn’t practical, either.

I love my friends.  I’ll be there in whatever way I can, in sickness and in health, just like the friendship vows state, but I can’t let myself be sucked into drama that I cannot change.

Yes, I’m just selfish that way.

Accepting what is (when our mind isn’t playing tricks on us due to dementia), is one of the hardest things that we all must adjust to in order to make progress in life.  The sooner we get on with it, the happier we will each be.

I don’t have any better advice than that.  No ponzi schemes for making money off others unhappiness.  As I would say to my Las Vegas Auntie (and she would go crazy, as she loves a good fight), “It is what it is.”

 

 

 

Outward Appearances

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I began writing this a year ago November, 2018, at the start of my frustration with Fall every year.  It’s become more relevant as we’re now in Spring and dealing with the worldwide pandemic in 2020, so I’ll clean this blog up and release it to the world and we will see if it makes any sense or is just more purging of crap from between my ears.

At the time I began composing this, I was at that point in the Fall / Winter where I couldn’t seem to get out of my own way.  Choking regularly was driving me crazy, and it was especially aggravating when lying down to sleep.

While I still have that problem, the new one – let’s call it the “whistle” – has been added wherein I am waking myself up because I’m struggling to breathe and have developed a “whistle” noise on my exhales that is high pitched enough to get on my last nerve.  It’s not enough that I cut down the trees in the front yard to keep the birds from nesting near my bedroom window and waking me up in Summer.  Nope, now I’m my own bird bringing my own birdy noise with me wherever I may go.  Oh, joy !

Being in the middle of a pandemic, I’m still in the middle of the whole meaning of life thought process, and the fact that I “appear” to be too well to elect euthanasia, yet I have the functional lungs of an 81 year old.  (I know that label sounds silly, but it was on one of my test results, LOL).

At the time I wrote this, I was meeting with my Endocrinologist the prior day, and I was again teary eyed trying to express myself, as this process of living with multiple challenging conditions was and is on my last nerve.  I believe I am healthier 60 lbs over weight, and I think my history tells the truth of that as I put on the weight in Massachusetts and started to have more stable health without hospital runs, and that same factor continued once I moved to California and enjoyed a new lease on life due to the dryer air and lack of routine moisture or change of seasons to help me retain stable health (for me).

I have so many things going on medically that I just don’t give a damn.  I mean – I do care.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suicidal, so I do try and stay as well as I am able.  But…  It’s just so much uphill work.  So, this insistence from my Endocrinologist that I lose weight is frustrating and scary to me, as I’ve also watched my Mom battle this disease and lose 35 lbs in 9 days from the struggle to breathe while hospitalized.

Add in the constant choking from congestion, and the nose bleeds from trying to resolve the congestion as my body REALLY doesn’t like the over-the-counter decongestant choices available, and I’m back to being tired.  All. The. Time.  TIRED.

We tried to do a beginner plant walk in the Fall.  Since they invited kids, I thought it would be a gradual climb to 500 feet due to the “beginner” label.

No such luck.  I was tired.  My legs were both stiff from physical therapy sessions following the car accident and like rubber due to zero energy reserves.  And I had to turn back before we’d gone a mile because the hike was straight up hill.  Beginner plant ID efforts – yes.  Beginner walking or hiking on an easy slope – no.

I hate getting all ready to go and having to turn back.  Never mind having an audience to contrast just how physically incapable I am once the blinders and distractions are removed.  I am competitive, even though I know it’s a nonsense effort as we aren’t starting from the same playing field.  I may accept that fact in the front of my brain, and change my efforts accordingly, but when the evidence stares me in the face that I can’t keep up with my friends and peers, it loosens a crazy woman in me, and I hate it.

Absolutely hate it.

I am way too competitive to give in easily when I decide to do something.  I hate my body failing me.  Failing in its duty.  Failing in what should be its general abilities.

But I hate it more when I’m exhausted, and every effort to get some sleep is hampered by choking on phlegm, and having to calm myself or move to a chair to sleep and still be able to breathe without choking.

Which brings me to today’s topic.  Euthanasia.  Again.

As I go through life, hiding my COPD and trying to fill my days with activities that keep me involved in life and give me something hopeful to focus on, I have other friends who are dealing with their own heath issues and fighting to live every day, despite the reality staring them in their faces.

One friend, in her late 80’s, is fighting cancer and trying to continue with her infusion therapy despite coming down with a bad case of cellulitis in her leg.  She can’t walk.  The leg is swollen.  She’s in extreme pain.  But, she’s also terrified that the hospital will stop her cancer infusion treatments, leaving the cancer to again take hold of her body and very painful back and end her life.

Even in extreme pain, she’s looking for a way to survive despite the challenges.  Despite the reality that we never get enough time.  The pandemic has her running scared, frightened that she’s too ill to be allowed into the hospital setting to continue her infusion treatments.  And, being competitive, too, while also fighting for independence despite her frailty.

Part of our conversation when we talked centered around our very different health challenges, and ages, as well as our very different choices in life for how to prepare for the inevitable.   K was telling me that her husband was preparing dinner in the other room, as she could barely walk, and she was frustrated because she couldn’t be as “cheerful” as me.  Seriously?

We had a good gallows humor laugh over that, and exchanged horror stories about how we’d poorly treated the people in our lives at various points (in my case, it was me exhausted after a night of very little sleep and being awoken by the squeaking of the kitchen faucet (worse than nails on a chalkboard to my noise-sensitive ears).  Rolling out of bed after being awoken by the noise, I was up and screaming at the houseguest to quit turning the kitchen faucet on and off while trying to do the dishes when I wasn’t even up for the day – she can’t simply leave the water on so that it’s hot and rinse the dishes, she’d rather rinse them one at a time, conserving the freezing cold water and NOT getting them cleaned).

See?  everyone has their petty moments, and we know some of mine as I’ll admit them in this blog from time to time.  At any rate, in talking to K, I remarked that I’d had 60 years to figure out all my flaws and to practice social distancing so that the ugly side of my personality wasn’t on parade when I wasn’t at my best, and that she has to cut herself some slack and simply try to be nicer next time as she was still new at this game, only having had the cancer diagnosis for a few years.

Yes, it’s gallows humor, but the honesty helps us figure out how to get along when we are not at our best, and the world is on our last nerve…

Success.  Happiness.  Motivation.  Resilience.  All of these things are topics that each of us have to drive from within ourselves, based on the choices that we make for how we want to be in the world despite the challenges that have been handed to each of us.

Whether we have children.  Whether or not we get married.  Entitlement.  Levels of expectation from friendships or family units.  On and on and on…

As I sit here with incontinence issues due to the diabetes medication and the pints and pints of water I’m drinking to stay hydrated (between 70 oz and 110 oz on an average day, or 5 pints), I’m losing patience with the sheer work involved in living.

I go traveling and try to find things to keep me distracted and content, but when I can’t find an open bathroom and have to pee every hour on the hour, it gets old.

When the latest medication, Jardiance, is dehydrating me so that I’m drinking lots and lots of water all day long including before bedtime, I’m out of patience.  I’m exhausted and cranky, despite my outward moments of success.  I was already operated on once to help control my muscles and keep me from peeing myself.

I remember that surgery vividly, as I was about 5 years old, and they tied me to the bed for days to keep me from pulling the catheter out, it was so aggravating.  So, more surgery to repair yet another aggravation?  No way.  My cousin, T, may be considering it, as the incontinence problem runs in the women in our family…  However, this is the same woman who has had 21+ surgeries on her leg to keep from losing it due to infections and bone disintegration following a broken ankle in 2009.  I’m just not that kind of medical warrior.

At this point, I’m up multiple times a night to pee, AND I’m finding that I didn’t always move fast enough (thank heavens for pads!) so I have to change my underwear and PJ bottoms on a regular basis in the middle of the night.  The pain / frozen small of my back makes it particularly challenging to move quickly after last years car accident, adding yet another joy to my evening routine when battling a full bladder.  Trust me, ain’t nobody got enough time for this kind of drama and laundry !

So, I tell you all that to tell you this.  I’m pretty good at hiding my illness and keeping up outward appearances to give the facsimile of being well.  Until you have a competitive houseguest who is watching every thing you do or don’t do and keeping score…  Until you can’t find a bathroom when out and about because all restaurants and most stores are closed.

I’m pretty good at giving the appearance of being out and about and active, until plants remain in my yard for days at a time because my energy was wiped out by the sheer act of shopping, or while plant thieving, and I have zero energy left over to actually get them into the ground in a timely manner within a day or two.

I’m pretty good at giving the appearance of ability, until boxes moved onto my porch or into my driveway for sorting through and disposal / recycling / donation remain there for months at a time, giving lie to my outward appearances by not being addressed in a timely manner.

Nobody wants to be seen as “less”.  Less capable.  Less active.  Less able.  Less independent.

So, I’ll keep lying my head off through my outward appearance of passing for normal, and hope that no one will look behind the curtain to see just how exhausted I am trying to keep up most of my outward abilities to pass for normal and capable.

Cleaning Wars II

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Melaleuca is a wonder product according to my houseguest’s sister.  While I love my friend to pieces, I’m not taking cleaning advice from her because she, too, believes subjective and sometimes deceptive advertising vs. knowing the truth behind her beliefs by doing non-sponsored research… Melaleuca falls into that category.  Everything sold has a scent, is costly, and is designed to get you to encourage your friends and family to use their products.

Yes, I checked it out years back, when first approached, and – no – I didn’t want to live in a plastic bubble.  If necessary to clean, I wanted to do it once via hydrogen peroxide and alcohol when deep cleaning is necessary to assure a sanitary surface.

If you use the Melaleuca products to disinfect, there is a fine print comment in the EPA approval that is buried in their advertising, that makes it too expensive in terms of time and money to make Melaleuca products my first choice for cleaning materials:

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and, on page 5 of 5 of the EPA 2011 posting available on line:

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Why in the world would I use ANYTHING where 95% of the ingredients aren’t detailed on the EPA letter or the product, and where further warnings as directed on the label by the EPA indicate that this product can be hazardous to people and pets?

At any rate, as a continuation of my earlier blog, “Cleaning Wars“, dealing with the landmine that is everyone’s opinion about what you need to do to have a COPD-clean environment that works its best for you is no easy task.

As with most of us, we don’t have much energy, so we don’t want to do anything twice.

Here’s the crap that’s on their feel-good website that irritates the crap out of me:

Melaleuca Company 01

Key triggers for me?  Anything that purports to help MY finances and my quality of life, while also telling me it can also help me “reach my goals”.  They have a really slick advertising company or marketing firm helping them reach people’s soft and gooey underbelly without even a blip on most people’s radar…

Melaleuca Company 02

Given the advertising of their botanical cleaner to not say that it’s a cleaner, but merely that it’s a disinfectant, for use AFTER you actually clean:

Melaleuca 02 - Botanicals

And the disclaimer in their online ads that actual cleaning needs to be done BEFORE using the disinfectant if one wants a truly clean surface:

Meluleuca Ad 01 - Bathroom

“Final step”, implying that this is to be used AFTER you actually clean.  Nope.  No thanks.  Not only does it make more work for me than my regular cleaning, it’s also only available in a scented product, making the scent wars in my home more of a challenge, too.

So, I remain stubbornly assured, based on EPA evidence, that my choice of alcohol and soap and water as a cleaning / disinfecting agent is the best choice vs. doing things the Melaleuca way.

Cleaning Wars

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Well, after last week’s “FOOD WARS” posting, the houseguest and I got into it over her demand that I give her her own shelf in the fridge.  Seriously.  She has 3 half shelves, so that we can take advantage of size alternatives, and she’s taking over my half of the space, but she thinks that I’m being dictatorial in not giving her a single shelf for her own use.

The houseguest who is homeless.

The houseguest who lives with me for free.

The houseguest who has been here since July 16, 2019…  Going on 9 months…  And she picks a pandemic, when we’re on shelter-in-place directives, to start picking fights over me being controlling.  Now she has decided to debate my cleaning choices.

Me, who got bacterial pneumonia from her bringing a cold home in February.

Think about that a minute.

I’m sitting here fighting for my life, actively, every day since August 23, 2015, when it was confirmed that the medications they were giving me weren’t working well enough to help me versus their dangerous side effects.  It was determined that I go on permanent disability, and that I figure out how to live the rest of my life (maybe 3-5 years at that point, but there were no fixed timelines or date stamps on my foot because everyone reacts differently to triggers and their version of the COPD illness).  So, you’d think I would have learned a bit about my triggers in my 55 years of living up to that point, as well as adjusted my needs as my COPD continued to worsen.

At age 59, I am as healthy as I possibly can be, despite 25% lung function / lung capacity, and approximately 92-96% routine oxygen saturation.

storm trooper vacuuming

Trying to avoid breathing issues as most scents and aerosols trigger difficulties, I have made it my mission to clean as simply / quickly as possible to avoid exhaustion (hey, it only took me 4 days to clean the kitchen floor when the houseguest was away having her knee replaced, LOL).

Generally, I use 70 – 91% alcohol (whatever I can get inexpensively in the first aid aisle), with the addition of peppermint oil (because it helps me breathe, and doesn’t cause any coughing spasms).

The houseguest hates this, because it smells “too hospital-y”.  Seriously.

Screw the fact that I can’t breathe with the scented crap she keeps trying to sneak in !

So, as we’re on lockdown / shelter-in-place, the houseguest is becoming increasingly paranoid, not wanting to go out, not wanting to be in the fresh air (even away from people!), and she decides that “we” need to do a better job of cleaning with a disinfectant.  Seriously.

As always, she’s free to use whatever she wants in her bedroom (not my concern, as long as it doesn’t travel to the rest of the house), but I have had to put my foot down again and again that the crap that she wants to use – when she actually bestirs herself to clean our common areas – may smell better, but works WORSE than my affordable and very effective solution.  To back up my belief that alcohol is better with scientific references:

Isophoprol Kill Rate

What makes me crazy is that most of the crap she wishes to use, because it’s all about what the media has “educated” her via commercials, takes 2-10 minutes to be effective in terms of truly disinfecting a surface, while straight alcohol at 60% concentration or above, kills in 10-30 SECONDS.

For someone who has made an art form out of how to survive, 10-30 SECONDS for cleaning / killing / sanitizing effective rate sounds much more livable for me than waiting 2-10 minutes for something to take effect, never mind the habit that we all have of wiping / drying a surface vs. letting it dry for 2-10 minutes…

Lysol cleaning time

Lysol Neutra Air vs. other

Lysol Deodorizer

Clorox Bleach

Lysol Tub and Bath

Why in the world would I want a slower-effective product, especially an aerosol that messes with my breathing ability, to be used in place of alcohol???  Never mind the fact that I have limited energy and already need to take frequent breaks when cleaning, so why extend the time involved in cleaning properly?

And, why pay for a brand name when the product exists, cheaper, in the first-aid aisle (and there’s no run on this aisle in the stores as most people buy into the ads vs. truly understanding the difference between ethanol, alcohol, and over the counter / OTC commercial products)???  When I tell her that 70% alcohol works better and doesn’t hurt me, I get an argument that I’m a know-it-all from someone who refuses to hear that this is my house, and that she’s lucky to stay here and be having these debates, especially considering she is a guest.  She refuses to back up her beliefs by showing me, with outside scientific opinion, that I am mistaken.  So, we’re at a stalemate.

No bueno.  Pouty temper tantrum and back into her bedroom she goes…  I am living with a 64 year old teenager who wants what she wants, regardless of its impact on my ability to survive.  Exhausting.  And that’s before we get into how exhausting it is for me to do anything on a regular schedule, never mind when it’s deep cleaning (vs. simply picking up clutter and thinking that a space is “clean”).

Having this shelter-in-place edict extended out to May 3rd may just end up killing us both.  I can put up with a lot, but her nerves are getting on my last nerve.

cleaning-stuff

 

 

FOOD WARS

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If the passive aggressive fight over cleaning standards doesn’t end in violence, the foot long brown hairs in the fridge and space for each of our food needs is going to end in violence.

Seriously, it’s only Day 6 of California’s shelter-in-place edict, and we’re mostly keeping our distance and finding out after-the-fact what the other person did to get on our last nerve.

700 square feet of living space is VERY tight quarters when 100 square feet belongs to each bedroom (thankfully at opposite ends of the house!), leaving 500 square feet of communal space for skirmishes or negative, passive-aggressive drivebys.

It’s especially brutal, though, when one is the homeowner, trying to make a homeless house guest feel welcome.  And, when the houseguest is 64-going-on-16, and entitled.

Immunocompromised, I’m fighting for my life after already contracting bacterial pneumonia from this guest after she brought a nasty cold home from her visit to her grandchild over President’s Day Weekend.  She doesn’t understand why I’m on disability as I look well enough.  So, she takes risks, uncaring and indifferent to the reality that I may pay a price from her choices or actions. (the image at the top of this blog shows dishes fully covered with hot water, soaking in soap, before I begin washing the dishes).

This image shows her typical preparations for dish washing, in cold water, with minimal soap:

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She can’t wash dishes worth a damn, refusing to soak them – totally covered – in hot, hot water for a bit before scrubbing them, and insisting on rinsing the still-crusty dishes in cold water.  Never mind using a disposable pan again and again, because she’s claimed it as hers, when I don’t want crust-covered items put back among the clean dishes.

Oh my freaking gawd !

My Mom used to BOIL the dishes water before we had an actual dish washing machine, so I think I’m being reasonable in insisting they merely sit for 30 minutes or so in 140 degree hot / hot water before leaving the dish rinse water on to achieve the necessary warm-to-hot dish rinse water.  (This is an old, old house, and it takes time for the hot water to make it to the sink from the heater).  No burning of skin on hands, you understand, but pretty close.  Just call me “Marilla”, LOL.  (Marilla from the Netflix series, “Anne with an E” in the frustrated homemaker on the right).

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I’ve been going on walks around the fields near my home, trying to stay busy and healthy and not exchange the harsh words hiding behind my teeth as we endure month 9 together.

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But, the food wars and related cleanup may be my breaking point.

My food storage is getting shoved to the side, touched with unwashed hands (yet another point of difference in our habits), and as she crawls in and out of the fridge shoving more and more food into the fridge that doesn’t require refrigeration as this pandemic is stroking all of her fears of being helpless and starving, leaving foot long spider’s web hairs tangled among the condiments and tripping me up when I’m reaching for something, I’m reaching my breaking point.

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(her frozen items are to the left, as her ice creams and other foods crowd my homemade, healthier, food, and I’ve had to remind her that I only get paid once a month, and she is NOT to take all my food storage space as I eat my way through my stored meals).

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(I have the upper left, with water and thawing frozen, 1 cup meals.  Then, my omelet making materials – more protein – is getting squeezed out on the right on the second shelf.  And, the bottom shelf is getting more and more hers as she stores every kind of bread known to man in there, and it’s pressing all my buttons in this petty fight for reasonable access to space).  Now I understand why the Real World MTV series fights were always about food and the kitchen !

We aren’t Jewish, and I don’t run a Kosher kitchen.  But, it might be pretty close by some standards.  And my OCD for order in the fridge, and cleanliness, are getting on my last nerve – never mind hers.

We *will* get through this passive aggressive war for space, but is it so wrong to know that I’m counting the days until she finds subsidized housing – anywhere but with me! – sooner rather than later?

Sadly, with the disabled and elderly on the list of most likely to pass, I’m also hoping for a bright side to someone else’s misfortune.  Puhleeze, if there is a God, let this pandemic get my houseguest higher up on the waiting list to get a place of her own.  We will both thank whatever powers-that-be…

Declined. Again.

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Obviously, I’m frustrated.

First, because I have to spend HOURS on the phone trying to figure this drama out.  Second, because after spending all that time on the phone, the answer remains, “No.”

Under Obamacare, I was able to get medical coverage for the first time since 1992 that I could actually use.  2013, I had skin cancer in my shin, and they covered the cost of that surgery for $8,xxx and my out of pocket payment was $860.  $860 for surgery that saved my leg, if not my life.  Life changing.

I worked a Corporate job with excellent benefits from 1979 thru 2015, however, the coverage I paid for was not always usable by me due to my birth defects.  Rather than play the denial game, I simply lived beneath my means, and paid out of pocket for anything I needed.

I don’t drive a Cadillac or fancy sports car, so I don’t need a fancy medical plan.  However, the simple existence of my birth defects becoming public knowledge in 1992 when my medical records went digital meant that I routinely was denied medical care, and “No.” became the standard response for actually using the insurance that I paid for with each job.

With my departure from Corporate America in 2015, the battle for medical coverage reached new heights as I fought for coverage under COBRA for $644 per month.  And, as Aetna, my new insurer under my employer, decided that “No.” was now its favorite word.

In June 2016, I was finally approved for long term disability (LTD), and a 2-year waiting period to qualify for Medicare was also started.  Seriously.  I’m disabled, but there is zero insurance coverage?  Mind-blowing.

So, I paid my COBRA through December 31, 2017, with the knowledge that the benefits would be exhausted as of February 2018.  I tried to select a policy to cover me for my medical needs, but was told that I could not choose it until I was approved for Medicare, which happened mid-year, AFTER the open enrollment period.

There was no counseling for Medicare coverage, and I had to wing it on my own.  I contacted AARP who sent me to United Health Care (UHC), and they promised to cover me for a Medicare Supplement plan for about $150 a month.  I gave verbal approval to complete the forms they would send me, and they took $150 out of my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) check each month, before I saw a penny.

However, no forms were signed.  Why?  Because, when I got to the question, “If you have COPD, please see question 7.”.  In its pre-qualification forms, UHC then informed me that I did not qualify for a Medicare Supplement as I was under 65 and had COPD.

Did you know that there are two (2) sets of rules for folks to qualify for Medicare?  No?  Well, let me tell you.  The protections that apply for workers who retire at age 65 or above are very different than the guidelines (not protections, but “guidelines”) which apply to disabled people under 65 or their specific age of authorized retirement.

Working since I was 13, I have paid into Social Security EVERY year for 42 years (excluding the year that my employer absconded with my tax and SS payments in 1975).

SSDI Earnings Record life long

It makes me crazy to have paid into my benefits for all these years, dealt with the denial of coverage for many of those years, finally gotten the necessary coverage my payments should have yielded under Obamacare, only to go back to this whack-a-mole game of trying to obtain the disappearing benefits – even when one is required to pay yet again for necessary coverage !

As you can see from my crazy paycheck history, my income changed all the time based on health, what type of job I was working, family issues for changing jobs and relocating, etc., etc., etc.  But every single year – regardless of what was going on it my life – I paid into the program(s) meant to help me if I became disabled or achieved retirement age.

So, it’s maddening to be declared unable to work, and then find out that in addition to the changes that were made to Social Security and Medicare over the years, there was an additional change that prevents someone who is not indigent and not yet of retirement age, to qualify for the necessary medical coverage they need when disabled.

Medigap insurers

Having worked my way through their websites (useless !  one cannot enroll on a website – WTF !?!???) I am at my whits end.

I can see a great policy – if only I were allowed to exercise the right to buy into this supplemental insurance !

Medigap F

Starting with the thought that my premium might be between $21 and $74 each month, imagine my surprise to chase this ever-evading insurance company ball all the way to the point where my costs would be $455.99 per month – if only I didn’t actually NEED my insurance due to my pre-existing condition, COPD.  So, having wasted time attending seminars, combing the website, consulting the professionals, and having spent three (3) hours on hold this morning, going through the phone tree with various companies, I once again confirmed – there will be NO INSURANCE COVERAGE for me due to my pre-existing condition.

It doesn’t matter that I never smoked.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve not been hospitalized since childhood.

It doesn’t matter that I’m not on oxygen.

It just matters that I have a lung disease which MIGHT cost them some money, so I get zero insurance coverage except for what remains of the original Medicare coverage which has been cannibalized within my lifetime to deprive me of benefits originally paid for when I first signed up for coverage in 1974, when I was a child of 13, starting my first job and trying to survive while my parents marriage imploded.

So, with all this under my belt, I’m going away to get my monthly haircut.  I’m out of energy and any semblance of patience for today, so I will be at this keyboard again tomorrow trying to find an insurance company to throw my money at in the hope that any worst-case medical expenses not covered by original Medicare will be picked up by them.  Medicare Allies says they can help.  Let’s hope they are being truthful in my case:

Medicare Allies 2019

Medicare open enrollment is frustrating.

So needlessly exhausting.

We need socialized medicine that doesn’t deny one coverage due to birth defects.  If we are going to insist on keeping these children alive by repairing their birth defects, then we need to have a medical insurance program that ensures that they maintain quality of life without being driven into poverty through covering their medical needs – if they are able to work, or were fortunate enough to be able to work and buy their way into benefits at some point during their lifetime.

Actions have consequences.  If we are going to insist on life at all costs, then we also need to insist on QUALITY of life by allowing those people who have birth defects to protect their assets against raiding.  The stress from trying to juggle all the bills involved in remaining healthy is exhausting, and no one is well enough, in my humble opinion, to want to sign up for this medical denial of coverage dance once a year during open enrollment, or every time they have to use the actual benefits they’ve paid for.

 

 

 

Quincineara beat down

In this generation of #MeToo, I’m watching all the quincineara preparations of the young ladies around me (similar to the debutante ball my Nana tried to get me to desire and agree to have, just before I graduated high school), and it’s just exhausting.

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I am well beyond the age of getting married and having kids, but I’m at the other end of the age scale where an unmarried older woman has no one obliged to take care of her thru means or family or birth, so the focus on a woman’s day as a married princess or object of desire is beating me down and exhausting my psyche.

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My decision was made long ago, in terms of hope, my reality, and knowledge of what I would and would NOT tacitly agree to endure, in order to “hope” for security in my old age.

I say “hope” for security, because the reality that I’ve experienced is that the woman is sold a bill of goods about her value as an untainted virgin, and her family rushes her into marriage (either approving or disapproving of the male) in the hope that any pregnancies happen within the confines of marriage, so that the grand children are someone else’s responsibility to raise.

For all intents and purposes, they bless the union hoping 2 unfinished but physically mature children  will grow old together, learning to cleave to each other, despite life’s storms.

The family hopes for prosperity and joy for the young couple, and they pile on the pressure (with Mother Nature’s full backing and manipulation of the hormones) to hurry up and add kids into the mix.  All while raising the next generation of girls to desire a fantasy as they mature,

While I have no hands-on experience of the debutante ball or quincineara party, having chosen a solo path for myself, I do have opinions on the outcome.  But, there’s no surprise in that, is there ?!???!

We are programmed at a young age to think of things life and our corner of the village or society “owes” us.  Birthday parties.  Christmas presents.  Weddings.  Showers (bridal, birth, new home, etc.).  We are taught (at least in my culture) that life events are a series of routines and obligations.  That you show up for someone, and they show up for someone, and then a combination of friends and family show up for you, “when it’s your turn”.

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(See the people peeking out of the shack in the background?  That may be her reality for living conditions once the sweet 16 ceremony announcing her availability for marriage and motherhood is over).

For some of us, the rules have changed or evolved when we weren’t looking, and we never get “our turn”.  In my case, it was embracing Women’s Lib as a way to have it all and be beholden to none.  After all, I reasoned, my Mom did everything right and still ended up working all hours of the day and night (with the help of her wonderful girlfriends) to keep a roof over our heads, and the plumbing working, and the bills paid.  Mom broke the cycle of silence by opting for divorce vs. accepting disrespect and abuse from her spouse,  and it was her choice to walk away from the insanity of her marriage that was the saving of her and all of our lives.

In my case, the passing of my Mom and Brother informed me over time that my choice to move away from my family, to break with tradition, has left me without a home port.  I became an adult orphan when I moved 3,000 miles away from my home port, and I never knew it because I made a conscious choice to build a husband and child-free life, and I moved into a youth-oriented area full of single people who appeared to have made similar choices.  Plus, my ability to hide from my family’s censure or expectations (if ever necessary) was strengthened by weekly or as necessary phone calls between myself and family and friends, so the bonds stood firm.

It is only when the fabric of our support circle is ripped through the passing of another that we realize how truly connected we were to each other, and how important it is to mend the fabric of our bonds to ensure continuity.  It is only when we see who among our family or childhood friends refuse to meet us half way in rebuilding a bond that we realize what we’ve lost with the passing of a matriarch or sibling.

So, we build again and we hope again, and time passes.  Now, we are the older, single person in a space that appears to only value youth and malleability.

Married friends launch their kids into the world, building the next generation, and the topic of Sweet 16’s, Debutante Balls, or Quincinearas become important to the next generation of Grannies and Nanas and Moms, who see the changes in the world and want to pass on “protection” to the next generation of women by ensuring the girls go down a path of set expectations for “princesses” or “queens” about how a ‘real’ woman lives, the matriarchal center of her family through the ages.

As I get ready to welcome a long term guest into my home, a women with an ex husband, grown children, and few places to turn, I wonder at that mythical young woman making her quincineara.

She’s surrounded by family, friends, momentary party excitement, and a “village” trying to direct her choices.  Trying to ensure that she is married young, before she knows who she is and what she wants from life.  Trying to ensure that she gets pregnant quickly to continue her species, as well as plant the seeds with those much hoped for children for anticipating that they, in turn, will be the extra hands of caring and support that her parents and grandparents may need as the circle of life continues and those hoped-for babies grow to adulthood, and pick up the mantle of caregiving aspirations.

I, meanwhile, deal every day with how best to retain my independence, afford to age in place, and stay as healthy as I can despite my medical issues.  Child free, and without anyone emotionally and biologically programmed to care for me as my body continues to age and my birth defects continue to evolve and plague me.

As I visit “F”, who is coping with dementia, and try and share companionship and adventures, I reflect on her 3 marriages, divorces, and childless state.

As I visit “F”, whose affairs are supposed to be monitored long distance, from Canada, while her mind and personality slowly slips away, I wonder at all the thousands of choices that had to fail to bear fruit for her to be here, at this moment in time, independence gone, and depending on the kindness of strangers as caregivers in her assisted living facility.

I am thankful “F” made good choices that lucked out to her having financial independence until her money runs out (which will hopefully not happen until after her mind is fully gone), and I’m grateful that she has some connections to family in Canada who will handle her affairs to the best of their ability, even though they won’t get on a plane or drive down from Canada to see for themselves that she’s doing ok.

Meanwhile, I’m also opening my home to “CM” who did everything society and her family expected, but..

– who ended up divorced and raising her kids solo

– who had a husband who refused to pay child support

– who now has grown children struggling to build their own lives

– who is now 64, never really worked (beyond raising kids), struggling financially, and

– who has been couch surfing since at least 2009, trying to survive.

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”CM”, if the Park managers agree, will move in with me as we try and get her back on her feet, financially, by helping her qualify for subsidized housing so that her broken and no-longer-able-to-work body can have a place to call her own in order to age in place.

At some point, if she cannot get the help she needs any other way, we may have to force her into a woman’s shelter to allow her to jump the line for necessary housing assistance.  “CM” was supposed to get on various waiting lists way back in 2009, but I suspect that pride and hiding from her reality stopped her from following thru on those recommendations to get what she needed.  At any rate, I’ve agreed to give her 6 months or so in my spare room at Old People’s “Camp”, and we’ll see what’s possible for helping her avoid homelessness.

She’s a far cry from the unknown road ahead for that quincineara girl, but in the belief that it truly takes a village to help each other get thru each stage of their lives,    I’ll try my best to help her get on her feet and stay independent for as long as possible.

It what the village is supposed to do, when one of their own needs help.