Ladies and Gentlemen: My Brother

Dear Internet,
Because when it rains, it pours. Obviously.
My brother and I have had a tumultuous relationship stretching back to our teen years, but we’ve more or less made it work within the last few years with us living in the same city. When TheSoonToBeExHusband and I split, I started tapping those veins of people I’ve helped in the past financially to get some monetary relief as I was not bringing in a reliable income due to my writing sabbatical.
By this I mean, my brother.
I have a lot of open credit but after finally getting my credit in a really good place within the last few years AND not having currently having reliable income to pay it off every month, I was loathed to depend on credit to get me through the next six or so months.
So I asked him for a loan of $3K with a promise to return it back doubled when my divorce settled.
This was in late August.
He agreed to “whatever he could afford” and we were to meet up that weekend. Plans changed and near weekly, I’ve sent him a variation of the following text: “I’m leaving in X weeks. Please come by and pick up your generator and if you can, the money you can lend.”
For weeks he either ignored the text OR responded I needed to make shit right with our mother. I wish her the best of luck and wish her a long and happy life, but I have no intention of making up with her. This is why I grabbed a screenshot with the October 3 date in addition to today’s exchange, as proof of his lack of response.
In his late teens and early ’20s, he “borrowed” thousands from me to pay off his then credit card and medical debt (close to $15K).  Later, I also loaned him money to help with the deposit of his house. In 2005/06 when he needed money AGAIN because I was so weary of lending to him without making a dent in the past debt, I have a letter signed by him that was witnessed by a third-party with his intent to pay all of it back with interest.
After a few half-hearted payments he stopped, despite years of promises he would pay it all back. I didn’t even want all of it back or even half, just SOMETHING to show good faith.
Shortly after that, he started the training on becoming an electrician.
He now makes nearly $100K a year. He has a near or slightly over 800 credit score (he brags about it, how I know these things).
He has recently purchased a 2014 or 15 truck, cost was about $55K. Last year he bought and paid off (or nearly paid off) a $10K boat.
He also spends thousands on the restoration of cars and other big ticket hobbies.
So I would have thought that me asking for $3K (or anything really), given my own earning power (I made $62K a year while at my old MPOW. I’m now applying for jobs in my new area like mad that are all in the same range) and my credit history is top notch and how much I’ve loaned HIM over the course of his life AND WITH INTENT TO PAY BACK DOUBLE — would have been some kind of, “Hey. Lisa isn’t going to fuck me out of this.”
I was apparently wrong. But I’m not surprised.
Below is the text conversation from today. His last pot shot to me (not in the below exchange) was, “so get on twitter and report to the masses how bad a person I am.”
You asked and I delivered, dear brother. Don’t say I don’t keep my promises.
(Click for the full image. It reads left to right, top to bottom.)
P.S. After this exchange, I went through and unfriended his dormant FB account (he activates and deactivates depending if he’s looking to hook up with someone or not), people I’m related to by blood, and any of his and our mutual friends. Some of them were feeding him information because he knew things that were only published on FB when his account was dormant at the time.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013

she rides the sky in a chariot drawn by the horse Hrimfaxi

Dear Internet,
This has been my normalized state as of late; the moods cycling like the ever changing weather. I get some work done until my brain decides to be broken and then I stop. I rest. I wait. And then I do what I do best, I hide.
It does not take me long to get tired of these routines, because they are not healthy and also frustrating as fuck. I have shit to do and having a broken brain is not pushing me forward. So I do what anyone in their right mind does in these situations, I make a plan.
I went over that plan with Dr. P. Monday and there were a lot of tears spilled as I spoke (though to be fair, I probably would have cried at the leaves rustling I was so heightened by emotion). And I’m sure, absolutely sure, when this is all said and over, there will be more spilt tears and my own heart is going to be broken a million times over. That was hard to swallow, that realization I had to do this not only alone but that I was going to break my own heart repeatedly to get through to the other side.
A big chunk of that plan is getting back on the drugs. Two weeks ago I contacted my GP to make an appointment to get that recommendation. But her schedule for such matters isn’t free until mid-September. With my appointment with Dr. P. much sooner, I asked him for recs to see if I can get this quick started earlier. I am not in crisis, but I am in pain.
(For those of you playing at home, my previous medicating therapist, Dr. H., is not being contacted for this next journey because he does not take insurance and charges $300/hr. YAY being crazy!)
That conversation with Dr. P. on Monday was the apex of the appointment and I thought my request was easy enough. Apparently, not quite. There is an aging population in Grand Rapids in regards to psychiatry so finding someone to do treatment AND within my insurance network can and could be difficult. Dr. P. gave me a few easy things to begin the search while I wait to see my GP.
The first was to search my provider’s website for medicating therapists, which surprise, turned up no results. They want me to go through the GP first. Okay, sure. That appointment is already made in September. What’s the next step? The second of Dr. P.’s recommendations was to go through a local psychiatric hospital and get in on their day patient list to see a medicating therapist whose sole job is to keep my meds inline.
This is the same hospital where Mumsy was committed after she attempted suicide back in 2001. I can still recall the emotional naked vulnerability of the patients and how desperate I was (and still am!) to not end up in that place. That was my arrogance then, how I was that much stronger than they were. I could handle myself better. I was faster, stronger, and more in control of my disease. Jesus, even as I write this I cannot believe this is how I often feel at times. Like they are weak and I’m the superhuman who could save the world. (But I can’t and my own arrogance is also my own shame.)
Even when I had been adamant for ages on not getting back on the drugs again, it changes because often I feel defeated about my brain. I feel so fucking broken at times that everything with me is opposite of what is supposed to happen. Giving up on the drugs, claiming it is easier to go without then to fix, seems reasonable after you been psychotic because of drug interactions. It all seems reasonable. (It really isn’t.)
But I am telling you, seeing people get their lives together and seeing someone have pure unadulterated joy can begin the digging deep of what you need to change one’s mind. And there is a LOT OF DIGGING.
Here is where the system falls short. The phone calls I’ve been making to the psychiatric hospital? There is a wait. There is always a wait. I am not in crisis, so my needs are not as important. Yes, there is no reason for me to continue being in pain (or suffering), but I am waiting. This is my life now, I wait.
I leave messages and wait for phone calls that come a day later. Which, of course, I miss because I did not hear my phone ring or I’m on the another line. When I return the call, no one answers, and it goes directly to voicemail. I leave my message and the clock resets. This has been the theme of dealing with this hospital this week. They have still yet to return my latest telephone call and it has been over 24 hours. (And they still have not returned my call.)
This morning, however, luck finally decided to hitch herself to my side. I tried the third path of Dr. P.’s which was to call several medicating therapists offices directly and see if they were taking new patients and if they took my insurance. Snake eyes. One of them accepts my insurance AND she’s accepting new patients.
Thank the gods in all their glory for listening to me again.
But there is a catch. (Always.) I need to get my GP to sign off on it (medicating office will fax her the referral, they will fax their assent. Since I already have an appointment with the GP next month, this quickens that process and I can more than likely cancel the appointment). Then my records from Dr. H. need to be sent over, which is a truck load. Then they need to pull my records from 2005 when I was outpatient at another local psychiatric hospital. They can pull out the full list of my drugs from all of the combined records and figure out what drugs I need to get on next. (No SSRIs and no ADHD drugs. Definitely not. I am not depressed. If the bipolar gets stabilized, then I will not need the ADHD drugs.) Then they can schedule me in as a new patient, probably in early October. Now I have a time frame.
Nine years ago, not long after TheBassist and I broke up and I was simultaneously preparing for undergrad graduation, I started looking at getting a more definite clue as to the status of my brain. I wanted nothing more than to be stable and ready for the new life ahead of me. After receiving the results, I said,

There are three main things I want to accomplish with this:
1. I want to be stable. I want to not to feel the alternating mood swings, crying jags, suicidal thoughts, and what have you on a almost daily basis. I want to be able to maintain a job, social network, and intimate relationships without feeling like these are difficult things.
2. I want to keep my personality. I like my personality, just tone down the aggressive behaviour and some of the exhibitionist that seems to pop up occasionally. My experience with legal drugs in the past have left me meandering as a zombie and felt like I had zero control; I don’t want to go through that again.
3. Manage my life more efficiently without this constant UP swing that seems to prevail where I get lots of work done coupled with weeks/months of time where nothing is done and shit just slips by.

And here we are nine years later, better in a lot of ways. Able to handle the impulsivity and other traits better. Able to recognize when the crazy hits and when my brain is on fire.
But even with all of that self-check in place, I am still broken by the hypomania that continues to wreak havoc in my life.
But those three tenets from nearly a decade ago? Those have not changed. They were what drove me back to getting on the drugs two years ago and what drives me now. This may be the recurring pattern in my life — get on the drugs, let me body go to war, go off the drugs. Rest. Began the battle again.
I do not want to exist in this place as a mass of water and bone, just waiting it out until I can collect my pension and then one day die. (If I do not take my own life before hand, because this is also a truism. If I cannot get my brain sorted, I have no problems doing just that. Demons not of your making that cannot be exorcised, haunt me.)
I want to have a fucking life. I want to enjoy the world and not be imprisoned in this gilded cage of my own making.

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2003, 1999


The art of judging character or telling a person’s fortune from the forehead or face

Bors' Dilemma – he chooses to save a maiden rather than his brother Lionel. From  Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, via Wikipedia.
Bors’ Dilemma – he chooses to save a maiden rather than his brother Lionel.
From Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, via Wikipedia.

Dear Internet,
I woke Sunday morning buried under the covers and clinging to TheHusband. With my penchant to sleep late on weekends, to make up for the shortened sleep cycles during the week, I was surprised to find it was barely 9AM. The clawing fear of sinking deep again has abated for the morning, but hangs over me like a terrible rain cloud. It was not helped when as I was preparing for bed last night, I remembered I was teaching a college-wide class this week and needed to finish the prep work, thus my anxiety shot through the roof.
After getting out of bed, and spending several hours of catching up on newspaper reading, both this weeks and past editions, TheHusband and I began the yearly house cleaning. We’re having friends over this weekend for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary, then the following weekend is Thanksgiving which will mean people will be coming and going all weekend. With the addition of my mother-in-law is coming between Christmas and New Year,  we could not procrastinate any longer.
In the past, we’ve divided up the housework one to two days, which is overwhelming for two people in a house as large as Throbbing Manor. TheHusband’s recommendation this year was to break it up into chunks, and pace it over a week, and we decided to start in the Rumpus room in the basement and work our way up.
The Rumpus Room and other rooms in the basement were to get a once over on Saturday, but we ended up not getting to it so we tacked it on to today’s work. Within a couple of hours, we had swept, vacuumed, mopped, dusted, and sorted the Rumpus room, foyer into the Rumpus room, stairs and landings down to the basement, the upstairs pre-foyer and foyer, first floor living room, solarium, and dining room. Monday is the kitchen and downstairs bathroom, Tuesday will be the stairs and landing connecting the first and second floors, then Wednesday will be our bedroom and respective bathrooms. Thursday I’ll be on campus for roughly 12 hours as I’ve organized an author’s reading so no cleaning, and I’m off on Friday. So whatever we don’t absolutely get done will be done on Friday and allow for any other errands I need to run.
We were done with Sunday’s bits within a few hours, which beats the usually 8-10 hours it takes us to get the whole house down, giving us time to do whatever else we planned for the rest of the day. The one task I’ve been dreading all week is responding to my mother, and after much discussion with my shrink about it, opted to send her a decline to her dinner invite for Thanksgiving. I wrote something along the lines that I appreciated the thought, but we must respectfully decline and perhaps another time in the new year. Maybe I’ll be up for talking to her then, maybe I’ll be up to sorting us out, but not now. Not here. Not because my brother is desperate for our family to be whole.
As I paid bills, and did a few other administrative tasks, I kept an eye on the weather – ready to run down to the basement, the dog under my armpit, at the very last minute if need be.
Grand Rapids did not get the brunt end of the storm band as some areas did, but the wind was obnoxious and the rain, sometimes mixed with hail, pelted against the house. TheHusband predicted the storm would passed us by quickly, which it did, but several hours later we’re now getting the second wave. I’m grateful we didn’t get hit hard, and it seems no one I know across the storm’s path were in trouble. Many blessings were sent to the gods and fates for sparing us today.
I fretted, as I always do, about the safety of the house – did shingles get ripped off in the storm, did a leak spring up, did something happen that I may not have been aware of? TheHusband tutted my fears – the house is made of brick and has stood for 90 years and will probably stand for 90 more. He then pretended we were one of the three little pigs and the wind was the big, bad wolf. TheHusband huffed and puffed, and the house did not fall down.

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2010, 2010, 2009

Precious or costly things

Dear Internet,
I often feel like a spectator to my own train wreck of a life.
After years in the making, my mother and I broke up on Sunday. I spent much of the afternoon and night writing about it, only to find that I could not wrap my brain, and apparently my fingers, around the whole episode. Thousands of words were written and thousands were tossed aside.1 Instead of the world lifting from my shoulders, I felt the guilt that often hides in the shadows and was now dancing around my peripheral heart with glee. My heart itself felt like it was tightening so hard that I could not breathe.
The cumulation of our break-up, for me, was the realization she may have lied to me about something very big. After getting over the initial shock of, “Why in thee fuck have I not thought of this sooner?”, I felt my entire world crumble and I was instantly emotionally drained
Her potential lie has two consequences:

  • If what she told me was indeed a lie, then she not only poisoned me with her hatred against my father, but she ruined my relationship with him; whom I’ll never get a chance to make-up with since he’s been dead 12 years.
  • If what she told me was not a lie, then why did she never protect me, ever, from that danger?

What started down this road of holy fuckery was putting the connections together after her birthday lunch earlier in the day. She and I were buffered by TheHusband and my brother, ensuring that we barely spoke a word throughout the entire strained meal. After, I spent the better part of the afternoon obsessing over how thin our links had become to the other in the last year; with TheHusband wondering loudly, and quite rightly, why I had not broken the connection long ago. I steadfastly believed, until the very second I did not, I could not be that girl. I could not, no matter how horrid our relationship was, give up on her as a daughter. I did not want to be filled with regret after she was dead for missed chances and opportunities for maternal connection. I was barely on speaking terms with my father when he died and it has haunted me for over a decade on everything I may have potentially lost with him and I did not want to go through with that with her.
I’ve never known a time when she said anything even remotely kind about him. As I got older, I started piercing together some of the mistruths she had told in relation to him and of course to me, and rationalized it was all due to, at various times of her life, depression, being bi-polar, or general bitchiness about her divorce from him. But whatever reason she may have had for what she said, in this particular instance, could only come from pure evil and I could not rationale away what she did any other way.
When that connection was made, that I knew she had lied to me in the past and that this one event that shaped much of my teenage years and beyond could also potentially be a lie, the bond between us was finally broken.
Just so we’re clear, there was a long period of time in my ’20s when she and I did not speak. However, since the death of my father in 2000, I have tried desperately in vein to work things out with her. And in the years since then, anytime I’ve tried to tell her or even just to discuss my thoughts and feelings about our relationship (good or bad), it usually boils down to she either telling me if she hurt my feelings, she didn’t mean it and she’s sorry or that I’m insanely jealous of my brother (because it is always about him) or she claims she never said whatever it is I’m supposing telling her she said. There is no real discussion, catharsis, emotional break throughs or fuck, even understanding.
In the very near future, I will be removing myself from her legal documents and transferring that over to my brother. I will be canceling and/or removing her from any accounts or services she may use through me.
While I know I may be revisiting this again and again in the future to work out feelings, she no longer exists in my world.

1. The baby was not quite thrown out with the bathwater just yet. I have been using, daily, Day One for all of my personal journaling needs. Since I have it on all my devices and machines, it syncs seamlessly with iTunes and Dropbox. The tossed aside content was added as Sunday’s journal entry and will probably remain there until I feel braver discussing it publicly.

conversations about mother (part ii)

To support NaNoWriMo this month, I’m finishing the 30+ odd drafts laying about and posting them through the month of November.
Part I: Conversations about mother
Part III: Conversations about mother (part iii)
I lied.
But I’ll maintain it was for the sake of good copy. The realization to write about my family is not something that came to me in an instant but something that I’ve been struggling with for months. My panic attacks and anxiety levels, which have been fairly dormant these last few years, have come aggressively to the surface with the move to Grand Rapids. My precious supply of Klonopin, when before I used so sparingly and only when under extreme need, I’m now eating like TicTacs.
On the surface, things are falling into place for TheHusband and me after months and years of sacrifice and financial starvation. Things are not absolutely perfect (I work part-time as opposed to full-time, as an example), but when are they ever? We are starting to build a lovely life – so why all the goddamned almost crippling anxiety? Again? The conclusion: If after ruling out everything else that could be detrimental to my mental health and the only thing left is my family, therefore they must be the cause of this unwarranted stress. It is also equally important, I feel, that in order to continue on discussing my familial relationships, it is also equally important to lay out the history of my anxiety.
I had my first panic attack when I was barely a teenager. What I can recall is that I was walking with a girlfriend from one class to the next when my heart started racing a million miles per minute. I can also remember looking down and seeing the fabric of my shirt move ever so slightly to the tune of my heart beat. I do not remember the eventual underlying cause for the attack but it was, in my living memory, the first real physical experience of being physically anxious. The heart racing went on for a few moments before settling back down to its normal rhythm. And as it happened, just like that!, it also ended. I must have, at the time, reported the incident to my mother who took me to the family GP who announced I had mitral valve prolapse. Stress, fear or anxiety were never mentioned in my diagnosis though much later, I would find out it is those things that triggered it.
(For many years I told people I had a literal broken heart. It sounded much more dramatic and romantic while fueling my ever active imagination.)
As I age, the anxiety comes and goes in ebbs and tides. Sometimes, symptoms are minute and barely noticeable when I know I am under extreme stress and others, it would have me convinced that I was having a heart attack, dying or riddled with cancer when I felt I had no stress in my life. Sometimes still, the more frightened, cornered, or helpless I feel, the more intense the symptoms would manifest. Others, I would be conscious that I was anxious or upset which easily could explain the flight or fight feeling while others, I could be at an event having a good time when the symptoms would begin to manifest themselves for no apparent reason.
With me, there is no straight path with anxiety, and almost always, if it happened one way before it would not necessarily happen the same way again. The symptoms would almost never repeat themselves. Sometimes it would be a racing heartbeat for a few minutes, other times it would be traveling aches/pains that would appear and disappear with no introduction or farewell. Once I had hair randomly fall out for months and then stop. This past winter, after TheHusband and I moved to Grand Rapids, I got something in my eye when I was getting ready for bed. Most normal people wash their eyes out and continue on with their life, but instead, I became ultra-hysterical and belligerent. I was convinced I had cancer, I was going to lose my eye and thus was going to die in five minutes! After washing my eye out with water AND saline a million times, on top of crying hysterically; TheHusband could not find the offending piece of whatever that was driving me insane. The only way he could calm me down was by drugging me up. Within minutes I was asleep and was incredibly sheepish about the whole incident the following day.1
To be fair, the anxiety of my youth paled to that which would come in my 20s and 30s as illustrated by the examples above. By 1997, I was desperately unhappy with my life and under the wooing of a man-boy, I sold all my worldly possession and ran to the Bay Area to start my life anew. The man-boy promised fame and fortune, but instead left me in an illegal apartment culled out of a walk-out basement, in a house controlled by a dominatrix. Within several months of my move, he and I were over and I was working for a small tech firm in San Francisco. Within a year, TheHusband (then as TheBoyfriend part i) and I were living together in Oakland. According to TheHusband, I spent most of our relationship during that time on wild bouts of alcohol infused desperation. I don’t remember much of our time together during that period other than I drank a lot, we were dirt poor, and it seemed no matter what I did to improve my life, I was still so desperately unhappy.
By the summer of 1999, TheHusband and I were broken up but still living together. I was restless and always on the lookout for an escape route to get out of California2. I found the escape by applying for and being offered a position at UUNet, located a million miles away.3 For the move, I was driving across the country alone with the most precious of my worldly belongings in my car and the rest shipped to my final destination. To make the move even more bittersweet, the day I went to hand in my resignation, I was made redundant from my current job.
While all of this was going on over the course of the summer (breaking up, drinking binges, concocting wild & desperate plans to escape), I started getting intense physical pains in my right arm – eventually to the point that it would not bend or move as it was meant to bend or move. Soon, I needed to have TheHusband’s help to get clothes on or off. This was in addition to the minute symptoms of stress also occurring, such as the rapid heart rate, clammy skin and random aches and pains. Convinced I was dying, I headed to the emergency room, where after battery of tests I was informed nothing was wrong with me. As soon as the diagnosis came, the pain vanished. I was as healthy as a horse, except for the tiny, picky little thing called stress. The ER docs did warn me, however, that if I did not do something about it soon, I may find myself slightly dead.
Sometime shortly thereafter that announcement, I bade TheHusband goodbye, climbed into my car and left San Francisco and all of my California problems behind, forever. From San Francisco to Virginia, with a pit stop in Atlanta, my drive was the 5->10->20 and then north, cutting across the lower part of the U.S. and across the widest part of Texas.
I felt fine in LA and in Phoenix (no minute or heavy stress attacks) as I drove but somewhere around Las Cruces, NM I began to have a major panic attack. It was late at night, I was stuck between two semis and the 10 had turned into single, each way lanes coupled with high cement shoulders due to construction. To top this wondrous night off, it was raining and raining hard. I began to panic. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t breathe and I was freaked out of my wits. This stepped up the racing thoughts that any second I was going to careen into the cement shoulder, hit a semi or get run over by the semi behind me. After what seemed like hours but was probably only mere minutes, I pulled off the road when I found the first mom and pop motel where I grabbed a room for the night. Even by taking myself out of what I thought was a dangerous situation, my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I made deals, bets, begged, cajoled, pleaded and bargained with whatever deity was above me to make this end. Nothing happened. I paced my room, smoked a million cigarettes and did everything I thought of in my power but I could not calm down.
The situation was made more intense that while I was no longer freaking out about my impending death on the 10, new thoughts would appear about my situation. I was in the wilds of New Mexico! Alone! With hardly any money! No one I know for hundreds of miles! With a crap cell phone!4I was literally thousands of miles from my destination, alone, nearly broke, and frightened and scared.
Common sense roused its stately head and forced me to go wake mom and pop up to explain in very poor pidgin Spanish that I felt like I was unable to breathe because that was the first thing I could think of to tell them. I could hear the crackling of Spanish on the radio in the make-shift lobby as I spoke. I remember how warm the night felt against my skin and the air hung with wetness from the recent downpour. I must have looked like a crazy person, standing there, begging for help in a reasonable voice while my heart raged on and clearly, able to breathe.
EMTs shortly arrived thereafter and gave me oxygen, which upon my first inhale I immediately calmed down. They found, just as the ER docs found a few weeks before, nothing wrong with me. Healthy as a horse. It is like once the attack has been fully addressed in some manner, it decides to leave as quickly as it sprang up. Instead of being thankful to the EMTs for the reassurance, I remember feeling chastened. Slightly ridiculous that I called them out in the middle of the night for a panic attack. Also a little stupid, a little insane and a whole lot of embarrassed.
Moments of lucidness during my attacks, when I knew I was fine and I knew I was not in harms way were always felt to be made like disappearing bread crumbs along a well worn road by the panic. It is a struggle, still in the now and sometimes almost daily, to differentiate between the world colored by anxiety and the world in which is real. It is an exhausting struggle within my brain to fight for what could be potentially destructive behavior as compared as to what is termed normal behavior.
Intensive bouts of therapy over the years has taught me how to work with and for the anxiety, to control it, subdue it and to live a fairly normal life. In 2003, in addition to being diagnosed with anxiety, I was further diagnosed as a high functioning Borderline Personality Disorder. Treatment via talk therapy (I had a regular shrink) coupled with techniques learned from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
1. We laugh about this incident now and anytime one of us has a something in their eye, it’s automatically termed the problem is cancer.
2. Which I would later swore I would never return nor step foot west of the Mississippi. That too turned to be false when I would go visit a friend of mine in Sacramento in 2003. So much for big threatening gestures.
3. Northern Virginia.
4. Back in ye olde times when cell phones were bricks, on analog service and you paid by the minute.

Conversations About Mother (part i)

My brother and I are not on cordial enough speaking terms to the effect that we do not meet up, speak/text or are even Facebook BFFs. Our only connection is in regards to our mother, and even then contact is either brief moments filled with monosyllabic conversations or heated arguments that result in a lot of shameless threats thrown from both sides.
TheHusband, who finds my brother to be a gigantic asshole and refuses to allow him to step foot into our home until my brother apologizes for several unsavory things he’s said to me, did agree that any kind of “family” gathering should be done in a neutral location to keep the drama to low murmur. This is done to appease mother who continually harps and makes noises on “Why can’t you all just be civil to one another?” whenever my brother and I begin to bicker. Mother, however, seemingly and innocently forgets that much of my brother’s and I intolerance of each other has been started by her in some way and additionally while complaining about our sibling behavior, chooses to ignore the fact that she’s not spoken to half of her own brethren (she is the eldest of seven) in nearly five years for various infractions only known to her (and of which she can never explain when asked). Regardless of historical nods, my frustration levels skyrocket whenever a tentative olive branch is swung out to greet him, my brother will consistently denounce any kind of gathering, neutral or otherwise and effectively cock blocks any kind of civility I attempt to share when planning “family time,” regardless of how desperate my mother is to have it.
Therefore to save my sanity and have less dealings with my brother, family celebrations are now split in half for mother, who spends half her time with me and the remaining with my brother.
It is no surprise for this past Mother’s Day, I told mother that she should make plans with my brother first and then we would do our plans around those plans with my brother were made concrete. A day or two later, she tells me that she and my brother were having a mid-day meal at the retirement villa and that after, she’d like to come to our place to hang out while TheHusband and I gardened, followed by meal and game playing (Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit). Because it was her day, I also told her to pick the meal which to her meant giving me the breakdown of a four course (but very simple) meal, which TheHusband and I shopped and prepped for the day before. As mother no longer drives due to neuropathy in her feet caused by diabetes, additional timing is taken into consideration when scheduling events with her. I made it very clear to her that due to my work schedule the following day, it would need to be an early night and that since dinner would take about 1.5 to 2 hours from prep time to table, we would like to eat in the later afternoon with her tucked up back home at a fairly reasonable hour. She agreed.
With surface history of the dealings with my brother mentioned, I was not surprised upon receiving a call from my mother an hour before I was to pick her telling me that my brother could not make it to the mid-day meal (of course) and that instead, he was picking her up in the mid-afternoon to go to a party that was being held in his honor (his birthday was last week). With no thought to our feelings, plans, or prep for the meal she informs me that she’s going to this party. I asked her to call me if she was going to be arriving later then 5pm so we could plan accordingly. She in fact didn’t call until 6pm and was terribly surprised to find out that no, I was not picking her up and no, we were not having dinner as planned and in short, no, we’re not celebrating Mother’s Day with her. I made mention to dropping off some items of hers at her house the following day and hung up.
The following day, I kept to my promise and dropped some goods off at her apartment that I had ordered for mother from Amazon. Mother looked emotionally beaten and was clearly visibly upset. While I sat ramrod straight in a chair, pissed at how rude she behaved the day before, she proceeds to tell me with fat tears running down her cheeks that my brother spent the most of their time together the day before berating her for her behavior. Why was she not fast enough with her cane? Why is she so slow? Why is she not doing a million things at once like she used to do? My brother then apparently bragged that the people who were throwing him the party considered him as a second son (their own son died in a car accident in October 2010 and he and my brother were quite close) and that he wanted to be adopted by them. My brother is 32. On Mother’s Day, my brother used his time with her to talk about her failings, her missed actions and how horrible she was as a mother and did absolutely nothing else.
I struggled with two things that day: One how best to approach mother diplomatically in regards to her own fairly atrocious behavior and secondly, to not get caught up in the mother/brother drama that has pervaded me for nearly my entire life. I succeeded in the first but failed in the second.
This is a gloss over the day to day workings of my immediate family, which accounts for the partial disjointedness of the writing when attempting to explain in the shortest amount of time possible a second in a dysfunction that has been ongoing for decades. Much like that day when I sat ramrod straight in the chair, upset and angry for her behavior towards me, I could feel the undertow pull of her laying down the guilt no matter how much I fought against it. The unspoken listing of her wants and needs, rejecting the possibility that she’s ever done anything wrong is strong. How dare I criticize her when clearly my brother offended her the most with his behavior? Obviously, she should not want to live if we both think she’s the most horrible mother in the world!
I realised then I had two options: Instead of writing short stories where the mother is always violently killed, I would end up murdering my own OR I could start writing publicly about my family to get the tale out into the open. At the very least, it will keep me out of prison. At the very most, it will serve to help articulate years of feeling inadequacy for being born and save me thousands in future therapists bills.

I iz a level 2 professional librarian, for realz

The last couple of weeks have not been that great: Mumsy was hospitalized with congestive heart failure, I did not make the cut as an Emerging Leader, I neared the 100 job application mark with nary a job in sight. While I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, awesome friends near and wide and that Justin has a great job and is an AWESOME husband to boot, I really shant complain when I know there are others out there who are far worse off than I. But! As I often tell Justin, no matter how many awesome (mainly non-paying) projects I do, I still do not feel like I’m being a productive member of society or that the profession really wants me. I do not feel like I’m contributing somehow and that is the part that hurts the most. Forget the snide commentary about my student loans and obsession with Fluevogs1, let me make a contribution at least to our household GDP!
GAH. Did not want this to go into a rant or a pity party. ANYWAY, found out recently that for several public library positions I applied for in the state of Michigan require librarian certification. As my SLIS school never mentioned this was something we actually needed to HAVE to work at a PL in MI, I did some research and found out that the application process was actually pretty simple. As a recent MLIS grad, I qualify for a level 2 qualification, which meant all I had to do was have my transcripts posted to the Library of Michigan and viola! Certificate in hand. A level 1, top certification, would be my graduate degree and work experience of four years or more. Despite nearly two years working in an academic library, I still needed additional hours to make level 1.
This certificate also qualifies me to serve as director to libraries serving less than 26,000 persons. Which there are quite a lot of those in the state of MI.
It’s not much and it really doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot, but on days when it feels like this profession doesn’t want me, I at last have this. Right? Right.
1. I bought a pair of super on-clearance Fluevogs for my wedding shoes, fell in love and now I want more. Which I can’t get until I have a job. Shoe lust is a terrible thing.

Meijering at night.

Growing up, my mother installed a strange power relationship with food into our heads. I’ve never quite figured out where her ideas came from but essentially her idea was that less food in the house the better. Let me explain further: She would sometimes “forget” to go grocery shopping and or she would buy a few packages of hamburger, American cheese slices, saltines, and popcorn. For a family of four with eating habits for a family of six.
We’re large people and a bit on the tall side (I hover near 6′, Mumsy at 5’10” and brother at 7′. My now-ex step-father is about 6’1″.) While my mother is now borderline morbidly obese, my brother and I are just plain chubbeh. We could stand to lose a few pounds, but, we’re both fairly active (then and now) and are not sit at home stuffing our faces type people. We do, however, have large appetites.
It wasn’t that we were poor, Mumsy made a really good living as a home health care nurse (let’s just say, she neared six figures by the late ’90s in Michigan) and she certainly could afford to feed us, but, without fail, every week she would go grocery shopping and bring home the exact same items:
Continue reading “Meijering at night.”

Smokers outside the hospital doors

I want to point out that as I was leaving the hospital Tuesday, there WERE smokers outside the doors. I was doubly amused by this as signs are posted all over the place declaring that the hospital is a “smoke-free campus.” Yet, no more than 100 yards from the main entrance, a small island had been set up with lounge chairs and one of those giant smokeless ashtrays. Priceless.
Mumsy has a long history of medical ailments that range from suicide attempts to diabetes to having cancer of the vulva (and beating it) to neuropathy in her legs that severely restrict her movements. (And there is, of course, more ailments and maladies afoot.) She is (or was) in so much pain with her arthritis that she could, literally, only get from her bed to her chair in the living room and back again. She would get up for food stuff and bathroom breaks, but anything beyond that was taxing and painful. It got to the point that any care she could get into the house (therapist, hairdresser, doctors); she did over seeing them in their office.
Then she decided she wanted to have her left hip replaced.
Continue reading “Smokers outside the hospital doors”

little orphan lisa

[Entry: it includes drugs, rape, family and all your usual suspects.]
Today I declare myself an orphan.
Really. I’m not kidding.
It started when my brother called me the other night and told me that he had received the bills from his hospital stays and so far the debt is mounting in the thousands. He’s getting a big break (75-100%) depending on the vendor but the numbers are staggering for not having insurance and seems overwhelming at first but the hospitals and the doctors are willing to work with him on payment.
He calls and he’s freaking out about how he is going to kill himself, declare bankruptcy or whatever to get out of this situation that he was in and I went ballistic. First off, suicide is not a matter to even joke about — hello, look at our family history. Secondly, he also knows if he files for bankruptcy, he is going to fuck ME over (We have our names on a platinum card I am paying off). I am tired of this defeatist attitude between him and my mother and Paul. Really. Absolutely fucking tired of it.
It goes back even father when I went to stay with my mom in early March. We sat at Tom Manis’ restaurant and ate greasy food when I gave her the absolute REASONS why she has treated me the way she has throughout my life. It’s so fucking textbook, it’s disgusting. I mean for fuck sake she has had me in therapy since I was NINE! Yes. Nine. Years. Old. What can a nine year old do that is so terrible to warrant therapy. ANd she sat there, picking at her food and she agreed. She agreed to what I had said. DIdn’t apologize or make excuses but just agreed I told Shelly the conversation almost verbatim when I got home and she asked me how i felt.
I didn’t’ feel the catharsis I thought I should have had. I didn’t. It was like when I called Dr. Asshole an “arrogant jerk” to his face, I didn’t feel all smug like “AHAH! I was right. Phew now i feel better”. I wanted to feel something and all I really felt was even more sad, more confused and more frustrated.
I’ve been in a lot of bad situations in my life. I’ve dropped out of high school, not once but TWICE. I’ve tried to commit suicide when I was 17. I’ve almost been gang raped. I have been date raped. I’ve been beaten up by boyfriends and had my life threatened. I’ve lived with no so nice people and I’ve moved cross country not once but TWICE (three times if you count the recent jaunt back to MI). And through it all, every single time, I had HOPE. I had hope that something better was going to come along and I had hope that somewhere out there things were going to be different. I always found. a. way. to. remove. myself. from. these. situations. They sometimes may not have been the best way or the easiest way, but I did it. Somehow I found a solution and it may have taken me awhile but i did it. I did not let the situation get the best of me even if i felt like it was.
I put myself back in high school where the teasing was awful. And when I found out i was still a credit short to graduate with the class below me, I got my GED. I went to college and then found work with computers and worked my way up the ladder starting with the entry level stuff and moved up to the positions at UUnet. When I got sick of Michigan, I went to San Francisco. When things went belly up in San Fran, I came to DC. And when I knew i was about to commit murder, I came back to MI. I kept trying to take classes at universities and now i’m a full time student competing with people a decade younger than myself. I’m not doing too shabby of it either. Not as wonderful as it could be but not too shabby.
But I always found a way.
Paul wanted a mother just as my brother wants a mother as my mother wants one as well. They all want to be
taken care of and would prefer to have me or someone do things for them than do things for themselves. My mother! SHe says so she is so proud of me! But it’s bragging rights because she can tell them that her daughter was making $50k a year and was under 30 (which is damn good)! She tells people about how I’m back in college and starting all over again and doing things that women of her generation were never really able to do. But she does not really /care/. In fact the only time she calls me is when she needs money and everything i tell her is punctuated with an ‘mhm’. Do you know how fucking irritating that is?
My brother is angry at me because he says he wants ‘help’ when what he really wants is for me to do the work for him, which I’m refusing. I go to his smelly apartment in which it smells like sweaty asscheeks to listen to him talk on the phone to one of his fifty whores while he tries to order me around, which i refuse to do what he asks. He told me and later Shelly the reason why is such an ass to me NOW is due to the fact that he was bullied a lot by all of the local kids and my friends when were growing up. I’m not kidding, he really believes this. I said, Jeff, you have no idea what it was like for me in high school. I was tortured just as much as you were. He said “what do you mean?” and I recounted the story how the swim team had trapped me in their cabin on my freshman ‘camping’ trip and attempted to pull a train and i had gotten out by nearly beating the shit out of some of the guys and trapping myself in the bathroom and friends pulled me through the window. I was so easy to pick on in high school, it was disgusting.
He said “I didn’t’ know that.” I said “Just don’t assume.” And he promised me he would lay off and he never really did.
He says “Who helped you move in Virginia. WHo helped you pack. Who did blah blah blah”. I say “What about your fifty thousand friends? Who took you to the emergency room and stayed with you and carted you around and PAID your meds and doctor visits” and he keeps going on about how i never help him? Hahahah. I hung up on him and he calls back “lisa i’m so sorry.” and then launches from another angel trying to convince me why i should do his work for him. Why i should call the insurance companies and why i should do XYZ. I refuse.
I am so done.
This is not a family spat. Oh no, it is much larger than that. I’ve already resigned to myself that there are very few people in this world who actually care about what happens to me, and none of them are blood related. I’ve worked past all of this years ago, and now this is just the final cut.