Monday, December 2, 2013


We think we are adult; all grown up.  I have a birth certificate that says I'm 65 years old, which not only makes me an adult but a senior citizen.  Yet, often a song, an aroma, a sound, a phrase can instantly take you back in time to another point in your life.  Usually, that's a good thing.  Usually that's a pleasant memory.  Usually it brings to mind a loved one.  But there's hell to pay when it opens the door to a long closed vault in your mind you swore you had locked forever.

I belong to a site on Facebook called "U Know Ur from Hackettstown If...".  The site irritates me because of the uses of the "U" for You and "Ur" for You're, but I try, unsuccessfully, to ignore it every time I go there.  I am also not from Hackettstown, though I did live there from June 1961 until January 1969 and those were some of my more formative years.  A lot of things happened in my life while I lived there, and those experiences and those people are imprinted upon me forever.  I have one brother and his wife who still live there but I don't have a lot of friends in Hackettstown.  There are a lot of people there about whom I am either ambivalent or who I could feel kindly toward given the right set of circumstances.  There are others I can just plain do without, thank you very much.  The town has changed significantly since I left.  When we moved there in 1961, there were probably less than 4,000 residents.  My high school graduating class was something like 157 students.  Now, the population hovers around 10,000.  It's still not a booming metropolis, but being only an hour away from New York City it has many of the upper northeast metropolitan problems.

Anyway, I have been a member of the Facebook site for several years and have visited it frequently and commented on the postings whenever something struck me.  I have never posted anything on the site, because I have never felt as if I "belonged", nor did I wish to.  The site and I have handled our precarious relationship quite well with neither of us stepping on the other's toes until last Friday.  I don't know why I didn't see it coming.  I don't usually go through life with blinders on.  But this one hit me completely unaware.  I went to the Hackettstown site and there for the first time was a name I had hoped to never see again in my  life.  I won't put it in this blog, because if I do, then it will again be in writing and I'll have to look at again.  But there it was in black and white right before my eyes.

I was instantly 13 years old again.  It was midnight and it was hot.  I could smell sweat and stale beer.  Two guys were holding me down on the front seat of a car while one took my shorts off and yelled at me to hold still.  He was laughing and telling me how much I was going to like this.  He told me to go ahead and scream because no one could hear me.  It hurt.  It hurt so bad.  I tried not to cry, but I couldn't help it.  Then finally he was done and I thought, thank God, we can go and I'm still alive.  But no, they just change places.  I was too sick, too tired,  I couldn't even fight anymore.  I just cried, and cried.

When I finally came out of the fog and realized I was sitting in my own living room and I was not 13 anymore, I was so shaken I couldn't believe it.  I was sure I had closed that away in my mind to NEVER be dealt with again and yet just seeing the name of one of those men had brought it all back in an instant.  I should have seen it coming.  I knew they both lived in Hackettstown.  I guess I thought they were too stupid to use a computer.  I guess I hoped they were dead.  I guess I thought they would never find that particular site.  I have no clue what I thought or hoped, but whatever it was it was wrong.  I stewed about it all weekend and got no sleep reliving all the terrors of that time in my life.  This morning I got up and did the most intelligent and childish thing I could do, but it solved the problem.  I blocked him.  I can't see him -- he can't see me.  Now all I have to do is cram all that garbage in my mind back into that vault, slam the door and lose the key again.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

And while we're on the subject ...

I'm gonna die someday.  I don't plan on it any time soon, though some days my head hurts so bad I think it would be a blessing.  Still, I think I'll stick around awhile, God willing.  But, eventually the day will come when it's my turn to go.  I'm not afraid of death.  I'm curious, and I believe there is more to us than just this life here and now.  But there are some things I want to put in writing, so there is a record somewhere of my wishes for my mortal remains after I'm gone.  I hope I go before Bud.  He knows my wishes and has promised to abide by them.  But just in case he goes first and my sisters or someone (good grief, I can't imagine who would get stuck with the task if Bud and my sisters were gone) have to do the job, please believe me when I say this is what I want.

I really, really, really do NOT want to be buried.  It has nothing to do with my fear of the dark or any uneasiness about small, dark, enclosed places.  It has to do with my belief that it is totally a waste of space.  There's already not enough room on this planet for all the people who live here.  I refuse to take up a huge space just so someone can chunk my remains in the ground and say that's where I am.  THAT IS NOT WHERE I WILL BE!  Then there's the highway department.  In every place I have lived, the highway department has dug up people and moved them so they could build another road.  I'll bet none of those people thought they'd be traveling years after they had been placed in their "final resting place".  I want to be cremated.

I do not want a funeral, or memorial service, or any kind of gathering together of people to mourn my passing.  If you miss me, mourn me privately in your own way.  I want my ashes taken to a beach (the more tropical the better) and I want those in attendance to celebrate my life and whatever joy I might have brought into their lives.  I plan to have gone on to bigger and better places, so you should all be happy.

It's okay for whoever is taking care of my final arrangements to put an obituary in the paper.  I just hope whoever that person is has enough sense to put in the cause of death.  I hate reading an obituary that doesn't tell me why the person died, especially if it's a younger person.  Of course, at 63 (very soon), a lot of the dead are younger and a whole lot more are my age.  That is a little disheartening sometimes.

I've left all my worldly possessions to Bud, but seriously we're not talking about much.  My biggest concern is what will happen to my dogs.  If Bud is still around, the dogs will be fine.  But if he's already gone on, I need to know someone will take care of my babies.  My friends Tim and Ann have said they would, of course, take care of them.  Unfortunately, they are pretty much the same age I am, so who's to say if they'll still be around.  I know once I'm dead, what happens to my dogs will probably not matter to me, but I still hate to think their lives will be left to chance.  I haven't figured out yet exactly how to fix this little problem.  I'm hoping I have time to solve it before it becomes an issue.

That's about it.  I don't think it's much to ask.  It shouldn't be too awfully expensive, so I'm hoping whoever needs this information, will do as I have requested.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about death lately.  Not my own, just death in general.  What really brought it to the forefront of my mind is that we had a death in the family, and neither Bud nor I care.  Somehow that feels wrong.  It's not wrong when you examine it, but it just feels wrong.  How sad that someone we know has passed and it is of so little significance to us.

It all goes back to Bud's ridiculous home life when he was a child.  He is the oldest of five children.  His mother had those five children over the course of six years.   There is Bud, then his sister Cheryl, then his sister Debbie, then his brother Kevin (who has left us already) and then his brother Michael.  Without going deeply into the dynamics of this incredibly dysfunctional family, it should be said that the girls are not now and never have been a part of our lives.  Kevin died when he was in his early 20's, so he managed to miss out on some of the worst of the mess, but he got his share before his death, unfortunately.  Bud and Mike have a very close relationship.  Mike spent some number of years trying to have a relationship with his sisters, but it just isn't possible to keep your self-respect and maintain any kind of affiliation with those two girls.  Their mother was the root of all the evil in this family, and she showed so much favoritism toward the girls that the boys were blatantly aware they were unloved and unwanted.  The girls took pleasure in this lopsided arrangement and never missed an opportunity to rub it in.  Bud removed himself from the situation at his first opportunity, and so most our life together has been untouched by the machinations of the Masek women.

The person who died was the husband of Bud's sister, Debbie.  By my estimation, he had to have been quite young; certainly no older than 50, if even that old.  We have not been told what caused his death and it is not likely we will receive any further information.  We knew Robert Fitzgerald.  We actually attended their wedding, though I no longer remember why.  I'm sure it had something to do with irritating their mother, but I honestly don't remember because it was of so little importance.  We did not associate with Robert and Debbie.  We did not attend family functions with Robert and Debbie.  For the most part we were ignored by Robert and Debbie except when their daughters graduated from high school and we were sent announcements, I suppose in the hope we would feel obligated to send a card with money or a gift.  Fat chance!  I don't blame their daughters, but considering who the parents were, it is hard for me to feel any remorse for ignoring them.  Once several years ago Robert wrote a long letter in which he ripped Mike and Andee and Bud and me up one side and down the other because of the way we treated Bud's parents and his sisters.  I responded to him, and it was definitely not a friendly reply.  I'd have to say that scathing letter was undoubtedly the most communication I had with Robert over his lifetime.

So, I don't feel anything about his passing.  But, I keep thinking I should.  I am sorry for his daughters who have lost their father.  I know that is painful.  I really don't feel sorry for Debbie.  It would just about kill me to lose Bud, but somehow I can't see Debbie being too deeply hurt by the passing of her spouse.  I just keep thinking how sad it is that I don't feel sad.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To my 13 faithful followers

I am taking a break from this blog.  I cannot seem to get interested enough in anything at the moment to actually function successfully.  I'm not sure if this is some new side of depression, or exactly what is going on.  By this time every year I am usually well beyond the SAD and my depression is mostly controlled by medication.  For some reason this year I just can't shake the blahs and I quite honestly do not care very much about anything.  I've never felt this way before.  I don't know what's causing it or how to beat it.

I am not abandoning the blog; I'm just on hiatus.  If you want to check back once a week or so to see if I've posted, that should be adequate.  Once I get beyond whatever is screwing with my head and can get back on track, I'll send a note to each of you to let you know I'm back in the saddle.  Thanx for your support.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm alive, but not so great

The last three days have nearly done me in.  The weather has been horrendous.  We have had thunderstorms all three days, and my SCDS does not play well with fast moving low pressure systems that include frantic displays of lightning and incredible thunderous booms.  Last night and this morning were particularly bad, but not nearly as bad as those poor folks in Alabama.  Yesterday included 164 reported tornadoes, high winds and hail -- all over the southeast.  The TVA nuclear reactor had to be shut down.  Nearly 200 people already reported dead, and many places are still digging out.  We dodged a bullet.  We had many small branches from the pin oaks all over our deck and there were tornado warnings all around us, but this time we squeaked through when so many others weren't as lucky.  I fear tornadoes like nothing else on this planet.  Now with SCDS, if a tornado actually comes near, it will probably explode my brain right out of the top of my head.  The center of a tornado is extremely low atmospheric pressure.  Just a thunderstorm makes me cry from the pain.  I cannot even imagine what it would be like if it were worse.

Yesterday was awful, but today is still playing out.  The mess is still out there.  I'm praying it won't be as violent today, but there's just no way to predict it.  They are calling for clearing this afternoon and I so hope they are right.  I haven't had a decent night's sleep since Monday.  And if my issues weren't enough, I need to get some doggie downers for these dogs since two of them go completely bonkers every time there is thunder or lightning.  That always adds a little extra fun into the headache.

Sorry to be such a whiner, but I don't think I'm gonna be able to live through too many more of these springs. I can't believe we are stuck here until Bud retires -- in oh, ten to twelve years from now.

WARNING:  The videos on this site April Tornadoes Across the Southeast US will nearly scare you to death.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Some days it's shells

I can't seem to find my muse.  I can't seem to get motivated.  Things around here have returned to as normal as they ever get around here, but I'm just not with it.  I'm not really depressed.  Well, that's a relative statement.  I always have the possibility of being depressed.  That's why I take medication to help alleviate it.  But typically my most depressed times are during the late fall and winter.  It is spring.  And it is so beautifully, gloriously, obviously spring.  Everything is in bloom.  All the trees are in leaf, and many in flower.  It's time to cut the grass.  I love the smell of fresh cut grass, but my allergies don't.  I allergic to almost everything from early spring until late autumn, but again, that's why I take medication to help alleviate it.  Better living through chemistry.

So what's my problem?  I wish I knew.  Today I'm headachy because storms are moving in.  But yesterday was clear and pleasant.  Tomorrow should be clear and pleasant.  My dogs are healthy and happy, though I'm still upset about Abby and I'll probably be upset for many more months to come.  Bud is well on his way to recovering from the symptoms that brought about his hospital stay, and we are dealing with the chronic long-term effects of his illness.  I should be thrilled.  I should be happy.  I should be exuberant.  I should not be sitting here like a gigantic lump, with no motivation and no desire to find any motivation.  Yet, here I am.

Psychology Today says, "Don't wallow in a foul mood. Run, for the gym, and take your headphones."  I don't think so!  I can just see me now, breaking something when I fall off the stationary bicycle or falling flat on my face during Jazzercise.  Time says, "In this Age of the Blahs, many thousands of Americans are finding a new way to assuage money worries, insomnia, angst, neuroticism and neglect of liver and lungs. Their new-found route to tranquillity is yoga."  Again, NO!  I used to go to yoga classes.  I loved it.  It didn't love me.  I was clumsy and uncoordinated before I got SCDS.  I can just image how comical it would be now; not to say how much the instructor would so want to remove me from the class.

But apparently, I'm not alone in this smoky gray fog for I found this link: How to blog when you have the "blahs".  Must be universal.  So, I'll quit worrying about it; quit obsessing and quit Googleing blahs.  I'll just wait it out.  Sooner or later I'll get back to whatever is normal for me and you won't be able to shut me up.  See ya there.

Monday, April 18, 2011

When the caretaker becomes the patient

As we all know, I need a keeper.  Not just because I'm normally outrageous, but because I am now unable to take care of even the simplest of tasks.  Bud has willingly jumped in and taken over the job.  He manages to take care of me and pamper me and see that all my needs are met without smothering me.  I couldn't ask for a better caretaker.

Except, now, for the second time in a year, he has been admitted to the hospital under emergency circumstances.  We have now had to open our eyes to the fact that his health is far from splendid and unless we make some serious adjustments he just might not be around to keep me safe.  The big problem in that is I am so limited in the things I can do to help him.

The first scare, last summer, wasn't as bad as it might have been, because we have some truly dear and wonderful friends.  During his hospital stay, our friends made certain I had transportation to and from the hospital and groceries and other necessities to tide me over until he was home again.  When he came home requiring additional nursing and wound care, I was not able to properly care for the wound so our friend Ann dove right in and volunteered to clean, pack and treat his wound daily.  After six weeks or so, the wound was healed and our lives returned to normal.  I shudder to think what would have happened if she had not been such a loyal friend.

But Bud's latest hospital visit is far more serious.  As a result of long term exposure to methylene chloride and recent overuse of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), his liver is seriously damaged and scarred and barely functioning.  This condition is known as cirrhosis, and is common among abusers of alcohol, but Bud's condition has nothing to do with alcohol.  He was a social drinker, which meant he drank some red wine whenever we were out for dinner.  Rarely, he'd drink some scotch or bourbon when he was with "the guys".  But for the most part, alcohol was rarely consumed.  Now, it will never be consumed.  Not because he abuses it, but because it will seriously harm him.  He can no longer take simple medications like Tylenol, Aleve, Advil, Motrin, aspirin.  They could kill him.

And so we learn new rules to live by, but the key word here is live.  He is not so far gone as to be put on the list awaiting a donor liver for transplant, and I plan to do everything I can to make sure he never gets that far.  We already had some dietary restrictions because of his Type 2 Diabetes.  We don't add salt to anything (well, I sneak some into my grits).  We seldom have sweets of any type in the house.  He tries to limit carbs (me, not so much, though I really should).  Now, he also has an ulcer, which is probably another side effect of all those over-the-counter pain meds.  So, we'll be selecting foods that aren't gonna cause the ulcer to flare.  I guess it's karma or something because he always said "I don't get ulcers, I give them."  Well, that certainly came back to bite him in the butt.  Still, I think he'll continue giving ulcers to those with whom he fails to see eye-to-eye.

Bud's new best friends are the people in the Gastroenterology department at our family heath group.  They will monitor him regularly and try to keep him on the straight and narrow as far as living with cirrhosis is concerned.  It is necessary for those of us closest to him to monitor him regularly looking for noticeable weight gain (could be water retention), confusion and/or delusion (could be toxic build up of ammonia in his blood), changes in sleep patterns (could be other toxins building up) and various other little signs that should signal us when he is headed for trouble.  I'm not much of a nurse.  I do a whole lot better with logic, mathematics and technology.  My sister, Cathy, is the medical person. And believe me she has a boatload of medical knowledge.  She couldn't figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up, so she went to nursing school and became a Registered Nurse. Nope, that wasn't what she wanted.  So she went back to school and became a Registered Pharmacist. Nope, that wasn't it either.  Finally, she went back to school and became a Medical Doctor. Bingo!  And she's a damn good doctor.  However, I'm here and she's not, so I guess I get to be the poor example of nursing for my ever tolerant husband.

It's a bit like the patient running the asylum, but we'll get by.  How can we lose?  We've got love and we've got each other.  Nothing can beat that!