Posted in Life, Tennis, Writing

Hit Return

I have returned.  I am writing; I am hitting return.

A poem (inspired by the recent journey) has been chopped and put into the pot. It is simmering nicely. I’m not sure this blog is not the best venue for debuting a poem. But I may—when it is ready.

Thanks to Google Earth, I can show you where (in the wilds of Arizona) we went.

outpost

Yes, that compound looking thing at the end of the road.  The Scout’s aunt and uncle live there.  Through artfully designed windows set in thick adobe walls, we watched big-eared bunnies chase insects and quail shimmy in the dirt at dusk.  Alas, I did not see a javelina this time around.

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You really don’t want to see one of these things unless you have a drink in your hand.

We also went here…

camelback-ranch-before

…though the photo above was taken before this was built:

camelback-grandstand2

Photo credit: The Hot Sheet

Watching sports must put me into some kind of alpha state, because on the way home we stopped here too…

iwtg

Sometimes I envy those who got to see Jackie Robinson play baseball.  Others will one day envy me for living in the heyday of the Roger Federer era, or more precisely, the Federer/Nadal era.

* + * * + *

With all due respect to the venue with the view and these charming people…here is your daily dose of kitsch.   I wish I could explain why this makes me feel like I’m watching laboratory animals in an experiment.  Even more, I wish you were here so we could laugh together.

* + *  * + *

Heads up! I have a blogging-related question.  Say you read someone’s blog (their personal blog) and after a while you start to feel like you know them, or at least know something about them.  Then you meet that blogger in person.  Is there a difference between the blogging persona and the person you meet?  A little difference?  A big one?  If there’s big difference, why do you think that is?  What’s your experience?  Feel free to comment, or to blog on this topic yourself and link to your post in the comments here.

(NB: The question doesn’t apply to someone you already know in the 3-D world…just to someone that you met via reading their blog.)

Posted in Life

Emotional Fortitude 2

Time to ‘fess up, time to come clean as Altadena Hiker suggests. Do I need to apologize for my previous cryptic post? It really wasn’t fair (it felt a bit cheesy) to put out a rather existential post without providing actual content. But it all felt so raw a couple of days ago. I’m a bit better now. Now, can tell you.

One of my fears: If I post this, everyone will think I want them to feel sorry for me. Perhaps irrational, perhaps codependent…I guess the real truth is (1) This is my personal blog, so I’ma gonna blog about personal stuff; (2) I hate fake people, so I don’t want to be one; (3) I’m trying hard and want/need to be appreciated.

In a nutshell, then. I’m a stepmother. As in “Complete this list: Robespierre, Stalin, Chaney, Rumsfeld, and _________.”

Let’s start with literature: Stepmothers occupy a less than stellar role in literary history. Insert complicated psychological (including Oedipal?) stuff here. It’s thesis time: The evil Queen in Cymbaline is the progenitor of a series of bad events. She is also nameless. She is simply “Queen.” Continue reading “Emotional Fortitude 2”

Posted in Life

Emotional Fortitude

I have some, but I need more.

I’m looking to She-Ra, Princess of Power for inspiration.

she-ra1

Like She-Ra, it is my destiny to join the Great Rebellion and fight against the Horde.

Like She-Ra, I need my sword to do my work. The one with the jewel in the hilt.

Unlike She-Ra, I don’t have superhuman strength or speed. I am not “highly resistant to damage” nor can I “speak with animals telepathically.”

What is the role of the individual in history?  Am I more than the sum of the roles I play in life?  Can I be the hero of my own story?

Posted in Current Events, Life

Offers

The economy is rotten. People are losing their jobs. The wars are getting worse. A few crooks are running off with our money. It’s ‘holiday time’ but it feels like anything but. It’s time to ante in.

tums

I got Tums. Whadda you got?

heating-pad

I got a heating pad. Whadda you got?

big-teddy-real

I got Big Teddy. Whadda you got?

vinnie

I got a fuzzy picture of Vin Scully, one of the greatest baseball announcers of all time. I took it myself during the playoffs. Whadda you got?

colin-pop

I got some family (representative sample pictured above). Whadda you got?

Posted in Life, Mental Health

Stubborn Through This Season

Well, my mother’s mania continues. Last week, she accused me of stealing family photos.

Mom: Kelly, I think you may have accidentally taken the pictures of my children home with you.

Me: No Mom, I didn’t bring any pictures home with me.

Mom: Well, I can’t find them. I’ve had them since 1965, and I’d like them back. Are you sure you don’t have them?

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t have them.

Mom: Yes, you are sorry. Very sorry. Click.

Now, she won’t answer when I call. I’m not taking it personally, but it does feel a bit odd to leave soliloquies on her answering machine. “Happy Thanksgiving” and the like.

rancho-san-j-barn

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

Today a ringing phone woke me up with Dr. H, my father’s urologist, on the other end. My dad has been dealing with bladder cancer for about a year-and-a-half. They basically “took care of it” via surgery to remove a tumor and BCG therapy.

I call my father “Pop”—a compromise between ‘Papa’ (what he wanted) and ‘Dad’ (what I wanted). A few weeks ago I say, “Pop, it’s time for you to get your bladder checked out.”

Pop: What do you mean? They said I’m cancer-free.

Me: The doctor said you have to get checked out every few months to make sure you’re still okay.

Pop: I don’t remember him saying that to me.*

Me: Call Doctor H and make an appointment to get checked.

rancho-san-j-window

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

The upshot is that my dad went into the hospital yesterday. Dr. H poked around in his bladder and removed part of his prostate because it was blocking the flow of urine. Originally scheduled to go home after the procedure, my dad had to spend last night at the hospital which he loathes and detests. In fact, the doctor called to tell me to get him to an internist ASAP because his blood pressure is dangerously high. I’m sure that some of that is related to his present location.

My father is great insisting he’s perfectly healthy in the face of evidence to the contrary. Like the time he got drunk at DanTana’s and was hit by a car (we surmised—he doesn’t quite remember this) and ended up in Cedars-Sinai. I swear, his body was one giant purple bruise but after one night he checked himself out of the hospital despite the doctor’s recommendation to stay.

My dad had lined up a friend to pick him up yesterday, but he didn’t have a Plan B if they kept him overnight. Fortunately, I’m able to go collect him from St. Joseph’s and take him to his apartment in Hollywood.

*My dad freely admits that he is forgetful. It surprises me that he is forthright about it and not particularly defensive.

rancho-san-j-lone-tree

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

Black Rook in Rainy Weather

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, not seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of the kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then —
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical,
Yet politic; ignorant

Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel.
For that rare, random descent.

-Sylvia Plath

Posted in Grindstone, Life, Mental Health

Disappointed

One of my favorite comedy bits is from “A Fish Called Wanda” (which is full of greatness, by the way).  Looking into the empty safe where the loot is supposed to be, Otto (played by Kevin Klein) says, “Disappointed!”  To refresh your memory, here’s The Best of Otto – the bit I’m talking about is in the first thirty seconds.*

My mom, who is still in the Geriatric-Psychiatric unit at Tuality Forest Grove Hospital, has not been taking her medication.  Well, she will, then she won’t.  She continues to exhibit many signs of mania.  She has barricaded herself in her room, wandered around wearing only her bra, and has been ordering the other patients around like a third grade teacher (which she used to be).

Here’s where the legal meets the medical.  When my mom first went to the hospital, it was on a voluntary basis.  This means she can walk out whenever she wants to.  Last Thursday (after one week in the hospital) she started refusing meds, and she slapped a nurse.  So they put her “on a hold” (you may know California’s shorthand for this, which is 5150).   This is a legal designation meaning that ‘she is a danger to herself or others’ and an investigator from the county decides whether that is true or not.

The investigator called me on Monday.  I answered the questions.  Is she a danger to others? Well, not really.  She is not going to be released from the hospital and continue to have a vendetta against the med nurse she slapped.  In fact, she may not even be able to pick that med nurse out of a line-up.

Is she a danger to herself?  Is she suicidal?

Well, I said, if you know anything about this disease you know that that question doesn’t exactly apply here.  Is she a danger to herself?  Yes, she is, because she is manic.  During a previous manic episode, she got in the car and decided she was going to drive from Oregon to southern California to visit me.  She was found by the paramedics wandering the streets of Sacramento at 2:00 am.  She had cut off all her hair and lost her teeth.  (There is something universal about the human face with no teeth that just screams “I am a homeless bum.”)

Is she suicidal? Is she pointing a gun to her head?  No.  Does she believe she can fly off a bridge?  Well, not yet, but mania can go there (she once told me she could fly across the room).  Is she a danger to herself during a manic episode?  Absolutely.  Does she meet the strict criteria that Washington County wants to apply in this instance?  No.

The hold was taken off, but I could tell in the investigator’s tone of voice that she agreed with my line of thinking.  Especially after she visited my mom in the hospital.  My mom had just gone to lie down for a nap.  She hasn’t been sleeping well (sign of mania) so she has made it clear to everyone that she is not to be disturbed if she is lying down.  She even had the doctor put it in the doctor’s orders.  So the investigator gets there and wakes up my mom.  The hospital wants her to sign herself back in on a voluntary basis, but she’s very upset that she’s been disturbed; she’s confused.  She calls me in tears and says, “They’re trying to railroad me.”

Then yesterday my mom’s physician called to say that if she doesn’t take her meds, and if she insists on leaving, they will release her.  So I immediately called my mom and busted out with “You have to take your medicine and stay where you are.  I will see you later this week.”  My mom took her meds right there on the phone with me (thanks to Nicole, who happened to hear my mom say she would take the meds and was right there at the ready).  Apparently, she took her meds last night and this morning as well.

So am I disappointed?  Right this sec, no.  Disappointed comes from two weeks in the hospital and negligible improvement.  Disappointed comes from seeing how completely stubborn my mom is—partly because of the disease, and partly because she just is.

Here’s what she needs but does not want to take: Geodon.  Bipolar disorder is such a painful, debilitating chronic disease.  It is so hard to watch my mother suffer.  Take the meds, mom.  I know you don’t want to feel like you’ve been drugged, but if you don’t take the Geodon, your climb down from mania will be much slower.  Not to mention that you might get released from the hospital, and you are not ready to go home yet.

What is a post without a photograph?  A post needing a photograph.

Near Las Vegas, Nevada.  Photo by The Scout.  The Scout is still in Arkansas with his mom.  It’s become clear that she will not be able to live on her own without assistance.  There are no family members in the area…so for now The Scout is there, trying to figure out what do to…

*A shout out to Suebob, who, like Otto, does not like to be called stupid!