Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Give Peace A Chance

I've got bidness today. Lots of it. Had to get myself up at 8:30 which is insane for me with my diurnal rhythms set to night owl. Got an MRI on my brain to see if they can spot the reason for the tremors and jerks I've developed and take drugs for and for the muscle weakness on my left side. Hell. I don't care if I wave spontaneously at strangers. I'm gregarious, after all. Those who love me take it all in stride. They're very used to my various quirks and eccentricities.

Some epilepsy is in my mother's paternal Drury genome but I don't think it's that. Having been very much active around horses and having several car wrecks (and a sky diving incident that almost made the papers), have pounded my collection of appendages, including my head. Picking and singing in bars and bartending while drinking my share of whatever altered grain, fruits and nuts, and my continued admiration for a good bottle of wine have also probably added to neuron dysfunction. Ain't life fun?

So. After getting bombarded with photons for my tremors, I had a cat scan to find out if I'm trying to pass kidney stones - also probably due to the gallons of wine must I have imbibed over the course of years. I've switched to whites. Easier on the head and your poop has a more natural shade to it.

Took costumes over to Cindy. Yes. I'm retired, but agreed to do this special one thing for her. 1880s Appalachian don't you know, complete with drawers, brogans and petticoats. Took care of some chores here at home and will try to slip in a nap before I go off to protest tonight during rush hour.

This is not some of my normal daily bitching. I'm attending a Move On protest in Brandon for a Peace Vigil to stop the war. As if it will do any good. I'm tired. And frustrated. I was taught that you always fight against inequity and engage yourself in local politics and bigger issues. This is also a genetic thing I think. But I will go out on US 60 with the rest of the peace marchers and wave my signs. I will dress in sensible Florida weather clothing and wave my sign at rush hour traffic. I'm as hopeful about this bringing about the end of the Iraq invasion as I was about sending off 9 letters demanding that Congress and the Senate impeach the remaining idiots left on duty at the White House on 8/18/2007.

But, I'm my mother's daughter and will go out to brave the crowds and the heat. She and my dad always said to open your mouth and never let bullies get away with their crimes. I want those good young men and women home. I want them to be treated well and compensated for their wounds. I want them to have their benefits upped instead of cut into. I want them to get the mental care they'll need to cope with life after war. I want them to know that I don't blame them for the shit of a mess in Mesopotamia. My reward will be one of Alexander's dirty martinis to add to the calcificaiton in my kidneys afterwards.

March on.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Burn, Baby, Burn

I got a letter from my mortgage company that sufficient funds had been received to pay off my mortgage. Since I've worked toward this goal for the last fifteen years, it really was no surprise. But. I gotta tell you, it's an amazing feeling unlike any other.

I am a woman of substance! A true property owner in all senses of the word. Okay. I own a couple of lots of bare land and some cemetery plots, but just knowing that I'll never make another mortgage payment on my house and dirt is liberating!

I took some advice to heart about paying extra on your principle and put every extra dime into it. When a bonus or windfall happened, it went toward the house. I've put off projects, purchases and have learned to live well within my means and very much under what the pundits call 'the poverty line'. And I feel rich!

There's something to say for simplifying, whether by virtue or by circumstance. You find that you can do without so many things - especially those 'necessities'. You develop a sense of ingenuity and creativity and the grace and beauty that come with things hand made and vistas that are free for the looking.

It's also taught me to laugh up my sleeve at pretencion. I've been pitied for my state of particular poverty - I prefer the word Spartan. I've had those with higher incomes than mine tell me that I needed to buy this or that because it would make a better impression, or sell my home to move 'up' to something more swanky. Bullshit.

Same said apostles of spending are struggling with debt overload, credit card interest rates that make the balances impossible to pay off in their lifetimes. Me? I don't care if my shoes of choice are comfy Florida Ballet Slippers - the ubiquitous flip-flops or zories. I'm wearing clothes so long out of fashion that they're about to come back IN again. But the best thing is the lack of detritus related to my day to day needs. I look around and there's very little that has to do with my daily doings.

Yes. I have the world's biggest clutter of fabrics, trims, mannequins and machines from my business of 20 years in costuming and design, but those are rapidly becoming liquidated and gone because I've retired from that. Once all the business is out of the house, I'll truly have very little me. Then I can create, build, buy just ONE good piece at a time, invest in art and pay for a redux on my 100 year old Victorian girl splinter and nail at a time!

I don't do credit cards. I have debit cards so I can deal with robotic banking and business concerns that don't recognize cash as tinder. So. Here I sit on this end of life and I'm free and clear! And it feels that way in my spirit as well.

My 60th b'day was kind of a magical touchstone of sorts. I haven't quite wrapped my mind about what happened, but it has something to do with TRUE freedom. The mortgage being paid off is just gravy!

I've heard people talk about having a mortgage burning party. You really don't get one in this state, just a satisfaction of mortgage and a note at the credit bureaus that you're done. Don't know that I'd burn it anyway. It represents a road map that got me here. So. I'll have a bonfire out in back by the river later on in the Fall when we can all sit outside without the mosquitoes carrying us off. I'll burn logs instead.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wet On Both Ends Of It

So. I sat the afternoon with Shirley Monday. I apologized for being a chicken shit bad friend. She assured me that I was the best of friends. Her living room has been transformed into an ersatz hospital with shelving holding an incredible array of dressings, tubes, syringes, sponges, glues, unguents and salves.

Her husband Ray was there when I first came. I brought him a hot lunch and he went out to run errands while I stayed with Shirley. Ray is being forcefully bright - cutting jokes and cracking wise to cover a panic that's so close to the surface that it crackles.

Even Cookie the doberman is stressed out. She looked skinny and fitfully runs in and out of the room looking at Shirley. I need to have a sit-down with the dog and tell her what's going on. I shared part of my 7-layer burrito with her. She looked like she needed the food and the distraction.

Shirley's very thin because she's on a straight liquid diet because of this enormous hole with a hip width open scar below it in her abdomen with liquid chime sloshing out of it and another fistula that is out of the skin and won't heal. I changed her gown a number of times after cleaning her bottom and legs from the leakage. The big crease is so deep the ostomy glue won't hold the bag to incase her wound. You can very clearly see what's left of her intestines and the bottom of her stomach. This last slash and burn was a surgery of errors. Barbaric if you ask me.

The RN came at the end of the afternoon. I helped the home nurse change her ostomy bags out for a dry dressing since the bags were leaking. Her skin is so raw and ulcerated from the leakage that it'll be a good thing for a few days without the bags to let it air out.

We didn't talk much. I told her about the project I have and she said she'd like to do it. We'll wait until next week when she's not so exhausted. She's so weak and tired that I read a National Geo while she napped much of the time. She said how disgusting it was, her condition when she woke up.

"It's wet and slimy coming in and just the same going out", I answered.

I did not bring my cards. There is no need. We both know her future.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Hard to believe almost two months have passed since I last logged on. Wheels are turning and I've gotten another whole decade under my belt. I spent my 60th birthday on the road back home from Michigan. It was a side trip. Kind of like the ones I did back in the 60s and 70s.

Carol and I went to Augusta to watch Sally Jo die a little more in mid-July. Did I tell you that she has this ugly disease called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy? It's like Lou Gherigs Disease on speed. She was in a hospital bed that was too short for her long old frame. Me and Carol plopped her into a wheel chair and deposited the goods in her big Queen Sized Bed between us for the night. I scandalized the Christian nurses telling them that we were going to feel her up. Sally just giggled with what little breath she had left.

Peaceful, blissful night for Sally Jo although me and Carol hardly slept. Both of us were accutely aware of Sally's fitful breathing and waiting for the spasms that would send her into a convulsive cough. They never came. With whatever grace we brought with us, she was allowed to sleep like a baby through the night. We held her hands, snuggled up to her, and let her scratch and work her feet with the red toenail polish I'd decorated with hologram sparkles. Carol bitched good-naturedly about the tiny piece of bed she was squizzled into. Served her right for being skinny.

I told Sal I would be there for her when she got ready to go so she wouldn't be alone. We used to joke about shooting each other if we ever got in that state many, many years ago when she was still a cop. She even told me to use her service revolver on her and she'd use my Ruger Sarah Jane on me! We really had a laugh at that one never thinking that that day really might come. But I can't shoot Sally. Not even with her pistol. Not even with the promises.

We watched her talk to her mother in asides like her mom was in the room in moments between lucidity. She picked threads out of the air, balled them up and handed them to us. We laughed and told stories about Sally and the baloney - you'll never get the details on that one from me. Just let me say that she almost shut down the local K-Mart with a whole baloney.

So. Me and Carol left, drove to Atlanta. There we stopped, got gas and made a choice - North to Detroit or South to Tampa Bay. Carol's brother was selling his house there in Michigan. Men being the creatures they are, Carol was worried about the state of cleanliness and show-ability it was in given the current market. She asked if I wanted to go. Free spirit that I am, I said, "Sure". Buckled in and enjoyed the trip all the way there and back.

It was like the old days when we used to go on the road to some art show or another, Carol selling her art glass and me showing my Dream Coats. We slept on the floor of the house just as we'd done so many times in floors, cars, in the backs of trailers and under E Z Up tents during and before shows.

The house wasn't quite as desparate as we had thought. Bob is a clean creature, his only downfall being the male choice of shades of brown for everything - including the kitchen sink and all the appliances. Bob flew up and met us. We spent two days painting, sprucing and doing that femme thing that women know how to do and then drove back non-stop. Carol and Bob took turns sleeping and we lived off of the most dire of junk snack foods until I demanded a meal.

Mental note for future ref: Pack more than one pair of underpants and one change of clothes when you get into the car with Carol.

Came home to find a crisis looming close at hand. A friend was depressed and took the opportunity of my trip to pull an Industrial Sized Drunk the week I got back. No details here. It's over and won't happen again on my shift since I don't respond too well to addicts of any shade.

There were other phone calls, too. I told you earlier in the year that I had another friend dying. Add one more of my doyennes to that list. I've been chicken shit about seeing Shirley when she went in hospital in mid April. I knew she was starting the check out proceedure and had no desire to be the one to tell her. She knew I would so my one visit to her was brief, scattered...me wearing the plastic bag suit and rubber gloves everyone who went into her isolation room had to wear and her just itching to get me to read her cards for her so I could "see" what condition her condition was in.

Just didn't have the ovaries to tell her that I knew she was dying. She was in a state of denial at the time. Now, three months later, she's jiggy with it, is in the hands of hospice and I finally can face her as the frank and honest friend she expects of me. I'm to be on her sitting team giving the nurses a break. I have a special project planned for her. I'll divulge it later on.

So. Now there are three pending deaths and one pending life. Mine. I've finally decided that I need to be proactive about my mental health and want to see a counselor to talk to and a psych to optimize my medication. I'm a generally happy clam despite all this going on around me, but really think I need my oil changed and a tune-up.

I have many more stories, poetry and articles for you from the old Deepwater Journal that I truly will get around to putting here. Just expect the participation from me to be somewhat patchy during this time for reasons mentioned above. It's busy work, dying. It's busy work living, too.