The U.S. is a Shit Show & Social Distancing is Great

I have so much to write about, so much going on in my head, but putting things into words lately has been difficult. I have dealt with some batshit crazy people in my life, but today’s world has put the icing on the cake. This is not the same country I served, and these modern times aren’t exactly what I had in mind when I joined the military. None of the goings-on in the world today are anything anyone from my generation ever expected. The complete lack of respect for anything or anyone has gone out the window. Teachers are wrong, cops are wrong, everyone and everything is wrong, but everyone else is to blame. There is zero accountability, and that’s what’s really scary.

Today’s media is the Enquirer of the grocery store check-out aisle – sensational news, false information, and clickbait – and it’s amazing how many people actually believe all of it without thinking rationally, only reading misleading headlines. Our country is a complete shit-show to the rest of the world, and god forbid any of us to have an actual opinion about it and express it without offending someone to the point they find out your address, hunt you down, and threaten your life.

The people of the United States are fucking insane. The entire country was first divided by political candidates, now add in mask-wearers vs non-mask-wearers and erasing white history vs keeping white history alive. People show their true colors behind keyboards, lifelong friendships ending over some of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. And then there are the people that think it’s their right to tell you how to think and what to do, that if you don’t vote, you’re part of the problem, that if you do vote you must vote in their favor or else you’re a libtard, a repuke, or whatever other names insecure control freaks come up with. That if you don’t wear a mask to fend off Covid-19, you’re a horrible person trying to kill your grandmother. That if you do wear a mask, you’re falling into a trap of compliance for a hoax virus. If you agree with the tearing down of statues, you’re a horrible person that doesn’t understand history; if you don’t agree, you’re also a horrible person that doesn’t understand history.

No one is winning, so I sit back and think for myself, do whatever the hell I want, when I want, and how I want. And if someone doesn’t like it? They can kiss off. I don’t need the media or the government telling me what to do. I take most of it with a grain of salt and think for myself and do what I feel is best for me. I don’t feel the need to tell anyone my opinion unless I know we agree on things, because why start an argument? It’s not worth it. Plus, does my opinion really matter except to anyone trying to start something?

I have limited my time on social media and catching up with news just because I don’t care to see all of the negativity. It’s SO unhealthy! (Instead, I’ve been doing other unhealthy things, like not working out and eating cookies!) The best way to deal with this shit show is to work on myself and stay the hell away from people, because the only thing good coming out of this is social distancing!

Boundaries in Relationships: Space Invaders & Energy Vampires

Have you ever played the game Space Invaders? It came out in 1978, and as a small child I played it until I had blisters on my fingers. As a matter of fact, I still have a scar on one of my fingers! I was determined to shoot down the enemy if I couldn’t hide behind the walls that almost always got torn down. Of course, in video games, the game always wins. But in real life, we have the power to control what happens; it’s just a matter of learning how to use it.

One day it dawned on me that the aliens in the game Space Invaders are much like people who are space invaders. (Some people often refer to them as energy vampires.) They invade space and suck the good energy right out because they have no respect for other people’s needs or boundaries.

For instance, the friend that has endless relationship problems – you provide an ear to listen. A week or a month later, same friend, same problem. Six months later, a year, two years  – same friend, same problem. Her relationships literally make her ill, and listening to her somehow starts to make you feel ill as well. You’ve invested countless hours listening to her rant about her ex or about how everything in her life sucks. Now it’s your turn. You have an issue and need an ear just to hear you vent, and now your friend doesn’t have time for you. Not a friend at all; just an energy vampire. Healthy friendships are based on mutual listening skills; otherwise you are an unpaid therapist.

Sometimes space invaders are determined to selfishly grant their wants rather than someone else’s needs. A friend whose ex would not stop contacting her after she broke off the relationship, even after she ignored and warned him, got to the point of having to call authorities. Obviously, he had no self-control and zero respect for her needs and boundaries. She probably set these parameters at the very beginning of the relationship, translating his actions into flattery and “love”, instead of listening to her own needs and boundaries. Years after this began, she is finally done with him once and for all but has still had to deal with his stalking.

bound·a·ry
ˈbound(ə)rē
noun
plural noun: boundaries
1.
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

A woman I used to be friends with would go out of her way to “help” people with all good intentions, but she does it without their permission and expected things to go her way. For example, she was trying to set her friend up on a blind date with some dude that turned out to be a dud (she invited them to the same party without informing the woman of her intentions). Instead of accepting that her friend had boundaries about dating and being set up with complete strangers without her knowledge, she got upset that she “went out of her way” and didn’t feel appreciated. What she did caused three people unneeded stress – her friend for the embarrassment and invasion of privacy, the dud(e) who was embarrassed after getting his hopes up, and herself because she had expectations for something she had no business sticking her nose into.

I once had a male friend (I’ll nickname him Orchid Guy) that I no longer speak to cross a boundary during the time I was newly separated from my ex. My plan was to check out the city where he lived, because there was a job coming up that I was applying for, and while I was there he was supposed to show me around. Prior to my arrival, he decided to make an itinerary of my entire trip, which included dinner and a cruise – something that I said hell no to, because I was maybe a month into being newly single and definitely not ready for a romantic evening with an old friend. It weirded me out, and I told him, and not only that – I was going to do my own thing, because I really needed alone time. Around the same time, he insisted on sending a package to me, but I felt uncomfortable about it, because technically, I was still married and living under the same roof as my ex. I told him to just wait until I visit, but Orchid Guy couldn’t control himself. He sent it to my job where I was teaching, which was also invasive, because it was a very small school and no one received personal packages there. The package contained a book that I would never be interested in reading, a lengthy handwritten card that sounded too mushy for what our friendship was, the first season of Game of Thrones, and a witch’s knot pendant (the only thing I kept). I thought what an odd bunch of things to send to me! I had to hide everything, because I didn’t want my ex to see it, and I really didn’t even want it in my house – period.

A few weeks later when I arrived at the B&B in his city, Orchid Guy had sent flowers to my room (mainly orchids). At that point, I flipped the fuck out. I thought it was extremely invasive, because this was a trip I was paying for myself, not to mention the emotional time I was having during my separation, but to have someone put flowers in my room just crossed the line for me. He thought he was making a nice gesture and being a “good guy,” but in reality he was well over all of my boundaries to the point that I didn’t feel the need to hang out with him whatsoever during my trip. I was super angry and felt violated.

Even after explaining to a space invader that they have crossed a line (or many lines), explaining that perhaps right now is not the time to continue a conversation, or explaining that right now we may not be feeling well enough to do what they would like us to do, they continue making excuses and finding ways to invade our space… if that person continues to disrespect your boundaries, it’s time to either set the boundaries or let them go. Space invaders will make us crazy and make us literally ill, because they are life-sucking vampires.

In the game Space Invaders, you get 3 “lives,” but in real life we only get one. However, we do have three choices as to how we handle these people: we can either continue allowing space invaders win and slowly kill us, place the boundaries today, or completely end the relationship by announcing: Game Over.

Life: Twists, Turns, and Trainwrecks

Defeated Life has been a complete toss of a train wreck and roller coaster over the past few years. Many life changes have happened at once, many of which I had no control over. I have moved six times in three years, got divorced, had some pretty horrible dating experiences, lost two jobs as a result of downsizing (which also resulted in a piling amount of debt), changed careers, and I’ve been dealing with illnesses and fibromyalgia flare-ups for the first time in many years. On top of emotional aches and pains, the physical pain has taken its toll on me both mentally and physically. Taking two stress tests revealed a score of 594, with over 300 being on the high end. As you can imagine, I’ve become extremely depressed and hopeless.

I’ve done little writing the way I used to, except for some poetry here and there. I’ve stopped doing many of the things I used to enjoy, either out of boredom or time restraints or lack of funds. Or sometimes just loss of interest altogether. I feel as if I’ve lost in the game of life. Many times I think what is the point of this?

Last night I came to the conclusion that sometimes the game of life isn’t made to win; often, it is made to be defeated, no matter what you do to try to make things better. How did I come to this conclusion? By playing a video game that I know is always intended for the game to win. Only by luck or by chance can it be beat. And in life, sometimes luck and chance is the only thing we have by our side; others are just made to sit and suffer along the sidelines, only wishing we can make our dreams come true.

For weeks, I tried to get through not just one but two different (but similar games) without any luck. I grew frustrated and bored, because no matter what I did, the end result was always the same. No matter how I carefully made my next move, I was beat. In fact, no matter what I did to “get ahead” in the actual game, without even knowing it, I was somehow setting up the game itself for an even bigger win. Why does this keep happening to me? I thought. To make matters worse, the game would remind me that I had failed to succeed in beating it. No shit. What a negative way to announce something to someone that’s already fighting depression, I thought. This game sucks, I kept repeating to myself. But I knew I had to keep playing.

Failure. Defeat. That is exactly how I’ve been feeling about life.

For. Three. Fucking. Years. Straight.

Three years of feeling this way is a really awful way to live. I have talked to some of my friends about everything, but I’m sure they’re tired of hearing it, so I have mostly stopped and keep to myself. Talking to a professional seems to be a waste of time, since I want to talk to someone at a certain moment, not wait for an appointment weeks later when I may already be doing something that makes me feel better for free. I don’t think I need to be medicated, like a lot of people who jump to conclusions might suggest. I just wish for things to happen in my benefit for once, to make my life easier and more enjoyable… to feel better, to wake up in the morning and actually feel like getting out of bed to seize the day. But that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

I find it difficult to get excited about anything at all anymore until it actually happens, even if it’s a simple meeting with friends. There are just certain things in life I’d always dreamed of and it just doesn’t happen, no matter how hard I work or the many directions I take. Just when I get my hopes up about anything, they get dashed right back down… as if I’m put into my place by the universe saying, who do you think you are? You’re not going anywhere. You’re no one special.

I watch others’ dreams come true without even trying, which often pisses me off and makes me realize the game of life is all about luck and chance. I suppose I will just have to accept I’m not one of those people. I know I can’t be alone in feeling this way. I know many people in worse circumstances. But right now I’m just living in my own head and dealing with my own misery and pain, the only way I know how to live anymore.

Ratt & Roll – Stephen Pearcy’s Memoir – Book Review

pearcyThe first time I’d heard the band Ratt was sometime during 7th grade. “Round and Round” was a catchy song, but being a 12-year-old that wasn’t allowed to purchase rock cassette tapes at the time, I didn’t mind that it was overplayed on the radio. I listened to Ratt throughout my junior high and high school days, purchasing whichever cassettes I could or at least duplicating tapes from friends.

Last week at the library, I found Ratt’s founder/lead singer Stephen Pearcy’s memoir: Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll – My Life in Rock. First I have to say that the book is very well written, flows nicely, and is easy to understand. It’s interesting to read from a fan’s point of view how Pearcy grew up, his struggle with having two broken legs after being hit by a car, heartbreak, his rise to fame, his downward spiral after the band broke up, and his newfound sobriety after the birth of his daughter. Some of the book tells pieces of his therapy sessions, most of which he seems to reveal his blatantly trampy sexual history. Pearcy does not sugar coat anything.

During the 1980s, my friends and I wanted to be like the girls in rock videos – hot and sexy and appealing to band members, but we hadn’t a clue what these band guys were really all about. While I was a 13- to 16-year-old virgin around the time I was a huge Ratt fan and drooling over Stephen Pearcy in MTV videos, he was getting screwed or blown by everything in a skirt or was nursing a bad case of gonorrhea. Pearcy’s constant reminder of how often and to what extent women wanted him is a bit nauseating. He also often reveals sexual escapades of his own band mates (particularly those of Bobby Blotzer and Robbin Crosby) and members of other popular glam rock bands that I listened to at the time (Van Halen, Poison, and Motley Crue, for instance).

Just a few examples – and these are tame:

“… there was so much goddamn trim around in those days, it didn’t make much sense to any of us to stick to one woman.”

“Our bus was a motorized fuck factory on wheels…”

“I pulled my pants down around my ankles and received the blow job of a lifetime while losing to Blotzer at Pong.”

“… one of our best tricks was to find a tall, slutty groupie with dyed blond hair and black roots… and have her suck off as many crew guys as possible; ideally, the ones who never showered. Then we’d steer her over to Blotz.”

So far the only thing that’s been blown for me is my image of the bands I used to love so much. Not that I ever thought they were innocent – but I didn’t expect them to live up to the name of a rodent by doing gaggable offenses (no pun intended).

But in the end, however, Pearcy redeems himself by admitting that (as he was older) he wanted something different – real love. That came after the birth of his daughter, Jewel, and his road to sobriety.

Some of the things that impressed me:

  • Pearcy himself seemed to steer the band to stardom. He wouldn’t stop until it happened.
  • Pearcy convinced the band to have their own look (something he describes as similar to pirates), including eye makeup – to the dismay of some of the other guys. He made his own costumes and even painted his own spandex pants.
  • Pearcy seemed to get along with others easily and make friends and connections quickly (before the downward spiral).

If you were ever a Ratt fan, this book is a must-read and difficult to put down. Oh – and it sure as hell beats 50 Shades of Grey.

To reminisce some of Ratt – here are some Youtube videos.

A Stolen Life – Jaycee Dugard’s Memoir

If you’re looking to read a great story, continue reading.

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 12.50.25 PM

I just finished the life story of Jaycee Lee Dugard – her memoir titled A Stolen Life. I checked the book out from the library on Thursday and finished it last night. It was difficult to put down. There were also many difficult and emotionally disturbing parts to read without tearing up.

Jaycee was kidnapped in 1991 when she was only 11 years old. Her kidnapper was a convicted rapist whose wife helped him with the kidnapping. (I won’t even mention their names in this because they don’t deserve to be on my blog.) Jaycee was basically enslaved for the next 18 years, enduring rape and sexual abuse, mental and emotional abuse, and manipulation. Unfortunately, the legal system failed her, as there were several instances in which she could have been rescued. In the book, Jaycee recounts everything she remembered about the day of her kidnapping and what she remembered in between. She was rescued in 2009, along with the two girls she’d given birth to during her captivity. But Jaycee’s story wasn’t over even after her rescue. She was subjected to media scrutiny and paparazzi harassment. Imagine spending 18 years of your life as a prisoner and then having to deal with those heartless idiots!

I was surprised that Jaycee seemed as intelligent as she was, especially since her education stopped at fifth grade. She seems to have a heart of gold and still has the innocence of that 11 year old girl that was kidnapped years ago. Surprisingly, Jaycee is incredibly forgiving of what was done to her, which is something that all of us could learn to do.

Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatique Syndrome – Eating Habits – Part 3

In my first blog on this topic, I discussed how I had been diagnosed with these strange illnesses and how massage helped many of the problems. In my second blog entry, I discussed the food allergies I discovered and took control of.

Now I will discuss more about my eating habits. I grew up eating and loving Chef Boy Ardee and Spaghettio’s. In fact, I would have eaten it every day if I was allowed to – or anything with tomato sauce for that matter. Vegetables were nothing I would touch, unless it was a tomato or maybe a cucumber. Even as an adult, my eating habits didn’t change much until about a year or so ago when I was sick of feeling sick five or six out of seven days a week. So I began educating myself.

First, I started by finding out what may be the cause of aches, pains, and general feelings of discomfort. I began visiting health food stores and talking with others just like me who made some suggestions. One of them happened to mention the link between the pH in the body and the growth of disease. It reminded me of taking those little litmus test papers in school science class, but I was now beginning to understand what that was all about.

Balancing the acidity vs alkalinity in my body took on a whole new meaning of eating properly. I started to take notice of how my body felt when I craved and ate too much pasta. Without knowing how to fully describe it, I would say heavy, like a wet rag, and slightly achy – whatever it was wasn’t normal. I had no idea that pasta is considered acidic. Also, my love of tomatoes hasn’t died… add those to the pasta and what do you get? More acid in the body. My beloved morning coffee = more acid. So you get the picture. I was a walking body of acid. One conversation started to change that, however.

Having no idea what foods or drinks I had been consuming were acidic in nature, someone had informed me of taking an all-natural drink powder made with all organic green vegetables. Apparently, the powder is supposed to balance the acidity in the body and make it more alkaline. It wasn’t cheap, but it was well worth it when I discovered that this powder worked. The name of what I take is called Green Superfood, and it’s made by a company called Amazing Grass, runs for about $28 in the health food store for a 30-serving supply. One tiny scoop mixed with water looks pretty gross but the flavor really isn’t bad. I drink that if I tend to be consuming too much acidic food or drink and have noticed a huge difference in the aches.

Beating Fibromyalgia and CFS, Allergy Tests – Part 2

Sometime around 2002 someone finally convinced me to get tested for allergies. Thankfully, I had insurance so the visits and tests were covered. I discovered through an allergist that I was allergic to grass, ragweed, pine, and milk. The pine allergy would definitely explain much of the misery I felt in 1997-1999 because I lived in northern Florida in the middle of a pine forest! As I had stated in my last blog, this is when the joint popping and cracking issues began.

Basically, I could do nothing about the environmental pollens because they surrounded me. I was given various allergy medications, such as Claritin D, which helped relieve stuffiness and post nasal drip, but did not fix my issues with the aches. Being sensitive to medications, I noticed I started feeling “loopy” (although some people might agree that is just my natural state, lol) after taking it. I felt as if I had the flu about 5 days out of each week. I was completely and totally miserable and hopeless. Exercise seemed to do nothing to help with any of the symptoms either, however, I also noticed a huge correlation between the allergies, the amount of sunlight I received, and the fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Being a Florida girl, I grew up on the beach and the times when I did not get enough sunlight I noticed a difference in the way I felt. There were certain times when I would go for days without going out into the sun for at least 20 minutes, and I noticed if I did not go out at least every other day, by the third day I started feeling ill again. Anytime it rained, which is inevitable in a hurricane-fixated state, I could feel a huge amount of pressure in my joints.

I was eating better than before, but still not that well. Cutting milk out of my diet helped with phlegm and digestion issues, but I had a habit of eating bagels and cream cheese for breakfast or donuts because it was easy to make and I had a 45-minute drive to work every day. My diet consisted of that of the average working American, and we all know what that means.

Eventually, I decided to move to a more tropical area that wasn’t laden with trees and grass, which was a huge help on the environmental allergies. It really did make a difference, and I also started chiropractic care. The combination helped, but I was unaware that I had developed more food allergies over the years. In 2007, I had another series of tests and found out I was still allergic to all of the prior tested things, in addition to cedar and (of all things!) corn! (See blog about corn allergy here.) Corn was just about in everything in my diet, which meant having to completely change the way I was eating. That meant no more fast food, and it also meant that most things packaged in a box, can, or bag were also off the list. Even the things I thought were healthful contained corn ingredients of some form or another. I started feeling relief as soon as I cut those things out of my diet, and I could tell immediately when I ate or drank something that had a corn ingredient in it.

Unfortunately, I had to move away from the tropical area and back to the grass and trees. At least I knew what made me feel yucky and I am still learning to control it.

About two years after the corn allergy was discovered, I started to feel as if I were eating something else that wasn’t being nice to my system. I went back to an allergist and discovered through more tests that I now had an egg allergy. I had been eating eggs for breakfast almost daily! It was disappointing, to say the least, but cutting eggs out of my diet really has made a difference with the digestive issues and muscle aches I’d been having. Substitutions for eggs were a challenge as well.

Since all of these food allergy discoveries, I would say that it piqued a newfound interest in learning how to eat right. In my next blog, I will discuss in what ways I am educating myself on proper eating habits.

Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Part I

Shortly after my twenty-first birthday, I started noticing that I wasn’t feeling well most of the time. After visiting the doctor and coming back with normal blood work results, I was relieved that nothing “bad” showed up, but at the same time I was also disappointed that there was no explanation for my symptoms. The doctor I was seeing at the time diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disorder that I hadn’t ever heard until then and knew nothing about. At the time, there was no internet access or much written information on the topic, but I did manage to find others that had the same problem. The more I learned about this incurable, debilitating disease, the more convinced I was that the doctor was wrong in his diagnosis. Since there was no exact way to test for this ailment, I convinced myself I didn’t have it. In my mind, I told myself there is no way in hell I’m going to give my life to this horrific disease.

Some time during some earlier college years I visited the doctor that had known me since I was born. (His office visits were only $30!) I kept having throat problems with swelling and chronic bronchitis. He shot me up with some sort of steroid, and I found immediate relief with the swelling issues. He suggested that I probably had allergies and suggested that I quit smoking (yes, I used to have that nasty habit!). At the time I had no health insurance so I wasn’t able to get the necessary testing done, but I did quit smoking for good. Shortly afterwards, I moved away to attend a university; in the meantime, my old doctor retired.

Fast forward about five years later. I was a full-time college student and single mom, and I regularly worked out at either the school’s gym or at home. One day at home I was lifting light weights with my arms. As I lifted one arm, I heard a snap that sounded much like my shoulder came out of its socket. It hurt but not bad enough to see a doctor, so I figured I’d just pulled a muscle. But the unexplained snapping and popping continued with each and every joint in my body, along with flu-like muscle aches and hasn’t stopped since 1997. Several doctor’s visits over a few years without any results, I finally had somewhat of an answer three years later.

Another highly controversial syndrome among the field of medicine, fibromyalgia was my next diagnosis. The only problem that I found was that even though the known “pressure points” of fibromyalgia were supposed to be painful to touch on the person, for me it brought relief. Again, I was not sure that I was properly diagnosed, but it was something that I could work with as far as the treatment went. By then, the internet was becoming popular and it was easy for me to find information on the topic.

Massage was a huge relief for the muscle aches. I’d been seeing an excellent but pricey massage therapist who later told me she took insurance. When I learned she accepted my insurance and to find out more about it, I immediately contacted my insurance company and was told that massage is covered if written by a physician as a prescription. I was thrilled! I immediately went to my doctor (who had been trying to put me on pills that I refused to take) and told him of the great news about massage therapy with my insurance company. But he refused to write the prescription! He wanted to shoot me up with cortisone shots and give me more prescriptions. He told me that massage is only a temporary relief, that it may last only about a week and was a waste of time. I was furious with him because we obviously did not see eye to eye when it came to holistic healing vs meds that harm the body (not to mention that they are also a temporary relief and not a cure-all). So I marched out of his office and found a new doctor that believed in massage therapy.

That was just the beginning of beating fibromyalgia.

Today I still have the same muscle aches and joint popping and cracking without any explanation for it whatsoever. I have found ways that relieve these issues, however, and I have noticed what makes them worse. I am also convinced that all of these symptoms are related to allergies and stress.

Backtrack to around my twenty-first birthday. Stress was an understatement of how to describe my life at the time. I was a new mom, going through a divorce, and working full time. My body was still adjusting to the birth of my daughter and my diet consisted of mostly microwavable foods – many with starches and sugars that I now know contributed to many of the health-related problems I was facing. To top it off, I was a smoker.

Go You Chicken Fat, Go Away! (Please Get Out of My Head!)

The strangest things have been happening lately with songs popping into my head at random times. Although most may not find this unusual, it’s unusual to me because these songs are ones I haven’t heard in years.

For instance, this morning I woke up with a song in my head from the fourth grade. Our quad of teachers made students do exercises each morning in order to get us (or them) fit. The tune was “Chicken Fat/The Youth Fitness Song” and it’s one that once heard, you will never, ever forget.

I found that someone had put this song on Youtube. I wasn’t aware of the history of this song. According to WFMU:


The song was commissioned by John Kennedy for his new Youth Fitness Program. A copy of this record was sent to every school in the U.S. with the idea that it would be played over the P.A. every morning while students did calisthenics.

I recall participating in these morning exercises (begrudgingly) and watching all of the other miserable faces following along. For some reason it only lasted a few weeks or so and we stopped doing it – probably a complaint to the administration put a quit halt to it.

So why was this song in my head when I woke up this morning? Was it the Universe telling me I needed to get out of bed and make that chicken fat go away? Or is it because “Chicken Fat” is one of those songs that no matter how many years down the road you will never, ever forget it?

Mammograms Under the Age of 40

mammoA few years ago my cousin died of cancer that took over her entire body. Shortly after, a friend had announced she had breast cancer and went through radiation. My brother announced he had melanoma, and had to go through interferon treatment. I am determined that if I have some horrific disease such as cancer, I will not go through what my cousin did, for one.

I had my first mammogram around the age of 30, because I had a lump-ish thing that turned out to be normal. (I was told it was often caused from too much caffeine.)  My insurance at the time covered it.

Fast forward to last year. There was another issue. I’d been having burning sensations in my chest area, on the upper part of my breasts. It almost felt muscular, but I’m not a doctor so I couldn’t judge what could be causing it. Well, let me back up a bit.

Ten years ago I did something sort of stupid, something that I was always against, but I was caught up in the moment and felt really insecure. I got breast implants. I loved them for about 8 of those years. But then I gained weight and they became tiresome… and heavy. I believe that was the reason for the burning sensation, so on my own dime I got them out. I felt so free and relieved to have this crap out of my body, and I still can’t believe I did it in the first place. My doctor mentioned doing a mammo, but we wanted to wait until I was completely healed. So I did.

Once my 40th birthday was coming into place (three months prior to), my doctor wanted me to have the mammogram. I still had some burning sensation, but not nearly as bad as I’d had while bearing implants. Apparently the doctor noted it on the referral as a “screening,” which insurance does not cover if you’re under the age of 40. It doesn’t matter if your birthday is 3 months, 3 days or 3 hours away – they WILL NOT COVER mammograms under the age of 40 unless there is a legit reason for it. (Because, like every other woman I know, we all volunteer to have our boobs squeezed to death by a machine just because we like it, right?)

I am still fighting with the insurance company, which claims it has no record of why I needed the mammo. I am working with the radiology center, which is the one that told me (after the fact) that it’s not covered if you’re under the age of 40. I said I don’t understand why the age of 40, because I know plenty of people that get cancer or whatever prior to 40, and why do a few months matter??

I am still attempting to contact my doctor (both of us moved) to straighten this out. So now the dilemma continues. Right now, I consider whoever writes these policies are the biggest boobs of all, especially after reading these articles:

http://www.today.com/id/4960650/site/todayshow/ns/today-today_health/t/im-under-how-can-i-have-breast-cancer/#.URm4VKVhqS0

http://www.seattlemag.com/article/best-seattle/top-doctors/breast-cancer-striking-more-women-under-40-ever

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-dehn/breast-cancer-screening_b_1797583.html

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/breastcancerearlydetection/breast-cancer-early-detection-acs-recs

Less Allergies in Hawaii? Not.

OrangeBloss_wbI don’t understand why people think that when you move to certain areas you have less allergy problems. It depends on what you’re allergic to. I just had more tests completed and a new list has arisen, in addition to my old ones:

*oranges
*mustard
*brewer’s yeast (goodbye, beer!)
*molds
*dust mites
*weeds
*mesquite
*eucalyptus (tree, not sure if it’s the same as the plant)
*cats & dogs (no, I will not be giving up my babies)

On a scale of 1 to 5, each of these rated as a 1, the lowest. So it’s more like a 20% allergic reaction. A combination of these things increases it.

The orange allergy explains why my face keeps breaking out. I recently purchased a new line of skin care from Avalon Organics – all include orange. I loved the way it made my face feel at the beginning, but after a week or so my face was breaking out big time. When I applied lotion to my neck I itched until I wiped it off.

Dust mites is something that never showed up on other allergy tests, either. However, I’ve always had a suspicion, because when I’m in a dusty area my face and nose itch. Of course it doesn’t help that Idiot Neighbor is creating more dust.

As far as the cat and dog allergy, the doctor said that frequent vacuuming and laundering will help that.

So between the noise pollution, the new allergies, and the stress of moving in general, I’ve been pretty miserable the entire time here. This is not what I consider paradise.

Goodbye, Cruel World – Sayonara, Facebook (sucks)!

0278615_facebook_sucks_xlargeI gave up on Facebook again. While it’s a great way to keep in touch with people, it’s also a gateway of how people think, most of which I don’t care to know. People that I really want to keep in touch with have my phone number or email address, and for me that’s enough.

The issues of gun control and gay rights in the United States is a big one, but it seems to be an even bigger one to people on the mainland. I don’t hear anyone in Hawaii discussing it, nor do I see anyone posting anything about it on Facebook. (Except for my idiot neighbor, it’s a fairly peaceful island – even with half of the population being military.) Hawaiians seem to be a lot more accepting than mainlanders.

I’m sure many of you can relate to this – you log on to Facebook and have to scroll to find anything decent to read or look at. Lately, I’ve been experiencing ads for things I don’t like on my iphone when I view Facebook. And no matter how I put my settings, they magically manage to change on their own. Half of everything people are posting from the mainland is negative, and most of the time they have no knowledge of anything they are talking about or posting about. Nothing is based on facts, just opinions from Fox News and nut balls like Alex Jones. If one of them told their fans the sky was falling, they’d post it and believe it. So sad.

I decided Facebook wasn’t a very great place for networking or promoting my work anyway, so I left. And I haven’t missed it a bit.

(*On a side note, if I were still using Facebook, I would become a fan of this page.)

$2400/mo for Rent in Hawaii + Bad Neighbor = Insanity

I’ve been putting off blogging a lot, because I’ve been sick since we arrived in Hawaii. The fibromyalgia that I finally had under control is back in full force. I believe part of the reason I’ve been sick is due to the noise pollution we’ve been dealing with, thanks to our neighbor.

First, let me fill you in on trying to rent a place in Hawaii. It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to return phone calls or accept pets, so when we found this place we thought we got lucky. We weren’t expecting to spend $2400/mo on a place, but that’s the going rent here if you don’t want to live in a dump or a 2×4’ room. The house is located within a homeowner’s association, which has typical rules. One is that dog’s can’t bark for more than 10 minutes at a time. So we were really surprised that our neighbor has gotten away with this racket. (*I have to note here that homes are extremely close together – as close as 8 feet apart.)

For the first few days after we moved in, things seemed quiet. Our neighbor supposedly has a “hobby” of fixing up old cars. We didn’t realize until we saw multiple vehicles in and out of the place that this “hobby” has become a 5 to 7 day-a-week ordeal, starting around 7am and ending at dinnertime. It has gone on for months, even after our first complaint (remember when I said no one is in a hurry here?). Grinding, sanding, cutting metal, and whatever else auto body people do is all we hear all day. I have been unable to study, read, write, or listen to Coursera videos for the courses I am taking. When my husband was home sick from work and could not hear the television, that is when he knew I wasn’t making things up or exaggerating. When I sent my friends this video, I think they finally understood why I was about to lose my mind.

We’ve seen this neighbor in confrontations, so we did not want to go directly to him with our complaint. Besides, I didn’t think it would help us if we said something to him and then went to someone in charge – he’d know for sure who turned him in. So I told our property manager what was going on, and when I showed her the video, she couldn’t believe it. I’m sure it was obvious who reported him, because we are the new people on the block. The HOA sent him a letter threatening to fine him, but the noise continues.

The worst day was when I awoke to paint fumes in the house. Not only are they incredibly toxic to us, but to the environment. (No wonder there are hardly any birds around!) The paint fumes have gotten better, but the sanding dust is in our house, and we did not realize that until we did a deep cleaning. I realized then that all of that dust (we keep our windows open) was gathering on my pillow. I’d noticed that every time I washed the sheets I could breathe better, but within a day or so, I had issues again. The sanding dust is caked against my walls and window ledges to the point that it has stained the paint. The only hope we have is for this guy to stop being so inconsiderate, or we’re going to have to move.

Holidays in Hawaii

I’m not a pork eater, so the tradition of savoring Kalua pig roasted in an imu on Thanksgiving did not appeal to me.  We brought our own tradition with us and cooked a meal with some family and friends for the day. One of the things we are used to on Thanksgiving is eating around 2pm, but in Hawaii it’s mostly done around dinnertime.

Christmas in Hawaii is much different than it is on the Mainland. I didn’t notice as many in-your-face “buy, buy, buy” ads, and no one was really in a hurry to buy anything. Black Friday happened, but nothing like everyone on the Mainland is used to. I didn’t experience the selfishness among the people in Hawaii as I was used to in the rest of the United States. It was a nice change of pace.

Where I come from, people begin decorating for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend or right after that. We expected the entire island would be lit up with holiday lights. But that was not so. Except for large businesses in Waikiki and some churches and homes, there were very few places lit up. We realized quickly that it’s not because Hawaiians don’t celebrate Christmas; it’s that the price of electricity is so ridiculous in Hawaii that putting up a lot of lights or anything extra that requires power isn’t exactly cost efficient.

To give a price comparison, our home in Florida with running the air conditioning (and washer/dryer/etc.) all summer long, our electric bill averaged $175 at the highest month. In Hawaii, however, running the air conditioning a few nights in August for 23 days cost us $200. We learned quickly not to run the a/c – period. Still, every bill we received was $200 for the month. When we discussed decorating for Christmas, we decided to sell our pre-lit tree and outdoor lights and opt for something much wiser – a rosemary bush – because I could use it to cook with year-round.

Decorations at a church
How Santa gets to the island.

 

This yard had the most decorations in the area.

 

On a main highway

 

What Christmas Tree Shortage? http://news.hawaiibreakingnews.com/tweets/273456662977867777

 

All-American

 

The most affordable Christmas tree in Hawaii

 

 

First impressions during the first week in Hawaii

I’ve been a little behind on blogging these last few weeks, because I’ve been ill most of the time. 😦

These were my first impressions of Oahu while I still exhausted from jetlag. I was completely overwhelmed, because we had no permanent place to live and no jobs past a certain date. (For those new to this blog, we were temporarily staying with friends and still employed until my husband’s official retirement date.)

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1. Naturally, the airport was the first thing I saw when we landed. The view of the sunset past the runway from the plane’s window was gorgeous. I was surprised, however, that Honolulu International Airport was so outdated. Everything seemed to be from the 70s or 80s and very dull.

2. Since we arrived in Honolulu right at sunset, it was dark by the time we got off the plane. I didn’t get to see the island until the following day. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we learned we had been staying on the dry part of the island. Everything was brown. It was a shock, considering when most people think of Hawaii, they think of lush green grass and tropical flowers everywhere. I thought it resembled more of the desert in the Southwest than the beauty I was hoping to see. This was my first view of daylight on Oahu.

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3. I did manage to witness blooming white plumeria flowers, which was a first for me. Their scent was fantastic, but I think possibly a little too much for my allergies. What a shame! Also I noticed many blooming hibiscus flowers, one of the many plants I was unsuccessfully able to grow in my home state (see below).

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4. Traffic is a huge issue in Hawaii, especially in the Ewa Beach or Kapolei area. It takes forever to get anywhere, but on the positive note, people drive “aloha style”. Unlike the drivers in Florida, everyone lets everyone in and there is no road rage. There weren’t horns honking or people screaming at each other. It was a strange, quiet hum and politeness that held a different vibe than what us mainlanders are used to.

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5. We’d been house hunting for several months prior to our arrival. This is not an exaggeration – but out of about 50 phone calls inquiring about renting, we had about five calls returned. It was quite frustrating to wait around and not hear a thing, especially when we really liked a place.

For the next two days, we drove around Ewa Beach and Kapolei looking for places to rent. Everything looked the same to me and felt crowded. Anything that wasn’t a complete dump was $2000 a month minimum and relatively small. Most places had limited parking for renters and guests, and very few places were pet friendly. This posed a huge problem for us, because there was no way in hell we were going to get rid of our furry family members.

By this time, I knew my immune system was taking a tumble. I was tired of driving in circles and looking at places I wouldn’t want to live. The spicy green curry I had for lunch wasn’t settling nicely, so our renting hunt was over for the next few days. It turned out I had a stomach flu that was comparable to food poisoning, but the sensitive stomach effects lasted for a few weeks. I later determined that so far, I wasn’t “stomaching” this place. Yet.

Moving to Hawaii – a dream come true

I guess you could say that the last year of my life has been one huge transition – and it hasn’t ended yet. Last year my husband decided that he wanted to retire this year – in Hawaii. When he asked what I thought about it, I said, “In your dreams.”

But he was serious. He’d lived in Hawaii as a child, and it was his dream to retire there. It sounded like a dream to me, too, because it was a place I’d always wanted to visit.

Me being the sensible one, I asked my husband how could we possibly make this happen? We’d have to sell our home in Florida during such a bad market and come out with money to move – not just to another state – but to the other side of the world! He said we could put the house on the market and see what happens. We put our good thoughts into everything and little by little, things slowly fell into place. We sold the house, vehicles, and had two garage sales. Nine months later, our plan was in motion.

Getting to Hawaii wasn’t quite as easy as that, however. We had pets, and each had to be microchipped and tested for the rabies FAVN virus, which took 120 days prior to arriving on the island without them having to be quarantined. Their records had to be impeccable, so finding a veterinarian that knew what she was doing was a big plus. Airfare isn’t cheap for pets, and neither are the airline-approved crates. There are many other factors involved in shipping your pets to Hawaii, but I will go into that on another day.

We kept one car that had to be shipped, so we were left without transportation for a period of time. We needed to pack everything we would need for at least a month, because our household goods wouldn’t arrive for up to 8 weeks.

Luckily for us, we already knew people on the island. Our friends had a spare bedroom and allowed us to stay with them as long as we needed until we found our own place. This was extremely helpful, as hotels in Hawaii are not for the budget-minded or pet lovers.

Everything was set to go. Our dreams were coming true.

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Landing in Honolulu at sunset

Political Differences, Breakups, and Crotches

Normally, I don’t talk politics because it’s just like talking religion. I have friends from all walks of life, and this year’s election has brought out a lot of things I didn’t know about people. I was surprised to hear when two of my friends announced that they were getting divorced over politics. He’s a die-hard Romney fan and she’s somewhat of a women’s rights activist.

“I cannot live with a man that doesn’t believe in my rights, much less be married to him,” she told me. I must admit that I would probably feel the same way in a marriage like theirs.

Earlier this week one of my favorite gay friends announced that he deleted all of his Facebook friends that are Romney supporters.

“If they support Romney, then they don’t support my lifestyle. Therefore they are not my friends,” he wrote.

I don’t blame him. Being the sister of a gay man, I cringe when I see someone posting something negative about homosexuals, because they are hurting a part of me that I dearly love.

I’ve seen dozens of political posts from friends that I’ve ignored. Out of respect, I don’t feel it’s my place to comment on someone else’s page if they have a preference different from my own – just as I wouldn’t want them to litter up my page with their garbage.

And then I had my own experience of being politically abolished. After receiving my ballot and frustrated over propositions concerning women, I posted on my Facebook fan site:

Dear Republicans,
Please stay out of my crotch.

Someone that I’d never heard of before (whose Facebook page was littered with pro-Romney links) – that had neither ever commented nor even “liked” any of my non-political posts (read: all of them except for this one) – stated that I had just lost a fan, and she began bad-mouthing me. Long-time fans came to my defense. I simply blocked her. Anyone that has read my book(s) knows damn well that I’m not going to allow anyone to tell me how I should feel, act, speak, or think (after all, my Facebook page is SusannaSpeaks!!). While I appreciate and respect other people’s opinions, I found it tacky that someone would make an effort to stir up negativity rather than silently remove herself. But it showed her true character.

So I will say it now. I support gay rights. I support women’s rights. If you want to act like a third grader and don’t want to be my “fan” anymore because of how I feel, then so be it. I’m looking for those that celebrate, not hate.

Overheard Conversations Make Me Laugh Out Loud (or Cringe!)

I often sit in public places and take notes for writing. Here are some of my most recent:

Little girl: Look! Three boys and three girls! It’s equal!
Father: No, it’s not equal. The boys are bigger.

Teenage Girl: Stupid cops! They gave me another ticket! Said my tag was expired.
Teenage Boy: When did it expire?
Teenage Girl: Like two months ago. But they already knew that when I got pulled over last month for speeding. They should have given me a chance!

Middle-aged Woman on cell phone: Don’t you love being retired? I’ll have to teach you the retirement dance!

Father: You’re paying? You brought your wallet? Does it have money in it?
Teen Son: I have money and a library card.
Father: When you open it, do moths come flying out?

Little Boy at beach (points to woman wearing black bra-style bikini) says to his mother: Is that a bra?

Wishful Thinking – Coffee and Chocolate for Breakfast

I was having a hormonal moment this morning. Remembering that I had chocolate cake in the freezer, I thought about how great it would taste with a cup of coffee. It’s been forever since I’ve eaten an unhealthy breakfast, but today I needed that comfort food.

Smiling from ear to ear, I open the freezer, and pull out Amy’s Organic Chocolate Cake (just found it in the store the other day, I’ve never tried it). I’m all excited about eating cake, which is something I never eat because of the contents. Anyway… I look at the cooking directions… and it says: “Thaw cake in refrigerator for 2 and a half hours”.

My dreams were shattered. How badly I wanted this chocolate cake with my cup of coffee this morning. I guess I will have to wait until lunch.

Another Bad Hair (Dye) Day

I decided to go a little lighter with my hair for the summer and thought of highlights, but I don’t care for the high cost and maintenance of highlights. I normally use L’Oreal hair dyes, and I’m pretty good at picking out the right colors so I don’t end up having to go to a professional. L’Oreal has put out some new “Sunkissed Caramels” on the market that are supposed to make hair appear to be “sunkissed” or somewhat highlighted. This one, called “hi-lift  gold brown” is specifically for dark hair – dark brown and black – and promises no brassiness that boxed dyes often do to dark hair.

I thought that this $7.99 deal was the answer to the expensive and high maintenance highlighting issue. What my hair turned out to be was nothing near what the box promised. Brassiness didn’t even begin to describe my new ‘do. I could have passed for Mrs. Ronald McDonald.

Luckily, I was able to cover this one up with a neutral dark brown the following day. Loreal Sunkissed Caramels for dark hair? Unless you want this to happen to you, I would rate this as highly NOT recommended.

Lost in Depression

The other day I saw a familiar face in the local obituaries. It was someone I hadn’t seen in about 18 or so years that I had briefly dated (I’ll call him “Fred”). Fred was only 39, and when I  learned that he’d committed suicide, my heart ached for his loved ones and for Fred’s soul. What happened to Fred during those years in between I remember him being a happy person and now? What happened in his life that made it so unbearable that he felt ending it was the only option?

I’m sure that Fred’s surviving loved ones are asking themselves what they could have done differently. Even if things were done differently, would it have mattered to someone who is lost in depression?

Remembering Whitney Houston as a Teen

The news of Whitney Houston’s death tonight was very sad for many of us, especially those of us that grew up listening to her music.

I was in junior high school the first time I heard Whitney Houston. She was new to the pop music industry and probably the only popular singer at the time that undoubtedly had the voice of an angel. She had the perfect skin that girls of all colors dreamed of having, and to the relief of many parents, Whitney was a role model with dignity, class, and innocence.

I can’t remember how many times I belted out “Greatest Love of All” using my hairbrush as a microphone, but I do recall that no matter when I turned on the radio, the song would play on at least one of three stations within the hour. My favorite song and video of all by Whitney Houston has to be “How Will I Know?” because it’s such a fun song to sing and dance to. That’s how most of us remember Whitney – spunky and cute, still rocking out with those bright eyeshadow colors from the 80s.

Whitney’s battle with addiction ultimately became her downward spiral. It’s unfortunate that bright lights burn quickly, but Whitney Houston’s voice will forever live in our hearts.