Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Paying For What You Already Own

For the last, oh, 4 days, I have been texting my daughter with no response.

A day or two with no answer, well that could be bad timing. It happens. It’s unusual because you can text back at any time, but whatever.

This was 4 days, and I could see she’d been on Facebook, so I decided to call.

I’m glad I did.

A man answered the phone. We had a hard time connecting, it was as if he couldn’t hear me at first. I thought it was one of my daughter’s friends being funny, so I said, “This is Elcie’s mom. Is she with you?”

“I found this phone in Deep Ellum,” the man said. “I’ve had it for a couple days. This is the first time anybody called.”

That’s probably true. Most people text these days and my daughter lives with her friends so she they don’t need to call.

We made arrangements to meet at the 7-11 to do the phone swap. I figured I’d buy him some cigarettes or a 6-pack as a thank you.

I got to the 7-11 and there was no place to park. In fact, the store was closed down completely for remodeling. Good thing I had a little cash to give the guy.

I thanked the man for being honest. He said his mother raised him that way. I told him his mother did a good job, and he blushed. I think the compliment meant more to him than the money, though no doubt the money was welcome.

In the meantime, Elcie and her friend C also called the phone and got the guy. He said he was on his way to meet someone, and they assumed it was another friend. After I got the phone and left, they met him but of course I already had the phone.

As I was waiting outside her apartment, the phone rang. It was a Houston number but I answered anyway. Turned out to be C. They headed over to the apartment.

The price of getting the phone was only $35. I just resent paying for something we already own. I don’t begrudge the man his reward though. I guess that makes me ambivalent.

For my daughter, the price of the phone was spending an afternoon with mom. She made out pretty good though. We went to Aldi‘s and ordered curry from Thai Thai. We also watched a so-bad-it’s-funny movie called Kung Fu Hustle on Netflix.

So it cost me a few dollars, but I got to spend some time with my daughter. And that’s always good. I wish it was under better circumstances. I think I’m gonna Gorilla Glue that phone to her body.

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Some Days Are Not as Good as Others

I’m having kind of a crappy day.

I’ve been having kind of a crappy few days.

First of all, I went shopping. Shopping is bad. I spent $70 that I shouldn’t have spent on art supplies. They are still in my car in case I decide to return them, but I probably won’t.

Then this cough. I am still coughing. The doctor says allergy. Well, that’s fine, I’m not contagious. But it annoys the people around me. I can’t have a conversation. People back away. This is a nasty cough.

And the whole bed bug debacle. It’s not my fault this time, but I am still being blamed.

I was minding my own business, sitting on the sofa, when my roommate L comes up to me. “Did you poop when you went to the bathroom?” Well, no, I hadn’t, but I instantly felt accused of something. Turns out there was some kind of poo streak in the toilet and it mattered whether it was my fault.

Then L spent the day out of the house visiting family. When she came home, I was in the laundry room. I heard the dogs bark and came out. I had automatically locked the front door when I came through it, and I hadn’t turned on the outside light, so she was struggling to get into the house. I opened the door and got an earful. “I think of you at night and leave the light on and unlock the door,” she reminded me. I was more worried about exterminating bed bugs and my other roommate being sick. I didn’t think of the sun going down. And I certainly couldn’t have predicted that she’d come home when I was in the back of the house.

Today I came home and was met at the sofa by L. She was looking at me expectantly. I had no idea what the thing was. She pulled out a sheet that she uses for sitting on the sofa. “Is this your blood?” she demanded. I don’t know but I’m having my period so maybe. “I need you to check yourself,” she said, “this is just gross.” Well it wasn’t something I did on purpose, and it was so faint I didn’t even notice it until she pointed it out. I offered to wash the sheet, but she put it in her hamper.

F is on me about money. I know I owe the phone bill. Sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get to the bank. I don’t appreciate being told to go to the bank. And I don’t appreciate being asked what I”m doing today with an agenda. He is counting nickels and dimes lately. I am not the bank. I thought we were friends but lately I feel like I am just a source of funds.

Now I know this will pass. I will get over my period and be less sensitive. Things will go back to normal. Money will work out.

My general horror about having a body won’t go away, I’m afraid, but I’m used to that. I won’t enumerate the grossnesses at this time. I’ll just try to convince myself it’s worth it to be able to pet the cat.

And tomorrow will be a different day.


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The Bed Bug Saga

About 2 years ago, a friend and I took a road trip. A couple of months later, we both ended up with bedbugs. We assume we both picked them up at a hotel while we were on the road.

My friend noticed the bugs right away and took steps and hasn’t had a problem since. Good for her!

Me, now, the bugs don’t bite me, or I don’t welt up when they do, so it took me a lot longer to notice there was a problem. (Mosquitoes don’t bite me either, I assume it’s blood type or psych meds or something I eat that renders me unappealing.)

Plus when I first noticed them, they were under the cats. I thought they were some kind of flea. I kept treating the cats to no avail.

Soon enough the bugs migrated throughout the house and became a problem for my roommates. We spent a long time working on getting it under control. I bought a LOT of bug death, since it was my fault that they got into the house.

For many months we have been bug free. But they are back.

Both of my roommates have complained of being bitten. I have no welts and haven’t felt itchy. However, the roommates’ response to this is, I must clean my room.

Because I am now the epicenter of bugs.

Today I spent several hours working on my room. I took the bed apart and sprayed (no bugs in the mattress corners, which my roommates were convinced I had). All the bedding is in the wash.

Spray the hallway, says my roommate, because they migrate.

You know what else they do? Lay eggs in the beds and soft furnishings of the house. Eggs that hatch in that location. Bugs that think of the sofa as home, not migrants from my room.

Oh, but they could be hiding between the dresser and the wall, say the roommates. Spray your whole room. Maybe you should spray up near where the walls and the ceiling meet.

So I have done these things. I figure, there are 2 possibilities: Either there are no bedbugs in which case I’ve done no harm. Or there are bugs I’m not seeing, in which case I’ve addressed the issue. And in either case, the roommates feel heard.

When they go out of town in a couple weeks, and I can sleep on the sofa, I will bug bomb the room. Which I do quarterly anyway. Just because.

So this is a cautionary tale of sorts. Don’t get bedbugs. They are nearly impossible to get rid of, and the reputation is even harder to shed.


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The Power of Realistic Thinking

One of the issues I often face as a bipolar person is the question of whether I am living in reality or in my own world.

Nothing wrong with having a world of your own. Any innovator or inventor has a strong internal world that they want to bring to light. Nicola Tesla, Buckminster Fuller, Steven Jobs – to name a few – all had a particular vision of the world that wasn’t real until they created it. But they also were rooted in scientific thinking.

Sometimes my internal world, well, it can get very different from reality. It’s easy to see it when I am depressed or manic, but harder to discern when I am hypomanic or dysthymic. That is, if I am suicidal it relatively easy to detect that my thinking is dysregulated. I tend to use absolutes like “I’m going to feel this way forever, it will never change.” Or if I believe that the weatherman on TV is sending me coded messages about my daughter’s welfare. I might be fully convinced of the truth of these things, but they aren’t true. They aren’t real. They are lies my bipolar tells me.

There is a tendency to see the opposite of depressed thinking as positive thinking, but that can also be a lie for me. “You can spend this money, there is plenty of money available,” is positive thinking but it will get me into trouble at the end of the month when bills are due. I want to believe in abundance but I am not a temporarily embarrassed millionaire, as John Steinbeck says most Americans think of themselves. I am a middle aged working class white woman. I have some privileges but unlimited money is not one of them and it does me no good to act as if it is.

If the power of positive thinking isn’t the answer, what is?

A friend of mine calls it non-negative thinking. I call it realistic thinking. It’s the power of having your internal world align with consensual reality. If I fact check myself with 2 other people, there is probably a high degree of agreement. It’ll never be 100% but it can be pretty darn close.

What is consensual reality? It is the world that we all agree exists. This is the planet Earth. Water is wet. Two solid objects can’t occupy the same place at the same time. Humans don’t fly by flapping their arms. We give our consent that these things are true and real. You know that if someone is moving his arms up and down intensely and taking little leaps into the air, he has probably left the realm of consensual reality. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, think of a small child playing at being a bird. But if an adult is doing it who really believes he’s just having a day when aerodynamics are working against him, he’s probably a little out of touch.

If I am depressed and telling myself that the misery will never end, most people can see I’m out of touch with reality and they’ll either understand or try to fix me. But if I am dysthymic, I might say, “I won’t go to hell when I die, I’m already there” which other people would find cynical, but not necessarily out of consensus. What I need is a way to break out of the negative cycle of thinking.

One piece of this is universal acceptance. There are 3 main kinds of acceptance: universal self acceptance, universal other acceptance, and universal life acceptance. The goal of any of them is to accept things as they are. For example, universal self acceptance would mean comparing yourself to an ideal self, to your own self in the past, or to other people. You accept yourself as you are. I accept my depressed self as she is, which can be hard.

Another piece is the fact checking I mentioned. I can go to a friend or a trusted advisor and verify that I am in fact not in hell even though I might feel like it. I can see that there are no little devils with pitchforks and I don’t smell brimstone. Or if you are less literal, my friend could remind me that I am not experiencing eternal misery. Oh sure I’m miserable right now, but at other times I have been happy.

That’s a truth for me about being bipolar, that feelings and situations come and go. I am never fully balanced, I am always in the act of balancing. My friend can remind me that I have been through this before, I will make it through this time, and it will probably circle around again. Nowadays I look for those cycles, so that I know what to expect. Maybe two days of not sleeping is followed by sleeping for a week. Maybe feeling like I can do anything leads to using so much energy that I can’t get out of bed. Maybe euphoria precedes anger. If I know the anger is coming, I can make plans. Avoid people for a few days, stay out of stressful situations, warn people that I’m a little touchy at the moment.

A third tool that works for me is journaling. I try (and don’t really succeed) to write every day. Some days I remember to journal, other days I write letters or blog. Letters obviously get mailed off, but journaling and blogging leave me a record of my mood or my thinking. I get to observe the patterns. And I get to read my own wisdom. Like most people, I know a lot about coping that I forget when I’m in the moment. I am so busy feeling stressed that I forget sitting down for a minute to play with the cat will soothe me until I read it in my journal. And that’s the beauty of the WRAP program, that I can go to the section about being stressed and see that I have chosen tools like “pet the cat”, “take a hot shower” or “remember to eat something” which I might not be able to bring to mind at the moment.

Speaking of WRAP, I am raising some money to offer the teaching to low income people. Here is the link to my fundraiser: https://www.facebook.com/donate/936838623356099/10157826357211004/ If you can’t donate, could you at least share the link?

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my current even keel. I am neither manic nor depressive at the moment and it’s a great relief to feel average. Functioning within designated parameters, so to speak. Except that I’m awake at 2 am and not tired. I’d better go look at my WRAP and see what I can do to put myself to sleep.


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I Did It

I did the thing.

I have been procrastinating, and I finally forced myself to stop procrastinating.

I opened up my file, and began typing.

I didn’t get much done, but I got some done, and that’s good enough.

Actually, I got more done than usual. I have been writing one paragraph at a time, and tonight I wrote about 6.

I have no deadline, so I’m not worked up about how much I do or don’t write. I just know I need to write.

I also have a sort of outline for this writing. I don’t really like outlines. To me, once I’ve written the outline, I don’t want to write the thing. It’s like, I’m done. But this time, well it’s not really an outline, but I’m finding when I run out of ideas I go to it and pick up the next topic. Writing is progressing.

I just heard about a really cool index card method, too. You make notes in the book as you read it and mark the pages (I would have to use sticky markers) and then a week or so later go back and transfer each item that still seems relevant to an index card. Use correct citations. Because then you can physically organize the cards by topic and you don’t have to remember where you read it. Sounds like a cool way to write a book or paper. I’ll have to try it sometime. Like, for a year, to have a variety of information to work from.

So this is my way of patting myself on the back for making the effort.

Because I am not ready to share the project, but getting over procrastination is huge!


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Envy and Jealousy

Envy. Jealousy. We use the words almost interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing.

Envy is, I want what you have too. Jealousy is, I deserve what you have instead of you.

So, for example, I went to Winstar casino recently with a friend. She won over $500 on the penny slots! I never have that kind of luck. Now I’m happy for her, but I wouldn’t have minded winning $500 too. That makes me envious. I don’t begrudge her the win, I just want a win of my own.

Jealousy I see more in relationships. Sibling rivalry is jealousy. The older child usually does not want to share the mother’s attention. There is no, she hugs you and she hugs me. There is only, she hugs me alone, you don’t get any.

This is where the language messes us up. If I say I am jealous of something, what I mean is I’m possessive of it. Think of the Old Testatment Bible verse that says “. . . I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God . . .” (Exodus 34:14, if you’re following along at home). Now you don’t have to be a very religious person to get the idea that God is possessive of the Israelites; that’s pretty much the whole point of the Old Testament, that God called these people to be separate from their neighbors by being His chosen people. God doesn’t want what the Israelites have. It’s generally assumed that God is omnipotent, He could easily have for Himself anything that anybody else has. He wants the Israelites loyalty. He is jealous of them.

Not to give a theology lesson, this is more about grammar. And I apologize for the Christian terminology regarding the Bible. It is my background, the way I am most familiar with speaking about these things.

Anyway.

If I’m dating someone and a third party flirts with them, I am jealous. I am possessive, not envious. I don’t want someone to flirt with me, I want that person to be mine. And apparently I’m a little insecure about it.

But if my friend is dating someone, well, I MIGHT be jealous, but probably I am envious. I mean, if I wish my friend spent more time with me and less time with their partner, then I am jealous. But more likely for me, I wish I had a partner too, and that means I’m envious.

You are not jealous of my new job, for example, because you are not possessive of it. You are envious, because you want a better job too.

I hope that clears it up for you, because this is one of my pet peeves.

“You got a new car? I’m so jealous!” No you’re not, you’re envious. You want what I got, rather than thinking you have rights to my car.

It’s like the word “depressed”. It has a clinical definition and a common usage. People say, “I lost one of my favorite socks, I’m so depressed.” No, you’re not; you’re bummed out, sad, frustrated, disappointed, having a bad day, but not depressed. I’m sometimes depressed. I take medicine for it. My life can be going great and I am still sad, that’s depressed. Sorry for the rant there, it’s a touchy subject for me.

The common use of “jealous” is closer to envy. I know that. I speak the daily language. But it’s useful to know the meanings and nuances of words, it’s what makes English the subtle and versatile language that it is.


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Why Do I Blog?

Why do I blog?

Why does anyone blog, if you think about it?

Surely I don’t think the minutiae of my life are that fascinating, and I don’t have deep or universal thoughts very often.

For me it has to do with connection.  I don’t tweet because 140 characters doesn’t seem like enough to me.  Facebook is good but I don’t feel like I can fully expound an idea there.  It needs to be short enough to keep people’s interest so nothing too long.  Maybe a paragraph.  Maybe 2 if the subject needs it.

But sometimes I want to say more.  I want to connect with people in a longer thought, not a sound bite.  Or I want to say something that doesn’t seem suited to the public forum of Facebook.  I suppose a blog is actually more public, since it lasts longer than a standard post on FB, which lasts longer than some other sites do.

At the end of the day, I am reaching out across the existential abyss to see if anyone else resonates to my ideas.  I hope someone reaches back.

I know people read my blog.  I get notifications from WordPress when people decide to follow me.  I don’t know if they come back though.  I have over 100 followers but I don’t have 100 hits on my posts, usually 2 or 3.  And they aren’t the same 2 or 3 because they come from different countries.  Though I do have a LOT of Americans that read me.  I am surprised by how many people in India read my blog.  But very few comments.  I guess I am not controversial enough to prompt response.

I do read blogs from other people from time to time.  One friend writes about his trauma and loss.  Another writes about her insecurities in a way that makes you want to hug her.  People comment on their stuff, but not so much on mine.  I think it’s because it’s not as emotional.  I don’t touch people in that visceral way.

Which is probably medication related.  I used to think big.  I used to write about things like love, homelessness, the human condition, why we should take care of each other, God.  Now my brain is full of the present moment, which for me is usually quite tolerable.  So life is tolerable or even good.  I don’t feel deeply any more.  And when I do, I can’t articulate it.  I have issues with Trump and I can’t really explain it to people.  I mean, he brings out the worst in Americans, but I can’t tell you specifically why I believe that.  I can agree with the people who articulate it, but that doesn’t seem like enough.  I can’t  have a discussion because I can’t say what I think.  I don’t seem to actually think anything, I just have a knowing deep inside.  Is that what it’s like for most people?   If so, I miss being neurodivergent, I felt quicker and more full of life.  I felt like I understood things.

Nothing against being in the moment.  People work very hard at being here, now, to reference Ram Dass.  I get that anxiety is obsession with the future and depression is obsession with the past.  Live in the present.  I get it.  But it’s all I can do.  I can’t see the big picture any more.  I can’t put things into perspective.  My mood is good though and life is manageable, so isn’t that what I want?

All of which is a very far way from why I blog, but there it is.  I blog to connect because I feel disconnected even from myself.  I blog to communicate with myself.

Though I still hope for comments from people.