Kiss5Tigers

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


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So There’s This Guy . . .

I really want to talk about a guy I met, but I’m afraid of boring my readers to death.

Like I said in my last post, we met on Facebook Dating. We’ve known each other about 2 weeks now. We started talking on Tuesday the 30th, and our first in person meet up was that Friday. It went well. We really clicked.

We talk multiple times every day. I’m absolutely over the moon about this whole thing, but it seems so fast. I mean, we are each other’s first call of the morning and last call at night. Often we send texts if we wake up in the middle of the night. The level of communication is astounding.

He talks about long term things. I think about them but seldom speak them. I am a little afraid to, as if I can jinx it. Too much, too fast, but it keeps working. Both of us are looking for the point of contention and so far there isn’t one.

He told me how much he earns. I didn’t ask, he wanted me to know. I don’t fully understand, but something about financial security in there. I don’t think he was bragging, he just wanted me not to worry. We ate out several times and I am conscious about money because I have so little of it. He paid. He also bought me a book. I love presents and I love books, so that made me quite happy.

We dance around the idea of love. I think, we are already so attached. We can just hang out and we can undertake projects. I said, “I want to be like those old people, still holding hands at 85.” He replied, “I’m in!” And we assume we will know each other at that age. We talked about, he likes to cook so he can cook and I will clean up, sort of planning a life together. But it seems too early for an emotional commitment, even though I wonder if we have already made one.

He says I make him happy, and he makes me happy too. I just grin into the phone like a damned jack-o-lantern, gap-toothed and all. I don’t know what to say half the time, I just want to hear his voice and feel connected. He’s got a great voice. It melts me when he speaks, except those times when we get excited about yet another similarity between us, because then I am too energized to appreciate his voice.

I would spend all day with him, just watching TV or working on our separate projects. I’m content to share space. In fact, I would probably run the video chat all day long, as if we were in the same room.

So this is me right now. One foot in the hot water, the other on a banana peel, trying not to fall in.

But I think I’m gonna fall. And I’m not bothered by that.


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Ecstacy and Hospitals

A young friend of mine, L, went to the hospital early on Thursday. I got the call from her roommate M at 5:45 in the morning. I always get these calls just before my alarm goes off.

L had been offered some ecstacy by a friend of hers. She declined it and then went out. After a few drinks, the friend convinced L to take the drug. Things were fine for a while, then they went all pear-shaped.

L became violent and aggressive. She hit one of her friends in the face. She got mad at her boyfriend because he wasn’t her father. Then she decided she’d had enough and left the apartment. Her boyfriend sensed something was very wrong and went after her.

It’s a good thing he did.

She climbed to the roof of the parking lot and tried to go over the edge. Boyfriend restrained her. She began kicking and punching and biting. Two other friends and M came to help. It took all 4 of them to keep her on the ground. She was screaming the whole time, no words, just an unending shriek.

When she wasn’t screaming, she was talking to someone that nobody else could see. She kept saying “I see him,” but she wouldn’t or couldn’t say who she saw. We believe it was her deceased father but we’ll never know.

In the meantime, neighbors heard the ruckus. They stepped outside with phones. At least one of them called the police. That’s when M called me.

M was scared and crying. Both of those are perfectly understandable responses to the situation. I told her she was doing the right thing. She put me on speaker phone. When L heard my voice, she shouted, “You piece of shit! You’re never there!” and went back to the wordless yell.

M apologized to me, but really there was nothing to apologize for. We got off the phone and I called the cops again. I gave them some details that they didn’t have.

I heard later that a lady cop arrived first. She apparently was the mental health expert but once the male cops arrived, they didn’t treat her with respect. They cuffed L, who was cooperative with the process, and took her to a local hospital.

About fifteen minutes after that, I arrived at the apartment. The young people were all sitting in s circle, decompressing. They talked about what had happened. We all laughed uproariously when a cat missed a jump. It wasn’t that funny, we just all needed a break so badly at that point.

The friend who supplied the drug never appeared. I assumed she was at work or otherwise out. It turned out she was in her room watching cartoons. She had been there all night. She had not followed L outside or tried to help or even come out to see what all the commotion was. The whole group of young people is, as they say, over her. She lost a bunch of friends that night.

Boyfriend got together some clean clothes, L’s glasses, her wallet and keys, and we headed to the hospital. We tried emergency and they wouldn’t let us in. They told us they hadn’t seen her, but gave us a number to call. We tried the psych ward; they also said they hadn’t seen her. We tried psych emergency. They said they could neither confirm nor deny that they had her. That meant she was there so I left a message with my phone number. Boyfriend and I went home.

I spent the day wondering how she was. About 10 hours later, I called again and left another message. I gave the number to boyfriend and to M, so they could call and leave their numbers in case she preferred to call one of them. Finally the phone rang.

Of course nothing can go smoothly. I answered the phone, but there was no sound. I assumed it was L, so I explained that I couldn’t hear her and I was going to hang up. It happened 2 or 3 more times and I eventually called the ward. The person I spoke to said they’d been having trouble with one of the phones and they would provide her with different equipment. At last the phone rang and I could speak with L.

Her voice was hoarse from all the screaming and she sounded tired. She stated she hadn’t seen a doctor. I asked if she was in an observation room, since I assumed this was a 72-hour psych hold. She said no, she was in a big open room with recliners and no beds. She just wanted to sleep. We got off the phone.

I called the ward and asked about the doctor. It didn’t make sense that she had been there that long and not talked to anybody. Fortunately she had signed a piece of paper that they could talk to me. They told me she had been seen twice but she was so out of it that they weren’t surprised she didn’t remember. They also told me they were going to release her the next day, Friday. I said I would pick her up.

When I saw her, she looked rough. She was clearly tired and out of it. Her anxiety was high so we stopped at a gas station for gas, cigarettes, and drinks, then I took her home.

We have talked a few times since then even though it’s only been 2 days. We talked about what could have been different, what I could have done, ways I can be there for her. She broke her hand during the fracas so we talked about ways to splint it. She told me she plans to move since friend cannot be trusted and therefore was no longer a good roommate.

I am just glad L had friends who protected her from herself. I could wish everybody had friends like that.


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Selfish or Lazy

I had a run-in with one of my roommates today. She is frustrated by something I don’t do, which is mostly because it just doesn’t occur to me.

“I know you like to blame it on your bipolar, but I can’t tell if you’re being selfish or lazy,” she said.

Now I try very hard not to blame character flaws on being bipolar. Taking on too many projects, shopping too much, yeah those are bipolar. Not watering the pets, well, that’s just not thinking of it. Since my roommate handles it most of the time, it just hasn’t been on my radar.

So that brings us down to selfish or lazy. I don’t think it’s selfish. I’m not thinking of myself ahead of others, I’m just not thinking. It’s not a case of “that task is beneath me” so much as “oh, is that something people do?” Although I will own that there are a few times I feel like, that really isn’t my problem. But if I am asked to handle it, I generally do.

Like vacuuming. I don’t think the carpet looks bad but my roommate sometimes does. He won’t ask the other roommate to do it, but he’ll ask me. He asked me the other day with her in the room, and they were both so gleeful. “You have to learn to vacuum,” he said. “You have opposable thumbs, you should be able to work a lighter and run the vacuum.” (My inability to work a lighter is an on-going source of amusement. To me as well.) I know how to vacuum. The sound of the vacuum cleaner is very difficult for me. I grit my teeth the whole time it’s running. But it has been decided for me that this is my chore, and I don’t want to be responsible for it. Someone must vacuum while I am deployed for work. Let that person continue doing it.

Anyway. I’m not mad, just saying.

So my roommate is irritated that I don’t change out the pet water, more so because my cat dips her paws in it and that tracks in cat litter. I don’t blame it on my bipolar or on being selfish. I can’t even say I’m lazy about it, because it isn’t a decision to not do it. I simply don’t think of it. It doesn’t occur to me to water the pets. Now it has been brought to my attention. So my solution is, I will change out the water while I am making breakfast. The toaster takes 5 minutes and I am standing there with nothing to do, I can change the water.

I said as much to my roommate. It defused her anger. She seemed surprised. I suspect she is ascribing motives to me that just don’t exist. I am oblivious in this matter more than intentionally avoidant. It’s not that big a deal to me and it’s huge to her, so I can just add it to my list of morning tasks. Like scooping out the cat box every time I go to the bathroom. If I lived alone, it would be scooped maybe daily, maybe 3 or 4 times a week. But one of the roommates kept complaining about the smell so I scoop it more often. I don’t understand why cat poop in a cat box smells and cat poop in a trash can doesn’t, but whatever.

So we’re down to lazy and I don’t think I can even own that. Lazy to me is an intentional decision to do nothing. I am very seldom doing nothing. I am often doing things that don’t look important to the people around me — like writing this blog instead of emptying my suitcases — but that’s a matter of personal priorities, not laziness. Yes, I am comfortable in my bed with the suitcase on part of it, I don’t know why that’s a problem for my roommate, but it is.

The biggest thing that looks lazy I think is the state of my bedroom. It’s bad, I know it’s bad, but I don’t even know where to start. I get in there and look at it, and get overwhelmed and walk away. Lazy isn’t the word for that. I know it needs to happen, I just can’t seem to find a plan of attack. Though emptying the suitcases will make a difference, I’m sure. This is an example of me being avoidant. But I am doing other tasks, so it’s not lazy.

In other news, I joined a gym today. I will start tomorrow. I had to buy new sneakers because the inner soles are pulling up in my old pair. I guess I need to throw away the old pair, come to think of it. But yeah, I needed sneakers and a lock for the locker. I’ll pack up a bag in the morning and go before group.

I need to get out some of my received mail and take a picture of it for This Zine Has Issues. I wrote a piece for the second issue and the editor asked for the picture. I’m published in the first issue, woot woot! Now I need to reply to the letters.

I should hear by the end of the week about the 911 operator job. I kind of hope I don’t get it, because I want to do other things. But if they offer it, I will take it. I might just make it through the training and decide it’s not for me.

I am still owed a check from the job at Michael’s. I got the first check and the last check, but I am missing the one in the middle. I need to call them about getting a copy of my pay stub anyway, so I’ll just ask about getting another check.

Ah, the 10,000 things that shape daily life. Tomorrow is Monday, a new week with new things. And I will do them. I have a list and I will stay on track. Happy Monday.


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OK, Boomer

Apparently there is a new insult for people of a certain age. When an adult over 55 says something you don’t want to bother refuting, the response is, “OK, Boomer”.

How do I know it’s over 55? Because I was born in the last acknowledged year of the Baby Boom and I know how old I am. My year isn’t even always listed as part of the Boom, sometimes I’m as much as 5 years into Generation X. I describe myself as raised to be a Boomer but functionally Genex. Because that’s the world I lived in.

Anyway, “OK, Boomer” is getting a lot of press because, surprise, surprise, Boomers don’t like it.

Don’t they remember “dirty thirty”? “Don’t trust anyone over thirty”? Well, that’s them now. “OK, Boomer” is just the latest incarnation of that.

Foamy the Squirrel did a pretty good riff on this, pointing out that Boomers were 60’s flower children who protested the Viet Nam war and tried to change the government. Find it here.

Young people have always struggled against the older generation, the establishment. We need them to bring new ideas and innovation to the otherwise stagnant culture. And they need us older folks to bring wisdom and knowledge to the table.

I think it’s like my struggle in my relationship with my daughter. She is 23 now, and she has her own life. We’re pretty close, especially compared to her friends and their parents. I still want to mother her, but she doesn’t need that any more, she needs more of a mentor. So I am learning a new role and it’s hard and sometimes I don’t do it well.

Boomers — and a significant part of Genex — need to learn a new role. We need to start stepping back and letting the young people have their day. And it’s okay to do that! They are the future, they need to create the world they want. We’ve had our turn, it’s their time now.

But we need to guide them. We need to teach them history, full history, so they know where they come from. It’s like the irony of Sesame Street, a public television show designed to help inner city and underprivileged kids learn basics so they wouldn’t be behind when they got to school, which is now available on HBO, a pay service that many underprivileged kids can’t access. Without knowing the history of Sesame Street, this is a move that doesn’t seem to matter.

I get that kids are tired of explaining things to adults. I also get that adults are upset about being dismissed the way they want to dismiss young people. And really, Millennials aren’t that young any more! They are 22 to 37 years old. They are out of college and have careers and families, and they feel like they aren’t making it. Boomer lifestyle doesn’t work for them. The world has changed.

If there’s one thing Boomers should understand, it’s idealism and the desire for change. Sure, they have “sold out” and settled into a comfortable middle age. They continue to defy stereotypes while creating a new one.

It’s time for generations to communicate with each other. Voting is one way to do that. Polite discourse is another. Being open to each other’s truth and sharing stories would work. Boomers will need to learn a new way to tell stories, but Milliennials need to practice old ways of listening. The old ways are not better, but they are full of knowledge and wisdom that need to be accessed.

So, OK Boomer, but also OK Millennial.

Take your respective heads out of your asses and learn from each other.

Stop being so sensitive and try on the other side’s perspective.


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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.