Kiss5Tigers

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


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Nasal Swabbing

At work we have a handyman. He works for a number of people, but he was over here last week hanging a room divider for the girls’ room. On Friday, he called us and told us he was being tested for Coronavirus because someone in his apartment complex had it. Today he called us with the results: His test came back positive.

Now of course we are sorry that he is sick, although he has no symptoms. However, that means that our household needed to be tested. Fortunately, Watermark Church is doing free testing for people without insurance. Since I am on the Parkland Plan, I don’t have traditional insurance and I got the test for free.

Let me tell you: The nurse who administers it is a little humorous about it. “That physical feeling of being violated will pass, the emotional part I can’t help you with.” Which was actually cute the way she said it.

But yeah! Did it feel like a violation!

The swab is about 8″ long and it goes up your nose. Up your nose and down your throat and into your brain. It is a long-ass swab. It wasn’t exactly painful but it was not at all pleasant.

Of course I got all tense and that makes it worse. They do it with you sitting in the car and I arched all up out of the seat. I felt like, if I could have tipped my head at a different angle, it would have been better. But yeah, not fun, not fun at all.

The whole car got tested and now we wait for our results. For the next 2 weeks we are quarantined which means the 5 of us (me, Victoria, our 2 guests and the baby) are stuck in the house. Together. Victoria and I get along pretty well, I don’t know the girls will be after being cooped up for 14 days.

I am going to let my daughter take the car for the quarantine. She has things she needs to get done and I can’t go anywhere so she might as well use it. I hate for things to be wasted through non use. (Remind me of that with regard to art supplies.)

I did however get two very cool masks in the mail today from Lilydale. Who is a person in Canada. I don’t know her real name, she’s an online friend so I only know her alias. So that was a nice surprise.

And I got Jack-in-the-Box for lunch. Tacos and egg rolls. Greasy greasy food but I’ve been eating home cooking for a couple weeks now so it was really good for a change.

Here’s hoping the tests come back negative and life returns to “normal”.


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North Texas Giving Tuesday

Hello hello hello

Today is a mixed bag of stuff.

In the middle of the night, I got a notice from unemployment that they turned me down because I gave incorrect information. Now I actually spoke to a person — they called me, I can’t get through to them — and I thought we got it all squared away. I thought the Census Bureau was my last employer because they hired me back in March, but since they never paid me, I am not considered an employee. Now I have to try to call the unemployment people again and see if I can find out what went astray.

On the other hand, Parkland finally approved me so I got my blood pressure meds today. I was starting to get headaches from blood pressure being too high so this is a great thing. It also means I have health insurance for the coming year.

I ordered stamps from the post office and they are having issues with delivering them. I don’t know why. On May 2 at 10:27 it says “out for delivery” and by 3:30 the same day, the package is marked “available for pickup”. I mean, if I was going to pick them up, couldn’t I have just gone to the post office and bought stamps? I have letters waiting to go out.

I did speak to the mail carrier, but he doesn’t sort his own mail so he said I needed to call. Well I’m trying but it’s nearly impossible. The system is set up to do everything automated and will only let you speak to a representative under certain circumstances. Stamp orders is not one of those circumstances. So I tried general customer service and right now I have been on hold for 36 minutes waiting for a representative. I know it’s Covid season but they are providing poor service with no way to correct it.

Today is North Texas Giving Tuesday and I work at a non profit so if you’re looking for a place to give . . . We got 501c3 status, I think it was Thursday, and already all the beds are filled. Teenagers need a place to go, a safe house for them is a real blessing. So we have 2 girls, one with a baby, who we are helping get back on track.

I am hoping to make some artist trading cards this afternoon since I have some time to myself. I might just watch TV and crochet though. I don’t know. I started a series called “Tales From The Loop“. It’s kind of “Eureka” meets “The Twilight Zone“. I’m really enjoying it. I’m thinking of getting a drink in a second and looking up a local phone number for the post office.

Here’s hoping I find stamps soon!


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Gardening As a Subversive Act

Only certain stores are allowed to be open, they have to provide essential services. So nail salons are not open but grocery stores are. However certain items can only be purchased in stores of a certain size. This means that, for example, Wal-Mart often exceeds the square footage requirement so they can’t sell certain items that are not essential.

Among the non-essential items are seeds. Apparently the seasonal department is closed down and at this time of year, that’s the gardening department.

So growing your own vegetables is considered non-essential.

To me, there is no reason to discourage people from gardening, and in fact it feels like the government doesn’t want us to grow our own food.

Which to me, is the perfect reason to do it.

I used to garden when I was a kid. I grew flowers, mom grew vegetables. I had a flower bed near the house, mom dug up the ground over the septic tank. As a child I never thought about it, it was just the grassy place then the vegetable garden, but as an adult I’m a little grossed out. I’m not invested in gardening very much at this point, but fresh veg is always a good idea.

V is talking about putting in a raised garden at Shepherd Inn. I’m not sure how she thinks that’s gonna work, but we’ll see. She works more than full time as it is at her non-profit. I need to work to cover my other expenses so I feel like I can’t really devote much time to gardening. The kids, maybe?

What would I plant? Let’s see . . . Tomatoes. Zucchini. Carrots. Mixed lettuce. Should I try onions or potatoes? Maybe some kind of squash like butternut or pumpkin. Peas? Cucumbers? Ooh, bell peppers. Radishes. Salad fixin’s. Beets. What, I like beets! Broccoli? Jalapenos?

Possibilities.

I’d have to order seeds by mail. I’d go with Burpee, since that’s the company my Grandpa used. Until I wanted heirloom seeds, then I’d have to look somewhere else.

So, gardening might become a thing in my world.


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Post Apocalyptic Pharmacy

I went to the pharmacy today. Usually that would be just one more thing in a list of places but today it was a trip in and of itself.

I don’t have a general practitioner or as the insurance people say, a primary care physician. I don’t have insurance right now so I use the public health system. I go to Parkland. My pharmacy is on the hospital campus.

I ran out of my blood pressure meds with this last refill of my meds box so I called it in. They told me everything would be ready Monday. I made my daughter get up and go with me in the morning to get them.

When I got to the pharmacy building, only one door was open. A path was cordoned off so you could only go one way. Two nurses in masks stood at the corner. First they asked why you were there. Some people had appointments but most of us were for the pharmacy. Then they took my temperature. 97.5. I feel like a radio station.

Next I was directed down the line to get a wristband. It was like a concert wristband with a tribal design on it. Then another nurse directed me to the hand sanitizer. After that I was finally able to enter the pharmacy.

The check-in line had X’es taped on the floor showing where to stand. The receptionist didn’t take my ID as usual. Instead I held it up to the glass partition for her to read. The glass partition has always been there, with just a slit to talk through and have her hand me a ticket. I always figured it was a physical safety issue, to keep violent people away like at a bank only for drugs not money, but now I think it has always been about disease.

Turned out my meds were not ready and they needed me to come back after 1230. I left the building and went with my daughter back to her place for a few hours. Coffee and kittens made the wait pass quickly. Just after 12 I got an automated call from Parkland that my meds were ready.

My daughter and I drove back to the pharmacy. I brought my daughter to wait in the car so I wouldn’t have to pay for parking. My budget is that tight right now, that $5 for parking seemed exorbitant. I went through the process again and was let into the building. This time the receptionist gave me a number.

I went into the waiting room. Usually it’s packed. The seats are arranged in rows of 6 and I’m used to 4 or 5 people sitting in each row. Today there was only one person in each row. Several people were wearing masks.

I was number 807. When I arrived, they were on number 788. I figured it would be a solid half hour wait. It was about half that. Things progressed smoothly and rapidly. I got my meds and by the time I left, it was pouring rain. Fortunately my daughter had been waiting nearby so I didn’t have long to wait to be picked up.

Now I am home. It seems so strange now, just going to the pharmacy. I also wonder what I will do the next time. I am now out of refills and insurance. I don’t know how I’ll get my meds next month. Even if they do an automatic refill extension like most places are, I don’t have any income and I don’t know how I’ll pay for them. But I have faith that something will have changed by then.

The world is all different right now and it changed practically overnight. I believe it can change again just as fast, in ways I can’t predict. I can only wait and see.


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Isolation To-Do List

I wanted to use the graphic for this list, but I can’t find a version I can share. So here is a transcript, especially good for those of us who are struggling to keep a schedule during the day (hi! I know I’m not the only one). I thought this was a good list:

ISOLATION WELL-BEING DAILY TO-DO LIST

  1. Essential tasks:    [ ] Shower   [ ] Medication    [ ] ____________
  2. Clean one thing / space
  3. Tend something growing  [ ] Plant   [ ] Child   [ ]  ___________
  4. Be mindfully present to
    1. A sound or song
    1. A sensory feeling
    1. Something you see
    1. A spiritual practice
  5. Reach out to a human beyond your home
  6. Do one thing to get your heart rate up
  7. Do one thing you’ll be glad you did later


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I Need to Get My Meds Regulated

I am not managing life right now. I mean, I am, but it feels harder than usual.

I had nothing to do today and I wanted to get out of the house. I ended up at Half Price Books working on some outgoing mail. I sent a letter to Fishspit and a couple of add-and-pass items out, and I sent altered cards to a couple of new contacts.

I also met a woman named Jana. She told me she was 79 but she sure didn’t look it. She was interested in astrology and past lives, she says she believes in God, and she is a Trump supporter. She was quite interesting. She suggested a group called College of Complexes, which she is finding to be overrun with liberals, so I would probably enjoy it a great deal. I’m planning to go next Saturday, since the topic is creativity.

I can’t wait for tomorrow to happen. Monday is so much easier for me. I hope to work out in the late morning then go to group in the afternoon. I have a plan. I have things to do. I hate weekends with nothing to do.

My friend K has a boyfriend. I’m glad for her, but she turns out to be one of those people who is too busy for her single friends when she has a boyfriend, and that makes me sad. I haven’t seen her in a month and I can’t seem to get her to text long enough to make plans. I’m a little frustrated. But hopefully the infatuation will level out and she’ll get back in touch. I don’t want to be just a filler friend for when there’s no boyfriend. I need to talk to her about this but like I said, I can’t seem to get her attention at the moment.

I tried to spend some time with my daughter today, but she had her boyfriend, and I don’t want to interrupt that. I mean, he’s a good guy and he wants to be a provider so her difficulties with work aren’t a deterrent. We’ll see what happens. He’s supposed to move in sometime in the next month, once he gets his car working. Because right now he can ride to work with a roommate, if he moves in with my daughter he needs to be able to get to work on his own.

So I am feeling very much my singleness. Even my roommates are a couple, and I am reminded a few times a day that I am an afterthought in the household. Not that they’re mean or anything, just that they are clearly a unit and I am, well, the extra person.

On top of this, I ran out of one of my meds the other day, and with the health insurance issue, I wasn’t able to fill the prescription. I have found another source, however I didn’t take it for a couple of days. I can really feel the difference it made. It will take a few days for things to stabilize again. In the meantime, I am a little emotional and melancholic, and it lends itself to feeling sorry for myself.

No, not exactly feeling sorry for myself, more like feeling like there is an instruction manual that other people got and I somehow didn’t. Like I’m trying to play a game where nobody will explain the rules. I feel puzzled and a little out of the loop. Which I understand to be very “on the spectrum” feelings. I have wondered if I have Asperger’s, though that is probably just speculation. I have spent enough time in psychiatrists’ offices in the last 5 years that I bet they’d’ve noticed it by now.

I can’t help thinking, but I’m afraid of disappearing up my own backside. It’s starting to be all hamsters and rabbit holes in my head. I need to distract myself. I think I’ll work on some mail art. I don’t have any particular inspiration but you never know what you’ll come up with.


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Franklin

I don’t know Franklin, I only know about him.

A friend of mine passed him on the street regularly. He was unhoused. She didn’t get to know him, but he was part of her community. For several days she didn’t see him, then she noticed his belongings scattered about the area where he camped. She knew something had happened but she didn’t know who to ask. Then she found the little shrine in his honor. His friends had bundled up his sleeping bag and set out flowers and candles, a small sign that said “Franklin”, the usual thing you see on the side of the road.

I want Franklin to be remembered so I painted a picture in his honor:

Parts of it I am very pleased with. Considering that I can’t draw.

I am slightly off my meds, and I am weepy. I ran out of the mood stabilizer. I have been crying over sentimental things, like a character dying in a movie. I generally feel pretty stable in my moods but I thought that was just me. I learned in my 20s that big emotion was bad for me so I worked at being understated in my expressions. I thought I was a calm person. I’m not really. I’m quite emotional without my meds.

I wonder, is that a problem? I made art because I felt sentimental about a homeless man. And it’s not bad art, all things considered. I want to make more art. Is taking the meds interfering with creativity? Is making art worth being emotionally raw? Maybe if I lived alone, but surely it would be a problem for my roommates, if I was all over the place.

In a few days I will be stabilized. The meds will have built up in my system and my mood will settle down. I’ll be back on my usual weekly schedule and things will be back to normal.

Funny phrase that, “back to normal”. Normal is a double-edged word in my life. Normal, like neurotypical, which I’m not. Also normal like typical, as in typical for me. Do the drugs make me normal? Is it worth it? I’m not 100% on that, but is that just my mood because I’m off my meds?

Does being on my meds cloud my thinking? Or is it that depression so often feels like truth to me? It seems like seeing things clearly but maybe I am just used to that particular bias. If you always look through tinted lenses, that appears normal. If you take them off, that might be reality, but putting them back on feels familiar and comfortable. Is it really better? I can’t tell.

I feel like I’m talking in circles which is surely a sign that I need the meds. Do I really need them, or do I just think I need them? I mean, joining a gym, looking for a full time job, those are normal things. Making art, not so normal. Yet making art makes my soul happy. Going to the gym is good for my body though. And I need to do it more often. I wonder if I would go, if I was off my meds. I mean, I’ve been off them for about a week and I haven’t gone. Coincidence? Maybe.

In other news, Momo just nosed the dog. He laid down next to me, which was also next to Jack. Charli getting in the middle of everything has driven Momo off. Such a shame, I was honored that he was dozing against my leg.

I have some add-and-pass pages to send out. I’m going to send them to each other. I mean, they have names and addresses on them so I’m going to send the item from envelope one to someone listed on item 2. Ah, yes, add-and-pass. A picture, or in this case a chapbook, where you put your name and address and maybe alter it in some way. Then you send it along to someone else to do the same. A mail art staple.

I haven’t left the house today, except to get the canvas out of the car and put the empty cat litter container in the trash. Today was lovely out. Hopefully tonight will be temperate. Last night was too cold, but today was warmer than yesterday, so maybe. I usually get out of the house to go to a group or a store. I’m thinking tomorrow would be a good day to work out and do some laundry. I want to make more mail art but that isn’t exactly something I can do in public, like at a coffee shop.

Trying not to think in circles. It’s only 9:30 so I’m not ready for bed yet, but I think soon it will be time. Charli the kitty has decided to nap balanced between the back of the sofa and my shoulder. She will be bothered when I get up. Right now she’s purring. And snoring. It’s almost like a sleeping child, that level of trust and relaxation.

Well, I’m off to look at mail art calls and see if there’s anything I can do tomorrow. Wish me luck.


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Kick Me Again, I’m Starting to Like It

It’s like being pecked to death by ducks. One little thing going wrong after another.

I heard from Michael’s. They said one of the checks has already been cashed so they can’t replace it. At least it is the smaller check. So instead of around $800 I will get closer to $500. Not ideal but could be worse.

And I got a notice that my health insurance has been cancelled. I got the notice on the 7th. It said, that on January 18, I had 15 days of coverage left. That was February 2. So I didn’t know there was a problem until 5 days after it ended.

Pretty much, you can have insurance and pay for it through the company for up to a year of not working. If you work 4 consecutive months, it restarts the clock. I worked 5 weeks last year, so not even close to 4 months, let alone consecutive.

At least, if I don’t have an insurance payment, I should get paid the difference. I can use the money.

I did check out the health insurance marketplace through the ACA / Obamacare program. The lowest price they gave me was $435 per month. Right now, I don’t even earn that much, let alone have it to pay for insurance. That’s just the insurance, there would be copays on top of that. Meds and doctor visits out of pocket don’t cost that much.

I guess I will get to check out the local mental health services now. I hear Metrocare is kind of crap and I should go with Transicare. Either way I will have to go through North Texas Behavioral Health, which replaced MHMR.

I need to call my doctor and see if there’s a program through Southwestern for low income health care. I need the refills for my blood pressure meds as well as the psych meds. I might be able to get all my services through Southwestern. If not, I’ll go to Parkland.

At least I have a plan. I’ll be travelling for work until Wednesday, so Thursday I’ll start making calls. I’m gonna check out the websites tonight. Hopefully I can keep my meds on track.


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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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Yeah, I’m Manic

Or at least I’m hypomanic, since I am not psychotic.

I feel like I could stay up all night again, I have things to do! I’m not over excited, I’m just darn busy.

Except of course Fred will make me put the light off so I can’t really write letters or work on my ecourse.

I bought a collection of wellness stuff. Of course it’s designed for active people which I am not. But since I am trying to eat more responsibly, I figured the protein bars would make a good breakfast. I am getting deucedly tired of eggs.

I ate a rice krispies bar with breakfast this morning and it was SO good. I’m thinking of having another one in a little while.

See? I just ADHD’ed my way into another topic. Squirrel! Wellness stuff right to I want a snack. Another sign of mania for me.

Anyway, here is the stuff:

shipment of good stuff

So 3 boxes of snack bars, 2 supplements, 2 energy boosters, a box of water flavors, and the chocolate shake mix with the mixing bottle. I figure it will make for a different breakfast if nothing else, and see what happens. Maybe a protein shake and an energy bar will see me through the day and I can finally get that fasting started.

I did see my psychiatrist the other day, and he agreed with me that maybe I should increase the mood stabilizer back up a notch. He thinks I have sleep apnea, however, and that’s the reason I have a hard time waking up, that I’m not sleeping well. I don’t mind doing the sleep study, but I’m not gonna sleep with the mask on. I am not comfortable sleeping on my back and I feel claustrophobic just thinking of wearing the elephant nose.

But it’s the shopping that has me a little worried. I’ve bought the wellness stuff in the picture, and some books, and some socks, and a box of cards. Oh, and stamps. And that’s just in the last 24 hours. That doesn’t include all the art supplies or the yarn that I have sitting in a cart or the zines that came the other day. Or the trip to the metaphysical shop. Or the bizarre bazaar. I love shopping, but I have to get it under control. This is too much. It’s stuff I don’t need. It’s not about the money, although I could easily spend way too much money; it’s about not needing things and buying them anyway.

And I want to say, except books. Because to me books are a special kind of magic. But even books with no place to go are clutter. Even very cool books. It breaks my heart, but it’s true.

Just naming the mania makes it better. I feel like, I am not in the grips of it, I am observing it and I can choose to feed it or not. And mostly I choose not.

I’ve had a little paranoia lately, thinking people are mad at me or talking about me when they aren’t. It seems reasonable in my head that folks are having emotions about me. How self centered! People are too busy with their own lives to worry that much about me. I mean, I’m wonderful and amazing, but so is everybody else. I’m not any more interesting than your own life. In fact, in a perfect world, your life is the most fascinating one for you. (I know what I want to say, I just can’t seem to say it gracefully.)

Hopefully in the next few days this will pass. The increase in meds should help. The fact that bipolar is cyclical should help. Convincing myself to sleep should help.

I have a lot of reading to do. I’m going to try reading a little and see if that settles me down into sleep. Better sleep hygiene will help with everything.