Lunch Chat Highlights

Unsvelt Girl who Runs and I went to lunch today at the local burger joint.  This is entertaining in itself as UGwR recently decided to become a vegan/vegetarian.  She said she read something that made her never want to eat an animal product again.  I told her she could feel free never to share it with me.  I like my animal products just fine, thank you,  and I don’t need unpleasant imagery while I’m eating just about every meal I ever eat!

We talked about the Grammy’s.  I know.  I’m three days behind the rest of the world.  I don’t care.  I hate commercials and this is how I watch TV.

Jennifer Hudson

APTOPIX Grammy Awards ShowWhat was she thinking with this dress?  It looks like she’s got a dinner napkin stapled to the front of her.  I mean, really!  If it had been tailored in some way, maybe.  If it had more of a shape to it and somehow wrapped around her waste, it might have worked.  But it didn’t!  It’s squared off at the bottom.  Maybe my mind filled in the blanks but I could swear I saw the glint of light reflecting off of metal like I could see the safety pins that could have been used to attach the dinner napkin to the dress.

Here’s what I think happened.  Ms. Hudson and her management team, including her stylist, went for a nosh before the show.  As so frequently happens to women with largeish sweater puppets, she dropped something on her chest and stained her beautiful designer dress.

“Oh my God!  What am I gonna do?” she asked in a panic.

“Don’t worry, hun,” says her stylist, “we can deal with this!”  And with that he whipped out his trusty murse (Man Purse), pulled a stapler and can of hairspray out, grabbed an unused linen napkin from the next table over and went to town.  A little hair spray to give the top some shape and staples to hold it in place and she was good to go.

Unsvelt Girl who Runs said there was another person with a similar look.  I don’t remember it.  She says it was the same color as the rest of the dress, so maybe it worked.

On the other hand Jennifer Hudson looked fantastic while performing You Pulled Me Through and she almost brought me to tears (thank God for my frozen heart) as she struggled to get through this emotional song.  It was obvious she must’ve been thinking of her mother who was recently murdered and her eyes were glistening with tears by the end of the song.  It was a truly touching moment and I really felt for her.

Coldplay

chris_martin61“That guy is a freak!”  said Unsvelt Girl, speaking of Chris Martin.  “What was with those clothes they were wearing!?”

“They were ugly, that’s for sure!  Did you see them apologize to Paul McCartney for stealing the ‘Sargent Pepper’s’ look?”  I don’t think she understood that reference.  “And his pants were too short, but that’s a style.”

“Oh good!  Then I don’t have to buy new pants for my son,” she said.

“Um, yeah.  Your son is 13 years old and not a rock star.  You have to buy him new pants.”

“Damn!”

I think Coldplay faked their entire performance of Viva La Vida.  First of all, there were four musicians on stage, including Chris Martin.  Chris Martin wasn’t playing any instruments, one of the guys was playing only a guitar, one was playing a guitar and a keyboard and the fourth guy was playing kettle drums and a bell.  We apparently weren’t supposed to notice the plethora of stringed instruments, not of the guitar variety that are part of that song, but weren’t represented by instruments on the stage.  I could accept that some of it was coming form the keyboard that was being played, but then the guy walked away from the keyboards and the strings were still playing.

Toward the end of the song there’s some humming, or ooo-ing, or whatever-ing.  On the stage the four boys joined around one microphone to sing them.  Chris Martin had his hand mic by his side and was late getting to the other boys but the sound was full.  It was also full when he turned away before they were finished.  And finally when he said, “Thank you” at the end of the song, he wasn’t at the microphone and hadn’t picked his hand mic back up.  Where did the sound come from?

Late last year, Coldplay performed this song on Saturday Night Live.  I don’t remember whether there were other musicians on the stage then, but what I do remember is that Chris Martin acted in very much the same way, including ending the song on his knees and lying back on the floor.  “I guess they don’t think out side of the box much,” said Unsvelt Girl who Runs.

mia-grammyM.I.A.

O.M.G.

‘Nuff said.

Actually, I just read that she start feeling contractions just as the show started.  I’m not a fan of rap, and didn’t think much of that performance (The Rap Pack) but that girl was shakin’ her groove thang, (Yes, I am very white) and this revelation makes that movement that much more incredible!

And speaking of rap stars…

American Boy

Iamerican-boy happen to like this song.  It’s a catchy tune.  I’ve got it on my iPhone.  I’ve got it… ON MY iPHONE!

“Oh my gosh!” I whispered conspiratorially, crouching low to the table.  “I totally didn’t realize Estelle is black.”

“Really!” Unsvelt Girl said sarcastically as she picked up her iPhone and pulled up the song to show me the album cover… Same one I’ve got on my iPhone.  “Really!  You didn’t realize she was black?”

“I guess I never paid that much attention to the album cover.”

kanye-estelle1It’s a fun song and I enjoy the version with Kanye West, but boy does that man need to cut his hair and HOT DAMN!, how did I not make note of this dress last night?  She looks like a cone coffee filter.  And she was sitting down at the beginning of that performance.  How is this possible?  I feel sorry for whoever had the misfortune of sitting next to her

“I had to turn on the captioning while they were doing this song.  There’s a line in the song that I just haven’t been able to figure out,” I told Unsvelt Girl.

“Really?  What is it?”

“I have tried and tried to figure out what that line is and the only thing I’ve been able to come up with is, ‘I’d really like to cook naked with you.  Will you be my American Boy?’.  But that doesn’t make any sense.  Well, maybe it does.  Hmm…  ‘I’d really like to cook naked with you.’  Could be fun I guess.

“Every time the song comes on I listen real close to try and figure it out. I’m like, ‘She’s not saying “cook naked” is she?  She wouldn’t be saying “cook naked” right?  I mean what kinda sense does that make?’

“Anyway, the line is ‘Come pick it’… Wait.  That doesn’t make much sense either.  Well, that’s what the person typing the captioning heard anyway!”

(A quick Google search has revealed that the line is actually “come kick it”, which, all things considered, makes far more sense.)

The King of Wishful Thinking

go-west“You know,” I told her, “it’s really funny the things we think we hear in songs sometimes.  Back in 1990 there was a song by an obscure group called ‘Go West’.  They had one popular song called The King of Wishful Thinking.”

“Never heard of it,” she was quick to reply.  (Turned out she had.)

“Well the song says, ‘I’ll get over you, I know I will.  I’ll pretend my ships not sinking…’  But Green M&M told me that for the longest time when this song was out she heard the line differently.  She said she couldn’t believe it could be what she heard when they’d play it on the radio but she just couldn’t figure out what else the lyrics could be.

“Green M&M said she thought the lyrics were ‘I’ll get over you, I know I will.  I’ll pretend my shit’s not stinking…”

Money, Money, Money Must Be Funny In The Rich Man’s World, Money, Money, Money Always Sunny In The Rich Man’s World

There must be a more better way to determine how our tax money is spent, right?  I mean as taxpayers shouldn’t we at least get some kind of say in hour our money is spent?  I was less than thrilled when I found out about this $700 Billion dollar bail out for the banks when it was announced but I can see some amount of logic in it.  I mean if the banks fail our economy will surely collapse, right?  I don’t see where the bail-out has done us a whole lot of good but at least it’s something.

But now we’re talking bout “bailing out” the automotive industry?  Really?  I do not see the logic in this idea.  I mean the solution to the automotive industries problems is to make a quality, competitive product.  The vast majority of the cars I see on the roads around the Bay Area of California, where I live, are foreign, mostly Hondas and Toyotas.  I myself drive a Japanese car, at least in part because in my lifetime I’ve had nothing but trouble with the American made cars I’ve dealt with.

Perhaps if the automakers made quality products that stood up against the imported ones then they could stand up in the market place and bail themselves out.  Personally, my perspective is that if I want to put my money into “bailing out” the automotive industry, I’ll go out and buy a car.

Certainly I recognize that there are a lot of people who would lose their jobs if any or (unlikely) all of the American manufacturers were to close their doors and that’s unfortunate, but as we continue to throw good money after bad into bailing out groups who simply can’t manage their money properly aren’t we doing more harm than good?  Hell, I can’t manage my money for shit!  Can I apply to the Federal Government for a billion dollar Bailout?  I could certainly use it.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times.  I’m terrible at math and when it comes to finance and economics and all that stuff I suck wind so I may be completely off track with this whole line of reasoning but it seems to me that there is a difference between bailing out our financial markets without which our economy will collapse and leave the country in chaos, and bailing out any commercial industry that manufactures a tangible product for sale.  Again, if they make a quality product that is competitive in it’s own market they will sell their product and stay in business and if they can’t do that then they shouldn’t be in business anyway.

What’s next?  Hollywood?  It seems that a Screen Actors Guild strike is imminent which will result in the loss of millions (billions?) of dollars in revenue.  Should they, too, receive a federal bail-out?  Where does it end?

In case anyone has forgotten, our current federal deficit is at a 20 year high, thanks to George W. Bush and his mismanagement of the business that is this nation.  What irony that a business that is more than 2o TRILLION dollars in the hole is dolling out multi-billion dollar “loans” that everyone knows will never be repaid to other businesses.  How interesting that without those “loans” these other business will likely have to shut their doors and yet, “The United States of American, Inc.” continues to spend beyond it’s means and no one cares.  I care!  And I’m tired of funding it!

There was a Saturday Night Live sketch not too long ago that I think sums the whole thing up pretty much perfectly:

Like I said, the loan will never be repaid and everyone knows it.  What’s more, they will likely ask for more money in the not so distant future.

There has to be a better way!!!

Damn!  How did this soap box get back in here.  Someone, please come take this thing away before I hurt myself!

Seven Days? Really? Only Seven Days?

I can hardly believe it’s been only seven days.  Only seven days since one of the greatest history making moments in my life time, the election of our first “black” President.  I have to use the quotes.  It’s not that I don’t see the historic value of what happened.  It’s just that, to me, Barack Obama isn’t a “black” President.

Really, Barack Obama is 50% African, and 50% American.  (Hmmm.  I never thought of that before this moment.  I guess I can safely call him an “African American” without having the terminology grate against me.  I have a hard time calling black people “African American” because the vast majority of them have never set foot in Africa and neither have several generations of their ancestors.  And because the “politically correct” terminology changes from one day to the next and I don’t see how “black” can be offensive unless you’re just looking for an excuse to be offended.)  But from the moment the results were in and he was our new president I couldn’t help feeling like all the hoopla was a little bit of a farce.  This man is not “black

A day or two after the election, I saw something on the TV.  A handful of gang banging, pants sagging, puffy coat wearing, bandanna displaying, gold tooth flashing hoodlum type young black males, showing their exuberant enthusiasm that finally, “we will be represented.”  And all I could think was, “He doesn’t represent YOU!”  Barack Obama is an educated, well spoken, contemplative, sophisticated, only HALF Black man.  Something those boys on my TV screen will never have the capacity to understand.

I don’t mean to belittle his heritage.  That’s not my point at all.  But the reality is, stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.  They’re usually based in some amount of reality.  And the reality is that Barack Obama is not a “stereotypical black man”.  I hope you don’t think that makes me racist, because it doesn’t.  But if you come away from this with the idea in your head that it does, well…  I think that’s something I can live with.

There’s no end in sight to the overblown propagandization of the monumental accomplishment that is the election of our first Black President and I am sincerely glad to have been a part of that accomplishment.  I really do see the greatness of that accomplishment and certainly would rather have it this way versus the alternative.  I am not sorry that Barack Obama is going to be our next President.  But by the same token, I am not a disciple of the Obama movement.  Certainly there were better options out there.  I still, to this day believe that Hillary was the right person for the job.  That she should have been our 44th President and that if a woman was going to hold that office in the next two decades it would be she.

I’m constantly reminded of the Saturday Night Live sketch from earlier this season with “Sarah Palin”, played by Tina Fey, and “Hillary Clinton”, played by a quite pregnant Amy Poehler.  The ladies were delivering a joint press conference (the “I can see Russia from my house.” sketch).  “Sarah” made a comment about knowing that “Hillary” agrees that it’s time for a woman in the White House, to which “Hillary” lost all composure and said, “Noooooo.  I didn’t want a woman in the White House!  I wanted ME in the White House.”  It was of course an extremely humorous moment but it also spoke volumes, in my opinion, to the status of this nation!  Are we ready for a woman in the White House?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think so, but I’m just not sure.  Were we ready for Hillary Clinton in the White House and more specifically in the Oval Office?  I say, without a doubt, yes.  Then again, the facts don’t seem to support my assertion so perhaps I’m wrong.  I know I was ready, but I may be alone.

It is equally hard, if not harder to believe that it’s been only one week since the devastating news that indeed, I have been stripped of a right that, honestly, up until earlier this year, I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.  The right to fall in love with the man of my dreams and fulfill that dream by marrying him, just like my sister was able to do with the man of her dreams.  Just like Unsvelt Girl Who Runs and TV Addicted Mom, and just like the vast majority of the rest of the world.

I still find the irony of the situation equal parts amazing and disgusting!  It seems as though Proposition 8 was approved, at least in part, because of the record number of Black voters that turned out for this election.  Let’s face it.  There’s a decent chance that Barack Obama would not have been elected if not for the record number of Black voters that turned out to vote in this election and yet, based on the polling data, these are the same voters that voted in favor of Proposition 8.  The reason given?  That they didn’t see the correlation between the discrimination that they face periodically and that their ancestors faced on a daily basis, and the discrimination that is now to be heaped upon me and thousands like me.

If you’ve read this blog much in the past you probably know that I am an “average white boy.”  (Although Green M&M says, “If you got a drop, your black, honey.”  Which I guess probably means that I, the original average white boy, am also black.  I got a little bit of everything in me going way back!  At one of her sisters parties a long time ago, I was referred to buy a drunk back guy as a “light skinded brother” so who knows.)  They don’t come much more average than I.  The thing that makes me not average, not part of the majority?  The thing that makes me a part of the minority set?  The fact that I’m gay.  Currently, gay individuals are still a minority.  We probably always will be.  But because this percentage of Black voters who were part of the exit polls couldn’t see how I was being discriminated against in the same way that they are, or that their parents or grandparents were, they voted to take away my rights and put me in that minority position.

There’s a youtube video from Kieth Olbermann:

that has made the rounds on the internet today, that I must say I’m quite impressed with.  But one of the things that struck me the most was this.  In his commentary, Olbermann says, that forty odd years ago Mr. and Mrs. Obama would not have been allowed to marry in 16 of the states of this great nation of which their son would grow up to hold the highest office.  Roughly a third of the country, just 40 years ago.  And the body they have to thank for that freedom is the California Supreme court and yet, seven days ago that same race of people made a major contribution toward stealing away those same rights from the likes of me.

It was not my intention for this post to be yet another political rant, for in truth I am a political know nothing. I’m just amazed to find that it has been ONLY seven days since this historic, but nonetheless tragic day took place.  It feels like an eternity to me.  I’ve been through so much in the seven days since.  And yet, really, I haven’t been through anything.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008, was a rough day for me already.  I was late for work, as usual, having overslept, as usual, and barely arriving at work in time for my 9:30 Tuesday Morning Torture Session, otherwise known as my departments staff meeting, as usual.  It wouldn’t be so bad by itself, it’s just that we have been having literally the same meeting for the last six years.  The agenda never changes.  Douche Bag is just as flippant and ignorant and oblivious as ever.  Country Dumbkin is just as late as ever, and just as disruptive as ever.  The agenda doesn’t change, and Unsvelt Girl who Runs (who at the rate she’s going will need a new moniker soon) and I continue to stare at the table and wait for the agonizing hour to end.  It always ruins our days and makes us want to jab our eyes out with our pens.

Deb, my therapist, had advised me, via voice mail, that there is a poling place near her office, and that I may need to allow myself a little extra travel and parking time (there is only street parking near her office) before our appointment.  So I had to leave work early to fight the traffic and the parking problems.  I am a Permanent Absentee Voter so I didn’t have to worry about fighting the lines at the polls, thank God!

I wish I could point out some particularly offensive events of that day.  I’m sure their were some, it’s just that there’s nothing out of the ordinary about it so I don’t remember anything in particular.

I went to my weekly therapy appointment where I asked what I felt was a simple question, “What good does it do me to know why I feel the way I do if it doesn’t make it stop happening?”  I didn’t like her answer, or anything else, much, about our visit.  I realize that happens sometimes and I’m not contemplating ending our relationship.  I’m just really tired of this stage of things and I’m ready to move on and I feel like I don’t know how to do that.  And sometimes I feel like she holds the key and just isn’t sharing.

After therapy I came home and turned on the TV.  I honestly felt like I already knew the outcome.  There was virtually know way Obama was not going to win and when I got home and turned on the tube it was already 207 electoral votes for Obama to 134 electoral votes for McCain and we were only minutes away from the West Coast Polls closing.  I was disappointed to find that no one was talking about Prop 8 yet.  I knew the out come of this one too.  I was just praying that, there but for the grace of God, I would be wrong.  And then the reports started coming in.  And Prop 8 was passing and I could feel my future slipping away.

But more than losing my future, I could feel my present slipping away.  I could feel all the confidence and certainty I had built up over the last two years dwindling.  I was being told by 52% of the voters of California that it was not OK for me to be the person I was born to be.  The person that God has made me.

A snippet of a song keeps going through my head, and while it doesn’t completely fit, the chorus and the sentiment of the singers does.  It’s from a scene in Rent when Maureen and Joanne are breaking up at their engagement party:

Take me for what I am
Who I was meant to be
And if you give a damn
Take me baby, or leave me.

So often I feel this way and want to scream this to so many people, especially in my family, but after last Tuesday, I felt like 52% of the state of California was saying back to me, “Yeah, thanks.  Given the option?  I think I’ll leave.”

I stayed home from work on Wednesday.  I did it in part because I stayed up way to late watching the returns and just hoping that by some miracle the numbers would turn around and we’d begin to see the “No”s climb before ultimately defeating the measure.  That, as you know, did not happen.  So I stayed home because I was up until the middle of the night praying for a miracle.  I also stayed home because I was, honestly and truly pouting.  I may be 33 yeas old, but I couldn’t help myself.  I stayed home to pout because I just couldn’t face anyone.  I couldn’t bare to pretend that I was fine and that all the shit that would absolutely be dished out on me at work didn’t matter.  I was hurt and depressed and I had to stay home and pout and cry and rage and generally be a sore loser.  Even now, as I think about it, I’m angry and I have tears that well up behind my eyes just begging to come out.  Because I feel impotent to make a change.  Unable to get through to anyone, and a thousand times less sure of myself and my orientation than I was on Monday, November 3, 2008.

The rest of the work week was pretty average except I couldn’t get over my hurt and anger, perhaps I still haven’t.  And then Friday.

On Friday, while I was “working” (which probably amounted to writing my all about Eve post, Vengeful Mother popped up on my computer screen, via Instant Message and said, “Why don’t you come home for Thanksgiving.”  I was completely on the spot, caught off guard and utterly speechless.  I have no desire to go to VM‘s house or spend any one on one time with her ever again.  I love her but I can’t tolerate being with her and I’m just not ready, not strong enough, to stand on my own while being around her and experiencing the vitriol and judgement that she spews.  I had to say no, but how?  So I told her as little of the truth as I had to, in order to put it to an end.  “I can’t.  I don’t really have the money, other people in my office already have the time off, and I have a prior existing engagement.”  Fortunately, it was over at that.

But Friday was just a long, hard day and it culminated in my shameful humiliation on Craigslist and my disgust with myself on Saturday.  What I haven’t previously stated is that I was up until nearly 4:00 in the morning pursuing my demise and I had to get up on Saturday morning to go and spend the day with Green M&M to whom I would be loathe to say anything about my Craigslist extravaganza.

Yesterday, already feeling like I’d lived a lifetime (albeit a bad one) in the seven days past, I was on Facebook and saw something that I think is telling, and that upsets me.  Not long after I made the, in my opinion, monumental error of setting up a Facebook profile I located an old high school friend of mine who I haven’t seen since the summer after graduation and have had very limited interaction with.  I made the effort to reconnect with her this time around and have been feeling guilty because I have been procrastinating answering her “How have you been.  Hope everything is good.” e-mail because I don’t know what to tell her.  I don’t know how honest to be with her.  And then today I saw this, “RNJ is really tired of seeing the commercial advertising the TLC show on the so-called ‘pregnant man.’  That’s not a man, it’s a woman dressed up as a man. Nasty.”  That makes it seem pretty clear to me that I can’t talk to her about what’s real about me.  And I can’t help feeling just a little more rejected by the world around me.

Seven Days?  Really?  It’s only been seven days?

The Very Most Important Election

I hate a cliche.  Always have, and at this time of every fourth year, one of my least favorite cliche’s gets heavy rotation.  “This very important election.”  I hear it all the time, and it so rarely seem true.

This week-end I was watching Saturday Night Live (love it) hosted by Ben Affleck (love him) and he made that statement in his opening monologue (loved it – He’s a curse to any candidate he endorses so he’s endorsing McCain) and it made me stop and think.

This really is a very important election.  In my opinion, the most important election in my life time.  There is so much on the line right now.  So much is at stake.  Especially here in California, and especially to those who are like me, gay, and desiring equality!

You see, I’ve never put much stock in elections before.  I vote, because I’m “supposed to” and because I’m a Permanent Absentee voter and if I don’t vote in every election, I’ll lose that status and have to reapply.  But up until this year I’ve voted on issues and offices based on some very simple factors.

For office, if I don’t know anything about the people, I vote for the Democrat.  If I don’t know anything about the office, or if there’s more than one Democrat I vote for the incumbent and if there’s no incumbent I vote for the person whose current title sounds like they’d be most likely to do well in the office they’re seeking.  For instance, on this ballot I had the choice of two individuals to elect for judge.  Once was a “public interest attorney” the other was a “deputy district attorney.”  I don’t know anything about either of these candidates and I hope never to set foot before another judge and therefore wasn’t really going to be overly affected by the outcome of this one.  Therefore, I thought for exactly 2.0876 seconds and decided that a “public interest attorney” as likely to be more fair and less jaded than a “deputy district attorney.”  Settled.

Issues?  What’ll it cost me?  What’ll it cost the state?  Does it make good financial sense?  I almost never vote in favor of bond issues.  I can’t condone paying 95% interest on a loan, any way you slice it.  There was one bond issue on my ballot that was for $998 Million with a payback of the principle plus $995 Million.  If you ran your personal finances that way you’d be homeless on the street in a matter of weeks.  The payback on this measure was something like $67 Million dollars a year for however many years and I can’t help thinking, “We could do twice as much if we used that $67 Million dollars to pay cash for whatever purpose its serving and just parse out the project over a few years.”  Seems like simple economics to me (and I’m an idiot when it comes to math and finance.)

I rarely vote in favor of School initiatives because, call me a bad person, but I don’t have children, and don’t think I ever will and I don’t want to pay even more money out for something that doesn’t benefit me.  I pay too much as it is.

This year I didn’t vote in favor of anything that gets it’s funding from property taxes because frankly, I don’t think we as citizens can really afford it.  Things are bad enough without piling on more taxes, fees and levies.  I will vote in favor for something that I think is a worthwhile initiative (usually something I’ll benefit from) and it’s funded by a fraction of a cent sales tax because I figure it’s more fair.  Everyone pays a share and it’s for a good cause (if it’s not, I don’t vote for it.)

Most years, the things we’re asked to vote for are silly, let’s-find-more-ways-to-spend-money-we-don’t-have initiatives.  I vote because I must.  I hardly call those “important elections”.

But this year, I agree.  This is an important election.  The country is in the worst shape it’s been in since the great depression…  Or so I’m told.  I’m too young to know that.  What I do know is, it’s in the worst shape it’s been in my life time!  I think (again idiot at math and finance) that we’re on the brink of a financial collapse and that we have our Government as a whole, and our President in particular to thank for it.  Something MUST be done!

And yet, that in itself isn’t enough to make this an important election.  This will be an historic election for sure!  By the end of this day we will either have our first black president or our first female in executive office.  Either way, we’re taking a huge step toward truer equality on a national level.  That’s awesome.  But the historical outcome is a given.  Still not “important”.

For the first time in my voting career, I’m asked to vote on something that really matters.  Not just another shall-we-waste-your-money initiative.  Not just another who should be in office for the next 2-4 years ballot.  Not just another transportation initiative or how-shall-we-deal-with-teenage-pregnancy initiative.  This year, I’m voting on something that impacts me directly and personally!  I don’t get much more average, so I never had to worry too much about discrimination until I came to terms with being gay.

Suddenly, discrimination is a real fact in my life.  If I ever fall in love and want to share my life with someone, will I be able to make it a legally binding commitment with all the rights and privileges that go with it.  CPA Sis and Mr. Fixit, Dead Beat Dad and Gigi the Homewrecker, and so many others.  They’re married.  They share all their financial and legal obligations.  They can speak for each other in medical situations.  If one of them dies the other will not lose anything besides their loved ones.  In the case of CPA Sis and Mr. Fixit if something were to happen to CPA Sis, Mr. Fixit wouldn’t have to worry about having their children taken away from him.

Now I’m no where near having any of that in my life.  Not sure if I ever will, and not really sure how much of it I want.  But what I am sure of is that I do not want to be told that I’m not allowed to have those things because I’m somehow a substandard human being.

I’m so proud of this state, and of the supreme court, the Republican, conservative supreme court for recognizing that we are not being treated as equals, that we are substandard, and for doing something about it.  Right now, as I’m typing this I’m allowed to be legally married to another man, in the state of California.  What’s at stake today, is whether or not I’ll still be allowed this time tomorrow.

What could be more important than that?

Cold Turkey

Yesterday, I confessed to an addiction.  Today, I’ll tell you about another.

I’ve been a drug addict for six years.  It’s true.  Every single day for the last six years, I have taken mood altering substances that my body very quickly became dependent upon and without which I turned into an unrecognizable monster oddly reminiscent of an enormous ass, but one that would sooner kill you then feel like you’ve let him down or disappointed him in anyway.

I’m not talking about anything you’d snort or inject, in fact, I’d have to check with Ex Con Older Brother to be sure, but I don’t think you could even buy these drugs on the street.  The internet?  Sure.  But not the street.  No, the drugs I’m talking about are the Doctor sanctioned, Government approved, Pharmaceutical Company foisted kind.  Yes, that’s right.  I’ve been taking Anti-Depressants for the last six years.

Today, however, marks the last day of this addictive behavior.  No longer will I assault my synaptic pathways with artificial fortification.  No longer will I ingest these foreign substances to do what they will with my psyche.

[ Gosh, I feel a little like I should be standing barefoot on a couch after an overnight drinking party shouting at my friends about our flaccid penises (peni?) and making deals about losing our virginity by prom night.  And if you don’t get that reference – American Pie – then I don’t want to be your friend anyway.]

Today I am taking back control of my emotional well being.  It isn’t actually, really cold turkey  I made this decision back in April when I was taking 300 Milligrams of Welbutrin and 40 milligrams of Celexa on a daily basis.  I felt like I was in a haze all the time.  I felt like I wasn’t able to access my feelings.  Like I wasn’t having a genuine experience.  And I felt like this ride was never going to end unless I stepped on the breaks and got out of the car.  So I did.

This whole ordeal started a little over six years ago–  Well, really it started 33 years ago with my childhood and my genetics and my divorced parents and my general state of misery, but I don’t have all day to write and you don’t have all day to read and if I tried to put it all in here, WordPress very well might explode, but not before you found me boring and hit that nifty little arrow in the upper right corner to take you to the next random post!  So with that being said…

We’ll pick up this ordeal six years ago.  I had been working for about four months for The Company that Created the HMO and wasn’t really loving it (I was an Administrative Assistant for fuck’s sake) but it followed a nine month period of unemployment where I could barely pay for my car with the unemployment checks I received ever other week, let alone rent and utilities, or assisting Green M&M, who graciously allowed me to move in with her, with expenses.  I had been drinking a lot, and feeling really dejected because I wasn’t able to find another job and I was at a really low point in my emotional cycle.  So when the opportunity with The Company came along, I really had not choice but to take it.

One day I had had a blow up with a co-worker and I didn’t know what to do about it so I made an appointment with the Employee Assistance Program Counselor, ostensibly to talk about work relations and how I could deal with this person.  I sat for an hour with this Counselor who talked to me for five minutes about my coworker problem and then asked me all kinds of questions about my life, my childhood, how I live now, etc., etc., etc.  Then she said, “You sound depressed to me.  Here.  The Company that Created the HMO offers all these classes and they’re bound to fix you.”

OK, so that last part may not have come out quite like that, but all these years later, that’s how I feel about it.  The counselor referred me to the Oakland Adult Psychiatry department of The Company that Created the HMO where I was pared up with a Psychologist that I would get to see once every six weeks (whether I needed it or not, I guess.)  They never did offer me any assistance with the coworker and we continued to have conflict until the day she went on maternity leave and then decided not to come back.

Once every six weeks, I’d go to this appointment with this woman who looked strangely like a Yahoo Messenger avatar making the “angry” face and who always made me feel inferior and pathetic.  She kept urging me to go to this Depression Overview Class that was offered.  It was supposed to give me a better understanding of what I’m dealing with and was a precursor to the eight week Depression Management Class she also wanted me to take.  I resisted it for some time but it was obvious to me that I was not going to get what I needed from attending these sessions with Avatar Face and something had to give so I went.

Up to that point, I had been determined that I was not going to take medication and I did not want anyone else to know what I was going through.  I resisted the class because then people would know.  I gave in and attended the class and one of the things they focused on in this class (not even 2 hours) was the idea of medication, how it works, and why I should take it.  I will acknowledge that it has been six years.  I will acknowledge that I was uncomfortable in the situation and wanted to go home.  And I will acknowledge that I was desperate for someone, somehow to make me better and take all this pain away.

All those acknowledgments being put out there, do not change the fact that what I remember the instructor of this overview class saying was that I’d take meds for two to three years and that while I was taking them, not only would the stabilize my neurotransmitters but it would correct the problem in my brain that causes the imbalance in the first place.  So, OK.  Two or three years…  I can accept that.  Especially if I’ll be all better after.

I set an appointment with a Psychiatrist at The Company and got a prescription from her for Paxil.  The prescription was, take 10 milligrams a day for the first week and then bump it up to 20.  About this time I inquired with Ex Con Older Brother who I knew was also taking Paxil and he informed me that it worked, for him, like flipping a switch.  That he started taking it and almost instantly things changed.  I really wanted that for myself so within six weeks, with the Psychiatrist’s approval I increased my dosage twice, first to 30 milligrams and then to 40.

It took a little while for it to completely kick in but once it did, I felt great.  Best I’ve ever felt.  I had confidence, I enjoyed people, I was in great emotional shape.  It was around this time that Green M&M and I decided that neither of us had anything to lose and so we decided to give a “friends with benefits” scenario a try.  This was when I found out that some of those side effects they tell you about were going to be a problem.  I was having serious sexual side effects and couldn’t’ get past them.

I asked my doctor to help me out with this problem and her solution was to take me off the Paxil and put me on Welbutrin.  Her instructions were to taper off the Paxil over the course of 10 days.  Which I did.  Which is when the aforementioned unrecognizable, enormous ass, monster appeared.

I crack jokes and be obnoxious about this because it’s easier to face, but the truth is, it was an emotionally excruciating, hold on for dear life, MY GOD HE’S GONNA BLOW, volatile two weeks and I really didn’t think I was going to make it.  It’s easier to laugh now.  I’m reminded of a Saturday Night Live commercial parody not too long ago about a Birth Control Pill that would make a woman have her period only once a year.  In the fast talking, fine print they talk about how during that one week-end out of the year you better hold on to your hat ’cause your gonna lose your shit, etc., etc., etc.  It says that you should alert your law enforcement officials as they may wish to lock you up as a preemptive measure.  That’s how I felt.

When I think about these times I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude toward Green as well as some shame over the way I acted.  In truth her actions set me off on more than one occasion but my reactions were out of control excessive and she put up with a lot of vitriol from me during that period of time.  It would probably have been easier for her to just walk away, but she didn’t.  She stood by me and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

Anyway, once the psychotic episode passed and I was back to “normal” whatever that is, I was on just the 300 Miligrams of Welbutrin.  It’s the only Anti-Depressant with little or now sexual side effects.  What I’ve learned in the recent past is that it’s also commonly know to increase anxiety in those who are prone to it (I am.)

I took Welbutrin by itself for nearly four years, never really feeling like it was doing me any good, but afraid to say anything for fear of what they’d recommend next.  But when the time came that I couldn’t stand it anymore, this image approximates what I was feeling.  I felt like I was standing right down there at the bottom of this mammoth wall of rock, knowing that on the other side of this structure was millions of gallons of water just waiting to burst through and destroy me.  I felt like I was standing at the bottom of that wall looking up at the top, and just watching as the wall slowly crumbled knowing that at any moment the water could break through and all would be lost.

At that point my Psychiatrist recommended adding the Celexa to the mix, and while I’ll admit that it did seem to help for a time, it really just put me on top of the dam.  No longer was the wall crumbling.  No longer did I fear that it would all come crashing down on me.  Instead, I was standing on the road, looking out at all the water, all the feelings and emotions, knowing that disaster lay before me, but then again so did the potential for good.  But either way, I couldn’t get to it.  It was inaccessible.  And if I tried, I just might drown.

It’s strange, but knowing that all that was there, and that I couldn’t get to it had a two fold effect on me.  First it sent me into a deep despair.  On the advice of my therapist I took a leave of absence from work and went into an outpatient treatment program that is offered by The Company that Created the HMO.  I don’t particularly feel like the program itself offered me anything of value, other than time away from work to regroup and collect my thoughts.  But six weeks later when I was back at work full time and I was more in control again, I realized something else.

In a very real way, the meds have been that dam for six long years.  The only reason those millions of gallons of water are back there waiting to crush me, is because I built the dam and backed it up, rather than making an effort to tread it as it flowed through.

I never wanted the drugs.  I never should have taken the drugs.  I will never again take the drugs.  What I needed was therapy.  I needed steady care from someone who could help me to come to terms with my issues and help me to find that I’d be OK all the same.  I needed a life vest and a kayak, and an oar (am I over-doing the metaphor?)

I took the drugs because I heard “You’ll take them for two years and you’ll be fixed.”  I took the drugs because The Company that Created the HMO isn’t interested in dealing with life long problems, they want to send you to a class that amounts to them saying “Suck it up.  You’ll be fine.”  I took the drugs because once I started them, I was afraid to stop, lest I end up in that puddle of anger and tears and desperation on the floor in my closet that I had been during the Paxil/Welbutrin transition.  I took the drugs because I didn’t know how not to.

But I finally made a decision.  The best decision I’ve made for myself in a long time.  I will not take the drugs anymore.  I started this process in April.  I was taking two tablets of each medication.  So starting on May 1st, I took one and three quarters.  On June 1st, I reduced it to one and one half, etc., until today, Friday, October 31, 2008.  THE last day, I will take my drugs.  Starting tomorrow, I will be drug free.  Starting tomorrow the last brick will have been removed from that dam.  The waters will flow freely and I will wade through them until I’ve learned to swim peacefully from shore to shore.  It may be a struggle sometimes.  Some days will surely be worse than others, but so far I’m strong and steady.  The current isn’t that bad.