Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Shandeh

I was greeted with an email Monday morning. Three pages long. From my fucking sister-in-law. It seems this email was prompted by the fact that she doesn’t much like being called “a controlling harridan.” Who would? I understand her fury. And I may be wrong (about "the controlling harridan" part). She feels she’s been entirely misunderstood by me and the rest of the ever-shrinking Lipman family. (I feel, post-ARDS, I've become half a person...) I’ve been wrong before but I feel pretty good about this one. I’m right on the money.

She demanded that I never mention her or Eric again in this blog.

Now, of course, this shandeh, for which I am now paying for dearly, calling a person such a name must stab my brother in the heart. For goodness sakes, my brother and sister-in-law are each almost sixty years old! Do you think that they may be old enough to deal with a wee bit of unpleasantness from an annoying relative (me)?

And what about me? I’m a loving (and my Eric knows that to be true and Eric, if you don’t, DO, because it’s true) sister who wonders in her blog how her friendship with her wonderful brother could become all farcockteh? I said nothing that came as a surprise to anyone.

Before I became ill, I always was polite (at best) when I encountered my sister-in-law. Post-ARDS, who or what am I holding back for? Oh, I’m not going to go berserk or anything. ARDS doesn’t give me a license to kill. But I don’t have to play a silly game anymore which only makes us upset. Now, we’ll get upset out in the open. I don’t need to get colitis again. (Yeah, long before my current despicable disease took my life away from me, I had colitis. Fun.) I had to learn not to swallow my anger, because all it did was make me sick. Instead, I learned to deal with it. Hot damn! No more colitis! And no more tough guy.

Oh, dear people who are still with me after my long absences, I’m a different person from the pre-ARDS Fran. I want transparency. I want to say what I mean. (Not what I think I should.) As I want all of you to do with me.

My mother’s first reaction to the Mother of all Emails, was to placate Eric, and asked me not write about them (him and her) anymore. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I said that if I place parameters on the blog, I am tucking my new-found voice into a pocket, never to be heard again. Then, it really wouldn’t make any difference being alive or dead, would it? If I live a life where I have to think, tread on eggshells, each time before I tell you how I feel, what is the goddamned point?

I think I told her that using other words. She is not a blog reader. She has no point of reference for this. She had no idea what the blog means to me.

I’ve said, probably too many times, for me, this blog needs to honest. First and foremost. I don’t care how stupid I might sound. How ridiculous I may seem. If I salient point to make, I must make it regardless how of how it makes me “look.” What’s that? (Especially the youngish looking middle-aged lady with the Hannibal Lector mask. (Hey! I always have a Halloween costume!) And in honor of my belief in transparency, the mask is transparent. Coincidence? Oh, I don’t think so.

I don’t look for ways to be mean. I’m sure I have been, but I really don’t want to be hurtful. (Karen, I know I pissed you off time and time again for never writing you back. I deserve totally your opprobrium. Just so you know, I never wrote back to anyone else either. Love you, sweetie, by the way…) Will you let me know how I’ve screwed any of you, please? (I apologize in advance.) But my sister-in-law has issues. How can I ignore my estrangement (getting fuzzier, a good thing) with my oldest brother?

So I won’t. I’ve had it. This is all I have, and I won’t ever be mean (certainly never intentionally) and I will not use this as a vehicle for passive aggressiveness. Any problems (and I hope there are none because I’m beginning to love you) will be dealt with for real and in private.

Just the thought that this blog could be something made ordinary and impersonal makes me feel that that would be the end of me. My connection with all of you in my connection to the world and to life. To hell with my sister-in-law.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

An Angry Bear

I’m sitting here all washed and scrubbed with a back that still hurts and klonopin that appears to be not doing its job. This is so strange, every single day without fail, about late afternoon, early evening, I get a bout of anxiety. My hands shake. (So no more cursing the yarn as I have a thousand more French knots left to do. Yes, I’ll behave. Like hell…) I’m crawling out of my skin. Right now. It’s just s slight shake, but it comes fully-loaded. I’m nervous. Irritable, unable to sit still. And the disgusting belief that I must be useful. And I don’t have enough hours In the day to do it: walk the hallways, “exercise,” sew my baby’s clothes, write this blog, write the new book which is going to be a bear.

I like bears, but I suppose we’ve all seen either in photos or at the zoo, when they’re pissed off. I guess I expect this writing this new book will either scare the bejeezus out of me or eat me alive. I’m curious myself how this turns out.

French knots on her clothes. Never sew with yarn. Oh, she’ll look great. When she’s done and ready to rock Manhattan. I hope she won’t be too disappointed that she’s a shut-in doll and stuck here with Frau Frankestein.

I am a masochist. I bought two more on ebay. Rosita the some sort of Latina girl and Michi who is most definitely Japanese. The goal: complete all dolls before I’m dead.

That’s a big part of my problem. I think I may have so little time left I must get these things done now.

Perhaps this is one of those tricks like Scorcese’s The Last Temptation of Christ giving me a taste of the hell where I’ll be ensconced sooner rather than later.

If you remember the movie, Jesus is offered a normal life. Gets married. Has kids. He sure looks happy. But no, he doesn’t let himself be enticed by the proposition before him, and he chooses to be nailed to the cross. I could never do that. I guess that’s why I’ll never be in the running to be God’s long-lost (really lost) daughter.

You know what people? It was only after seeing that movie that I understood Jesus’ story. My brother said the same thing. I was in tears when he chose to stay nailed to the cross. I’m Jewish. I don’t know this stuff. That movie showed me how Jesus was special, was different. No, Mr. Scorcese didn’t make a convert out of me. (Especially difficult when an atheist Jew.) But I got it. I felt it.

Isn’t that the point? Certainly in that movie. Make your audience feel what your protagonist feels or at least understand what he feels? I never understood why that movie was boycotted and condemned by some believers. Hey, if Scorcese changed or mangled the story, isn’t this a perfect Sunday school topic of discusson?

Anyway, if you are not of the Jewish persuasion and despised the movie at least you know two Jews in New York found the story very moving. (And we got it!!!)

But if I were Jesus, I’d accept the offer (a no-brainer, really- c’mon now). A normal life? Happiness? I’d accept the devil’s offer in a nanosecond. No need to ponder. You mean, I can breathe again and have a life? Sign me up.

No this is not what makes me a Jew. This is what makes me a desperate, lonely human being who is completely unable to make any sense- no, fuck, forget sense. I am stubbornly refusing to accept my crappy existence.

And if I don’t, I guess I spend the rest of my life in misery. (I’m not feeling the suicide thinking these days. I don’t have a clue why that’s so but it has been sent to the back of the room for a “time out.”)

My lovely masseuse, Rachel, will be here later today. To quote Bette Davis in All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” I hate going through it. Never the massage (which ain’t fun, it’s deep tissue massage which is not for the meek), only the aftermath. Kicking the rubble.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Very Merry Un-Birthday...

This was the most non-birthday I have ever imagined. The stars were aligned, the moon was in the seventh house, Jupiter and Saturn played Ring-Around-The–Rosie, and the Super Bowl (an actually interesting game at that) was aligned with Mars How insignificant is a birthday compared to all this gobbledygook?

I was thrilled. I wanted to ignore the day, and the universe helped me in my duty to myself most handily. My mother and brother came over at dinnertime just as I was collapsing into the couch for a nap. I had a right to be exhausted, I was put through the works by the best P.T. (and I’m not joking) on the planet, Tamar Amitay.

Look, I still don’t think there’s anything to celebrate in my life. There are amazing people in my life (Chip, first and foremost) who take such good care of me and keep me going when I want to pack it all in. The remarkable Tamar, the best P.T. on the planet, Kristen my therapist brought to me by the angels, Sweet, caring Rachel my masseuse, Laurie, my chiropractor whom I miss terribly. (I need these people for mojo. If I’m to have any mojo. I’d like some, I think.) They deserve to be feted. Not I. They humble me. I’ll party with them, for them and love them forever and ever. But no celebrations for me yet. I’m not ready.

I awoke from my nap sometime late in the second quarter and Chip brought me a turkey burger from the joint across the street. They make really tasty turkey burgers, but I wasn’t interested in any food let alone that fine turkey burger.

I’ve been having eating issues as of late. I still slobber over my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I drool just thinking about it. For me it’s sandwich heroin. After starting my day with choppers blazing, I lose all interest in food. There can be only two reasons this is happened and they’re not mutually exclusive. (Is anything, these days?) One is that I take so much fucking medication, it’s screwing up my appetite. The second is losing the desire to eat is a symptom of depression. Duh.

Instead of real meals, I’ll down bottles of Ensure (on the rocks, please). Eat bowls of cereal. (Cheerios and rice milk. That shit tastes pretty good.) And Zone Bars. All three are quick and go down easy. Problem solved.

All right, there is a third reason for my lack of appetite. Eating takes time. And time is the one thing I can’t rely on. I have too much to finish before I die. (And no, I’m not talking suicide. I’m taking about a quick upper respiratory infection and it’s wham, bam, thank you ma’am. You can pay as you exit. And have a nice day!) I’m being compulsive, because there are too few hours in my day to get everything I want done, done.

I’m rewriting Since When as a mother/daughter story. I have all the pieces in my hot little hands. No, I don’t have all the pieces in my hot little hands. What is this new book about anyway? It took me ten years, before I finally figured out that the original Since When is about. (It’s about loss.)

This too is about loss. I can’t get away from that. But this book will be trying to say what about my mother’s and my relationship? I need to keep rolling this around over and over in my head and create chapters that flow naturally from the immigrant girl and the confused Long Island kid.

I never could figure Port Washington out, but I think I can figure out the crux of this new book. Frankly, I think that figuring out this book is a helluva lot easier than figuring out Port Washington even from my vantage point as an adult. I just can’t imagine why anyone would actively choose to live there. I think the five Lipmans would agree on this though my Dad did find that elusive place he clearly needed away from everything: Bar Beach. Facing those gorgeous smokestacks in Glen Cove. I don’t get it, but the man spent hours there was his New York Times. New Yorker, and New York Review of Books. Go figure.

Back to my problems…I need to get a grip on the story I’m trying to tell. I’m afraid I still may be too close to be able to see it. I have pieces of this book already written. How do they all fit together? And once past that, together in a way that will keep the reader interested from start to finish and cut and cut and cut and make it as good (sotto voce) as the original? (Rich, please don’t think you are any less Spectacular than you are. You amaze me, All the time. Our Since When is sacrosanct. To be self published? I’ll keep you apprised of all happenings. And don’t be surprised if you receive an email asking for your professional opinion about lord knows what. You know I will, too.)

I certainly won’t achieve any success if I write gazing at my navel. My apologies. I have no free seconds. I’m exhausted so much of the time. Don’t forget, I have my Indian Princess doll I’ve been sewing like mad. She’s the one Mom bought for me thirty years ago. I will feel so happy when she’s done. We’re spending so much time together, she’s my new baby sister or new baby or something like that.

And I started a Brian Aldiss (sci-fi) book I should have read eons ago.

I have so much to do before I die.

Let’s get cracking.

(This post started out okay, but I’m sorry if it became a dog post. I’ll try harder next time.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hit It and Quit Part II

I promised a Part II after the last post.

Part II

I’m not one to often fall short of her promises. (Being human (I still am), it happens now and again. I like it not one bit when it does.)

Perhaps, the key to this problem is to transform from a human being to something else. (Yes, becoming a beloved house cat is awfully tempting. They’re expected to break all promises. We beg them for what should be our due (snuggling and purring) for the room and board we supply. Yes, I know the truth. We humans are due nothing. Not one damned thing. And we stupid humans don’t seek out a more rewarding companion. (Goldfish?) That is the perfect beauty of being a cat. That’s the point of them.

We, Chip and I, must have shortcomings. Otherwise, why would Conway deliberately turn his back to us when we coo at him and tell him what a sweet, wonderful boy he is? Yeah, I’d like to be one of our cats. They’re bloody spoiled rotten, my sweet little peaches…

This all may be moot. The unshakable depression, like toilet paper on a shoe, needed an alternative to the Effexor that made me truly insane. It’s best when I feel like that to spend the day sitting quietly and/or doing what I consider exercise. Like putting on my sneakers. Do you realize that I actually have to sit and catch my breath after putting sneakers on my feet and tying the laces?

My doubling the Klonopin seemed to make matters better. But I think, with zero evidence to back me up except my bodily functions. Especially brain function. How I’m supposed to evaluate my own brain function is a mystery to me. “Chip, honey, I think I’m feeling that my personality has been disintegrating for the past week.” However, I really meant it. I’m usually precise in what I want to say. I learned early to drop the hysteria, leave room for people to agree or disagree with you. Without the air, most people feel pressured and get annoyed. As they should be. When the fuck did I become the authority? About anything?

In this particular instance, I lost interest in all things, all people; when my darling brother and stepson were over the other day, it was too difficult to follow conversation. (Could you just imagine me at a party?) My toe stayed in the human pool, because I was and remain perpetually weepy. Given the possibility of losing all of myself (can it be so?), this is a very good thing. I just want to have one goddamned out and out cry. Wailing. Rending of clothes. The whole nine yards.

Besides the weepiness, I had a great time watching the hour-long HBO shows leading up to the Winter Classic, and the “post mortem” show. Great stuff. I can also live on a diet of Real Sports. That HBO again. Who knew my needs were so easy?

However, I did have a very real problem on my hands. What sucked royally is that instead of going back to being plain depressed- the very reason my doctor upped the Effexor- I had that horrible anxiety. You know that crap. When you feel like you’re jumping out of your own skin and mine combined that with “the shakes.” Now I have been diligently working on the doll my mother and I never made thirty years ago. I sure know why I didn’t tackle it and her friend then (Mom bought two of the kits), they are for people who really know what they’re doing. But now, this is my new baby doll. (I haven’t made her hair yet. I’m assuming she’s an infant rather than a cancer patient until it’s done.)

A couple of days ago, I had six pieces of fringe left to decorate. After a seriously long learning curve, I’d finally got it. Woohoo! It was late. I chose to leave the last six for the following afternoon.

I can’t tell you how long it took me to figure out how to do the goddamned French knots that decorate the goddamned fringe the first time, but I did, after a fashion. We all know, the lord giveth, and the lord taketh away.

Sonofabitch, I remembered nothing from the day before. Nothing. I looked at those fringes as if I had never seen them before. (Fuck, I’m in trouble.) It took a long time, but I figured it out all over again. There was zero carryover from the day before. I’ve noticed other weird brain functioning problems post ARDS nightmare, but this one was the worst.

Okay, okay. I got it now. I picked fringe number two. I looked at it as if I’d never seen it before. Holy shit, there was no carryover from five seconds ago. What the fuck is going on?

This happened five more times. For each of the fringes I had left to decorate. I was completely unable to extract anything I had taught myself on that day’s fringes let alone the ones I had completed that day before.

So if any of you tell me something, I’m warning you all right now, there’s a damned good chance I won’t remember you spoke to me a moment ago, And about what, pfft, don’t be ridiculous.

I don’t know if I have brain damage. If this is the worst of it, I guess I emerged from hellhole number one, one lucky bastard. I’m confident I don’t have Alzheimer’s. But no wonder Alzheimer’s scares the bejeezus out of all of us.

Being cognizant that my brain is behaving as if it’s turning to mush is paralyzing and frightening as bloody hell. Hey, I’m on tons of medication. This could be screwing with my brain. C’mon, the drugs are supposed to screw around with my brain. They’re just not screwing around with it correctly yet.

Dr, Ira has addressed the anxiety issue and I’ll need to assess my brain function (and shaking and creepy-crawlies) and whether the new stuff is sucking the remnants of human energy like the Miele vacuum does with all that cat hair. I’ve had this perpetually running nose. It’s too bad these new pills don’t come with a hepa filter.

But I do think it’s funny that the patient is, in effect, running the funny farm. Even though I’m nuts, I’m the person the doctor relies on for symptoms and interesting new funky bits to decide which medication should make me sane.

P.S. These posts are a wonder. I find I very often I think of a word like “what” but instead type something like “wagon.” My brain wanted “what,” but my fingers stubbornly insisted on “wagon.” I often leave whole words out of sentences. Important ones like nouns and verbs. Sometimes they’re easy to fill in when I reread this mess. Other times, I’m as stymied as anyone reading the incomplete sentence. Please be patient when you bump into one of these. Thanks.