Epiphanies at the Dentist (Krissie)

So I had a startling realization yesterday, an off-shoot of one a few years ago, and I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about it, so here goes. (Haven’t been able to talk about it because I had two back teeth taken out yesterday).

A few years ago things in my life were very very bad. I was in the depths of a depression, one grown child was nuts with no diagnosis and making our lives a living hell. Our money situation was ghastly (still is), our other child was a mess, everything felt horrible. I’d been down to visit Crusie, and I was driving back, weeping. Everything felt terrible, with no hope or joy in sight (remember, I was depressed) and I felt so empty, driving back to nothingness. And then I remembered the current story I was writing. And I thought of other things I wanted to write, and the book I was reading, and that was the one, undeniable hope I could hold on to and stop myself from crying . It always struck me that when I had nothing I still had the stories, wonderful books to read and write.

Of course, things got better, but I’ll never forget that when things were at their lowest, story saved me (as it’s been doing all my life – I would’t have survived my childhood without my incessant reading, and I know some of you are the same).

Fast forward to yesterday. I’ve been lucky enough never to have to have teeth removed as an adult. But on one side I had a root canal that had taken five or six visits and they’d never been able to finish it (shit-load of money thrown away on that). That was still bothering me. Then a few months ago I ended up with a huge abscess on the other side, in a tooth that was mostly filling and there was no chance of saving, and that had to go too. Fortunately both of them are at the back , I’ve had some difficulty chewing, so I was on board (though not happy). I got to the oral surgeon yesterday, a little edgy, but assuming I was going to have some kind of anesthesia. Uh, nope. Just novacaine. They could do other stuff but I’d need to come back for a consult and then have it done, and yes, it would cost more (we don’t have dental insurance). So, being a relatively tough cookie, I sighed and said “go ahead.”

It was freaking awful. The doctor was great, the aides were wonderful, but sitting in that fucking chair, having them yank and drill and yank and crack and pull was unbelievably difficult for me, and I started crying, which was really embarrassing. I told them I was very anxious and then closed my eyes, trying to keep the tears behind my eyelids, trying not to let it get worse which would involve hiccuping while they were drilling.

While I’d been waiting earlier (for the novacaine to take effect) I’d come up with a brilliant thing I could do with my revisions – where I could place my dreaded flashback scene. So as I was clutching the arms of the chair and trying to keep from sobbing (and it didn’t hurt that much it was just so … invasive) I cast around in my mind for anything to distract myself. Every time I thought that I shouldn’t cry it would get worse. So I thought about moving that scene, and suddenly I was calm. Like I’d had an instantaneous shot of something. I couldn’t really concentrate on anything, of course, and they’d yank, and I’d get weepy, and again I thought of the scene. Again, instant calm. It was amazing.

Unfortunately both teeth were difficult, in particular the one that had had the root canal, which apparently had fused to the tooth beside it, plus was a very large one, so they had to work exrtra long and hard on it, so I had plenty of time to keep observing the phenomenon. Each damn time it would work – tears would be sliding down my cheeks from my closed eyes (and of course any sign of sympathy, like Carol, the really nice nurse, putting a comforting hand on my arm, made it worse) and I ‘d think of my characters and the panic would just vanish for the moment. It really was extraordinary.

I remember when I was an adolescent I would leave the house in the middle of the night when my parents were raging and walk across town to our church, about two miles away. They didn’t lock it, and I’d hide in one of the back pews and recite the Lord’s Prayer or some of the psalms I’d memorized over and over again to soothe myself. I imagine it’s similar to that, and to Transcendental Meditation where you have a certain mantra that you can focus on to make things better.

Story is my mantra, my lord’s prayer, my escape from an awful childhood, the only hope when things are terrible. For me story is the only way I survive.

Having the physical proof of it, over and over again yesterday, was really enlightening.

Has anyone else gotten into a similar situation? And if things have been disastrous, what helped?

Mind you, I’m not comparing having a couple of impacted teeth out as the same as losing someone. When someone dies (or stuff on that level, like Richie’s heart-attack) you have to deal with it, work it through. But if you’re in the midst of a short-term, or even longer-term situation that’s unbearable, what do you turn to for calm, for relief, for succor?

Krissie’s Rant

Politics.  The state of the world.  Every now and then things just erupt inside of me, and I gotta rant.  I tend to keep things non-political, but today’s one of those days.


Have any of you been watching Agents of Shield?  After a wobbly few episodes it really hit its stride, and they’re all in a matrix of evil, except Grant Ward gets to be a hero.  I hope he and Daisy get to share a kiss before he disappears.  He breaks my heart, and he was so disgusting last year.


Anyway, each week we’ve been getting an anti-Trump Easter Egg in the dialogue.  A few weeks ago evil Fitz was torturing Daisy, explaining to evil Aida that he couldn’t break her, and he describes the torture and then says “Nevertheless, she persisted.”  The following week we had the smarmy on-air propaganda guy offer to take his pretty subordinate out to buy furniture (reference, the bus tape).  Last week we had Alternative Facts.  This week (mind you, I’m a week behind) we had Fake News in this alternative dystopian reality.


I take my pleasure where I can.  Also, Vive la France!!!!  Wouldn’t it be nice if the rapture came and it took all those Republican congressmen and sent them straight to hell?  I warned you. Politics.

(Speaking of which, I’m beginning to despise Whatshername even more, making money off Feminist bromides while she watches as they drag women off to the gas chamber, metaphorically speaking.  I told you – I’m in a mood.  I really really hate hypocrisy.)


Jenny Crusie’s enjoying politics as she watches the Evil Ones go down in flames.  I can enjoy it for a while, but then I get overwhelmed and hopeless.  I can’t bear to think that people can be so heartless and awful.  But they can, and they always have been, if you look at history.  I’m having to do a major shift in my view of the world.  I always believed that horrible, violent, selfish, evil things are done out of a sickness of the soul, not out of inherent badness.  Hey, I’m a liberal.


But I don’t understand evil in groups.  Lynch mobs.  Nazis.  What’s the noun form of complicit?  Probably complicity but that sounds too nice.  I always thought I could move anywhere, not have to worry about the political climate.  I’m open and accepting of everyone, I thought, and we just avoid those topics.  But that’s changed.  To me being around people who openly espouse the values of the current sick variant of the Republican Party is being complicit in evil, if you define evil as hurting other people and not caring that you do.   “The only thing evil men need to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  It’s one thing to turn your head and ignore the consequences of the bad things you do – that’s moral bankruptcy and cowardice.  But many of the republicans did know.  And they didn’t care.


Ah, but France.  They’ve been tortured by terrorist attacks almost as badly as we have, and they chose decency.  From now on France’s superior attitude is well deserved, and Vive la France!


I’m learning Le Marseillaise.  It’s pretty blood-thirsty but stirring, and you can pretend you’re in a Humphrey Bogart movie.


Marchons, mes citoyennes (I keep singing Marchon les Citroens).


This was what I was afraid of back in the sixties when I was so angry and so clueless.  It’s so hard to be in the middle of it and not know what’s going to happen.  When Nixon sent the soldiers to Kent State and in NYC the police clubbed protestors until they were bloody we thought evil was going to take over.  It didn’t, things slowly got better.  We got out of Viet Nam, we even became friends with Cuba.  Women didn’t get the ERA, and recently a whole lot of people forgot that black lives matter.  I don’t know if more people of color are being murdered by the police than before, but at least now we take notice.  For years that kind of systematic violence was ignored.


I don’t know what’s going to happen to the world, particularly with such monstrous people running our country.  I can see the dystopian, Handmaid’s Tale world it could become.  But everywhere I can see good people saying no.  Or non as the case may be.


Marchons in your Toyotas and Subarus and Fords.  Marchons for a victory of goodness over evil.


I just gotta figure out how to love people anyway.


By the way, there were women protestors in France, topless, with a banner that said Marianne would be ashamed (or something like that) (anti-Le Pen, of course).  Marianne is the symbol of France, the woman on the battlefield, her gown to her waist, holding the tattered flag.  Of course they should have been topless.  But Marianne won the day, at least in France.


C’est merveilleux!


I did think that every time we descended into name-calling and rage and frustration we were, in effect, voting for Trump.  And then I thought, fuck it.  There are times when anger is a good thing, even for someone as open-hearted as I am.


Allons, Marchons!  We have work to do!

Sexual Assault (Krissie)

Photo on 10-11-16 at 10.24 AM Obviously the news is full of stories and op-ed pieces about the way men assault, demean and belittle women. I tend to avoid politics here because they can be so divisive. Wise, intelligent people can believe the most amazing things, support really unconsionable people. I assume that anyone who’s going to read here doesn’t have a conservative bent, giving how wildly anarchistic Jenny and I happen to be (I shouldn’t speak for her, but needless to say we have no patience for bullshit). But that’s not what I’m writing about.
I’m writing about sexual assault. Continue reading

All About You (Krissie)

Photo on 9-19-16 at 10.04 AM First off, you guys in the New York/NJ area – be safe.

2: You go, Rami Malek!

3. Did I mention I lost more weight? I’m at 227.2 which makes it a little more than 22.5 pounds. It’ll be 25 eventually – wahoo! I am losing weight slowly, but then, I’m not really trying. I’m just avoiding unhealthy stuff, pushing fiber and fruit, avoiding fats. I’ve lost my taste for a whole lot of stuff (sugar, crispy fried stuff) and when we get back from Tahoe I’ll start swimming again.

4. Sigh. Okay, we’re leaving for Tahoe tomorrow. My stomach is in a knot and I’m feeling worried and upset. I did go to an Al-Anon meeting Saturday, which was great. It’s tricky, because the issue is now more mental illness than substance abuse, but hey, I qualify at Al-Anon with my father and brother and sister. And Tim’s years as a druggy teen. I have to figure out balance. Good thoughts and prayers gratefully accepted.  And while I’m weepy, edgy and distressed I’m not depressed (gotta keep celebrating that fact).

We’re meeting with lots of people.  I’m feeling really pulled in a lot of directions, and I have to perform triage.  I think first I have to take care of me because, like the example of people on a plane needing oxygen, if I don’t get mine first I’ll pass out before I can help anyone else.  Second, I deal with the sickest.  Third, I deal with the troubled.

I didn’t cause it, I can’t change it, and I can’t cure it. Not for anyone.

I’m try to embed a video because it’s gorgeous, but I’m a Massive Fail, but here’s the link.  I’ve always had a weakness for scantily clad leaping male ballet dancers, so I leave you on a cheery note. Oooh, hey it looked like it worked after all.  Enjoy!


After that delicious treat, tell me what’s on your agenda?

All About You (Krissie)

Photo on 8-29-16 at 8.53 AM O bla di, o bla da life goes on.Tim is talking to Peruvian Princesses and finding spiritual meaning in the MTV awards. But he seems to be relatively stabilized.
And you guys were absolute lifesavers! You gave us both hope with your stories of people living with mental illness, and when we called NAMI they were incredibly helpful. It no longer seems desperately hopeless. Part of it is the shift from thinking our son is a hot-tempered, difficult asshole (whom we loved dearly but is really hard to be around) to accepting the fact that he’s more disabled than we thought (he has severe learning disabilities as well). It also seems pretty clear that these issues are hereditary, and the more we think about it the more we realize that we gave both our kids a really good life. We modeled the best marriage in the world, we showered them with love, and if we were a little lax on discipline I think the kids wouldn’t have have done well under a disciplinarian. They don’t have behavior problems. They go deeper than that.

So we’re shifting into the new reality, getting ready to go out there and stabilize things with getting him the services he needs. We’re planning to book flights out around the 10th of September, which would mean we could be here when the grandchildren come for a few days and when Richie’s niece is here with her children (Richie’s niece = good, Richie’s nephew = not so much).
But if things escalate we can always get a flight the next day for $500 each, which is expensive but not the end of the world.
We need money, so I’m making an effort to work on the e-book reprints (and we’re doing some of my very favorite oldies). I’m making a lot of progress on the house (I once again had twenty seven baskets of stuff in my bedroom but I separated out the linens (almost filling Tim’s room with them) and the containers mainly have my clothes in them, which is much more manageable. I’m also not eating much, which is nice, so I think the weight is probably still coming off. Saturday was an amazingly beautiful day.
So, life goes on. We’ll keep research stuff this week, I’ll work on books and and the house. I’ll try to stay calm and positive.

What’s on your agenda?

All About … (Krissie)

Photo on 8-22-16 at 9.42 AMWhat’s it like to have a disabled child? I should know – Tim had severe learning disabilities and then pretty bad drug abuse problems, so bad he had to go to alternative schools for troubled youth. Except now he’s an adult and he’s … mentally ill. Last weekend he was in jail after hearing voices telling him some men on the beach were abusing their kid. (They punched him out, he went to the emergency room, refused to leave, and that’s why he got busted). He’s still hearing voices.
I know people with grown schizophrenic children, children who are unable to live on their own, and the parents manage a productive, happy life. I know this isn’t the end of the world. But when I told Richie that things were escalating he went into a dark slump of despair. And he refuses to have Tim in the house even as a temporary measure while we’re finding him some kind of intensive care. We have to go out there, we have to figure things out, and right now I’m overwhelmed.
Clinical depression is a funny thing (moi). Right now I’m weepy, upset, anxious, worried. But I’m not depressed. Maybe I will be after the crisis is over, but I don’t think so. The kind of depression I have seems pretty clinical, and I get through awful times (like the year my sister died and Richie had a heart attack) without falling into a dark hole.
Anyway, I’m spending the morning looking up mental health resources in California and here (though I don’t think we can bring him home unless we have a place for him to go into). And I might be a little distracted for a while. I’ve been enjoying myself, doing the Great Fabric Beatdown, which I’ll talk about later, and our new bathroom is almost done. My grandchildren are coming up the first of the month for a few days. Richie’s sister and her daughter and two babies are coming up the first of the month. I think that goes out the window this year, but I can fly down and visit with the grandkids later in the fall.

so. Put on my big girl panties (now slightly smaller since I’ve lost close to 20 pounds) and deal. Any advice would be much appreciated.

But tell me what’s going on with you. If it’s tough times I can commiserate, if it’s good times I can rejoice with you. Sometimes life is just hard.

Madame Chubette (Krissie)

Photo on 5-27-16 at 12.49 PM #2 So, I went back to WW. I’ve done it so many times I’m practically an expert, and yet, actually, it almost always works. I’m doing it online this time (which isn’t as effective for me) because it’s 25 miles to the nearest meeting and I’ll have rehearsals starting up in a few weeks, so making the meeting won’t work. I had to cut out the exercise portion because at this point i can’t do any of it, and I think maybe I’ll adjust my daily points downward just a little. Or try not to use them all up. Day one I overdid, day two I went a little under. I figure it’s the only thing that’s not outside of my control, and I really need to stick to it. Right now I can barely do anything, even going up and down the stairs (I try to keep it to a minimum). I may not be able to do anything about getting older, but I don’t have to accept being a cripple. Which I basically am at this point.
So, I’m feeling emotionally energized to do this (physically is another matter but then, I don’t have to DO anything, I just have to STOP doing stuff, and I’ve been stopping doing stuff so much that I’m an expert at it.)
I was horrified when I got on the scale — 249.9 when it had been about ten pounds lighter. It was probably an artificial high, but hell, I’ll take it because it’ll make the loss bigger.
So I’m on the case.
Had a horrible moment last night. First, a little background. My nephew died in car crash when he was 18. The police called my sister but wouldn’t tell her anything, they called his stepmother but wouldn’t tell her anything, not until Ted could confirm it. And when I talked to Laura (the stepmother) recently she started talking about the phone calls, and I started crying behind my sunglasses.
Fast forward to last night. Tim’s been doing great – really really well. Richie and I were watching tv, the phone rang, and caller ID showed up on the tv screen as California St …
and I lost it. Screamed at Richie to get the phone, and then when I realized who it was (California State division of Social Security about Tim’s disability, not California State Police) I had a complete breakdown. I still get weepy even talking about it.

It’s odd, because many many years ago, when Tim was 12 or 13, he was out one night and the Vermont State police called, and asked if we had a son named Timothy. And I said yes, and asked what was up. It was the dispatcher, and she said she couldn’t tell me, and I calmly demanded, and she said she’d transfer me, and at least a minute later (and trust me, 60 seconds in those circumstances are endless) I found out Tim had been busted, in a car with underage drinkers with marijuana on him.
And I just calmly went into crisis mode — no tears of panic.

And that was about 7 or 8 years after Stuart (my nephew) was killed.  It’s now 26 years since he died.
I was always surprised that I didn’t flip out when that happened. Didn’t flip out when Richie had his heart-attack, when Tim had his major snowmobile accident, when my sister died. I can usually deal with crises.

It was probably a combination of talking to Laura last week and dealing with Jo’s death. I try not to let myself panic when someone doesn’t return home in a timely manner and I don’t know where they are. I didn’t even freak when Tim disappeared and I found he was in the hospital. Getting freaked out about something that probably hasn’t happened is ridiculous. Freaking out when something has happened is counterproductive.

But yesterday was just bad. I almost told Tim about it, then decided there was no reason for him to know. I tend to share too much, and that would probably make him worry about me (he already does).
Still, it’s kind of rotten that no one in my family: my father, my brother, my sister, my nephew, my adopted-away niece, and even my 98 year old mother all died without warning. (I need to look on the bright side, which is that we don’t have cancer on either side of my family, which gives you plenty of warning). So it tends to make a girl untrusting.

So instead of making Tim worry I’m sharing it with you guys. It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to control myself, but I don’t want to be prey to those kinds of nightmares. People do die, and there’ll be more agonizing deaths in my life, even if there aren’t that many left. Gotta pull up my socks and get on with it.

Does everybody get those panicky feelings, or is it just me because I’ve lost so many people that way? It kind of seems to me that if it happens even once you start to lose your faith that everything will be all right.