Alright, ma'm

* I forgot I made a purchase with this card. I knew I had the bill, but I just kept forgetting about it. Can you waive the late fees? *I check the late fees* Well, ma'm, I can see you that you're six months overdue on this card. I can certainly waive the last month's worth of fees if you'd like. I want to speak to a manager. I want all of the fees waived. I mean, I just FORGOT to pay the bill! *me, stifling giggles* Alright, ma'm, one moment.

* I bought some shirts with my card and then closed the card. Then I made some returns. Since they couldn't put it back on the card, they gave me a gift card to the store. I don't want the gift card. Can I just send the giftcard to you guys and then you can send me cash back? *me* I'm afraid we can't do that, ma'm. If you can get the store to take BACK the gift certificate and put it on your card, we can mail you a paper check- I want to speak to a manager. This is SO inconvienent that you guys can't refund cash to me. *me, stifling giggles* Alright ma'm, one moment.

* This job is proving to be endlessly entertaining.

* I've been trying to read through the Technomage series of Babylon 5. It's slow going. Really slow going. I'm on page 60 and so far all that's happened is Galen is nervous about his initiation. Waaay too much time spent on describing scenery. It's B5, so I'm gonna keep going, but geeeeez. I've yet to read a BAD book concerning the B5 universe, however, so here goes more reading today.

* There are a lot of nerds at my work. They all seem to be Whovians, though, which leaves me a little adrift. I like Dr. Who. It's not my nerd-de-coup. I put a Kosh action figure and a B5 poster on my cubicle. First person who gets the references gets a cookie.

* Or spoo and a cup of hot jala.

* Jesse thinks my rash might be gluten intolerance, as the disappearance of the rash after I broke up with David coincided with a drastic change in my diet. My rash came back about the same time Jesse's and I's diet switched exclusively to the one product freely available at food pantries: bread.

* NOOOOOO! I don't want to be gluten intolerant. EVERYTHING has gluten. I don't want to overhaul my diet! That's a lot of work! I don't want to be a hipster! That's a lot of latching onto the gentrification of LOOK AT ME I'M SO SPECIAL EVEN WHAT I EAT IS OBSCURE!

* I don't....want to wear long sleeves in the middle of summer. So I'm giving myself 3 weeks relatively gluten free to see how this goes.

* Broke my own rule and wandered over to David's twitter, to find he is talking about how I abused him. WHAT?! ANGER! RAGE! MUST DETAIL ON LIVEJOURNAL ALL THE WAYS HE ABUSED ME!

* Pause. Annoyed. Do I really need to do that? Do I really need to convince anyone?

* Shake my head. I can be angry. I can also think of his memory, roll my eyes, and go "Alright, ma'm."

* Alright.

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Had a thought yesterday. I hate Valentine's Day. The reason I hate Valentine's Day is because I was so unpopular as a kid, the ONLY Valentine's cards I EVER got were because everyone in the class was required to give each other one.

And I thought "Jesus christ, Teressa, you're 34 years old now. Get over it."

So I think this year I might do something for Valentine's Day.

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Permanent sterilization

So when I go to Planned Parenthood later to get my Depo Shot, I'm going to ask about their sterilization treatments. I've been kicking this idea around for a few years now and while I can't afford to have it done NOW, I want to get more information about it.

The inner conversation goes like this:

* I'm tired of birth control. I want something permanent.

* But what if...that small, nearly infinitesimal, tiny, WHAT IF...I change my mind and decide I want to have children?

* You're almost 35. Your healthy childbearing years are nearly over. So why not get sterilized?

* But what if...

* You're almost 35 and you've never wanted children. All you've ever wanted is more CATS. Doesn't that tell you something, Teressa?

* But what if...

* The chances of having an unwanted pregnancy are WAY HIGHER for you than the chance of you regretting not having a child. You know this. Isn't it best to play the odds?

* But what if...

* Just ask them, Teressa. No decisions need be made now. Just ask them.

And yes, there is the IUD, which grants birth control in 5 year chunks. But (1) I've heard horror stories about godawful periods on the IUD and (2) The idea of a foreign object being literally implanted into me creeps me out like no other.

I have no physical ailments or difficulties (outside of age) that would otherwise require sterilization in order to ensure my health and long life. This would be a purely emotional choice.

But what if...but I don't WANT to live with "what if" anymore, especially if the "what if I want to have a child" is SO MUCH SMALLER than the "what if I get pregnant and can't afford an abortion" what if.

But that one itty bitty what if...I'm trying to play the odds here, what's more likely to happen (that I'd regret pregnancy far greater than I'd regret NOT being able to get pregnant), but I'm...just...that what if, y'know?

Thoughts? Suggestions? Personal experience? I never do anything major without running it passed you guys first, and this decision is DEFINITELY a major one.

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I am now on a 2:30 - 11 PM work schedule. I am not a night person by nature. This will put me closer to Jesse's schedule and thus I'll see more of him. But I haven't worked evening hours in well over a decade, so it will be an adjustment. Just sleeping later will be a learned behavior, as despite the fact that I'll be up far past midnight, I woke up at 8 AM.

I dreamed about Cassie last night. In my dream she'd had another overdose. She was alive enough for me to see her, draped with IV's in the emergency room. I wanted to yell at her. Instead, I was just relieved to see her face.

I miss her.

I wish I had something of substance to say. But adjusting to a full time schedule - and one that has me staring at the computer for 8 hours a day - makes opening up the laptop far less appealing at the end of the day. I'm becoming used to the march of customers across my phone. Even the idiotic ones are beginning to blur into being the same stupid call.

Still no news on what ailment has befallen Pat. He is not getting better, but he does not seem to be getting worse, either. This is good news. It is also BAD news when "at least he's not getting worse" is the GOOD news. He is to see the doctor again today.

I've been cleaning up his place here and there (as he's been staying with his parents otherwise.) I wondered if the years of filth, of showering in a bathroom in which the black mold has taken root of the walls to where it is literally disfiguring the concrete blocks had finally caught up to him. I wondered if his habit of using a toilet in which only flushes every 10th time or so (and this for years at a time) had finally caught up to him. I wondered if his habit of eating off dishes that don't get washed but once every three months had finally caught up to him.

But the doctors have checked. It is not that. Him being sick is frightening enough. The so-far blindingly mysterious nature of it is a panic in and of itself.

I had a funny dream in which I ran away to Europe. England, I think. I was trying to buy some food, but when the lady said "That'll be 3 pounds", I panicked, because all I had was American currency. I told the cashier that I didn't know how to convert dollars into pounds (and I don't.) I instead found a McDonald's to eat at (which, in my dream, was of course the only place that took American dollars). I wandered about, absolutely enchanted by everyone's accent and once briefly mistook a woman's Scottish accent for an American southern drawl. She was not offended.

Jesse inadvertently gave me the best description of a manic episode I have ever heard. He said that when bi-polar people get stuck (because I'm always saying that it's not that we whacky bipolars moodswing so much as we get stuck in moods), it's like being a car with the RPM's revving up. They're too high, he said, and you KNOW they are too high, but no matter how hard you try to push the clutch to a lower gear, the RPM's just keep creeping up. The engine's overheating and the sound of the whirring becomes tremendous but nothing you do eases the gearshift even half an inch down.

That was pretty spot-on.

It came of a discussion of our differing diagnosises. His hard spots do produce jumbled thinking but in an entirely different way than mine do. But then, ADHD and bi-polar are pretty different from the get-go. His thoughts race, leaping from disconnected subject to disconnected subject, never settling, never giving him enough time to make any sense of what he is thinking and feeling. My thoughts will also race but they fixate on an obbession and ride on a screaming pitch until I hit the ground. He gets anxious to a level where he can hardly breathe. My anxiety manifests in the form of paranoia.

(Because in the high swing of mania/mixed episodes, everywhere I go *THEY* are seeing me. Who are "*THEY*"? Don't ask me, I never know. But I know without a doubt *THEY* are out there and if they SEE ME it will be bad. This is when I don't leave the house for weeks at a time.)

It's more than occasionally mindboggling to note the differences between the two disorders and how they are experienced. It's given me a great deal of respect for the idea that while mental illness does have some parallels across the board (the need for treatment, the need for self-care), the particulars of each are their own brand of difficult. Jesse does not insist (as David did) that I need to take on the same sorts of treatment as he does. I do not insist (as David did) that without him doing everything *I* do to treat my disorder, he is punking out.

We're both very different in the ways that we are sick. That's okay. We find places in which our illness and recovery cross paths and we acknowledge the places where they will never meet. That is also okay.

Now that I've said all that, I have a terrible craving for McDonald's. I've heard that while the same menu is served overseas, the items will taste different, since other countries don't want to murder their citizens with the sweet, sweet death of obesity overload.

I don't know about that, but someday I'm gonna see for myself.

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Saved By The Bell....after school special

A Cracked Article sent me through the Way Back Machine. Saved By The Bell. American adults - and mostly American adults with vaginas - will recognize that title. For those who aren't American or else aren't in the 30-35 age range, it's was a teeny bopper tv show about a zany group of early high school kids and their zany adventures. Think "Degrassi", but sillier and with mall hair.

I loved that show. I'd watch it everyday when I came home from school. I mean, jesus, my first wet dream involved Zach Morris. This guy. No, for reals, this guy.

He's turned into quite the tasty adult as well.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. Being as it's just a week past my 15 year clean birthday (thus the unusual number of addiction related posts), and being as Cracked corrected me on a several decade long misconception I HAD about an episode of Saved By The Bell, we have this post tonight.

Jessy Spano was the bookish character. Long before the actress Elizabeth Berkly played a Showgirl having the worst sex ever in a pool, she played a bookish, driven girl whom, over the course of one episode, turns into a middle-class junkie.

Kind of. The episode is an after school special in which Jessy becomes addicted to a set of pills she is using to pass a test. I'd always thought the pills she was on were derivatives of Ritalin or some such drug. Cracked corrected me, noting that they were caffeine pills. While it makes the episode twice as silly, it made the way I related to the character, to that episode, to that moment ever stranger.

I was around 11 or 12 when I watched that episode. The episode where Jessy freaks out, gets hugged by Zach Morris, and releases her terror and pain in one heart-rending scene. What I remember noting strongest at the time, though, was how out of control she seemed. Frantic, not making sense, dashing back and forth, completely out of her mind.

Most people I know say they don't like drugs because it makes them feel "out of control." They don't like to be "out of control."

That was not my experience.

I did drugs KNOWING it would spin me out of control. I did drugs WANTING to be out of control. I didn't want control. I didn't want to be in my head. I didn't want to be contained.

I. Wanted. OUT. My mind hurt. My mind didn't fit in. My mind never felt comfortable. My mind was a dangerous place for me to be in. Being OUT of my mind seemed like the most wonderful place to be.

These days, I can understand the value of being in control. I have to, or else it's down into an endless spiral that ends with a violent and sudden stop. But it wasn't always this way.

It used to be that whatever Jessy was experiencing, it sounded way better than what was going on in my head - and if drugs were what took Jessy there, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad if that's what took me there, too.

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(no subject)

I am becoming more and more bowled over at how stupid people are when it comes to money. Had a lady on the phone for over an hour yesterday. She didn't understand why her current balance was 200 dollars when she started December with a zero balance.

It was because she charged 200 dollars after the start of December, but this concept of "time" and "month" and "it's not the start of December anymore" completely escaped her.

I know there is no such thing as an aptitude test when one gets approved for a credit card but there really SHOULD be. These are things that anyone in a money-related field of customer service know, but for me, I'm discovering this for the first time.

Funnily enough, I did attempt to apply for an Amazon Store Card yesterday to bring down the price of an Amazon purchase. (A B5 book, because those are mythical and hard to track down). I got denied, which is just as well, because I know enough about credit cards now to simply get one for the discount and then *IMMEDIATELY* call and cancel the card.

There was this customer yesterday:

Lady: I want to cancel this card.

Me: I'm sorry to hear that, ma'm, but I can certainly do that for you here today.

Lady: Transfer me to Amazon Customer Service to do this.

Me: I can certainly do that, but they will just transfer you back to us. They don't have the ability to cancel cards. We are the department that cancels cards.


Me: Are you sure, ma'm? They will just transfer you right back to us. I can take care of your card cancellation right now.


Me: Yes ma'm. *transfers call*

I am both very grateful not to be and yet desperately want to be the Amazon CSR rep that took that call, just to hear her sputter when they did, inevitably, transfer her back to us.

It just boggles my mind. Boggle, boggle, boggle. Makes me yearn for the days of

Ya'll remember that place.

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Roll call

I spoke out roll call a few days ago. Roll call of the friends I'd made and lost in early recovery. Their names, what they were like, the fun things we did, the things I said at their funerals. It is how I keep them alive, as once we pass into the land of the dead, it is only through what others remember that we live on at all.

There's several of them whose deaths are confirmed and many more whose stories end with "and they are probably dead now." When the first one died, I thought about getting her name tattooed on me. A dear friend advised against it, saying that by the time I had five years clean, I'd be nothing but a walking obituary.

She was right. Her name might have gone onto my skin as well, had I known what was going to happen to her only a few years after I left. She whom, when the first one died, wound up writing her own eulogy, the phrase I'd contemplate when she hung herself only a handful of years later. My friend shared the anger, the sorrow of losing the first one, saying "and now all I have to talk to is a hole in the ground."

And now, of course, should I want to talk to her, all I have is a hole in the ground to speak to.

That is simply the price of knowing and loving addicts. It is part of why I don't go to meetings anymore. They walk into the rooms on their feet and they leave in body bags. Once I was brave enough to wade into those storms.

I haven't the heart for it anymore. I speak the names of the dead who have passed through my life. I cannot bear to add any more names onto that list.

Sometimes I still get scared that Cassie's name will fall onto that list. Her name I would get tattooed. There is a beautiful picture she drew once that I framed on my wall. I knew from the moment she gave it to me that if she died, it would be what I would have marked into my skin. I hope it simply stays a framed picture on my wall.

Time will tell, as it tells with all men.

A song had prompted all of this a few days ago. A song that a friend of mine in recovery loved, and we would drive down the beach and sing it to the rafters. Shortly after I left, he got AIDS. A dirty needle signed his death warrant.

It's been 13 years since he called and told me this. He is probably dead now. And I had to wonder....why him? Why did he die and I live? Why did so many of them have to die while I am alive and aware enough to contemplate their deaths?

I don't believe in fate or destiny. I do not believe in anything that would say the heavens kept me alive because of some grand plan. I think I did the work while they did not.

I also think I got lucky where they did not. One dirty needle, one time of having sex with the wrong stranger, one bad deal in a house full of sketchy tweakers with a loaded gun....these are only peripherally choices. Any of that, any number of things that would have me rotting for years could have happened to me.

Those things did not happen to me. I lucked out in places where random placings at random times have killed so many others. Bad luck may claim my life someday. I got off relatively scott-free with my using. That's no magic talisman against car wrecks, cancer, or any of the billions of ways humans manage to die.

But dying from drugs...I side stepped that. I escaped that where so many of my friends did not. There is a song that I like that says "Everyone's choices are half-chance. So are yours."

Half choice. That cannot be denied. But as well as choice, also chance. I've outlived more than a few of the friends I made in early recovery. I made different choices.

I also had different chances. If I could unwind that thread and see where it would have gone differently with those dead, I would. I cannot. All I can do is speak their names so that I don't forget them - and know that so long as I remember their names, so then I remember myself.

Choice or chance, that is important.

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(no subject)

* It's not fair that we lose David Bowie AND Alan Rickman in the same week.

* Pat's....not really better but has been released from the hospital. Still no news on what ailment has befallen him.

* I hadn't quite thought of shyness that way, Cinema. But the way you put it....I guess that makes sense. That for an adult mental illness might also manifest in the same crippling shyness that it does for Hanako. I should have restricted my rant to anime and nerd stereotypes.

* I realized yesterday that my armpit odor has match up with how Jesse's pits smell when he goes a day too long without a shower. Like, I now have the exact same smell when **I** go a day too long without showering. What's up with that?

* Typing is KILLER on nails and nail polish. Here I was, all excited about a job that wouldn't destroy my nails (because hey, office job!) and it turns out that pecking away on my keyboard ruin nails polish faster than cleaning toilets ever did.

* Tips, tricks, and suggestions on how to solve this problem?

* I don't care if you didn't get a bill, you still owe us the 2 grand you racked up in charges last month. Try that argument on your landlord. Or your utility company. Or Walmart. Then youtube that, because it's going to be funny as hell.

* It's hilarious when you kick and scream about giving me your social security number, because once I pull up your account with your name, I not only have your social security number, but your address, access to your online accounts, your mother's maiden name, and your banking information. I could fuck your shit up right there if I wanted to, rendering your protests about giving me a nine digit number completely moot.

* (Not that I would. I want a job, not a prison sentence.)

* I'm getting a feel for fraudulent attempts to get into someone's account. Sure, you might really be speaking on behalf of your incapacitated father who just really, REALLY needs to buy that plane ticket to the Bahama's, but seriously, no.

* Believe it or not, some customer service representatives DO feel bad when we accidentally hang up on you. I'm one of them and everytime I see that "You're now in After Call Work" right after I said I would transfer you sends me into a mini-panic.

* I've put on three coats of top coat on my nails. Here's hoping I come home with all three of those top coats still holding, since I can't paint my nails at work. We have cubicles, not nuclear bunkers.

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The internet went out earlier today, so I fired up Katawa Shoujo. My enthusiasm for that game waned years ago when David began referring to Hanako as his waifu and put a framed picture of her by his bedside. (He, conversely, never displayed any pictures of me.) the shy girl archetype drives me insane to begin with, and David's head-over-dick fall into the most paralyzingly shy, sweet, innocent, fuckable child in a woman's body love interest wound up turning me off the game completely.

But I was really bored earlier. Really, REALLY bored. So I pulled up and starting going down Hanakos path, because fuck it, why not. And now I remember why I hate Hanako, hate that game, and oh dear god, there is not one line of her dialogue in the ENTIRE GAME in which she doesn't fucking stutter. She doesn't stutter because she has a speech disorder, she stutters because she is so socially petrified that she literally cannot repeat her own name without sounding like she is about to start sobbing. You literally have to take her money when you two are out shopping and go through the checkout yourself, because Hanako is so socially awkward she won't even interact with the damn cashier long enough to buy her food. Hanako is sixteen year old in the game. HOW HAS SHE SURVIVED LONG ENOUGH IF SHE LITERALLY WONT EVEN INTERACT WITH SOMEONE FOR FOOD?!

So you, all Daddy like, do it for her. And then later, still Daddy like, you DO her.

I'm deleting that fucking game when I get home. I hate it.

to new folks on my list: this vitriol makes a little more sense when I explain that immediate after playing this game, David found himself an actual, live human being ( ten years younger than him, a virgin, and still slept in her childhood bed because she was too shy to move out on her own) to fall in love with because, and I quote "she's so much like Hanako!"

I also just plain hate women that shy, who in the world of nerds and especially the young girls, will carefully cultivate that shy girl demeanor (often with squeaks. WTF IS IT WITH NERD GIRLS AND GODDAMN SQUEAKS?!) to appeal to fedora'd nerds, assholes that those young women are too young to know only like them because anything adult intimidates the hell out of them.

David's bullshit aside, seriously, I can't stand people that shy. I just can't. I can get behind not being a loud dumbfuck, or even a little allure to a quiet but well spoken manner. If you are experiencing shyness that prevents you from obtaining food on your own, get on some goddamn medication like a fucking adult.

Or date David. That shit turns him on.

Ranty rant. On my iPad which hates good grammar and proper punctuation.

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I meant that

Thank you, Bart - I hadn't realized it's been nearly a week since I updated.

Pat's in the hospital. What we thought was a diabetic shutdown is turning out to be a complete mystery. Blood sugar levels: Normal. Sodium levels: Normal. Hormone levels: Normal. Liver: Normal. Kidney: Normal. Abdominal cat scan: Normal. White blood cells: Raised, but only slightly - still within normal levels.

But he can't walk, his tongue is literally split open on each side, he can't eat, can't sleep, he can hardly put two sentences together, he has lost 30 pounds in a month, his hands and feet are swollen blocks, even after endless bags of fluids he can still barely urinate.

Is it a tooth infection that got loose? Is it the mold and filth he surrounds himself with? Did I give him some kind of disease that took 10 years to show itself? Does he have Lupus? Is it a brand new disease that science has never heard of?

No one knows. No doctor can figure it out. Right now they are checking on autoimmune diseases.

I've spent most of my free time at the hospital. I spent the night there last night. I may do so again tonight, should the nurses allow me. (If they say he needs his rest, then I will follow their instructions. They went to medical school for this, I did not.)

I'm very tired. And worried.

I should have told his mother, who wasn't angry that I hadn't let her in on how sick Pat was, but who was confused as to why I didn't tell her. I was so worried and spinning in my own circles about it - I didn't think to call in the calvary. I should have. I know this now and will do so the next time.

He'd gone into to see a diabetic dietitian a couple of days ago. He couldn't drive, so his parents took him. The dietitian took one look at him and said he needed to go the ER. She said she didn't know what was going on, but just from the outset, it looked like what WAS going on could be fatal.

I was angry when I pulled into the hospital. For weeks, he'd been saying he was getting better, and I kept insisting that he wasn't. When I got to the hospital and saw that he was grey in the face, I stopped being angry and started crying.

His diabetic problem is now well under control after a couple of days in the hospital. Nothing else is and no one can figure out why. Pat is not supposed to the sick one. I am. I've done so much damage to my body over the years and here I am, so-far-so-good, and while Pat's diet and sedentary lifestyle put him close to this, it's still not fair.

For the first time in 20 years, Pat needs me, though, and I will not let him down. It's like I told Pat recently -

"I know I really fucked up with the whole marriage and divorce thing. But when I said 'till death do us part'? I meant that."

And I still do.

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