Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay...(Ecclesiastes 5.5)


This used to be my playground,

This used to be my childhood dream,

This used to be the place I ran to,

Whenever I was in need...

("This Used To Be My Playground", Madonna)


And so it came to pass that it was time to go down to Texas for my sister's wedding weekend in Dallas.

But I went down to Texas early, before Blaine, because I wanted to spend a couple weeks with my mother before the wedding weekend in Dallas--- especially since my mother had chosen not to attend the wedding (long story.... let's not go there.....)

So it was back onto the Amtrak train for me. The picture below is the leg of the trip Amtrak calls "The Missouri River Runner" which, true to its name, runs by the Missouri River for almost the whole length of the trip. I love it how the landscape changes as the train leaves Kansas and heads down to the south.

But I am going to tell you a secret... which is that for the entire train trip I was wringing my hands, worried and full of angst. If truth be told, I did not want to go on this trip. And not because of my usual phobia of not wanting to leave my home...

No, there was another reason......

It had to do with my wretched alcoholism...

(There's not a whole lot of civilization between Kansas and St. Louis, Missouri. The below is a charming country bridge I love to photograph.)

Anyway, no-- I didn't want to go on the trip because I knew I would be around a lot of alcohol. Weddings and wedding parties are the mother lode of alcohol. And, as most of you know, I am a recovering alcoholic. However, my recovery is still very fragile. I have not yet reached that point where seeing and being in close proximity to alcohol does not trigger a desire to drink.

Seeing people drinking and making merry causes a battle in my heart that makes resisting the temptation and urge to drink a complete contest of wills in my deepest soul---which causes me much anxiety and desperation. It is why I don't like restaurants, vacations, or celebrations of any kind---because many of those activities carry a heavy alcohol supply with them. And I knew that my sister's wedding weekend at the hotel would be full of events where everybody would be drinking.

And I wasn't entirely sure that I could handle it----and I also wasn't sure of how in the world I would be able to devise ways to avoid being smack dab in the middle of it all.

Anyway, I got down to Texas and spent a couple of weeks with Mumsy. We had much fun in her studios, trying out different techniques of making jewelry with clay. (My favorite little piece is the angel with gold wings at the top of this post. I'm trying to figure out how to make it into a necklace.) Anyway, my mother is in the habit of leisurely drinking a whiskey or two in the evenings but this does not bother me at all.

And then Blaine arrived...

Believe it or not, I had asked my mother ahead of time to refrain from offering Blaine mixed drinks---and to just let him continue in his usual habit of having just a beer or two, which would not bother me----but she completely ignored that request and had the blender out and churning tequila and triple sec-filled Margueritas as he was pulling into the driveway.

The next three days were hell for me. She and Blaine started their drinking about 3pm in the afternoon and continued till bedtime. When I finally got up the nerve to mention to my mother that watching people drink and have fun creates a powerful craving in me for alcohol, she snapped back: "Oh take your meds! I thought you said that your meds helped you not drink."

This is only partially true. My meds have relieved me of the constant anxiety I experienced internally for my entire life--- a hopeless mishmash of fears which caused me to run to an alcoholic refuge in order to quell them. But when one of my current psychiatrists began aggressively medicating me for my mental disorders, much of that anxiety was dulled and brought under control---which helped me calm down and stop drinking altogether.

But, as the days wore on of watching my mother and Blaine happily drink their Margueritas, the desire for booze began to rear its ugly head. It was as if somebody had breathed upon some dying coals, causing them to flare back up into an earnest fire. Watching my mother and Blaine drink to drunkenness while laughing at their secret jokes caused my buried, dreaded alcohol cravings to flame up into a fiery desire so strong that alcohol was all I could think about.

I began to sneak a few drinks here and there....

And then it was time for me and Blaine to drive to Dallas for the wedding weekend.

I was aggravated to see that he was again using the GPS doo-hicky. I absolutely HATE that stupid thing telling us what to do! It acts like HAL in "2001 Space Odyssey". If you so much as get off the road to get a Dr. Pepper at a gas station it starts nagging:

GPS: "Recalculating......Please turn your vehicle back around and turn right on the highway to resume course..."

Me: "We know we're not on the highway, dimwit. But I want to get a Dr. Pepper!"

GPS: "I can't let you do that, Bo...."

Finally we got to Dallas and found the Marriot Hotel at "The Shops at Legacy". My sister and her man met us in the lobby to give us our room keys---they had already performed the check-in procedure for the entire wedding party.

It was a huge hotel, very luxurious. Our room was delightfully comfortable.

And I hadn't been in there for 10 minutes before I was thumbing through the room service menu, searching for the alcohol selections....

A little background on my sister's new husband: He is a self-made millionaire. He treats my sister very well so I approve of their relationship whole heartedly. He owns a huge company in Dallas and works 7 days a week. In fact, he worked right up until the wedding.

The below is the view from our room's window.

The first night was the Family Dinner, held in the banquet room of a nearby restaurant. It was a wonderful, sumptuous meal. My favorite appetizers were the pumpkin ravioli with nougat sauce. I've never had anything like it and it was delicious.

And, as I had predicted from the beginning, the amount of drinking there was amazing. Literally everybody was drinking---and if they weren't drinking they were talking about drinking. I was aghast when the wedding planner (who for some reason had been invited to the Family Dinner) ordered a large bottle of wine just for herself.....TWICE! Yes, she actually drank two bottles of wine---plus glassfuls of the other wine the waiters kept on pouring! Even I, in my worst drinking years, had never done anything so blatant as that.

That night, when Blaine and I returned to the hotel, I ordered a small bottle of wine to be delivered from room service for myself. Blaine was not happy but he refrained from saying things which he knew would cause a big fight.

Previous to the weekend, I had texted my sister and asked her to not encourage Blaine to do a lot of drinking and she gave a noncommital answer. But then, on Saturday afternoon, the day after the Family Dinner, Blaine went downstairs to go outside for a cigarette. And he didn't come back for a long time.

I called my sister to see what was going on and she said she'd sent Blaine to the sports bar with the other men in order to watch a football game.....and drink.

When I admonished her about that, she took up for Blaine---and acted as if I wanted to take away all Blaine's fun....

But what about my feelings I wondered?....

And then, finally, after the wedding, there was the formal reception in the ballroom of the hotel. And, of course, there was tons of drinking going on there--- even more than usual because the bar was free. All alcoholic drinks for the night were absolutely free for the taking. Needless to say, there was a line at the bar for the entire reception.

Earlier in the day I had complained about all the drinking to my sister and she had snapped: "Well just order 'virgin' everything!"

But that wasn't my point. I didn't care what people thought I was drinking---and so I don't know why she even said that. But it was clear that neither she nor anybody else knew or cared how much I was suffering. It was then that I began to truly understand that I really shouldn't have ever said anything to anybody in my family about my problem because they don't give a shit....and why should they?

Because the truth of the matter is that just because I have had to stop drinking doesn't mean they or the rest of the world has to....

So, during the reception, I got up to go to the bar and said to Blaine: "I'm going to get a virgin screwdriver...."

And he replied sarcastically: "Why don't you get a real one?"

And I replied, in all seriousness, "You know what? I think I will."

And I did. I drank three "real" screwdrivers within about 45 minutes. My niece, who was sitting next to me, asked: "What is that you're drinking?"

Me: "Orange juice...."

Her: "Is there alcohol in there?"

Me: "A little bit.....and please, I'm begging you....don't tell my sister? And don't worry--I won't do like Sandra Bullock did at her sister's wedding in the movie '28 Days', okay?"

Her: "Okay."

But I knew she'd tell my sister the first opportunity she got. But by then I didn't care a fig. I mean, I really didn't give a rat's ass at that point. I was so very tired of resisting the forbidden fruit....

Anyway, as I quietly sipped my drinks, the reception went on. Neither Blaine nor I dance so we just sat in our seats at the Family Table and watched the festivities. I snapped the below pic of my beautiful sister's and her new husband's first dance together. (Sniff....sniff...)

There was, of course, a professional photographer taking pictures, but nobody will get any of those for several weeks. But this snapshot of the happy couple was beautiful, I thought.

My sister is extremelly beautiful, successful, charming--- and she lights up any room she enters.....

And all during that first dance I watched wistfully, tears rolling down my face, wishing hopelessly that I could have turned out like her instead of the fucking mess that I am.....

....but that was not to be....

My adult life has consisted of 22 long, hard years of slogging through pools of blood, pus, pee, shit, and vomit as an ER or ICU nurse.

And now that I'm not working, I am simply a nothing. Although I have an ungodly high IQ, it is for naught as I am an overly dramatic straight shooter who has always had mental problems combined with hardcore alcoholism---and I have never had one ounce of my sister's charm or glamour.

(Yes, again I am feeling sorry for myself. Such an unattractive emotion, isn't it?)

Meanwhile, during the entire reception, Blaine kept bitching about how I had instructed him to dress for the semi-formal evening. He griped: "I thought you told me I had to wear a dress shirt with sleeves to this event? And a tie! So how come your sister's husband gets to wear short sleeves with no tie at his wedding reception?"

Well, I really didn't know the answer to that question so I just shrugged. I do know my sister's husband has frequently said he's always hot---so maybe that was the reason. And he is a rather rough character. So I simply told Blaine that it wasn't going to kill him to wear a dress shirt for once in his life.

One interesting thing about the wedding was that my sister's boss and his boss, the third wealthiest man in Texas, gave the toasts for the new couple. (And they were wearing dress shirts with ties, heh.)

That night I secretly ordered another bottle of wine from room service. Both times I ordered the bottles of wine I asked the front desk to allow me to pay cash for the orders because I didn't want them to appear on the room's bill which my sister and her husband would see---even though I knew they would probably know by then that I had drank alcohol at the reception.

Alcoholics always fool themselves into thinking they can keep their drinking a secret....

While Blaine and I were driving back to Kansas, I felt a mixture of anger, sadness, and frustration. I knew there was no way I could have avoided going to the event. And I felt a nagging worry for the future...
How am I going to handle it the next time I am with my family and they are all drinking like fish?

But when I saw the first sweeping plains and the cornfields of Kansas, with its billowing fluffy clouds above, I knew I would be alright. I was almost home....

It was only a matter of days before I began seeing all my therapists again....and could once again take refuge in the safety and sanctuary of their constant supervision....


Saying life's begun to cheat you,
Friends are out to beat you,
Grab on to what you can scramble for...
("Hide In Your Shell, Supertramp)



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Ultimate Insult.....


I don't know much about cat etiquette but I'm pretty sure that it is definitely deemed extremely rude and insensitive to sit one's behind on another cat's food dish.

Um...especially when the part of the offender's butt on the plate is...shall we say.... the "you-know-what" hole?

In this case, the offender is Little Baby and the victim's dish is Leonard's. I have no idea what caused Little Baby to sit in such a non-hygienic fashion on the hapless Leonard's dish--- especially since she knows full well that the OTHER dish is her dish--- but I'm sure it was done completely out of pure-D spite.

Yes, I shooed her away and gave her a good scolding, which I'm sure went in one ear and out the other. Then I washed poor Leonard's dish...

Sigh....the trials and tribulations of cat owners...



Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just Got Home!

We're back from Dallas! And I am so tired I could fall over! Forget unpacking---I don't have the energy. And I have tons of email to answer, yikes! (By the way, I have an anonymous blog stalker! She's threatening to "out" my blog, and she made the remark that I "wouldn't believe who she knows in Dallas". This cracked me up!)

Hey, Anonymous? Do you know anybody at Control Risks?

Anyhoo, everybody, when I unpack and come to my senses I will put some pics on here with a post about all the fun we had in Dallas, yeee-hah!



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mumsy and Me....

The above picture is an oil painting of my Mumsy. It was done about 4 years ago. And I just can't help it---I've got to say it---but isn't she beautiful? She is a beautiful southern lady and I just think she's the greatest mother in the world.

(You can click on the picture to make it larger---as well as the other pictures in this post.)

Anyhoo, she and I are doing marathons of jewelry and button making in one of her studios. We sit in there with our coffee or coke, with the stereo playing country & western music, and we have been "experimenting" with different techniques, colors, and effects on all the things we're making.

I also took some pictures of her religious nook, where there are icons or icon boxes she has made---or else are antiques she bought. Some of them are quite valuable. The below is one of the pieces.

The below is another one, in the same nook.

And the below is my favorite one---an icon box with a Jesus statue. I've got a story about that particular Jesus statue. Here's the story:

I was visiting my mother in Damascus, Syria. (Where we all almost lost our lives in an anti-American demonstration where thousands stormed the Embassy---but that's another story...)

Anyway, one day while my mother was at work, the maid came to me in tears, holding that Jesus statue. She had dropped it and Jesus' head had come off his body. She was crying and saying that "Jesus will be angry with me!---and your mother will kill me!"
But I calmed her down and told her I could fix it.

So I searched the house and found some glue. And I glued Jesus' head back on. But the plaster was chipped all around his neck where the join was--showing white plaster. So then I searched the house for brown paint. But there was none to be found.

And then I had an mother's shoe room!

You see, my mother had an entire bedroom devoted to her approximately 350 pairs of shoes in their boxes. (Don't even ask.....)

So me and the maid ran to that room and sure enough---there was shoe polish of every color in there. And there was the perfect color brown for Jesus' broken head.

So I painted the plaster chipped areas around Jesus' head---and then we put the Jesus statue back where He belonged in His icon box---and the maid finally stopped crying.

I'm not even going to tell you the story of how I broke a large antique clock--it's probably still in the attic of that home where I hid it.....

I love the below piece she made. It looks Aztecish to me. (Is "Aztecish" a word?...)

Below is a terrible picture of an angel pendant I'm working on---it definitely looks better in person.

The below are some of the buttons my mother is making. I love the pumpkin colored clay.

The below is some of the buttons I'm making. I don't think mine are as good as hers.

The below is a lot of finished or half-finished stuff. Like I said, we are totally experimenting with techniques and effects.

Anyhoo, Blaine will be down here on Tuesday. And then the following Friday he and I will go to the "Adventure in Dallas", to my sister's wedding event. I'll take pictures....



Thursday, September 09, 2010

My Place of Dreams....

Okay, after my ride on the infamously dysfunctional Amtrak train, I have come back... back to my mother's home, back to East Texas where the best of two worlds collide.....where the American South blends into the wild, untamed country of Eastern Texas.

It is the land of horses, cattle, and chicken farms. It is a place of indescribable beauty---that of thousands of ares of verdant cattle land, the long, neat bungalows of chicken farms, beautiful white-steepled churches, and spectacular red sunsets. It's people are polite, genteel---landed gentry who practice daily the habit of adhering to being raised in the most strictest of "good manners", using polite, cultivated Texan accents to speak their truths while never failing to call their elders "Ma'am" or "Sir". Nowhere in the American South or East Texas are the people more polite to each other.

It is also the land of chivalry. A damsel in distress is never in trouble for very long until a tall, lanky man comes to her aid. It is a world where a "lady" is always treated as such and the handsome, sun-bronzed mens' charms are always irresistable--- especially since they always remember to take their hats off in the presence of a lady--- or even while stealing a kiss with a disarming grin. It is also a place of uncommon honor. After my father died, his best friend picked up the flag of my Daddy's duty and never failed to follow my pursuits in order to offer his services if I were ever in need.

My father was a Texan gentleman. And he was a giant of a man, 6'4" and ruled by the code of honor instilled in all Texan gentlemen of his era. And my mother is a beautiful Southern Belle, raised in the mysterious, fascinating bayou of northern Louisiana.

My parents taught me the code of the South well, and also made sure they instilled in me the pride of being "half Texan". And whenever I am away from their land very long, a deep longing to return builds in my heart. I never feel truly at home anywhere but with my family in Texas or Louisiana.

For I was raised by the most beautiful and exciting of both cultures, the rough, cowboy badlands of Texas and the lace-curtain parlors of southern Louisiana. It is is a land which holds my deepest roots--- said roots which are always calling me in my subconscious..... calling for me to return.

Mumsy......I am back....



Monday, September 06, 2010

Friday's Getting Closer---And it's the Amtrak Train for Me....

Okay, so I have shopped for clothes for the trip--- and I've started packing. (And I hope you don't think the pink stuff is hideous....or the leopard cardigan... but I couldn't resist matching up an outfit with that wonderful pink scarf and I have NEVER been able to resist leopard motif.

While I have been packing, I've been working in the studio to see if I could make some pendants for the clothing I bought. I mean, I have tons of stuff I've made already that I could use, but I wanted to see if I could make stuff that would match a couple of items in my new clothes perfectly.

So the above is the pendant (pre-glossed) that will go with the pink skirt and blouse, both of which I bought exclusively to match a gorgeous hand-knit shawl given to me by a knitter friend. And the below is a grey and black spotted pendant to go with the grey and black leopard printed cardigan.

The grey and black one is not my favorite piece of work. I don't really like it just by looking at it. But it does look better in person (and glossed) and it does match the dang cardigan well.... and so I'll wear it solely with that cardigan.

The above is more of my packing attempts--- where am I going to put the "scrunchy boots"? So far, my packing is not very thorough. There's that rolling bag and then a duffel bag. I'm probably going to have to wear the scrunchy boots since they take up beaucoup space in either of my bags.....

Here's the grey and black pendant with the cardigan. And I know, the pendant doesn't look that great. But I promise you the pendant looks better in person and glossed---and it does match the cardigan if you could see it in person.

And the above is the purple/pink pendant I made to match up the pink outfit with the gorgeous shawl--and I really like that pendant. I even made earrings to match.

The above is stupid Little Baby waiting for her tuna fix. I don't think she'll miss me much because Blaine spoils her rotten and he's not coming down to Texas until a couple weeks after I leave.

I just stuck the above picture on here to show you these buttons I've made recently. They're glossed and ready for holes to be drilled into them. I'll do them after the Texas trip.

Anyhoo, I'm DYING to get on the road! I am really looking forward to spending time with my mother and then going to my sister's shindig.

And if I don't make a blog post entry before I go this Friday, I will definitely make one when I arrive at my Mumsy's house. She has some new projects that I'd like to photograph and show you---they are GORGEOUS.



Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Blue Tuesday (And A Question)...

It's a dark, rainy day.

I knew it would be that way when I took a picture of that ugly, ominous thundercloud above us. Sure enough, a few minutes later, really loud thunder began occurring, the kind of thunder that makes the whole house shake.

Didn't seem to bother Little Baby at all---she sleeps right through it.

But it definitely bothers Leonard, as you can see from him peeking out from his hidee-hole below.

Hey, I have a question that's been worrying me. It's about Little Baby. She's approximately 17 years old, and she's starting to lose her eyesight, her teeth can't take dry catfood anymore, she can't quite make it to the litterbox, stairs are painful for her and she limps up one step at a time, and she gets lost in the dark (especially when she's in the basement.)

She's been yowling more and more this last year. She has a certain loud "wah-wah" sound when she's about to throw up a hairball.

But she has other types of yowling (a slightly different sound) when she's lost (especially at night when she can't find us), when she's confused, or when Blaine leaves for work.

But what really worries me is that she yowls loudly in her sleep sometimes. I wonder if she's having a bad dream because she's definitely asleep when she's doing it. Whenever it happens, I always go over to her and stroke her lightly, saying "It's alright, Little Baby, you're safe and sound", until she wakes up and looks oriented and she's calm again. It happens a lot these days.

And it tears my heart out.

Does anybody know what that means when a cat yowls loudly in her sleep? Is she having nightmares of the couple of weeks she lay starving in that bush I rescued her from? It was in an area deep in gang territory, in the days when I worked the highly dangerous east side of Kansas City, years ago when I was working as a Road Nurse here in Kansas. At one of my patients' house a feral, stray cat had had a litter of kittens in a bush---and they were starving and neglected. So I plucked Little Baby out, put her in my pocket, and took her home. She was only about 2 weeks old and Blaine and I weren't sure she'd live....