The 1st huge load of bird crap on the windshield is a hopeful sign of spring

I did hear the peepers for the 1st time today.  It’s not officially spring until I’ve heard them three times, but the first time is encouraging.  Plus, a bird (I think a seagull) left a MASSIVE amount of bird shit on my windshield first thing this morning.  It must be spring, right?

1st bird shit of the  season

1st bird shit of the season

After 30+ years, I have FINALLY garnered an invite to guys’ weekend. See below for details.

In my last post, I showed a picture of my dad’s side of the family.  He had seven brothers, almost all with kids.  Having been brought up in an atmosphere of tent camping and hunting and fishing, the annual migrating to hunting or fishing camp happened for several years.

Since I was VERY young, four or five years old, I was interested in fishing.  I was fascinated at looking at the pike in our freezer after a successful excursion.  Their bone structure, their teeth, the questions about where they live and what they eat were plentiful.  How do they live?  What do they prey upon with their teeth?  How beneficial is the torpedo like structure of their body?  

Yep, I’ve always been inquisitive from as young as I can remember.  I’ve also always appreciated the concept of hunting & killing what I eat, even if I don’t know how to go about it.

When I was about seven and the annual fishing migration was planned, I begged to go along.  I was told “next year”.  So, the next year I’d beg to be included, and get the same answer: “next year”.  This went on for long enough for the family to fracture and finally there was no “next year”.  You bet your boots I was pissed.

Whether it was disinterest or inability (my dad had MS and was in a wheelchair), my dad never was able to teach me how to handle guns.  It took several years, the passing of my dad, the remarrying of my mom (to a man who had the same first & middle name of my first dad) before I found an opportunity to enjoy this side of my personality.  I am adamant about killing for food and not sport.  I’m adamant about having the ability to hunt food to be able to feed myself and my family.

Enter: dad #2.

So my stepdad is a prolific hunter.  He was also a licensed gun dealer in New York State so he’s got a veritable cache of firearms.  Let’s say that when the zombie apocalypse hits, it’s his house I’m going to.  

I took the hunter’s safety course two years ago.  I’ve had my hunting license for turkey the last two springs, and despite firing one shot (I forgot the Stoger has two shots) I missed the bird.  I am now a member at a local rod & gun club, and have enjoyed trap shooting which surprisingly I am pretty damn good at.  I completely enjoy the experience of working with a shotgun and a rifle, and am anticipating a successful hunt.  These days a female with this interest is not such an aberration, but it still inhibits inclusion in the BBB weekend: Beer Barbecue and Bullets.  Also, not in that order.

After several years of bitching about my exclusion on these events based strictly on the fact that I have a uterus and ovaries, I have FINALLY been granted a pass.  And I don’t give a shit as to what representation to females I may bring to the table.  I’m me.  I happen to be a female.  I also happen to be significantly in BBB and in preparation for the zombie apocalypse I want to hone my sharpshooter skills.  I also want to kill what I eat.  I place a good amount of significance on being able to live without means of the easy access to food.  Not that I’m a doomsday prophet, but  having old school skills definitely is a security system.

I will make a meal; there will be 11 of us.  I staunchly refuse to make breakfast.  I won’t be up with the rest of the guys, unless I’m dragged from my bed.  And let’s face it, breakfast is inherently a “female” responsibility.  My plan is to be completely asexual this weekend.  I want to become more familiar with more firearms.  I’m not interested in bows for now.  I want to work on my comfort level and accuracy with the firearms at my disposal.  And if I can save my own ass someday by cycling a shotgun round into my Stoger, I am ALL for it.  I don’t feel I need to protest the New York Safe Act; in my experience if you can’t hit your target in ten rounds you need a different approach.

I wonder if S’mores will be toasted around the campfire.  If so, it won’t be me.  I may be a girl, but I’ve got guy tenancies which I tend to exploit to the fullest. 

when your mind hijacks your existence and holds you hostage, a.k.a. unsuccessful Bipolar med adjustment

I have had chronic, persistent, worsening insomnia for about five years.  

I was diagnosed with Bipolar II about six years ago.  It was one of those curse & blessing moments.  I finally had an explanation for my significant irritability, my impulsive behavior, and my obsessive fixation on things.  I also had to come to grips with having a mental disorder which seems to run rampant on my dad’s side of the family.

At first, I was put on Seroquel which was a beautiful drug because it stabilized my mood and there is NO sleep on the planet like Seroquel sleep.  About five years ago, I thought I may be planning a pregnancy, and Seroquel is not a good medicine to be on during a pregnancy, so I was switched to Lamictal and Lexapro.  While my mood was stable, my sleep quality started to slowly degrade, and I attributed it to the lack of Seroquel.  

As time went by, the insomnia got worse.  No amount of medication could keep me asleep for longer than four hours, and when I awoke during the night I was awake for a few hours, maybe three before I had to get up for work, because if I wake up at 4 and have to start my day at 7, I have nothing I can take to help me fall back to sleep because there isn’t enough time before I have to be up.

I’ve called into work at 5:30 a.m. because I’ve been up for hours.  I’ve struggled with such significant, crushing fatigue during the day that I’ve literally crawled on the floor in my office and tried to doze during the lunch hour.  I’ve felt so significantly guilty about this because I have had days where I can’t fulfill my obligation to work or to anyone else.  The staff at my office have complained about my tardiness or absence because I appear unreliable.

I finally insisted on a sleep study in the hope that it would shed light on why my sleep cycle is so dysfunctional.  What it showed was disheartening.  I never made it to delta sleep, which is the deep, restorative sleep.  My REM sleep was delayed by five hours.  There’s not sleep apnea, no restless leg movement to interrupt my sleep.  Over the last five years I’ve become such a light sleeper because I can’t get into deep sleep that I feel damn near hopeless.  The fact that Rich snores quite loudly doesn’t help.  Even the upstairs neighbor walking around his bedroom at 5 a.m. is enough to wake me.

The general consensus from the providers at work is that the SSRI I have been on since coming off Seroquel is disrupting my sleep.  There is much evidence to support this.  The plan my psychiatrist provider and I have agreed to is to continue the Lexapro as a mood stabilizer and taper off the Lexapro to see what happens to my sleep.

The outcome has been mixed.  I’m falling asleep better, but I’m still waking during the night.  I’m able to go back to sleep a bit better, but my REM sleep seems to be plagued by nightmares, and the early morning waking has lead to me to have conscious REM sleep before it’s time to get up for the day to the point I’m afraid to try to get back to sleep.  Naps are completely out of the question.  I can now fall asleep for a nap some of the time, but it’s the conscious REM sleep where I spend several minutes trying to wake up and dream over and over again that I am awake, so by the time I finally snap out of it I’m completely terrified..

The worst part is the complete sudden shift of my mood.  I feel like I’m being held hostage by this ridiculous imbalance.  I’ve had to change the TV channel several times today because even a simple commercial prompts me to be so invested in the wellness of the people or pets that I can’t handle it.  I’m becoming nearly completely emotionally unhinged.  I find myself lashing out at those closest to me, and I hate myself for it but I can’t seem to have enough say so to stop it from happening.  I actually considered taking myself to the psychiatric ER today because I’ve felt absolutely out of control.

Tomorrow, I have to report to the courthouse because I’ve been tapped for potential jury duty.  As if I don’t have enough going on.

On top of the emotional upheaval, my body seems just as dysfunctional.  I have recurring sores on my tongue.  I cycle through being so hot I want to undress to so cold I’m wearing a hat and gloves.  I don’t know to what extent this is mental, physical, or made up by my subconscious.  The slight improvement in my sleep is most definitely not worth feeling like I have no control over my emotions.

On the earliest down time I have tomorrow, I’m calling the psych office.  This has to stop.  I’m damaging all of my relationships.  It’s not worth it. Something has to change.

 

Just when you think Saturday night is a breeze, you get gut punched.

The back story is my dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was in his early 30′s.  His symptoms started in his 20′s and lead to his early departure from the Air Force.  SSGT Egan, a purchasing agent who worked security for Bob Hope’s show at the Insirlick air base in Turkey in the late 60′s ended up a stubborn ass of a man who to his dying day refused to admit he was afflicted with MS and put his money in charlatans instead of investing in himself and his own strength.

 

Image

 

That’s him in the wheelchair with my brother Shaun holding onto it.  I’m to the immediate right of Shaun.  I have no idea what I’m wearing.  I’m guessing this picture is circa 1982.  Regardless of the year, Jeromy is still sticking his tongue out for the camera.

My dad was one of eleven children, born to very faithful Irish Catholic parents.  Dad used to tell the story of when he was the one to break the news that JFK was assassinated to his dad, who knocked the crap out of him thinking it was a joke until he realized it wasn’t a joke. 

There is much family crap I could bring up right now, but tonight I found out one of my cousins, my Uncle Dave’s daughter Jayme died yesterday after a two year battle with cancer.

My mom, who was ousted as the pariah of the family, called me tonight because she saw it on facebook.

It’s odd how all of the grudges and factionalism falls apart when one finds out that blood is lost.  I miss being included in my dad’s family.  This may or may not lessen the loss, but either way the loss sucks. 

What the HELL is up with kids getting punished at school for altering their hair to honor someone with cancer?

 What the HELL is up with kids getting punished at school for altering their hair to honor someone with cancer?

So this is how WE honor persons with cancer. That’s right: we get inspired by 10 year olds. We commit to raise $1,000 in 34 days. We raise $1,070 in 33 days. We cheer like heck because our 10 year old inspiration also surpassed his goal of $1K.

We have our hair buzzed off in a room full of other people, who may or may not have been personally touched by cancer, but lend their support regardless. We donate $150 of our money up front, and drop another $60 at the event, and don’t even think about complaining when we don’t leave with a raffle basket.

We inspire our bosses to donate $250, even though the budget is tight. We get high fives and thumbs up from family and friends, patients and co-workers who may not have money to lend to the cause, but they sure as HELL can lend support in other ways.

We may be scared, but we get in line anyway. We can’t help but be moved to tears when a young man we don’t know is reduced to tears so heavy they are literally dripping off his nose when he gets the mother of all bear hugs from a high school teacher, who is also MCing the event. When the MC, who is choked with tears comments to us (because we are next in line) that he can’t get back up on stage with the mic, we say (through the lump in our own throat) that we can’t either. We don’t get the chair next to our 10 year old inspiration, but we DO get a seat next to the young man who has no words left to explain why he is here, why he is having his head shaved, or why his tears are so thick the image of the teardrops hanging off his nose as he has a barber’s cape around him and clippers to his head will be in our mind for most likely the rest of our lives.

We DO reach over and squeeze his arm. We squeeze it for five seconds, but it feels like a lifetime.

We cry like babies in the passenger’s seat of the Dodge Durango on the way to the local fish fry after leaving our event; we admit we were completely unprepared for the emotional weight of our event.

We are still trying to process all of this, over 24 hours later.

We are humbled. We are insignificant. We don’t want to raise money for cancer for anyone; we simply want cancer to be over.

AND…..we shave our head with a good old fashioned razor when we get home from the event, so we have a clean pate to work with on Monday. We nick our right ear with the new, sharp razor as we are shaving our head for the first time. We ask our boyfriend for a solid when the ear won’t stop bleeding. We swear like the dickens when we have our first taste of a styptic pencil, because it burns!

We are completely speechless at the following stories of intolerance for others like us:

https://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/the-battle-over-a-teen-s-pink-mohawk-174432152.html

This young man, who reminds us far too much of our own son, has been singled out for a pink mohawk. We wonder, at our age of 41, why in the fricking hell a pink mohawk is noteworthy; we did watch the A-Team television show long before it was a movie, and we did grow older (we didn’t grow up) in the 80′s.

https://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/girl-shaves-head-to-support-pal-with-cancer–gets-kicked-out-of-school-175908162.html

We are indignant (in·dig·nant [in-dig-nuhnt]
adjective
feeling, characterized by, or expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base)

at the idea that a school, private or otherwise, can be so insensitive, indifferent, and unsympathetic as to consider a 9 year old girl as being in violation of her school’s dress code by shaving her head as a show of support of her 11 year old classmate, who is battling neuroblastoma.

We make SURE we have our face paint crayons for work on Monday morning. We ask our coworker with the best handwriting to write “Heather” on our left cheek and “Ashley” on our right, in honor of loved ones of people who have donated to our fundraiser. We say “Sure!!!” when our coworker asks if she can draw something else. We LOVE the flowers. We also say ‘yes, until the face paint runs out’ to “can I draw something else tomorrow?”

We spend several minutes each hour thinking about how our head is bald because of choice, not chance.

We are.

That’s it, we simply are.

How freed you are when you give something up.

How freed you are when you give something up.

I’ve decided to raise money towards St. Baldrick’s. For those not familiar with this organization, The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives.

Their primary fundraising events are head shaving events. People pledge to raise a certain dollar amount in exchange for having their head shaved.

I have a very good friend whose 10 year old son (who I saw being born) has grown his hair for months so he could participate in an event. He pledged to raise $1,000 in just over a month. I was so inspired by him that I decided I would, too.

If you click on my photo, it will take you to my participant page where I welcome all donations. I’m not quite 25% towards my goal.

And the picture: I’m a brunette. When I decided a few weeks ago to take part in this great cause, I stopped styling my hair. Last Friday as I was getting ready for work, as I’m looking at myself in the mirror I realized I’m having my head shaved in three weeks!! This means I can do whatever I want to it, because it’s all coming off!!! What a bonus! I’m shaving my head by choice to help benefit those who lose their hair by chance, and I’m gifted with the opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t due to my career and job position (I am an LPN and office manager for a family practice office in New York).

The cool thing is not only is my boyfriend behind me, he’s going to help me two-tone my hair. I did the peroxide thing Saturday evening, which made church on Sunday interesting. Three people came up to introduce themselves to me, not realizing it was me. Tonight, we are dyeing one side of my hair bright purple and the other side bright aqua. Woo Hoo! The hair won’t last very long, but the enjoyment of it and the gratitude for an opportunity to help others will last a VERY long time.

I encourage you to give giving a try, and see what it frees you up for. And if you can donate to my St. Baldrick’s page, it’s most appreciated.