Avoidance and Punishment

Content Note: There are curse words in this post. If you’d like a version of this post without curse words, well, Sweetie Pie, you is shit outta luck. There is also a reference to a gruesome self-harm fantasy, toward the end of this overlong piece. Plus a book recommendation and a photo of a super cute dog.

I feel the need to apologize. And with it the need to justify my absence. I know this makes for a bad apology, but I’ve also been thoroughly immersed in the belief that an unexcused absence is … well, you know, inexcusable. So, if one checks out, drops the ball, retreats, doesn’t meet expectations and thus disappoints others and feels bad about it and wants to make it all right, then that personage, that disappointing lump of humanity, should just say, sorry, I let you down, I will try not to do it again, though I might because you never know based on this variable and that, meaning there’s context, but this is about you not me, so goes the rule of best amend making, excepting of course my regret and my reparations and my learning from how all this came to be, but you don’t need to know all that, unless you’re my boss or my teacher or the jury service and need a note from my doctor or, somewhat ironically, you’re my doctor and need at least 24 hours notice and a good excuse or a note from another doctor or I’m going to really have to pay!

I do apologize for that extra-super-fuck-long of a runaway sentence. I should edit that stream of consciousness crap, but I don’t have the energy and I guess I’m just not that sorry, truth be told.

Truth be told. Ha!

I am a much better liar than I profess to be. I’ve said more than once that I’m not a good liar, but that’s, of course, a lie. I do usually get caught with the straight-out lie. Historically, the consequences of my getting caught have at been spectacular and coincidental. But lying by omission, keeping secrets, deflecting, minimizing, etc. —I’ve long done all that quite well. And, of course, lying to myself is where I really shine. Maybe you knew that already. Ok, sorry I wasted your time.

Is it actually possible to waste someone’s time? Time is … a phenomenon, a dimension, a construct … Time is hard to define. Time is not something owned, stored, traded, manipulated, used inappropriately. It is relative and unstoppable. It can’t be stolen. Or replaced. There are no time byproducts. No barrels of toxic time waste buried next to vats of gravity sludge.

I’m sorry. I know I lost you all with that last paragraph. It’s just that I was raised thoroughly steeped in the religion of WasteNot and I’m having a hell of a time giving myself some goddamn, ever-loving slack! I know what I want to get done and what I need to get done and I’m getting more and more accepting — if that’s the right word and I’m just very recently not entirely sure it is — of what I can do, but I don’t know what to do about them not syncing up. My ducks are not all in rows ready for the spooning. I am sinning. Wasting resources. Time. Money. Smarts. Food. Energy. The Venial and Mortal Sins of WasteNot.

And my penance is …?

I’m a Jew raised by ex-Catholics, so I’m entrenched in guilt. And the need to punish myself. I’m not a masochist. Not literally. Ain’t no sexual pleasure involved. In fact, I’ve had me a couple of coital headaches and unholy sheeeiiit do those suck ass! (And not in a good way. No, not at all.)

If only I could quantify my energy into discreet utensil units, then all would be well and there would be no waste. Right? Sporks feel more my speed than spoons. I need at least the illusion of some stabbing power, some targeted selectivity. And the spork is my talisman for my time inside — my 8 days in the mental hospital with chair yoga, music therapy games, crosswords, and no psychotherapy whatsoever.

In sorry, but I just don’t get Spoon Theory for myself. In practice.

For example, I had some trouble walking yesterday, but my trusty Rollator got me both to and from my long-awaited Pulmonology appointment, which was a lot of questions and ordering of tests, which was what I expected. My one big thing for the day complete, I didst doth rest and so didst then perform solely duties as needs must of a less taxing variety and verily not requiring myself to be fully upright and locked in.

Yet today, I can barely get out of bed. Last time this happened I started looking at folding wheelchairs. Wanting a wheelchair brings up so much! Fear, sadness, money concerns, flooring issues, questions, more questions, fear …

Damn, woman! Stop! Ok, first I’m sorry about the “didst doth” stuff. I had fun, though. Second, Spoon Theory is great for many. I just can’t make it work for me. Total spork-less loser. Also, I’m getting a lot of internal backlash for revealing I spent 8 days in a mental hospital — and maybe even more for revealing I did not receive promised care while there — but also for having not yet written about all that which I both very much do and do not want to do.

And I lied about having trouble walking today. Actually, that was last week, when I started writing this here thing.

This week it’s trigeminal neuralgia with migraine plus neck pain and immobility that’s got me down. Way down.

Trigeminal neuralgia, aka facial pain, aka suicide disease.

In addition to every other shitty malady I have, I have to have this goddamn, motherfucking, cocksucking nerve pain with the triggering up the ass nickname of “suicide disease” too?!

(Those are the only swear words I know. In English, that is. Entschuldigung. ¡Lo siento!)

I think this post may be about fear. Have I written about fear before? I’m afraid of repeating myself. I’m also afraid I repeat myself a lot. And yet, not nearly as much as I need to. I’m afraid of not making sense. Of not knowing that I’m not making sense. That no one will tell me that I’m not making sense.

Or that they will and I won’t understand.

My mother used to laughingly say that I was a very smart person with no common sense. She was herself a very smart person. I used to believe that statement of hers was more loving than insulting. Reasonable and accurate. Nah. Sorry, Mom. You were laughing off my trust in myself, my ability to learn from my mistakes, and replacing it with fear that I lacked the basic tools most people have in common and take for granted.

I forgive you, Mom. You were raised on fear. People fed off your fear most of your 60 years.

If you are right now thinking of that FDR line, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” please know that I am harboring homicidal feelings for you.

I’m sorry! That’s another lie. Hyperbole-style. That FDR line makes no sense out of context. Look it up. I dare you! However, it has been quoted ad nauseum for decades with no hint to its original context, so that it’s truly no wonder so many jump to it when good old fear comes up for discussion. Or dismissal.

I’m sorry, but autocorrect filled in “God old fear” and that tickled my figurative funny bone.

At one point during my lumbar puncture (aka spinal tap), indescribable nerve pain shot down my left buttock and the full length of my left leg. I alerted the doc, moving only my mouth, eyelids, and all necessary for continued breathing for fear of making it worse. Doc said “tickled” my sciatic nerve. Nope, sorry, tickled is not the appropriate word here!

Fear is useful. Fear keeps people alive. Fright leads to flight or fright. Or freezing. (Sorry, that’s where the rhyme ends in English.) Make a goddamn decision! Now! Do something!

I don’t know what to do and I’m really sorry about that.

Have I chosen to freeze out of fear when it’s really not an f-word situation at all?

I’ve had this here blog for over a year now. Been thinking about it for I don’t know how long before that. I have plans for promoting it. Right after I finish this other task. And then there’s that other stuff I gots to do. Meanwhile, this thing and that thing came up. Far higher priority! Like, obv!

Sorry, but shouldn’t that be ob-v?

Self-promotion is so very hard for me. It’s always been a challenge. Was a easier when I was running an artistic company I started. Then I could promote the rest of the company and share the spotlight with them. I do enjoy receiving recognition for my work. But just me, on my own in the PR spotlight …

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I cannot continue. My internalized mother does not approve of the syntax of that last unfinished sentence of the last paragraph.

Oh, how I do enjoy punishing myself for my perceived transgressions! Probably why my mother has come up in this post, as she was likewise gifted in this realm. And really, truly, that is where I waste my energies the most, convincing myself of my lack of worth as a human being. Hurting myself in various ways — I am a rather creative person, you know (humble brag) — for somehow not deserving what I would not deny those I like the least. I know this sentiment to be true, as I honestly wanted the best, compassionate treatment for he who some might call my worst enemy.

I’m sorry I’m not more prolific with posts. And that I haven’t finished and posted so many others, temporarily lost in the fog of my gray matter. Or maybe lying in wait in a white matter lesion? Sorry, that metaphor doesn’t really work. Or does it? Not demyelinating lesions, by the way. Ruled out MS years ago. Just migraines. Occasionally, reality-bending migraines. Sanity-questioning migraines. Forgot how to tell time migraines. Fantasies of halfway scalping myself and then pulling individual hairs through the gap knowing that wouldn’t stop the migraine probably but it would be one hell of a distraction and might just get close to equaling the agony if only I had the strength and the will to do it migraines.

Oh, and also maybe lupus. Tricky wolf.

I have no excuse. I have every excuse. I tried to read an article or blog post or column or whatever on what brain fog feels like, written by a fellow chronically ill foggy brain-haver while in that unclear cognitive state, but I couldn’t do it. Yup, I was too foggy!

Last week I thought maybe this post would be about burnout, as defined by the most excellent and decidedly feminist book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, and I would disclose some past events in which I have only now realized I have not completed the stress cycle. In part, because of lying to myself. And others. By keeping secrets. Out of fear. Not the useful kind.

Anyway … maybe I’ll start that big PR campaign next month, when the big sale I haven’t written about yet is final.

If you are right now thinking about recommending a handy-dandy webinar or webpage or any such thing that will guide me through “just a few easy steps” and then maybe a follow-up task or three, then please know that I’m feeling a return of those homicidal tendencies, as it seems you have not understood at all what I’ve been writing here.

And, for that, I’m not sorry.

Face of black dog, wearing blue, illuminated glasses, and with big, open-mouthed smile.
The glorious Princess Holly Peño did not know the meaning of the word sorry. Due to her being a dog!

The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained … Nor Puréed, Neither

Your sympathy is appreciated. Your victim blaming — eh, not so much.

Content Note: Following includes puppy abduction and dark humor. No Shakespearean phrases are used or abused after this point.

My husband and I are dog people. We have loved and shared our homes with dogs throughout our 35 years together and separately before that. What’s more, we like to drive around with the dogs happily hanging their faces out the windows, taking it all in, like they do. Now you know what kind of folks you’re dealing with!

On Wednesday, May 5, 2020, exactly 4 weeks after we adopted him, our 9.5-week-old puppy Data was stolen from our locked but ventilated vehicle, parked about 100’ from a Walmart entrance, an hour before sunset. (All 4 windows were open a little, allowing for a cross-breeze and smells of people Walmart-ing.)

The breaking and entering and theft were witnessed by a Walmart employee and our other two dogs (who declined to talk to the po-po), and all was captured by security camera, which couldn’t distinguish the fleeing vehicle’s license plate. My husband filed a police report, put an ad in the paper, and made numerous posts all over social media. The comments soon followed.

Some people on social media have chosen to question our reality and actions rather than to express sympathy or offer to help find our dog. Or to say nothing. That’s right, people, saying nothing is an option. Just move on, without leaving a comment. Try it. I double dog dare you!*

While obviously quite different in a number of ways, there are some similarities here with my experiences when divulging my health and/or disability status. Some people readily express sympathy or empathy, while others quickly get defensive for reasons I imagine are personal to them, of which they may or may not be aware. Some comments are beyond my comprehension and others I understand all too well as cruel. A few peeps will kindly offer help. More than a few will find fault with me. If only I had done this or avoided that. A very, very few will listen. Bear witness. With kindness. Love, even.

Bearing witness to someone else’s troubles is a simple task that is also quite difficult for many to pull off. I think it’s natural for us humans to want to assess a situation quickly, to know what we’re dealing with. But sometimes it’s best to hold back, reserve judgment, get more information. Waiting, not judging or controlling, can be very uncomfortable.

As the late, great Tom Petty used to sing, “The waiting is the hardest part.”**

I have certainly been guilty of rushing to judgment many times in the past. (I will probably also be guilty in the future. Right now I am innocent! Now! Right now!) I have figuratively put my foot in my mouth on several occasions. (I used to be able to literally put my foot behind my head. Then the other one. Circus-style yoga trick. I can still put my big toe in my mouth — not that I do — but I can. This is all true!)

Point is, I get it, I do it, too. And nearly every time I’ve done so, unthinkingly put forth the what ifs — soon after I’ve thought, O, why didn’t I just wait, listen, be still, ask questions? After all, procrastination is a well-honed skill for me! The answer — if I’m brave enough to accept it — is usually something like, … I got scared because it’s out of my and their control and there is nothing more to be done other than feel all the hurt, sadness, and other yucky feelings. Aaaaaahhhhh!

No one (or almost no one) wants to be a victim.*** People don’t want their stuff taken from them and some go to great lengths to assure that. Many succeed. Some don’t. Because bad and awful things do happen. Crime. Serious illness. Abuse. War. Accidents. Natural disasters. Unnatural disasters. To bad people who had it coming. Allegedly. To good people who did everything right and therefore did not deserve it. Supposedly. To mediocre people who made mistakes, sure, who doesn’t, but, I don’t know, they just seem to be taking a lot of punches lately, y’know? Oh well, they’re survivors!

You have to have survived something to claim survivor status. In many cases that something is being the victim of a crime and/or trauma. I hereby reclaim the word victim. It is not a dirty or shameful word. Victims are not culpable for the crimes and abuses committed against them. Just as victims are not responsible for the accidents, disasters, traumas, illnesses they endure. For the official record, I don’t believe anyone deserves to be victimized or to suffer. I don’t wish suffering on anyone. Truly. Not that it matters. Life is full of suffering. Some get more; some get less. (Wow. I sound more Semitic than usual there. I’m a Yo-Yo Semite most days. 🥸)

My husband and I are victims of crime. (Puppy Data, too.) It’s been a week and we’re … ok. We got a lead Monday and passed it on to police. The waiting and hoping continue. As does the grieving. We’ve parsed the shoulda woulda couldas — all the alternate scenarios in which Data would not have been there, then. But the victim is not the one in control of the actions of the perpetrator. The loss of our fabulous puppy is very painful. Some people’s comments are hurtful, too. We choose to honor our pain. We are not ashamed of feeling our pain. Nor of being vulnerable. Of being victims. We are survivors.

Jeff and I deeply appreciate the many folks who have given and continue to give sympathy, help, support, kindness!

Data, we love you and miss you! We pray you are safe and well cared for, wherever you are. (Also, impressed your abductors kept up your reading lessons!)


Now for Fun With Confounding Comments, because it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to!🤨

If only he was microchipped!

Alas, we were but days away from handing Data over to our veterinarian for vaccines and insertion of this incredible technology. If only … then we could activate his chip through our Find my iPup app, which would pinpoint his location and send that special dog whistle to my Jewish space laser to take out the bad guys, no due process necessary. (I’m not quite sure what happens for you goyim. Maybe you just get the location of your pup, which you need to reach within an hour lest the chip erases all your puppy’s memory of being housebroken?)

Obviously, I’m joking. That is 100% not how microchips for dogs and cats work. It is, however, how the nanochips in those Covid19 vaccines work!🙄

Why would anyone ever leave a dog in a car?

Just spitballing here, but what if their helicopter was in the shop? Then they’d have no other choice, really.

What if pup’s favorite song is playing on the radio and doggy insists on sitting there through to the end?

Or, hear me out now, maybe because people in stores do not have allergic reactions to dogs resting comfortably in cars and not in those stores reserved for human interaction (and a relative few service animals).

(For real, how do you move your dog(s) around town? No stops ever, because you’re … you? Or do you take your non-service dog inside every place you visit — a part of you that can’t be denied entry, just like your white privilege?)

Maybe he’s just lost.

Oh … kay. So, you weren’t listening? Missed some deets? Accustomed to folks realizing their dog is missing and crying, “Thief!” I do appreciate your stab at sympathy, but no, it is not our style to assume a crime occurred without evidence of such. Although … hubby did recently accuse me of stealing his bag of blue corn chips. But that was really a product of long-time marriage man-brain. As in, bag of chips isn’t where I remember leaving it, so spouse must have put it somewhere else, which is like stealing for me, due to my chromosome-based, manly inability to search our kitchen. (Yes, I do, in fact, dearly love my XY husband, inability to locate a jar deftly hiding out incognito behind another jar, and all!)

Would you leave a two month old child alone in a car?

Can you hum a few bars?

Depends on how well it pays.

Is infant clearly dead in car being dredged from lake? Then I’m going to leave it as is for the crime scene investigators.

Were you good at the long jump? Because, dearie, in jumping to conclusions, you can make some distance, I tell you what!

Dogs die just like babies!

Fact! Do you feel better now?

Data doing his bunny impression!

*Ironic pun intended.

**Yes, that lyric right there is totally, utterly out of context!

***We can debate whether or not there are people who truly want to be victims (note I do not equate victim and martyr) at a future time round about never.

If You Make That Face

Hit again and ‘gain
Two-fisted hammered
My face just won’t crack

Made that face long ‘go
And, indeed, it did
It stayed that way

Now my well-made face
At once young and old
Has no home with me

Bring down the hammer
Chips off the old block
Is all I can do

Proof in the pudding
I lack the strength
To destroy myself



Copyright 21 August 2020
Revised 19 April 2021
Closeup of black puppy face with protective cone around head, looking forlorn yet adorable
THAT face is absolutely priceless! (Super Puppy Draymond survived this indignity — I swear!)

New Data Just In!

We interrupt our irregularly scheduled programming to bring you this week-old breaking — or at least actively trying to break things — news.

Actually, it’s been a day over a week now, but 8-day-old news just doesn’t flow the way week-old does. Data has been accruing for over 6 weeks now. Or seven? Those formerly supervising the whole project affirm a startup date of March 1st … which they insist was over 7 weeks ago. The calendar confirms those folks are worse with linear time than I am. (At least in this case. Could be a pandemically exacerbated or induced chronological disorder?)

So, last week we adopted a Great Pyrenees mix puppy, after his mother’s sudden death. Nearly 3 years ago we adopted a small, black, cute but funny looking, pughuahua* at age 5.5 weeks, when her mother rejected the runt. After weaning The Artist formerly known as Super Puppy Draymond,* I declared we would never again adopt a puppy so young, but that’s exactly what we did with big, white, classically adorable Data. Apparently, we are in our puppies with mommy abandonment issues phase.

Creamy white Pyrenees puppy lying on left side with right frontpaw tucked under chin, looking at camera
He is so very soft!

I now present Data, pronounced day-tah, like the Star Trek TNG character.** Other similarities to the fictional android: he looks white, but he’s also got a creamy, pale yellowish tint — way more attractive than it sounds. While he is friendly and wants to fit in, he is hilariously awkward. His strength and ability to take a fall are impressive. An intrepid explorer, he is generally calm, yet emotionally immature. Even when he’s being really annoying, it is impossible to not be in love with him.

We are a family of D’s: The dogs are Duke, Draymond, and Data; plus Daddy and I’m Deb. (Dogs prefer Deb to Mom. Remember those aforementioned mommy issues?) Data has already earned a few nicknames: Mr. Big, Soft Paws, Whitey Bargers [right in], Young Sheldon Chewbacca.^

For you First Contact fans: Yes, I totally feel as though I am the Borg Queen when yelling Data! in moments of urgency, such as when Mr. Big is chewing on an electrical cord or furniture or lamp or window still. Sorry, my guy, teething rings arriving soon; now, stop gnawing on the wall!

Now, for the autoimmune angle. May 31st is our eldest dog Duke’s 14th birthday. And I think Data might just help him make the party! Duke was diagnosed with Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis back in 2011. He’s had some rough spots in 2021. There are no guarantees, and while I have had more than one thought of am I healthy enough for (this) exercise, I clearly see the positive impact of Data on old man Duke’s health. On the other old man, too, minus the bite marks. And Draymond, Data’s currently same-sized play partner. And tired, but happy me. He is so soft!!^^

Creamy white Great Pyrenees puppy sits on cluttered table with head  cocked to his right, looking at camera.
Young Master Data ponders the mixed messages about his being on the table.
Bust of android Data in uniform, head tilted down to his right, looking at camera. Skin has yellow tint.
Lt. Commander Data of the Starship Enterprise considers getting his ass off the cluttered table as well.🤓

*Also known as Chug, Draymond is half Pug, half Chihuahua. We will celebrate her 3rd birthday May 1st. At 6 weeks I could hold her in one hand! Read about The Duchess Draymond Pugbelly’s first 3 years on her Facebook blog at MyUglyPuppy.

**Star Trek: The Next Generation — starring Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Series began with a god-like nemesis called Q, short for Q Continuum — no Anon. Q is omniscient and omnipotent and usually took the form of actor John de Lancie, across franchises. And yet again!

^ Yes, I be mixing my Starry Wars and Treks! O, forsook! Yeah, no. Like Chewie, our Data has a very unique growl. And whine. And combo. Whrowl?

^^ There is a joke to be made about hard data v. soft data, but I can feel the brain fog rolling in on big cat paws … much like our new puppy’s paws!

Creamy white Pyrenees puppy lies on right side, left rear paw lifted too widetoo wide open mouth as if singing. Caption reads: I sing a song of love.
As if you have never pretended your hand is a microphone!