Thursday, May 28, 2020

Getting On With Life

Author's Note: This post is very political. I'm a conservative and not ashamed of that fact. If this bothers you, find something else to read.

I know I should have posted this when this whole mess started. I meant to. But somehow, I never had the time or my head wasn't in the right place. But today, with a sprained ankle keeping me home from work, I think it's time to give my take on this whole Covid-19 thing.

It seems like I can hardly remember a time when this wasn't an issue, yet it's only been a few months. Like most other people, when I heard that a "new" virus was among us, I paid little attention. One flu was the same as another to me. Then the powers-that-be decided that all "non-essential" businesses be closed down for 15 days in order to contain the virus and "flatten the curve". OK, 15 days didn't sound unreasonable, given that this was something out of the ordinary. Better to be safe than sorry. Then 15 days turned into one month, then two months, then three months. In the meantime, the store where I work (and every other store) experienced shortages on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Panic purchasing was rampant. Then, once the "non-essential" businesses were closed and people were forced into their homes, I had to have a special paper saying that I was considered an essential worker and please allow me to pass. This made me very uncomfortable. I'm an American citizen and I had to have a piece of paper saying I could be out of my house. It sounded a bit Third Reichish to me. I have still not been stopped by any police on my way to work.

But I went to work everyday. We weren't told to wear masks or gloves or anything of that sort. Not in the beginning. The focus was on getting the store stocked (with what little we could get) and cleaned up. We shortened our hours from six a.m. to midnight to seven a.m. to nine. People hated the inconvenience of the shorter hours and the fact that in several aisles, our shelves were bare. As a front end worker, I and my fellow front end workers took the brunt of customer's anger and frustration. "When are you gonna get some *&$%$# toilet paper in this place?!" was something I heard dozens of times a day. We had had to place limits on water, some fresh meat products and paper products (when we could get them). Customers just found ways to get around the limitations. Then, we suspended returns and exchanges at the service desk. Unless you got sour milk or spoiled meat, we weren't taking it back. Then we barred reusable grocery bags and put up plexi-glass at every register. About six weeks into the lock down, we were told that masks were required. About two weeks after that, we learned that we would have to have our temperatures taken before beginning our shifts. By that time, I was fed up. I was already starting to hear that the virus wasn't as bad as it was being made out to be. That the models were off or wrong or deliberately misleading. 

Then we got the horrifying news about what this lock down was doing to our economy; the $22 trillion economy President Trump had worked so hard to achieve. And then I began to put two and two together. As I watched the liberal media and Democrat politicians gleefully announce how bad the job numbers were and how many people had filed for unemployment and how many small businesses were being forced to close permanently, it dawned on me what the whole purpose of this pandemic was. Mostly, it was to tank the economy in an election year and hopefully, keep Trump from being re-elected. They had already tried everything else---Russian collusion, obstruction of justice, quid pr quo, even impeachment---and Trump was still president. Trump was at a rally when he got word that he'd been impeached. But everyone, whether Republican or Democrat, knew that Congress didn't have the votes necessary to remove him from office. So the plan began to change from getting him out of office to sabotaging his re-election chances. China was more than happy to help since they were pissed off about the tariffs Trump had enacted, which had hurt their economy. Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel once famously said "Never let a  crisis go to waste." So with this advice in mind, the people who wanted to see Trump humiliated and removed from office (a group that included a lot of Republicans, too) contrived together to let this virus infect the whole world. They allowed the Chinese to lie about the fact that the the virus was a "novel" virus (meaning it affected only animals) that could not be spread among humans. They allowed the Chinese to withhold the genome sequencing of the virus, thereby delaying the US and other countries from getting meaningful testing underway, while at the same time they let hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals fly all over, unchecked and untested. All the while this is happening, the President has already gotten his task force together. At the same time, the Democrats, who led House committees and subcommittees (many of whom had oversight), were choosing to focus on impeaching Trump rather than the potential damage the virus could do.  When Trump announced the travel ban in late January, a move that probably saved countless lives, his reward was to be called a racist by the liberal media and by Democrats in both houses of Congress. While the President was trying to get a handle on the situation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was telling people in California not to listen to his "fear mongering" and to come on out to Chinatown for the new year's celebrations. In New York, Governor Cuomo did likewise. 

Now once President Trump unveiled his task force, the first order of business for the liberal media was to say it wasn't "diverse" enough. In other words, there were too many white people. I remember saying on Facebook that if I were assembling a pandemic task force, I wouldn't care about their skin color. I would want a group of eggheads who've never been on a date. But of course, to the liberal media, everything is about race. Most of us, in the beginning, believed that the models we were being shown concerning the number of people who would likely die from this virus were accurate. We wanted to believe that we were getting the truth from the media. Turns out, neither was the case. Both sides, the liberal media and the task force doctors, had an agenda. When President Trump said he would have the Navy hospital ship Comfort in New York Harbor by the weekend, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow called it poppycock. She said on the air "it ain't gonna happen." That Saturday, when the Comfort steamed into the harbor, she had had to eat her words. Whatever the President said he would do, he did. Of course, the liberal media was spouting their garbage that it couldn't possibly get done that fast. But they forgot who they were dealing with---a businessman who knew how to get things done. Everything he attempted to do was met by the press with derision and scoffing. He had acted in haste. He had acted too slowly. He did too much. He didn't do enough. No matter what he did, no matter how good the result, no matter how much it helped peopled, it was wrong. It was right about this time that I began to suspect that things were not as they appeared.

The press has always felt it had the power to influence us. Hollywood feels much the same and they're right. It was the press who fanned the flames of hysteria that caused the famous toilet paper and sanitizer shortages. It was the press who, at the President's daily press conferences, asked accusatory "gotcha" questions in hopes of getting a sound bite they could play on their evening news shows. When the President would answer their questions, they accused him of "hogging the stage". When he didn't know the answer to a question and deferred to one of his experts, they accused him of not knowing what was going on. When he famously made a few aside comments about research he'd heard about using sunlight and disinfectants injected directly into the bloodstream, the press said he had told people to drink bleach. It was in this atmosphere that I began to see with my own eyes that the liberal media was playing much too big a role in this drama. They weren't giving us information. Not useful information, anyway. They were fomenting panic and enjoying it while they were doing it. It was about this time that the experts began to contradict themselves. Yes, a lock down was necessary. No, a lock down will hurt us more than the virus. Masks must be worn when out and about. No, the masks are useless. Thousands of hospital beds went unused. In the meantime, people who had been scheduled for "elective" surgeries were cancelled because the whole of the medical world was going to be needed to combat the virus. When that didn't happen, when it became obvious that the field hospitals and hospital ships weren't going to be needed, people with open minds began to question. Why aren't we re-opening? The government had declared grocery stores, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's, and other places that provide needed services as essential, while restaurants, nail salons, beauty parlors and bars were told to stay closed. Worse yet, while Planned Parenthood was allowed to stay open (remember those folks who had their elective surgeries canceled) and pot shops and gay dungeons were allowed to stay open, during Holy Week, churches and synagogues were told to close. Visiting your favorite glory hole was consider essential, but worshipping on Easter wasn't. For many, this was the last straw.

Those of us who know the Constitution began to see the capriciousness of the closings. As defiant (and desperate) people began to push back, governors of blue states doubled down on their power trips. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot (who had gotten a haircut during the lock down when other people had to go without) issued a warning that churches that defied the order to stay closed would risk being closed permanently or being destroyed as a public health hazard. When a Mississippi pastor was arrested and his parishoners ticketed for holding a drive-in service, where people listened to the sermon from their cars with their windows rolled up, I had seen for myself that the heavy handedness was reserved for Christians and Jews. During the Muslim holy day of Ramadan, Governor Cuomo announced that he would supply 400,000 free meals. He made no such offer to Christians during Easter or Jews during Passover. The anti-Christian bias was laid bare for all to see and yet, the liberal media saw no problem with it. After all, they hate God. 

Now because I work in a grocery store, I have worked continuously during the lock down. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to continue making a living while others have been forced to apply for unemployment. Supply is catching up to demand and many states are re-opening in phases, Illinois among them. But...the economy, the one President Trump rightfully crowed about, is in shambles. His enemies have done what collusion accusations couldn't do, what quid pro quo lies couldn't do, what impeachment couldn't do---hurt Trump by killing the economy he was so just proud of. Most of the liberals in media and in Congress are socialists, after all and this booming economy wasn't what they wanted. They didn't want this blatant proof of how good capitalism really is for everyone. They wanted us cowering in our homes; scared, poor, hungry. Waiting on the government for a handout. But many people, patriots and liberals alike, began to see that this was not how they wished to live. Their businesses were failing and many were having trouble feeding their families. They needed to get back to work. The liberal press, as always, was their to spin this. When President Trump announced plans to re-open the economy, socialist Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, pounded her fists, saying people should not be forced to go back to work. Forced? Does she not understand that most Americans WANT to work? That the businesses they had spent their whole lives building were in danger of staying closed forever if not re-opened soon? 

While Americans could see that the virus was losing its potency and dying out, the liberal media continued to announce doom and gloom. They said, if we re-opened businesses, there would be a brand new outbreak. People who went to stores without masks were kicked out. People who protested at their respective state houses were called selfish for wanting to get businesses re-opened. They were told they didn't care about life. Please. When you advocate for killing babies in the womb, don't talk to me about how much you value life. Sane people began to argue "Look, if you're afraid and want to stay indoors, do that. But don't expect me to live in fear with you." 

Which brings me to the title of my post. I think it's way past time to get on with life. I'm all for precautions when necessary. But when the experts are now saying openly that they were wrong about the impact this virus would have, I think it's time to put the masks away and stop the social distancing nonsense (which the experts also now tell us didn't have much impact on the virus either). I'm not sure who to attribute this quote to, but it's true:

"Fear doesn't stop death. It stops life."

It's not the government's job to safeguard my health. That's my job. There will always be new strains of viruses coming out. When the Hong Kong flu pandemic hit in 1969, we didn't close down the economy and force everyone to stay home. No, we held Woodstock. There are still those who insist we need to stay locked down until a vaccine is available. The people most pushing for this scenario stand to make money off the new vaccine. Bill Gates all of a sudden thinks he's a medical expert. Bill  Gates is a globalist who wants to bring down the population and vaccine and chip those that remain. He's the same guy, as head of Microsoft, deliberately put viruses in his software and then offered his customers anti-virus software. This is all about money for him, which is why he's acting with the WHO and the CDC and George Soros and others who want a global government, where the US gives up her sovereignty. I know there are socialists right here on American soil who hope for that with fond anticipation. But I also know that there are patriots; people who want America to stay free and where the government stays out of people's way as much as possible. What this ultimately comes down to is this: will our government listen to us and remember who they work for? Or will they continue to ignore us and do what they want? Time will tell.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Forty Years Is A Long Time (Or My 80's Experience)

Author's Note: This entry could get pretty long. So, if you have a mind to read this whole thing to the end, I suggest you grab a snack or a cold drink. You might be here a while.

On New Year's Eve, I celebrated my 59th birthday quietly at home. I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on many things--school, the jobs I've had, the men I've loved, getting saved, and other things of note that have happened to me. Normally, I'm not a very introspective person. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about why I do things. I might have saved myself a lot of grief if I had changed that policy years ago, but there you have it. This blog post is going to be an attempt to commemorate or, at least, discuss a specific time in my life.

Most people, once they reach a certain age and maturity, spend time reminiscing or taking trips down memory lane or whatever you want to call it. I believe the reason for this is because once you hit about 50 you realize that more of your life is behind you than ahead of you. During these trips down memory lane, one is apt to find oneself picking their favorite decade. Most of us would choose our 20's because we're still young enough to enjoy things and old enough to do them legally now. I turned 20 on December 31, 1980 so I would say that my favorite decade was the 80's. Now, I've seen a lot of documentaries about the 80's, mostly made by people who weren't even born then. They mention things like Reaganomics, the Rubik's cube, New Coke, MTV, Trivial Pursuit and all the other obvious things. But you just get the feeling they really don't have an emotional connection to the era. I do. I happen to love the 80's. I loved everything about it--the fashions, the music, the films. 

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I was a pretty shallow person at that time. I was young, full of myself and thought I was indestructible. I had no illusions that I was pretty or anything. Oh, I was what my father used to call a "handsome" woman, but I knew I'd never be in a music video. I was working as a dishwasher at the local Denny's and making my own money. So, I used it for what I wanted to buy. I bought mostly clothes, jewelry and records. I had always loved music. In May, 1982 we finally got MTV. It had gone on the air officially on August 1, 1981 but Peoria didn't get it until the following year. The first time I saw it, I was babysitting for my sister-in-law's sister. I was flipping through the channels (having sent the kids to their rooms because of a fight over a game of Frogger) when I landed on something strange. It was a group of guys singing the lyrics to a song. Now I knew videos existed. I had seen The Beatles' videos for "Penny Lane" and "Hello, Goodbye". And I'd seen other artists attempts at videos. But this was a new group. So new I'd never heard of them before. The first thing I noticed (besides the fact that they were wearing make up) was that they were really young. The second thing I noticed was that this song had a bass groove that was infectious. It was like all those disco songs we shook our booties to in the 70's, but cool and modern because of the synthesizer. The song, I learned, was called "Planet Earth" and it was by a group called Duran Duran. Hmmmm...interesting name, I thought. The music was unlike anything I had heard before. And the way the young men in this five-piece ensemble were dressed was interesting as well. 

My first response was that they looked slightly effeminate. I had them pegged as British because I knew all the American bands. I had been listening to John Cougar Mellencamp, The Cars, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, Aldo Nova and other favorites for a while. These guys were a different breed of cat altogether. I was so taken with the image of these young men that I called my sister and told her to turn on MTV. She didn't know we had it so I had to tell her how to find the channel. She came back to the phone, sounding unimpressed. "A bunch of fags, so what?" she  said. "You don't think the sound is cool?" I asked. "The drummer's kinda cute," she said, nonchalantly. This was long before the age of Google or the internet so I had no way to find out who these guys were. Lucky for me, I had a pen pal at the time who lived in Canada and I mentioned seeing the video for "Planet Earth" and wondered if she knew anything about them. Oh, did she ever! I still have the letter she sent me back introducing me to these lads. However, the ink on the letter has faded and I would not be able to make it readable here so I'm going to write what she wrote verbatim:

"Yes, I know this group pretty well. They come from Birmingham, England. They toured with Blondie last year and "Planet Earth" is from their first album. Their second LP "RIO" should be out soon. Here are the names of the guys--
Simon LeBon--lead vocals
Nick Rhodes (nee Bates)--keyboards and synthesizer
Andy Taylor--lead guitar
John Taylor (nee Nigel)--bass
Roger Taylor--drums

Their roots were in the punk/New Wave movement. They actually belong to the punk offshoot called New Romantics. It's all about fashion and making music you can dance to. I saw them live and they're great musicians and singers. The coolest thing about them is that none of the guys named Taylor are related."

She then went on to tell me about a vacation she had taken in New York City. And that was that. I wasn't a teenager anymore, screaming over the Bay City Rollers. This was a more mature infatuation. I soon honed in on John Taylor as my favorite member. I remember thinking he was hot. Now, mind you, I had only seen their videos. I had never actually heard them speak or anything. But I figured since they were on the cutting edge, I ought to try to mimic their "look". It was all about looking as young and as chic as possible. God knows, I tried. But I was on a limited budget. 

It wasn't just about the clothes though. The hair and make up had to be right, too. You can barely see the headband I'm wearing, but you can see the blue and red stripes hanging down my neck. My top, which was the first thing I ever bought in real silk, is red with small blue polka dots. I thought the headband would go nice with the whole look. Then I had a friend take me down to the park and take some pictures of me. I wasn't sure what I planned to do with these pictures, except keep them and laugh over them someday when I was married and had kids. I'm looking at some of these photos for the first time in over 30 years. 

I was a clothes horse, absolutely, which is why clothes were a huge part of my 80's experience. But they weren't the only part. I did actually solve a Rubik's cube. It took me parts of two days to do it. In those days, the little squares were actually colored. Nowadays, you can take the colored stickers off and put all the colors on one side and  say you solved it. But there was no cheating then. No YouTube tutorials on how to solve them. You just had to gasp figure it out. But that was the fun of it. Instant gratification was not a thing in 1981. 

I said before that clothing was a huge part of my 80's experience and that was true. I think I'll just post some selected photos here and explain what they are. 

Around 1983 or so, aspects of menswear, up to and including ties, began to show up in women's wear. But the idea was always to keep the colors muted and feminine (in the beginning). Later, shoulder pads made us all look like linebackers. Yes, that's a Nick Rhodes-inspired haircut. The black leather watchband is very much of the era, too. And of course, you had to be photographed with a cigarette if you really wanted to look sophisticated. 

Later, around 1984 or so, something called "orange make up" started to appear. Women (and men who were so inclined) began to wear coppery colors on eyes, cheeks and lips. This was my version. My sister is decked out in more sensible pink tones. My hair, always evolving, looks very 80's here, straight at the back and curled on the top and sides. To achieve this look, you had to have a very good curling iron and industrial strength hairspray, either Aqua Net or Rave. I wish someone had told me that my shirt was unbuttoned. Otherwise, this would be a perfect snapshot of the 80's. 

This was taken in the Spring of 1983. I'm pretty sure it's at a banquet of some kind (probably bowling) due to the flowers on the table and the adult beverages. My hair was always changing. I think I had lightened it in the front by this time. No matter how hard I tried, my sister always managed to look better than I did. 

I'm not sure if I was trying to be a vamp here or what, but I know for sure this was Thanksgiving, 1983. I was lucky in that I had great skin (due mostly to great genes I inherited from my mother) and so make up always looked great on me. The gray corduroys and gray argyle vest are probably not a good choice for vamping in, however.

I came late to the designer jean craze. I'm wearing dark gray Sasson's with pastel pinstripes and a pink boatneck top. I always thought wearing pink kept everything really girly. The mesh shoes are very 80's. I'm not sure what kind of look I was going for with that hairdo. It looks like I'm wearing one side loose and the other side pinned back. Anyway, these are the kind of jeans the phrase "painted on" was designed for. Carol, as always, looks way crisper and more comfortable than I do.

I believe this is the last birthday cake we ever got from Mom and Dad. I paid a small fortune for the meticulously razored hair and the printed top with standup collar. Carol must have been wearing her stack heeled boots as she looks way taller than me. After cake with the folks, it was off to the bars to celebrate. 

Behind all the clothing errors and great music of this time, something very dark was happening. I was beginning to have my first bouts with depression and anxiety. I didn't tell anyone even though my mother was a nurse and would have been able to get me the proper help. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want to be one of "those people". I didn't want my life to be going from one therapist to another and one drug to another, although I was beginning to self-medicate around 1984. I started with beer and pot, which I'd been smoking since the 70's and graduated to harder stuff, mostly vodka, bourbon and occasionally tabs of LSD provided by a friend I worked with. I tried so hard to make it look like I had myself together because I was always complaining about people who didn't. 

This was taken at the Heart Of Illinois Fair in July, 1986. This is just about the last photo from the 80's where I was still pretty happy. A year later, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and my world began to fall apart. The sailor top was out of style by this time, but I still wore it because I loved it. Pairing it with the two-toned denim cropped jeans kept it pretty much up-to-date. I slowly began to lose interest in the things I had been interested in before, a sure sign of depression. And the things I did still engage in I didn't get the same joy from. I think the most striking thing about this photo is how photogenic I was back then. I can't take a good photo now to save my life. Probably because my face is aging. 

From 1987 on, I was just trying to work and keep my relationship going. By that time, I was a full-blown alcoholic and I was in an abusive relationship. No matter how bad he treated me or how much I might have feared him, I feared being alone more. My mother began to drift away from us and was diagnosed with early onset dementia. She was only 53 at the time. So the shallow girl who only cared about clothes and make up had to grow up and fast. That same year, my condition became obvious to my sister and she begged me to get help. "You're with a guy who's beating you and you're drunk everyday to cope with it. Please see someone." Only the twin I loved more than my own life would have been able to get away with saying those words to me. But I had to admit she was right. So I made the decision to seek counseling. The first lady I went to, I will just say right now, was more bonkers than I was. I wanted to tell her my problems so she could help me and she wanted me to take enemas. Really. She said they were discovering that certain types, mostly caffeine, were good for people with depression. "You want me to put coffee up my ass?" I asked incredulously. "Not hot, obviously" she replied. "But caffeine is a stimulant and putting it in the rectum, with all those blood vessels, will get it right into your bloodstream." "You're a quack!" I said and left. It would be another two years before I sought another therapist. One thing I was really proud of was getting out of my abusive relationship. One day, Matt (not his real name just in case he's reading this) came home from work with groceries for a party we were going to be throwing a few nights later. I had asked him specifically not to do the grocery shopping because I was going to clean out the refrigerator the next day when I was off work. It turned into a knock down, drag out fight, during which our downstairs neighbors called the police because we were making such a racket. He broke my nose that night for the second time and managed to bruise a kidney. He liked to kidney punch me because the bruises didn't show when I was dressed. I also had various lacerations from hitting objects like tables and lamps while he slapped the snot out of me, all the while reminding me whose refrigerator it was. The doctor took photos in case I wanted to take Matt to court, but I can't look at them. They are way too graphic to post here. Needless to say, Matt went to jail that night. After they discharged me from the hospital, I got my friends to come help me pack my stuff. I was shocked to see that there was blood all over the apartment. Because of the bruised kidney, they had wanted to keep me overnight and run some tests in the morning. But I knew this was my only chance to leave him so I checked myself out AMA. I thought about moving back home, but my mother was ill and my father was recuperating from a heart attack. They didn't need the drama. So I moved into a shelter for a few weeks and thought about my options. At that time, there weren't a lot of resources for battered women. I already had a job so the only thing to do was to get my own place. I talked it over with some friends and we agreed to rent a duplex in a better part of town. It would be expensive, but worth it. It turned out to be the perfect arrangement. My friends, Doug and Connie, were really supportive and I felt safe there. When Matt got out of prison, he left town so I decided not to prosecute him. He moved back down to Kentucky. To this day, I don't know where he is. 

As safe and protected as I felt in this new home, I was still drinking. They had given me pain medication for my broken nose and I was abusing that. I would just call my family doctor and tell him I was still having pain and he would send in a prescription no questions asked. Bruised kidneys take a long time to heal, I discovered. My father was relieved that I had left Matt and even more relieved that he had skipped town. My experiences with Matt soured me on dating for a long time. Anyway, I wasn't really girlfriend material. I was working a low-paying job and abusing drugs and alcohol. But I want to say right now that I never went to work under the influence. Hung over, yes. But I was never lit at work. 

My interest in spanking was full-blown by this time. I had tried in vain to get men to spank me. I would even misbehave to get one. But it never happened. I remember like it was yesterday the first time Matt hit me. We were arguing about taking out the garbage and I said something flip to him. He jerked his head in my direction and looked at me, anger boiling in his eyes. I can still see his long brown hair whip around as he turned. Without a word, he raised his hand and slapped me so hard across the face he blacked my eye. My ears were ringing and I could barely hear. I was afraid he had injured the only good ear I had. But in a few seconds that cleared and I heard him say "Girl, I don't know what got into you but you better NEVER take that tone with me again. You hear me?" Shaking, I nodded. Then he went off to work, taking the garbage out with him. I had wanted him to take me over his knee and give me a loving, slightly stern spanking. Instead, he had made it so that I was trying to figure out how I was going to cover the ever darkening bruise on my eye. I began to believe I was never going to get the spanking I wanted. I had to wait many more years for that. If there had been a spanking scene in America at that time, I would still not have been able to participate. I was too immature and too emotionally damaged. The desire was there but there was no one to fulfill it. So, as with a lot of things I wanted to do in my life that didn't work out, I put it on the back burner and concentrated on helping my parents. Once my father had had his heart attack, it was obvious he wasn't going to be able to care for my mother by himself. Carol and I begged him to put her in a nursing home, but he refused. 

The 80's ended on a bad note for me. When they began, there was so much promise there. But in late November, 1989 a friend I had known since childhood died in a car accident. What was really haunting about the whole thing was that she had come over to my place to show me her new car, a sporty black Camaro, just the day before the accident. Her mother told me that she had been driving fast with the radio blaring and wasn't paying attention to what was happening. A semi slowed down suddenly in front of her, obviously having car trouble, and before he could get off the road, she slammed into his back end. She wasn't wearing a seat belt and died instantly. She was married with a three-year-old son. All I could do was shake my head. Didn't she have any worries about what would happen to her driving like that? I was sad, angry and confused. So I did what I always did in those situations--I reached for a bottle. 

Now, if you've read a certain other entry of mine, you'll know that I cleaned up and got saved in the 90's. So while there was a lot of pain and heartache in my 80's experience, I did have some good times. 

"What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some'd say
Where is the life I recognize?
Gone away.

But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive."

"Ordinary World" 
Duran Duran

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Catching Up

While reading older blog posts, it dawned on me that it's been nearly a year since I posted anything here and that was just about my kidney stones. So, let me get anyone who might still be interested in what's going on with me up to date.

About the kidney stones...I saw an amazing doctor who informed me of all the things that had been going on. First off, the surgery that had resulted in my being hospitalized had been unsuccessful. The first surgeon had been unable to get the scope high enough in my ureter to retrieve the fragments. Turns out, I had something called a stricture, which is a narrowing of the ureter and this is why he had been unable to advance the scope far enough. He had simply put in a stent and handed me off to this other doctor. Strictures are a pretty common side effect of kidney stones. What actually happened to me has a name---it's called "steinstrasse" (German for "street of stones") and it's where broken stone fragments line up behind each other and block the ureter. This is why my pain was so bad. The ureters are delicate structures and always working to move anything in them out. Experts believe that the pain response from a blocked ureter is the most extreme pain response the body can tolerate. Things like child birth, gunshot wounds and traumatic injuries are bad to be sure, but they believe that because the ureters are so delicate, the pain response is more acute. 

This doctor showed me my CT and the KUB films that had been taken. My entire left kidney was white there were so many stones. All of them were too large to pass by themselves. He said "I can't get you on the schedule for surgery this week, but next Wednesday, you're having surgery." In his office, Wednesday was surgery day and as I was seeing him on a Monday, I had nine days to wait it out. He told me to call him for anything I might need, whether it was more pain meds or if my pain got worse. I asked him why hadn't the people in the ER given me anything when I was initially diagnosed and he said "Those people aren't urologists. They tell you that nothing is being blocked so you shouldn't have pain. They would just about rather die than give a patient pain meds." I told him how I had felt crazy because I was having both pain and nausea and I was told I shouldn't be having either. It effected my work. He told me to sit tight and he would take care of me. He was the only one who had taken my pain seriously. He told me to rest up for surgery and drink lots of water, which I was doing anyway. What else could I do? 

On Wednesday, the 27th of September, my amazing and awesome cousin again agreed to drive me to the hospital. An hour before I was scheduled, the hospital called me and said they had had to cancel my surgery for that day because the laser they intended to use wasn't going to be available that day. Apparently, because those lasers are so expensive, Peoria only has one and both hospitals share it. My cousin, who lives in Pekin, was almost to my apartment when I called her and told her that my surgery had had to be cancelled. She asked if I wanted to have some breakfast. Well, heck yeah, I was starving. So she took me out to breakfast. They rescheduled me for six AM the next morning. My cousin and I had a lovely breakfast at Cracker Barrel and looked over some Christmas ornaments. The next morning, she was there at 5:00. I was scared and I told her so. We prayed in the car before going in. I got registered and then they took me back to prep me. I was given a gown, slippers and a shower cap to put on. Then the nurse came in and started my IV. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me as well and to ask me some questions, particularly about my heart stent. The doctor came in after that and told me that all systems were go and that I was going to be rid of these stones. He later told me he had removed 21 stones from me. Some had been in the upper pole and some were in the mid-pole. A few were still stuck in the ureter, despite the stent. And a couple were in the pelvis, the meaty part of the kidney. They were just all over the place. He seemed confident he had gotten all of them, but he stopped short of proclaiming me stone free.

 This is what he was up against--a big ball of stones and fragments all bundled together at the proximal end of my left ureter. Yes, that red stuff is blood. The big blue thing is the stent from my previous unsuccessful surgery.

I had the surgery on Thursday, by Saturday I was starting to feel close to normal. I did the grocery shopping and stopped in to tell my boss that I had had my surgery and was just waiting on a follow up visit to let me know when I would be cleared to return to work. I returned the following Tuesday. Because the stent was still in place and caused irritation, I was put on short shifts for a while. It felt so good to go to work and to feel normal and useful again. Of course, it couldn't last. 

The following Friday, I had the stent removed. Let me just tell you a bit about that procedure. For one thing, it's a good thing I'm not that modest. A nurse I was becoming fond of took me into the Procedure Room and told me to undress from the waste down. She left me alone while I did this. She gave me a sheet to put over myself. Then, when she returned, she had me lie down and open my legs "like a butterfly spreads its wings". She numbed my urethra with some Lidocaine (I assumed) and then we waited for the doctor to come in. Other than the topical, you get no anesthetic with this procedure. The doctor came in, gloved and gowned, and produced a cystoscope, a small flexible scope for looking in the bladder. My stent was something called a "JJ stent" or a "pigtail stent", which meant it had little curls at both ends to keep it in place (thought they have been known to shift or fall out completely). On the end that's in the bladder, there's a string attached to it which allows the doctor to grab the string and pull the stent out. I could watch the whole thing on a monitor right next to me. A lot of people on Youtube said that this procedure doesn't hurt. I want to know what they have been smoking. It hurt for sure. But it only lasted a few seconds. But a stinging or burning sensation followed the removal. It wasn't that bad. I went back to work and felt that this was all behind me now, except for a kidney function test he wanted me to have.

The following Monday, I made pot pies for dinner and went to bed early. I wasn't due in to work until 11:30, but I was tired. At 2:30 in the morning, I awoke in extreme pain. Once you have this kind of pain, you never forget it. Since it was the middle of the night, I opted to take an ambulance to the hospital. A CT scan confirmed a 5 mm stone at the UPJ (uretalpelvic junction). I was in tears. I had just had surgery less than three weeks previously. Surely, I could not have made a stone that large in such a short amount of time? They told me to see my surgeon for follow up and gave me papers to give to my boss. I was still in tears when I took the papers in to him. I apologized profusely for the inconvenience, but my boss said not to worry about it. Later that day, I saw my surgeon and he confirmed that he had more than likely missed a fragment. He told me the debris field where he had blasted all those stones had been pretty large and missing one is common. "You're having surgery tomorrow." He complimented me on my good attitude. "I'm determined to make lemonade" I told him. 

So the next morning, my wonderful friend and sister in Christ took me to have yet another surgery (my fourth). It was quick and straightforward. The fragment was easily spotted now that the debris field had cleared (meaning I had peed out the sand-sized remnants).

They gave me two cups of grape juice in the recovery room, which I quickly vomited. I had drunk them too fast, apparently but I was dying of thirst and it tasted so good. I went in on the following Wednesday and had the stent removed. I've been problem free since then. I drink mostly only water now, with the occasional soda. I'm working now on getting some of this excess weight off.

On the scene front, things are getting a bit interesting. I have had a couple of very enjoyable play dates, one of which was with a man I had been wanting to meet for years. This stems not only from our love of spanking, but our mutual enjoyment of rectal temperatures. I like getting them and he likes giving them. We had a very nice time. I also have a few other fairly local tops interested in meeting me. It strikes me strange that this happened as soon as I left the party scene. It could be a coincidence or maybe not. Whatever the case, I'm determined to once again make lemonade. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Saga Of Roy

Author's Note: This post as nothing whatsoever to do with spanking. I have pretty much left that scene, but have decided to keep this blog up and running for those times when I feel the need to post something, whether spanking-related or not. This post is about my ongoing health problems and the religious crisis it spawned in me. If this kind of thing is too real for you or you're just not interested, please find some of the other posts I've put up over the years.

People will look at the title of this blog and scratch their heads. "Who the heck is Roy?" Well, allow me to elucidate. Roy was a guy I knew in high school. He didn't go to my school, but I met him at a basketball game my sophomore year when our schools played each other. Our "relationship" (if that's what you want to call it) started because I was dumb enough to give him my phone number. Now, don't mistake me here. I didn't have boys knocking my door down. I was pretty much OK with encouraging any boy who showed any kind of interest in me. Roy was taller than me (a requirement in my shallow days), nice looking and from a nice family. He should have been a total catch for me. I was not good looking. My family was a good one, but not well off like Roy's was. I was acutely aware that Roy had made an overture to someone who was below his station. 

I was so glad that a boy was interested in me that I didn't see the imperfections in the facade he presented at first. I mistook his neediness as attentiveness. He needed to know all the time where I was and what I was doing. He had so little self-confidence that he needed a girl who was totally available to him. If I told him I couldn't go somewhere with him because I was going out with my family that night, he would pout and tell me that, since he was my "boyfriend" I should be the most important thing in my life. What? More important than my family? I didn't take me long to figure out that Roy wasn't the boy for me. I had been dazzled by his nice looks and attention. But...after about two months, I could hardly stand the sight of him. I babysat children who acted more mature than he was acting. It took me six months to extricate myself from this "relationship". When you're 15, six months is a long time. OK, so fast forward to now and why I've exorcised the ghost of a long lost boyfriend to make a simple analogy. 

Starting about May, I started to feel a slight pain in my left lower back. It wasn't anything distressing at first. I work in a grocery store and I lift a lot of things. Maybe I strained my back? So I took some Aleve and put a heating pad on it and it seemed to go away. I went on about my life and didn't give it another thought. Two weeks later, right before I started my vacation, the pain came back. This time, I saw a little blood in my urine, too. But drinking extra water seemed to solve that. But the pain didn't go away with heat and Aleve this time. About a week after I got back from vacation, the pain got so bad I had to leave work. At this time, I made my first trip to the ER. I had my friend take me and we ended up waiting four hours just to be seen. When I was finally called, I was taken back to an exam room. There, the nurse started an IV and took blood and urine from me. This was before I ever saw a doctor. I have learned since then that this is SOP for Emergency Rooms. Doctors can learn a lot about us and our state of health by looking at our urine. When a doctor finally came back, he treated me a bit suspiciously. I could tell he thought I was drug seeking. I told him "Look, I haven't been to a doctor in five and a half years. I didn't just think at work 'Maybe I'll go the hospital and get some drugs. I don't feel like working tonight.' I left work because I'm in pain and I don't know what's causing it. I actually listen to my body when it tells me that something isn't right." I'd been in pain (cause unknown) for weeks and now the doctor in the ER was treating me like I was faking. He handed me off to another doctor, an intern who asked me questions about my sexual activity. "I'm 57-years-old," I told him. "I've had STD's before. This isn't an STD, unless they've come up with a new one I didn't know about." Meanwhile, I was describing my pain as "7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10" and they at no time offered me anything for pain. He felt around on my stomach, but there was no area I could point to that hurt specifically. I know from past experience that when a woman goes to the doctor with non-specific abdominal pain it's time to start the hand patting and the lectures about stress and getting my weight down. 

I was frustrated, to put it mildly. I'd already waited four hours to be seen. Now they were playing a game of musical doctors on me. The last doctor who came in was the attending physician. He asked me questions about my fluid intake. He asked me about being dehydrated. After hearing my answers, he said "Cheryl, I suspect you have a kidney stone. I'm going to order a CT to see if you do have a stone." Finally, a doctor who believed me and wanted to get to the bottom of my symptoms. However, he still didn't offer me anything for pain. I had to drink a large bottle of contrast before they could do the CT. They left me alone for 45 minutes so I could drink the contrast. Of course, after drinking that much fluid, I had to go pee. So they let me pee before taking me to get the CT. I was scared because, as usual, a small part of me was afraid of what they might find. What if I had a tumor? What if it was already spreading? This is normal for me. When I don't have information, my brain plays out the worst case scenario. Even after the scan, while I was waiting to see what they found, I spent the time working myself up to the point where I was convinced I had cancer. An hour later, the doctor (the one who had ordered the CT) came in and told me "Cheryl, you have a kidney stone." I had to ask him which side it was on and he asked me to guess. I said "left side because that's where the pain is." He said "Well, it IS on your left side. But it's not blocking anything so you shouldn't be having pain." I replied "Well, I am. I've been having pain for almost a month. Tonight, I had to leave work because it got so bad." He took out my IV and handed me my discharge papers and said "Follow up with your regular doctor and remember to drink a lot of water." On following up with my doctor (or the PA in her office), I learned that my stone was 7 mm. A stone this size is considered too large to pass on its own. I also got started again on blood pressure medication. 

So, armed with this new knowledge, I did the worst thing possible. I went online to see if I could get any kind of advice on how to deal with this. The doctors had told me that I shouldn't have pain, but here I was, having it. The only positive was that I was now drinking more water and less soda. I went on like this for two more months, until the beginning of August. The pain came back, even worse than before. I left work early three straight days. My bosses were very understanding. I went to the ER again, this time my directionally challenged sister braved the drive and took me. Again, they took blood and urine. My urine had blood in it this time (known medically as gross hematuria) and my pain was worse than last time. Again, the doctor wanted a CT, bu non-contrast this time. This was after the obligatory four-hour wait. After looking at my scan, the doctor I saw pronounced the stone "unchanged" based on a text from the radiologist who read my scan. "What's causing the pain then?" I asked. "It's non-obstructing so I really don't know." At this point, since this doctor admitted that she didn't know what was causing my pain, she would have consulted the urologist on-call or some other doctor. But she didn't. Again, I got nothing for my pain. I began to feel like I was going crazy. Again, I was told to follow up with my doctor. I had to suppress the urge to say "Yeah, thanks for nothing." I had to call in the next day because I was scheduled to be at work at 10:30 and I didn't get home from the hospital until 4:30. I spent most of the day not only in pain, but I was having anxiety too. The anxiety was from the gnawing feeling that perhaps my symptoms were psychosomatic. I went to work the next day, but again had to leave early. I asked my front end supervisor to take me off the schedule until I could figure out what was going on. I spoke honestly to my manager about what was going on, my frustration and fear of not knowing what was wrong. I told him that I wanted to go through proper channels and didn't want to put my job in jeopardy. He told me to do what I had to do and keep them in the loop.

My pain and anxiety worsened overnight, even after talking to my boss and his assurance that my job wasn't at risk (which I thought was where my anxiety was coming from). The next day, my sister took me to the local prompt care, which was located in the same office as my regular doctor. The nurse practitioner that I saw had given me more understanding than any of the doctors I'd seen. She looked at the report on my stone and told me, contrary to what I had been told in the ER, that it was now 1.1 cm. So why did that ER doctor tell me that it was "unchanged" when it was now 4 mm larger? She apologized for how badly I had been treated and got me a prescription for pain meds and also nausea meds, which can also be good for anxiety. She was the first one to tell me that large stones can and do cause pain, even when they're not blocking anything. "Those doctors never once acknowledged that I was in pain," I told her. "They never gave me anything for pain or nausea. They never told me anything I could do in the meantime." She nodded understandingly. "Kidney stones, especially large ones, are unpredictable. Large ones require treatment, whether they're in the ureter or not. ER doctors don't really like to be the ones to get that ball rolling. So they say to follow up with your doctor."  So I at last had some pain meds and also something for the nausea that the pain brings with it. I was told to call my urologist. Since I didn't have one, I called the office of the only urologist I knew of--the one who did a cystoscopy on my in 2013. Unfortunately, he was booked solid until late September. It was early August. I couldn't wait that long. So I asked them if there was any place I could get in sooner. The lady on the other end of the phone gave me the name of a doctor who worked in another of their offices. I managed to get an appointment, but I had to wait nine days. I was disappointed to have to wait nine days, but compared to waiting six weeks, this was doable. 

I wasn't too sure about driving to another city to see this urologist. I don't drive and so I'm always dependent on someone else for a ride. My friend (the same one who had taken me to the ER the first time) took me. The office was located in that city's local hospital, which had a park across the street. My friend took her granddaughter to the park to play while I saw the doctor. His waiting room was freezing. I had to wait a half hour after my appointed time because of some kind of thing that had come up. Well, I totally understood that. I know that surgeons sometimes have emergency cases. When I finally met the doctor, I liked him. He asked me questions about my symptoms and listened while I answered them. "Your stone is a very large stone, so it can't just sit there in your kidney. It could cause major problems down the road if it's not taken care of. It's only gonna get bigger if we ignore it." He told me about ESWL, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. They would use shock waves to break the stone into much smaller fragments that can be passed easily, most times without too much discomfort. There was one requirement for me to have this done. My stone had to be viewable on an X-ray. This is because they use X-rays to help triangulate where the shock waves should hit the stone. So he had me get a KUB X-ray before I left. KUB stands for kidney, ureters and bladder. The film shows these structures clearly and, since most stones are calcium stones, they show up as well. I was told that, as soon as the doctor had seen my X-ray, I would be called. I had seen videos on Youtube where people had talked about their experiences with lithotripsy and a few had said it had failed on them because there was too much body fat between the stone and the shock waves. I assumed that if I was too fat to have the procedure, someone would have told me. Well, long story short, I had to call them nearly every day to see if the doctor had seen my X-ray. I had my appointment with the doctor on a Wednesday and it was the following Monday before I was given the word. My stone showed up on the KUB film so lithotripsy was scheduled for September 5. By that time, I had been in pain for three months. 

On the day my surgery was scheduled, I showed up to the hospital at 7:30 am. My cousin, my sweet, awesome cousin, took me. She knew that I would be having general anesthesia and would not be able to take myself home, even if I could drive. The nigh before, I had had to get myself ready. I wasn't allowed to have solid food past six o'clock. I could only have broth or clear liquid foods and nothing after midnight. I had to use a Dulcolax suppository that evening. In the old days, hospitals gave enemas before abdominal surgery. These days, I think that pre-surgery enemas have fallen out of favor. I do remember having one before my hysterectomy in 1993. I understand the need to not have a bunch of fecal matter sitting between the shock waves and my stone. I also had to take two Gas-X tablets at bedtime. I had to take a shower in antibacterial soap. So I bought some Dial soap for that. Of course, they also said no make up, no jewelry, no valuables bought with me, etc. I was nervous, as I always am before scheduled surgery. My last operation, getting my appendix out, had been an emergency so I hadn't had any time to be scared. The ER nurses and the anestheologist came to talk to me. I also saw my surgeon briefly. He gave me thumbs up and we were ready to roll. I'd heard that lithotripsy routinely takes about 45 minutes. When I finally woke up in the recovery room, I looked at the clock. It was about an hour and a half since I went into surgery. The nurse noted I was awake and looking around. "Hi, Cheryl. Honey, how are you feeling? How's your pain?" I managed to tell her I was in some pain and she had something (probably Fentanyl or Delaudid) pushed into my IV. I can remember times when, if you had general anesthesia, you would be staying overnight in the hospital. Now, because of advances, people can be sent home the same day. I woke up quickly. They gave me some juice and a packet of Teddy Grahams as a snack once they were sure I was awake enough. My cousin helped me get dressed. I was surprised that I had no nausea. I didn't even have any bruising at the site where the lithotripsy was done. I went home in minimal pain.

That was NOT the case when I woke up from a nap that evening. The pain was the worst I could ever remember having. I'd had an internal bleed after my stent was placed that put me in the ICU that I didn't remember being that intense. I didn't remember my actual heart attack hurting this bad. I called my cousin and told her I had better go back to the hospital because I was going to die if I didn't. I made the decision to go to the hospital where I'd had my surgery rather than the one I had gone to the other times (the ones had been no help). It took her some time to get there and by the time she arrived, I was crying. Anyone who's familiar with me from the scene knows that I have an extremely high pain tolerance. But this was more than I could stand. By the time we pulled up to the Emergency entrance, I could hardly walk and my cousin had to get a wheelchair for me. As soon as they realized that I had had lithotripsy that morning, they seemed to know exactly what to do. The nurse started an IV and got pain medication into me quickly. I also got nausea meds. The doctor probably suspected what my problem was from the start. He ordered another CT scan, which showed two fragments stuck in my ureter. The doctor explained to me that this happens a lot with lithotripsy. There's really no way to predict when or why it will happen. So I asked him what do we do next? He said "Well, we're going to admit you at least overnight for observation. In the morning, we'll call your doctor and see what he wants to do."

They kept the pain meds coming while I waited to be admitted. My cousin, who had prayed with me and stayed by my side, decided to go home once they had made the decision to admit me. She knew I was in good hands. I had been in so much pain. Pain serves a purpose, to let you know that something isn't right. Once you discover what's causing it, it's no longer necessary to remain in pain. It was about 3:30 in the morning when I finally got up to a room. They continued to monitor my fluids because I couldn't have anything by mouth, not even ice chips, because the odds were good that I was looking at another surgery. It was in this atmosphere--after months of trying to get rid of this stone--that I decided to name it Roy, after the boyfriend I had spent months trying to get rid of. Don't ask me why, after all these years, Roy came to my mind. I was definitely drugged up on pain meds and probably not in my right mind. But I remembered what a pain he had been and how much effort it had taken to get him to leave me alone. Even after we'd "broken up", he continued to call me. There was no social media back then. Calling someone or going to their house was about the only way to talk to someone. This stubborn stone, that I had been dealing with for months, reminded me of that needy boyfriend who wouldn't go away. 

At about 7:30, my case manager came into my room to let me know I was going to have surgery at about noon. She smiled nicely and assured me that my surgeon was well aware of what had happened. A little while later, my surgeon came to see me. He told me he had been really pleased with how my lithotripsy had gone. He was really happy with how the stone had broken apart. But doctors really have no way of knowing if there are any large fragments that could be hanging around waiting to cause trouble later. I've heard that doctors often do a scan after lithotripsy to see if the patient is stone free (fragments, no matter how large, aren't considered stones). I was unsure if this had happened to me. But I began to doubt it. The stone fragments that had moved into my ureter and blocked it must have moved really fast. So he explained the procedure he was going to do that would remove the stone fragments and make me stone free. He warned me that a scope would be going up my ureter to get the fragments. "This is an invasive procedure and there are potential risks." So he outlined the risks without really telling me what he was actually going to do. So, for the second straight day, I was put under general anesthesia and the surgeon used a scope to grab the fragments. I also had to have a stent placed in my ureter. I was more afraid of this than the surgery because I had seen people on their Youtube videos tell about how uncomfortable they were. I woke up in the recovery room, again looking at the clock to see what time it was. "Cheryl, honey, come on. Wake up." It was the same nurse who's voice I'd heard the previous day. "Are you having any pain or nausea?" I nodded "yes" to both. She mercifully pushed pain and nausea meds through my IV. I'm always happy when the pain goes away. But I was starting to dislike the feeling of being drugged up. The drowsy, tired and foggy feeling was almost as bad as the pain. They got me back to my room and back into bed. They wanted me to get up and walk almost as soon as the anesthesia wore off. I was happy for the activity, but walking caused the stent to irritate my bladder. So then it was back to the pain meds. I hate hospitals. Let me clarify that. I don't hate that hospitals exist. I'm glad there's a place where people can get the care they need. What I hate about hospitals is when I actually have to be in one. They aren't good places to get rest. Someone is always coming into your room, whether you're trying to sleep or not. They need to draw blood or they need to get your vitals or they need to empty the garbage. 

Throughout that day, I began to feel a little bit better. I was hoping I would be able to go home later, but it became apparent that I was going to have to stay another night. That depressed me a bit. I began to wonder if I was ever going to be back to normal again. Was there ever going to be a time where I acted like I used to? Had the pain meds completely made that impossible? Was my brain chemistry permanently altered? Once I got home, this feeling got worse. I was on so many drugs--tamsulosin (Flomax), hydrocodone, phenazopyridine (an orange dye that, when it enters the bladder in he urine, calms the muscles and makes that icky urgency go away), cipro, and my usual meds like Atenolol, which I take for my blood pressure. I started to feel so tired. I read the patient information on the Flomax and one of the side effects is drowsiness. I could hardly stay awake. I realize that I was healing up from surgery and that causes tiredness. So I guess what I was feeling was the normal side effects of the drugs and healing from surgery. 

I see my new surgeon tomorrow. The doctor who did my two other procedures is moving (or already has moved) to Texas so all of his patients were handed off to other doctors. I hope I can have this stent out and get off these pain killers so I can start to have a clear head. I've increased my water, trying to flush the medication out. Hopefully, this will help. So the Saga of Roy isn't over yet. When I was calling to get an appointment with this new doctor, a nurse in the office told me I was going to have to have another procedure done in "four to six weeks". She didn't say what that procedure was. I just know I want to get back to work and put Roy behind me.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Vanilla Life

For most of the past year or so, I've been living a nearly totally vanilla life, something I had sworn in the past I would never do again. That's not to say that I haven't missed my scene friends and that don't miss all those wonderful spankings I've gotten over the years.'s been easier to do than I thought it would be. There are a number of reasons for this.

First off, and most importantly, I moved out of the home of my brother-in-law. My sister finally got tired of his crap and left him. She said she found condoms in his pants pocket when she was doing his laundry. I've known for years that he was being unfaithful. But the situation got physical and we had to get out of there quickly. We live in a pretty nice two-bedroom apartment. My sister and my niece share the master bedroom and I have the smaller room to myself. We're a bit cramped, but it's worth it to be in a more peaceful environment. The irony, of course, is that now that I essentially have my own place and can host guests, there are no play dates in my future. At least, not the foreseeable future unless things change. Having some walls and a bed and furniture I can call my own is really important to me. I haven't had my own place since Carol and I lived in our apartment and that's been almost ten years ago now. I have essentially lived with people since then. My sister, niece and I live quietly, comfortably and happily here. I don't have to worry about petty people messing with me. I have my own router now so no one can turn it off and deny me Internet access. My brother-in-law did this all the time. The router was in his room and he would often turn it off and then lock his door while he was at work. He used to do the same thing with the phone (this was before I had my cell phone). He would turn off both at the same time if he really wanted to mess with me. He did this in 2013 while I was recuperating from having my appendix out. He knew I was home every day and he also knew I would get lonely and feel isolated. He did this because that's how he got his kicks. I'm sure he went about his work with a smile on his face knowing how miserable I was. Once I moved back from Chicago, his behavior toward me improved for a while. But later, once I had a job and couldn't do the things I had done before (such as doing the dishes and other cleaning), he went back to treating me bad. Oh, he wasn't messing withp one anymore or the router (at least, he did it only occasionally), but he made it known that he didn't like me being there. The move was a nightmare. We were only allowed in the house when he was there and that was only on the weekends. My sister and I don't get many days off together, so what should have taken a few days, turned into months. Neither her husband or her son helped us move anything. We had to do everything ourselves. My good friend sold me some furniture she had for $150.00. It consisted of a couch (the kind that recline on the ends), a chair with a matching ottoman and two tables. I knew I wouldn't be able to carry the furniture up three flights of steps, so I asked a guy I worked with who does odd jobs if he'd move the furniture for me. He agreed and told me he and his helper would do it for $100, or $50 each. That seemed like a good deal. We set a date and he went over in his truck to my friend's house and picked up the furniture. The couch came apart in three sections, which made it a lot easier to carry. So for $250 I now had furniture. Once we got furniture, I set about getting cable and Internet set up. Yeah, we lived there for two months without living room furniture or television or Internet. It's  been a slow and arduous process, but we now have everything we need. Now, I'm not allowed in the house at all, under any circumstances, which I can't figure out because I never did anything to him. Despite the fact that my sister's name is still on the mortgage to their house, he changed the locks. Suffice to say, he's a miserable jerk and I'm happy I don't have to deal with him anymore. I'm happy that my sister gets to enjoy her days off, without him asking her if she sat on her "fat ass" all day. Of course, because of his conditioning, she still feels guilty about not doing anything on her days off. I told her she could do whatever she wanted to. She's slowly learning how to enjoy herself.

Secondly, my health is slowly becoming problematic. It was one of the major factors for me quitting the scene. My RA is advancing and it makes everyday tasks difficult, even on my so-called good days. I work full time, but I'm no longer able to walk like I used to. Since the move, I haven't been able to walk to work anymore because it's just too far. My knees and hips hurt almost all the time now. The flare up I had of my RA last fall was triggered by a fall I took at work in the summer. I still haven't fully recovered. Also, my eyesight is getting worse. I just don't think I'm attractive to potential partners anymore. My face is aging and quickly. I look at pictures of me from just a few years ago and I'm stunned by how much I've changed since then. I hate to say it, but I'm beginning to look like an old lady. And make up doesn't help. I still wear it occasionally, but I've gotten out of the habit of wearing it. Having to have a tooth pulled also drove the point home to me of how much I've aged. I had always wanted to keep my own teeth. The thought of dentures was out of the question. So when I lost a filling, I thought nothing of it. I thought I would just go to the dentist and get a new one put in. But the tooth had become infected, a sure sign that there was more than likely a fracture involved. My dentist and I decided that the easiest and least expensive route would be to pull the tooth. It was a molar so no one would see the bare spot. To me, it felt like the first step to hagdom. I was turning into a gap-toothed hag and there was nothing I could do about it. I'd always been careful about how I looked. Call it pride if you have to, but I always insisted on looking my best whenever I was at an event. Oh, I still get my nails done but only because of how bad my hands would look if I didn't. Plus, I refuse to give up my nails. I work hard and if I want to get my nails done, I will. My bother-in-law always hated it that I got my nails done. He also hated it that I got my hair done or bought pretty clothes for myself. I never heard a word when my nephew's wife (who lived in the basement with him) did the same thing. She went to the tanning salon and those things are expensive. But he never said a word to her. Now, it could be that he hated as much when she did it as when I did, but I rather doubt it. My nephew's wife had an elevated status in that house that precluded even my sister. When he was redecorating the kitchen and living room, he never once asked for my sister's (or anyone else's input) but my nephew's wife. It seems she was consulted on every decision, including what color the new siding should be. My sister was never asked what she wanted. This was where, I believe, the seeds of her real unhappiness came from. She had been uniformly unhappy throughout most of her marriage, but this, coupled with finding the hidden condoms, was the straw that broke the camel's back. It showed her, once and for all, how little he actually valued her as anything but a drudge; someone who was handy for cooking and cleaning and doing his laundry, but not for consulting with on important issues. The only thing I ever got from him was his constant disapproval. I gave my sister $60 a week ($240 a month) to use in any way she wanted. It mostly went towards groceries to feed the other people in the house, but not me. I was deemed unworthy of being fed and so I had to buy my own food, despite the fact that the meals I wasn't allowed to eat were mostly paid for by me. Of course, there was a time when I wasn't allowed to use the stove or the oven. Anything I brought home to eat had to be microwaved. Also, I wasn't allowed to keep anything in the refrigerator and, at one point, I also wasn't allowed to use the microwave. So eating became a real challenge. I would bring something home from work (I work in a supermarket) and put it in the microwave while my brother-in-law slept. Then I would wash my dishes right away so he wouldn't know I'd eaten. Of course, I wasn't starving. He had to know I was eating. My nephew's wife routinely threw away food I had stored in the fridge, saying it was spoiling or that it took up too much room. I was working in the accounting office of a supermarket. I didn't have unlimited funds to buy food every time she decided to pitch my stuff out. So, eventually, things came to a head and I knew it was time to leave.

So I work, I come home. I get on Facebook and see what my cousins are doing. I even sometimes look at Fetlife, but I really don't have the stomach for it anymore. I read and do other things that interest me. I do miss the fun of the spanking scene, but I just don't see myself ever being a part of it again. At least, not the way I was before. Maybe, at some point and with some luck, a man with an aim towards marriage will enter the picture. I said in my youth I would never get married. But when you're young and most of your life is ahead of you, you can afford to be brave. Once you hit my age, the thought of spending your final years alone is too awful to think about. But whatever happens, God will have his way in my life.

This is an update for those who might be wondering what I'm up to these days.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Author's Note: This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for probably close to a year. I have no idea why I never published this. The views expressed may be controversial, but they're mine. If any of these views offend you, then feel free to stop reading.

I'm not a huge fan of hashtags. But I began to see #sorrynotsorry on the two social media sites I belong to, namely Fetlife and Twitter. I guess the best definition I can give for #sorrynotsorry would be this: there are things I believe in and views I hold that I won't apologize for. I absolutely, categorically refuse to apologize for my views on certain subjects. They have been formed over years of living (usually on both sides of whatever the issue is), not just bowing to political correctness. I fully realize that there are people out there, perhaps the vast majority, who allow their thoughts and feelings on certain subjects to be dictated to by whatever "the crowd" is doing. That's all well and good...for them. I guess it keeps them from having to think about things too deeply. 

For the benefit of those who don't know me very well, or who have just found this blog, let me list some of the things I strongly believe in and for which I do not apologize:

1) First and most importantly, I believe in the power, omnipotence, and sovereignty of the Lord, whether in the Person of God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. I have taken many, many hard hits for this. But nothing will shake my faith. Not being called ugly names, not being told I believe in an "imaginary friend", not being called brainwashed and not being called a "hateful, intolerant bigot". Nothing. In Matthew 5:11, Jesus is giving what's called The Sermon On The Mount and he says "Blessed are you, when people hate you, and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you for my sake." Now I know how that sounds. Be glad when people make fun of you for being a Christian? Yes, because Jesus goes on to say that we who persevere will have a great reward. This man Jesus, who loved me before I was ever born, who died a criminal's death so I could have my sins forgiven, deserves my praise and obedience. I don't go around forcing the Gospel message on people. I don't tell them about how they're going to hell because they don't believe the way I do. I simply let my personal faith show in my life. Am I perfect? Far from it. I simply acknowledge that I cannot save myself. A lot of my friends don't believe in God and I don't let that keep me from being friends with them. This is what's commonly called tolerance. 

2) I'm a conservative. I believe in my Constitutionally protected rights--the right to free speech, the right to NOT have the government tell me how to worship (the TRUE meaning of the separation of Church and State that gets misunderstood by so many), the right to keep and bear arms to protect myself and my loved ones and the right to peacefully assemble. I believe in a small government that stays out of the way of people living their lives, running their businesses in accordance with their beliefs and stops giving cradle to grave hand outs to those who aren't even American citizens or those who don't really need the help, but just are lazy and are gaming the system. Yes, there are people who need help and we have the means to help them. But three generations in one family who have never worked? There's something wrong with that. Hard work used to be one of the hallmarks of American life--work hard and you can get ahead. No guarantee, of course, but the opportunity is there. I also believe that America is exceptional. If we weren't exceptional, why would millions of people risk their lives to come here and be part of that? Every year, thousands and thousands of people from all over the world become American citizens. Are we perfect? Far from it. Societies will never be perfect until people are perfect and unfortunately, this side of Heaven, none of us will ever be perfect. 

3) I do my kink my way and I'm not sorry for that. I don't force others to do it the way I do it. Quite frankly, I would hate to have that done to me. I once had a guy message me, after I had mentioned something in one of the Fetlife discussion groups about not being interested in bondage, saying that I was "judging" people who do partake in it. People who want to engage in bondage or play with needles or knives or urine should do so freely. Why are they so worried about someone like me, who isn't interested? Really? You don't feel free to practice your kink unless everyone totally agrees with and embraces it? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of kinky people out there who aren't into spanking or pain at all. Do I let that hinder my enjoyment of spanking and pain? No way. I can totally tolerate people who are disinterested or who even hate my kink the way I practice it. That's the beauty of living in a free country (well, still free for now at least). Everyone is free to do what makes them happy as long as it doesn't hurt another person (at least against their will). I've been taken to task for practicing my kink my way almost as often as the preceding two things on my list. It amazes me the kinds of emotional reactions I've gotten to something that is virtually no one's business but mine.

4) I'm not sorry that I'm a woman. There are so many women out there (and not just kinky ones on Fetlife) who think that woman=victim. According to many modern feminists, we're supposed to hate men; to hate their historic authority over us, to hate that they "oppressed" us, which is why men get the lion's share of credit for inventions which have benefited us as much as it has men. If only we'd been allowed to succeed the way men have without compromising our femininity. There are factions out there who hate women like me---women who are happy to be women, who have no desire to be a man. That's because this attitude somehow isn't validating to transgendered people. If a woman wants to have surgery or get hormones because she would rather be a man, she should be free to do that. But she should do that with the knowledge that none of that will make her a man. She may look like one on the outside, but minus that Y chromosome, she's still a woman. Conversely, a man can have all the surgeries and hormones he can afford in order to make him more like a woman, but he will never be genetically female because of that Y chromosome. Unfortunately, I don't have the answer for what to do about people who feel trapped in a body that they don't feel is the right one. 

5) I'm not sorry that I'm straight. I'm extraordinarily happy that I'm sexually attracted to men. Of course, I can look at a beautiful woman and admire her beauty, but that doesn't mean that I want to have sex with her. Now, if people want to be a practicing gay or lesbian, that's a personal choice. If they want to be celibate, then that also is a personal choice. My opinion shouldn't have anything to do with someone else's personal decisions regarding their own sexuality. 

6) I'm not sorry I'm an American. Oh, I know that according the Social Justice Warriors out there, I'm supposed to hang my head in shame because I'm a citizen of the greatest country on earth. I'm supposed to constantly apologize for my "white Christian American" privilege. But I don't. Not even for a second. Every morning when I wake up, I thank the God I believe in that he placed me in this country, with all of its freedoms and all of its wonderful promise. Contrary to what people may think, I didn't have a "little princess" upbringing. I wasn't given everything my little heart desired. Both of my parents were hard working and level headed and I also thank God that they instilled that in me. We didn't have a lot growing up, but I don't remember a time when I didn't have a roof over my head, clothes on my back or food to eat. Nowadays, I see kids with every gadget imaginable. And I get told how these poor waifs, with their iPhones and X Boxes and whatever the next big thing is need food stamps and free housing because they're so poor. Poor? They have more than I had growing up. But we never got food stamps or any other kind of public assistance. My parents simply broke their backs to provide for us, which was something that used to be admired in this great country. Hard work was always part of the package deal that came with being an American, whether you were native born or an immigrant. Now we teach people that hard work is a bad thing and that everyone should just have things handed to them. And even though I see bad things in America, I'm still thankful that I'm American. #sorrynotsorry