From one of my fellow Hydra Publications authors–http://wordpress.hydrapublications.com/2017/04/amazon-giveaway-thoughts-by-stuart-thaman/
I watched the first episode of the new Black Mirror season, “Nosedive,” which stars Bryce Dallas Howard as a young woman in the not too distant future where every facet of your life is rated by what others think of you on social media. Those who are pleasant and well-liked rate higher; those who don’t simper and cater to people get rated down. Every human transaction comes with a cost, in which you must rate the other person immediately with a click.
In the show, this leads to your privilege in society–whether you can book a certain airline, whether you can enter certain buildings or neighborhoods, what you can buy, and so on.
Of course, there are those who aren’t as interested in “the game,” like the character played by Cherry Jones. I love her characters in general, and this one was no different. No spoilers here, but in reflecting on the episode, I found certain parallels to my own life in recent months. And they totally negate the influence of social media.
I’ve been in my new Asheville home for four months, and it’s been an adjustment. In Pennsylvania, practicing as an attorney is considered quite a lofty profession–in our small county, “Attorney” is a title given to each of us. As in “Attorney Jones.” Like Bishop, or Mayor, or President. I always found it a little humbling, but still, it makes you somebody. Awesome, right?
Because that means even if you are running to Wal-Mart, you dress for the chance your clients will see you, or your colleagues, or even the judges. (Although, I noticed that we hardly ever saw the judges in public–they probably had this problem to the Nth degree!) I was never much for make-up anyway, but I know one colleague who would never go out without lipstick. Is it a horrible burden? No, of course not. But it does give me some sympathy for the actress/mom who needs some eggs and has to decide if all the hype will be worth running to the grocery.
With the ease of access to social media–as in practically everyone around you has a camera/video maker available to reveal any of your foibles to the world immediately, the risk of doing anything not considered proper for your position is high and could have real life repercussions, whether it should or not.
Since I’ve been here, though, I’ve been comfortably no one.
This means if I have to run to the Kwik E Mart with sandals and socks (God forbid!) I do. Or if the fibro and other chronic pain is bad enough, I confess I have gone to the local Ingles bra-less. The sweet Southern ladies might find it scandalous–but I don’t know them, and they don’t know me, and as lovely as they might be, I don’t have to worry about their opinion.
(That being said, if you see me on one of those People of Wal-Mart photo shaming walls, please quietly chuckle and then ignore me. I’ll be good with that.)
Sure, I can’t get the kind of service I used to with just a phone call. But I think it’s a good trade-off. I don’t need to be “somebody,” even with my insecurities. I can act on things I want to act on, state my opinions (and get jumped on for them like the average Jane), or even refrain from jumping on the popular bandwagons. I can just be me, doing what I can, day to day, with only myself as arbiter of how important I need to be. So far, it’s working for me. 🙂
What do you think? How much does what others are going to say about you regulate how you speak to or treat themor act where they can see you?
“So, how are you?”
A simple enough question, right? One we hear every day. A common greeting, between casual acquaintances as well as long time friends. It serves as “Hello,” “What’s been happening?” and demonstrates that you care enough about the other person to want to know something about them. As long as they’re well.
For most people, its true that there is a “right” answer.
You mumble something along the lines of “I’m fine,” and you keep walking.
At the courthouse, my usual response was “I’m vertical.” it was true, everyone laughed, and life went on.
It was also the best I could say about my condition.
Because, let’s be honest. No one wants to hear, “My muscles are tense to the point they ache so badly I can hardly think.” Or “My knees are grinding bone on bone and walking up these steps has just about done me in.” Or “Fibro fog combined with my prescriptions makes me wonder how much I’ll remember about my case today.”
(Which is why I finally had to give it up.)
According to WebMD. chronic pain is defined as “pain that lasts longer than six months. It can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating…With chronic pain, signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for months or even years. This can take both a physical and emotional toll on a person.”
And every time I choke back the truth, it burns me. Not that I want to dump all my internal chaos on any of the sweet people I meet every day who genuinely care about others. They don’t deserve it.
Sometimes, when I’ve tried something new, and a glimmer of hope appears, I eagerly share the results–a new medicine, a new exercise, the autoimmune diet. But in reality, this usually backfires. people then think I should be cured. Heck, I think I should be cured, too! Unfortunately, the process hasn’t seemed to work that way.
Lyrica worked for about a month. Same with the lidocaine cream. Ditto, the magnesium spray. Physical therapy. Electrotherapy. Darvocet–oh, wait, they pulled that from the market after it had bad side effects. I guess those two years I took it didn’t count. I understand medical marijuana would help–but it’s not legal here. Kratom is about to be named an illegal drug. That leaves me with a combination of muscle relaxers and yes, the dreaded opiates, which actually manages the thing so I can function. But who knows how long I’ll be able to get those, with all the hoopla about those overdosing on them, and the relative lack of attention to the thousands who take them just as prescribed, simply so they can function.
So, yes, friends and neighbors, I’d love to tell you I’m feeling better, back to my old self again. The chances of that, however, are not so great.
I’ll continue to try to be polite. After all, I’m living in the South now, and Southern ladies…well you know. But if on occasion I actually stop and tell you how I’m feeling–the real truth–please know it means I really like and trust you and that I think you’re safe to hear my honesty. And thank you in advance for letting me let it out. One less thread of stress in my daily blanket of living. Feel free to be honest with me about your own troubles, as well. Even if we can’t stop the pain, at least we can relieve a little of the burden for each other.
So, how are you today? 🙂
In preparation what what is likely coming, in terms of dealing with my diagnoses, I’m feeling out possibilities in the event I won’t be able to keep working full time. One of my decisions is to create an Etsy shop with my sister Dianna.
Both of us are “artsy,” me in the crafty sense and her in the art and photography sense, and this will allow us to both expand our reach a little and indulge our deep passion for working in art and hopefully, make some money from it as well.
Stop by Copper Moon Creatives some time and see what we’ve got–I can’t guarantee exactly what you might find, but I can promise it will be eclectic and wonderful!
A phenomenon many divorce attorneys like me encounter each year between mid-November and January 2 is the sudden drop-off of clients and client activity. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the holiday lull, the last-ditch effort to grasp the fast-fading warm feeling of family or at least the rational attempt to try to preserve the illusion that ‘everything is all right’ for the children.
Often, the holidays are a happy blurred memory batch from childhood, with ham dinners with families gathered at grandparents’ house, favorite (and not so favorite) presents we’ve received over the years, candlelit church services, carols and much more.
Overlay this with the commercial media blitz of glitter, bling (every kiss begins with k?? Who knew? Awesome!) and price cuts, and the secular Holidays take on an almost sacred tone of their own.
We want our children to experience this, to feel whole, to be glad and warm and loved. Often we are able to swallow our own pain–or drown it with well-doctored eggnog– long enough to let the little ones experience Santa and the magic.
But what we also see as the years pass is the carving up of these happy days with a broad knife, dividing the time the children “must” spend with father, mother, siblings, grandparents and others. When parents cannot look beyond their own needs to compromise with their children’s lives, the court will do it for them, with lack of emotion or feeling to guide it.
Four hours for mom. Two hours for grandma. Twelve hours for dad. Splitting the day so you have to be hauling kids on the road for two hours of the holiday you’d all rather spend at home. Weather? Schmeather. The court order says… Alternating years, so every other Christmas your hearth is empty and dark with no children to celebrate. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. Thanksgiving Thursday. Friday? Maybe, if you’re lucky, a few extra days of the vacation when the children can have a parent all to themselves without other obligations.
In my generation, divorce was not as prevalent as today, and we visited in summers only, so our holidays, though father was absent, were not disrupted. My children, however, were subject to visitation orders, and spent most holidays with their fathers, which was fine with me. Holiday is a state of mind, as far as I’m concerned. You can have a special day on the 23rd, 25th, or even 31st, if you put your mind to it.
Many more children of my kids’ generation grew up in split parenting situations, so maybe for them, it’s not as traumatic for their own children to be visiting other households during these magic periods. And often, no matter how hard you’re trying to hold things together, the children are well aware of the tensions underlying the surface. If those tensions become toxic, then perhaps separation, even this time of year, could be the right choice, for everyone’s peace of mind. It’s important, though, not to compete with each other to “buy” the children with stuff.
But even if the magic fails on one front, there are many more, like these suggestions from Suzy Brown. As she says, “Holidays are about peace and sharing and gratitude and love. During tragedy, or divorce, or heartache we have to reach down and find those core things at a deeper level, a more meaningful level.”
It’s a tough time. I’m going through the single parent thing again for the first time in 15 years, and it’s a big readjustment. But it can be done. If you feel that you can’t hold on, for any reason, please seek professional help, whether in the form of legal counsel, psychological counsel, or just a heartfelt cup of cocoa with a good friend or close relative. Take time out for yourself. Most decisions about situations (absent actual danger) can be put off for a week or two. Give yourself and the children time in as de-stressed a manner as possible. This will pay off as they learn coping skills from you they can use all their lives.
I’ve debated writing this post for several weeks. Overall, I was worried it would sound whiny or complaining, and I honestly try not to be like that (at least not too much). Most people have busy lives and problems of their own and don’t have time to invest in my issues. I’ve finally decided to write it because it might inspire someone else to take control of their life, before it’s too late.
Fibromyalgia has been a part of my days for about 10 years now , and I’ve written about it from time to time. It’s steadily gotten worse to the point where I felt pretty handicapped. Going to the court house for work was difficult–if I couldn’t get a parking place nearby, I had a hell of a time getting there. I gave up my house for a small apartment with minimal stairs. My marriage suffered and eventually ended. Daily chronic pain was unrelieved by the mild exercise I could do without causing more pain.
My grown children were sympathetic, and we tried to work out a plan where I might go stay with one of them, so I didn’t have to manage a place on my own. Of course, Little Miss would have to go along, and she’s still in school. And I wouldn’t have a job. Or insurance. And they’re not keen on giving disability for fibro. You know, since it’s not one of those “real” diseases.
Besides, why should any of that be imposed on one of my girls? Not their fault. They’ve got their own lives.
So, nothing worked out. Better yet, this year I’ve had a steady stream of diagnoses. Both knees’ cartilage totally destroyed. Torn retinas causing flashes in night vision. Sleep apnea. Neck and back arthritis. (Getting old just isn’t pretty, folks.)
Overwhelmed, I started wishing that whatever was wrong with me would just escalate and end me before the summer came and I had to make a decision. If I was dead, I wouldn’t have to deal with it any more…the day-long pain, the things I couldn’t do for myself any more, the knowledge that there would likely be more and more things like that. Sure, I could keep taking two Vicodin a day and muscle relaxers, and more and more anti-inflammatories that were eating away at my liver. It wouldn’t make the pain vanish, but made it tolerable most days.
This is from someone who has a reasonable income that provides for our needs, an education, transportation, food on the table and a roof overhead. I can’t even imagine how this goes for someone who doesn’t have these things.
And then in late August, I got the topper–gout/arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For those who don’t know, the latter is an autoimmune disease. My body had become so dense with inflammation, that it was attacking itself, no longer able to differentiate what was good and bad. That’s why my ribs ache. That’s why my knees are shot. Probably the retinas, too. I’d done it to myself.
That could have been the end.
Instead, I found myself galvanized into action. I’m still not sure what the difference was, but finding myself under official attack must have kicked my competitive nature into gear. I started reading about RA and some of the treatments out there. I consulted with some friends about it, what worked for them, what didn’t. One of my daughters had a family that had gone on the paleo diet to help with my granddaughter’s thyroid issues, and she extended a hand. My sister Shawna had recently received a spinal arthritis dx and she was dealing with the same thing. I signed up for a monthly healing seminar. I have support.
I could do this.
The dietary changes to reduce inflammation seemed like the best first step. The next day, I went to the grocery store, armed with the AIP list of foods to eat and foods to avoid, and I’ve followed that for over six weeks now. Is it a bitch to eat no dairy or eggs, no beans, no nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes), no grains, no nuts or nut products, oils, etc, ? You betcha.
But my pain has dropped about 75%. Yes. I said 75%. My energy is up about 50%. I might take two Vicodin a week, instead of two a day, and some weeks not even that. I’m in physical therapy and try to walk on the days my knees don’t hurt–and there are those days. On cold rainy days, I used to curl up on the couch, unable to move. Now those days are just like any other day. I’m winning the battle, for now, anyway.
That’s all I can do. One day, then the next day, then the next.
Because I’ve got a lot more days out there, and without all the suffering, I know I’ll really enjoy them. I finally scored an appointment with a rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic for next month, so new options will become available. There may come a time when I have to give in, but I haven’t reached it yet, not with this new lease on life. Supporting those with chronic pain is hard. But knowing someone else’s outstretched hand is available– preferably holding a couple of spoons!–is priceless.
It would be difficult to find a bigger event in our county than the annual fair. It’s said to be the largest agricultural fair in the state. it sure feels like it on my broken knees at the end of walking around it all afternoon, that’s for sure!
I was originally not going so early in the week the events will be going on, but I made the mistake of discovering that a live wrestling event was going on. Not the WWE, mind you, but a smaller, local version thereof. Little Miss has become a huge fan of WWE. for some reason, and I missed a chance to take her to an event last year. So I bucked up my courage and muscle relaxers and we headed out to the fair grounds.
She picked seats that had a great view, away from the main crowd, and the bulk of the noise. I was also tickled that she managed to go to the busy souvenir table, and negotiate her own signed photo of a wrestler, with her own money, despite a barn full of sensory distractions.
The matches were hot and heavy, and she got to see Asylum, her pictured wrestler fight.
My favorite was the last fight we watched….hard to tell who the “bad guy” was. The fight was allegedly for some Pennsylvania championship, and the current champ, “Big Time” Bill Collier, sure had a big shiny belt on. But he was fighting this little skinny guy in tie-dyed yoga pants, who went by the name Jimi the Flying Hippie. How could I not cheer for Jimi?
Once she’d had her fill of the entertainment this provided, we walked the fair grounds until I couldn’t stand it any more. We checked out the Home Show buildings, where she got comic books from the CCDAEC that convinced her that I needed to stop drinking my once monthly wine coolers because I am clearly an alcoholic. *eye roll*
And no Nick! Serious disappointment there.
Lastly, it was annoying as hell that the carousel they got this year was for little kids only, and they wouldn’t let her ride. She was nearly in tears, but stopped just short. It’s been her go-to ride, guaranteed at least five times a fair. She needs the spinny thing to help with her fair sensory overload. They didn’t even have bench seats, like most do, for the older people to relive a bit of their youth with a ride. Considering they charge admission including rides for everyone this year, you’d think everyone should have access to the rides. End rant.
So we went on the ferris wheel instead, and she pronounced herself satisfied, and reluctantly declared it her new favorite. From there we could see them setting up hundreds of seats in addition to the grandstand for the Jake Owen concert. We left just before that onslaught of folks began to arrive. Yay!
Now for a night of trying my new magnesium oil spray and letting Little Miss de-stress. She had an amazing day, and I couldn’t be happier.