Wednesday, May 31, 2017

~ Living The Lupus Life

It's Lupus Awareness Month.  For approximately four more hours.

(aka: ...So now I'm super fucking aware of how many
months I've been awful at increasing the awareness of Lupus. 
Fact: Eleven and 44/100ths months.) 

The other week I had an appointment with my Rheumatologist.  Whilst sittin' there flipping through some medical-ish magazine they leave in waiting rooms specific to, in my case, joint/autoimmune type patients, generally featuring some celebrity warrior* showing how great they're living with their affliction.  Lupus?  Oh, Lupus isn't holding them back from a 32 city tour, or hosting 17 TV shows, as they acquaint us with their 5 favorite tips for keepin' those washboard abs.  Lupus-schmoopus...   

* Once I heard local newscasters call area snowplow drivers, 'snow warriors' I could, obviously, no longer condone the footloose and fancy freeing of something that we all know belongs to those who've raised a hand and oath'd up to one of our military branches, not someone who overcame the battlefield-like conditions of Trader Joe's on the fucking weekend.  No offense, people who like to fancy yourselves warriors of some fucking variety or the other.     

...And look.  I don't want to sound like I begrudge them.  I sincerely do not.  (100:  Live long and prosper.)  I'm as thrilled for the people who are experiencing Lupus Lite™ as I am sad for the folks who are experiencing Lupus Worse, ya know?  The bottom line is someone else's state of Lupus ( --or, in general, their life) is of no consequence to me because it changes my circumstance zero.  I'm not as sick as I am because some other Loop-er is doing better/worse and vice versa. So, genuinely, I give them their full and due props.  They are, I'm sure, an inspiration to people and are successful brand ambassadors who help increase awareness of Lupus.

...But.  If we're gonna keep it real, (and let's) shouldn't the awareness be on what Lupus looks like for people who don't have assistants who can pick up the slack when you're having a flare and you literally can't pick anything up?  (Which I admit, sounds insane unless you are familiar with the Joy Of Loop [my newly commandeered forthcoming book title]. or right up until the moment you're standing in your bathroom in the morning wanting to brush your teeth, but even using two hands, your finger/wrist/elbow and shoulder joints band together in an coup to try to keep Get Shit Done You from generating the force needed to turn the faucet on.)  Frankly, that's the kind of awareness I need people in charge of funding disease fixes to have. 

I need the awareness to look less like Celeb-Lupus, and more like a person who at every turn is met by another shoe dropping.  But ya see, and as magazine cover create-ers already know, it's hard to depict that experience told without sounding like Debbie Fucking Downer.  

Annnnnnnnd now you know why I haven't 
mentioned it (Lupus) more frequently.  

The cold hard truth about Lupus is that for as many spokescelebs who appear (on the glossy mag covers, with the public relations manager approved interviews) to be relatively unaffected in their lifestyle there are an untold number who's lives more closely resemble mine--

I push each (day) month because I am a badass,
but also because it would kill me if someone
thought I was lazy or unwilling to push through.
Until today my last mention of the Loop was after I'd spent a week on the cardiac unit.  (Thanks, Lupus)  Post hospital-ing I tried not to go overboard in increasing my activity, I try not to do things that are likely to worsen things, I tried applying what people call, 'being reasonable' and gradually boosted my walking/doing general shit.  At the same time Cardiology put me on some heart feel good pill.  I remember there were six or so weeks in the early summer where I wasn't noticeably aware of my heart.  I suppose I don't have a better way of explaining it.  To say 'heart pain' would not be accurate, but when you have a physical change to your internal combustion engine that generates a new feeling inside of your body that you can notice?  That's not exactly a settling feeling.  It's not like the Tale Tail Heart or anything, but honestly, it's not that far off.  That month and a half or so was kind of like a wee vacation.  Not having to every fucking second assess if what your doing is going to cause enough pain that will result in some non-invasive-at-all procedure like, open heart surgery is, as it turns out, (...also, plus, and this;   being, non-medically trained and tasked with deciding where the line is between, probably not lethal, and this is probably how people die) Spoiler: exhausting.

Summer happened.  I did all the things a good Loop-er does, stayed the hell out of the sun.  Fun Fucking Fact:  Sun exposure frequently causes badness for Loop-ers ranging from rashes to generating a debilitating Lupus flare.  

I hung out twice like a grown up (read: non-Loop'd up) human being.  Once I was practically bubble wrapped (a la; dropped off at the door, picked up at the door) to achieve, and the second was my high school reunion.  

In the name of full Lupus awareness, ugh, the high school reunion I went to because I make it a habit to attend, but with that said, I pushed my self [physically] to go because I didn't feel 99.44% sure that I'd be here for the next one.  (FYI, I feel like if I'm lucky I will be.  I also feel that n-o-t-h-i-n-g  that has turned out to be my path of Lupus leads me to believe that I'm endowed with above average fortune when it comes to how things are going.  So, yeah, I thought I'd better carpe diem it.)  I had 2 1/2 beers that night.  Which as a girl who was raised and matriculated Catholic, and now that I'm aware of my Irish roots, I found downright depressing.  Lupus is a shenanigan stealin' bastard

During the course of the reunion one of my knee joints swelled to a point that I couldn't bend it to walk normally.  A classmate, friend since middle school and chauffer for the evening ('cause who knows what happens when you mix 666 pills per day with a bit of booze?), LEM touched my knee and was shocked by the tactile heat it produced.  (Have party tricks will travel.) 

In September Cardiology maxed me out on the heart meds, letting me know that if the additional meds didn't TCB, I'd be looking at pericardial stripping

Also, September...
That one time ya have surgery
 & before you're properly
awake people let you look
like you have a big blue penis...
I've had 5 open surgeries (not including some small, surgeries that I almost feel bad about calling surgeries, but were preformed in an operating room and involved going under anesthesia, which I'd place at? 15?). 

I'm not one predisposed to being particularly concerned about going under the knife [my 1st was when I was 10 so I hardly remember a life where surgery wasn't kinda routine]...  But two things make me feel uneasy about the concept of this one looming over my head.  A) Fact:  The Cleveland Clinic does about 40 of these per year.  Now, if the mother fuckin' Cleveland Clinic is only doing 40/yr?  You know you're not supposed to be doin' that.  You do things where the smallest poedunk urgent care is doing hundreds of 'em.  You stay as far away from the operation that one of the most prestigious hospitals in the nation only does slightly more than a few handfuls of, ya dig?  And II) You know when old folks break a hip and it's all downhill from there until they're swirling the drain?  That's what I feel like this procedure would bring about for me.  Last year it was impressed upon me that due to everything Lupus related I'm a poor surgical risk, and a bad horse to bet on to recovery well (read: without contracting an infection that I wouldn't be able to fight off [anti-rejection meds eliminate your immune system so infections, viruses, bacteria, measles, MRSA, etc., are all super easy to kill you), my increased propensity for blood clots [hence, my super cool splenic infarct, which Fun Fact: When you Google most frequently uses the term, 'rare" to describe, jealous?], risk of pneumonia that would increase lethality, etc.), and when that conversation was had it didn't involve a proceedure (or recovery) as involved/invasive as the splitting of one's sternum.  When I say my goal is to not be any part of this surgery, I'm tellin' ya, I'm doing everyfuckingthing possible to avoid being a part of it.

Early October brought me the opportunity to get to hang with one of my BFF's in from California with a few other local friends one night downtown.  (When you can count your outside fun and frivolity on less than one hand for the full year, that's not, ya know, ideal.)

The end of October brought the joy (and work, and training, and patience, and stamina needed, et al) of an 8 week old puppy.  Naturally, his wee ass arrival was adorable.  But it also necessitated family asking if the cute AF pup was killing me with the added activity (in/out, upstairs/downstairs, the this, that, and othering that I'm totally not complaining about puppyhood) accompanying a nearly new dog. 
Understatement: Puppies are a LOT of work.
Also, they are afuckingdorable and possibly
a key component to human-ing.

Honestly?  I never would have admitted it at the time, but those early weeks and months confirmed that @SalvadorDoggi will be my last canine friend.  I can't forsee any way where future me would be able to do all it takes to raise a dog to be a gentleman.  (Gentledog?) 

A perfect storm of events collided at the end of '16 - beginning of '17. 

Because 'roids are physically bad for you long term, Rheumatology laid out a plan to shrinky-dink my 'roids on a weekly basis.  As I like to say, I'm not a doctor so I followed the word of the learned professional.  And within a scant few weeks the whole BBG operation was off the rails.  Increased joint swelling/pain to the point that my knees won't really bend their full range so I'm once again waddling more than walking.  Also, I started noticing that I was more and more aware of my heart business.  

Did I (these famous and arbitrarily vague to the point of being meaningless and un-useful words), 'do too much' and bring on a Lupus flare?  Or did the reduction of 'roids allow the Loop to get more unstable and become out of control?  ...Valid chicken/egg questions.  Questions that I have no answer for.  Lupus:  Your Very Own Medical Mystery Party.

Pretty quickly I was returned to my original load of daily 'roids due to the ramifications of dose changes.  Very slowly I have felt incrementally less wonky. 

The celeb spokes-folks present 'good days' as these days where they hardly even remember they have Lupus.  A good BBG day?  At no point did I wince when taking the two steps to escort my puppy outside (I'll let you know when this happens.)  For contrast, my old/bein' healthy norm was 11-12 flights of steps per day, now?  If I rack up 4-5 climbs I check behind my back to check to see if I need to adjust my invisible superhero cape that must have sprung from my shoulders.  Planning floor to floor is key.  I used to enforce a strict 'dumbass tax' on myself when I got to a floor and forgot something I meant to bring that entailed turning right the fuck around to trek immediately back to get whatever.  That's my SOP level of hardass'dness when no one is watching.   (So, if ever you've found yourself thinkin', man, she's kinda hard on people.  Yeah, that's what cuttin' slack looks like.  You're welcome.)

Annnnnnnd now you know why I've been on
social interwebs less than usual. 

I, BBG, do hereby, fully offer up this acknowledgement of my inner old men in the Muppet's Show balcony as I admit, I like to use a keyboard.  A real, honest to god, fucking keyboard.  I don't want to have to iPad-squish-my-fingers-together-throw-off-my-typing-gate keypad it.  So you know I'm not unnecessarily messin' with the keyboard of the phone.  Nope.  Uh-huh.  Some regular Lupus days the coming to the computer, and the sitting up long enough to do whatever, and adding an extra flight of stairs is more than is without some ramification do-able.  (Again, could the computer be moved to a different floor at BBG HQ?  Yes?  It'd, like a pizza, take one phone call and thirty minutes.  Could I use any of the two other devices at my disposal at BBG HQ to socialize in the modern day way?  Again, yes.  I don't want to, and am only willing to let Loop change my lifestyle so much, as long as I have any power to exercise over it.  Self established internal fortitude-y line in the fucking sand
Clearly, this non-famous/ordinary Lupus life overview is not going to sell any magazines, although technically that kind of doctor office condition specific content is free, soooooo, it's not a feel-good, or an inspiring account.  Take it from me, absolutely nobody wants to have to think about establishing a hair washing protocol, FFS.  Again, I know that it sounds crazy, but days I'm going to wash my hair require deciding how to design my day so that whatever else needs to be accomplished (medical appts., errand running, puppy-ing, meal making, blah, blah, you know what daily things are, blah) can happen.  What type of rearranging 'n rejiggering, or the resisting of doing other things must take place to include that as part of the program.  Today, actually, I realized that the last time I washed my hair, the concept of holding my arms above my shoulders long enough to wash, rinse, repeat (possible mortification alert: maaaaybe condition), toweling, combing, morocco oil-ing, double fisting to hairdryer and brush simultaneously, and completing with a flatiron, for the first time in a long while hadn't seemed daunting.  [Lupus non-unicorn/spokeslebrities peeps can't have anything they don't have a plan to for how it's going to go, or an have an idea of all that it entails, or every foreseeable permutation.  Not exercising such prudence is an invitation to negative health consequences that can hose your next week or six, or six months. 

"...The only thing worse than having trouble doing something once is having trouble doing it fucking twice."     
                                                                 - Moi

The other day, (an ordinary human Lupus day) I started a new dose of anti-rejection med.  It's, apparently the highest dose that can be taken.  (Which is just the kinda thing you hope to hear at a doctors appointment.)

I tend to feel less super as the day wears on.  (Which seems to be opposite than a lot of Loop-ers.) 

I also tend to get a lot of lectures about taking pain meds, because apparently, fucked up personal fact; I feel like Lupus is making me say Uncle if I take one.  (Lupus is [already] going to win with it's home field advantage and all, why should I have to be a good loser too?) So it wasn't a great sign that day when my first thought as I took my first morning steps out of bed were, should I take a pain med?  A pain med is like a moral acquiescence to me.  Like, it's my absolute last go-to move.  Unfamiliar readers will take that to mean, 'ok, she's not big on poppin' pills.'  Friends 'n family are like, 'oh, my god, call 911, she's so bad off she's taken a single pain pill!'  (audible fucking gasp

Soon I started to feel like I was on the verge of vomiting.  The unyeilding Lupus questions to be considered is, in fact, unfuckingending...  Verge of vomit, pain pill prompted?  Or new higher anti-rejection med based?  And how can I do what Cher hasn't mastered and turn back time to do anything about it?
A festive li'l side effect of taking
the anti-emetic is that it gives me
the looooong QT's, fun, right?

Queasiness is nothing out of the ordinary.  (Kidney stones, the volume of meds I'm on, and a common symptom of Lupus itself are all queasy culprits, so your guess is as good as mine.)  But the heart biz means that I can only take my anti-hurling meds a set number of times per week, lest it fuck my heart up some more. 

Plus, fighting to stay awake from the pain medication is another of the big reasons I'm not big on taking it, choosing to instead wander around painful because, to paraphrase Garth Brooks, I don't wanna miss the dance, ya know? 

But I know adding no puke-y - puke-y to the mix will ensure a whole day surrendered to the Sandman.  There is no fighting the sleepy time agents involved in both pills.  This is when the game of Decisions-Decisions© starts to get interesting.  Be less miserable/more Rip Van Winkle, or be lucid and pre chunk blowin' mouth water-y because? Colum A) maxing out on anti-rejections makes nauseates ya, or colum B) your 'normal' queasiness is all of the sudden taken a turn for the worse?  See how Tim McCarver hard it is to make the right call?

This, is what the best part of my day looked like. 

And now you know why I try to float 'fine' as an answer for
how I'm doing when asked. 

The behind the curtain version, of what non-famous (without assistants, without above average resources, etc.) Lupus looks like when you're not on the we're doing' great end of the bell curve ain't rainbows and unicorns.  Noted.  But, again, isn't that all the more reason to be aware of what Lupus also is the next time you hear someone using it as an example for a wink-wink ailment that isn't very ail-y wink-wink?  Or the next time your local Walk To End Lupus happens.  I'm just sayin', nothing that isn't on someone's radar gets addressed.  Knowing more than the celeb spokes-folks experience of Lupus is already an increase of awareness so really my job here is done. [mic drop]  You've already helped with that (you just good-person'd by wasting time on the interwebs.  ...The times we live in, huh?).  

To augment my Debbie Downer-ing, Fact: Before you feel too good about yourselves; you've been out good-person' d, as, for the record, have I, by my bestie, AnonD who (as you can probably surmise by her code name is someone who would not like identified by name, or likeness) took Lupus awareness to heart with purple (the Official Lupus Color) to her head.  If you're curious how I haven't gone on some sort of spree?  A: I have these stellar people in my world: 
Lupus Awareness Hair!!
AnonD: Are you doing anything special for Lupus Month?
Me: Well, honestly I feel like by having it I've really done my part...
(belly laughs ensue)

I'm currently, again, trying to shrinky dink my 'roids.  Earlier today I walked Salvador out to the circle of grass possibly 15' [a more out of one's ass guesstiment has never been made] from the BBG HQ driveway.  It's maaaaaybe the second time this year I've felt like that probably wouldn't kill me.  So, I also want you to be aware that compared to the past nine months or so, I'm feeling as spry AF.  Fingers crossed the 'roid reduction won't send me into some sinister health spin, so go ahead and knock some damn wood. 

You should know that as non-awesome as the Lupus life is, that I laugh everyday.  Yes, Lupus is going to kill me.  Congratulations, you just don't know what's going to kill you.  And it's changed large swaths of my life.  In zero good ways.  But where I come from that's no excuse not to enjoy the hell outta the now.  I'm a staunch do-er of just that. 

Friends always ask what they can do?  Usually, I don't really have a solid that I'm in need of.  I'm gonna cover my bases until DIYing it ceases to be possible.  Period.  Today is different.  There is something tangible you can do to help me, and millions of your family and friends across the nation.  If you've been keeping up with the news you already know that Republicans are trying to advance the repeal of what is commonly referred to as Obamacare.  So, I suppose my favor is, would you each personally send me fifty thousand dollars?  Between hospitalizations, ER visits, MRI's/CT's/X-Rays, doctor appointments (which I once tracked for a 6 month period and numbered in the neighborhood of 130-ish appointments, averaging a medical appointment every 1.5 days), I'd hope that would cover those things.  Oh, and prescriptions.  Once the GOP announced they were taking away the safety net of guaranteeing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions (Fun BBG Fact:  Guess who had a congenital kidney defect, and asthma, and allergies before she ever had [was diagnosed/symptomatic] Lupus? ) I thought I'd better start getting an idea of how long I could live without the safety guarantees and poked around to see how much my meds would be.  I only found pricing on about half of my 'scripts and they alone came in at $3,500/mo. 

Q:  How many months would your kid/parent stay alive if you had to pay $3,500+ out of pocket for their life sustaining medication?

Guaranteed pre-existing condition coverage is the safety net to my health security.  As is, the no lifetime cap guarantee currently provided as part of Obamacare (which also, if Republicans have their way will be revoked).  Again, as you can kinda get a feel for, Lupus (and other conditions; cancer, diabetes, congestive heart failure, dialysis, leukemia, asthma, ALS, MD, CF, MS, etc.,) is expensive to manage and to insure (vs. healthy folk).  But here's the rub, no emergency room is going to just let someone die.  Someone without continuity of coverage (those important guarantees) will simply go to the ER for small piddly stuff #ThisIsWhyYourWaitIsLong (because they have no other access to medical intervention, without insurance they won't be able to afford to see a primary care or specialist or urgent care for non-acute and/or continuing care) or will wait until they are drastically ill, meaning it takes more resources to stabilize them, more costly doctor-y, test-y and longer stay-y resources. (Spoiler: Costs that one way or the other insured people and tax payers will pay for.)  

Overinflated Hospital Charges
Why do you think you see $49.99 for a box of tissues on your itemized hospital bill?  Gold plated facial tissues wouldn't cost that much.  The price is high because hospitals have to cover the cost of those people with 'access to health coverage', but not actual health care coverage because as a pre-existing/life time cap-er they can't afford insurance and/or it is sketchy and doesn't cover things we think of as generally being covered (like, MRI's or EKGs, and other medically things so common laypeople recognize their names).  I don't mean to sound like I'm twisting arms here.  If you're unable to send thousands of dollars to me (and each of your family, friends co-workers, neighbors who a repeal would also catastrophically [health wise, and financially] impact) to keep us whole, and alive, the other option to help is to just call your representative 202-224-3121 and let them know you do not want them to advance their plans to kill me*.

* And millions of other Americans.

As always, I don't expect, or recommend that anyone take any advice or news from some random ass blog on the interwebs.  But, I do expect that you have enough regard for the others in your life who right this very instance are on the precipice of needlessly shortened lives and Google for yourself to find out what is at stake for people in your life, if not you, someday.  (Reminder:  I wasn't always Loop'd up, ya know.  And you don't know if tomorrow you'll find yourself in our shoes.)  

Here's a starter kit:
Be aware that you have the ability to prevent me (and literally millions of Americans in similar circumstances) from dying sooner than necessary if you contact your elected representatives [here] today.   

P.S.  Also, be aware that I find it embarrassing that for the second time this year I (and peeps like me) have been forced to beg for their health and financial security.  Not embarrassing for me, embarrassing for America.  But, here's where we are. 

P.P.S.  If you don't choose to contact your representative, consider this your un-invitation to my funeral.  (Which is gonna be awesome.  I've had it planned for decades and it's a stone cold soiree.)  And my official notice that I am going to haunt your ass.

Related Posts:
I Didn't Shit The Table And Other Real Life Tales Of Lupus ('15 Dec)
Learning Lupus (May '16)


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

~ Drumroll, Please

It's been a shitty year (+). 

Fact:  The biggest and best thing that I've done (/has happened to me/I've been involved in) in that amount of time was my high school reunion in August. 

I was out at night like a damn grown up.  I was outside (if you've been keeping track of my neighbor, Kooky McBean & the Pussycats situation, then you know 'outside' has been made impossible to be at BBG HQ), takin' in the night air and appreciating the stars.  There was alcohol.  Ol' friends.  It was the absolute highlight of the year-ish that my dog died, and that I was diagnosed with Lupus.  ...To add a bit of context  even that night involved me only being able to consume a grand total of two beers (because taking nine hundred and thirty two pills a day doesn't lend itself to bein' booze compatible).  My knee, for reasons only known to the devil and my immune system mysteriously, and super fucking conveniently, decided to swell and get hot to the touch during the evening rendering me unable to walk without lookin' wonky.  And the drunkard (which I do not use as a pejorative) classmate who we were like fucking livin' angels driving home got a flat tire capping off the evening by sitting on the side of a country road waiting for a tow truck.  Now, no offense to my high school reunion, but you know when that's been the pinnacle of more than a 365 stretch?  "It's been a shitty year", is the most delusional optimistic possible framing of the situation.

Needless to say I'm super stoked to have good news happening, and to be able to share. 

Several weeks ago my new best friend was born.

As I suppose there must always be a l'il yin to every yang, he's not cute at all.

Not.  At.  All.

He will arrive at BBG HQ this weekend.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

~ I Want ALL Of The Gold Stars


I want to be a 'good person'.  I spend a inordinate amount of time attempting to fit that definition.  Usually, I think it's not that hard.  Being a dick is just not my go-to-move.  Which isn't to say I can't be a dick.  Everybody has their breaking point where all bets are off.  I just try to use all of the other gettin' shit done tools in my arsenal first.  (Caveat:  Sometimes [although particularly in business, I probably feel this way 'cause I don't let a lotta assholes in the BBGWorld-da-verse.] an asshole only understands assholiness.  That's the only language they understand.  They can't respect anything other than the asshole approach, so you've gotta go in hard with these people.  [Which is kinda fun and exhausting all at the same time.], but I digress.
Mom is an RN.  Before that she was a Police Officer.
Dad was a Police Officer.  Before that (& ALWAYS)
a Marine.  So you're damn straight this is one
of my favorite quotes.

So the frequency in which I'm having to remind me that I'm not the kind of person who kills cats is, I wanna say disturbing, but also stressful, so?  Disturbfull?  Stresstrubing?  Having to come up with new words to convey the enormity of fuck-up'idness, is also, as it turns out, stresstrubing.

I have, let's call 'em general plans if I have to kill an actual person.  Which I am always prepared to have be a possibility. 

Totally TMI, and (some serious digression is about to go on alert:) probably a tid-bit that once I share will likely leave your head noddin' in the affirmative while thinking silently, 'yeah.  That explains a lot.'  When I was a wee ass lass, maybe? 8-ish, a completely random guess from a girl who can't accurately recall what the fuck I did last Tuesday.  My Dad was studying for the Sergeants exam.  Manuals and study guides sat on side tables and I was kinda kid who liked to read the set of encyclopedias, or Finger Paper Google for you youngin's. Next thing I know I am learning about entrance wounds vs. exit wounds.  I won't bore you with the details, but full color, corpses on the slab, oh, that's what brain matter looks like?, amazement and wonder sucked me in.  So much so that I never heard my Mom enter the room.  I did hear when she yelled at my Dad for leaving such material out and about.  (Sorry, Dad.)  I could absolutely not see the problem.  I'd learned some shit.  For, ya know, all of those times an elementary age kid needs to lead a murder investigation.  I'd seen parts of the body I'd never seen before other than in cartoon form.  Thought that was cool too.  I don't remember ever having a bad dream, or anything.  I just found it fascinating.  Like I later did with Mom's nursing school books.  Making me the coolest 10-year old familiar with the PDR (Physicians Desk Reference) and Merck's .  (Suck it, Doogie Howser, M.D.)   I've always had a curious streak.  Then a few years later Dad was forced to shoot and kill a man. (Story link here)   ...So, I've always, from an early age, known that I might have to kill a human.  Circumstances conspire and you're in an only-one-of-us-is-going-home, and I'm goin' the fuck home.  And boom.  There's a body.  I accepted this reality a long ass time ago.

Obviously, I'm not a monster.  I hope I never have to kill a person.  But if I do?  Well, two things;  1) If ya've given me no other option than to kill you?  I.  Am.  Gonna.  Kill.  Your.  Ass.  

I have one way to kill a person in every room.  Some rooms have two.  They're not all the same and are easily accessible without being visible, or recognized on sight.  In my life I have only told one person the entirety of the weaponry at hand.  Ok.  I just told a fib.  He knew all but one.  (He:  my live in police officer beau) I just thought it was prudent to have a hold back in case I ever had to kill him.  (shrugs)  Look, if there's anything life has taught me at every fucking chance it's had it's that you can't be 100% sure of what tomorrow is gonna bring.  (Oh.  I see that that seems borderline bat shit crazy, and for an accountant's kid it would be.  As a copkid, my Dad would never speak to me again if he thought BBG HQ wasn't tactically tricked out.)  BBG Fun Fact:  The first move you make that let's me know it's to-the-death time?  I've already decided I'm going to kill you.

B) Have you met 'people'?  There are a lot of real fuckers out there.  The last time I grocery shopped I awarded myself a gold star for not slashing the throat of some broad who was too busy with her cell to be bothered with common civility, like, pulling off to the side as opposed to, let's say, abruptly stoppin' her shopping cart buggy (West Virginia shout out!) in the middle of the aisle.  I didn't think my frozen pizza offered the kinda edge necessary to accomplish the task, so I just repeated 'serenity now' until I tersely said, very Suzanne Sugerbakerly, "excuse me."  The kind that on first blush ya think is a request, but then ya realize ya just got, albeit politely-ish, ordered.  I'm just sayin', if every other day of life has taught me two things then it's that I know how to manage to not let dumbass people make me loose my cushy, compared to Oz, which I am currently watchin', existence. 

(Dear HBO GO,  We're gonna have to have a talk.  Have you not seen Netflix??  I swear, sometimes you make me insert a soundtrack of the ol' school AOL dial up noise.  So, get your shit together.   Regards, BBG)

I am not the continually loosin' my shit type.  I've never thrown a plate in anger so the universe is pretty fuckin' safe from me ever throwin' bullets because some dolt is tickin' me off.  Plus, I place a high value on the absurd, and the fixin's of a good story. 

...So, while I haven't had to kill a person (again, thankfully) the thought of it isn't very troubling, in the sense that I've already accepted that if we've gotten to that point?  My death was the only other choice, and I can't have that.  I know all to well the toll taking a life takes on the take-er with the Dad situation, so I don't mean to sound caviler about it, just keenly aware that if somethin' ever goes down I'm fully capable of takin' a human life, if the universe won't have it any other way.

But an animal?  Nope.  I just couldn't.  And, yes, I get that my burger doesn't grown on trees that are hugged everyday by people dancin' around dressed in tofu scented tu-tus.  (I, BBG, do hereby call dibs on the corporate name and/or likeness of 'Tofu-tus'.)  Ham, as much as I wish were the fuckin' case, doesn't magically appear with the wave of a wand.  Lemme short hand it for you, I have stopped the BBG(at the time)mobile to avoid running over an opossum. (In the country in the dead of night, so no witnesses or ramifications.)  A person who doesn't kill an opossum, an opossum!  One of the ugliest, creepy ass creatures in the animal kingdom.  If anything probably deserves to be looked at and immediately killed, it's an opossum.  Fact:  If you won't kill an opossum you're not gonna kill a cute animal.  (For the same reason that you can guarantee that a person who wears swimming nose plugs is definitely not gonna snort any powder-y substance.)

Congratulations!  You made it through the ramble!
(circling back is about to happen)

The fact that I'm having to set an internal reminder to settle myself probably tells ya all ya need to know about the (ugh) Cat Fight (the origin story).  But if you seriously don't have anything better to do...

When we last left off all cat action (or, 'catageddon' as my Mom calls it) was confined to the back deck, comprising the bulk of my in theory personal outdoor space.  And rendering it almost completely fucking useless to me with it's bio-hazard-y nature, thanks to my neighbor, and free-range cat feeding enthusiast, Kooky McBean. There were some behind the scenes ta-doin's that I wasn't ready to tip my hand about in the last post.  (ahem, hold backs)  The BBGville City Prosecutor has struck a deal with her that she shall ('shall', as in fuckin' must) cease feedin' these fuckin' cats.  (Doing so stops the clock on the legal proceedings looming over her head.)  If she's found to be feeding cats she will immediately be charged with contempt of court and forced to pay all court costs for both sides.  The deal also includes a provision the the BBGville City Health Department can make an unannounced visits to her home at literally any time for a random inspection of the premises, both inside and out and she may not deny them entry. 

When I got the final update from the City Prosecutor he mentioned that he hoped that would put an end to the situation.  I giggled.  And remember how long and how much effort it took to get her to comply with the Great Don't Feed The Birds Off Your Deck-Fest of 2011 (link to story).  I pretty much knew it was likely to be a when we talk again vs. a if

And guess fucking what?

I'm calling him today.  For today, I found this on my deck...

Hey, BBGW-ers, know what's cool?
Well, after a quick Googlin', according to the CDC
eleven can kill ya things including;

Super.  Fucking.  Cool.  No?

Now, again, I don't like having to play the girl in the bubble card, but this is what's posted in throughout the hospital system I use.  I have two items that apply to me.  (I miss out on a trifecta on a technicality.)  So, I'm pretty fuckin' sure I'm not supposed to be dealing with 11 herbs 'n spices ways to be die during mouse body disposal.  But this, my friends, is just the today-y latest. 

In the past week or so I started to notice a change in my sole remaining source of outdoorsiness, as the back area had been, for all intents and purposes made functionally unusable by Kooky McBean's actions.    

Last week-ish started looking like this in the front of BBG HQ:



One day returning to BBG HQ I found two kittens curled up at my garage door.  (Do I sound like I'm in any condition to have to deal with a cat creepin' into my garage and dying behind a 6' shelf?  Or that I'd fare well if one of these flea ridden fuckers shoots in my house infesting the whole BBGOperation?!?)  Again, I don't mean to sound like woe-is-fuckin'-me as much as it seems I am, but I can't pretend that this is just a general inconvenience to an otherwise up-to-snuff, healthwise, human. 

Once I noticed the activity in front I attempted to change it.  Nana told me that she and Papa kept some feral cats at bay (on their front porch) once by setting up mouse traps on the chairs they were beginning to frequent.  She said the clickity-clack of them frightened the cats away, but didn't harm them.  So, I gave that a whirl.


As you can see, that went exxxactly as planned.  In my defense, it was the first time I'd ever purchased or used a mouse trap.  In fact, when I asked for help locating them I didn't think they were called mouse traps 'cause I though that's what they call those black boxes ya see around the outside of stores 'n such were.  Honestly, I don't know why they don't call 'em mouse guillotines (aka:  Mousekotines [Trademark pending.  Suck it.])  Not only did the putting them into action part go poorly, the actual efficacy didn't break my way either.

Exhibit A:  Take a peek at one of those last pictures.  (lower, left)  See that cat on the bricks?  At my front door?  Notice what's right the fuck beside it completely un-sprung and deterring squat.

Another feline present: 
Bloody ass egg on my deck

And to put a perfect caper on the endevour, later when I was getting ready for bed I noticed I had a few places on my legs.  They were itchy.  I showered and squirted myself with some Benadryl spray.  Now, before last year?  I probably woulda scratched until the itch subsided or my skin tore open and bled, ya know which ever came first.  But now?  I can't have skin openings practically cobbling together embossed invitations for bacteria and virus.  Gold star, me for exercising pragmatic behavior.  The next day I showed my Mom the spots, she said they were flea bites.  I wonder were I got those?  So now I have been banned from going in my courtyard. 

Today I noticed the cats had been wilding and had knocked over a few plants.  Can I go 6' out of my front door to right them?  It doesn't strike me as being prudent, how 'bout you?  I'm leery to open my front door lest fleas try to breech the screen door.  I don't know how fleas function? 

Wait.  I resend ^^that^^ as being the caper.  The caper is actually this head exploding moment...

These.  Cats.

I see them from the window.  I try to shoo them away by knocking on the window.  Naturally, their feline-y response was to

SerinityRightFuckingNow, 9, 8, 7, 6...

Which tells me they are accustomed to Kooky McBean summoning them with a knock.  My non-cat expert senses tell me wild animals who aren't being courted by people are more skittish than this. 

My detective senses, which is actually a skill I posses.  (Do you know the kind of deducing, lead following, getting people to talk to you and tell you info they don't want to tell you [turning states evidence] and recon you need to employ to get to the decision maker at a McDonald's or Target?) tells me that Kooky McBean has moved her operation up front.  By the, I'm now leaving my garage door jusssssst a cat amount, I'm guessing she's made that a new safe haven. 
She's even gotten stealthier in her OG cat set up.  I no longer see an 'outdoor cat scratcher' when I glance out of my window.  I suspect her grill cover, so covertly raised oh-so-much at the bottom (and directly facing her floor to ceiling kitchen window) obscures some form of harboring and 'care' station. 

Can fleas come through the screen?  I don't know either, as a precaution I've had to keep my slider closed for obvious as fuck reasons.

Meanwhile, I remind myself that I'm not a cat killer.  Because unlike any person I might have to kill the cats aren't maliciously tryin' to kill me.  But Kooky McBean?  She's an option.


Monday, August 29, 2016

~ What Your Cool Ass Aunt Wants You To Know About College

College, for most people, is the first time you get to spend any real time with people who aren't exactly like you.  I know you're a unique snowflake, and all.  It's the first time you're not gonna be surrounded predominately by other peers who grew up in your neighborhood.  Who's parents have jobs like yours do, who shop at the same Old Navy you do, that have, like you, spent most of their days in their zip code. 

In the coming weeks you'll cross paths with people who don't look like you, don't hold the same religious beliefs (or non) that you're familiar with, or eat the same food you have been weaned on.  Go, say hello.  Offer them a piece of gum, or whatever adults in training are doin' these days, which I, as an old ass wouldn't presume to know.  Saving both of us embarrassment.  You're welcome Meet them.  Listen to them.  Knowing people who are the you of the other side of town is fine, don't get me wrong.  But knowing, and coming to have a greater understanding of the people who are you from the other side of the world, or other side of the political spectrum, or social economic setting?  That's where you learn your world view. 

Views are limited by experience.
Your world view, how you interpret your place in the world, how you formulate your political feelings, how you recognize injustices (and are able to in turn do something about them), how you do the math to understand the sum of the how the world works, etc., is about to be altered.  Prepare yourself.  Not everyone has the ability, or desire to notice or embrace such challenges. 

It's like your world view of transportation.  When you were three your field of reference was a big wheel, when you knew more and were older it was a big kid bike, now it's a car.  You knew cars existed when you were 3, but none of the considerations you automatically cycle through now (when you put the keys in the ignition) were factors in your thinking and perception of getting from point a-to-b, at the time.  That's how life works too.  (And why it's important to always be willing to accept all varieties of info as they pop up.  [You have a good head on your shoulders, you'll be able to come to your own conclusions about things, the important part is the exposure part, the open to discovery part.]  Can you imagine bein' all, 'nope, I like my big wheel, I don't wanna know about the next layer of info 'n opportunities?  Jetsonmobiles?  Eh, no thanks.  Fact:  That sentiment doesn't sound any less ridiculous when applied to life.)  You know all someone can know about being a teen and high school, you view the world, and it's workin's through that prism.  But that's only an accurate view from where your standing in life, from your narrow vantage point you've gathered to date.  Today you begin the process of taking your world to the next level.  (ProTip:  You'll learn some people never enlarge their view beyond that point.  Sometimes due to lack of opportunities, sometimes out of comfort and laziness.)  You fill in the view (pick up the peripheral details, notice the nuance) by expanding your wealth of knowledge (not preconceived notions, but actual experience and interactions).

You, Jon Snow, know nothing.

Yes, you've managed to assist your parents in keeping you alive.  But, let's be 100%.  It's only been a relative short amount of time and under pretty specific conditions.  You've demonstrated that you can to some degree manage to not kill yourself with your poor decisions.  It's why the world forces you to prove your abilities with a temporary permit before you have free reign.  This is your educational/career-y/life-y temp permit.  The step you have to take before being received as a 'real adult'.

Everyone has led you to believe that college is about learning book things.  (Fact:  If I don't underscore that of course it is, your mother will certainly punch me in the throat the next time we see each other.)  But never discount the value of the ancillary things you learn during these years.  In class you're learning the building blocks of your future career.  Outside, however, you'll learn the building blocks of a fully formed you find the opportunity to decide, and program yourself with the habits to make yourself the type of person you're going to be when you envision your ideal grown ass self. 

Here are some other helpful as fuck hints:

Step out of your comfort zone when choosing friends.  (check) 

Sex.  Sex is to college as peanut butter is to jelly.  Lots of opportunities are going to present themselves.  In large part, by 'opportunities', I mean alcohol.  You'll be in close confines with people who are new and exciting, feelings and/or chemistry is gonna bud and the next thing you know (surprise) you are pants free.  I know your folks have mentioned it, but sometimes, just sometimes it takes a different voice to say it before you listen (at least that's how I am);  BE SAFE.  No excuses.  If you can manage to plan to not be out of Mt. Dew, or gas in your car, or without that thing you consider a big fucking deal you are mature enough to not let sex have a chance to kill you.  The fact that you didn't go to class topless lets you know you're capable of adhering to common sense rules of life. 

The other thing about sex you need to always carry with you?  When not to do it.  Pop Quiz:  Would ya engage in gettin' it on with someone who was stinky?  I mean, stanky, not ya just finished workin' out and you're sweaty as hell, like B fucking O.  Nope, of course ya wouldn't.  Congratulations!  You have the ability to decipher when it is and isn't ok, or in your best interest to have sex.  Use this superpower to decide under what conditions you participatin' in sex is appropriate.  You know not to rape people.  But don't take your eye off how quickly you can find yourself in positions (which all of the sudden seems like a bad choice of words, but...) where under the light of day, and/or sobriety, or when phased by an attorney could be up for debate.  Keep yourself out of such situations.  This isn't achieved by magic, you're going to have to use your ability to decipher when it is and isn't ok.  And you're going to have to be do so when Jaegermister is telling you that, you. can.  do.  a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. 

The rest about sex and the college dynamic you'll figure out.  The other things are skinned knees and bruises.  These things are the life and death-y shit. 

Drugs and Booze.  I don't know what the world looks like on campus in 2016.  But for sure they haven't ceased bein' around and easily available since my day.  You're going to do what you're going to do, try what you're going to try.  None of us can prevent that.  As Smokey the Bear says, only you can prevent forest fires.  You're surrounded by the availability of drugs, but only you can decide whether or not you're willing to burn down the forest, (either through clumsy fumbling or on purpose) or not.  Choose wisely.  If as an adult you want to be the person who knows how to make the right call in life-y situations?  Your practice at it is now.  Be aware that the ramifications of those choices are ones that can haunt you and put things you want for yourself in peril for the rest of your life.

A friend owns a bar in BBGville, as their
daughter started her freshman year she
took the warning to heart so much so
that she taped her drinks closed.
Q: Who's more of an expert about the
dangers and the reality of booze bein'
tampered with than someone who's a
professional on booze AND people.
Heed this shit.
As for drinking?  (Other than the obvious, don't drink and drive.)  The major rule of thumb is don't be that guy/girl.  Don't be the girl with her head in a bucket sitting on the couch.  Don't be that guy who thinks that running through traffic slapping cars, or pickin' fights after a couple-a pops is acceptable.  It's douchbaggery and I'm not sure what the girl-y equivalent is, but it's that.  Know your saturation point.  If you're dancin' on the bar but still have control over reason and prudent judgment, that's the sweet spot.  If talking back to a police officer seems like a good idea, or hoppin' behind the wheel is probably ok?  You aren't in control of you, tequila is.  ABC:  Always Be (in) Control (of you).  (Even if it's only the core functions; stayin' alive, remaining un-maimed, and without a date for a court appearance.)

Use the buddy system.  For the same reason it worked in kindergarten.  Two heads and four fists are better than one (two).  To this day I use the buddy system.  How else do you think I've managed to resist slapping all of the people who've legit deserved to be slapped all these years?  A:  Friends capable of talkin' me out of being me for my own damn good.  #Invaluable

To steal a corporate tag; Just Do It.  Take every opportunity to grow and expand your universe you can.  Ok.  Not every.  Avoid things that are likely to result in a trip to the ER, jail or morgue.  I know you can't anticipate the result of every decision you make, but your family has already equipped you with the ability to see downrange in a host of situations you've never been an active participant in.  You know the answer to 75% of what might present itself, the variable is the other 25% which is comprised of your willingness to effectively manage your decisions.  In addition to expanding your personal circle and point of reference in the world, try things that might not be natural matches to your known skill sets.  Check out a club or team that you're not already good at, or knowledgeable about.  Even when you're not learning something directly beneficial to your career goals, lessons applicable to it can be gleaned from what seems like unlikely and surprising sources.  Volunteer with an organization where you'll meet and serve people living circumstances your unfamiliar with.  These years are the cocktail party years.  Lots of trays of new-to-you foods are passing by.  Indulge in what passes by because you've never been exposed to it before.  Maybe you won't like it.  Maybe it'll become your new favorite.  You won't know until you give it a whirl.  If you leave the party without trying the different things being offered you'll just be hungry and unfulfilled.  Manga.  Take a bite outta life.

Damn straight you're afraid.  You're being thrown into the unknown.  It's natural.  I'll let you in an adult-ing secret...  Whenever you do engage in something new there's fear.  This applies to everything.  (Fact:  Not 'everything', just things you have no experience with yet)  I have friends who have never been in the hospital and are uneasy (to functionally rendered immobile by being petrified) of medical-y settings.  I first remember being hospitalized at 9, so the process has never really been new to me, therefore I'm not afraid of any of that.  It's not new.  The faster you recognize that walking into a room full of strangers at college is scary only at first and then that's a thing of the past (because you've gained the security that you know what it's like), and that you can apply the same logic to sky diving, starting your first grownup job, or getting serious with someone, or any of the other 3.2 million things you'll be faced with over a lifetime that will be 'new'  and therefore easier to remain status quo about because ya don't know how to manage the fear and unease of change.  Learn the tools that work for you to overcome such trepidations. The fall flat on your face is easier to rebound from at your age.  When I see people my age who never really learned that lesson you can see in disparate areas of their lives how it's held them back from experiencing as much of life as they should/could, and stunts their ability to deal with things in productive/grownup ways.  On their jobs, in their love lives, in their sheer aptitude for being able to grab life by it's balls.  Again, don't be that guy/girl.  Everybody's afraid.  Only ballsy people decide not to allow that to be an impediment to their quest for doing what they want. 

Go forth and be bold.  You are going to crash and burn, because you are not a robot.  (Congrats on bein' people.)  Even under the best circumstances with the best intentions and using your best foot forward, I'm sorry to tell you, but swear that it's true, some fucked up shit is gonna happen to you.  It's how you rise from the down and out place that helps secure your place in the space.  How you're viewed, and how you view you.  To get a lil' less Seuss-y...

...The phoenix is revered, because he rose from the ashes.  Nobody remembers, or mentions how he got there, only how spectacularly he emerged from the flames.  BE A FUCKING PHOENIX.  Always. 

Mind the mental.  A good amount of mental illness presents itself in late teen to early adulthood.  What seems like fun loving and a lax sense of knowin' what's good for ya, could be a sign and a symptom of an undiagnosed, or mismanaged ailment.  Sussing out mental illness is difficult for Drs, so no one expects you to manage such mental minutiae, but do be aware that what when the outlandish is suggested, occasionally it's going to be less let's kick up our heels and more of a red flag.  Also, you (& your new classmates) are accustomed to the support system in your life, which has been family, friends, teachers/coaches.  College is made extra overwhelming because you don't have that built in system at as easy access as you once did, and ya haven't yet built a new support system.   Until you're roster is filled with your new day-to-day system remember to be kind to yourself as you staff Team You.   

The last thing you should know is that college is not for everybody.  And like with all other things, sometimes you know it's a non-fit only after you've tried it.  (Ask anyone with a divorce or a 'lower back tattoo'.)  College is meant to be hard.  Its main job is putting you through your paces in preparation for the next step of your life. (when we take off your life-y training wheels)  But college is not the only and absolute path to a lucrative and fulfilling life.  So don't ever think that this is the only option available to you.  The Most Fact-y Fact of 'Em All:  As long as your eyes pop open in the morning you have options.  And people who love you.

You are in charge of you.

(BBGW Readers,  If there are any glaringly integral omissions drop in a comment [it takes a village, yo].)

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