Tag Archives: Detroit

A love letter to Gilda Radner

gilda-radner

When a child is growing up, they often look up to & hope to have a life similar to their parents, but some kids, the artistic types, find their idols within the arts community. There is one person who I have idolized since the age of 5. That person was & always will be Gilda Radner. I was able to grow up watching this silly, talented & smart girl from Detroit pave the way for those of us to follow her lead. Admittedly, I am not a comedian. I mean, I’m a very funny person, but I can’t do it on purpose, on cue. I admire that ability in those who possess it.

Gilda Susan Radner (June 28, 1946 – May 20, 1989) was an American comedian and actress, best known as one of the original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, for which she won an Emmy Award in 1978. (stolen from Wikipedia)

As a very young girl, the Not Ready For Prime Time Players came into my life every Saturday night beginning in 1975. I can still vividly remember that very first episode, hosted by the great George Carlin & featuring an odd, but funny Andy Kaufman. It was amazing to my young, sponge-like mind. These skits, these people, these musical artists have stuck with me ever since. Yet, Gilda always stands out to me.

It was obvious to me, even at five years old, that what I was witnessing was revolutionary. Again, Gilda was the driving force of my interest. Judy Miller….yeah I did that in my room, with my robe acting as a princess cape. That was my favorite of all her characters. She was just fearless & full of joy when she was Judy.  She had the courage to be child like, which can be really hard for people to do, but Gilda wasn’t too scared to get out there & be silly.

But, how did Gilda end up on Saturday Night Live anyway? Well, it wasn’t an easy road, she worked harder than I believe she gets credit for. There were many road blocks, including the men in the Improv/Sketch Comedy scene at the time. Some of whom she would eventually work with on SNL.

Growing up a Jewish girl in Detroit, cared for by a nanny she called Dibby, who she was VERY close to, she began her battle with weight at the age of nine, even turning to diet pills at ten years old. Gilda was very close to her father, who passed away when she was 12. He owned & managed the Seville Hotel in Detroit & often took Gilda on trips to New York, where they went to Broadway shows.  These experiences inspired something deep inside of her.

She made her acting debut in Godspell in 1972, while living in Toronto. This ultimately led her to Second City in Toronto, then to National Lampoon & eventually SNL.

I don’t want to turn this into another Wiki page, she already has one. What I would like to accomplish here is something I have never attempted. I want to honor her work & her life, from my eyes.

As a young fan, I followed every step of Gilda’s life & career. From the outside, Saturday Night Live appeared to be a dream job. This was the 70’s however, and drugs were a big part of most peoples lives on the show, but not Gilda. She was a fantastic character actress, with standouts like Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, Lisa Loopner & Babwa Wawa.

By 1979, Gilda was appearing in a one woman show on Broadway called “Gilda, Live” It was & still is absolutely brilliant. I watch it often & still laugh. One of my all time characters that she brought to Broadway from SNL was Candy Slice. She would just lose herself in the character. I was so amazed by the level of her talent & the fact that she didn’t seem to be aware of it. I could relate to that.

Candy Slice

What Gilda really wanted in her life was love, marriage & children. This, of course, wasn’t something that was easy to come by for a girl in comedy. She dated co-star Bill Murray & then married G.E. Smith, the musical director for the show.

Then there was Gene.

gene n gilda

Gilda has said that meeting Gene Wilder was “Love at first sight” on the set of Hanky Panky, even though she was still married. She eventually got the man of her dreams. From reading her autobiography, she explains in great detail what she went through to catch him & get him to marry her. I realize that sounds kinda desperate, but it wasn’t, it was true love & she knew it. They were married in 1984 in France. Okay, maybe it was a little desperate, but who cares, the woman knew what she wanted & wasn’t afraid to do whatever it took to achieve her goal. Since her death Gene has written in detail his side of their marriage. It is sometimes surprising, heartbreaking & seemingly narcissistic on his part, but it does give the reader a glimpse into the flawed & insecure woman she sadly was. Despite all that though, Gilda did end up happy & in love with the man of her dreams, even if he was a bit cold emotionally.

Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after nearly a year of searching for a reason for the severe pain & fatigue she was suffering with. She had always wanted to be a mother & she very openly discusses her struggle to become pregnant in her book. I have read It’s Always Something more times than I can count & like the Wikipedia page I won’t go into a play by play of the text. I will say that her 2 year battle with cancer, the awareness she brought with her fight & her devastating loss to this horrible disease is, much like her career, legendary. After Gilda passed, Gene established the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai to screen high-risk candidates (such as women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent) and run basic diagnostic tests. Because of her battle with cancer, Gilda is affecting & saving the lives of countless women.  The first Gildas Club opened in 1995, helping provide support for survivors & their families. I have volunteered with Gildas Clubs since the late 90’s, including the first & second Gildas LaughFest in Grand Rapids, MI.I am getting ready to head back there this March.

Gilda will never be forgotten, thanks to the internet & all the wonderful television and film work she has done. She has affected my life in more ways than I can account for in this blog post. She wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t what some considered to be “classically beautiful” (though I think she was very beautiful). What I believe made Gilda so special was her ability to find the funny in every situation, the  way she would just shrug it off & say “It’s always something”. She was talented far beyond her comedy beginnings. She may not have made the best choices in roles, but she based her decisions in her personal happiness. In her private time she struggled a great deal with insecurity & defeatism. In the end though, she left a permanent mark on this world & I am forever grateful.

My greatest hope is that Gilda knew how special, how loved, how amazing she was. She was an icon & I’d like to believe that she will live on by continuing to make people laugh for generations to come.

Thank you Gilda, for making the world brighter with your presence, your humor, your love & your beauty. You changed everything!

Please check out the links to learn more or to relive the memories of Gilda.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilda_Radner

http://gildasclubqc.org/about-us/who-was-gilda/

http://www.amazon.com/Its-Always-Something-Twentieth-Anniversary/dp/1439148864

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Home Sweet Home

It’s an amazing thing, how desperate, lost, alone & scared a person can feel when they’re separated by distance from their loved ones, all that they know, what they grew up with, their support system, their comfort zone. It is a brave & passionately driven person, or a fool, that takes this leap of faith. I am one of those people. I have yet to figure out if I’m the brave one or the fool. Maybe I’m a bit of both, who knows.

Last week I wasn’t sure, once again, how I was going to survive the day. Today I find myself on a 5 day layover in my hometown of Detroit, before beginning a month-long program in Washington, DC. It boggles my mind how quickly things change. I don’t know why it still boggles my mind, as it’s happened SO many times during my life, that one would think I’d be used to it by know. Well….I’m not!

The main thing I’ve noticed since I arrived late last night is that the heavy weight on my chest, the constant state of panic & fear I had lived in, the utter solitude & sadness that brought up in me….is gone. I’m home. I’m surrounded in every direction by love. I have so many people who want to share time with me while I’m here that I unfortunately don’t have enough time to accommodate all of them, unless I was to group some of them together in one place. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but I’m willing to try.

At the same time, that in itself is overwhelming to me. I’m tired, run out, worn out, slightly broken from all that I’ve gone through in the past months. In a way, I just want to rest. Reading that last sentence, it makes me shake my head. Isn’t that what I’ve done for weeks now? Months? Why would I want to continue that behavior when I’m surrounded in love? I need to recharge, let those who know & love me remind me of who & what I really am, as opposed to what I believe I’ve become. This could be extremely healthy for me in moving forward on my visions, my goals, my dreams, my need to create something for myself that will fulfill the want in me to be & do something great, whatever that may be.

There is one aspect of Detroit, of home, that tears at my heart. There is someone, a person who has owned the real estate in my heart since the day I met him. No matter what we do, where our paths take us in life, we always gravitate back to each other. What I wouldn’t give to have this person as my life long partner in crime. What wouldn’t I do? I have never stopped loving him. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve even ever fallen out of love with him. Things are complicated, but I’m willing to do what is needed to see our lives come back together, so we may enjoy the rest of our time on this spinning rock together. I guess I accepted years ago that it may not be a possibility, yet, if that were truly the case, would the universe continue to bring us back into each others orbit repeatedly? I don’t find it possible the universe could be so cruel as to dangle my one true love in my face over & over again, just to taunt & hurt me. I feel there is something greater at work. I feel that we’re being told that it is in each other that we will find our comfort, our partner, our home. If only he would see that this is the case & take, once & for all, that giant leap of faith needed to make this our permanent reality. I’ve done & said all that I have in me to let him know that if he took the chance, he would not be disappointed. It’s on him now to decide if he is strong enough to make this come true.

I hope he does!

If he doesn’t & this love affair never sees itself rekindled, I will endure. I have managed to make it this far, I can make a life for myself without the man. I just know that my heart wants him to be beside me through this adventure. But if he chooses not to take that journey with me, I’m still going to take it & he will always own a large piece in my heart.

Okay, I’m off to sleep. I need to rest up for 5 day long love fest that lays before me. How lucky am I?

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Far Away Eyes

Have you ever looked deeply into your reflection in the mirror & seen a stranger staring back at you?

Well, this is the place I find myself in these days. I’m not exactly sure when it happened or how I missed the transition. Was it sudden? Or did it happen gradually? However it came about, it has scared me to my core. What I find myself allowing to happen to my life disgusts me in ways I can’t even find the correct words for. Tonight was the breaking point for me. Something has to change, NOW, because I can NOT do this! I will not lay around on my ever-expanding ass while I watch everything I worked tirelessly over the past 6 years fall further from my grasp. Suddenly I feel a sense of panic that I can’t shake, the likes of which I thought I overcame 4 years ago. I realize that when the plans I had when I moved to Los Angeles began to crumble, I could feel the confidence I had in myself slowly begin to chip away, as if I had an internal sledge-hammer & I was subconsciously tearing myself down from the inside. There is no way that I, with a little hindsight, blame this descent on the city or the inhabitants. I did this at first, because it’s always easier to blame your circumstances on other people or your environment. I am smarter than that & know it comes from within.

Why wasn’t I born with that genetic drive to succeed? How is it that I can be so naturally creative & talented, yet have no motivation or discipline to pursue my dreams. I really can’t stand that cliché’ “Chasing your dreams”. It’s not how I see things. I believe more in pursuing your passion, the need to create to feel vital, as if it is water & when you deprive yourself of that outlet, you die a little inside, until one day you wake up & find yourself feeling empty & broken. I am beyond angry with myself for being such a lazy, slacker slob.

Today I woke up & felt as if I had fallen asleep in a bed of wet cement, only to find myself feeling stuck & unable to move. By later in the evening the panic attacks I thought were long gone shook me so deeply that I was afraid I may die. I truly hate that feeling with every ounce of my being. A major problem with having this feeling now is that being new to this city, I have yet to find resources & a support system to turn to for help. I don’t know how to find a doctor or a therapist who will work on a sliding scale, because I have fallen so low that I am honestly destitute. I am days away from losing the apartment I feel blessed to have found 3 months ago. Everyone back in Detroit wants me to just pack up & drive back there, so I am surrounded by my built in support system. Yet there is this screaming voice inside of me that says doing that would be a HUGE mistake. Here I am, crippled by fear, unable to even force myself into the shower or to fold & put away my clean clothes that I finally washed yesterday after a month. If I don’t find some help TOMORROW, I don’t know what will happen.

Let me make this PERFECTLY clear, I am not now, nor have I ever been, suicidal. Too many years of my life sucked for me to just give up on it now. Besides, I couldn’t do that to the people who love me. It’s just a pathetic, cowardly way out of a bad situation & usually, if I stick it out long enough, things will turn around for the better. I just don’t think I can hold on without having a complete breakdown if I don’t find the help I need tomorrow. When I think about that last sentence, my level of panic begins to rise again. Since I don’t have health insurance, like so many people in our country, if I do have a breakdown I’ll end up in some disgusting, scary state mental hospital. That is a fate as bad as death to me.

My brain does not accept any of this. My logical side is bitch slapping my emotionally driven side. There is a huge war going on inside my brain as I type this. The main question being asked is “how could this be happening? I don’t get crippling depression, never have. Why this time? Why now?” I wish I knew the answer to even one of these questions. Damn it! I am wasting away & feel too overwhelmed to stop it on my own. It’s actually pretty amazing I even found the strength to type this out tonight, as I haven’t written in nearly two months, even though I think about doing so daily. That’s something at least, a positive sign. Now, here’s to hoping I can wake up in the real morning hours tomorrow & find some fucking help! I refuse to feel again what I felt tonight.

You know what the worst part is about where I find myself mentally at this moment? The fact that I can’t cry, nothing, not a drop. It is such a healthy release of pain & stress, yet much like sleep, it is starting to elude me again. I haven’t felt this lost since last year when Corey & my Grandfather passed in a 7 day period. At least that was justifiable. This is just unacceptable to me! If anyone is reading this & has some useful suggestions for me, I would greatly appreciate whatever you think may help.

Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is the first day on the road back to my happy & successful life!

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Emotional Rescue

I was having a conversation with one of my closest girlfriends back in Detroit today, about our concerns for a couple of our married guy friends & the way they are, in different ways, ruining the lives they wanted so badly now that they have them. Only this time, as we were talking, it turned towards our own lives, how neither of us could understand how a person can want something so badly, only to be miserable once they have it. It truly makes no sense to either of us. These guys are literally the greatest guys we have ever known, yet they don’t see it. I never did understand the concept of wanting something you can’t have & once you do get it, you don’t want it anymore. Or allowing yourself to be lost in someone else, caving to their needs, their insecurity, their unhappiness, in spite of your own needs, wants & desires. I just think it’s stupid & a waste of time. I mean, why even bother if you’re going to throw it all away once you find something or someone who makes you feel good, makes you smile, makes you look forward to spending time with them, getting to know them, even their weird habits & quirks?

At a certain point in the conversation I finally said out loud for the first time in ages that I don’t like the idea of spending my life alone, that I would prefer to spend it with a good man, someone who gets me, who actually likes me, who thinks I’m pretty as well as funny or sexy. That appears to be a far-fetched expectation. First of all, I don’t attract those types of guys. I attract the broken guys, the closed off guys, the cruel, addicted & lost. So, what exactly does this mean for me?

I’m 40 fucking years old! When did that even happen? Why don’t I feel it? When will I be able to wrap my brain around this fact & accept it already? How did I miss out on EVERY good thing a person is meant to experience in life? I seriously feel like I’ve been in a coma since I was a child & I’m just waking up, feeling really groggy & confused. I have been so filled with fear for as long as I can remember that I have missed out on milestones & important moments that most people experience like high school prom, graduation (which I attended to watch my friends graduate, crying the whole time), a real college experience, marriage, children. I may have a genius level IQ, but I didn’t even complete grade 9! I did, however, receive my GED at 20 years old & considering the wild child I was at the time, it is a fact that I am extremely proud of!

I was speaking with a guy recently & he asked me if I had ever been married, to which I replied honestly “no, I just never got around to it”. He laughed, guess he thought it was a joke, but it was true. It’s just another thing I never allowed myself. Same thing with my not having children. I just couldn’t do it, no matter that I know with complete confidence that I would have been a loving & wonderfully patient mother. Oh well, chalk it up with the rest of the things I’ll never know or feel. When you grow up seeing every possible bad thing that can happen in a marriage or of being a parent, it does tend to scare you away from making these mistakes yourself.

Sure, I’ve lived a life of adventure, so to speak, but if you really look at it, I’ve actually lived the life of a carny, a gypsy, moving from town to town, never putting down roots & always just passing through. It’s a life that suits me for one reason & one reason only. It allows me to keep living in the fear. It allows me to keep from being hurt AGAIN. It allows me to hide my pain, my sadness, my broken heart, my complete loneliness. I realized today, while talking to my friend that I am SO lonely that all I really want is a guy to hold me, brush my hair out of my face & kiss my forehead. Simple, sincere affection. Again, it seems too much for me to ask. I suppose that’s what I get for spitting in the face of opportunity for so many years. I’ve watched my entire life pass me by like a moving train & now I want it back! I want to feel what other people get to feel. I want to feel love, without the fear of being betrayed or being left behind to mourn their death far too young & before we were even given the chance to start the life we planned. I want to feel safe. I want to feel desired. I want to feel……..anything!

The brain has an amazing way of protecting us from going completely insane. It blocks out the most painful of events. Considering the stuff I’m stuck remembering, it frightens me to think that some day the periods of time I don’t remember could come rushing back & cause me to snap. I realize that at the age of 40 I should be over all the bad that has happened in my life. I believe that I have done amazingly well considering. I have a good relationship with both of my parents now & it feels normal for the first time in my life. It took a lot to get here, on all our parts. I had to break the cycle, jump out of the hamster wheel, someone had to!

Not that long ago, I watched a great documentary of Carrie Fisher‘s one woman show “Wishful Drinking“. At some point, early in the show I believe, she said “If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true”. When she said that, I burst into hysterical tears, because I understood that sentence to its very core. A lot of what I’ve survived is funny to me now, because I lived through it, I survived it, I didn’t allow it to totally break me. Don’t get me wrong, I am slightly broken. I am damaged. I am scarred. But I’m still here, so there’s still time to make the best of every day, right? That’s where my surprising optimism comes in.

Look at it this way. If 75% of your life was difficult, traumatic, painful, sad, frightening…if you were molested at the age of 4 by a group of young boys who you were left in the care of, then taunted & teased for several years after, not even being able to understand what had happened, let alone why you were being teased; if you walked in on a man beating your mother nearly to death & then have the gun he was using to torture her with pointed at your head while you called the cops on him at the age of 14 & you then found yourself living on the streets of Detroit, being raped because you chose the wrong house to pass out drunk &/or stoned in more than once, having to figure out for yourself how to survive on a daily basis, because home wasn’t a pleasant or safe option with either parent; if you were a ward of the state at the age of 15, taken in by your grandmother, for the second time, who didn’t know how to deal with your actions & were then expelled from school & sent to a special ed school because you couldn’t relate to anyone else your own age or even stay in a single class because you were too restless; if you kept running away at every opportunity, never realizing it was you that you were trying to escape; if you OD’d at the age of 17 & had to force yourself to stay alive, because no one around you would help or take you to a hospital….wouldn’t you want to have as many good years as you possibly could have before it was all over? It is truly all I want. Sadly, these are only a few examples of the pain & horror I have experienced the entire time I have been alive. I try to remind myself that there are people who have had it MUCH worse than me, but it really isn’t any consolation. It just makes me sad for those people, because I know what real pain feels like & the fact that I am an extreme empath makes my heart ache for all those who have been damaged in their lives.

My dreams are very simple, yet so difficult to achieve, mostly because I have no idea how to go about attaining this. I am ill-equipped at completely opening up to someone & trusting that they won’t be disgusted or repulsed by me & my experiences. I have mastered, for the most part, my disguises, my masks that I wear to hide the sadness & shame. On the occasions like I wrote about last night, I freeze. I shut down. I considered running out the door of the coffee shop where we were talking at least 3 times, not because of anything he was or wasn’t doing, but because he could see right through my walls, my mask & it scared the hell outta me. So what do I do? I make it a point to freak him out, scare him away….so I don’t have to see him again & risk letting him in. Now I actually regret that. It is beyond rare that someone can see through to the real me. I had the possibility of having a new friend in my life that I wouldn’t have to hide all my deep, dark secrets from. I could tell I would have been able to open up to & be honest with this guy & he wouldn’t judge me at all. Now, there is just a guy walking around Los Angeles freaked out by the thought of running into me. That fucking sucks! It makes me feel like shit! But I won’t do anything at all. I won’t attempt to change his mind or contact him. If I do see him around town, I’ll do my best to make sure that he doesn’t notice me & if he does, I’ll get myself out of whatever place we both happen to be in. I’m too ashamed to handle it any other way. This is one of those cases where I wish I could get a do over, even if I’m not sure I would do better the second time, but something in me feels the need to make it right. I fucking like the guy, damn it. Believe me, I don’t want to, but I do. I like that he could see me. I just wish I could have felt it in that moment.

What I do know for certain is I can’t sit around & throw myself a pity party. I hate that! I write this out so I can not only get these thoughts out of my head, but to attempt to leave them here, so I can keep moving forward in life. This blog is my sanctuary of truth, confession & hope. It provides me a place to let my deepest thoughts & fears out, so that I can let the good in. I know good things are coming my way…I just have to be open to it & not run & hide.

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Torn & Frayed

Many people in this world pack up their belongings & move away from the place they are from. They do this for a myriad of reasons ranging from job relocation, a new job opportunity, love, adventure or just to get away. While it seems so exotic & exciting, which in part it is, most people don’t consider how difficult, lonely & scary this is. The toll it takes on a person’s soul can, with some, be quite heavy. For some, it has no effect on them at all & for others the effects are mild. When you think about the strength that comes with such an endeavor, taking this chance is a very strong & independent choice. Sometimes we are very close to our family & friends, in which case putting a great deal of distance between yourself & those you love the most hurts immensely. Many people actually end up moving back at least once.

I am one of these people. Honestly, I never really thought I would leave Detroit, although I had wanted to for many years, mostly when I was young & still extremely troubled. I just couldn’t find the inner strength to leave my comfort zone, even if it wasn’t very comfortable. It was what I knew, it was home. I was a BIG fish in that small pond. I was known, had & still have MANY friends, real friends who I know to this day I can turn to if I need them for anything & they can with me. In the last 10 years my relationship with my family has healed completely. When I say family, I mean immediate, not the assholes I happen to be related to. I’ll never accept them into my life now that my Grandmother is no longer around to force them on me. It is a very healthy feeling after a lifetime of pain, fighting & the blame game to have such love & support. The one person who means more to me in this great big world we live in is my 2-year-old niece. She is truly the love of my life. She makes me laugh more than anyone I have ever known. She is beautiful & brilliant & no I’m not just saying that because she’s my niece, it’s true. Skype is a great helper to stay in touch & allow us to “see” each other, but I can’t hold her, tickle her, kiss her, chase her. I think of & miss her every single day I am not with her. My baby sister, who I adore as much as her daughter, is getting married this August. Knowing that I won’t be there for 80% of the planning for this event breaks my heart. We had a long conversation about this however & she made it very clear that she would be angry at me if I gave up my plans to move to Los Angeles. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I hope with everything I have in me that this marriage lasts for the rest of their lives, because she deserves it & is VERY loved by her fiance’, my brother-in-law-to-be. He is a wonderful, loving & sweet addition to our family. Besides, he makes a beautiful child with my sissy.

Friends…….oh the space I could take up writing about my love for my chosen family, which is what I call them. The majority of these bonds were formed when I was at the end of my teen years, when life was so unbearable for me that I was rarely sober for any waking moments. What we have gone through together over the course of 20 years wouldn’t fit in a single blog, unless I wanted it to be 25 pages long. We grew up together, our “crew”. While we may not see or speak to each other nearly as much now that we’ve grown, with some marrying & starting families, others carving out careers for themselves, but we’ve never lost our deep connection & are always there for the important moments in life. I hate to say this, but Facebook has been very helpful in keeping us connected when life gets in the way. I have also formed some very strong bonds with people I have met along my journey through this beautiful country of ours. Mine is an amazing life. I have what I consider to be the best job in the world, unless you wanna be involved in a serious relationship. Sure, I’ve had “friends” in cities around the country, who I find comfort & affection in while I’m visiting, but that starts to feel empty after a while. These tour friends, ones I’ve worked with, or whose paths I’ve crossed while staying in their town, have become a part of my chosen family. It’s wonderful how many lovely people there are in this world & I am blessed to have met so many of them. I have the unusual ability to make friends with just about anyone I meet. What can I say, I’m really good at my job. I am overjoyed when I find out I will be spending time near certain road friends, as I enjoy them SO much.

Now, Los Angeles……I have said before & been told by others that this place can really put your dedication to your dreams to the test. It can make or break you. Most of the time, this is up to us. I learned that last statement from a new friend who pointed out to me that we make this place our own personal heaven or hell. I don’t believe in religion, but the analogy fits perfectly. Since he said this to me & opened my eyes to the idea, my life here has been so much more positive, happy & enjoyable. To be fair, I have friends who live here. They are amazing people & I love them. I don’t see them often, due to their busy work schedules. When I first moved here I had a very busy work schedule as well. I believe I have mentioned in an earlier blog that I moved out here for a job that didn’t work out. That was sad & difficult to deal with at the time, but I made the choice to stay here & fight it out. More than likely I will have to return to the road. It’s not that I don’t love it, I do. I’ve just gotten to a point where I would like to stand still for a while, maybe meet a guy to hang out with. The ability to do this is while living your life away from home for months at a time is made extra difficult when you are a woman. For whatever reason, men have a much harder time accepting a woman traveling for work, as if we are somehow less capable of controlling ourselves to the power of other men. I believe the reality of the situation is that the men don’t trust themselves in that type of lifestyle & project this fear onto the women in their lives. I have said this many times & I stand by it. I truly am comfortable enough with myself to be single. I like me & enjoy my own company. I have done many things alone that most people wouldn’t think of doing. It’s fine. I would, if I’m to stick to my full disclosure promise on this blog, prefer to find someone to look forward to seeing, to come home to, to be home for someone, to laugh with, explore with, cook with, watch movies with, etc.

There are so many thoughts that run through my head when I think about this topic, such as the thought that I chose to move to one of the most shallow places in the world to call home. I’m not sure my quirky style & look will be as appreciated here as it is in other cities. Also, with men insisting on dating younger “girls”, I don’t see me being comfortable or interested in dating someone pushing or already having passed 60. Lastly, this “cougar” phenomenon holds no appeal to me. I’m not down with dating 20-something boys, the idea makes me cringe. I do have friends who have found love with guys in their 20’s & I am profoundly happy for them, but it’s just not for me.

I am a firm believer that one shouldn’t actively look for love. If they do, they will miss it at every pass & settle for less than they deserve, only to have it end ugly as it always does when you make a choice based on loneliness and not attraction, connection & chance.

What am I gonna do about all this you may ask? Well, nothing really. I will continue to live my life. I will keep searching for work that keeps me a bit more stationary. I will more than likely continue to tour some, because I love it, probably not for 3 or more months at a time anymore though. I am ready for love & companionship. This is me releasing that thought out into the universe to do what it wants with this.

Hopeful still

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Dear Doctor

I recently spent a day in the local office of the Department Of Human Services, in which I wrote about the plight of the struggling “lower class” of American. I thought that was as bad as it gets, until yesterday.

Imagine yourself suffering a severe panic disorder most of your life, being unemployed & denied medical assistance from the state you live in, because they decided to “close enrollment for the adult program”. What do you do? Well, what I choose to do is use every resource I have to seek free services.

Before I left Detroit for Florida I had found a fairly decent place called Team Mental Health, who offer counseling, social work, community assistance & psychiatric services free of charge. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than no help at all & exactly what I needed at the time. I dealt with these people off & on for 3 years, even after I moved out of state, when I would make appointments while I was home visiting. Within the last year this particular office was open, they went through many changes, therapists & doctors quitting, you could just tell they were falling apart & wouldn’t be around much longer. To me it didn’t matter, as I had found a good all inclusive doctor in Florida & no longer needed them.

Then I moved back. I have already established that this was NOT the best decision I have made in recent times, but I’m here now, so there’s no need to dwell on it & I don’t have the funds to move out of state again. Once I got myself a bit settled in town again, I began making calls to this service I once used, only to find out that the office I was attending had in fact closed. They did leave forwarding phone numbers on their outgoing automated phone service & I began calling the office in Detroit, as it was close to school, which would be convenient for me. I called & called, but every time I would get someone on the phone, they didn’t seem to understand what I was asking for. I didn’t either, to be honest. All I knew is that I was a former patient in their Dearborn office & now wanted to start up with their office. This process took me 2 months, because that’s how long it took these people to understand me & tell me the proper steps I needed to take to start over again with them. This should have been my first hint that mine would NOT be a good experience in this new office, but being broke & in full on panic mode, I really had no other choice or options.

Finally & to my surprise, last week I was able to score an intake appointment yesterday at 11 am. I was so excited & had even asked them to call me the day before to remind me & confirm, as my memory has given me trouble lately because of the insomnia problem I’ve been having (I’m guessing, I really have no idea why my memory is getting weirdo on me). I remembered the day before yesterday that I had the appointment yesterday, but had not heard from their office, so in the afternoon I chose to call myself & check. They did confirm that I had the appointment the next morning…..sweet, I thought! I’m on my way to feeling better & more like me again. GREAT news!

I made sure to arrive 10 minutes early for the scheduled appointment, just in case. I think this is always a good idea. When I drove up & parked, I noticed that this place was PACKED! There were several people standing around outside smoking & when I walked through the door, it was just as busy in the waiting area. I signed in & took a seat. That was when I started to feel the panic kick in. I don’t know why, I just felt nervous & really uncomfortable, with the idea of having to explain my circumstances & situation to yet ANOTHER group of strangers, hoping beyond hope that they would be able & willing to help me once again, that they would actually see ME & believe in what I was telling them.

The only way to describe this place, as I sat there, having waited an hour & a half AFTER my scheduled appointment time to have the process started, is chaotic, crowded, unorganized & incredibly sad. As I sat in one of the two waiting rooms in this facility, I am surrounded by people as desperate, if not more so, than myself. There is also a group of men from an area court ordered halfway house who apparently spend the entirety of each Thursday in this facility. I learned a lot from these guys. I’ve already explained what an open, honest & social person I am, so I found myself talking to several of the men living in this halfway house. What I found out troubled & really pissed me off. This is a home where drug addicts & drug dealers share a living space. All of these people, I hope anyway, are doing all they can to find a better, healthier & happier life than the ones they are attempting to leave behind. I did feel a bit uncomfortable with all the attention I was getting throughout the day by these guys, but I was personally having such a bad day & the situation we found ourselves in together. I’m pretty sure that had it not been for the support of a few of these guys, I would have had a much bigger breakdown than I did. I just can’t believe our justice system is set up to force dealers & addicts to live together & this is an “alternative” to prison or county jail time. If the dealers aren’t changing their ways, then it makes it so much easier for the addicts to stay in their bad habits. What a broken system the state of Michigan has in place. I doubt there is a very high success rate at this particular halfway house, or any other that are run this way….but I wish the guys I spoke to all the best & hope they see that there is an honor in living a straight, legal life. I’ll see some of them there again, I’m sure & I appreciate their support on what was a terrible & humiliating day for me.

While outside, taking a cigarette break as an excuse to get out of that chaotic building, I talked to a couple guys from the group home in particular, who told me they were in the home for having been dealers. I don’t hide from anyone how I feel about drug addiction & dealers & I didn’t lie to these guys either. I told them both flat out that I believe they are suffering karmic law for having sold death to people. When you make a choice like that, to aid an addict in their slow, but certain (if they don’t seek treatment) death, then you bear a part of the responsibility for their situation. Sure, if you don’t offer then with the drugs they’re seeking, someone else will. You know what, let that someone else give them their drugs & hopefully they’ll get busted eventually as well. Every time  I hear of a drug dealer being busted, I smile. One less money hungry, heartless dealer of death on the streets. I know this sounds harsh, but when you spend the majority of your life in a city filled with drug addicts, some of whom are people you love, you develop a dislike towards dealers.

After an hour & a half of sitting around, going outside to smoke, talking to the other people left milling around the 2 waiting areas, I heard the girl at the desk ask who was there for intake. There was a woman & her brother who went up & started talking to her. Well, I jumped right up & ran to the desk in a flash, hoping to draw attention to the fact that my appointment time was 11 am & it was now 1:30. The woman said their computer system was down & that I wasn’t on the printed sheets of paper she kept looking at & I’m saying “look lady, I know I had an appointment at THIS office THIS morning at 11 am. I even called to confirm yesterday afternoon & I was told my appointment time was 11 am” At this point, the tears start again, because now I’m fearing I have spent all this time sitting in this insane place, wasted all the gas I had in my car only to be told they can’t find me on their pieces of paper? No, no, no…..this is NOT how this is gonna go down. There was NO way I was able to walk out of that building yesterday with a NEW appointment on ANOTHER day. I would have ended up in the closest emergency room suffering a massive & uncontrollable panic attack.

Seeing this in my eyes, the women at the desk went into high gear to get my rolling in their system, probably just to get me the hell out of the building, even though I wasn’t a nuisance, I was just very emotional. The process I had to go through yesterday, even if my appointment time HAD been met was gruelling. I had to first meet with an intake specialist, who takes a bunch of personal information, as well as employment information, medical questions, etc. The guy that I met with was just wonderful. He was warm & engaging, He was very sympathetic to my tearful outbursts & patient with me when I had to compose myself to start talking again. After seeing the intake specialist, I had to meet with a social worker to do their intake. Every “consumer” (that’s what they call their patients) has a social worker, for help within the community….help with food, medical, employment, living, clothing assistance if & when needed. I sat with another very nice & understanding guy, who despite continuously being called away from me, stayed very focused & asked me yet another group of questions, all to add to my new chart that would be given to the doctor later.

It was getting later in the afternoon by the time I finished with the social worker, but I found out that I would be seeing the doctor that day & I was SO relieved….at that time. I went for another smoke, came back in & stood up against a pole, as most of the seats were being occupied by the halfway house guys. Interesting that not a single one of them got up to offer a lady their seat, but can I really expect chivalry from guys in their situation. I could, but it wasn’t happening yesterday. I had another conversation with an older gentleman from the halfway house, who while he was extremely nice & I actually enjoyed talking to him, insisted on repeating over & over again that he wasn’t trying to pick me up, even though he found me to be very attractive. Had he not kept saying this to me, our conversation would have been much more comfortable & interesting to maintain.

While I stood in the waiting area (which was really just a very large open room with several tables surrounded by chairs) a peer specialist, or something like that, came up & asked to speak to me. We sat down & started having a conversation. Apparently, it’s his job to talk to the “consumers” & see what type of things they need help with. He ended up being very cool & while his name escapes me, offered to try & get me hooked up with the people who run production at the two local large concert theaters downtown. That’s a great little networking connection for me & completely unexpected.

It was almost 4 pm exactly when they called my name to see the doctor. I had now been in this building since 10:45 am & had not had anything to eat the entire time, while my stress level continued to rise. I was ushered into the office where the devil in the cream suit was seated. I wish I could have taken a picture to post on here, so you could get an idea of how cold & separated it felt to me. There was a memo in large print clearly taped to the front of the devil/doctor’s desk stating “DO NOT MOVE CHAIRS CLOSER TO DESK, THANK YOU”

WOW! Ok, I won’t, but man, the amount of distance between the desk & the chairs was a good 10 feet. These were no comfortable easy chairs or nice living room chairs. These were the same uncomfortable chairs littering the waiting area outside this door. I first chose to sit in the chair with the arm rests, for obvious reasons, but after sitting there for about 3 completely silent minutes, I realized I couldn’t even see the devil, I mean doctor’s face, so I moved to the other chair, so I could look at the man I was speaking to, or thought I’d actually be speaking to. Let me explain.

This is literally, without any exaggeration, the way our conversation went down.

Doc: “Why are you hear? What have you been diagnosed with?”

Me: “Panic Disorder”

Doc: “I DO NOT PRESCRIBE ANY BENZOS, I DON’T BELIEVE IN IT!”

Me: “Um, ok…..well, can I ask why you don’t prescribe them, by chance?”

Doc: “I DON’T HAVE TO EXPLAIN MYSELF TO YOU!”

Me: “Ok, well, I’m sorry I asked. I just don’t understand why you had to say this to me when I hadn’t even asked you for medication, nor had I even had a chance to utter an entire sentence to you.”

Doc: “Do you have any allergies?”

Me: “Yeah, to Bactrim, but that’s an antibiotic & I doubt you’ll be needing to prescribe that to me (attempting humor)”

Doc: “I AM A PHYSICIAN & I DON’T APPRECIATE YOU INSULTING MY INTELLIGENCE LIKE THAT!”

Me: “I’m sorry, what? I wasn’t trying to insult your intelligence, I was try to make a…”

Doc: “WELL, YOU DID!”

This is the moment I shut down. When the man showed zero interest in me or what I had to say, I had decided I would NOT be seeing him again! How dare he call himself a physician when he barely bothered to raise his eyes from his computer screen to look at me, unless he was scolding or judging me. It took EVERY bit of strength within me to keep from reacting to him, knowing that if I did, he would see this as a sign of aggression & try to spin that into some sort of depression/bipolar thing & I am NOT about to be misdiagnosed one more time in my life!

Let me explain, as a side note, what I’ve learned from living with Panic Disorder & ADD my entire life. I am KEENLY aware of my body. I know every little aspect of how it works, I know every little bad feeling, what it means, where it comes from & how to deal with it. I also know my disorders. I have done extensive research, trying to find out what was so wrong with me for so many years. I have studied clinical depression. I have studied bipolar disorder. I know that ADD with Panic Disorder presents very similar to bipolar, the OBVIOUS difference is in the mood swings. I do not, nor have I ever, had extreme mood swings, with times of extreme mania & times of extreme depression.

So, I kinda just kept my mouth shut & my answers to his benign questions were brief. This is when the tears started again. I was crying out of frustration for having to keep my thoughts inside while this man continued to belittle me & make me feel horrible. Once I started crying, the devil, I mean doctor, said “You seem to have some depression”.

I answered as calmly as I could & with the least amount of sarcasm possible. (which can be QUITE difficult for me at times) This is what I said to his mention of me seeming depressed.

Me: “You know what, you’re right, I am feeling pretty depressed right now. A friend of mine just passed away last month, as well as another 6 months ago & too many to mention to you in the past 6 years.  I received a denial letter from Medicaid yesterday, I haven’t been able to collect on my unemployment for the past 4 months, due to a glitch in the system, I’m flat broke, had to give up (hopefully temporarily) the dream I moved back up here for. I miss my job, I miss the traveling, I miss being financially comfortable & successful. I haven’t had a decent nights sleep in over 7 weeks. My memory seems to be fading. I’m exhausted, so yes, you could say I’m feeling a little depressed.”

That was basically the end of our big 15 minute “psychiatric evaluation”. I would lay somebody to see what this man wrote about me. The craziest thing about this interaction, in my mind, is that the man ended up prescribing me a benzo for the panic anyway, after his making a point of letting me know he didn’t prescribe them. I DO NOT appreciate being stereotyped & that is EXACTLY what that man did when he looked at me & I told him what my issue was. Talk about confusing, hurtful & unnecessary!

After I escaped the office of the devil himself, I was escorted back to the other side of the building, to meet & speak with my therapist for the first time. She was a very nice girl who listened to me while I went on for nearly an hour about how terrible my experience with the doctor was, how all I wanted to do was get back to myself & coming here was difficult & humiliating enough, without the added cruelty of this doctor. She was very gracious & seemed genuinely surprised that the doctor had acted that way. We decided together that from now on, I would go on a different day, when the other doctor was there, to see if that would be a better fit for me.

When I finally left the building it was 5:45 pm. I felt completely emotionally & physically exhausted. I was starving, but too upset to eat. I felt as if I had taken even more steps backward, rather than a step forward in the right direction. I felt hurt.

Needless to say, I will continue to attend this office & continue seeking services there. I have no other options. I need help in getting my panic & anxiety back in check, so I can regain my motivation & confidence. I can only hope the other doctor is at least a bit more sympathetic to me, or at least willing to take 5 minutes to just talk to & get to know me. We’ll see.

Thursday was my first & last meeting with the devil in the cream colored suit & fancy cuff links.

I am hoping my ascent from hell will be quick & without too much extra suffering, here’s to hoping anyway!

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“Winter”

I don’t like the way our society puts people into boxes that can be checked off, such as race, sex, marital status, financial status…..first of all, some of us are of more than one race. That being said, the race term “white” kind of offends me, to be brutally honest. It’s just such a blanket term. I know from researching my family tree, which by the way is driving me quite insane, that I am a good part Native American, but also Irish & Norwegian American. Where is THAT box?

Now, as a single woman on the verge of 40, I don’t enjoy having to check the “single” or “never been married” boxes on forms. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but it just makes me cringe. Not that I have EVER been one of those girls who was desperate to be married, obviously, it’s just something that I don’t find to be relevant in most cases, with some exception.

Lastly & the one I spent the day surrounded by is the classist society we live in. There has been much talk of the “middle class” in the past couple years & how it’s declining. What I have noticed is no mention of the fact that most of those who were once considered “middle class” are now “lower class” or…what would they call us….oh yeah, invisible. I promised myself that I would be brutally honest in this blog. That is not an easy thing to do when pride is involved, but I’m gonna grit my teeth & do it anyway. Times have been VERY tough for me since last year. I have had a very difficult time finding work in both the states I have lived in during this time period, which after finally finding my dream career & beginning to make a very comfortable living, was more painful than the days when I was young & just didn’t care. I fought with the state of Florida for the better part of a year to receive unemployment benefits that paid me per week less than I was making per day while I was working, but I was grateful just to be receiving something.

Suddenly, at the beginning of this year, after being approved for the tier 3 benefit extension, my benefits were discontinued. There was no explanation, no recourse, no more money. All this after I had made the choice to return to Michigan & attend the college of my dreams, having been offered a scholarship. This scholarship was the highest that the school gives, a bit higher than the highest actually, but unfortunately did not cover living expenses, so I thought I could survive off my unemployment benefits for a bit, while I got settled, started in school & began looking for work. One of my first & BIGGEST mistakes was coming back to Detroit & thinking I was going to find a job. Nobody would hire me. I was turned down for a job at Target, which actually REALLY upset me, because I know I’m qualified! I came back to Detroit the second week of January, it is now the second week in April & I have JUST found a job waitressing at a diner 3 weeks ago. I am stretched far beyond my limits, not only financially, but emotionally as well. I have had to withdraw from school for the time being. I will not lose my scholarship, but could not continue to afford the gas money just to get downtown, let alone the small amount of tuition left over after all my scholarship & loan money. It has broken my heart, I have not shared this with any of my family, of course, they may read this blog for all I know, even though I haven’t really made them aware of it.

All of this being said, during these past several months, it is the love & support of my family & friends that has allowed me to survive. Had it not been for them, I don’t honestly know where I would be. I don’t really want to think about it. I bring up the classist society & tell of my story for a couple reasons….one is that it gets the pain & weight off my chest & secondly because I spent the entire day in the local Department of Human Services office, begging for food & medical assistance along side what had to be, throughout the entire day, hundreds of people. I cried sitting in that waiting area several times & not just because I’m a big baby who cries easily, which I am & do, whatever. Some of the stories I heard as I was sitting there just tore at my heart. I mean, if you knew me, you’d know that I could never sit in a room filled with people, any people & not talk to most of them. It’s just who I am. Sitting here, typing this, I’m starting to cry a bit again, thinking of those crying babies, whose mothers fought as hard as they could to hide their own tears & feelings of desperation to be strong for their children. I think of the people who were there for emergency state assistance & the amazing number of them who were turned away because their situation wasn’t “bad” enough to be considered. These were people with shut off notices, eviction notices…..yet somehow, that wasn’t bad enough. I think of the woman who was trying to quit smoking because she has congestive heart failure & sat in that office from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm. There are so many stories from my day, people yelling at the workers, the workers yelling back, people crying, begging for help, any sort of help, to survive & SO many of them being turned away.

After all this, I do find myself to be in a bit of an odd mood. I don’t really know how to feel. While I am grateful that I was approved for food assistance & can eat more regularly now, I am also keeping my fingers crossed for medical coverage, which I desperately need. But, at the same time, I feel kind of guilty. I feel guilty because my situation is not as bad as so many others out there. I feel guilty because I am eating on the taxpayers dime. I feel guilty because I AM able to work. I feel sad. I feel sad for all the children that are brought into this world by parents without the means to care for them without government help. I feel sad for all those who have worked so hard for so many years, only to find themselves sitting in a government office, applying for assistance because their jobs have been eliminated. I am sad for every person who is denied help.

I don’t know what the solution to this problem our country & world finds itself in. All I know is that it hurts to fall & have to fight your way back up.

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